I just returned from a trip that emphasized the importance of my mission statement that I posted before I left (w/ slight mod on my return). Between conversations before and after the conference and the conference itself, it seems much more important that we revisit the concepts of strategic communications, information operations, PSYOPS, and public diplomacy in the age of Unrestricted Warfare.
Public Diplomacy Watch points out an attempt to engage foreign audiences through blogging. This is apparently a low priority project as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes doesn’t even know how many of her people are assigned to the task.
How many are on her office’s blog team? “I think it’s four or five,” says Hughes.
Just the other day another incident occurred that begs a major information campaign based on truth: using children as decoys. Such a wedge issue, similar to the Zarqawari “blooper tape” and Zarqawari’s attack on the Jordanian wedding, can have a real effect. Even if not immediate, it can have a cumulative impact. Arrangements like the release of Sheik Ahmed Shibani (and here) should be integrated into the communication plan as we work against the unresponsiveness of the lingering effects of negative PR like Abu Ghraib.
Of course, there’s a limit to how far Hughes can go because of limits of language acquisition that just seems to be new and unique. Check out our efforts in the past (but don’t tell if not asked).
Enough years have passed, let’s get our strategic communications and public diplomacy house in order already. This doesn’t mean a slick Charlotte Beers / Madison Avenue approach, but a smart grass roots effort based on facts. In the case of the children as decoys, find the parents, link in the soccer balls to parents via IP programs, and highlight the change of tactics on both sides. We’re finally doing real engagement as clear and hold actually means hold and at least one segment of the opposition has degenerated further.
See Noah’s post highlighting why we need a better integration with communication specialists.