As Matt has repeatedly noted in this space and elsewhere, “American public diplomacy wears combat boots.”1 That is, the Department of Defense (DoD) employs the majority of the resources (funding, manpower, tools, and programs) used for U.S. government efforts to inform, influence, and persuade foreign audiences and publics. Most of us agree that this is not the ideal state of affairs. The Department of State (DOS) or other civilian agency should have the preponderance of the United States’ capabilities in this area. Both the White House and DoD concur.2
Congress would also like to see DOS doing more in this area–and DoD doing less. To date, most of the congressional attention has focused on DoD. Section 1055 of the 2009 Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act called for reports to Congress from both the White House and DoD on “strategic communication and public diplomacy activities of the Federal Government.” DoD information operations (IO) were attacked by the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, which slashed the proposed FY 2010 appropriation for IO by $500 million. (See the mountainrunner discussion “Preparing to Lose the Information War?“)
Human influence is the linchpin that binds military activities together and relates those activities to the efforts of other governmental and non-governmental agencies. People, not infrastructure or equipment, present problems in any given country and people will inevitably solve them. Recognizing this truism, our challenge is to accept and understand the need for us to influence the lives of others, and to develop some level of expertise and collaboration in doing so. Continue reading “Understanding Influence Operations: A Gastronomic Approach “→
Getting a visa to travel to another country can be challenging and expensive. The process, bureaucratic by nature, has more potential to frustrate the applicant and reinforce negative stereotypes than to create positive impressions. Continue reading “A surprising public diplomacy win “→
Courtesy of Bruce Gregory, Professor of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University.
October 22, 2010
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
This is a guest post by Dr. Lee Rowland. Guest posts are the work of and reflect the opinion of the respective authors. The are shared here to further the discussion around strategic communication and public diplomacy.
We are making progress. Fresh back from the IO Institute’s Influence and Propaganda Conference, I am excited by the future of our discipline and the quality work that is being done. The event, hosted in Verona NY by the Association of Old Crows in partnership with the MountainRunner Institute, brought together military practitioners, commanders, academics, media, consultants and others, for a range of talks and discussions relating to propaganda, strategic communication, public diplomacy, information operations (IO) and influence. There was considerable agreement about where we are and should be headed. Most notably, the need to measure the effects of communication initiatives and their influence on behaviour was widely spoken about; as too the need for consistency across all words and deeds in line with an expansive, dialogic model of communication. Continue reading “Effective Influence & Strategic Communication: Some Conjectured First Principles “→
The Navy Strategic Communication Workshop (SCW) is a three‐day workshop designed to help commands in the development and implementation of a Strategic Communication planning process. Participants are encouraged to attend as part of a command sponsored team of three to five members, led by a senior executive (Flag Officer or Senior Executive Service member). Ideally, teams include a diverse mix of functional area responsibilities. Teams are asked to bring strategic plans or change initiatives that might require a strategic communication component. Through a combination of classroom presentations and facilitated breakout sessions, teams will be able to apply new skills and techniques to advance their plans.
My talk is titled “The New Information Environment” and will cover the information-centric “now media” environment of borderless news and audiences, dynamic and voluntary “diasporas” (my favorite depiction of this challenge is the image at right), and the organizational and conceptual confusion that abounds across the Government on the requirements, responsibilities and authorities to be effective in this environment. Of course I’ll talk about Wikileaks weave in that The New York Times has more Twitter followers than print subscribers, .
A new fun feature for the website: identify the author or year of a quote. The first person to correctly identify the author or the year will receive a $10 Amazon gift card from the MountainRunner Institute. Submissions must be made in the comments of this post on the MountainRunner blog. This post will be updated with the full answer and context when there is a winner. The contest closes in 7 days regardless of whether there is a winner. I have sole discretion in judging the contest. Anonymous entries may win if they include an email for follow up or a simultaneous email to me.
Here’s the quote:
The United States Government should create a Secretary of Public Relations as a member of the President’s cabinet. The function of this official should be correctly to interpret America’s aims and ideals throughout the world, and to keep the citizens of this country in touch with government activities and the reasons which prompt them. He would, in short, interpret the people to the government and the government to the people.
