Hard Power, Soft Power, Smart Power

Ernest J. Wilson, III, the Dean of the Annenberg School of Communication at USC, has an article in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences (sub req’d) titled “Hard power, Soft Power, Smart Power.” 

In this paper Ernie argues the zero-sum relationship between hard and soft power must be replaced by a dynamic application of power, hard and soft, across a continuum appropriate for time and place known as Smart Power. 

Continue reading “Hard Power, Soft Power, Smart Power

Secretary Rice comments on State’s Office of the Coordinator of Reconstruction and Stabilization

image Speaking at Air University at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base recently, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was asked about the Office of the Coordinator of Reconstruction and Stabilization.  The Secretary’s long response is short on detail and incomplete in what hints at the low priority she has given an office, known as S/CRS, that is very much required today and tomorrow. 

The Secretary’s focus on the “2,000 or so Americans” in the Civilian Response Corps that is to draw from the general public modeled on the military’s reserve system ignores the two much more important components of S/CRS, the Active Response Corps (ARC) and the Stand-By Response Corps (SRC), that draw from government agencies: State, USAID, Transportation,  and the Justice and Agricultural Departments, among others.  See my post, In-sourcing the Tools of National Power for Success and Security, at Small Wars Journal for more on S/CRS, what it is and what it is intended to be. 

Continue reading “Secretary Rice comments on State’s Office of the Coordinator of Reconstruction and Stabilization

Public Diplomacy Conference: Murrow at Tufts

Today and tomorrow is promises to be a good discussion on public diplomacy at Tufts: Murrow 100th Anniversary Conference on “Public Diplomacy and International Citizenship.”  See the program here

The primary purpose of the conference is to elicit and facilitate the presentation of research, including faculty and student research (drawing upon seminar papers, M.A. and M.A.L.D. and Ph.D. theses, conference papers, etc.), in the field of Public Diplomacy, broadly conceived to encompass not just informational activity and communications systems and flows (and related techniques and technologies) but also educational exchange programs, cultural projects, foreign correspondence, the role of public opinion, government-business and government-civil society interaction, and inter-civilizational dialogues involving individuals and groups as well as governments and international organizations, at various levels and on different scales.

Particular topics on which panels have been proposed so far include: the various challenges facing officials conducting government public diplomacy, U.S. and other; international exchanges (educational, professional, cultural); diplomacy and ICT/media; PD and international business; the role of public diplomacy in conflict situations; and the public diplomacy of international organizations (UN system, WTO, other multilateral institutions). The “public diplomacy” of national political campaigns and the state branding efforts of “green” countries also have been suggested as possible panel topics for the conference. Other ideas may also be considered.

While the topics are broad, this is primarily an internal discussion as conference panelists are primarily Tufts alumni with some current students.  That said, I am very interested in what was said in this morning’s panels “Public Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution” and “Public Diplomacy and National Security” and especially the panel later today: “Government Public Diplomacy: Contemporary Challenges.”  Tomorrow’s “Nation Branding” will be interesting, but, and no offense to Switzerland, I would have suggested somebody from Sweden (a post on that country’s PD is forthcoming). 

I won’t be there but if you are, I’m interesting in your take-aways from what will surely be valuable discussions. 

See also:

Recent Testimony on Science Diplomacy by the NSF Director

It isn’t often that a you hear about science diplomacy being discussed at the highest levels.  Earlier this month the Director of the National Science Foundation, Dr. Arden L. Bement, testified before the House Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Science Education on the importance and value of science diplomacy.

Continue reading “Recent Testimony on Science Diplomacy by the NSF Director

Benjamin Franklin Awards for Public Diplomacy

My alma mater won an award! The U.S. Department of State has a new award for “outstanding leadership in advancing America’s ideals through public diplomacy by offering a positive vision of hope and opportunity rooted in America’s belief in freedom, justice, opportunity and respect for all.”  The Benjamin Franklin Awards for Public Diplomacy were given in several categories: Non-Profit (Search for Common Ground), Academic (USC, see below), Corporate (Johnson & Johnson), and Individual (Dave Brubeck, see Marc Lynch’s post on Brubeck here). 

