The Spectrum of War and Peace and the Role of Public Diplomacy

I was on the wrap-up panel at the end of an unnamed conference a few months ago where I verbally presented the idea of a spectrum of war and peace as it related to the subject matter. Movement along this spectrum, as I described it, changes the appropriateness, even the effectiveness, of different types of power and engagement. But at no time, especially in today’s global information environment, global diasporas, and the importance of individuals and non-state actors, does the power of persuasion through information go away.

I submit here a sanitized version of the spectrum as food for thought and for discussion. Understanding when and where public diplomacy (and/or strategic communication) fits is essential for buy-in by Congress and others.

Spectrum of War and PeaceAs regions move along this spectrum, USAID and the like that build state-capacity, enter, as does conventional military forces. The volume and type of informational engagement and cultural and educational exchanges also changes as regions move along the curve. At certain points, there is a preponderance of certain types of informational engagement – Information Operations and maybe PSYOP over say Public Diplomacy – that will change as conditions change.

Regions are continually moving along this spectrum and it is in our national security interest to keep them at the bottom of the slope. Helping their migration down the slope, and to prevent their migration up the slope requires the smart and nuanced application of power. This means conceiving and projecting power not in our terms, but in terms the target “audience” understands and, more importantly, requires. Smart Power EqualizerThis means understanding that power is greater than the over-simplified DIME model – Diplomacy, Information, Military, and Economic – and the DIMEFIL/MIDLIFE model – DIME + finance, law enforcement, and intelligence. Power must also be intelligently and constantly updated. Representing this dynamic process is what I called the Smart Power Equalizer.

Public diplomacy is in play across the spectrum, unlike other informational modes which kick in on the upward slope and drop away on the downward. I have a graphic on that, but it needs a bit more polish.


See also: