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

A surprising public diplomacy win

Getting a visa to travel to another country can be challenging and expensive. The process, bureaucratic by nature, has more potential to frustrate the applicant and reinforce negative stereotypes than to create positive impressions.

Yesterday I flew to San Francisco to apply in-person for a visa to Russia. I had my official invitation for a humanitarian visa, the invitation letter from the Lomonosov State University where I’ll be presenting at the conference “Scientific Issues in Security and Combating Terrorism”, my application (including the appropriately size photo of me not smiling – a requirement), a check, my passport, and two photocopies of my “vital information” in my passport.

I told a friend at the State Department that I went to the Russian Consulate. Even lthough we were on the phone, I could hear his eyes do the proverbial “roll.” How was THAT? he asked.

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Public Diplomacy: Books, Articles, Websites #53 (Courtesy of Bruce Gregory)

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

October 22, 2010
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 Professor
George Washington University
Georgetown University

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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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Communication, Communications, and the “cyber arms” debate

By Cliff W. Gilmore

In Tom Gjelten’s September 23 NPR story titled “Seeing The Internet As An ‘Information Weapon’” Gjelten asks, “…why is there no arms control measure that would apply to the use of cyber weapons?” One obvious answer is that geography-based legal frameworks are ill-adapted to deal with a domain that is unconstrained by geography and subject to numerous competing interests. The situation is complicated further by an environment that changes at the speed of Moore’s Law.

Perhaps the most significant challenge however may be the information-centric mindset highlighted by Gjelten and prevalent among leaders, planners and communication practitioners alike. Part of the reason we have yet to develop applicable arms control measures for cyber weapons is a continued treatment of communications and communication (sans "s") as a singular activity rather than as two distinct fields of practice, the former grounded in technical science and the latter in social science.

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Aljazeera: tsunami of Chinese commerce is sparking tension and even violence in some parts of Africa

Earlier this month, Aljazeera screened a movie titled The Colony by Brent Huffman and Xiaoli Zhou. Huffman and Zhou explored the “onslaught of Chinese economic might and its impact on long-standing African traditions.” This economic colonization, hence the title of the film, is not without its pitfalls with minimal assimilation, integration, or perception of mutual benefit. As Huffman notes,

Although there is communication between the two sides at a certain level, it is rather limited. Despite various differences in language, culture, and work ethics, the Chinese are not making enough of an effort to integrate into Senegalese society.

Although the Chinese businesses have brought some benefits to the local low-income consumers, their overall presence is viewed with suspicion and hostility by many Senegalese.

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Event: U.S. Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy

image The U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy (USCCD), in partnership with the U.S. State Department and with the support of more than 1000 U.S. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) conducting citizen diplomacy activities, will convene a historic U.S. Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy on November 16-19, 2010 in Washington, DC. The goal of the Summit and ten year Initiative for Global Citizen Diplomacy is to double the number of American volunteers of all ages involved in international activities at home or abroad, from an estimated 60 million today to 120 million by 2020.

A detailed agenda is available online.

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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

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Event: Conversations with America: Meeting the Millennium Development Goals

Today, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah will hold a conversation with David Lane, President and CEO of ONE, on global development opportunities and challenges on the eve of the Millennium Development Goals summit. The discussion will be moderated by Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley and streamed live on www.state.gov and DipNote, the Department of State’s official blog, at 10:15 a.m. on September 16, 2010. (EDT).

Members of the general public will have the opportunity to participate through the submission of questions, some of which will be selected for response during the live broadcast. For more information about the U.S. government’s strategy for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, please visit http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/mdg/.

Source: State Department Public Affairs

Event: Digital Statecraft: Media, Broadcasting, and the Internet as Instruments of Public Diplomacy in the Middle East

Today, the Aspen Institute hosts a discussion on “digital statecraft” at its Washington, DC, office at DuPont Circle. Digital Statecraft: Media, Broadcasting, and the Internet as Instruments of Public Diplomacy in the Middle East will feature Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute and Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors; Eli Khoury, CEO of Quantum Communications, a leading advertising and communications firm in the Middle East; and Duncan MacInnes, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) in the Office of the Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

The topic is “the use of social and digital media as a tool to promote a vibrant civil society in the Middle East” and will include “insights and lessons learned from their extensive experience in the media sector and the region.”

The event will be webcast and archived on the Aspen Institute’s website. Lunch will also be served.

Date: today, Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Time: 12p – 1p

RSVP is requested: call 202-736-2526 or email maysam.ali@aspeninstitute.org.

See also:

The world of Wikileaks Part 2: A means of evaluating Public Diplomacy

By Ali Fisher

Wikileaks Part 2 looks at the impact of releasing information through the traditional media on the network of interactions using social media and reflects on the potential to use network analysis in evaluation. (See also The Small World of Wikileaks, Part 1.)

image From a Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy perspective, evaluation has become increasingly important with forthcoming reports and even spending decisions, for example, in the UK. If an organisation is seeking to develop lasting relationships, seeking to subsequently identify those relationships would be a logical part of any evaluation or bid for further funding.

The example of Wikileaks has much in common with those engaged in Public Diplomacy and seeking to measure their attempts to disperse information on specific issues. In terms of Public Diplomacy, Wikileaks part 1 discussed creating a baseline of interactions and information sharing behaviours. Part 1 also highlighted that information about Wikileaks was trapped in a ‘Small World’ limiting the ability of Wikileaks to go mainstream.

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