• Defense Department,  Development,  State Building,  State Department

    Civilian Response Corps: Smart Power in Action

    The Civilian Response Corps has a website: http://www.civilianresponsecorps.gov/. From the about page: The Civilian Response Corps is a group of civilian federal employees who are specially trained and equipped to deploy rapidly to provide reconstruction and stabilization assistance to countries in crisis or emerging from conflict. The Corps leverages the diverse talents, expertise, and technical skills of members from nine federal departments and agencies for conflict prevention and stabilization. We are diplomats, development specialists, public health officials, law enforcement and corrections officers, engineers, economists, lawyers and others who help fragile states restore stability and rule of law and achieve economic recovery as quickly as possible. Visit the site and check…

  • State Building,  State Department,  White House/NSC

    U.S. “Hedge Fund” Diplomacy in Egypt

    By Michael Clauser Like many Americans, I am conflicted about recent events in Egypt and even more so about what the U.S. government should do. On one hand, the United States has an immediate interest in the stability of Egypt and its government–and not just to keep the peace in the Middle East or secure the two million barrels of oil that pass through the Suez Canal every day.  But also because ditching a longtime U.S. ally like Hosni Mubarak at his moment of need does not send a reassuring message to other embattled pro-American leaders in unstable countries.  Especially when you consider what type of leader may be waiting…

  • Defense Department,  Development,  State Building,  State Department

    Revisiting the Civilian Response Corps

    The Small Wars Journal recently published a paper from Mike Clauser, a friend who was until recently on the staff of Rep. Mac Thornberry, Republican from Texas (no, his departure was unrelated to the paper). The paper, entitled “Not Just a Job, an Adventure: Drafting the U.S. Civil Service for Counterinsurgencies,” is an interesting recommendation to fill the empty billets of the Civilian Response Corps. In 2007 and 2008, I wrote several posts on the Reserve Corps concept and on the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS), including one for Small Wars Journal entitled “In-sourcing Stabilization and Reconstruction” (and posted on MountainRunner here). I also…

  • Counterinsurgency,  Development,  Psychological Struggle,  State Building

    Counterinsurgency Today: A Review of Eric T. Olson’s “Some of the Best Weapons for Counterinsurgents Do Not Shoot”

    By Efe Sevin The long-lasting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has led to increased inquiry into the concepts and practices of counterinsurgency (COIN). Eric T. Olson, in his work, focuses on the importance of reconstruction attempts in COIN operations and discusses the role of military. The author served in the U.S. Army for over three decades and retired as a Major General. Currently, Mr. Olson is an independent defense contractor and works with Army brigades and provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) who are preparing for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. As the title suggests, his monograph considers such reconstruction attempts to have uttermost importance in successful military operations.

  • Counterinsurgency,  Psychological Struggle,  State Building

    Communicating Their Own Story: Progress in the Afghan National Security Force

    By Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell, IV “The printing press is the greatest weapon in the armory of the modern commander.” – T.E. Lawrence Lawrence’s words continue to ring true. In conflicts from the First World War to Korea; from Vietnam to the Gulf War, the nation that wins the information battle tends to win the larger war. Today, America and her partners are engaged in a fight that is every bit as important as its earlier wars: ensuring that Afghanistan is secure, independent, and free of the forces that launched attacks on the people of the world on September 11, 2001. It is a contest that requires painful sacrifices…

  • State Building

    The Men with Large Necks and Democracy

    Every Armenian, I’m told, knows about the unidentified individuals whose job is to scare away election observers and monitors during elections in Armenia. Referred to as the “men with large necks,” these individuals generally work as bodyguards for the local oligarchs or businessmen. After the January 10, 2010, parliamentary elections during which a well known opposition candidate was defeated by an unknown pro-government candidate, the US embassy in Yerevan had this say about the “men with large necks”: Embassy observers found numerous irregularities, including intimidation of voters, verbal and physical threats directed at journalists and observers, and in some cases the presence of uncredentialed, non-voting individuals sympathetic to the National…

  • Government Broadcasting,  Media,  Now Media,  Public Diplomacy,  State Building

    US International Broadcasting as an Untapped Resource

    Recommended: US International Broadcasting: an untapped resource for ethnic and domestic news organization (PDF, 139kb) by Shawn Powers. The American approach to public service broadcasting, which is severely underfunded when compared to the rest of the world, is also legally separated from U.S. international broadcasting, a firewall that inhibits effective collaboration between either. Indeed, the problem is worse, as U.S.-funded international broadcasting is prohibited from disseminating its journalistic features within the U.S., a ban that prevents effective use of its significant journalistic resources by both public and private news networks in the United States. including a large sector of ethnic media that could surely benefit from the 60 languages that…

  • ICT,  Media,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy,  Social Media,  State Building

    The Soft Power Solution in Iran

    In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, The Soft Power Solution in Iran, former Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Jim Glassman and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Support to Public Diplomacy Mike Doran promotes the active use of public diplomacy for the purpose public diplomacy was intended. Beginning with this unattributed quote from presidential candidate Eisenhower (likely inserted by Mike, who’s working on a book on the period), they wrote, Everything that we do, everything that we say–and everything that we don’t do and don’t say–should be coordinated to meet this goal. Such a policy would have four separate tasks: • Provide moral and…

  • Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt,  State Building

    Recalling history: information warfare

    In 1947, Congress was debating both the legislation and funding for the State Department’s information activities. In May 1947, the House Appropriations Committee took up the issue of the State Department 1948 appropriation, during which Congressman Karl Mundt (R-SD), a former school teacher, made the following argument on the need to engage in the realm of information. The forces of aggression are moving rapidly and we must step up our action and increase our efforts in the field of information abroad if we are to prevent the eventuality of confronting a world which has been either coerced or corrupted against us Congressman Everett Dirksen (R-IL) also argued for the need…