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A Blog on Understanding, Informing, Empowering, and Influencing Global Publics, published by Matt Armstrong

U.S. “Hedge Fund” Diplomacy in Egypt

By Michael Clauser

Like many Americans, I am conflicted about recent events in Egypt and even more so about what the U.S. government should do.

On one hand, the United States has an immediate interest in the stability of Egypt and its government–and not just to keep the peace in the Middle East or secure the two million barrels of oil that pass through the Suez Canal every day.  But also because ditching a longtime U.S. ally like Hosni Mubarak at his moment of need does not send a reassuring message to other embattled pro-American leaders in unstable countries.  Especially when you consider what type of leader may be waiting in the wings in Egypt or elsewhere in the world.

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Whither public diplomacy?

For the practice, theory and organization of public diplomacy, is it helpful for the activities of a foreign government – or non-governmental organization for that matter – in the United States (or elsewhere) to be labeled as public diplomacy? Applying this label could contribute to increased understanding of public diplomacy’s methods and value in the Congress, the White House, the public and the media? Or it could be a harmful link to foreign “propaganda” and our own engagement efforts abroad?

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Communicating Their Own Story: Progress in the Afghan National Security Force

NTM-A

By Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell, IV

“The printing press is the greatest weapon in the armory of the modern commander.” – T.E. Lawrence

Lawrence’s words continue to ring true. In conflicts from the First World War to Korea; from Vietnam to the Gulf War, the nation that wins the information battle tends to win the larger war. Today, America and her partners are engaged in a fight that is every bit as important as its earlier wars: ensuring that Afghanistan is secure, independent, and free of the forces that launched attacks on the people of the world on September 11, 2001. It is a contest that requires painful sacrifices of blood and treasure but one that, if the lessons of history hold, can only be won on the information battlefield.

NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) and its partners have been charged with assisting the Afghan government in building the capabilities and capacities necessary for the Afghan National Security Force to defend their homeland. While many of NTM-A’s efforts focus on enabling the Afghans to pursue the physical battle – improving skill with weapons, providing leadership and tactics training, and constructing logistics and intelligence systems – the organization has invested significant resources into assisting the Afghans in carrying the information fight to the Taliban and the nation’s other enemies.

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Public Diplomacy: Books, Articles, Websites #46

Courtesy of Bruce Gregory, Professor of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University:

July 7, 2009
Intended for teachers of public diplomacy and related courses, here is an update on resources that may be of general interest.  Suggestions for future updates are welcome. 
Bruce Gregory
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Media and Public Affairs
George Washington University

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Guest Post: How to win the GWOT – or whatever it’s called today

By Mark Pfeifle, Jonathan Thompson

America has the finest military and diplomatic leaders in the world. They know how to win on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. Yet, despite those winning ways, there are times when they become victims of circumstances rather than drivers of events. At such times, some may falter with the media and public, and when that happens, they too often lay blame the results on bad press coverage.

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Who will be the next Under Secretary?

Now that President-elect Obama has selected his Secretary of State, the word on the street about the critical job of Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs varies. The U/S role has been radically invigorated by Jim Glassman over his too brief tenure (made even briefer by Sen. Coburn). He had and continues to enjoy bipartisan and interagency support. Of course this was easier since he was able to pick his battles carefully and avoid the landmines in order to focus on getting things done in the short time he had. He has made it a point recently that “R” (the DoS name for the public diplomacy organization unit) has improved to the point Congressional confidence should increase and be demonstrated by increasing R’s funding.

So now the big question is who will be the next Under Secretary? As far as I can see, suggestions that the next SecState wants to bring in her own people aren’t highlighting any particular candidate, but it might help one in particular. Interest in who will be America’s coordinator of persuasion in the global struggle for minds and wills (a far better, if wordier, phrase than “war of ideas” or “battle of narratives”) grows by the day, at least for those interested in public diplomacy, strategic communication, etc.

By my reckoning, there are at least nine contenders for this office, including the incumbent. Some are actual contenders while others, well, not so much.

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