In DC next week for meetings

I’ll be in Washington, DC, next week – Wednesday through Friday. On Friday, I’ll be at a special luncheon at the State Department remembering and commemorating a man that was instrumental in almost every significant event that helped transform the US from an isolated nation to a superpower: George C. Marshall. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Army Chief of Staff George W. Casey will give remarks and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates will receive the George C. Marshall Foundation Award. Clinton, Gates, and Casey each occupy a position previously held by Marshall, a five-star General of the Army. (See also The Intended ‘Psychological By-Products’ of Development.)

I’ll also be on the Hill Thursday for meetings.

Recommended Reading

Due to travel, there will be no posting until 4 October. If you haven’t already, check out the posts below (additional comments in italics) as well as explore other previous posts through the Archives or through the categories in the bottom left of the page. 

  • Preparing to Lose the Information War? – Is Congress or the media paying attention? Apparently not based on the statements and questions from both Congress and the media that include words like “mystifying” and continue to focus on Taliban kinetic capabilities. Has anybody read Appendix D of McChrystal’s report that declares the need “win the battle of perceptions” through “gaining and maintaining…trust and confidence in [Afghan Government] institutions.” Among the overdue recommendations is the need to “orientate the the message from a struggle for the ‘hearts and minds’ of the Afghan population to one of giving them ‘trust and confidence’.
  • Broadcasting Board of Governors: Empty Seats at the Public Diplomacy Table – neglecting the part-time management of America’s international broadcasting. Besides the missing Governors, an arguably more important gap is the since-2005 empty seat of the Presidentially appointed Director of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB).
  • U.S. envoys hesitate to report bad news by Nicholas Kralev at The Washington Times on the “rampant self-censorship” of “bad news” from the diplomats in the field to DC.
  • The Bad News: America’s good news only Ambassadors by Pat Kushlis at The Whirled View adds details to Nicholas’s article.
  • Hitting Bottom at Foggy Bottom – My article at on the structural failures at State and the need to fix it rather than let it breakup – or be cannibalized. (Sep 11, 2009) Subsequent to the article was the request by US Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to Secretaries Gates and Clinton to transfer $170m from State, Defense, and USAID over two years to USDA efforts in Afghanistan. USDA should be involved – and has been involved – but at a time that USAID and State’s internal S/CRS – headed by John Herbst – is struggling with leadership, funding, mission, and just inclusion, this request appears a lot more like cannibalism than anything else.
  • Understanding and Engaging ‘Now Media’ professional development course – a professional development course taught by me examining the convergence of "new media" and "old media" into "now media" with the purpose of educating and empowering the student to be a more effective information actor.
  • Smith-Mundt Symposium Report (PDF, 387kb) – The January 13, 2009, symposium, subtitled “A Discourse to Shape America’s Discourse”, was a frank and open discussion included a diverse group of stakeholders, practitioners, and observers from Congress, the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security, and outside of government, many of whom never had a reason to be in the same room with one another before, to discuss public diplomacy, strategic communication, or whatever their particular "tribe" calls information and perception warfare.
  • Guidelines for publishing on Twitter – a policy from the UK very much worth reviewing.

  • Operational note

    Two administrative items to share:

    First, I will be in Korea 23 September – 4 October with limited online access. During this time, updates to the blog are unlikely.

    Second, I am forming a non-profit organization to own and operate This is the best path to continue the blog as well as move it forward. I am open to suggestions on organizations that may be interested in funding this niche enterprise – email me.

    Traveling – no posting until next week

    I will be traveling and not posting until next week. Be sure to read the updated House Appropriations Concerned Pentagon’s Role in Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy (a few additional comments plus the Senate Armed Services Committee’s from their report on the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2010). I will be on email.

    Remember the post where I asked for help coding locations? The dataset was the Twitter followers of as of one day last week, publically available through the Twitter API. I suggest you read the comments on post Question: what does it mean if the demographic of two-thirds of your audience is not your target demographic?.

    Recent posts be sure to read:

    Out of the Office, still

    I still have limited access to (or interest in) the Internet right now so talk amongst yourselves. Expect to see a report I contributed to appear on this blog later (probably Monday) that has been cleared for public release, as well as several other posts I hope you’ll find interesting.

    Upcoming travel and a renewed call for guest posts

    First the renewed call for guest posts. I’ll be traveling (see below) so this is a great time for guest posts on MountainRunner. If you’re interested but don’t know where to start, think of the post as an op-ed with hyperlinks. The length should be between 600-1200 words and it should address something related to global engagement, like communications, exchange, health, aid, etc. However, you’re the creative one so don’t let my list constrain you. Send your idea, your draft, or your completed post to

    Second, now that I’ve asked you to email me, I may be slow in responding. This Wednesday I will be in Potomac, MD, for a workshop, followed by London for an IO Conference, and then to join my wife and kids in Hawaii for a family vacation until July 4. However, I do plan the occasional post and will (eventually) respond to email.

