Out of the Office, still

I still have limited access to (or interest in) the Internet right now so talk amongst yourselves. Expect to see a report I contributed to appear on this blog later (probably Monday) that has been cleared for public release, as well as several other posts I hope you’ll find interesting.

Enhancing the Digital Native / Immigrant taxonomy

When discussing the use and implications of both “new media” and its convergence with “old media” (into “Now Media”), the conversation frequently includes references to two groups, the Digital Native and the Digital Immigrant. This two-tier system inadequately describes reality so I propose a four-tier system that begins with the commonly accepted native-immigrant models and adds two more.

Continue reading “Enhancing the Digital Native / Immigrant taxonomy

Bouncing Around London

British Council signEnjoyed walking around London today. Stopped to watch the march that closed Piccadilly for a minute and then got bored. Had only a couple of meetings this afternoon. A couple more on Sunday and then non-stop Monday and Tuesday(here and here).

Came across the office of the British Council and realized the last time I walked around London I went right passed the same office without a second look. However, that was before I knew about public diplomacy (not that I know anything about it now).

Done for the day with dinner at 10:30p. Seems late, but as I’m still on DC time, not so bad.

A (R)Evolution in Public Affairs at the Defense Department?

As I wrote over a week ago, Price Floyd, formerly of (wait for it) the Center for a New American Security (surprise!), is the new Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (P-DASD) for Public Affairs. Price has a deep appreciation for proactive public diplomacy, so his interview with Donna Miles of in-house publication DefenseLink is not really surprising:

So one week into the job as principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, Floyd is taking a fresh look at traditional public affairs and strategic communications practices with an eye toward making them more responsive, more relevant, more inclusive and more transparent.

For a long time, the new technologies represented little more than “a better bullhorn” to broadcast the Defense Department’s messages to more people, Floyd said. “But now, that’s changed,” he said. “It’s not just better one-way communication; it’s better two-way communication. It’s not just us reaching people; it is them reaching us, too.”

There’s a lot in what Price said in the interview. Many of his sentiments go against deeply held beliefs, practices, and in many cases, training of public affairs. Ignoring the ability of virtually anyone to inform and mobilize global audiences for good or for bad surrenders the most important terrain of modern conflict: the mind that in turn influences the will to act.

Price has his work cut out for him.

Here are a few changes I’d like to see:

  • Dump the public affairs mantra “inform but not influence”
  • Make PA more proactive and “preactive” as it is a critical part of the global chess game that is the struggle for minds and wills
  • Adopt the proposed definition of propaganda recommended by Price’s predecessor (same for strategic communication which is redefined in the same document)

Beware of cheap imitators

Glancing at John Brown’s Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review for Sunday, I came across one of his links to a post on Under Secretary Judith McHale’s speech at CNAS. As I read it, I thought the words sounded familiar, and for good reason. John linked to some blog that copies other people’s content to increase their links/visitors. I visited the blog so you don’t have to:


They indiscriminately copied the beginning of this post. Possibly it was automated or likely they didn’t care that it began with “Below are…” when they had nothing “below.”

This isn’t the first time I’m been copied. GoogleAlerts has alerted me to several similar entries on “spam” blogs (is there another name for these?). The best one, however, was the verbatim copy of one of my posts (was it my op-ed?) by a Southeast Asian news website who put one of their own as the author.

There’s a lesson in here about the ease in which information can be reappropriated and used for alternative purposes.

Upcoming travel and a renewed call for guest posts

First the renewed call for guest posts. I’ll be traveling (see below) so this is a great time for guest posts on MountainRunner. If you’re interested but don’t know where to start, think of the post as an op-ed with hyperlinks. The length should be between 600-1200 words and it should address something related to global engagement, like communications, exchange, health, aid, etc. However, you’re the creative one so don’t let my list constrain you. Send your idea, your draft, or your completed post to blog@mountainrunner.us.

Second, now that I’ve asked you to email me, I may be slow in responding. This Wednesday I will be in Potomac, MD, for a workshop, followed by London for an IO Conference, and then to join my wife and kids in Hawaii for a family vacation until July 4. However, I do plan the occasional post and will (eventually) respond to email.

