Public Diplomacy & New Technologies

Briefly, Public Diplomacy & New Technologies by John Matel:

Initial use of the web for public diplomacy and strategic communications involved online versions of familiar delivery methods, such as magazines, radio and television. Despite vast differences among them, all these shared the paradigm of one-way communications, where a set message was delivered to a passive audience in a one speaker to many recipients model. It ignored the web’s special capacity for interaction. … We tend to focus on the instant communication aspect of the Internet, but the sinews of its influence are its capacity to find, sort and distribute information. Powerful search engines give individuals the power enjoyed only by world leaders few decades ago and before that time by nobody at all. Governments have lost what monopolies they once enjoyed and are now sometimes not even the most prominent voices. Controlling information is no longer possible. … The ubiquity and interactive aspects of Web 2.0 offer public diplomacy the possibility of direct engagement with thousands of individuals on a global scale. We can bypass the state run media and the various despotic gatekeepers that have long hounded the quest for truth & knowledge. In the exchange, however, we get a world of constant change, requiring flexibility and creativity, where you have to earn attention again and again every day. … Internet 2.0 will strengthen “tribes” as people can go online to find others with whom they identify even across great geographical distances. (Of course, the tribes I am not talking about are not kinship of linage, but kinship of ideas.) This may lead to greater trust within groups, as they become more uniform and homogeneous, but also lead to a general decline in tolerance overall, since most people will be out-groups to any particular in groups. Early hopes that Internet would weave the world together in a kind of cyber age of Aquarius have been dashed against the reality of self-selection and segregation. In a mass information market, differing viewpoints must be tolerated, not so in the case of core groups of believers autoerotically communicating among themselves on the Internet. Where websites and blogs are most developed, disagreements have become sharper and more venomous. … [W]eb 2.0 has as much or more capacity to puncture and disassemble public diplomacy messages as it does to deliver them. … We cannot prescribe the particular technological tools for any public affairs task until we have assessed the task and the environment. … There is no silver bullet or Holy Grail of communications. It is easy to be beguiled by the new or the latest big thing, but technology is not communication and the medium is not the message. It is only the method.

Read the whole post here.

This confirmed completely with MountainRunner’s #1 Rule of Public Diplomacy: think and operate by, with, and through "locals" (socially, ideologically, culturally, not necessarily geographically) because the medium is not the message, the people are.

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Event: InfoWarCon (Updated)

InfowarCon 2009 discusses Information Operations, Information Warfare, Cyberwar, Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy issues learned in Iraq, Afghanistan, China, Lebanon, Gaza and Georgia-Russia to predict the future of IO.

When: April 23rd and 24th

Where:  Gaylord National Harbor Resort and Convention Center

Contact: Joel Harding at or call (703) 549-1600

Hosted by the Information Operations Institute, a part of the Association of Old Crows.

I have a panel at InfoWarCon to discuss the direct and indirect impact of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 in the modern global information environment. A revised title of the panel should appear shortly: Strategic Communication in a Global Information Environment. This is conceptually an extension of the 2009 Smith-Mundt Symposium.

I am working on two events of my own earlier that week. Details to be announced as they become finalized.

Highlights for InfoWarCon are after the fold.

Continue reading “Event: InfoWarCon (Updated)

Interesting readings on Swarm Warfare

Postcard from Mumbai: Modern Urban Siege by John P. Sullivan and Adam Elkus

According to many television news reports, the Mumbai terrorist attacks were a “siege.” But there were no catapults, cannons, or breaching ladders. Instead, a dozen men with guns paralyzed one of the world’s largest cities, killing 173 with barely concealed glee. Sadly, Mumbai heralds a new chapter in the bloody story of war in cities—the siege of the city from within. The polis is fast becoming a war zone where criminals, terrorists, and heavily armed paramilitary forces battle—and all can be targeted. All the while, gardens of steel spring up, constricting popular movement and giving way to an evolving architecture of fear. The “feral city” and the military colony battle each other for dominance in the urban siege.

