A Public Diplomacy Council Affinity Group
What is it?
This is a group of Public Diplomacy Council members who advocate better coordination among those entities of the United States Government that communicate with the public in other nations. Too often, agencies and offices duplicate or even contradict their messaging and work at cross purposes. The group aims to:
- Create resources and readings about whole-of-government approaches, emphasizing the characteristics of successful efforts.
- Develop potential models for whole-of-government strategic communications structures
- Advocate the establishment of such a structure that could transcend any particular administration.
The group sponsors discussions about the United States and other national models. Some of these discussions will center around a panel of experts; others are confined to members of the affinity group. Key readings and other unclassified public documents are available below on this page.
Want to join?
PD Council members can join by contacting Peter Kovach and Helle Dale, the group coordinators. (See contact points below.) If you would like to become a member of the Council, here is how you can apply.
Peter Kovach [Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org], a retired Senior Foreign Service PD officer, three times led whole of government strategic communications efforts to coordinate and deconflict USG and partner communication efforts. Motivated in part by pain over massive deaths when the Shia rose up against Saddam in the aftermath of 1991 Desert Storm based on ‘rogue’ USG broadcasts saying we’d have their backs, the necessity for such coordination seems painfully obvious. That said, these structures were operational but far from perfect. An evaluation of the history, the necessary building blocks and a model that would transcend administration politics all seem like a key PD task.
Kovach entered the Foreign Service in 1980 after completing a MALD (ABD) at the Fletcher School with thesis work on the Palestinian citizens of Israel, an MA in Asian Studies at UC Berkeley largely continuing his undergraduate interests in phenomenology and anthropology of religion at Wesleyan University with a formative year at Banaras Hindu University in India. He has taught graduate courses in public diplomacy at UCLA and George Mason University and undergraduate courses in study of religion and Asian religions at UMass Boston, Goddard College and Wesleyan.
Helle C. Dale [Contact: Helle.Dale@heritage.org] is the Heritage Foundation’s Senior Fellow in Public Diplomacy studies. Her current work focuses on the U.S. government’s institutions and programs for strategic outreach to the public of foreign countries, as well as more traditional diplomacy, critical elements in American global leadership and in the war of ideas against violent extremism. She joined The Heritage Foundation in 2002 as Deputy Director of Heritage’s Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies. After 2005, she also was Director of Heritage’s Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies.
Dale’s career started in journalism, where she worked for both domestic and foreign publications as well as print and electronic media. In 1991, she was hired by The Washington Times as Deputy Editorial Page Editor. In this position, she was responsible for the newspaper’s editorial positions in foreign affairs and national security policy. Since 1995, she has written a widely-read weekly foreign affairs column that appears on the op-ed page of The Washington Times as well as in newspapers throughout the United States. In 1997, she was named the newspaper’s Editorial Page Editor, where she oversaw the paper’s policy on presidential, congressional and local politics as well as foreign affairs. She has traveled widely in Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and Asia.
Presidential Decision Directive/NSC-68. In 1999, this Clinton Administration directive summoned U.S. Government agencies “to improve its use of public information to foreign audiences.” The Co-chair of this affinity group, Peter Kovach, co-drafted this model for a whole of government strategic communications body with Dr. Jamie Metzl. President Clinton signed it into existence on April 30, 1999. Kovach and William Parker, a Senior Foreign Service colleague, ran successive iterations of this IPI (International Public Information) body from 1999 to approximately 2006.
Nontraditional Public Diplomacy in the Iraq-Afghan Wars Or The Ups and Downs of Strategic Communicators, pp. 171-190, co-chair Helle Dale’s Chapter 8 in ‘”Nontraditional Public Diplomacy,” published by the Public Diplomacy Council in 2016. The chapter reviews strategic communications in the post 9/11 Iraq and Afghan conflicts. To access this book electronically, go to https://uscpublicdiplomacy.org/story/nontraditional-us-public-diplomacy and look for the download button.
Strategic Perspectives 11, Institute for National Strategic Studies. A thorough National Defense University study of the Active Measures group in the 1980’s. [Peter Kovach: “Recommend the ‘introduction’, Text 8 on workings of interagency groups and the conclusion in particular. Well worth the time to selectively peruse.”]
DIME Not DiME; Time to Align the Instruments of U.S. Informational Power. By Donald Bishop, the chief panelist for the July 10 mid-month off-the-record session on whole of government strategic communications, co-sponsored with the University of Southern California.
Episode 28 of the podcast Eagles, Globes, and Anchors, from Marine Corps University, featuring Dr. Rebecca Johnson, Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Johnson’s guest is Mr. Donald Bishop, the Bren Chair in Strategic Communications at Marine Corps University, a position funded by the Marine Corps University Foundation. Dr. Johnson’s guest discusses strategic communication and the significance of informational power.