On March 23, 2010, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will take up the business of confirming six of the eight nominees for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, including Walter Isaacson as Chairman of the Board. These six are:
What role does culture have in conflict prevention and resolution? Recently, the British Council organized an interesting and enlightened discussion on this very question. What made this even more interesting was the British Council’s partners in the venture: NATO and Security Defence Agenda, a European security and defense think tank.
At a time when public diplomats to psychological operators are coming to terms with their lack specific cultural capacities to understand and properly engage audiences, this was a timely discussion.
A public service announcement:
The US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy meets today, Monday, March 15. The venue, agenda, and other information are below.
Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE), chairing a hearing with four past and present Under Secretaries for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, mentioned the VOICE Act in his opening remarks. From my experience, unless you’ve sat in on one of my presentations sometime in the last eight months, odds are you don’t know what it is. The VOICE Act is a product of Senators in the Armed Services Committee: John McCain (R-AZ), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Robert Casey (D-PA).
(Interesting note: Senators Kaufman and Wicker – plus Senator Jim Webb – are the only Congressman (House or Senate) that are on both an armed services committee and a foreign relations (Senate) or foreign affairs (House) committee. These two Senators chaired the recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing titled The Future of Public Diplomacy.)
The VOICE Act, also known as the Victims of Iranian Censorship Act, was passed by the Senate in S. 1391 on July 23, 2009. It passed the conference between House and Senate armed services committees on October 8, 2009 and with the President’s signature on October 28, 2009, it became Public Law 111-84: the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010.
The VOICE Act is a notable (and rare) example of Defense Department-focused entities – the armed services committees – authorizing substantial funding for the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. However, the $55 million (details are below) authorized is not yet funded. In what could have been a very visible demonstration of putting his money where his mouth is, to the best of my knowledge, the late Congressman John Murtha (D-PA), chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee, did not push to fund the VOICE Act despite saying the State Department should be doing more.
The VOICE Act is on the books, but it lacks funding.
So what does the VOICE Act authorize? On his website, Sen McCain touts the VOICE Act as “bipartisan legislation that will help strengthen the ability of the Iranian people get access to news and information and overcome the electronic censorship and monitoring efforts of the Iranian regime.”
Well-meaning Nicholas D. Kristof in the New York Times:
"Peace Corps and Teach for America represent the best ethic of public service. But at a time when those programs can’t meet the demand from young people seeking to give back, we need a new initiative: Teach for the World.
In my mind, Teach for the World would be a one-year program placing young Americans in schools in developing countries. The Americans might teach English or computer skills, or coach basketball or debate teams. …
This would be a government-financed effort to supplement an American public diplomacy outreach that has been eviscerated over the last few decades."
Mr. Kristof, who wants young Americans to teach English the world over, seems unaware that all too many of us here in the homeland (which is how we now identify our cry-the-beloved country in these sad post-9/11 times) are incapable of writing a coherent English sentence free of grammatical and spelling errors. And how many of us called-to-duty language missionaries currently living in said homeland, if volunteering to coach "debate teams" overseas, could actually be capable of crafting a logical argument, given our 24/7 we-can’t-stop-loving-it culture of instant mindless gratification a la Tee-Vee & Twitter & uptalk?
Below is the prepared testimony of Judith McHale, current Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, before the the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 10, 2010. Alternatively, download the 274kb PDF. A list of Under Secretaries for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and their tenures may be found here.
Below is the prepared testimony of Jim Glassman, former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, before the the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 10, 2010. Alternatively, download the 408kb PDF. A list of Under Secretaries for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and their tenures may be found here.
Below is the prepared testimony of Karen Hughes, former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, before the the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 10, 2010. Alternatively, download the 234kb PDF. A list of Under Secretaries for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and their tenures may be found here.
Below is the prepared testimony of Evelyn S. Lieberman, former (and first) Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, before the the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 10, 2010. Alternatively, download the 86kb PDF.
On March 10, 2010, the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs is expected to unveil her strategic approach for the State Department’s public diplomacy efforts at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing titled “The Future of Public Diplomacy.” Judith McHale will be preceded by three of her predecessors: Evelyn Lieberman, Karen Hughes, and Jim Glassman. (Note: the noon ET event will now be in Dirksen 430.)
Titled “Public Diplomacy: Strengthening US Engagement with the World” (PDF, 2.2mb), it is described as a “strategic framework” that “will serve as the foundation for public diplomacy’s FY 2012 budget request. It is
intended to be a roadmap for Public Diplomacy, ensuring its alignment with foreign policy objectives, and bringing a strategic focus to how Public Diplomacy programs, resources and structures support those objectives.
According to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009, the Defense Department was required to provide a report on
the organizational structure within the Department of Defense for advising the Secretary on the direction and priorities for strategic communication activities, including an assessment of the option of establishing a board, composed of representatives from among the organizations within the Department responsible for strategic communications, public diplomacy, and public affairs, and including advisory members from the broader interagency community as appropriate, for purposes of (1) providing strategic direction for Department of Defense efforts related to strategic communications and public diplomacy; and (2) setting priorities for the Department of Defense in the areas of strategic communications and public diplomacy.