Defending against the urban siege requires bridging the gap between police and military, building a layered defense, and fighting to preserve the right to the city. Despite the terrifying nature of the threat, the ultimate advantage lies with the vibrant modern city and the police, soldiers, and civilians tasked to defend it. The key to success lies in the construction of resilient physical and moral infrastructure.

The Coming Swarm by John Arquilla

With three Afghan government ministries in Kabul hit by simultaneous suicide attacks this week, by a total of just eight terrorists, it seems that a new “Mumbai model” of swarming, smaller-scale terrorist violence is emerging. …

For the defense of American cities against terrorist swarms, the key would be to use local police officers as the first line of defense instead of relying on the military. The first step would be to create lots of small counterterrorism posts throughout urban areas instead of keeping police officers in large, centralized precinct houses. This is consistent with existing notions of community-based policing, and could even include an element of outreach to residents similar to that undertaken in the Sunni areas of Iraq — even if it were to mean taking the paradoxical turn of negotiating with gangs about security.

Laura Rozen: Public diplomats (rightly) fear the direction of “R”

This week promises to be Public Diplomacy Week with activity coming from all corners. Stay tuned to MountainRunner for updates.

First up is Laura Rozen’s post at

Despite the fact that Barack Obama gave his first interview as president to Al Arabiya television and has appointed a top foreign policy advisor from his campaign as the NSC director of strategic communications, some U.S. public diplomacy experts fear the new administration will forget the hard-earned lessons of the recent past, treating the State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy job as a Madison Avenue-type advertising position, rather than a national security post.
“This is a national security job,” said James Glassman, who stepped down last month after serving less than a year as the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, or “R” as it’s known in government circles. “The vast majority of [U.S. public diplomacy funds] continues to be spent on education and cultural programs. But I changed the emphasis to national security, much to the pleasure of the DoD and frankly other parts of the interagency.”

Glassman’s worry is that the job will revert to advertising-style burnishing of the image of the United States, rather than being a non-military way for the U.S. to combat violent extremism.

The Washington Independent‘s Spencer Ackerman and Foreign Policy’s Marc Lynch have both noted that former Discovery Communications President and CEOJudith McHale is likely to be named to be Glassman’s successor. The State Department said it would have no comment and hasn’t yet announced a nominee.

Read the rest here.

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Development as Public Diplomacy

From Patrick Madden writing at the Sister Cities International blog

When many people think of Sister Cities International, they think cultural exchanges. A choir tour from South Africa or a young person visiting Germany for a few weeks in the summer as their first experience abroad. For 50+ years, we’ve done a tremendous job reaching our hands out across oceans and borders, navigating language differences to being a dialogue using culture as a means toward common ground. These are very valuable, and often life changing, experiences for the individuals or the delegation on the trip. But more and more local sister city programs are being asked to do more for their sister cities abroad and their communities at home. These activities take the shape of "international development," which is a pretty broad moniker for economic development, sustainable development, work on the MDGs, and so forth. I have to share a terrific example on this front that demonstrates how some sister city programs go well beyond culture to deliver on our mission.

For years local sister city progams have been working on water issues with their sister city partners abroad. Last year, P&G provided Sister Cities International a grant to launch a Safe Drinking Water Initiative in Ethiopia and Nigeria. In short, the program taps six sister cities (3 U.S. with 3 African) to provide temporary clean drinking water and public education programs on the importance and impact of safe drinking water. The immediate clean water is made possible using a product created by P&G, PUR-Purifier of Water. folks in the U.S. will think of the water purifier instrument you might attach to a faucet, but a related P&G product is a packet when dropped in a turbid water, will clean in 5 minutes. I’ve seen it, I’ve taken a drink afterward, and the results are visually stunning and more importantly it instantly creates a healthy water. …

Read the whole post at Type, Talk & Transform World Peace.

Attackerman on Public Diplomacy

Spencer Ackerman (“Attackerman”) is the only reporter writing about public diplomacy right now. Absent his recent surge, it’s nothing but crickets in the media.

Two stories (so far) from Spencer on the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s effort to fill the position of Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs:

…in the last day, several people have told me they expect an announcement very soon. Neither the White House nor the State Department would comment on McHale.

