Defense releases its new Internet / Social Media policy

This week, the Defense Department released “Directive-Type Memorandum (DTM) 09-026 – Responsible and Effective Use of Internet-based Capabilities” (PDF, 290kb) that “establishes DoD policy and assigns responsibilities for responsible and effective use of Internet-based capabilities, including social networking services.”

The memo establishes responsibilities for “Internet-based capabilities”, including establishing the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs – ASD(PA) – as the point of contact for DoD online activities. It accepts that there are “official uses of Internet-based capabilities unrelated to public affairs.”

However, because these interactions take place in a public venue, personnel acting in their official capacity shall maintain liaison with public affairs and operations security staff to ensure organizational awareness. Use of Internet-based capabilities for official purposes shall:

… b. Ensure that the information posted is relevant and accurate, and provides no information not approved for public release, including personally identifiable information

c. Provide links to official DoD content hosted on DoD-owned, -operated, or -controlled sites where applicable.

d. Include a disclaimer when personal opinions are expressed (e.g., “This statement is my own and does not constitute an endorsement by or opinion of the Department of Defense”).

Read the whole policy here (PDF, 290kb).

If you want to talk about the policy, on Monday, March 1, at 1p ET, DoD’s Blogger Roundtable will (appropriately) host Price Floyd, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, discuss what the new policy means for the DoD community and answer questions. Email DoD’s Blogger Outreach if you’re interested in getting on the call. 

An update on VOA Persia’s iPhone App

On January 22, 2010, Apple’s App Store had a new application from VOA’s Persian News Network. As noted last month on this blog, Alex Belida said,

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.

This week, Alex sent me an update. 

[Between January 22 and February 19], there have been 5,040 downloads of VOA Persia’s iPhone app via the Apple App Store plus an additional 446 downloads through the Android app site. No info on jailbroken downloads. VOA has received video and still shots through the integrated “report” function but, according to VOA, there has been nothing so far of news value.

The Global Impact of Brown v. Board of Education: Use of the ruling in Cold War foreign relations

To those who think public diplomacy is something that done outside America’s borders or that cultural relations do not have a direct impact on foreign relations, I strongly recommend Mary Dudziak’s Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy. Dudziak documents the impact of domestic policies in the global ideological struggle to US-domestic interventions by the State Department and USIA to affect domestic policy and practice. For an example of this reality unknown or forgotten by too many, see Dudziak’s essay at SCOTUS Blog, a blog on the Supreme Court of the US. An excerpt is below:

In May 1954, Brown v. Board of Education made headlines, not only in American newspapers, but also around the world.  “At Last! Whites and Black in the United States on the same school benches,” was the headline in Afrique Nouvelle, a newspaper in French West Africa (now Senegal).  In India, the Hindustan Times noted that “American democracy stands to gain in strength and prestige from the unanimous ruling” since school segregation “has been a long-standing blot on American life and civilization.”  For the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, Brown would “go a long way toward dissipating the validity of the Communist contention that Western concepts of democracy are hypocritical.”

The global reaction to Brown was also noted in American news coverage.  The decision would “stun and silence America’s Communist traducers behind the Iron Curtain,” argued the Pittsburgh Courier, an African American newspaper, for it would “effectively impress upon millions of colored people in Asia and Africa the fact that idealism and social morality can and do prevail in the Unites States, regardless of race, creed or color.”

… When major Supreme Court cases are covered in the world press, they inform the understanding of peoples of other nations about the nature of American democracy.

… The Cold War balance of power itself seemed to turn on the faith of other nations in the benefits of democracy.  Yet in the world’s leading democracy, citizens were segregated by race, and African Americans were sometimes brutalized for attempting to exercise basic rights.

The Soviet Union took advantage of this American weakness. …

We may think that sending our legal ideas overseas helps others, but in this example American justice aided American diplomacy.

I strongly recommend you read the whole article at SCOTUS as well as pick up a copy of Dudziak’s book.

IIP responds to Pat Kushlis on IIP’s “Creative Destruction”

On February 4th, I posted a provocative comment sent by fellow blogger Pat Kushlis that drew a parallel between Microsoft’s “Creative Destruction,” as described by a former Microsoftie in The New York Times, and the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs. Pat is a retired Foreign Service officer who was with the US Information Agency from 1970 to 1998. Several people in today’s IIP worked for Pat.

That post drew a response from Dan Sreebny, also a friend but more importantly a senior foreign service officer who is now Acting Coordinator for the Bureau of International Information Programs:

Continue reading “IIP responds to Pat Kushlis on IIP’s “Creative Destruction”

Rescheduled: public meeting of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy

Last week’s event with the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy for February 11 was postponed due to weather in Washington, DC. The meeting is now rescheduled for Monday, March 15, 9:00a to 11:00a, in the conference room of the International Forum for Electoral Systems (IFES) located at 1850 K Street, NW, Fifth Floor. Note the duration is now 2 hours instead of the previously scheduled 1.5 hours.

The public may attend this meeting as seating capacity allows. To attend this meeting and for further information, please contact Carl Chan at (202) 632-2823; email:

I will be one of two or three presenters at the meeting.

Conflict Prevention and Resolution: the Role for Cultural Relations

On 2 March 2010, I’ll be in Brussels at Conflict Prevention and Resolution: the Role for Cultural Relations, a discussion hosted by NATO, Security & Defense Agenda, and the British Council . The discussion will be in three parts: Why Culture Matters, Case Studies in Cultural Relations in Conflict, and Designing a Cultural Approach to Civil-Military Relations.


Event information, including registration and agenda, is available here. More on the event will appear at

DOD finally has a new Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs

Al Kamen informed the public there is a new Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs: Doug Wilson. Confirmed last week, he’ll be on the job at the Pentagon by the time most of you read this, 17 February 2010. It’s been a while since there was an ASD(PA). This means there were will be two public diplomats at DoD’s public affairs shop: Doug and Price Floyd, who will report to Doug. This is good.

Spencer adds his nickel.

Information as Power survey: what date works best for you?

The successful Information as Power event was last week and even during the Snowpacolypse in DC, it was a success (not counting the few who were unable to attend due to weather). I am now working on the next iteration which will be in one (or both) of the following formats: a 2-day course with 12hrs of instruction (9-4 with 1hr lunch) or a 1-day intensive (9-5 with working lunch).

If you are interested in the course, indicate your preferred days for either the 2-day or the 1-day event at this link:

Continue reading “Information as Power survey: what date works best for you?

[Off topic] NBC Olympic broadcast: an epic failure

I’d really like to see some statistics on NBC’s coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics from Vancouver, Canada. Some quick gripes:

  • I’m in the same time zone as the Olympics, why must I watch events 3 hours after the east coast?
  • Why on Sunday, February 14, was there no Olympic coverage until 1p? Were the talk shows (8-10), paid programming (10-12!!), and Monk (12-1) really more important and revenue generating than the Olympics? Seriously, 2 hours of infomercials?
  • Is it really more important to broadcasting multiples of Keith Olbermann (5p, 7p, 10p), Rachel Maddow (7p, 8p, 11p),  and Hardball with Chris Matthews (9p) than to expand Olympic coverage on MSNBC? These three shows were squeezed between two Olympic hockey games. NBC couldn’t find its why to show more?
  • Why is it an anomaly for NBC to show two events back to back? They clearly prefer to show a single event then go to commercial rather than back to back events.
  • Please someone do a comparison between the time NBC spends on broadcasting actual competition with time spent talking about events and – as a separate comparison – time spent on commercials.

Why does NBC make it so difficult to watch the Olympics?

Rest in Peace, Jeff Jones

A belated announcement:

Colonel Jeffrey B Jones, US Army Retired, passed away on Sunday, January 24, 2010 at his home in Alexandria, Virginia, after a heroic battle with brain cancer. A 1971 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Jeff served his country In Important assignments throughout his 30 year Army career and In civilian roles thereafter. His contributions most Impacted national defense In the areas of psychological operations and strategic communications, and he served as Commander of the 8th PSYOP Battalion during Desert Shield and Desert Storm followed by roles in the National security Council and the Council on Combating Terrorism. In addition, Jeff led 50 officers from 16 nations In Lebanon in the UN Truce Supervision Organization, and he was the Joint Staff Representative on the U.S. Nuclear and Space Negotiations Team In Geneva that conducted arms control negotiations with the former Soviet Union. His final military assignment was as the U.S. Defense Attaché in Paris, France, where he was credited with helping to improve U.S.-Franco relations. Even after leaving the government in 2005, Jeff continued to be involved in developing concepts and approaches for strategic communications as a Senior Associate at the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. He is survived by his wife of 31 years, the former Pamela Kettle of Alexandria, VA; along with his mother, Sarah Smith Jones, and his brother, James F. Jones, Jr., both of Hartford, CT. Friends may gather at the Athenaeum In Old Town Alexandria, 201 Prince Street on Saturday, February 13 from 4 to 6 p.m. interment with Full Military Honors will take place at Arlington National Cemetery, Wednesday, May 12, beginning with services at 1 p.m. at the Old Post Chapel at Fort Meyer. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made In Jeff’s name to The Johns Hopkins University Brain Cancer Program, Dr. Blakeley Neuro-Oncology Research and Education Fund, c/o office of Development; Department of Neurology, 100 N. Charles Street, Suite 401, Baltimore, MD 21201.

I was fortunate enough to meet Jeff several times. He was a good man that will be sorely missed.

Public diplomats receive public thanks

Minister Władysław Stasiak, the awarded: Yale W. Richmond, Scott Righetti, Muriel Joffe and Ambassador of the Republic of PolandThis week, Poland honored three Americans – including friend Yale Richmond – for their years of public diplomacy work expanding the Fulbright program into Poland. The “state distinctions” were awarded on 8th February 2010 in Washington, DC, by the Head of the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland, Władysław Stasiak. This was noted on the official blog of the President of the Republic of Poland.

Yale W. Richmond received the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.

Yale W. Richmond has been employed as a diplomat by the State Department for thirty years, working on issues connected with cultural and academic exchanges with other countries, including Poland. As a cultural attaché of the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Poland, in 1959, he initiated an academic exchange programme which developed into the Polish Fulbright Programme. Thanks to his efforts and dedicated work, the authorities of the Polish People’s Republic consented to American lecturers visiting the country and Polish scholars going to America as part of the Fulbright Programme scholarship exchange. Later on in his life, Yale W. Richmond worked for the National Endowment for Democracy, personally contributing to the NED supporting the NSZZ Solidarity movement financially and materially, both during the period of martial law in Poland and afterwards.

Continue reading “Public diplomats receive public thanks

Upcoming travel

I will be in DC next week to conduct the Information as Power seminar (there is still space to enroll), present at the open meeting of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (see link for information on attending), speak with a class at National Defense University, and for several other meetings. I’ll be back in Los Angeles in time to teach my public diplomacy class at the University of Southern California (syllabus, 189kb PDF).

As such, blogging will be slim over the next week. As always, guest posts are welcome. I’m particularly interested in commentary on the QDR, the latest DSB report (seriously?), and the potential impact the recent Supreme Court decision on political speech on global engagement, specifically on the public diplomacy “firewall” and influence by non-US interests (have you seen this?).

Berkowitz responds, discussing the Smith-Mundt Act

The following is Part II of a discussion between Jeremy Berkowitz and Matt Armstrong on Jeremy’s paper “Raising the Iron Curtain on Twitter: why the United States must revise the Smith-Mundt Act to improve public diplomacy” (PDF, 415kb). Part I is Matt Armstrong’s initial response to Jeremy’s paper available here. My response to the below, Part III, is here. Jeremy Berkowitz:

I want to thank Matt for his thoughts on my paper. I appreciate his comments and strongly respect his scholarship on the Smith-Mundt Act. I would like to discuss a few of the ideas he raised in his critique. I believe some of his criticism is well-founded and I could have more precisely conveyed my ideas in certain areas. Yet, I also believe that some of his criticism is misguided either due to simple disagreements or misunderstandings of my paper.

Continue reading “Berkowitz responds, discussing the Smith-Mundt Act

Quadrennial Strategic Reviews

Strategic review time.

Here is the Defense Department’s website for its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), a “legislatively-mandated review of Department of Defense strategy and priorities.” On February 3, DOD hosted a blogger roundtable discussion on the QDR with Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs Michael Nacht and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Forces Kathleen Hicks.

