Selection and commentary by PDC members and authoritative experts in the field
Saturday, July 9th 2016
Donald Bishop, past president of the Council, decided more than a year ago to review all the writings that he could find on the Web (and then some) concerning public diplomacy, strategic communication, and related public affairs activities, mostly focusing on the United States Government. Don dubbed each item a "Quotable," and delivered its key insights in a blog post.
Readers of our blog will notice that Don's Quotables dominate. Such is the volume of comment and Don's commitment to the subject matter. He has summarized many hundreds of articles on these pages. And they're organized to reveal what writers are thinking about most every facet of government communication.
Look at a Quotable below on this page. Each carries a bevy of tags. Click on a tag and you will see all the other Quotables on that same subject. I just checked Don's tag "misinformation" and found seven articles on one of the most salient topics of the moment.
Several of our members cover scholarly writings as well as publishing on their own. One that this website carries is Bruce Gregory's Resources, a monthly compendium of scholarly publications. Bruce includes hyperlinks where they are available.
Public Diplomacy practitioners in particular would benefit from reading more into their topic, and I can't think of a better way to start than by consulting our Quotables.Read More
Friday, July 8th 2016
“To respond or not to respond, that is the question.” During my Foreign Service career, I heard it first as an Assistant Information Officer, and I asked it as an embassy PAO. Some outrageous or inaccurate charge had been made in the media about the embassy, the ambassador, the State Department, or the White House. Should we slug back? In my first assignment, I often heard – from the PAO or the DCM -- “no, we shouldn’t dignify that with a response” or “we’ll only get into a pissing contest.”
Looking back on those occasions early in my career, the issues were usually small potatoes, little squalls, or tempests in a teapot, and we decided how to respond based on experience, “feel” or perhaps moxie rather than on a considered doctrine. Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Jesse McIntyre III, however, asked the same question about the disinformation and propaganda that increasingly affects foreign policy and diplomacy. The May-June, 2016, issue of Military Review ran his superb article on counterpropaganda, “To Respond or Not to Respond: Addressing Adversarial Propaganda.”
Lieutenant Colonel McIntyre’s article drew on historical examples from the Peleponnesian wars, the American Civil War, World War I, the rise of Germany and World War II, and the Cold War. For analyzing propaganda, he reviewed the source-content-audience-media-effects model. He found the joint doctrine on information operations (in JP 3-13) wanting. The now-obsolete Army Field Manual 3-05.301 had a better approach, he judged. And he described a “doctrinal counterpropaganda methodology” and nine counterpropaganda techniques.Read More
Thursday, July 7th 2016
Understanding how a government seeks to shape opinion requires more than looking at the messages it directs outward, whether to portray itself favorably or to discredit rival nations and/or ideas. A 360-degree view must also look at how governments portray themselves to their own people – using government communications, opinion campaigns, media, broadcasting, film, museums, and historical narratives, for instance. This easily expands into protecting the government’s version of goals, themes, and history from domestic and foreign opinion that might contradict the approved national narrative – using censorship. This is why Public Diplomacy officers are especially sensitive to media controls and censorship.
China provides an important case study, reported at length in a May 20, 2015, report by PEN Center America, “Censorship and Conscience: Foreign Authors and the Challenge of Chinese Censorship.” Translation of foreign books has become an important business in China, and foreign books have the potential to enlarge Chinese public views on many subjects. The government, however, uses several levers to assure that translations to not cross any political and social red lines – described in the report. Readers may recall that there were many omissions in the Chinese edition of Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices, published in 2014.Read More
Thursday, July 7th 2016
A recent post on Joel Harding’s website, To Inform is to Influence, led me to a May 2014 report, The Anatomy of Russian Information Warfare: The Crimean Operation, A Case Study, by Jolanta Darczewska in Points of View published by The Centre for Eastern Studies (Ośrodek Studiów Wschodnich im Marka Karpia – OSW) in Warsaw. It’s another study that should be read by Public Diplomacy, foreign policy, and national security specialists confronting Russian information warfare.
Let me editorialize. Too many American leaders consider Public Diplomacy a junior partner to “substantive diplomacy,” and information operations in the armed forces is still “cloud nine stuff.” In Russia, information warfare has been updated, adapted to the new international media environment, integrated into military doctrine, shaped for simultaneous domestic and foreign effects, and deployed. Darczewska’s report provides details.
This gist quotes two parts of the report. The first is its executive summary. The second is an interesting section on a handbook for Russian trolls.Read More
Thursday, July 7th 2016
“Far and above any other enemy I have ever recognized, [groups like ISIS and Boko Haram represent] something totally deleterious to humanity.” The Nigerian playwright, poet, and Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, offered this judgment as key to his decision to stop using the term “Islamic State.” “How do you fight such enemies except with everything you have, including language?” he asked.
While he was attending the Oslo Freedom Forum, Soyinka was interviewed by Uri Friedman, staff writer of The Atlantic. His article, “Does It Really Matter What People Call the So-Called Islamic State?,” was published on June 1, 2016. Here are some bullet points:Read More