On Deck

With the exception of a long phone call that reiterated the need for a civilian-based go-to hub for USG global engagement activities, I took the weekend off. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being a matchmaker connecting parties across USG, but this is what USG should have. More on that later. Here are two posts that are “on deck”:

  • re Chris Tomlinson’s AP article, Pentagon PR, my question is “so what?” Really, what’s the real point of the article that’s edited more like a vendetta than an investigative piece? It’s not entirely clear except that after Bush-Rumsfeld and Rice, what would you expect? On the sheer numbers, only 27,000 public communicators within the military? Check again, there are more like 3 million public communicators within the military. American public diplomacy does wear combat boots and the previous Administrators purposefully put the Pentagon, from Rumsfeld to uniformed officers, front and center in communicating to Americans.
  • re letting the Under Secretary position go empty. This is not the right time to let global engagement linger nor it is the right time to think a new entity will be authorized by Congress without a proven track record. Some seem to want the public diplomacy house to burn down, linger for a while, in the hopes something better will rise from the ashes. This “Public Diplomacy as a Phoenix” approach doesn’t sit well with me. It’s better to get the house in order and spin out (ECA, education and cultural exchanges etc) and spin up (information, direct engagement) with the right velocity.  On Pat Kushlis’s post, I disagree that the Under Secretary position is too low down the food chain to accomplish anything. The U/S is a four-star equivalent and not, if supported properly, too low. I agree with the issue of configuration, staffing, and funding and see rectification coming from a supportive Sec with an empowered U/S. It must be State that leads the interagency coordination and it must transform into a Department of State AND Non-State to vertically integrate with the rest of government. If this is not to happen, then we must remove the non-state engagement capabilities from DOD, USAID, DOT, DOC, etc., which is of course a laughable proposition.

Recommended reading: Rob’s Bridging the PD Discourse Gap: The Survey Group. Be sure to read the comments, including mine. (Arabic Media Shack should be on your blog reader.)

Also, Dr. Jack’s posts at Leavenworth titled The Spectrum of Conflict: A Doctrinal Disconnect highlights the Army’s FM 3-0 one dimensional “spectrum of conflict.” In response, re-submit my two-dimensional Spectrum of Conflict that I’ve since updated and turned upside down (literally, the visual should be a descent into war not a descent into peace) and enhanced.

And for something completely different… Animator vs. Animation

4 thoughts on “On Deck

  1. Matt, Kushlis reiterated something that you and others (including Glassman) have repeated time and again: “PD is not PR”. I respectfully disagree with this generalization. I prefer the idea that “PD is not ONLY PR”. Why should we eliminate PR when it is one of many effective tactics that need to be utilized in an effective PD campaign? Engaging global audiences requires a PR component just as President Obama proved with his first presidential interview on Al Arabiya. If that wasn’t PR, then what exactly was it?PD is not only PR, just as PD is not ONLY cultural exchanges, “now” media, or effectively coordinating information amongst agencies (just to name a few). It’s a combination — not an elimination — of these tools and actions that is required to conduct PD in a more responsible manner.

  2. Anon,I agree with your point that PD includes PR. My argument, and I only speak for myself but I believe both Jim Glassman and Pat Kushlis at least partially concur, is that too many claim and proceed from the position that Public Diplomacy IS SIMPLY AND NOTHING MORE than public relations.

  3. Matt, you’re right re my position that public diplomacy is far more than public relations. Yes, there are certain public relations tools that public diplomacy can and should employ, but it’s a mistake to see effective public diplomacy solely through the lenses of public relations.

  4. Matt & Pat, thanks for the response. In this case, I think we would do the PD community a favor by speaking in terms of PD as a ‘balancing act’, rather than in absolutist or dismissive terms.

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