4 thoughts on “President’s Comprehensive Strategy for Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication pursuant to NDAA FY2009 Sec. 1055

  1. Matt, there is one other major change…in the Roles and Responsibilies section, the NSS is now the lead for the interagency SC process, not the DOS. This is a major change.

  2. I would like to make a brief comment on the appearance in both of these documents of some particular language that derives directly from the field of psychology. Trained as a psychologist, and now engaged in conducting psychosocial audience research, I am encouraged to note the appearance of terms as “active listening” and “engagement,” which are very much techniques and concerns that are as relevant to psychotherapeutic settings as they are to transacting a more mature, interactive, two-way communication policy with foreign audiences. Naturally, it is not sufficient to evoke such terms, and there will certainly be room to align the actions of the relevant USG bodies with the words of these documents. It is noteworthy, however, that their inclusion seems to indicate not only an awareness of the flaws previously inherent in our communications abroad, but also a willingness to develop ways to reach key audiences by way of more comprehensive, at depth, and even possibly “psychological” methodologies. I am fond of the phrase “putting the audience on the couch,” and believe quite strongly that the only way to make measurable progress towards effective communication with key audiences is by adapting and employing techniques and ways of “diagnosing” that are as suitable for one “client” as they are for 100,000. Listening and promoting real engagement are certainly very positive steps in this regard.Dr Andrew Ritcheson

  3. Excellent and useful comment from a direction rarely heard in this line of work. I would add that “two-way communication” also demands putting the “active listener” on the couch for the sake of self-knowledge; the process involves both objective and subjective inquiries. Otherwise, to use the old African proverb, “a stranger sees what he knows.”

  4. Thank you, GLGarland. I could not agree more. Your proverb reminds me of something Paul Bohannan once said, that “there is no more complete way to misunderstand a foreign civilization than to see it in terms of one’s own.” Without being mindful and self-aware, there is some risk that the information gathered could be so contaminated by artefact and ultimately interpretative bias that it would be worse than no information at all!Dr Andrew Ritcheson

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