Recommended Reading: Cull on Lugar’s leadership in America’s leaderless Public Diplomacy

Read Nick Cull’s post on the strategic pause that is today’s American public diplomacy, Lugar To The Rescue: Senate Committee Backs ‘Science Envoy’ Plan:

Ralph Waldo Emerson famously lamented "How much of human life is lost in waiting" and observers of U.S. public diplomacy these last few months could be forgiven for saying the same thing. While other areas of government have something to show for the first one-hundred days of the Obama administration, formal public diplomacy initiatives have been hard to find. The president himself has led the way admirably with his interview on Al Arabiya, a Nowruz message to Iran and public rejection of landmark Bush excesses, but the Department of State has been slow to follow up. This stands in stark contrast to the crescendo of web 2.0 activity that marked the final months of James Glassman’s tenure as Under Secretary. Indeed, a range of initiatives planned, approved and funded during the Glassman period have been held in limbo pending the arrival of the new Under Secretary, Judith McHale. Bureaucrats are always timid during transitions. This being so, it is especially heartening to see the leadership coming from the Senate in the form of initiatives from the ranking minority member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Dick Lugar.

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Guest Post: PSYOP for everyone

By Christopher Paul

An Army intelligence officer I met recently at a conference related an anecdote to me about the psychological operations (PSYOP) personnel his team was co-located with on a previous deployment. He shared that the PSYOPers would get upset when they perceived the actions of maneuver elements as impinging on (or ignoring) their domain: “They can’t do that without talking to us, that’s a PSYACT [Psychological Operations action]!”[1] The intel guys would overhear this and then tease them about their protective approach to influence.

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New Rules of Engagement

Recommended reading at the Times of India: New Rules of Engagement by Ramesh Thakur.

Today’s global environment is more complex and demanding than in 1947. Consider the vocabulary and metaphors of the new age: Srebrenica, Rwanda, DRC, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, East Timor, Darfur; child soldiers, ethnic cleansing, blood diamonds, 9/11, regime change, Islamophobia, HIV/AIDS, climate change; Microsoft, Google, iPod, Blackberry, Facebook, Twitter; metrosexual, heteropolitan, localitarian the list is endless.

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New York Times’ Policy on Facebook and Other Social Networking Sites

From PoynterOnline, advice by The New York Times’ assistant managing editor who oversees journalist standards on using Facebook. Here’s the gist: you’re always representing your employer and what you say and do and “friend” can shape perceptions in unpredictable and potentially adverse ways.

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Remembering that it’s not about you

One of the great ironies of the last several years has been the complaint that the so-called Madison Avenue approach to public diplomacy was a failure. It wasn’t a failure because neither Hughes nor Beers really practiced the Madison Avenue approach. Instead, they attempted to brand America as they felt it should be branded. Of course, branding wasn’t the problem. (It should be noted that Beers was hired by Secretary Powell to rebrand the State Department, but this was pre-9/11 and it was to make sure the American public knew the full extent of what the Department was doing.)

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DOD issues instructions in support of ICT

Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) describes a general effort to overcome disconnectedness and to build up socio-economic capacity at the local level. It has tremendous potential for creating stable areas. Several years ago when I first started writing about the potential of ICT4D to deny sanctuary to extremism, a few pushed back suggested that keeping people in the dark and disconnected from any information was better lest the bad guys co-opt channels of communication to spread their hate, lies, and distortions.

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Free Media is Essential to …

The State Department’s DipNote blog posted Secretary Clinton’s recent statement on World Press Day:

We live in a world where the free flow of information and ideas is a powerful force for progress. Independent print, broadcast, and online media outlets are more than sources of news and opinion. They also expose abuses of power, fight corruption, challenge assumptions, and provide constructive outlets for new ideas and dissent.

Freedom of the press is protected by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is a hallmark of every free society. Wherever media freedom is in jeopardy, all other human rights are also under threat. A free media is essential to democracy and it fosters transparency and accountability, both of which are prerequisites for sustained economic development.

The emphasis at the end is mine. A vibrant media is a requirement but of course when speaking to the press in celebration of the press it is not really appropriate to “consumer generated media”, otherwise improperly known as “new media”. Likewise, it muddles the statement also mention building pathways to information that include dead-tree publishing, broadcasting, and more.

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The White House, Social Media, and Public Diplomacy

Be sure to read the interesting op-ed by Jim Hoagland in The Washington Post titled A President Goes Friending. It’s pretty clear Mr. Hoagland doesn’t quite know what to make of the new-fangled means of communication. To his credit, he admits it:

My reaction no doubt resembles that of a blacksmith at the turn of the last century catching his first thrilling, then horrifying, glimpse of a motorcar.

Mr. Hoagland is not alone. The media, many public affairs officers, and governments in general, tend to view “now media” as a distinct world and not another channel of communication. Of course with any new medium of engagement there’s a fear. The first “fast” media of the 20th Century, television, was not allowed to cover the US Senate in favor of the “slower” and more comfortable print journalists for decades.

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Event: New frontiers in science diplomacy

New Frontiers in Science Diplomacy
1 – 2 June 2009

By bringing together experts from the UK and international scientific and foreign policy communities, this two day meeting will examine the role of science as a source of soft power in foreign policy. The first day will discuss various international perspectives on the meaning, value and tools of science diplomacy, as well as identifying barriers to science diplomacy and how they may be overcome. The second day will then examine the role of science in achieving two key foreign policy goals: maintaining international peace and security, and promoting economic and social development and well being.


The Royal Society
6-9 Carlton House Terrace
London SW1Y 5AG

Email for information:

More information is at,2009

Thanks for reading and some notes on the future

First, let me say thanks for reading the blog. I know your schedule is busy and I appreciate that you make the time to read I also appreciate the time you take to discuss the posts. For every comment posted online there are usually two more in my mailbox. I also occasionally hear about a post discussed in a meeting or shared through email to spark offline conversations. Increasing the discourse on America’s discourse is a primary goal of this blog and it seems I’ve been at least modestly successful in that regard.

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