Saturday, July 2nd 2016
If I may generalize from my Foreign Service experience with the military services, what commanders want most from an American embassy is local knowledge, be it political, governmental, economic, informational, cultural, or social. Units deployed to foreign countries surely bring capacity and expertise, and their intelligence, plans, and civil affairs officers are quick studies, but commanders well understand that their operations need the kind of local knowledge that embassies and consulates command. They expect that knowledge from Foreign Service Officers. They are usually surprised – and gratified -- to learn that knowledge and advice also come from expert local staff.
It has been my experience, too, that commands especially appreciate the knowledge provided by Public Diplomacy officers and their local staff. Public Diplomacy officers have a mix of contacts from all walks of life. They focus on society, culture, the media, faith, education, and opinion-forming institutions. Reading editorials, meeting students, and monitoring social media are all ways Public Diplomacy officers feel the pulse of a society.Read More
Wednesday, June 29th 2016
Seamus Hughes, the Deputy Director of the Program on Extremism in the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at The George Washington University provided some revealing granularity on counter-messaging efforts of American technology companies and the State Department’s Global Engagement Center. He testified at the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s June 23, 2016 hearing on “Countering the Virtual Caliphate.” His fullRead More
Tuesday, September 22nd 2015
“[T]he fact that the United States and the West are losing the battle of ideas to our enemies is not in dispute,” wrote Pete Favat and Bryan Price in a July 28, 2015, article, “The Truth Campaign and The War of Ideas,” on the website of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
The article is an unusual collaboration between an advertising executive and an Army officer. Pete Favat is the North American Chief Creative Officer for Deutsch, Inc. While he worked at Arnold Worldwide he co-created the Truth campaign, one of Ad Age’s “Campaigns of the 21st Century.” Lieutenant Colonel Bryan C. Price is the Director of the Combating Terrorism Center and Academy Professor in the Department of Social Sciences of the U.S. Military Academy.
The body of the article describes how the advertising community launched the Truth campaign to discourage teenage smoking, and it suggests that the campaign offers insights that might be useful in discouraging young people from volunteering to become foreign fighters.Read More
Tuesday, March 10th 2015
Foreign Service Officer Wren Elhai made some interesting comments about the use of Twitter in a recent article, “Twitter is a Cocktail Party, Not a Press Conference,” in the December 2014 issue of Foreign Service Journal. Those interested in the State Department policy on the use of the social media should read the commentary by Diplopundit here.
While public diplomacy officers have embraced Twitter and Facebook around the world as outreach tools, it’s time reporting officers learn to use them in our own work.Read More
Thursday, February 26th 2015
The quarterly meeting of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy was held at a site for diplomats, attended by a number of former diplomats, and focused on diplomatic issues. But the discussion that followed was undiplomatically – yet appropriately – blunt.
Russia’s leadership (as opposed to the Russian people) is “intent on disrupting the free flow of information across Eastern Europe.”
They “distort the truth… sow dissatisfaction…“ and try to “drive a wedge between” the United States and Western allies in an effort that is “aggressive, even audacious in its scope and ambition.”
Deputy Assistant Sec. of State Mark Toner, who spoke to the Commission at its public meeting at the American Foreign Service Association headquarters in Washington, said that Russia has come a long way from the old “Soviet apparatchik” days. Their propaganda then was crude, easily recognized, and just as easily dismissed. Today, however, the anti-U.S., anti-Western, anti-democracy content coming from sources such as RT, the global Russian television network, is “very sophisticated” and polished.
“Unless you can compete with it, don’t even try.”
Fortunately, we can compete with it. And here the news was more encouraging.Read More