www.MountainRunner.us

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

Event: Rethinking the Future International Security Environment

The Johns Hopkins University / Applied Physics Laboratory announced the 7th year of its Rethinking Seminar Series. This year’s theme is Rethinking the Future International Security Environment and the objective is the “exploration of possible future international environments including potential adversaries and threats to US National Security.” Topics to be covered include:

  • Regional areas of concern (i.e., the Middle East, China, Russia, and N. Korea)
  • Economics and National Security through examinations of potential economic threats to the US and her allies including:
    • The use of sovereign wealth funds to manipulate markets and currencies
    • Nation state economic collapse, sovereign default, and nation state instability
    • US and Allies’ budgets, deficits and their ability/inability to fund robust national security infrastructures
  • Resource Competition and Scarcity including issues of energy, water, agriculture and strategic minerals competition

The free events will occur about every month near the Pentagon. Video, audio, and usually the presentation and even notes are posted to the web about one week after each meeting.

Continue reading “Event: Rethinking the Future International Security Environment” »

Event: Influence and Propaganda Conference

imageThe Information Operations Institute, in partnership with the MountainRunner Institute, invites you to attend the Influence and Fighting Propaganda Conference.

Identifying and countering propaganda and misinformation through dissemination that avoids the label of propaganda will be the key themes of the event. Discussions will explore who, how and why can people or groups be influenced, and difference between engagement from the lowest to the highest levels of leadership.

Russ Rochte, retired US Army Colonel and now faculty member at the National Defense Intelligence College, and I will co-moderate a panel on the media exploring the tension between "Media as an instrument of War" and the journalist’s traditional obligations to the truth, objectivity, informing the public, and verification. What is the impact on the media’s relationship with itself, its readers, and its sources as the media struggles for mind-share and relevance in a highly competitive environment of diminished resources, intensified news cycles, and direct audience engagement by news makers, and pressure to de-emphasize journalistic ethics. What constitutes the media and how does an organization like Wikileaks change the environment? How does this show in the natural conflict between the government and the media and how is it exploited by America’s adversaries?

This will be a two-hour panel, October 14, 10a-12p, with:

  • Wally Dean, Director of Training, Committee of Concerned Journalists (confirmed)
  • Jamie McIntyre, Host: "Line of Departure", Military.com (confirmed)
  • Dana Priest, Washington Post investigative reporter (invited)
  • Bill Gertz, reporter for The Washington Times (confirmed)

The agenda for the conference is below.

Event website is here
Date: October 13-15 (2.5 days)
Location: Turning Stone Resort, Verona, New York (map)
Registration Fee: Students/Faculty: free; Government: $50; Military: $25; Corporate/Industry: $200
Registration: online or PDF

Continue reading “Event: Influence and Propaganda Conference” »

Al-Shabaab receiving support from U.S. citizens and others in the U.S.

In a press conference today, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Justice Department unsealed four separate indictments charging 14 individuals in Minnesota, California, and Alabama with terrorism violations, including providing money, personnel, and services to the terrorist group Al-Shabaab. An indictment in Minnesota charged 10 men for leaving the U.S. to join al-Shabaab, an organization with ties to al-Qaeda, as foreign fighters. In Minnesota alone, 19 have been charged with material support of al-Shabaab. Two women, naturalized U.S. citizens and residents of Minnesota, were charged with raising money to support al-Shabaab through door-to-door solicitations and teleconferences in the Somali communities in Minneapolis, Rochester, and elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada.

Holder noted that members of the American Muslim community “have been – and continue to – strong partners in fighting this emerging threat” through denouncing terrorist acts and those who carry them out, as well as helping law enforcement disrupt plots and radicalization.

As laudable as these efforts are, they happen too late in the process of radicalization. Facts about Somalia, al-Shabaab, and the region are too often ignored by the mainstream media and largely unavailable to these communities, even those actively engaged online.

Continue reading “Al-Shabaab receiving support from U.S. citizens and others in the U.S.” »

Establishing the Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy Caucus

By Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX)

On September 11th, 2001, America changed.  Since then the United States has been at war with violent Islamic extremists who plot and plan against us every day.  We have sent American troops to Afghanistan and Iraq to defeat them in combat.  Our intelligence and special operations forces have fanned out across the globe to disrupt terrorist networks and deny them safe havens.  And we have cooperated with friends and allies to reinforce existing counterterrorism resources and build new coordinated capabilities.  While these actions are necessary to defeat the jihadist threat against the United States, they are not sufficient to do so.

