• In the News,  Psychological Struggle

    Using Information to Beat Gadhafi

    This morning, I was on the radio show The Takeaway, a co-production of WNYC Radio and Public Radio International, to discuss non-military options for the U.S. in Libya. My comments focused on the empowerment of Libyans by enabling the acquisition and dissemination of information. In other words, freedom to get and give information creates not only knowledge of the environment, it lays the foundation for an open society. The actions of the Libyans must be by and of the Libyans. The only substantial role here, at this early phase of the establishment of a new state, for the United States (or the West in general), is one of facilitator. The…

  • In the News,  Psychological Struggle,  Smith-Mundt

    US Army may have used PSYOP against senators. How is that different from PR?

    “US Army may have used PSYOP against senators. How is that different from PR?” Anna Mulrine, writing at the Christian Science Monitor, quoted Matt Armstrong: While the prospect of an officer trained to manipulate psyches using those skills on elected members of Congress is galling to some within the military, others wonder whether it was an innocent mistake or even all that wrong. Context is key, says Matt Armstrong, a specialist on military strategic communications with the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California. Rolling Stone claims that Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who is in charge of training Afghan troops, asked his team of PSYOP officers to…

  • In the News,  Public Diplomacy

    Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy

    Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy by Matt Armstrong, Summer 2010, at Public Diplomacy Magazine. In the first quarter of this year, the executive branch released two reports required by Congress on strategic communication and public diplomacy. Both documents are known as Section 1055 Reports, named after the section in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2009 that makes them mandatory. The Defense Department’s report described “the direction and priorities for strategic communication activities” within DoD, while the White House report intended to be “comprehensive interagency strategy for public diplomacy and strategic communication of the Federal Government.”

  • In the News,  Smith-Mundt

    Reforming Smith-Mundt: Making American Public Diplomacy Safe for Americans

    Reforming Smith-Mundt: Making American Public Diplomacy Safe for Americans by Matt Armstrong, 2 August 2010, at World Politics Review. American public diplomacy has been the subject of many reports and much discussion over the past few years. But one rarely examined element is the true impact of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which for all practical purposes labels U.S. public diplomacy and government broadcasting as propaganda. The law imposes a geographic segregation of audiences between those inside the U.S. and those outside it, based on the fear that content aimed at audiences abroad might “spill over” into the U.S. This not only shows a lack of confidence and understanding of U.S. public…

  • BBG,  In the News,  Public Diplomacy

    SFRC Report: U.S. International Broadcasting: -Is Anybody Listening?- Keeping the U.S. Connected

    SFRC Report: U.S. International Broadcasting: -Is Anybody Listening?- Keeping the U.S. Connected, 9 June 2010. Posted on MountainRunner here: Senate Report on the Broadcasting Board of Governors. American Public Diplomacy has always addressed two audiences. One audience views the United States positively, as a democracy based on the free flow of information, the freedom of expression, civic discourse and active citizen participation in government. This group will more often than not be supportive of U.S. actions and initiatives, or at least give us the benefit of the doubt. Members of the second group believe that these strengths are, instead, weaknesses and are predisposed to assume the worst about America; they…

  • In the News,  Peacekeeping,  Public Diplomacy

    U.N. Peacekeeping as Public Diplomacy

    U.N. Peacekeeping as Public Diplomacy by Matt Armstrong, 19 May 2010, in World Politics Review. A subtle evolution of United Nations peacekeeping operations is underway. If the first of these missions kept an agreed-upon peace, and later missions sought to make peace, several countries now use these operations to advance their foreign and economic policy agendas, and raise their global profile. This shift, selective as it is to date, may potentially raise the standard of conduct in U.N. peacekeeping operations increasingly fraught with charges of criminal behavior, corruption, lack of accountability, and general ineffectiveness. However, there are significant downsides to this approach. … These same conditions create opportunities to increase…

  • In the News,  State Department

    The State of State: A Proposal for Reorganization at Foggy Bottom

    The State of State: A Proposal for Reorganization at Foggy Bottom by Matt Armstrong, 13 January 2010, in ProgressiveFix.com. The past decade has seen the U.S. government expand its activities around the globe in response to complex and stateless threats. In the face of these challenges, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, and members of Congress have all called for increasing the resources and capabilities of the State Department to roll back what Gates has termed the “creeping militarization” of foreign policy. But efforts at reform are hindered by an institutional structure rooted in a 19th-century view of the world. ……

  • In the News,  Public Diplomacy,  State Department

    CRS Report: U.S. Public Diplomacy: Background and Current Issues

    U.S. Public Diplomacy: Background and Current Issues by Kennon H. Nakamura and Matthew C. Weed, 18 December 2009, at Congressional Research Service. …The attitudes and perceptions of foreign publics created in this new environment are often as important as reality, and sometimes can even trump reality. These attitudes affect the ability of the United States to form and maintain alliances in pursuit of common policy objectives; impact the cost and the effectiveness of military operations; influence local populations to either cooperate, support or be hostile as the United States pursues foreign policy and/or military objectives in that country; affect the ability to secure support on issues of particular concern in…

  • In the News,  Social Media

    Berkley Center discussion with Matt Armstrong

    A Discussion with Matt Armstrong, Executive Director, MountainRunner Institute, on the Uses and Limits of New Social Media by Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs, 15 December 2009, at Georgetown University. …New social media democratizes influence. Anybody can influence anybody. Today, the gatekeepers are challenged, bypassed, or ignored. People who may have been alienated or oppressed are now able to come together and make their voices heard, regardless of culture, ethnicity, location, or even language. …Apart from democratizing influence, social media makes information both global and hyperlocal as it makes it extremely accessible. Social media is also visceral… you see videos and you have a greater sense of…

  • In the News,  Public Diplomacy,  State Department

    State Dept Project Signals Foreign Policy Shift

    State Dept Project Signals Foreign Policy Shift: Review Could Shift Resources to Civilian Agencies for Foreign Development, by Spencer Ackerman, 22 October 2009, in The Washington Independent. In July, [State Department’s director of policy planning Anne-Marie] Slaughter’s boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, announced a new planning and budgeting document, called the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, or QDDR, created to “effectively design, fund, and implement development and foreign assistance as part of a broader foreign policy” every four years. It is the first such effort for the State Department, which is not known for a culture of planning, and is modeled after a planning document produced by the…