Here is the Department of Homeland Security’s website for its Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR), a document that “offers a vision for a secure homeland, specifies key mission priorities, outlines goals for each of those mission areas, and lays the necessary groundwork for the subsequent steps.” DHS is hosting a teleconference roundtable (this blogger was invited but cannot attend) February 5 with DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy David Heyman to discuss the QHSR. (Good outreach.)

Here is the Department of State’s website for its Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR)… wait. Never mind. There’s nothing substantial at State’s website except the July 10, 2009, press release and a related blog post at DipNote four days later. It is due this month, possibly within days, a State Department spokesman told Federal News Radio. No word if State will host a discussion like DOD or DHS to reach out beyond the ‘traditional’ media in the press room.

Stay tuned…

Alan Heil: Challenges ahead for U.S. international broadcasting

Alan HeilRecommended: Alan Heil’s The Ever-Expanding Global Electronic Town Meeting: Challenges ahead for U.S. international broadcasting at Layalina’s Perspectives:

Imagine an electronic town meeting of person-to-person communications, writ large. So large, in fact, that it encompasses the entire planet, digitally. Entering this arena is the primary challenge to U.S. publicly-funded civilian overseas networks in a new decade, as 21st century international broadcasting approaches its adolescent years amid unpredictable geopolitical and technological challenges. …

As outlined below, agenda items in the new decade could include a review of broadcast priorities, increasing coordination among networks, exploring the use of social media and information sharing, expanding training programs, pursuing a public-private partnership, and strengthening protections for objective and accurate journalistic standards. …

The bottom line: international broadcasting can set the record straight instantaneously (as in real-time news reporting of events in Iran, China, Burma, Haiti, and terrorism’s deadly toll). But it is also long-range; listening to and reflecting over time countless conversations of "collective groups" about how to improve individuals’ lives in an ever-expanding global electronic town meeting. It can enrich the blogosphere in this lively marketplace of ideas, while empowering publics as never before. May the new leadership of U.S. international broadcasting seize the moment. The 21st century adolescent years of their trade can truly be a time of renewal central to the growing global engagement that America seeks.

Read the whole essay here.

What does Microsoft and State’s Bureau of International Information Programs have in common?

In today’s The New York Times, Dick Brass, a former Microsoft Vice President (1997-2004), describes a corporate paralysis that stifles the release of relevant and innovative products in his op-ed, Microsoft’s Creative Destruction.

As they marvel at Apple’s new iPad tablet computer, the technorati seem to be focusing on where this leaves Amazon’s popular e-book business. But the much more important question is why Microsoft, America’s most famous and prosperous technology company, no longer brings us the future, whether it’s tablet computers like the iPad, e-books like Amazon’s Kindle, smartphones like the BlackBerry and iPhone, search engines like Google, digital music systems like iPod and iTunes or popular Web services like Facebook and Twitter. …

Microsoft’s huge profits — $6.7 billion for the past quarter — come almost entirely from Windows and Office programs first developed decades ago. Like G.M. with its trucks and S.U.V.’s, Microsoft can’t count on these venerable products to sustain it forever. Perhaps worst of all, Microsoft is no longer considered the cool or cutting-edge place to work. There has been a steady exit of its best and brightest.

What happened? Unlike other companies, Microsoft never developed a true system for innovation. Some of my former colleagues argue that it actually developed a system to thwart innovation. Despite having one of the largest and best corporate laboratories in the world, and the luxury of not one but three chief technology officers, the company routinely manages to frustrate the efforts of its visionary thinkers. …

What does Microsoft’s “Creative Destruction” have in common with the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP)? According to Pat Kushlis of the public diplomacy blog Whirled View, too much. Pat drew my attention to the Dick Brass op-ed and had these comments, published here with permission:

Read the last paragraphs in particular and just substitute the initials IIP because that’s precisely what happened to a forward thinking bureau when State took over.

If the [International Broadcasting Bureau, the administrative and marketing arm of the Broadcasting Board of Governors,] were functional, I think I would argue that IIP should be transferred out of State and put into a functional international broadcasting entity (like VOA) since the line between electronic media has changed so dramatically.  Unfortunately the IBB is dysfunctional too.

Is this a viable, even preferred, alternative to reconstituting the United States Information Agency?