Public Diplomacy, Strategic Communications and Unrestricted Warfare

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.

2 thoughts on “Public Diplomacy, Strategic Communications and Unrestricted Warfare

  1. So now it’s strategic communication, huh?So what’s new?
    Slightly different perhaps, turned into doctrines and policies perhaps, but for
    the most part just another part of basic human every day life hyped up ,
    polished up and turned into yet another commodity with a new name since the last
    had bad associations and wouldn’t sell.
    Like renaming lying “mismanaging of truth” to sneak it past people’s
    perceptional radar of bad experience and associations.
    People communicate all the time, as soon as there are one or more people exposed
    to my behavior everything I say and do will be perceived.
    Skilled communicators, actors and the demagogues of ancient Greece for example,
    can control most of the means they have of communicating in each particular
    instance – verbal and non-verbal – and make them all facilitate a desired
    results in the intended audience.
    For all us less skilled – or less interested – in “streamlining” all our
    signals, we usually limit ourselves to chose our words and maybe the other
    signals we send out will support what we say or at least we will not be caught
    with the contradiction.
    So, this is basically it – making as much as possible of the means of
    communication at our disposal put under conscious control and intent, and then
    make them join efforts in supporting  a desired reaction to what we
    communicate in the minds and behavior of the audience we focus on.
    Strategic communication is nothing more than making communication become one
    tool among others in trying to obtain as certain objective – or desired result,
    if we leave out the Military jargon.
    So what’s new?
    It is nothing new that government officials play up to whatever part of the
    public they want to manipulate/manage the perceptions, minds and hearts of. We
    expect them too, and we even act as if we did not notice all the times they act
    against what they say – such a great audience.
    What is new is perhaps that the manipulation of minds and heart by means of
    communication is now housebroken and legitimized by repetition without
    objection, sneaking by legitimizing one thing that is in all but the name the
    same as what is met by negative attitudes and perceptions, and – of course – by
    selling it as the bets thing since sliced bread in securing the best for all and
    the national security.
    I communicate with strategies – in this case my objective is to inflate the hype
    of Strategic Communication and tell it like it is. Everyone wants to alter
    others perceptions in a way that benefits them in some way – it is too much a
    part of what each and every one of us do, and of what makes society work, to
    make it illegal. It would be possible only to try to create legal categories for
    who, when, where and how it can be done legally – but such legislature will be
    too slow, too filled with loopholes, too hard to enforce.
    Much easier would be to instead see it as the responsibility of anyone who wants
    to become a less easily manipulated target, to get wise.
    After all, legislature was never meant to be a substitute for thinking.

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