Comment on Judith McHale’s talk at CNAS

[The following was originally posted as a comment by a reader – TOX – to my post on McHale’s talk at CNAS. It is ‘promoted’ to an entry to give it the visibility it deserves. –MCA]

I was less impressed with the new Under Secretary McHale’s prepared and unprepared remarks. She seems very competent and understands complex communications and engagement challenges globally from her previous experience, but that did not shine through yesterday. Defining the key themes and messages for the office of Public Diplomacy will be essential to prevent comments such as lack of knowledge stemming from only two weeks on the job. President Obama did not get away with that answer and neither should she. Perhaps an approach similar to General Petreaus would be valuable where 100 leading representatives of government, non-profit, and commercial expertise come together to help shape policy over 100 days. Public health NGO’s in Africa, to international media, .COM leaders, military IO and Public Affairs representatives and more could be a potential pool of interested subject matter experts that can make a difference. President Obama used similar groups of expertise in his digital outreach strategy leading to a powerful grassroots movement. This kind of strategic review is both valuable for future plans and seizing the momentum of being new in the office so people perceive the office to at least have a plan and commitment. The following observations are only highlighted to hopefully improve the effectiveness of this critical office.

Continue reading “Comment on Judith McHale’s talk at CNAS

Debating the Theory vs Practice of Public Diplomacy

The conversation that appears in the comments of the post was originally an email exchange that began on May 20, 2009. The spark was Craig Hayden’s Public Diplomacy and the Phantom Menace of Theory, which was a response to Pat Kushlis’s Detroit on the Potomac. None of the comments have accurate timestamps as they were manually copied from email and inserted as comments. However, they do appear in correct chronological — and rhetorical — order. All comments appear here with the permission of the respective authors are are posted here to continue the discourse in public.  Add your voice. –MCA

Craig Hayden, Thanks for your recent excellent piece on the academic study of PD. It think it contributes much to the debate of theory vs. practice in PD. I hope it will be widely read. Have you considered submitting it to “American Diplomacy,” which is published by ex-FSOs? My main quarrel with much of the “scholarship” re PD, which Pat Kushlis critiques so well, is that it often misses a key element in PD — what PD officers (or whatever you want to call them) concretely do “in the field” and the day-to-day issues that they face. That is why, in the case of PD, I find memoirs, history and media reporting often more enlightening that abstract treatises. We are not, after all, dealing with rocket science here, but with a down-to-earth, all-too-human activity. As you point out, there’s no PD “theory.” Also, I am concerned that people who want to “do PD” as a career might think that “a degree in PD” is sufficient to be an effective PD practitioner (I realize that is not what academic courses on PD “promise”). Of course, nothing wrong with being a PD “scholar,” but based on my FSO experience what is most helpful in preparing to be an effective “public diplomat,” at least for the US government, is learning foreign languages in depth, familiarity with cultures overseas, and people-to-people skills that are not necessarily acquired in the classroom or by research in libraries/on the Internet.

Guest Post: Congress Takes a Step Forward in Preparing Future Generations of America for the Global Age

By Marlene M. Johnson

The passage of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY 2010-2011 (HR 2410) in the U.S. House of Representatives is an important investment in America’s diplomatic capabilities. As Matt observed, “this legislation is necessary and long overdue” and sets the stage for “global persistent engagement rather than persistent conflict.”

Doubling the size of the Peace Corps, enhancing the State Department’s educational and cultural exchange programs, providing scholarships for students from around the world to study in the U.S., and hiring and training more Foreign Service officers are all important elements to bolster the effectiveness of U.S. public diplomacy, foreign policy, and national security efforts. NAFSA strongly supports the enactment of another piece of this important legislation – The Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Congress Takes a Step Forward in Preparing Future Generations of America for the Global Age

Event: 8th Annual Information Operations Forum

Next weekend I’ll travel to London for the 8th Annual Information Operations Forum. According to the organizers, the conference will have its usual diverse audience:

1st Information Operation Command (Land), Air Mobility Command, British Army, Bundeswehr, CJTF HOA, CSIR, Canadian Department of National Defence, Canadian Forces, DEU PSYOPS Centre, DSTL, Danish Army, Defence Academy of the UK, Department of Defence, FFI Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, GCHQ, HQ JFC Naples (NATO), HQ Multinational Corps Northeast, HQ Soviet Forces in Afghanistan, HQ USAF, HQMC (PP&O), JIOWC/J3J, Joint IED Defeat Organization, London Metropolitan Police, NATO, Netherlands MoD, Norwegian Defence CIS centre, OTCOPN – MoD NL, RAF Waddington, Royal Air Force, Royal Danish Defence College, Royal Military College of Canada, Royal Netherlands Army, Singapore Armed Forces, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, U.S. Air Forces Africa, U.S. Marine Corps, UK MoD, USAF, US Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), US Army Special Operations Command, US European Command, US Special Operations Command, US State Department, US Strategic Command, USSOCOM, Ukrainian MoD

I’m looking forward to a number of the presentations, including Chuck Eassa’s (“Information Operations To Support Peace-Time Activities”) and Thomas Nissen’s (“Examining The Importance Of IO-Related And Supporting Functions”). Check out the agenda for Day One and Day Two. Also, for your reading pleasure, the event’s website (scroll down the page) includes some downloadable reading material.

Social Media as Public Diplomacy

Layalina Productions has a new monthly publication, Perspectives, “to explore key concepts in the study and practice of public diplomacy and Arab media.” The May 2009 inaugural article was Iraqi Media: Freedom or Chaos by His Excellency Samir Shakir Mahmood Sumaida’ie, Ambassador of Iraq to the U.S. The second author was me with Social Media as Public Diplomacy. Check it out and comment here or there.

Now more than ever, the United States needs effective public diplomacy. America’s national security depends on smart policies supported by effective and agile engagement to foster understanding of our government’s policies, countering misinformation, developing partnerships, and most importantly, encouraging and empowering others to realize that the government’s fight is their fight as well. This is where public diplomacy, engaging directly and indirectly with people around the globe, proves necessary.

While America created the Internet, Facebook, and Twitter, the appreciation of the tactical and strategic values of social media lags far behind our adversaries’ practices.
In this age of mass information and precision-guided media, everyone from political candidates to terrorists must instantly and continuously interact with and influence audiences in order to be relevant and competitive. Ignoring the utility of social media is tantamount to surrendering the high ground in the enduring battle to influence minds around the world. …

Go to Layalina to read the whole article (and to check out their programs, like On the Road in America and Ben & Izzy).

Judith McHale at CNAS: Public Diplomacy: A National Security Imperative

Below are Under Secretary Judith McHale’s prepared remarks she delivered at CNAS today. I found her speech to be good and full of promise but as several observers note, it was light on specifics. But, considering she’s been in for two weeks and in the bull pen for only a couple of months (most of which were at a distance from State in contrast to Jim Glassman’s extended, unfortunate, and unnecessary six month lead time during which he was far more engaged), she still needs to pick her battles. She’s a good public speaker, far better off the cuff than reading prepared notes (like many of us).

Some quick comments on the Under Secretary’s speech:

  • If I were to pick one key take-away from her speech, it would be this: “This is not a propaganda contest – it is a relationship race. And we have got to get back in the game.” Understanding this and the power and importance of information, trust, hope, credibility, as well as the destructive power of accidental misinformation and intention disinformation can be realized. Realizing this means we can operationalize public diplomacy (which, conveniently, was the title of my chapter in The Handbook of Public Diplomacy). Success depends on building up proxies, this is a struggle for minds and wills to empower others to fight what is often their fight to begin with.
  • In Q&A, McHale’s answer to a question from Mitzi (when did you leave CNA? been a while since we’ve talked) along the lines of “Why is Afghanistan Important?” gets at the problem of the quaint firewall put in place in the 1970’s and 1980’s that prevents America’s from seeing and hearing the What and Why of American foreign policy.
  • She discussed the “turf war” between State and Defense, but that may be easy compared to the “turf war” related to educating Americans.
  • Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication are not synonymous. SC includes Americans and the American media, public diplomacy does not (it should, but it does not, which is one reason “Global Engagement is a better term… and better than “public affairs” which is should have remained). But I accept Dennis Murphy’s observation (in his first Tweet ever), “lexicon gets in the way of definitions. Simpler is better for the uninitiated to convince value of info.”
  • McHale highlighted the importance of Information & Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) to public diplomacy. (link and PDF).
  • In mentioning the tremendous public diplomacy campaign supporting President Obama’s Cairo speech, she (understandably) failed to mention the text message subscription service was not global, but available only to cell numbers outside of the United States.
  • Some of her speech is a rehash of Jim Glassman’s talking points, but that doesn’t make them any less important. Unlike Jim, McHale has the very visible support of the Secretary, the President, and Congress.
  • The real proof will be what happens next.