It’s an interesting choice. McHale doesn’t have a diplomatic background. But neither did Jim Glassman, the recently departed undersecretary whom public-diplo watchers considered the office’s first success story. … If indeed McHale gets the job, it’ll raise the question of the which direction the Obama team wants to take public diplomacy. Under former President George W. Bush, who placed loyalist Karen Hughes in the job in 2005 — widely seen as a disaster — the undersecretary became the lead for strategic communications across the government, tasked with convening, coordinating and executing the U.S. communications strategy abroad. It’s unclear whether the Obama administration will continue that model. Denis McDonough, a close Obama adviser, has the strategic communications portfolio at the National Security Council. Will McDonough play the role in the interagency process that the undersecretary of state played in the Bush administration?

Right now, it’s looking very much like Judith McHale, former president of the Discovery Channel, will be the next undersecretary for public diplomacy. What’s also interesting is who won’t be: Douglas Wilson, a former principal deputy secretary of defense for public affairs and senior official with the old U.S. Information Agency. He was one of a very few people scouted by the Obama transition team for the job, and even contributed the policy statement about public diplomacy to the Center for American Progress’ 2008 transition-agenda guide. … In a phone interview, Wilson confirmed that the State Department transition team vetted him for the undersecretaryship. “They did talk to me about it,” Wilson said, “but I understand they’ll be selecting someone else.” A State Department spokeswoman would neither confirm nor deny the account.

Expect more from Spencer…

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Required Reading on Global Engagement

Briefly, here are some items that should be on your Friday reading list.

Three Reasons We Can’t Go Slow on a Public Diplomacy Chief by Steve Corman (link)

There is risk in taking too casual a pace and allowing the disruption caused by the election of Obama to fade.  There is a lot of urgent managerial-organizational work to be done, regardless of campaigns that might or might not be launched.   And there are also important internal audiences that have been expecting change.  Not only are they not seeing change, they’re not seeing anything. … [W]e can’t afford to go slow in getting a good Under Secretary in place.  On the contrary, it should be a high priority at this time.

An end to embassies: Diplomats are ill-equipped to deal with 21st-century problems (link)

While a diplomat in the 1990s and early this century, I found the methods of conventional diplomacy seemed almost deliberately constructed to separate the diplomat from reality – and also from the people diplomats claim to represent. By and large, diplomats speak to other diplomats. Thanks to ballooning bureaucracy, e-mail and security constraints, they are increasingly confined to their embassies, dealing with the real world by computer and telephone rather than directly. … So-called (and ill-named) "public diplomacy" has always been the poorer cousin of the self-regarding hard-core "real" diplomats who do the important stuff like negotiate treaties and start wars. For some reason, diplomats and governments have believed that somehow the message about the role of governments can be separated in the public’s mind from what they actually do. … As more and more people live away from the countries of their birth, and more still assume multicultural identities, I find it less and less convincing that national governments, and thus national diplomats, can legitimately claim to speak for and act on behalf of such heterogeneity. … Acceptance [that diplomats are declining in importance] is – paradoxically – the only path to relevance for modern diplomats: to be primary no longer but only one among many is an exciting challenge as much as a burden. Success will go to those who use mass networks effectively, build coalitions of states and concerned nonstate actors like corporations and NGOs and can credibly lead opinion.

Mapping Change in the Iranian Blogosphere By John Kelly and Bruce Etling (link)

A number of recent international anecdotes indicate increased online activism by governments. A perfect example of this ’state-engagement’ in cyberspace is found in Hamid Tehrani’s recent post about the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ plan to recruit 10,000 Basij bloggers. This may help explain some changes we’ve seen in the Iranian blogosphere, and is a good opportunity to share an updated Iranian blogosphere map created by John Kelly at Morningside Analytics, Berkman’s partner on our foreign language blog studies…. Most strikingly however, the ‘twelver’ cluster, which we are tentatively relabeling ‘CyberShia,’ has grown dramatically. It is possible that the organized Basij blog effort may account for some of this change, since these blogs are rooted in that part of the network. But there is another intriguing possible explanation. The expanding CyberShia cluster may also reflect a growing online debate around Islamic law in Iran.

