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Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy “Seen on the Web” (#62)
April 5, 2017
Seen on the Web 1696-1753
This is a compilation of news, articles, essays, and reports on strategic communications, Public Diplomacy, public affairs, U.S. government international broadcasting, and information operations. The editorial intent is to:
● share with busy practitioners the academic and policy ferment in Public Diplomacy and related fields
● from long speeches, testimonies, and articles, flag the portions that bear on Public Diplomacy
● provide a window on armed forces thinking on the fields that neighbor Public Diplomacy such as military public affairs, information operations, inform-influence-engage, and cultural learning, and
● introduce the long history of Public Diplomacy by citing some of the older books, articles, reports, and documents that are not available on the internet.
Public Diplomacy professionals always need a 360-degree view of how ideas are expressed, flow, and gain influence. Many points of view citied here are contentious, partisan, and/or biased; inclusion does not imply endorsement.
Donald M. Bishop, Bren Chair of Strategic Communications, Marine Corps University
Jeffery W. Taylor, University of Mary Washington, Assistant
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Instruments of Informational Power
Countries and Regions
Elements of Informational Power
● US public diplomacy fights radicalism. Educational exchanges over the years have enabled hundreds of thousands of foreign students truly to understand Americans and American culture. This is far more effective in countering radical propaganda than social media. The American Immigration Law Foundation estimates that 46 current and 165 former heads of government are US graduates.
The American Academy of Diplomacy and the Council of American Ambassadors, Diplopundit, March 2017
● Fourth, remember the breaking of our public diplomacy capacities with the death of USIA. There has been recognition that the US has lost the capabilities to successfully engage in a war of ideas because the 1999 merger of USIA with State depleted public diplomacy capacities andcapabilities. Our public diplomacy function was broken and diluted as a result of the merger.
Daniel Runde, Forbes, March 23, 2017
● But in the modern era, everyone from Dean Acheson to John Kerry has found that superpower diplomacy abhors a news vacuum. When America’s top diplomats create one, adversaries and allies usually fill it with their own narrative of events, their own proposals, their own accounts of encounters with Washington.
David E. Sanger, The New York Times, March 19, 2017
● Dr. Tran . . . was born in 1968…. “I was only 7, but I remember my family coming to a standstill in the early evenings when it was time to tune in to the Voice of America broadcast. We were often in the company of neighbors. No one talked. We just listened, fixed on the radio.”
K. Riva Levinson The Hill, March 17, 2017
● [Konstantin] Zatulin said he was responding U.S. politicians who have moved "from words to deeds" after long complaining the Russian media interfered in the internal affairs of the U.S. and particularly its presidential election. He specifically singled out Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who this week introduced a bill . . . to give the Justice Department new authority to investigate RT America's potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act . . .
Doug Stanglin, USA Today, March 18, 2017
● [VOA Director Amanda Bennett quoted a VOA interview with North Korean defector Thae Yong-ho] ". . . when I was in North Korea as a diplomat in Foreign Ministry, I read every morning and afternoon the materials – we called it reference radio materials – of VOA. . . . so I think it is very important that VOA should further strengthen its activity . . . so that . . . VOA is remembered by North Korean people as a kind of, you know, the main player who contributed a lot for the reunification of the Korean peninsula."
Jeff Trimble, Broadcasting Board of Governors, March 23, 2017
Having fled after fearing for their safety, many VOA reporters now broadcast objective journalism back to their home nations in their native languages, providing a balanced perspective in heavily polarized and politicized media landscapes.
Dmitry Filipoff, Foreign Service Journal, April, 2017
● . . . the Army employs IRCs [information related capabilities], which are tools, techniques, or activities, to create effects in and through the information environment, thereby producing an advantage in the operational environment. . . . FM 3-13 does . . . mention four specifically: military information support operations (MISO), public affairs, electronic warfare, and cyberspace operations. . . . It speaks at length how information democratization, global communications, and social media are changing the way narratives are shaped and disseminated.
Terron Wharton, Small Wars Journal, March 17, 2017
● The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) spends more than $250 million per year on information operations (IO) and information-related capabilities for influence efforts at the strategic and operational levels. How effective are those efforts? Are they well executed? How well do they support military objectives? Are they efficient (cost-effective)? Are some efforts better than others in terms of execution, effectiveness, or efficiency?
Christopher Paul, RAND, 2017
● In the long-term Internet penetration in the region is likely to lead to a more open society, but experts predict the short-term effects would include backlash from conservative forces who fear an attack on their beliefs. This could give rise to new jihadist groups.