This report (PDF, 660kb) is known as the 1055 report, after the section of the NDAA that called for it.
The next meeting of the US Advisory Committee on Public Diplomacy will take place 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.
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: email@example.com.
Presenting will be Rosa Brooks of the Defense Department, Walter Douglas of the State Department, and myself.
Courtesy of Bruce Gregory, Professor of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University.
Intended for teachers of public diplomacy and related courses, here is an update on resources that may be of general interest. Suggestions for future updates are welcome.
George Washington University/Georgetown University
And now for something a little different (work safe, but requires sound):
Although the suggestion that ridicule and satire are legitimate tools of strategic communication might receive some – dare I say it – ridicule, Waller’s argument is a good one. Ridicule and satire have a long history in warfare, and they have been deployed both offensively and defensively. In the U.S., ridicule was used in the Revolutionary War, both to mock the British troops and to raise the morale of the American fighters. In WWII, domestic use of ridicule targeted Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito. In a more contemporary example, Waller cites Team America: World Police as an example of effective parody of Islamic terrorists and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. While a movie that features graphic sex between puppets might not have universal appeal, Waller is correct in pointing out that prior to the movie, American audiences would likely not consider the Korean dictator someone to laugh at. …
Waller’s suggestions regarding the strategic use of ridicule are an expansion of arguments he andothers have made about the importance of language use in ‘the war of ideas.’ In ‘buying into’ terrorist’s language – especially by using terms such as jihad and mujahidin – Waller argues that the U.S. and its allies, “ceased fighting on our terms and placed our ideas at the enemy’s disposal” (p. 54). If this is a war of ideas, and words are weapons, then we need to be using the right ammunition, so to speak. …
This is not to suggest that the threat of terrorism is non-existent or a call to underestimate Al Qaeda’s ideological appeal or material capabilities, and Waller is quick to point out (correctly) that ridicule can be as dangerous as any kinetic weapon when improperly deployed. In the nine years since September 11, however, far more people in the United States have died of heart failure, diabetes, or car accidents than terrorist attacks. Given this, pointing out that Americans statistically have more to fear from a cheeseburger than a ‘guy in a cave’ is not only true, it’s good strategy.
Read the Fleischer’s whole post here.
The world is in turmoil – so to is America’s public diplomacy, strategic communication, or if you will, global engagement. How – and even why – the United States shapes and supports foreign policy with words, deeds, and understanding remains elusive in a vacuum of leadership. This is particularly ironic given that we are over a year into the Obama Administration, an administration that was elected in large part because it grasped the power of engaging and empowering individuals.
Tomorrow, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reasserts itself in the turmoil of equipping – at least doctrinally – the State Department so that it might become an effective leader in America’s foreign policy. Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE), a former member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, will chair a hearing with current Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale and three of her predecessors: James K. Glassman, Karen P. Hughes, and Evelyn S. Lieberman.
In an advance reading of Jim Glassman’s testimony, Jim describes the purpose of the hearing and asserts the importance and centrality of public diplomacy, as well as its uncertain future.
This hearing asks four of us who have served or are serving in the latter post to address the future of public diplomacy. That future, in my view, is in doubt. …
[H]ere is the problem with public diplomacy: It is not today being taken seriously as a tool of national security by policymakers. Will it be in the future? Perhaps only in a desperate response to a terrible crisis. Such delay is unacceptable.
We have long recognized the importance of information to shape attitudes and create action. The online environment is no different, but do you think you know what non-English speaking users of Google.com or YouTube.com see? You probably don’t. My friends at the White Canvas Group do and they provide fascinating insight into the online world of adversarial exploitation of online products. Our adversaries understand the utility of the online world as a medium that seamlessly blends with “old media” to influence global audiences.
A lot of funding that the brothers are getting is coming because of the videos. imagine how many have gone after seeing the videos. Imagine how many have become martyrs.
Check out this promo video from White Canvas Group and remember that Al Qaeda no longer needs to send its audio or video products to Al Jazeera for distribution.
If you’re interested in more, WCG is putting on a one-day workshop that delves into this world of adversarial media. This will be a superset of the presentation WCG has provided to students of my training seminars and the public diplomacy class I teach at USC.
By Nick Cull
Last Thursday (March 4, 2010), some of the top thinkers currently engaging the issue of America’s image in the world testified on Capitol Hill in hearings before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs under the title ‘Restoring America’s Reputation in the World: Why it Matters.’ Joseph Nye of Harvard stressed the value of smart power. Andrew Kohut of Pew pointed to the fragility of the recent promising trends in world opinion and J. Michael Waller of the Center for Security Policy provocatively challenged the assembled legislators to stop and think: ‘Would I run my political campaign the way the United States government runs its strategic communication?’ Meanwhile a story broke which has the potential to put yet another hole in America’s already leaky boat. TV, radio and web-based news services of the BBC carried an alarming report from the Iraqi city of Fallujah by the distinguished correspondent John Simpson.