Continue reading “Establishing the Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy Caucus” »

Guest Post: A Global Call to Arms in the Virtual Century

Carl Jung once warned during the Cold War that: “Everywhere in the West [World] there are subversive minorities who, sheltered by our humanitarianism and our sense of justice, hold the incendiary torches ready, with nothing to stop the spread of their ideas except the critical reason of a single, fairly intelligent, mentally stable stratum of the population. One should not, however, overestimate the thickness of this stratum.” (C.G. Jung, “The Undiscovered Self,” 4).

If Carl Jung were still living, we may find him to be rather (appropriately) proud of a modest, rational banker who resides in Nigeria. On December 25th, 2009, the Free World was given a great gift that mirrors the one Jung sought to impart more than 50 years ago.  While the media will mark the day as another attempted 9/11, they miss the mark.  The most profound and courageous feature of this attempted attack has nothing to do with the terrorist himself, but with his father.  A father, who, upon sensing his son was falling into the orbit of radical ideologies, took it upon himself to use this information to protect our global commons by letting authorities know they should be watching his son.  Certainly we can all understand what a grueling and emotionally fracturing experience it must have been for this brave man.  We would all do well to spend a few moments this New Year viewing the world from this man’s shoes.

Continue reading “Guest Post: A Global Call to Arms in the Virtual Century” »

News: Somali-American pleads guilty to helping Al-Shabaab

From NPR news, by Dina Temple-Raston:

Another Minneapolis man has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in connection with a broader case looking into the disappearance of more than two dozen young Somali-Americans from Minnesota over the past two years.

Kamal Said Hassan pleaded guilty in a Minneapolis court Wednesday. The unsealed indictment in his case shows that he was one of a handful of young men who traveled to Somalia to fight for a militia there called al-Shabab. When Hassan returned to the U.S., he apparently lied to the FBI about where he had been. He is in now U.S. custody.

This is the third indictment in the case so far, as federal investigators close in on suspects they believe have recruited the young men to fight with al-Shabab. The State Department put al-Shabab on its list of terrorist organizations last year. U.S. intelligence officials say its top leadership has ties to al-Qaida, though they are quick to add that al-Qaida’s sway over al-Shabab’s actions is limited. …

Recruiters appear to have played on the young men’s ties to their homeland — and their sense of adventure — to get them to go. At the time the first recruits are thought to have left, Ethiopian troops had invaded Somalia to crush the Islamic Courts Union. The group’s pitch to the young men was that they had to save their homeland from invaders.

See also:

Al-Qaeda is not the only threat

John Sullivan, the co-founder of the Los Angeles Terrorism Early Warning group and lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, focusing on emerging threats, reminds us that Al-Qaeda is not the only threat. As such, public diplomacy and strategic communication planning that focuses only on Al-Qaeda is too limiting.

From Danger Room:

While the public and media are occupied with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the potential conflict with Iran, the downward spiral in Pakistan, and a global economic meltdown, a new, rapidly-evolving danger — narco-cartels and gangs — has been developing in Mexico and Latin America. And it has the potential to trump global terrorism as a threat to the United States.

Read the rest at Danger Room and a longer article on Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency at Defense and the National Interest.

Event: New America Foundation conference on Al Qaeda 3.0 – with live webcast

The pace of “what’s next” conference is picking up. From the New America Foundation:

Al Qaeda 3.0
The ‘War on Terror’ After the Bush Administration
At Al Qaeda 3.0, leading policy makers, law enforcement officials, scholars and journalists from around the world will assess the current threat posed by al Qaeda and its affiliates to the United States, Europe, the Middle East and South Asia. The conference speakers will also explore what steps the next administration should take in combating al Qaeda and its affiliates both at home and abroad.

The event is tomorrow, Friday, October 10, 2008. Start: 8:45a ET, Finish: 5p ET.

The conference has an impressive list of panelists (bios): Frances Fragos Townsend, Bruce Hoffman, Steve Coll, Peter Bergen, Lawrence Wright, Daniel Kimmage, Nir Rosen, Brian Fishman, Mohammed Hafex, Thomas Hegghammer, Marc Sageman (no, Bruce and Marc are not on the same panel), and others.

Register here.

American Public Diplomacy Wears Combat Boots: the Pentagon’s $300 million to “engage and inspire”

American public diplomacy wears combat boots. Not only is the Pentagon in the critical last three feet of engagement virtually and in person with audiences around the globe, especially in contested areas, but it is the Defense Department that is putting up the money to expand public diplomacy. The Pentagon’s 3-year, $300 million contract for private companies to “engage and inspire” Iraqis to support U.S. objectives and the Iraqi government, described by Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus in the Washington Post, is more than an effort five years too late. It is one more shining example of the significant failure of the U.S. Government to come to grips with the present need and commit the resources necessary to engage in the Second Great War of Ideas that began in earnest nearly a decade ago.

Continue reading “American Public Diplomacy Wears Combat Boots: the Pentagon’s $300 million to “engage and inspire”” »