Continue reading “Judith McHale at CNAS: Public Diplomacy: A National Security Imperative

HR 2410: Public Diplomacy requires Leadership, Training, Access, and Oversight

Yesterday, the House passed HR 2410, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY 2010-2011, on a vote of 235-187. This bill is potentially the most important Foreign Relations Authorization bill in decades. Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, gets it:

The State Department and our other civilian foreign affairs agencies have a critical role to play in protecting U.S. national security. Diplomacy, development and defense are the three key pillars of our national security. By wisely investing resources to strengthen our diplomatic capabilities, we can help prevent conflicts before they start, and head off the conditions that lead to failed states. This approach is much more cost-effective than providing massive amounts of humanitarian aid, funding peacekeeping operations, or — in the most extreme circumstances — putting U.S. boots on the ground.

This prepares the Government toward the present reality of “global persistent engagement” rather than “persistent conflict”. As it should, public diplomacy figures prominently in this bill. The bill would would: 

Continue reading “HR 2410: Public Diplomacy requires Leadership, Training, Access, and Oversight

Required Reading: 100 Years of COIN: What new have we Learned?

From David Betz at Kings College:

…2006 may represent something of a watershed; it’s probably too soon to tell but my hunch is that the stuff which John Mackinlay and David Kilcullen are writing about global insurgency is significant. Kilcullen’s Accidental Guerrilla has garnered a ton of deserved praise. And having seen several chapters of Mackinlay’s book The Insurgent Archipelago which is about to be published, I think he pushes the envelope further still. He reckons that there has been a sea change from Maoist to ‘Post-Maoist’ insurgency: Maoist insurgent objectives were national whereas Post-Maoist objectives are global; the population involved in Maoist insurgency was manageable (albeit with difficulty) whereas the populations (note the plural) involved in Post-Maoist insurgency are dispersed and unmanageable; the centre of gravity in Maoist insurgency was local or national whereas in Post-Maoist insurgency it is multiple and possibly irrelevant; the all important subversion process in Maoist insurgency was top-down whereas in Post-Maoist insurgency it is bottom-up; Maoist insurgent organization was vertical and structured whereas in Post-Maoism it is an unstructured network; and whereas Maoist insurgency took place in a real and territorial context the Post-Maoist variant’s vital operational environment is virtual. My question is whether this is still insurgency or has it evolved into something else sufficiently different as to be actually something else?

Read the whole thing here. As the excerpt above indicates, Effective COIN is more, much more, than bullets and bombs, it is about influence.

See also:

World Map of Social Networks

Interesting data crunching from Italy on social network use around the globe. See the map at right and the data below.

Some visible patterns to highlight:

Facebook has almost colonized Europe and it’s extending its domination with more than 200 millions users
QQ, leader in China, is the largest social network of the world (300 millions active accounts)
MySpace lost its leadership everywhere (except in Guam)
V Kontakte is the most popular in Russian territories
Orkut is strong in India and Brazil
Hi5 is still leading in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and other scattered countries such as Portugal, Mongolia, Romania
Odnoklassniki is strong in some former territories of the Soviet Union
Maktoob is the most important Arab community/portal

Other country specific social networks:

Iwiw in Hungary
Nasza-klasa in Poland
Cyworld in South Korea
Friendster in Philippines
Hives in Netherlands
Lidé in Czech Republic
Mixi in Japan
One in Latvia and Lithuania
Wretch in Taiwan
Zing in Vietnam

Media Framing Informs and Influences

The media, like any other communicator, influences by what it says and how it says it, as well as what it doesn’t say. The media provides a window to the world by describing the goings on of the local council or of far away places. Surrounding this window is a frame that helps highlight facets of the events and issues to help the reader make connections. The reader opinion is thus shaped by the quality of the framing by the reporter.

Here’s a quick look at two recent news stories of the same thing. One frames the discussion and the other does not. One is for US audiences and the other is not. Which do you think would generate a more positive view of the profiled activities?