Academic Category Award Winner: University of Southern California

Located in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC) is one of the world’s leading private research universities. In August 2003, the University established the USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School (CPD) as a partnership between the Annenberg School for Communication and the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences’ School of International Relations. CPD is a joint research and professional training facility dedicated to furthering the study and practice of public diplomacy as it is practiced around the world. In 2005, USC created the first graduate-level teaching program in the world devoted exclusively to public diplomacy, and will graduate its first full Master of Public Diplomacy class in May 2008. We honor the University for its vision in developing the world’s premier research facility in the field of public diplomacy and for its excellence in educating the next generation of public diplomacy practitioners. Adam Clayton Powell, III, Vice Provost, Globalization, accepted the award on behalf of the University of Southern California.

Yes, they’ll graduate the “first full Master of Public Diplomacy class”, but two of us finished early… Adam, who had more than a hidden hand in creating the Center, picked up the award. 


MountainRunner: the personal interest blog

Readers from March 2008 I just learned MountainRunner is to MNF-I readers: it’s classified as “personal pages.”  This could explain why I seem to have the same number of readers from Aden, Djibouti, Damascus, and Ilam in Iran (?!) as from Baghdad.  Do you wait until you’re in Tehran, Kuwait, Doha, or elsewhere to read the blog? 

What’s your experience?

If it is blocked, there’s always the subscription via email… but of course you have to read this post or the blog to find out…

Another Book Review of Yale Richmond’s Practicing Public Diplomacy

For another review of Yale Richmond’s new book, Practicing Public Diplomacy: A Cold War Odyssey, checkout at Pat Kushlis at WhirledView:  

…Richmond explains well how politics influenced cultural exchange and that the work of cultural officers in the Soviet Union – of which I was one – was often as much political as it was cultural. He also recognized that cultural exchange was a two way street because through “cultural exchange we learned much about each other.” And he stressed that “while the immediate objective may have been improved mutual understanding, the long-range objective was a more stable relationship between the two countries.”

Richmond concludes in his “Afterword” by asking whether public diplomacy practices learned during the Cold War could “serve as a model for defeating terrorism and anti-Americanism in the world we live in today.” His nuanced answer in which he emphasizes the need for patience – Rome was not built in a day and the Cold War lasted decades – as well as the necessity for policy makers to be “aware of the public opinion consequences of their decisions” is far more “yes” than “no.”

Yet Richmond also cautions that those who are “expected to practice public diplomacy should also have some input into the decisions” that govern its implementation and that increased funding and a larger public diplomacy staff will not alone win support for American policies. I agree.

Read her whole review here.

Information Operations From an Asian Perspective

Update: At the request of the author, MAJ James Yin, the paper is removed pending publication in the Journal of Information Warfare, co-authored with Phil Taylor.  I’ll post a link when it’s available.

Another paper on Information Operations by a Major, this time it’s MAJ James Yin of the Singapore Armed Forces.  It was presented at the Information Operations & Influence Activity Symposium at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom.  MAJ Yin’s abstract:

This paper is a comparative study of the practice of influence in its various forms i.e. propaganda, public diplomacy, psychological operations, public affairs, cyberwarfare, EW etc. in Asia. It will highlight the state of development, differences in concepts, organization and application of influence in Asian countries as compared to the Western models dominating discussions on information operations and influence today. By doing so, it attempts to provide alternative angles of approaching information operations and influence that could contribute to the generation of solutions to address challenges faced by policy-makers and practitioners today. Finally, such a study will serve to broaden the body of knowledge in influence to include both Eastern and Western viewpoints.

Yin examines China, Japan, and Taiwan “based on their ability to influence the balance of power in Asia-Pacific and their propensity to use cyber warfare” and Thailand because of its COIN operations against Muslim insurgents. 

Yin is currently at the University of Leeds (no doubt working with Phil Taylor) and wisely incorporated Smith-Mundt into his analysis (although he cited colleague Mike Waller’s Public Diplomacy Reader and not this blog…). 

If IO is in anyway interesting to you, this is required reading.  Hat tip goes to Under the Influence by David Bailey.

See also: Planning to Influence by USMC MAJ Matt Morgan

The paper about the divide between Public Affairs / Information Operations you never read

In “Planning to Influence: A Commander’s Guide to the PA/IO Relationship“, United States Marine Corps Major Matt Morgan analyzes restraints on effective information activities within the Marines, but it speaks to the whole of Defense communications.  Adapted from the executive summary of his masters thesis at Marine Corps U., it is a must-read for anyone interested in the subject.  Matt couldn’t get it published when he wrote it two years ago so today it is posted here with his permission.