Once again I will teach PUBD510: Public Diplomacy and Technology this coming Spring semester at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism as part of the Master of Public Diplomacy program. The course will be Fridays, 10a – 12:50p.
The current – draft – syllabus to the schedule of classes (direct link to the 614kb PDF is here). All comments are welcome.
The International Studies Association was founded in 1959 to promote research and education international affairs. Its annual conference is a significant event for relevant academic communities. The next annual conference will be in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on March 16-19, 2011.
The primary objective of the Working Group on Public Diplomacy is to establish a productive community of scholars from across the disciplines and divisions of ISA in order to advance the scholarship and teaching on public diplomacy. Public diplomacy represents an increasingly important convergence of multiple research trajectories within the ISA – including theoretical and practical research on influence efforts and ‘soft power,’ comparative work on foreign policy and practices of public engagement, as well as the instrumental role of international communication and global media leveraged by state and non-state institutions. The Working Group invites scholars actively engaged in research and teaching that recognizes the increased salience of public diplomacy as a foreign policy imperative around the world, and, how public diplomacy has transformed conceptual boundaries between diplomacy, communication, and international politics.
This working group will be led by (and the result of the hard work of) Craig Hayden, professor at American University and occasional blogger, and Kathy Fitzpatrick, professor at Quinnipiac University.
The working group includes one all-day pre-conference workshop on March 15 and two follow up meetings on March 17 and March 19. The schedule is below.
The Influence and Propaganda Conference continues tomorrow. Today’s discussion was fantastic with valuable insights from Todd Helmus, Ted Tzavellas, Steve Shaker, Adam Pechter, Bryan Rich, Michael Dominque, Steve Luckert, Lee Rowland, Glenn Ayers, Glenn Connor, Tim Hill, Cliff Gilmore, and Al Bynum.
Tomorrow is another day beginning with a presentation by Brad Gorham. This is followed by arguably the best panel of the conference: the media panel co-chaired by Russ Rochte and myself. The panel will include Jamie McIntyre, Bill Gertz, and Wally Dean. Following this panel is Mahan Tavakoli, Nancy Snow, Mike Waller, Amy Zalman, Cori Dauber, Carol Winkler, and Jim Farwell. Friday, the last day, has Brian Carlson, Evan Mitchell Stark, Joel Weinberger, John Foxe, and Wil Cunningham.
The London-based Behavioural Dynamics Institute and the IO Institute has unexpectedly bestowed on your author an award (see picture). Along with the plaque was a gift that supports my efforts in the areas of strategic communication and public diplomacy, including the launch of the MountainRunner Institute, a non-profit for issues related to public diplomacy.
The plaque reads: “in recognition of his dedicated promotion of understanding in strategic communication and influence disciplines worldwide.”
This week is the Influence and Propaganda Conference in Verona, New York, outside of Syracuse. Put on by the IO Institute in partnership with the MountainRunner Institute, the conference will be a frank and open discussion on the nature, purpose and format of propaganda and activities intended to influence. This conference comes at a critical time as the volume and quality of disinformation and misinformation increases in an environment that empowers virtually anyone. The gatekeepers of yesterday, governments and major media, are increasingly bypassed, ignored, reactionary or co-opted as today’s information flows across geographic, linguistic, political and technological borders with increasing ease and speed.
The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy met last week to discuss its biennial report to appraise U.S. Government activities intended to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics. In 2008, the Commission come out with a report on the human resource aspect of public diplomacy. This time, the Commission outsourced its commitment to the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin. The project’s purpose was to review current public diplomacy measurement methods, assess gaps in the various measurement methods, and develop a comprehensive measurement framework. The result was the Public Diplomacy Model for the Assessment of Performance (PD-MAP).
Links to the report and presentation are at the end of this article.
The effort by the LBJ School took the form of a two-semester policy research project involving 15 graduate students and one professor. The team reviewed current programs, surveyed public diplomacy professionals and academics, convened a focus group, and interviewed several expert speakers.