See also:

Also, expand your mind and your library: see Books you must read, check out Ideas as Weapons: Influence and Perception in Modern Warfare (I haven’t read this, but it just arrived and looks really good), and purchase The Just Prince: A Manual of Leadership and get insight into why Machiavellian concepts of power don’t work when dealing with non-Western European allies, adversaries, and “swing voters”.

Still Wanted (?): An Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy (Updated)

Still wanted: an Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. This Want Ad remains, at least as of this writing, valid as the U.S. still needs a leader for the interagency process.
Some quick thoughts (apologies for the bullet format, this is all I have time for now):

  • The Defense Department must be balanced by another vertically integrated heavy weight otherwise it will continue to be, by default, the coordinating entity for America’s global engagement.
  • The State Department, to be relevant and to offset Defense, must become a vertically integrated Department of State and Non-State. It makes no sense to de-emphasize or dis-empower State’s “R” Bureau (Public Diplomacy) when modern diplomacy is not compartmentalized (detente and closed door diplomacy is over). From an organizational standpoint, eliminating or marginalizing State’s ability to directly engage global publics from individuals to leaders requires doing the same for Defense, which won’t happen nor it is practicable to even consider.
  • The State Department must adopt the concept of “commander’s intent” and drop zero-tolerance for information errors.  Rigidity in the informational hierarchy inhibits agility to the point of paralysis. 
  • Everybody at the State Department must be educated, encourage, empowered, and equipped to engage in the modern global “now media” information environment. If Defense can push in this direction, why not State?
  • Understanding and engaging the “Human Terrain” was and must again become a function of civilian-based public diplomacy. Empowering grassroots engagement, as USIA did in the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 70’s gives the HUMINT the Intelligence and Defense and Policy Communities so desperately crave. It was the responsibility of USIA to identify and engage current and future foreign public opinion leaders and to know the “street.” To de-militarize our national security, to move it more into open source, requires a full spectrum engagement that is not unlike something we’ve done before.
  • The United States requires a central coordinating hub to monitor and facilitate global informational and exchange activities. This is a core mission of the State Department and it should be prioritized and funded appropriately by both the State Department itself and Congress.
  • The State Department has existing roles and relations that extend beyond the ‘traditional’ national security threats and into issues of the economy, health, poverty, etc that when upside down are breeding grounds for extremism but more importantly are the current and future ‘battlegrounds’ of which we remain mostly unarmed and unaware. Defense is necessarily and appropriately focused on kinetic threats. It is State that take the broader view.
  • The real impact of too few people at the State Department is not the field activities, but the failure to allow Foreign Service Officers to return to academic and think-tank environments to reflect on and share lessons learned and socialize best practices. The Defense Department has the capacity to rotate substantial numbers of its people through training, whether at Defense institutions like the Army War College, National Defense University, Marine Corps U, Air Force U, Leavenworth, Navy War, or the public university system. This means that people with field experience can come back, teach, write, discuss, and create best practices. There is no such luxury at State to the significant detriment of its ability to detect and adapt to changes in the global environment.
  • We must stop imagining a bifurcated world of a US and a separate non-US information environment. If we understand the global information environment and the importance of the truth and smart foreign policies that would, in the absence of adversarial misinformation and disinformation, be successful in the struggle for minds and wills, then we can understand the importance of speaking to foreign audiences, being transparent in our global engagement, informing Americans, and proactively engaging in the global information environment.
  • The State Department must align its regional bureaus with the Defense Department’s Combatant Commands and elevate the leadership of those bureaus to be co-equal with the Combatant Commanders. The Under Secretary for Political Affairs (no offence to the current office holder) should be eliminated and the Assistant Secretaries leading the regional bureaus should be promoted to Under Secretary. The equivalent to a four-star general, the Under Secretary would, at the very least, appear on the Hill whenever a Combatant Commander does and would create some parity in cooperation. If the Secretary of Defense can have COCOMs report directly to him, why can’t the Secretary of State have the Bureaus report directly to her? By changing the leadership and matching the geographic coverage of COCOMs and Bureaus, State and Defense will increase cooperation. Ambassadors would lose some independence as the Bureaus become more powerful as State shifts to a regional view from a country-level view. (About the Ambassadors, for brevity, I’ll just say here that everyone is the President’s representative.)