More than a decade of innovation in the global information environment has radically changed the way the world communicates, and our enemies have gained new advantage in building support for their causes and inciting hostility against us. While Marine Corps leaders have long understood the importance of information in the form of command, control, communications, and intelligence, it is only relatively recently that influence and perception have become widely recognized as critical factors in all aspects of military operations. Dealing with perception in operational design, however, is complex, and integrating influence into the Marine Corps Planning Process proves difficult. Complicating factors include a lack of naval doctrine on the conduct of information operations (IO) and policies that restrict collaboration between the primary activities dealing in the cognitive dimension of the information environment—that is, public affairs (PA) and psychological operations (PSYOP).

Who is MAJ Morgan?

Maj. Morgan is currently serving in Iraq as the Strategic Communication Policy Advisor to the Commanding General, Task Force 134, Detainee Operations. Additionally, he has served as Chief of National Media Outreach, MNF-I Strategic Effects, and was deployed in 2003 to the Horn of Africa as Public Affairs Officer for CJTF-HOA. Maj. Morgan is a graduate of Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the principal author of the United States Marine Corps Strategic Communication Plan.

Beyond Government Accountability: a challenging look at Peacekeepers

My article in Serviam, the magazine dedicated to “Stability Solutions in a Dangerous World,” is now available.  I mentioned it before, but now you can read the whole thing. 

It’s intended to be thought-provoking.  By the way, it was vetted and approved by an international lawyer and a consultant to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.  There will be more on the subject of the lack of accountability of peacekeepers by others.  In the immediate future, it sounds like you can catch more in the upcoming HBO movie The Greatest Silence (and listen to this NPR interview with the filmmaker). 

Continue reading “Beyond Government Accountability: a challenging look at Peacekeepers

Phil Carter goes mainstream

imageFriend and colleague Phil Carter has a new home for his blog: the Washington Post.  Update your links. 

There is some deeper commentary to be made about traditional media not just expanding into New Media but adding an existing New Mediaist to its brand. 

With the higher profile comes of course a broader audience.  This can be good and bad, but overall, a rising tide raises all boats as he enlightens the debate with his perspective. 

Congrats, Phil.  I think you’re buying the first round at Father’s Office when you’re back in town…

When History Repeats: Troubles at VOA in 1946 are Remarkably Similar to the Troubles at VOA in 2008 (Updated)

image Sixty-two years ago, Congress was so troubled by the operations of the Voice of America that it slashed the appropriation for the State Department’s Office of International Information and Cultural Affairs, known as OIC, in half.  At the time, not only were broadcasts of dubious quality hitting the airwaves (including many from private media contractors), but a lack of accountability of the personnel and content producers.  Congress was not questioning the act or need to propagandize, it was simply responding to the extremely poor quality and haphazard nature of U.S. efforts in light of communist inroads into Western public opinion.
Some Congressional Republicans feared a peacetime VOA would be bias towards a Democratic Administration.  Others thought the “whispers” from State in the war of contemporary war of ideas at the beginning of the Cold War were symptomatic of a larger problem of communist sympathizers within State, a problem made worse by a rash of spy scandals.  America’s information systems were ill and the cure was the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, formally known as Public Law 402: The United States Information and Educations Exchange Act of 1948.

In 2008, and again there’s trouble at VOA.  I have a copy of the five-page letter dated 4 April 2008 Senator Tom Coburn, MD, (R-KY) sent to Stephen Hadley, the National Security Advisor, detailing his issues with VOA’s Farsi broadcasts.  The Senator is troubled by not just the VOA but its oversight organization, the Broadcasting Board of Governors.  His three major concerns are:

  1. A lack of transparency in both VOA and BBG
  2. A lack of accountability in both VOA and BBG
  3. Absence of guidance and coordination from Key Policy-Making Agencies (State, Defense, Homeland Security, National Security Council, etc)

I agree with the essence of his arguments: we’re paying too much for services, the quality of staff and content is questionable, and there’s no accountability or transparency. Each of these, ironically, were foundational reasons for Smith-Mundt!  In other words, most of the Senators complaints are rooted in modern distortions of Smith-Mundt that institutionalized VOA to address the same problems sixty years ago.

