Monday, June 12th 2017
Here's an analysis by Council Member Alan Heil based on our First Monday Forum last week.
In a briefing to a record crowd at the First Monday forum of the Public Diplomacy Council and USC’s Annenberg School June 5, the State Department’s senior advisor to the Helsinki Commission laid out principles for meeting those challenges.
As Scott Rauland put it: “Don’t expect to combat the firehose of falsehoods with a squirt gun of truth.”
The senior diplomat applauded the February rollout of Current Time, a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA joint 24-hour multimedia stream in Russian to more than 30 affiliates in countries surrounding Russia and two million users in that country via satellite.
With expanded resources, the “squirt gun of truth” may yet, with adequate investment, become a veritable water cannon of high quality, objective news, helping to foster a thirst for truth. Advancing freedom and democracy, fighting poverty and disease and raising the hopes of millions around the globe clearly is vital to U.S. national defense.Read More
Sunday, October 9th 2016
“In many communities around the globe, the influence of radical Salafism – often fueled by outsiders – is signaled by controls on women: denying girls access to education or the workplace, insisting that females dress in a particular way, encouraging gender-based violence, including child marriage and female genital mutilation and cutting.”
Sunday, August 28th 2016
“. . . policymakers need to better understand both how religion affects issues of security and stability, and equally important, how to encourage and reinforce non-violent, tolerant expressions of faith,” said Sarah Sewall, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, in remarks – “Religious Extremism in Africa” -- at the Center for Strategic and International Security in Washington on August 1, 2016. It’s an important speech.
In the past, many Foreign Service Officers were uncomfortable discussing the religion factor in international affairs, citing “separation of church and state.” Sewall made the case that while “the United States favors no particular faith,” and it must “reject framing the problem solely around religious ideology,” it must engage with religious communities and leaders. Her speech elaborated how Public Diplomacy, development, and diplomacy work together to counter religiously-motivated violent extremism. The full speech is worth reading, but here are some bullet points: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
Saturday, March 5th 2016
“. . . many propound that ISIS has ‘nothing to do with Islam,’ something which is patently false. On the other hand, others articulate the equally ridiculous opposite position: that somehow ISIS represents the true face of Islam,” wrote Ambassador Alberto Fernandez, now Vice President of the Middle East Media Research Institute. His article, “Counter the Islamic State’s Message,” ran in the Winter, 2016, issue of the Journal of International Security Affairs. “It would be more honest to acknowledge,” he continued, “that ISIS arises out of a certain historic reality within Islamic history and certain factors on the ground that facilitated its development and still contribute to its existence.”
In this important article – mandatory reading, in my judgment, for specialists in Public Diplomacy, strategic communication, information operations, and public affairs – the former Coordinator of the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications provided important historical and linguistic insights into Salafi jihadist thinking, proposed a “means, motive, and opportunity” template, and outline key elements of a response. This short gist necessarily omits many supporting details, but here are some key points:Read More