Because the fact that I am joining CNAS on Monday morning will affect this blog and the way we do business, I felt the need to explain a little bit about the move and my future. So I sat down with myself over breakfast and did a little Q&A. This is a bit meta, so bear with me here.
Read the whole interview at the AM blog. Congrats Ex. Next beer’s on you. The second should be on John…
U.S. strategic communication and public diplomacy have been the targets of scathing criticism and proposals for overhaul since shortly after September 11, 2001. Proposals and recommendations abound, but many reform efforts have stumbled or have been plagued by false starts. Further contributing to this problem are the differences in terminology and approaches between the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Defense, the two agencies with primary responsibility in this area. With the need for reform persisting and interest in this area continuing to grow, RAND elected to conduct a survey of existing reform and improvement proposals. The subsequent literature review and interviews with subject-matter experts exposed four core themes in these recommendations: a call for “leadership,” demand for increased resources for strategic communication and public diplomacy, a call for a clear definition of an overall strategy, and the need for better coordination and organizational changes (or additions). The survey also includes a detailed discussion of several frequently appearing recommendations, including revised legislation, leveraging the private sector, the adoption of enterprise-level or whole-of-government solutions, better use of research, a greater focus on measurement, increased use of technology, training and education improvements, a quadrennial review of strategic communication and public diplomacy, and a review of international broadcasting.
In the Senate’s Foreign Relation’s hearing room in Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419, several witnesses will be called to discussion the subject “Engaging Muslim Communities Around the World.” No one from the Administration will be testifying. This is interesting but not surprising: who would they call? Perhaps Dennis Ross? They can’t explain what or where he’ll focus on.
Regardless, Albright and Fallon should have interesting comments. Here is the latest on the hearing:
Date: Thursday, February 26, 2009 Time: 2:30 p.m. Place SD-419
The Honorable Madeleine K. Albright, Former Secretary of State
Admiral William J. Fallon, USN (ret.) Former Commander of U.S. Central Command
Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director, Gallup Center for Muslim Studies
Global Intentions Local Results is an in-depth look at the influence of campus internationalization on local communities. Case studies at three very different small colleges in three small communities in Pennsylvania illustrate how colleges faced challenges to bring the world to their communities.
Working World is the perfect resource for making sound career choices, and is particularly valuable for those interested in exploring a career in international education, exchange, and development. It is an intergenerational dialogue about identifying your cause and charting a career
Arias, Cabalettas, and Foreign Affairs recalls the author’s devoted engagement with music, especially opera, in the context of his 35-year long career in the US Foreign Service. In these memoirs Hans “Tom” Tuch shares fascinating stories from his Cold War service in Moscow, Sofia, and Berlin.
Books will surely be available at the event or through the Amazon.com links above.
We are currently engaged with an enemy that attempts to win battles in the press where the tide of public opinion is the ammunition and make no mistake… this ammunition is effective, especially when it has credibility. The effective engagement of the "middle ground" or the people of the rural communities and villages of this country is where the long war will be won. EVERY TIME you move down a road in this country, you are affecting this middle ground either positively or negatively.
The memo is worth a read. American public diplomacy wore combat boots then and it continues to do so today, although less so than a year ago. Let’s hope the trend back to civilian leadership in shaping perceptions about America continue.
“It’s about chocolate covered bunnies.” That’s how Pratap Chatterjee explained the his new book, Halliburton’s Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War. In town for a book tour, we met Wednesday at my local Starbucks to catch-up, but mostly we talked about his book. I have to admit I haven’t read it, so I don’t know the details but our discussion about the core theme was so intriguing that while he was talking I started talking notes to post a kind of interview with the author.
“The world today can be much better understood if you think of it from the perspective of regions and not states,” said Gen. Jim Jones
International affairs is increasingly shaped by geography that disregards state boundaries and the primacy of governments. Discussions around America’s ability to operate in this modern reality often ignore the effect bureaucratic structures and cultures.