    Updating the Resume

    I’m proud to say that as of June 1, 2009, I will be a member of the National Press Club. This interesting and welcome addition to the resume is thanks in large part to several reporters at “old” media who gave me recommendations based on the value of this blog plus sponsorship by a Director of Communication at DHS who is an NPC member.

    This is probably a good time to mention that I am also proud to be a member of The Public Diplomacy Council and the International Institute of Strategic Studies.

    A few reading recommendations while I’m traveling this week…

    I’m traveling this week so it is very unlikely there will be any new posts on the blog. In the meantime, I recommend the posts below. Also, feel free to review and comment on previous posts here:

    • A major setback in the war of ideas by Peter Feaver. First serious re-dress of Thom Shanker’s odd article that read more like a hit piece than serious journalism. Left unanswered is Feaver’s question: ok, so now how will Defense connect with State, especially Public Diplomacy, and the rest of Government? Also, serious questions remain how Michèle Flournoy plans reshape policy to satisfy the requirements Secretary Gates has established.

    Thanks for reading and some notes on the future

    First, let me say thanks for reading the blog. I know your schedule is busy and I appreciate that you make the time to read I also appreciate the time you take to discuss the posts. For every comment posted online there are usually two more in my mailbox. I also occasionally hear about a post discussed in a meeting or shared through email to spark offline conversations. Increasing the discourse on America’s discourse is a primary goal of this blog and it seems I’ve been at least modestly successful in that regard.

    Continue reading “Thanks for reading and some notes on the future

    BRB – Blogging to resume soon

    My apologies for the silence on the blog. Normal commentary will resume soon including a guest post waiting in the wings as well as several other draft posts that require publication. Note that I will not be too prolific this week as I’m up against a deadline as I prepare for my trip to Turkey next month to present at a workshop put on by NATO’s Centre for Excellence – Defense Against Terrorism.

    On another note, if you tried to comment on the blog and failed (and at least one person has), the problem should be fixed now.

    Posting will be light for the next week

    Posting will be light for the next week. First I’ll be presenting at the NATO School in Germany and then chairing a panel in Washington, DC. So, in the interlude, please talk amongst yourselves. Be sure to check out, and comment on, these recent posts:

    It sure is quiet around here… a few links and musings during the silence

    I’m still around, just encountered some unexpected turbulence that broke the blogging cycle. Posting will resume shortly. There are a few posts sitting in the wings, including a couple of guest posts.

    In the meantime, check out CTLab’s online symposium covering Peter W. Singer’s Wired for War. I’ll be posting a few entries over there (as well as here) over the next week. See my article Combat Robots and Perception Management published in Serviam magazine last year (my post on the article is here).

    Also, for an organizational chart of unmanned warfare units, see Project ACORN from 2007.

    On the subject of public diplomacy, it appears “imminent” is a relative term when it comes to nominating Judith McHale as Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy. Last week I rushed to post “Future of Public Diplomacy” after a DC paper declined because I was sure the rumors were true that McHale’s nomination would be announced any minute. But alas, her official status has not changed. Congress begins a two week recess this Friday, so if she’s not nominated this week, the numbers on the chart at Whither Public Diplomacy will grow significantly. You don’t suppose they’ll do a recess appointment?! Please no… Why won’t the Secretary at least announce McHale?

    See also

    Offline through next week

    Guest bloggers welcomed here

    In the interest of enriching the discussion space for public diplomacy, strategic communication, and global engagement in general, I will open up to some guest posting.

    The criteria is simple: the post must have a logical purpose and be well-written (with fewer grammatical and syntax errors than my first – and second – drafts). The post does not have to agree with me or be directly on an aspect of public diplomacy, strategic communication, or global engagement that normally appears on this blog. The focus must be on public diplomacy, strategic communication, or global engagement, however. Contributions should be <1200 words, ideally <800.

    Send submissions or questions to I do reserve the right to refuse to post.

    Posting will resume next week

    Back from DC where I gave a presentation titled "Network at Network Speed: the Power of Now Media" at an off-site for a USG (not State or Defense) organization. The presentation combined my presentations on public diplomacy and strategic communication by USG and overseas, including insurgents and terrorists and the utility of social media while understanding technology is not a silver bullet. I challenged the client to think about their product (not widgets but ideas, “hope” as the principal put it) and the value of engaging internal and external resources, clients, constituents, supporters, etc. through social media and thinking of ways to leverage the merging of “old” and “new” media.

    When a presentation turns into a breaking-the-schedule over-four hour discussion engaging everybody in the room (positively), it connected.

    Regular posting will resume next week, although it will be a short week with a return trip to DC beginning Thursday (this with the family: first half is a business trip for my wife and last part is business trip for me, in the middle is family time… blossoms?). In the meantime, I’ll repeat my last "while I’m away" post and again recommend the following posts if you still haven’t read them:

    There have been two updates to the blog’s About page and a new logo.

    Things to read while I am offline