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

Spectrum of War and Peace (2008)

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, and effectiveness, of different elements of power and methods engagement. But at no time, especially in today’s global information environment, global diasporas, and the relative increased power of individuals and non-state actors relative to states and 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 Peace (2008)

As 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. Moving down the slope, as well as preventing upward movement, requires the smart and nuanced application of power through the use of power in terms the target understands. Power is move than just military force or diplomatic maneuvers. The simplified DIME model (Diplomacy, Information, Military, and Economic aspects of national power), and a new spawn for those feeling left out, DIMEFIL/MIDLIFE (DIME + finance, law enforcement, and intelligence), are helpful conceptually, the application of DIME is often not to craft a comprehensive approach. Instead, each is often treated as an independent vector. Power, to be intelligently applied, must carefully raise and lower the emphasis across these domains to achieve the desired effect. I developed the Smart Power Equalizer to visually represent both the independence of each method of power and the need to increase or decrease each element to fit a particular situation in a specific moment in time. 

Public diplomacy is in play across the spectrum, unlike other information programs 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.