In the debates over how the State Department will engage foreign publics, lost in the shuffle is how the State Department remains oriented on countries instead of regions. The Department of State needs to become the Department of Non-State if it is to be effective as international affairs transcend the increasingly quaint issues of bilateral diplomacy.
For a variety of reasons, the Department of Defence has increased its role in foreign affairs. Decades ago, at the same time USIA was introduced, State was to have primacy in international affairs. Now it is one member of the interagency collaboration of unequal partners.
The map below gives a clue to an aspect of continuing incompatibility between these two agencies, and suggests an functional division that does not match modern needs. The lack of alignment in three critical area – Africa, Middle East, and South Asia – is one issue. Another, arguably more critical, is not indicated by the map: while Defense looks at regions, State functions at the country level. This is a problem when public affairs officers in one country does not have the same priorities as the PAO in the neighboring country. The greater issue is when the ambassadors in a region do not agree or concur on courses of action.
State can, and must, do more to be a partner, or a leader among equals. Authorities at several levels of leaders do not equate across the agencies, the ranks do not match, and resources available fosters real and perceived differences in power to affect change with audiences abroad and domestically.
As collaboration between State and Defense increases, State and Defense must align how they divide up the world and adjust their organizations accordingly. As it is, State should adapt its nineteenth century model to Defense’s model. This means State needs to do some promoting and one elimination. State must get rid of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs and elevate the Assistant Secretaries in charge of each regional bureaus to Under Secretary, making the head of the regional bureau the equivalent of a four-star general and thus a co-equal, by rank, to the Combatant Commander. Whenever a Combatant Commander appears on the Hill, so to should the Regional Under Secretary.
I’ve received some push back on this structure because of the additional reporting to the Secretary of State, but if the Secretary of Defense can have Combatant Commanders report directly to him, why can’t the Secretary of State have Regional Bureaus report directly to here? Let’s flatten the hierarchy and move away from the 19th century alignment. Food for thought: should State instantiate a Joint Chiefs-like entity for an additional advisor?
Sure, Ambassadors would lose some independence as the Bureaus become more powerful as State shifts to a regional view from a country-level view, but this isn’t necessarily a zero-sum. (Side note: regarding Ambassadors, keep in mind that everyone at State and Defense are the President’s representative.)
H/T to DF who scored big time finding the above map.
document the use of web 2.0 and social media technologies in the practice of public diplomacy. PD 2.0.org will represent opinions and present examples from a wide range of public and private institutions from around the world. Through interviews with practitioners and thought leaders, analysis of examples in practice, how-to articles, press digests and other sourced and original content, PD 2.0.org’s goal is to become a central source for information on Public Diplomacy 2.0.
Public diplomacy 2.0 is the use of new media (web 2.0, social media) to listen, engage and influence foreign publics, either by a government (public diplomacy) or by citizens (citizen diplomacy) in order to create a favorable environment for achieving national security, political, cultural and economic objectives. (Liberally stolen borrowed from http://mountainrunner.us/2008/11/defining_public_diplomacy.html)
This should shape up to be a significant node in the discourse about the role and utility of social media in what we often call public diplomacy.
This center for discourse would do well to model itself on the community-based Small Wars Journal website and provide fora for discussions, news analysis, knowledge sharing, posting of articles ranging from editorial to journal-length and format, and classifieds.
Check out the working document for the project’s roadmap, including possible interviews, features, partnership possibilities, initial taxonomy, etc.
President Obama announced the “White House Internet Team” on Monday. From Ari Melber at The Nation:
Several of the President’s "key White House staff," according to a press release from Robert Gibbs, will manage large portfolios for Internet outreach and "citizen participation" online. The list includes several veterans of Obama’s presidential campaign, naturally, a former web adviser to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and a former Google staffer who worked on the company’s Moderator platform.
It is noteworthy that the President did call on the Huffington Post in a press conference. Read the whole, brief, article by Melber here.
I doubt they’ll have the same limited agility as State’s various “Internet teams”, from America.gov to DipNote to Digital Outreach and beyond.
Speaking of agility, it would be nice to have State’s R, the public diplomacy bureau, not alternating between sitting with palms down on the desk and chasing their tails while wondering if they have a future and if so, what that future will be.
The Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars at the University of Southern California last week launched their twice-yearly magazine. Titled simply “PD”, the website is http://publicdiplomacymagazine.com/, it is edited by graduate students and published with the support of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy and the USC School for International Relations.
According to the website, the publication will “address the challenges and issues of public diplomacy, not only for the United States, but wherever it is relevant in the world.”
Debuting with some serious names (table of contents is below the fold), we hope the magazine remains strong through its second and third issues and beyond.
Calling it a magazine is a bit of stretch considering its publishing schedule, but I know from when we tried to launch the same thing a couple of years ago at USC, there was significant (fatal) resistance to calling it a journal (and we were pushing for 3-4 times a year with classifieds, event calendar, etc.).
This is the only game in town outside of web-only fora for serious public diplomacy articles. The slow production cycle in many ways means the publication is much more like a journal as it means less dynamic and less time-sensitive articles. I’ve already heard from several who wished this wasn’t a semi-annual because they wanted to publish articles but couldn’t wait.
It will be interesting to see the articles in the the next issues as interpretations of public diplomacy by the Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars and the Center on Public Diplomacy will certainly dictate what is published.
The raw numbers don’t tell the complete the story, but that half or more of the reports shared four recommendations is significant.
Somebody, perhaps one of Steve’s student’s, should take this a step further: look at the reports’ definition of public diplomacy and weigh the recommendations accordingly. Is Public Diplomacy an active component in the struggle of minds and wills using “fast” and “slow” communications or a passive informational tool primarily based on the “slow” communications of exchanges?
Either way, Steve’s analysis is unique and the top values are certainly common and yet elusive? Why? Because we had, until last year, no real understanding of the value of people to people engagement after we came out of thirty years of state on state diplomacy followed by the End of History. Congress is eager to help change the system and the Defense Department is eager to help, but will the system, now “owned” by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, be changed?
Briefly, a resource some may find useful: Detecting Deception: A Bibliography of Counterdeception Across Time, Cultures and Disciplines by Barton Whaley (edited by Susan Stratton Aykroyd) for the Foreign Denial & Deception Committee of the National Intelligence Council. Less than three years old (March 2006), it is a 676 page (3.1mb) annotated bibliography with brief comments on each entry. It would be nice to have this resource in an electronic database.
The book’s purpose is three-fold:
1) To be the first standard guide to the literature on detection and intelligence analysis in general. 2) To point the reader to those specific writings most useful for analysis, research, development, teaching, or training. 3) To alert the reader to the main competing theories and methods used for analyzing mysteries, particularly where deception is present.
Whaley’s defines deception as
…any attempt—by words or actions—intended to distort another person’s or group’s perception of reality. And to keep matters simple, a lie is any statement made with the intent to deceive. These definitions avoid confusion with mere misinformation, incomplete information, or the truth value of statements. But they do permit us to include the authorized lies and deceptions practiced with our knowledge and approval by stage actors, magicians, and poker players. Moreover, this definition gets around the worrisome problem of self-deception. Instead, for our present purpose, the target of a deception is not oneself but always another’s mind.
Definitely an interesting resource for the engaging in the struggle for minds and wills.
The Arab world’s (uneven) progress: A knowledge society is budding. But further reform is needed, for the sake of American security, global prosperity, and Arab dignity. by Kristin Lord in The Christian Science Monitor:
Five years ago, the United Nations published the Arab Human Development Report on Building a Knowledge Society. That widely read – and highly controversial – report found a "knowledge deficit" that threatens human development, economic growth, and the future potential of Arab societies. This week the Brookings Institution published a new study, in Arabic, that evaluates what has and has not changed since 2003.
Political instability may dominate the headlines, but advances in education, science, industry, and economic reform also deserve notice. Access to education has expanded markedly over the past five years. Jordan exceeded the international average on eighth grade science scores for the first time ever. New university campuses, including branches of world-class universities in Qatar’s Education City, has enrolled more students each year for the past six years. …
Why does this matter? For Arabs, success or failure in building a knowledge society will shape their collective future. It will mean the difference between wealth and poverty, dynamism and stagnation, frustration and hope.