The result was a report and a “notional model for measuring public diplomacy efforts.” The LBJ School describes PD-MAP as a “flexible framework that allows an evaluator to quantify the results of public diplomacy programs and evaluate their success in meeting” what the team identified as the “three strategic goals or outcomes of all public diplomacy programs”:
Increasing understanding of US policy and culture
Increasing favorable opinion towards the US
Increasing the US’s influence in the world
Three themes were clear in both the presentation of the report and the report itself: the effort by the LBJ School was constrained by time, funding, and access. On the latter, they said “limited access to the Department of State personnel within Washington, D.C. and in the field” made it “difficult to survey professionals, collect data, receive feedback, or even study the current measurement tools that were out there.” There was, however, “support and guidance” from the Office of the Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, including the Evaluation and Measurement Unit (EMU) and the ECA Office of Policy and Evaluation. On the time and funding, Work began in August 2009, at the start of the 2009-2010 academic year, but funding did not arrive until March 2010. Presumably, much of the work was completed by May 2010, the end of their academic year. It was not clear whether the time constraint was complicated by other course work carried by the graduate students.
The report and the model reflect the sincerity and hard work of the students. Theirs was not an easy task. However, the value and utility of their year-long effort is unclear. The PD-MAP arrived at conclusions that are painfully obvious to anyone who scratches the surface of public diplomacy, let alone in the area of measuring effectiveness:
No coordination between PD/PA departments
Duplication of evaluation efforts
No uniform scale or basis for analyzing or comparing different programs
No single department coordinates or is held responsible for measurement standards
Insufficient relationship between program planning and evaluation
(As any reader of this blog will know, I have my reasons why PD and PA should be coordinated. I offer a not-so-subtle reminder they lack the coordination whenever I write the title or office of Judith McHale, or any of her predecessors: “and Public Affairs” is always italicized. The LBJ team never gives a reason for their recommendation, however.)
The team’s research appeared to be shallow. For example, it is unclear whether the team considered any role for the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) that reports directly to the Secretary of State, or the audience research work of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Further, it appears that, in the absence of any discussion about the geographic bureaus or any other aspect of the diffusion of public diplomacy responsibilities across the department, the team’s aperture was unnecessarily narrow and reflected their limited experience and exposure to the issues they were investigating, limits on interviewing experts, and constraints on time. While the school may have been selected on a proven track record of public policy analysis, their lack of awareness of public diplomacy policy, practices and history came through in their methodology, survey and report.
The team used four methods to collect information to build develop the framework for the model. These were: review of current public diplomacy programs; survey of public diplomacy professionals and academia; a focus group; and, expert speakers. On the surface this appears adequate, but a closer inspection shows at least the last three methods fell far short of what should have been expected.
The team built a sample of 11 Diplomats-in-Residence at various institutions, 32 Foreign Service Officers, 4 current USAID professionals, 14 former ambassadors, and 26 academics. Barely half (55%) of the State Department members responded. The response rate for academia – select professors who are members of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs – “was considerably lower due to logistical difficulties.”
Only 14 complete responses to the survey were collected, and 1 of 13 partial responses was included (the other 12 were “deleted”).
While the team lamented the shortage of “funds,” “time” and “access” to conduct an adequate investigation, I have to believe that they could have done a better job reaching out to public diplomacy professionals, past and present, and academics than they did. Despite the team’s concern over “bias,” I would guess that American University’s recent on cultural diplomacy collected more than 15 useable responses. I’d be surprised if the survey sent out by Carolijn van Noort, a trainee at the Consulate General of the Netherlands in San Francisco, on assessing professional views about the importance of social networking in public diplomacy collected only 15 useable responses as well. I’d also guess USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy could have been of help as well.
Another “method” of collecting information was a “focus group.” This should really have been labeled a strategy meeting as two of the three participants in the focus group were the executive director and the deputy director of the client, the Advisory Commission. The third interviewee was the Diplomat-in-Residence at the LBJ School.
Still, the graduate students should still be commended. They had embarked on a daunting task: creating the Philosopher’s Stone for public diplomacy. A major challenge is attempting to quantify the unquantifiable.
The issue of complex environments, that programs do not happen in a vacuum, received a cursory examination in the report. In presenting the report, the team punted a question on this from public diplomacy office, suggesting moving outside of the tool and “capture the context in which your efforts are taking place…in a report, up the chain.”
