The 2009 Smith-Mundt Symposium was last night. The goal was to foster an interagency, inter-tribal, and cross-governmental discussion on the fundamentals of America’s global engagement. While the organizing principle was the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, it was really an act of subversion to have a discourse on shaping America’s discourse.
My desired outcome of the Symposium was not to generate new legislation, but to shake up the perceptions of what we are doing, how we are doing it, and why are doing it, “it” being global engagement, known in some tribes as “public diplomacy” and others as “strategic communication”. I believe that mission was accomplished.
Keynotes by Under Secretary Jim Glassman and now-Special Advisor (former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense) Mike Doran both included new ideas, which of course generated a lot of good questions (as all the questions were through the day), as well as some humor.
The interest in the event was high. Over 260 people registered for the event. The final attendance was, I believe, more than 190. Due to the capacity of the venue, over twenty remained on the waiting list.
Two indicators that the event was useful to the audience was the surprisingly few empty seats at 5:30p and that many who had to leave actually came back to finish the day.
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