For the United States and the global community, thriving Arab societies bear the promise of less political instability, less anger and despair, and less animosity toward the West. Such societies would export fewer security threats in form of terrorism, economic disruption, and war.
The Obama administration now has the opportunity and the ambition to dramatically transform America’s dialogue with the world. But doing so will require a new approach to engaging with the Arab and Muslim world that moves beyond the “war on terror”. American strategy must also transcend the rift that divides present outreach efforts between “strategic communications” and “public diplomacy”. …
But this is not just a battle over resources between the State Department and the Pentagon (though it is also that). It is a battle over concepts. Strategic communications is about control: dominating the information battlefield, shaping the message, defeating the enemy. Traditional public diplomacy is about relationships: building trust, creating networks, establishing credibility. This requires a longer-term outlook, where nurturing a free and independent media in which a variety of voices, friendly and hostile, can compete on an even playing field is more important than momentary tactical information dominance. If American public diplomacy wears combat boots, what does that say about America’s relationship with the world? …
But we need to rethink the foundations of public diplomacy for the new century, just as the American military was forced to rethink its approach in the face of the debacle in Iraq – a process that produced a much-heralded new counterinsurgency field manual for American troops. What would a new field manual for public diplomacy look like?
DOD says decision not final: Flournoy aims to curtail or nix pentagon’s public diplomacy shop by Fawzia Sheikh at InsideDefense.com (sub req’d)
During the confirmation process, Flournoy discussed a need to shift some portfolios to better align the office of the under secretary of defense for policy with the policy objectives of Obama and Gates, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington told ITP in a Feb. 18 e-mail. Changes will not constitute a significant reorganization of the policy shop, but rather "a shifting of responsibilities," Withington stated.
Flournoy plans to discuss potential organizational shifts with internal and external stakeholders before making specific recommendations to Gates, he added. He said details will be unveiled once decisions are reached.
Pentagon and congressional advocates of the DOD public diplomacy office, however, are privately grumbling. A congressional staffer who oversees defense issues told ITP he has heard "rumblings" for the last several days about this possible policy shift on diplomacy. It would be "a big mistake" to follow through with Flournoy’s idea, the congressional staffer asserted.
Over the weekend of January 30 through February 1, the Howard Gilman Foundation, Meridian International Center, and The Public Diplomacy Council brought together seventy people – public and private sector stakeholders frustrated with this demise and determined to restore public diplomacy as a viable tool of foreign policy – to discuss the structure of America’s global engagement at the White Oak Conference Center in Florida.
The product of the conference is a short, easily read document of common-sense recommendations that would otherwise be in larger reports. All but three of the conference participants endorsed the report. Those who abstained did so because their employers do not permit even personal endorsements. The report is simple and straight forward, so much so that the endorsements run longer than the report.
On February 19, I moderated a sixty-minute roundtable discussion between Doug Wilson of the Howard Gilman Foundation and Bob Coonrod of The Public Diplomacy Council. Tara Sonenshine was originally scheduled to attend but had a scheduling conflict at the last minute. The participants were Pat Kushlis of WhirledView, Shawn Powers of Intermap.org, John Brown of PDPBR (and now Notes and Essays), Kim Andrew Elliot of www.kimandrewelliott.com, Steve Corman of COMOPS, Jennifer Bryson of Public Discourse, Chris Tomlinson of the AP, and Danielle Kelton from PD 101.
On the White Oak experience, while I enjoyed the horse riding quite a bit, it was meeting and exchanging ideas with luminaries that were really exciting. I enjoyed talking at length with the likes of Harriet Fulbright and Joe Nye. Latter conversations with Joe included pointing out that his five-point matrix for modern global engagement looks a lot like a pentagon (he laughed).
