Mr. Matthew Armstrong is a writer and speaker on public diplomacy and political warfare. Since January 2020, he has been an MPhil/PhD student at King’s College London in the Defence Studies Department. His research area is the early cold war, 1945-1965, and how the U.S. armed for the war it was comfortable with instead of the war being waged against the national interest. His book on how the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 was not just the first peacetime statutory authorization of global public diplomacy or one of the U.S. government’s first responses to Russian political warfare waged against U.S. interests abroad, but an acceptance that foreign public opinion was critical to the success of national security policies, should be available in 2023. In 2022, he was sanctioned by Russia.
From August 2013 through January 2017, Matt served as a Governor on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, now the U.S. Agency for Global Media. Nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate into this part-time role, he provided strategic guidance and oversight over the U.S. government’s international media operations and many of its Internet Freedom operations.
From 2012 through 2018, he served on the board of The Public Diplomacy Council, including as Board Secretary from 2014 through 2016. The PDC is a nonprofit organization supporting the professional practice of and responsible advocacy for public diplomacy. Matt currently sits on the advisory board of the Information Professionals Association and was a founding editorial board member for the academic journal of the NATO Strategic Communication Centre of Excellence.
In 2011, Matt served as the Executive Director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, where he reoriented the organization to its core purpose of providing “advocacy and oversight over U.S. government efforts that intend to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics.” This federal advisory commission was established by the Smith-Mundt Act 1948, according to an amendment from then-Rep. Everett Dirksen (R-IL), to advise the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.
In 2010, Matt founded and led the MountainRunner Institute, a 501(c)3 non-profit focused on issues related to public diplomacy. In 2004, he launched the leading blog on public diplomacy and strategic communication, www.MountainRunner.us.
In July 2022, he testified before a House Foreign Affairs Committee subcommittee on “gray zone” activities. In March 2017 and October 2015, he testified before a House Armed Services Committee subcommittee on the subject of “information warfare” and countering foreign influence operations. In October 2016, he was inducted into the Psychological Operations Regiment at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School as an Honorary Member.
Matt has participated in “small councils” and served as a “gray beard” (well before he had traces of gray), advising various agencies and NATO ministries on issues related to strategic communication, political warfare, information operations, and anti-propaganda efforts. He was a member of the (U.S.) National Press Club for over a decade.
Matt taught graduate courses on public diplomacy at the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism as an Adjunct Lecturer, has lectured at U.S. military schools, and was a frequent speaker at NATO conferences, as well as other military and civilian foreign government, academic, and commercial events across Europe and in Asia on public diplomacy and strategic communication. He was also an Adjunct Lecturer with Joint Special Operations University.
Matt earned a B.A. in International Relations and a Master of Public Diplomacy from the University of Southern California. He studied European security and the Middle East at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
Matt resides near Zürich, Switzerland, with his wife, two children, a cat, and his dog (a rescue from a Romanian shelter).
On the personal side, Matt is a veteran Ironman triathlete (racing 5 IMs in 2000-2004 and 3 IMs in 2018-2019), ultramarathoner, cyclist (road & gravel), and experienced open water swimmer (including a relay across the English Channel in 2015). He held coaching certifications from USA Triathlon, USA Cycling (Level II), USA Track and Field, and was a certified Masters swim coach (previously coaching at the former UCLA masters at the turn of the century). He now primarily focuses on gravel (first) and road (second) riding. He also now does a bit of archery (traditional recurve / bowhunter class) on the side with his son (who shoots Olympic recurve).
Though “Mountainrunner” is often considered my nickname, it was and remains the nickname of Matt’s best, and now late (2002-2016), running partner: Luna. We were lucky to adopt her from the Carson (California) animal shelter as a puppy and later just as lucky to rescue Teddy (2003-2016), a three-legged wonder dog found in a trash can as a tiny pup. (Yes, 2016 was a bit difficult; no, their passings were not related.) When I first launched this blog in November 2004, I did so anonymously with the only intent of practicing writing. (See more about the origin of the blog here.) The hosting platform needed a name for the site and, wanting anonymity, I typed Luna’s nickname. The name was gained from her running 25-35 miles per week on the trails in the Santa Monica Mountains. Her longest runs came in around 14 (hilly) miles. There are many stories about her, including the two times we encountered the local mountain lion. If you’re ever running on the Westridge Trail and drop down into Sullivan Canyon, you’ll be on a part of what had been known as the Luna Loop.
The picture of Luna at the top of this site is my digital adaptation of a superb oil on canvas portrait by the artist Emily Wynn. She did this and one of Teddy (see the blue dog with the blue background at the link) from photos. Both original paintings hang in my home office.