Monday, November 16th 2015
The Paris Attacks and U.S. Public Diplomacy
Donald M. Bishop
In the aftermath of the attacks in Paris, governments; defense, interior, and foreign ministries; militaries; and police forces are feeling the shocks. ISIS has changed its tactics to emphasize terror attacks in countries distant from Iraq and Syria. Ever cautious, the New York Times says authorities will “recalibrate their assessment.” It’s time to consider revising strategies, says the Daily Beast. The Wall Street Journal headlines that Washington and Europe are “rethinking options.”
Because Public Diplomacy is an element of national power, it must join the “rethinking.” Its response must go beyond communicating press guidances during the coming weeks. To meet this larger, enduring threat, program priorities must be reordered. Funds must shift. Some Public Diplomacy programs must shrink, pause, or sunset – decisively -- so others may expand. “Nice to have” programs must yield to critical ones. A faraway “perfect” can’t be the enemy of today’s “good enough.” There’s no room for battles over turf.Read More
Friday, November 20th 2015
Public Diplomacy officers who have dealt with armed forces counterparts learn of their focus on strategic communications (STRATCOM), communications strategy (COMMSTRAT), communications synchronization, communication through action, and the “say-do gap.” Army Lieutenant Colonel David Hylton, a public affairs officer, usefully reviewed these concepts in an article, “Commanders and Communication” in the September-October, 2015, issue of Military Review.
- Strategic communication (STRATCOM) was the first term adopted by the government (popularized following 9/11) that attempted to provide a working definition for synchronized strategic-level activities aimed at communicating a unified message supporting strategic objectives.
- STRATCOM was initially viewed as the guiding force behind alignment of the diplomatic, informational, military, and economic instruments of national power to achieve national goals and objectives—a complex and daunting undertaking.
Friday, November 6th 2015
To think offense – and for concepts “outside the box” – call a Marine.
“In an information wilderness in which massive battles of ideas are raging and ideas are used as weapons, a defensive strategy is only part of the solution. The services must go on the offense in more than just covert and clandestine intelligence and cyber actions. They need the capability to launch or strongly support ideas as well, and should do so through the most effective medium they have: the individual soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine.”
This radical call for decentralization and empowerment was made by Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel G. John David, a student at the Inter-American Defense College, in an article, “Taking the Offensive,” in the October, 2015, issue of the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings. He described the current Joint Information Environment (JIE) as a well-protected, defensive “stockade.” Borrowing from the concept of the “strategic corporal” as a key to the success of American arms, he argued that an offensive posture must rely on individuals rather than tight message control.Read More
Sunday, October 4th 2015
“We have terms like influence, psy-ops, information warfare, information operations, StratComm, public diplomacy. Nobody really knows what on earth is going on. This is very unhelpful and that is why I opted for using the term influence (by which I mean the verb of influence).” This was among the insights of retired Royal Navy Commander Steve Tatham in an interview with Octavian Manea, “To Respond to ISIS and Hybrid Warfare We Need to Invest in POPINT.” It was published in Small Wars Journal on August 26, 2015.Read More
Sunday, October 4th 2015
“In the twenty-first century, observes Joseph Nye, Harvard professor and coiner of the term ‘soft power’, conflicts will be less about whose army wins than whose story wins. Ambitious powers such as China and Russia . . . are taking this idea seriously, asking questions about the nature of war and whether winning without fighting is possible.” These concepts open a new report by the Legatum Institute, “Information at War: From China’s Three Warfares to NATO’s Narratives,” issued on September 22, 2015. Laura Jackson, Timothy Thomas, Mark Laity, and Ben Nimmo contributed major essays in the Institute’s “Beyond Propaganda” series. In the introduction to the report, Peter Pomerantsev wrote:Read More