The report did uncover some interesting “key themes” during their research, interviews, and survey. If these results are not the result of a defective sample or defective data collection, they should raise some flags. For example:
62% percent of the respondents mentioned disseminating information on US foreign
policy and goals as one of the purposes of public diplomacy.
24% percent of respondents mentioned increasing understanding regarding US
foreign policy and goals as one of the purposes of public diplomacy.
43% percent of the respondents identified influencing foreign audiences to comply
with US foreign policy and goals as one of the purposes of public diplomacy. [emphasis mine]
Also, a question on the survey asked “Drawing on your experience in the public diplomacy field; list some short term (less than one year) goals of public diplomacy efforts.” Three of the approximately forty answers to the open-ended question were “Recruit more PD officers with 4/4 or higher language skills,” “Re-create USIA; separate the formal PD function from State,” and “Sell a particular weapons system.” These aren’t goals of public diplomacy.
The LBJ School naturally recommends their PD-MAP be rolled into production with the EMU.
The time spent developing the tool surely benef ited the students but I will be surprised if it provides anything more than a marginal benefit to EMU. The analysis could have been done as an interim report by any one of the other universities already invested in public diplomacy, such as USC, George Washington, Georgetown, American University, Syracuse, Harvard, and Arizona State.
It is time the Advisory Commission begins to really tackle the challenges of public diplomacy and global engagement, not just in the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, but across the State Department, into USAID, the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the rest of government, as well as into the public-private divide. Satisfying the minimum requirement of a report every two years is simply inadequate, let alone a report of such marginal value as this one on measurements. The Advisory Commission, a entity established by the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and whose members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, must begin fulfilling its mandate of issuing serious and substantive appraisals of U.S. Government activities intended to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics. There is no question of the need for such an oversight body to inform Congress, the White House and the public (a constituent of the Commission since its inception).
This was a missed opportunity for the Advisory Commission, and public diplomacy in general. It was, however, a great opportunity for the graduate students.
The State Department announced today that it had completed a key component of its strategic framework for public diplomacy, with the selection of Deputy Assistant Secretaries for public diplomacy in the Department’s six geographic bureaus and a Deputy Assistant Secretary for international media engagement in the Bureau of Public Affairs.
“The Department of State’s strategic framework for public diplomacy was designed to strengthen our ability to match strategies and programs to our country’s top foreign policy priorities,” stated Judith A. McHale, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. “These new Deputy Assistant Secretaries will provide valuable public diplomacy leadership in this critical endeavor, and ensure the close integration of public diplomacy with policy formulation.”
“The printing press is the greatest weapon in the armory of the modern commander.” – T.E. Lawrence
Lawrence’s words continue to ring true. In conflicts from the First World War to Korea; from Vietnam to the Gulf War, the nation that wins the information battle tends to win the larger war. Today, America and her partners are engaged in a fight that is every bit as important as its earlier wars: ensuring that Afghanistan is secure, independent, and free of the forces that launched attacks on the people of the world on September 11, 2001. It is a contest that requires painful sacrifices of blood and treasure but one that, if the lessons of history hold, can only be won on the information battlefield.
NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) and its partners have been charged with assisting the Afghan government in building the capabilities and capacities necessary for the Afghan National Security Force to defend their homeland. While many of NTM-A’s efforts focus on enabling the Afghans to pursue the physical battle – improving skill with weapons, providing leadership and tactics training, and constructing logistics and intelligence systems – the organization has invested significant resources into assisting the Afghans in carrying the information fight to the Taliban and the nation’s other enemies.
Lynne tells me she is making another move. Starting next week, she’ll be Senior Advisor to Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale. What will she do?
Working with her team, I’ll put my full media, congressional and policy experience into supporting U.S. public diplomacy, which you and I share as a long-standing personal passion.
Lynne made it clear that she is not abandoning USAID (and no, this post had nothing to do with her decision). This move gives her a chance to work with and promote the needs and activities of public diplomacy from the inside. Rajiv Shah’s loss is McHale’s (and Clinton’s) gain.
Image: from the 2009 Smith-Mundt Symposium where Lynne was on the Congressional panel, along (from left to right) with Reps. Paul Hodes (D-NH), Adam Smith (D-WA), and Doug Wilson, now the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.
