• Public Affairs,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Heritage on Smith-Mundt

    I read through Juliana Geran Pilon’s Smith-Mundt article and I agree with Kim Andrew Elliott’s assessment that it has little to do with Smith-Mundt (for background on Smith-Mundt, see my post at Small Wars Journal… part one and one-half is here, part II is forthcoming). While her intentions are laudable, her examples miss the point and her arguments conflate description of action with the action itself. In the end, she ironically she seems to be making the same arguments that brought about Smith-Mundt in the first place.

  • Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Off the cuff: Part 1.5 of What the SecDef Didn’t Say

    “Today, American public diplomacy wears combat boots.” This is how I started the post the Small Wars Journal that intentionally implied more than it stated. In an era when fewer Americans know a soldier, sailor, Marine, or airman, the global audience increasingly shapes their opinion by our armed forces. While this irony is seemingly lost on our chief diplomat, Condoleezza Rice, and our chief public diplomat, Karen Hughes, it fortunately isn’t lost on Mr. Gates. Also not lost on Mr. Gates is the importance of information in today’s struggle over minds and wills. As I’ve written elsewhere, increased information asymmetry decreases the fungibility of force. The recent U.S. Army Counterinsurgency…

  • Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    What the SecDef Didn’t Say at Kansas But Should Have (Updated)

    Checkout my post on what Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates didn’t say in his Kansas State University speech. Today, American public diplomacy wears combat boots. In the global media and the blogosphere, the military and its uniformed leaders shape the image of the United States. But that is not how it has always been. On the contrary, American public diplomacy was born out of the need to directly engage the global psyche and avoid direct martial engagement. On November 26, 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, speaking at Kansas State University, recalled how the United States marshaled its national power at the beginning of the Cold War. Mr.…

  • Book Reviews,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Readings on Public Diplomacy, #1 (Updated)

    In just a couple of weeks and barring any last minute problems, a colleague (Yael Swerdlow) and I will be the first in the U.S. (the world?) to be earn a Masters in Public Diplomacy. So what does one do with such a unique, yet extremely timely, degree? Good question. That’s a very good question. Of course I’m actively looking now and I’m open for suggestions (or offers ;). Partly because I’m being introspective and partly motivated by Abu Muqawama’s counterinsurgency book club, this is the first of an occasional series on books and resources (that may or may not have been used in my program) I found particularly useful.…

  • Public Affairs,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Is a Blog a News Service? Smith-Mundt on DipNote (Update)

    No time for a deep analysis, so a superficial commentary will have to do. One of the more interesting aspects of Smith-Mundt was its opposition to a USG-owned news service in light of recent memory of not only Nazi Germany’s propaganda machine, but also of the Creel Commission, or Committee on Public Information (CPI). The prohibitions against internal propagandizing in Smith-Mundt focused on the point of dominating information channels to the public. Argued as First Amendment violations and as a potential infringement on the free press, Smith-Mundt prevented the USIA from becoming a domestic news service. Today, there’s lots of discussion on the role of the New Media: the blogosphere. While…

  • Public Affairs,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Smith-Mundt

    Swedish Meatballs’s post on Smith-Mundt, with its rare quoting of Dave Grossman (perhaps SM was motivated by this post), shows how the Smith-Mundt Act has been distorted over the years to become something it was never intended to be. Because of this, as SM points out, Smith-Mundt needs to be drastically revised, or better, yet, ditched. Forgotten is the purpose and focus of the Act. The Act focused on raising the quality of American propaganda that was so dysfunctional as to actually aid the enemy (sound familiar?). Discussions about domestic broadcasting were focused on Free Speech and guaranteeing the government wouldn’t compete with rich domestic broadcasters. Meatball One asks Might…

  • Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Quoting history #4

    Following up on Republican statements on the need for Smith-Mundt, comes some Democrat voices from 1947, quoted in Shawn Parry-Giles’ Rhetorical Presidency, Propaganda and the Cold War: Predictably, much of the congressional opposition to the legalization of peacetime propaganda was grounded in the assumption that such an organization threatened the US free press system. Representative William Lemke (D-CT) questioned any governmental attempt to “compete” with private news stations, calling for financial support of short-wave stations and “those who blazed the trail with their own funds.” According to Lemke, “Any other procedure would be the rankest kind of injustice.” Congressman Hale Boggs (D-LA) also questioned the practice of placing the government…

  • Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Quoting History #2

    Today…peace is endangered by the weapons of false propaganda and misinformation and the inability on the part of the United States to deal adequately with those weapons. Truth can be a powerful weapon on behalf of peace. It is the firm belief of the Committee that HR 3342, with all the safeguards included in the bill, will constitute an important step in the right direction toward the adequate dissemination of the truth about America, our ideals, and our people. and …This work has been going on for 29 months in the State Department. The time has come when Congress should give the program its official sanction. Further delay in taking…

  • Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Finally, a National Strategy on Public Diplomacy (updated)

    I finally had a chance to go through the so called “US National Strategy for Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication“. I’m not impressed. It might be better than nothing, but not much. Whatever Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes has been doing over the last several months, it certainly can’t be described as intelligent leadership over American public diplomacy and public affairs. This “new” plan reinforces this sad fact. Holding on tight to her “Diplomacy of Deeds” and “empowerment of women” without acknowledging the inconvenient reality of the former (and punishing those who do) and the far from near-term impact of the latter, Ms. Hughes continues to focus on second tier goals…

  • Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Pentagon “roadmap” calls for “boundaries”…

    Heads up on a report just acquired by FOIA by National Security Archive: Information Operations Roadmap. The National Security Archive headline describes it thus: A secret Pentagon "roadmap" on war propaganda, personally approved by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in October 2003, calls for "boundaries" between information operations abroad and the news media at home, but provides for no such limits and claims that as long as the American public is not "targeted," any leakage of PSYOP to the American public does not matter. Obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive at George Washington University and posted on the Web today, the 74-page "Information Operations…