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Russian Media: President Obama decided to use a “weapon” of public diplomacy

An event today at the Russian News & Information Agency (1706 18th Street, NW, Washington, DC) may be of interest:     

What President Obama signifies to Russia?

U.S.-Russian relations have now reached their lowest point since the
breakup of the Soviet Union. Most recently U.S.-Russian relations have
been strained over U.S. plans to build a missile shield in Eastern
Europe and over Russia’s brief war with Georgia, a close U.S. ally.
During the last phone call on January 26 Barack Obama and Dmitri
Medvedev agreed that, “as they were both new leaders from a post-Cold
War generation they have a unique opportunity to establish a
fundamentally different kind of relationship between the two countries”.
How the personality of Barack Obama can influence US-Russian relations?
President Obama decided to use a “weapon” of public diplomacy by giving
the first television network interview to al-Arabiya. The new
president’s actions and words constitute an unusually high-profile and
personalized “public diplomacy” campaign to correct what he perceives as a serious strategic
problem for the United States. Is he going to use this public diplomacy
approach in the case of Russia?

Is Russia keen to improve relationship with the US and involve broader contacts in communication process?

Details, including American and Russian panelists, are below the fold.

Continue reading “Russian Media: President Obama decided to use a “weapon” of public diplomacy

Citing MountainRunner

In the past, I would list blogs linking to MountainRunner according to Technorati, but Technorati is useless, ignoring links caught by Google Alerts. instead, I’ll list books citing the blog. After the fold are some of the top referring sites to MountainRunner for the month of February.

Books citing

In The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq, Bing West cited an interview with Major General Douglas Stone: Battle of the Minds: an interview with Major General Douglas Stone.

In Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President, Doug Wilson cited the post From the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy: no one in PD conducts PD overseas.

In Information Operations–Doctrine and Practice: A Reference Handbook, Chris Paul cited DOD as our public diplomat in Pakistan.

In Enlisting Madison Avenue: The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation, Todd Helmus, Chris Paul, and Russell Glenn also cited DOD as our public diplomat in Pakistan.

Continue reading “Citing MountainRunner

Admin: problems with comments

I’ve heard from several that they weren’t able to submit comments. I’m exploring this. My testing found that after hitting submit, it does take a long time for the blog to receive the comment, but it does. I’ll continue testing but if you’re encountering this problem, please email me and let me know.

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

Defense changing to better Coordinate with State, but…

DoD to Better Coordinate Strategic Communication with State by Steve Corman

…Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has emerged as an unlikely champion for the State Department, which has traditionally competed with DoD for money and influence.  Over the last year or so he has called again and again for more funding for diplomatic efforts.

Defense is changing, but what about State?

Yes, we all want Defense to cede leadership and ownership of strategic communication and public diplomacy to State, including Defense. We know that American public diplomacy wears combat boots, from the militarization of foreign policy to dominating strategic communication to contractors. However, while Defense may try to push responsibility onto State, the reality remains that State must be capable of taking on responsibility. This includes having an informed and capable leadership. At its bare bones it it means having any leadership at all.

But we cannot forget the role of Congress in this required shift. State must gain the confidence of Congress before money and responsibility is transferred from Defense to State. This transfer will be at best zero-sum. It also means State must gain the confidence of other agencies as it necessarily becomes the hub organization for the United States Government and even the public in general. But one step at a time. 

To borrow (steal) Mike Doran’s analogy, there are a lot of plugs out there looking for a State socket. Steve describes the Defense plugs in the Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review and Irregular Warfare Joint Operating Concept, but there are a lot of others. 

Where then are State’s sockets? Who will manage them and who will tirelessly promote, defend, and develop them? 

