Military operations may neutralize immediate kinetic threats and strategic communications may make promises, but enduring change comes from systemic overhauls that stabilize unstable regions. Security, humanitarian relief, governance, economic stabilization, and development are critical for stability and denial of sanctuary for violent extremism, terrorism, and insurgency. These are the real propaganda of deeds but without competent and comprehensive action in these areas, military and diplomatic actions are simply a waste of time, money, and life.
Dana Hedgpeth at the Washington Post describes U.S. public diplomacy as it used to be, except the context is today, in Iraq, and instead of USIA officers, it’s the American military. Instead of cultural or public affairs funding, it’s the Commander’s Emergency Response Program. The purpose of CERP is to fund “short-term, small-scale urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction.”
Army documents show that $48,000 was spent on 6,000 pairs of children’s shoes; an additional $50,000 bought 625 sheep for people described in records as "starving poor locals" in a Baghdad neighborhood. Soldiers ordered $100,000 worth of dolls and $500,000 in action figures made to look like Iraqi Security Forces. About $14,250 was spent on "I Love Iraq" T-shirts. More than $75,000 sent a delegation to a women’s and civil rights conference in Cairo. And $12,800 was spent for two pools to cool bears and tigers at Zawra Park Zoo in Baghdad.
In truth, the news story highlights a significant problem when American public diplomacy wears combat boots.