This is anecdotal, but over the weekend, two friends with years’ worth of experience traveling to the United States mentioned that after the notable unpleasantness that characterized arriving in American airports during the Bush administration, the atmosphere had mellowed considerably on their most recent — i.e., post-Jan. 20 — trips. Both described not only a relaxation of the aggressive posture that for the past eight years bordered on hostility to those visiting the States, but also a welcoming attitude that they’d remembered from previous years.
I don’t know if this is the result of my friends’ luck of the draw, the ambient shift in the Obama administration’s rhetoric or an explicit policy directive. If either of the latter two, it’s a good example of how effective public diplomacy should combine what you say with what you do. It’s also an example of how public diplomacy can start at home with subtle gestures entirely under our control.