The State of State: A Proposal for Reorganization at Foggy Bottom

The State of State: A Proposal for Reorganization at Foggy Bottom by Matt Armstrong, 13 January 2010, in

The past decade has seen the U.S. government expand its activities around the globe in response to complex and stateless threats. In the face of these challenges, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, and members of Congress have all called for increasing the resources and capabilities of the State Department to roll back what Gates has termed the “creeping militarization” of foreign policy. But efforts at reform are hindered by an institutional structure rooted in a 19th-century view of the world. …

The State Department’s hierarchy was fine for another era when issues were confined within state borders by local authority, geography, and technology. But in recent years, the structure’s flaws have become conspicuous. The department’s ability to respond to crisis is fragmented and sclerotic. When successes do happen, they tend to be the result of individuals working around or outside the bureaucracy. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has circumvented the current system with crisis-specific czars called Special Representatives. These Special Representatives, like Richard Holbrooke for Afghanistan and Pakistan, operate like super ambassadors with regional powers that should reside – but don’t – in the regional bureaus. …

Realignment will not be easy. It requires the committed support of the president, the secretaries of state and defense, the National Security Council, and Congress. But the potential benefits are considerable. Adjusting the focus of the State Department from country to region would permit the secretary of state to exercise more effective leadership and oversight over the instruments of power. It’s the logical step to take in a new era of stateless challenges, and a demonstration to the world that U.S. power does not always have to wear combat boots.

Recalling history: the 1947 Smith-Mundt CODEL to Europe

For two months in the Autumn of 1947, a Congressional delegation (CODEL) traveled Europe. Their purpose was to study America’s current information and educational exchange service, the conditions affecting it, with the goal of formulating recommendations to shape and make more effective US programs which “can fully implement US foreign policy.” Led by Congressman Karl Mundt (R-SD) and Senator H. Alexander Smith (R-NJ), the delegation was sponsored by the special Mundt subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in support of the pending Smith-Mundt Bill.

Continue reading “Recalling history: the 1947 Smith-Mundt CODEL to Europe

Recalling history: information warfare

In 1947, Congress was debating both the legislation and funding for the State Department’s information activities. In May 1947, the House Appropriations Committee took up the issue of the State Department 1948 appropriation, during which Congressman Karl Mundt (R-SD), a former school teacher, made the following argument on the need to engage in the realm of information.

Karl Earl Mundt The forces of aggression are moving rapidly and we must step up our action and increase our efforts in the field of information abroad if we are to prevent the eventuality of confronting a world which has been either coerced or corrupted against us

Congressman Everett Dirksen (R-IL) also argued for the need to fund America’s response to the threat of Russia’s efforts to destroy the “integrity” and the “greatness of the American system.” Representative Harold Cooley (D-NC) said the Communists wanted to vilify America through defaming out “institutions in the eyes of the peoples of the world.”

Source: Parry-Giles, S. J. (2002). The rhetorical presidency, propaganda, and the Cold War, 1945-1955. Westport, Conn., Praeger.

Let me share some news with you: Gates likes the CNAS report but does not like that it is a CNAS report

According to the Voice of America, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates endorses the recent report – Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan – authored by Major General Michael Flynn, Captain Matt Pottinger, and Paul D. Batchelor. However, according to VOA, the SecDef took issue with the report being published by CNAS.

Continue reading “Let me share some news with you: Gates likes the CNAS report but does not like that it is a CNAS report

Underwear bomber predicted on The Daily Show back in June 2006

Surely I’m not the only guy remembering these things, but back in June of 2006, The Daily Show had a prediction of an ‘underwear bomber’. Calvin Trillin suggested there was a person in AQ named Khalid the Droll who convinced us to remove our shoes at the airport. To get to the point, jump to the 4min mark on the below video.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Calvin Trillin
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

Recalling History: Secretary of State testifies for information activities

Below is testimony and questions from a hearing before a special subcommittee of the House of Representative’s Committee on Foreign Affairs on May 16, 1947. The subject is HR 3342, a bill that would become known as the US Information and Education Exchange Act of 1948, also referred to as the Smith-Mundt Act. George C. Marshall was General of the Army (5-stars), Ambassador to China, Secretary of State, and later Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He was the third Secretary of State in two years. Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., served 1 Dec 1944 – 27 June 1945. James F. Byrnes served 3 July 1945 to 21 January 1947. Marshall served 21 January 1947 to 20 January 1949.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Continue reading “Recalling History: Secretary of State testifies for information activities

Understanding and Engaging Now Media: February 8-10 in DC

I will again be teaching Understanding and Engaging Now Media in the DC area, more precisely Alexandria, VA. The dates are February 8, 9, and 10 and the time remains 6p – 9p with drinks and sandwiches provided. Materials to read and view prior to the course will be provided to prepare for the course and to maximize the time.

For more information and registration, visit the AOC website. Note: the course description and agenda will be modified slightly.

New iPhone app allows uploads from Iran to VOA

The US Government’s Voice of America (VOA) released a Web application that will allow users in Iran to download and send content to VOA’s Persian News Network (PNN). The application is available for iPhones and Android’s and will be (is?) on Apple App Store, PNN’s website, and on PNN’s Facebook page.

According to the VOA, VOA has the largest combined radio and television audience in Iran of all international broadcasters, with one in four adult Iranians tuning in to a VOA program once a week. PNN broadcasts seven hours of television daily, repeated in a 24 hour format, and five hours of radio. Programming is also available around the clock on the Internet.

According to PNN’s acting director, Alex Belida,

This new application gives Iranians a unique opportunity to get the latest news on their mobile devices and to share with the world the news as it happens in their country. It is a groundbreaking way to expand our reach inside Iran and deepen our relationship with a key VOA audience.

On Twitter, Dan McSwain asked whether the VOA app protected personal and if SD cards would be distributed to Iranians. Here is the response from the apps developer, Intridea:

The iPhone application does not send or extract any private information from the user’s iPhone while submitting any reports.  The reports are indeed anonymous.  … the iPhone doesn’t support SD cards.

Guest Post: A Global Call to Arms in the Virtual Century

Carl Jung once warned during the Cold War that: “Everywhere in the West [World] there are subversive minorities who, sheltered by our humanitarianism and our sense of justice, hold the incendiary torches ready, with nothing to stop the spread of their ideas except the critical reason of a single, fairly intelligent, mentally stable stratum of the population. One should not, however, overestimate the thickness of this stratum.” (C.G. Jung, “The Undiscovered Self,” 4).

If Carl Jung were still living, we may find him to be rather (appropriately) proud of a modest, rational banker who resides in Nigeria. On December 25th, 2009, the Free World was given a great gift that mirrors the one Jung sought to impart more than 50 years ago.  While the media will mark the day as another attempted 9/11, they miss the mark.  The most profound and courageous feature of this attempted attack has nothing to do with the terrorist himself, but with his father.  A father, who, upon sensing his son was falling into the orbit of radical ideologies, took it upon himself to use this information to protect our global commons by letting authorities know they should be watching his son.  Certainly we can all understand what a grueling and emotionally fracturing experience it must have been for this brave man.  We would all do well to spend a few moments this New Year viewing the world from this man’s shoes.

Continue reading “Guest Post: A Global Call to Arms in the Virtual Century