More on expanding the US military’s public diplomacy capabilities

News brief: The US military has clearly signed off on communicating their story in the modern media environment. As part of the Transformation of the US military, the United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) has announced JPASE to set "the pace for joint military public affairs".

A still-developing group of joint public affairs professionals have helped to bring a constant flow of timely, accurate information from combatant commanders to news organizations that set up camp wherever American forces operate…

The speed of the Internet, cable news and other media all contribute to rapid shaping of public opinion of military operations. Armed forces public affairs personnel and their communication skills are indispensable to meeting this challenging information environment, according to military leaders.

Preventing misinformation and setting up media access while initial public impressions are forming has been a formidable challenge for the Department of Defense, until now…

In the past, public affairs planning largely involved pulling together individual practitioners from around DoD-an approach that consistently lengthened the spin-up time for a new operation.

The new JPASE concept provides a scalable cadre of experienced senior public affairs officers and non-commissioned officers, who are familiar with the various agencies in a joint operating area and provide media a full perspective of the operation in progress…

Also see Public Diplomacy section.

Technorati Tags: Public Diplomacy, Civil-Military, JPASE

War News Radio

News brief for those interested in information communication technology and cultural diplomacy. A recent story on NPR’s Day to Day highlighted a college’s attempt to reachout and communicate directly with Iraqis.

War News Radio uses Skype and Yahoo messenging, and their respective directory systems, to contact English-speaking Iraqis. This type of grassroots outreach demonstrates more than journalism adapting to technology and barriers to interview (another story on NPR’s Morning Edition interviewed a reporter who no longer interviews the "person on the street" due to security problems). Technology may enable the so-called CNN Effect, but it also facilitates this type of peer to peer grassroots communication.

The online awareness and recruiting the led to the "Battle in Seattle", cultural diplomacy outreach could be advantaged by leveraging these technologies at the individual level. The Cold War United States Information Service facilities, vast (and less micromanaged) VOA broadcasts, and other cultural reachouts (thanks to the Honorable Helms) may be past relics, but these technology options may fill an important niche in the modern security-challenged era.

Technorati Tags: ICT, Public Diplomacy, Technology

Mother Jones Interview with Marc Lynch – Voices of the New Arab Public

News brief: I had the opportunity to speak at length with Marc recently about the Middle East (and other topics). The recently unmasked blogger, Abu Aardvark, has some very interesting and intriguing thoughts and ideas on the Middle East. A recent Mother Jones interview is available, which is a good read. Also, check out Marc’s blog on the book and the press it has received.

Technorati Tags: Public Diplomacy, Middle East

Islamic Republic News Agency (Iranian official news) reaches out

I have a GoogleAlert for “public diplomacy” and it gave me a link the following headline: UK Foreign Office urged to improve public diplomacy. What is interesting about this post is the source is the Islamic Republic News Agency (English version). The IRNA site is offered in nine languages: English, Russian, Chinese, Serbian, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, and Farsi. The content changes based on the language, presumably to provide targeted information to the national audience of the selected language. The Iranians have the outreach down far better than most government communication services, Western or otherwise. Very impressive and deserving of a deeper discussion on their own efforts at media diplomacy through this site.

Technorati Tags: Public Diplomacy, Iran

CIA Torture Flights… UK Memo

News brief from the Scotsman:

Memo points to more ‘rendition’ flights: A leaked memo from the Foreign Office to Downing Street last night revealed uncertainty in Whitehall over the number of so-called
"rendition" flights operated secretly by the US through British
airspace.

The Scotsman.com is a great resource for information. They exploit internet technology the way it should be. Here is a page of dynamic Scotsman.com content on the CIA flights and the RSS feed for same.

China’s Africa expansion

News briefs from UPI and People’s Daily Online. First, the raw story, later an analysis.

First, from UPI: China’s Africa expansion
 

Over
the last decade China and the continent of Africa have gradually been
building diplomatic and economic ties in the hopes of further advancing
globalization and enjoying mutually beneficial cooperation. But now
with a mounting global oil crisis and reforms underway at the United
Nations, China has emerged as a growing ally to most of the 57 African
territories, stepping up efforts to expand its ties to the continent,
host of the world’s least-developed countries.

Continue reading “China’s Africa expansion”

Public Diplomacy brought to you by the Department of Defense, not State

News brief from Yemen:

US Troops help animals in Yemen. More than 780 animals were treated as part of a free veterinary project by American forces last week, the US military news agency reported. Local veterinarians joined with civil affairs team members from the US Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa to treat herds in the villages of Bani Mamoon, Thula and Hababa. Animals were given vitamins and anti-parasitic medication and were checked for any other problems. While the number of animals treated was lower than in past held by the task force, team members said they felt the mission was succesful, according to the American Forces Press Service. "We made a big difference for probably 700-plus families, each with their own work animal," said Army Major Jim Riche, a veterinarian and civic action team leader. "Each animal was extremely valuable to the owner, so we had a larger effect on the human population owning these animals than we originally expected." In addition to helping the villagers, team members shared and learnt techniques with the local vets they worked with. "They were a lot of fun, even if communication was a little difficult at times," said Riche. "There were a lot of tools we use that they weren’t familiar with, and techniques they use we’ve never seen before, so the experience improved the profession on both sides."

Is the US military really the best tool for public diplomacy? Initial PD makes sense, especially in war ravaged or dangerous regions. But there must be follow through folks.

Technorati Tags: Public Diplomacy, 4GW, Yemen, Horn of Africa

DOD as our public diplomat in Pakistan

The headline Schoomaker champions Pakistan relief mission is just further emphasis of the empty promises of the Karen Hughes public diplomacy and the emphasis by the military on public outreach (see US Military rates PD higher the USG). True, the military is a branch of the USG (US Government), but the paltry sum the USG itself dedicated to cultural diplomacy compared to sustained efforts and funding by the military, instead of USAID or other services / functions / paths, is not to lauded. The fact the military is the outreach is great, but is the military liason w/ the civilian sector going to build the long-term relations we want? Is that the image of America we want the locals to have? Do we really want the children equating America w/ Chinooks? Is that worse or better than McDonald’s?

The Army’s role in providing aid to earthquake survivors in Pakistan “might be the most important bullets that we’re firing in this global war on terror,” said Chief of Staff. Gen. Peter Schoomaker Jan. 12.

The Army’s senior officer visited Pakistan as part of a tour through the Central Command area of responsibility over the holidays, and was struck by the positive impression U.S. soldiers were leaving on the local population.

“The most popular toy in Pakistan today is the little plastic Army Chinook,” he said, referring to the CH-47 lift helicopter that is delivering much of the U.S. aid in the stricken regions.

Once again, heeeeeeeere’s al-Jazeera

Eccentric Star has a posting with articles on al-Jazeera’s postive (from our perspective) on Arab (not Islamist) publics. I have heard (and received) arguments that al-Jazeera is a mouthpiece for Islamism and anti-Americanism. Eccentric Star’s article demonstrates the US is not the only target of AJ which I wrote about in the context of public diplomacy, or lack of. Possibly the Bush Administration, in its failure to take Egypt to task on the unfair elections and its continued reliance on an unpopular government that contributes to the perception of a double-standard US, see al-Jazeera attacks on Egypt as attacks on the Administration?

Millions not a couple of dozen Americans “sucked into the vacuum”

ABC’s Nightline had an NSA whistleblower alleging illegal spying (the link has the Nightline video) could have eavesdropped on millions of Americans. As the source for the NY Times article blowing the cover of the operation (thoughts and implications here), he is apparently the target of rage by the Administration on the leaking of the program.

The damage to domestic and foreign credibility may be severe,
although not to those who feel "no holds barred" is the name of the
game. "Do as we say, not as we do" is not a good motto for a role model.

Meanwhile, Opinio Juris notes a number of "prominent law scholars and attorneys" rejected the Administration’s claims to have the right to conduct this surveillance in a letter:

The letter critiques the Department of Justice’s legal justifications
for the NSA wiretapping program, in particular, the U.S. government’s
reliance on the Sept. 11 Resolution authorizing military force, to
circumvent or avoid the restrictions created by the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Of course it is well-crafted,
reasonable, and persuasive. It takes a couple of unnecessary shots at
John Yoo, I think, but it is still very sensible in focusing on the
statutory rather than constitutional arguments. But while I am halfway
persuaded, I do wonder if the law prof letter relies too heavily on a
FISA provisions limiting wiretaps to 15 days after the declaration of
war.

The argument against the right to do anything hinges on what the authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) comprises:

[E]ven where Congress has declared war—a more formal step than an
authorization such as the AUMF—the law limits warrantless wiretapping
to the first fifteen days of the conflict. Congress explained that if
the President needed further warrantless surveillance during wartime,
the fifteen days would be sufficient for Congress to consider and enact
further authorization. [footnote omitted] Rather than follow this
course, the President acted unilaterally and secretly in contravention
of FISA’s terms. The DOJ letter remarkably does not even mention FISA’s
fifteen-day war provision, which directly refutes the President’s
asserted "implied" authority.