At the conference, I sat on the “scene-setting” panel the first night, which was a bit intimidating. On my left was Harriet Fulbright, the wife of the late Senator Fulbright, and on my right was Barry Fulton, former Associate Director of USIA, with moderator Bob Coonrod, President of The Public Diplomacy Council, and Len Badlyga, former Director of the Office of European Affairs at the USIA, were on the other side of Harriet and Barry, respectively. The gist of the panel, and my wrap-up comments were the same as the report: there was a time that we understood the importance of public opinion and prioritized and resourced people and activities, including foreign (and even domestic) policies, appropriately. The way forward is surprisingly simple if we step back and look at the foundational issues, which Harriet, Barry, and Len all shared using their own decades of experience.
Briefly, as Public Diplomacy Week comes to a close, the “week” may actually be a month. In other words, this might be declared Public Diplomacy Month. Besides the likely official announcement of the intent to nominate Judith McHale for Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, there will likely more public and vigorous discussion on public diplomacy percolating to the surface.
Among the events next week I want to draw your attention to, is a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
Hearing Engaging with Muslim Communities Around the World
Date: Thursday, February 26, 2009
Time: 2:30 p.m.
The Honorable Madeleine K. Albright, Former Secretary of State
Admiral William J. Fallon, USN (ret.) Former Commander of U.S. Central Command
Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director, Gallup Center for Muslim Studies
When I was invited to a videoconference at the Washington offices of the Russian Information Agency/Novosti on "What President Obama Signifies to Russia" I was somewhat skeptical of whether the event would be a good use of my time. I was skeptical because I expected that the discussion from the Russian end was going to consist of all the predictable lines of discussion that I had heard so many times before. I was, however, intrigued by one of the scheduled topics for the conference — how is the Obama administration going to use public diplomacy?
Public diplomacy is a contact sport. Everything we say and everything we do takes place in am arena with virtually no boundaries thanks to the Internet and global transportation. This is a competitive space in which ideas and agendas struggle to shape perceptions for attention and dominance (and sometimes parity) from an increasing number of state and non-state actors. We are, as we have been, in a global struggle for minds affecting the will to act.
America’s attention, the focus of our global engagement, a better and functionally more accurate title than public diplomacy, must expand beyond countering violent extremism, the ball on which so many eyes are glued. Between the Chinese in Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere, the Russians and now the Iranians, we must return to global engagement.
How the Administration views and structures America’s global engagement is in the air and by many accounts has not received the proactive attention many other areas of the State Department seemingly got. This is no time to be leadership or to have people sitting with their palms down not knowing which way “R” (“the only good letter not taken”) will go.
Countering extremism is part of a larger enterprise. For the sake of discussion, let’s call it “strategic communication.” This is an imperfect label for what we are talking about, but I do not want to get bogged down in definitional debates. When I say “strategic communication,” I mean the effective coordination of all of the activities of government that are intended to persuade, inform, and influence foreign audiences. …
The Obama administration can dramatically advance the enterprise simply by designating an office as the lead for government-wide strategic communication, vesting that office with the requisite authorities and resources to do its job properly, and holding it accountable for results.
Where should this office reside? One school of thought supports placing it at National Security Council. Appointing one of the president’s advisors to monitor the enterprise is certainly a good idea, but doing so will not entirely solve the leadership problem. Those who argue in favor of the NSC ignore the strong (and healthy) aversion, which exists throughout our system, to an operational White House. …
The key to [Jim Glassman’s, the last person to serve as the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs,]success was that he wholeheartedly embraced the notion that the business of the Under Secretary is national security. By contrast, his predecessors viewed the position as a public relations portfolio. They shied away from associating with the Department of Defense (DoD) and other agencies. …
The answer to this problem, in my view, is to develop thicker connective tissue between the State and DoD, especially in the fields related to strategic communication. Exactly what I mean by “thicker connective tissue” is itself a subject for another discussion – one that would touch on mutual training, compatible planning processes, and institutional reorganizations. We need not go into those details now. My main point today is that closer coordination will not take place until we create a strategic-operational center in the government that can act as an effective proponent for a whole-of-government effort. And with that point, I circle right back to where I began: with all roads leading through the Department of State.