Sixty years ago, Smith-Mundt imposed in-sourcing and citizenship requirements in the face of questions of loyalty and counter-productive broadcasts.  The absence of transparency can be traced to distorting and ill-conceived amendments to the Act in 1972 and 1985 that were contrary to the purpose of the act.  I could go on, but I won’t here (go here for more).

One interesting example, not related to Smith-Mundt, the Senator highlights is the VOA’s “terrorists are freedom fighters” policy posted on VOA’s blog (VOA’s blog would a) violated Smith-Mundt if they ever post any part of a transcript online and b) didn’t host it on a free service like blogspot).  The discussion of the use of the “t-word” is, well, interesting.  See for yourself.

In addition to long overdue reforms of BBG, the Senator wants to install three new governors (he doesn’t say who he wants to replace): Cliff May, Scott Carpenter, and Enders Wimbush.

However, while I agree with the Senator’s criticism of VOA, I suspect he wants to swing the pendulum too far to the other side.  Regardless, the cure from the doctor from Oklahoma is not holding up Jim Glassman’s nomination.  The position of Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy (and, by the way, for Public Affairs) should not remain empty any longer.

Instead, I urge the good Senator to instead convince his House colleagues (I understand from discussions last year that his colleagues in the Senate are already open to the idea) to revisit Smith-Mundt, especially the distorted modern perception that pervades not just our civilian information agencies but our military services as well.  This Act, the fix for similar complaints nearly exactly sixty years ago, is the root of most of his complaints.  Any promises the Senator extracts from the White House to satisfy his valid concerns laid out in his letter will be met, under current conditions, by artificial and false firewalls stemming from modern incorrect interpretations of Smith-Mundt.

Book Review: Practicing Public Diplomacy

imageFriend and colleague, John Brown, reviewed Yale Richmond’s latest book, Practicing Public Diplomacy: A Cold War Odyssey, at AmericanDiplomacy.org.  From John’s review:

In his memoir, Practicing Public Diplomacy: A Cold War Odyssey, Yale Richmond tells us what public diplomacy is in a lively and personal way, by recounting his many experiences, in Asia and Eastern Europe (as well as Washington, DC), as a Foreign Service officer (FSO) handling press, educational, and cultural affairs during the second half of the past century. Thanks to his subtle, engaging, and witty narrative about his distinguished 30-year career, the reader learns a great deal about how public diplomacy is carried out in the field by a model FSO (for what overarching policy purposes, however, is not covered in detail by this slim volume).

Richmond’s elucidating anecdotes about the key persons he met throughout his career abroad underscore that public diplomacy — as Edward R. Murrow, the Director of the United States Information Agency (USIA) during the Kennedy administration, famously said — “is not so much moving information or guidance or policy five or 10,000 miles. … The real art is to move it the last three feet in face to face conversation.” Focusing on individuals (rather than governments), public diplomacy encompasses an infinite variety of activities, some of which can have important (but hard to quantify) long-term consequences: from building “national consciousness in a new country” (Richmond on what he did while posted in Laos in 1954-1956) to organizing educational exchanges, a “vital part of Public Diplomacy” (to cite Richmond again) which (in the case of the Soviet Union, where Richmond served 1967-1969) can be effective “in bringing about change in a country that had isolated itself from the West for so many years.”

Read the whole review at AmericanDiplomacy.org as well as an excerpt shows the style of most of the book.  It does not read like a text book, but as a series of first hand experiences told by a remarkable individual that, as Pat Kushlis remarked, is “one of our very best practitioners” of public diplomacy. 

Beyond Government Accountability: a challenging look at Peacekeepers

Beyond Government Accountability: a challenging look at Peacekeepers by Matt Armstrong, 8 April 2008, at Serviam Magazine (magazine website no longer available).

The relationship between peacekeeping forces (PKFs) and the U.N. Security Council mimics the relationship between a private military or security company and the country in question. The Security Council negotiates with U.N. members to contribute to PKOs, most often in the stead of the five permanent Security Council members who actually make the decision to deploy military observers, police, and troops. The General Assembly does not authorize or oversee PKFs, but it is tasked to operate on the behalf of the Security Council.

Forgotten is Article 43 of the U.N. Charter, which calls for maintaining a standing rapid reaction military force to be available to the Security Council. Instead, the U.N. relies on ad hoc partnerships and “conditional commitments” through the U.N. Stand-By Arrangements System. This system falls well short of what was envisioned when it was established six decades ago at the dawn of the Cold War.