Continue reading “Media Framing Informs and Influences

CNAS Empire Expands, Absorbs Abu Muqawama

imageIn another sign of the irrelevance of blogs and the overall fad that is the Internet, Abu Muqawama, the must-read blog on counterinsurgency, finally relocated from its no-rent digs at Blogger to the same home as its principal blogger and part of the Center for New American Security empire.

The change is not merely one of address. The move signifies a major shift as a think tank will now provide serious (if at times snarky) analysis free of charge and beyond white papers. A major player in shaping the discussion, AM will now provide branded content that will be no doubt be extended by including more CNAS resources and personalities.

I’ve talked to more than one think tank about entering the blogosphere with more than a press feed or left over analysis that didn’t make it into a report, but each time they simply said they’d think about it. You can adopt, use, and leverage new channels of communication or you can ignore them. It’s your choice if you want to accessible, influential, and relevant. It’s good to see CNAS gets it.

And, by the way, if you were subscribed to the old blog, you’ll have to update your newsfeed, not just your bookmark.

Questioning the Difference between Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy (Updated)

imageWe live in a world in which everyone who must manage and marshal public opinion, which ranges from democratically elected politicians to terrorists, rely on new and old media to stay relevant. Organizing for this information environment requires requires forethought and planning. The resulting functional structures and audience segments shapes the purpose, nature, and outcome of the engagement, regardless of whether it is one-way or two-way or one-to-one or one-to-many.

With getting further, here is an open question:

In your opinion, what is the difference between Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy?

Please respond in the comments. Also, feel free to extend your response to include the difference between Defense Public Affairs and Information Operations or Psychological Operations.

I asked this same question on Twitter. Here are the answers received so far:

AFPADude: some would say audience, I would argue there is no difference anymore due to several factors

FantomPlanet: What are the differences btwn civil affairs and civil diplomacy?

Steve_Schippert:Affairs is about image, releases, projection while PubDip is about engagement, discussion, 2 way comm on issues. Methinks…

T M Russo: interesting question! my thoughts: public affairs= the workings of gov’t, public diplomacy communicates those workings

The following responses came through Facebook:

PA/PR: Channel based information outflow with the goal of message transfer. PD: Information outflow with the goal of message engagement (discourse,discussion, processing and retransmitting in new forms). Dependent on social media.

Well, the state department says PA is working with U.S. media and PD is programs overseas! Go figure.

Same as the difference between "Tactics" and "Strategy". PA = short term engagement, PD = long view.

No wonder nobody understands, unless we’re all talking tongue in cheek.
Logically, diplomacy applies to non-Americans. President Obama doesn’t conduct diplomacy when he meets with the governor of California. That’s politics. It is diplomacy when he meets with Mubarak. The "public" part refers to anyone outside a government. Thus, anyone outside a government outside the U.S.
Then, logic doesn’t often work and Smith-Mundt was originally written with domestic constituencies in mind and before "PD" became a working term.
Maybe, Matt, it’s time for a new conference!

Already in the works…

See also: see Nick Cull’s Engagement Is The New Public Diplomacy Or The Adventures Of A Euphemism Of A Euphemism

Event: beyond broadcast 09

Happening right now, beyond broadcast 09 explores the power of new media. Topics range “from the transition toward mobile content to evolving journalism business models.”

Check out the agenda and participate online. Today’s panels include: 

Building an Audience Through Engagement & Outreach. This session will explore the tools and techniques for identifying and expanding a target audience through active engagement and outreach.

Measuring New Media’s Impact. The digital media world is still developing the techniques and metrics for measuring its audience. The panelists will share their experience as they strive to create an accepted approach to measure the impact of new media.

Global Media’s Role in a Digital Era. A vital democracy depends not just on good national news but access to unbiased reporting on events around the world. This panel will discuss the challenges and opportunities of bringing stories from multiple sources to a global audience, in the context of new media and distribution channels.

Public Media at the National & Global Levels. Representatives from several world regions will explore traditional media organizations’ use of new media to further their public service mission, expand their coverage and build an audience. How do major media organizations leverage traditional and digital media assets to collect, curate and distribute information?

Public Service Media in Areas of Conflict. A panel of individuals engaged in making change in areas of conflict will explore the risks and opportunities for those involved in public service media in areas of conflict, with firsthand stories and discussion of impacts.