Last week the Woodrow Wilson Inernational Center for Scholars launched the Strengthening America’s Global Engagement (SAGE) Initiative. The aim is to develop a cogent business plan for enhancing American public diplomacy and strategic communication efforts. The six-month initiative is a response to recommendations from (at least) 15 major studies since September 11, 2001, and the hard work of Goli Ameri, former Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. The business plan will lay the foundation for an organization that can provide sustained, innovative, and high-quality private sector support for U.S. public diplomacy.
This organization has been frequently referred to as a “RAND-like” entity and similar to the British Council. However, unlike RAND and other FFRDC‘s, it will not be chartered by the Government. While it will work closely with the Government, it will be independent, a necessary attribute to increase collaboration and support of private and NGO actors around the world.
The diverse and non-partisan working group includes over 60 experts and practitioners from the private sector (i.e. Microsoft, Yahoo, Sesame Workshop, Gallup), think tanks (i.e. Brookings, Heritage, CSIS, CNAS, MountainRunner Institute), academia (i.e. MIT, Harvard, USC, TCU, GWU), and Congressional staff members from relevant committees and offices, who will serve as advisors and observers. Honorary co-chairs are former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Secretary of Defense William Perry.
The SAGE Initiative will seek to facilitate better coordination and implementation between the government and the private sector, while providing the former with additional capabilities.
Project Director Brad Minnick said the Initiative guidelines emphasize that the group will not engage in any public diplomacy activities, which are the responsibility of the U.S. Government.”There is no desire on the part of anyone involved in this effort to do that. Instead, any such organization would be designed to support our public diplomacy efforts by doing things the government can’t do, and bringing more resources to the table,” he said.
The SAGE working group is divided into five subcommittees: Budget; Development; Governance; Markets, Countries, and Networks; Programs and Activities. The first meeting took place on September 21, 2010. The subcommittees will report back to the whole group on December 13, 2010. Initial funding for the project was provided by the Smith Richardson Foundation.
Matt Armstrong, president & founder of the MountainRunner Institute, is on the budget subcommittee, along with Phil Seib, USC, Juliana Geran-Pilon, Institute of World Politics, Naila Farouky, Sesame Workshop, Tamara Gould, Independent Television Services, Andrew Walworth, Grace Creek Media, Cindy Williams, MIT (and subcommittee chair), and others.
The Development Subcommittee is chaired by Ambassador Barbara Barrett, Triple Creek Guest Ranch. The Governance Subcommittee is chaired by Jim Dobbins, RAND. The Markets, Countries, & Networks Subcommittee is chaired by Susan Gigli, InterMedia. The Program & Activities Subcommittee is chaired by Christy Carpenter, The Paley Center for Media.
While the conference convener gave permission to publish the participant list, it’s simply too extensive, a real listing of who’s who in and around public diplomacy practice, theory, and policy.
News and information knows no boundaries. Borders of geography, technology, and language are quickly evaporating as content moves with increasing ease across mediums and political borders.
The latest example of the “now media” environment is the BBC, which just announced the availability of its “live radio broadcasts via mobile phones in the United States.”
The extension of the BBC’s agreement with provider of mobile phone radio distribution in North America, AudioNow, means that now, in addition to BBC Arabic radio, BBC World Service’s broadcasts in English, Persian, Somali and Urdu are now available across the US via any mobile phone without downloads or data services, simply by calling a national access number.
The Johns Hopkins University / Applied Physics Laboratory announced the 7th year of its Rethinking Seminar Series. This year’s theme is Rethinking the Future International Security Environment and the objective is the “exploration of possible future international environments including potential adversaries and threats to US National Security.” Topics to be covered include:
Regional areas of concern (i.e., the Middle East, China, Russia, and N. Korea)
Economics and National Security through examinations of potential economic threats to the US and her allies including:
The use of sovereign wealth funds to manipulate markets and currencies
Nation state economic collapse, sovereign default, and nation state instability
US and Allies’ budgets, deficits and their ability/inability to fund robust national security infrastructures
Resource Competition and Scarcity including issues of energy, water, agriculture and strategic minerals competition
The free events will occur about every month near the Pentagon. Video, audio, and usually the presentation and even notes are posted to the web about one week after each meeting.