See also:

A worthy cause to support

A good friend of mine, Gabi Elliott, just sent me a note that she’s running a 10k for a worthy cause:

I am running 10K in aid of the Esther Benjamins Trust in May. For more info on just what a great cause this is, please please please take a moment to look at this film:-

EBT rescues child victims of trafficking, forced labour, brutal treatment in Indian circuses and (closest to my heart) from adult prisons. It is giving children back their right to a childhood – something we so often take for granted in the West.

I’m hoping to raise £1000 on justgiving:-

Investing in America’s infrastructure

From The New York Times:

At first glance, perhaps no line item in the nearly $900 billion stimulus program under consideration on Capitol Hill would seem to offer a more perfect way to jump-start the economy than the billions pegged to expand broadband Internet service to rural and underserved areas.

Proponents say it will create jobs, build crucial infrastructure and begin to fulfill one of President Obama’s major campaign promises: to expand the information superhighway to every corner of the land, giving local businesses an electronic edge and offering residents a dazzling array of services like online health care and virtual college courses.

But experts warn that the rural broadband effort could just as easily become a $9 billion cyberbridge to nowhere, representing the worst kind of mistakes that lawmakers could make in rushing to approve one of the largest spending bills in history without considering unintended results.

"The first rule of technology investment is you spend time understanding the end user, what they need and the conditions under which they will use the technology," said Craig Settles, an industry analyst and consultant who has studied broadband applications in rural and urban areas.

Either the reporting is bad or Craig Settles doesn’t get it. UPDATE: offline conversation with Craig makes it clear the reporter didn’t put in his whole argument. Further details may follow.

This isn’t a tech investment but an infrastructure investment. The US doesn’t have "broad"band, it has broader than dial-up band.

Our allies and competitors understand communication networks, from highways to telephone to Internet, are essential to commerce, civics, and development. The US is one of the few industrialized countries yet to accept this.

There is a precedence here, in fact two: the rollout of telephone services across the nation eighty years ago and the development of the interstate highway system fifty years ago.

Don’t get mired in the "tech" debate or the "government must stay out" argument. This is an example of the need of government to push private industry (including in some cases municipal utilities) to stop watching the immediate bottom line and look toward longer term payoffs.

Increased efficiencies in the transmission of information, knowledge, and awareness is a win-win not zero-sum.

Are we an information economy or not?

Media Roundtable Transcript is Online

The transcript for the January 6, 2009, AOC Journalist Series meeting (aka media roundtable) is available: AOC_Journalist_Series_Transcript_010609 (83k PDF)

Thank you to the Association of the Old Crows (AOC) for organizing and hosting this event.

Panelists for this discussion were:

Matt Armstrong
  Armstrong Strategic Insights Group (ASIG)

David Firestein
  US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy

George Clack
  Director, Office of Publications
  Bureau of International Information Programs (DOS-IIP)
  U.S. Department of State

RADM Greg Smith
  Director of Communications
  US Central Command (CENTCOM)

Nothing but crickets on the subject of Public Diplomacy

It’s been over a week since Al Kamen “outed” Judith McHale as a candidate for Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. McHale is one of two contenders after the previous slate was dumped for a fresh start, but McHale apparently remains standing after the other woman declined.

HOWEVER, it is very telling that public diplomacy is nearly completely absent from the DC agenda in the two weeks since the now-Secretary of State’s confirmation. The tell isn’t the secrecy around McHale but the absence of any imperative to fill the job. Other major posts have been filled. Perhaps they are in fact looking for another candidate.

We can only hope movement comes soon. I keep hearing assumptions that because President Obama intuitively “gets” personal engagement / grassroots mobilization / public diplomacy, call it what you will, the rest of government will. The truth is, because the President gets it doesn’t mean the Secretary of State will and it certainly doesn’t mean the to-be-named Under Secretary will be selected based on his or her ability to manage, coordinate, or “implement” public diplomacy in an effective way, let alone “get it”.

If global engagement is so important, it’s time to act on getting an Under Secretary in place. LW and JC may be doing a fine job keeping the ship afloat as they run day to day ops, but office relocation and silence on a new boss, promoter, coordinator, and “resource hound” portends a problem.

See also: