• Events,  Smith-Mundt

    Registration is now open plus other announcements

    Registration for the Smith-Mundt Symposium – A Discourse to Shape America’s Discourse – is now open. Registration is free, open to the public, and required to attend the event on Tuesday, January 13, 2009. The Symposium will be held at the Reserve Officer’s Association across the street from the Senate and House office buildings in Washington, D.C. For details on this event, see http://mountainrunner.us/symposium/about.html. There is also a discussion forum built specifically for this event: http://mountainrunner.us/symposium/. From here you can register to attend the Symposium as well as discuss the Smith-Mundt Act and suggest and discuss questions for the different panels. This site will host the electronic library to be…

  • Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    American Public Diplomacy Wears Combat Boots: the Pentagon’s $300 million to “engage and inspire”

    Our national security, which includes our economic security, depends on the ability to effectively counter misinformation, create understanding of our policies, and develop partnerships. We are nearly a decade into the Second Great War of Ideas and the Pentagon remains the America's unwitting public diplomat engaging the world's audiences. American public diplomacy will continue to wear combat boots until the top leadership at the Department of State realizes that it must fully and aggressively commit to engaging and challenging non-state actors from individuals to armed groups.

  • Psychological Struggle,  Public Affairs,  Public Diplomacy

    Principles of Strategic Communication

    This is Part I of two posts on describing “Strategic Communication.” Part II is here.  In the coming months, reports and Congressional legislation will attempt to change how the United States communicates with the world. Called “public diplomacy” or “Strategic Communication,” the importance of this type engagement has finally come to the forefront of our national security debate, at least for those taking a serious look at the present and future. Irregular conflict, the present and future reality of war, is based not on our ability to “kill our way to victory” but to operate in a local and global information environment. When there are no capitals to take or…

  • Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy

    The Brownback Bill: S.3546 to Establish the National Center for Strategic Communication

    Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) this week introduced S.3546 titled “The Strategic Communications Act of 2008.” The Senator knows the bill will not be passed in this Congress and feels more discussion on the subject matter is required. His bill is, in part, intended to provoke that discourse. The National Center for Strategic Communication is largely based on the National Counter Terrorism Center model. The bill recognizes that the current system is flawed and needs to be fixed. Driving this bill are concerns over the present-day quality of broadcasting, concerns over the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and a general failure of the public diplomacy apparatus to function effectively since 9/11. To…

  • Psychological Struggle,  Public Affairs,  Public Diplomacy

    National Defense Authorization Act and Strategic Communication, Propaganda, and the SCMB

    The defense authorization conference report passed last night with provisions related to Strategic Communication, referred to as Public Diplomacy by some tribes, but not all. The following comes from the Joint Explanatory Statement to accompany S. 3001, the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009. Reports on strategic communication and public diplomacy activities of the Federal Government (sec. 1055) The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1074) that would require the President to submit to Congress a report on a comprehensive interagency strategy for public diplomacy and strategic communication efforts for the Federal Government. The Senate bill contained no similar provision. The agreement includes the House provision…

  • Media,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Affairs,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Rethinking Smith-Mundt: responding to Sharon Weinberger

    It is important to understand that researching and writing "Rethinking Smith-Mundt" was more than an "esoteric" pursuit. Derisively labeling our adversaries exploitation of information as "asymmetric conflict" as if it was something unfair, we clung to our guns as it were as we continued to imagine a bureaucratically controlled global environment. However, even as the Russians roll into Ossetia and Sarkozy recreates the part of Chamberlain, the Russians have not neglected the power of information to affect foreign public opinion. They have used cyber-warfare to block access to Georgian information while actively propagating Russian messages and images.

  • Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy,  Unmanned Warfare

    The Strategic Communication of Unmanned Warfare

    Modern conflict is increasingly a struggle for strategic influence above territory.  This struggle is, at its essence, a battle over perceptions and narratives within a psychological terrain under the influence of local and global pressures.  One of the unspoken lessons embedded in the Counterinsurgency Manual (FM3-24) is that we risk strategic success relying on a lawyerly conduct of war that rests on finely tuned arguments of why and why not.  When too much defense and too much offense can be detrimental, we must consider the impact of our actions, the information effects.  The propaganda of the deed must match the propaganda of the word. As Giulio Douhet wrote in 1928,…