Natalie Johnson, The Washington Free Beacon, March 19, 2017
● For international news organisations with sometimes limited access to cable and broadcast distribution outlets, self-generated YouTube channels offer an opportunity to share their content with a worldwide audience and to position themselves strategically.
Eisa al Nashmi, Michael North, Terry Bloom and Johanna Cleary, The Journal of International Communications, March 10, 2017
● . . . the internet in which Americans take such pride has been beset with social crises. It has become ever more extreme, filled with an endless stream of fake news. By contrast, the Chinese internet, long mocked by the Western world, has entered a period of peace and calm. China’s system of internet management, it’s now clear, has worked; and the West’s model of free speech is showing cracks in a new media era.
Ran Jijun, Foreign Policy, March 15, 2017
● . . . the vast explosion of alternative news sources that accompanied the widespread adoption of the internet has eroded the trust the general population places in the news media as a whole. . . . .And the problem . . . is partially the fault of the legacy media outlets who have fed their audiences' desire for self-deceit and confirmation bias to chase scale. It's the internet's Original Sin . . . .
Chris Sutcliffe, theMediaBriefing, March 20, 2017
● Foreign government hackers caught secretly breaking into a U.S. national security network waged a 24-hour battle with cyber security officials trying to counter the cyber attack, the deputy director of the National Security Agency said .
Bill Gertz, The Washington Free Beacon, March 22, 2017
● The evolving behaviours of botnets make them elusive, even to state-of-the-art detection techniques, warranting more sophisticated botnet detection methodologies.
Nitin Agarwal, Samer Al-khateeb, Rick Galeano, Rebecca Goolsby, Defence Strategic Communications Journal, Spring 2017
● Even worse, if the government just puts out a basic fact sheet, it is often labeled propaganda by those who oppose a position or the politics of the administration. As I said in a blog many years ago, ‘anything a government puts out may be considered propaganda’, especially if one opposes that position.
Joel Harding, toinformistoinfluence.com, March 23, 2017
● There's no better illustration of Merkel's influence than the extensive disinformation campaign that has been waged against the German government and Merkel personally. * * * That's why the Kremlin employs its illiberal and corrupt state apparatus to spread "fake news" that corrodes public trust and tips the scale from reasonable criticism of Merkel's policies towards xenophobic fear.
Jan Surotchak, Washington Examiner, March 17, 2017
● A closer look at Russia Today’s new platform [FakeCheck] reveals that it promotes the very same political messages we find in the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign . . . . The platform is no more and no less than another tool, which looks like media but which instead presents well-known pro-Kremlin disinformation and policy lines as facts.
Disinformation Review, March 22, 2017
● According to . . . the German Justice Minister, Facebook and Twitter are not taking down defamatory content fast enough. A new bill that will be put to the German Parliament in an effort to combat malicious activity and disinformation campaigns online includes levying fines of up to €50 million for not meeting the time frame of taking defamatory content down.
Disinformation Review, March 27, 2017
● Russia’s infamous troll factory — the most successful weapon in its information war arsenal — has rebranded itself as an emerging media conglomerate, an investigation by the Russian news website RBC has revealed.
Alexey Kovalev, The Moscow Times, April 4, 2017
● Twenty-one slide decks presented by organizations and firms at “MisinfoCom: A Summit on Misinformation” at the MIT Lab on February 24-26, 2017, are available on one web page. This is a valuable resource! Here are the topics of the presentations:
▪ Fake News Fitness (from slide 2)
▪ The 22 Million by 2020: A nationwide media literacy + civics campaign for the 2020 election (14-)
▪ NewsMap: Putting News Coverage in Context (23-)
▪ Empathy Accelerator: A Framework for Fighting Vulnerability to Misinformation by Bridging Worlds (30-)
▪ Project Candelabra: Breaking Down Silo Walls by democratizing research and tools for understanding mis/disinformation (37-)
▪ TalkBack: Encouraging News Literacy for Voice (44-)
▪ Visualizing News Inequality: Even legitimate news sources can paint misleading pictures of places they cover (54-)
▪ Prompt: Changing news transparency from a passive to an active process by inviting news consumers to participate (64-)
▪ informall: connecting journalism with public trust (71-)
▪ Changing the Narrative: statistics and simple actions to help newsrooms combat the threat to democratic institutions (78-)
▪ You Shared It: Addressing misinformation through an engaging interactive tool that makes a really big topic personal (85-)
▪ Spark: Bringing the power of Meetup and public conversation to journalism (97-)
▪ Better Media: the info hub for research and solutions to misinformation, polarization, filter-bubble issues (108-)
▪ Public Editor: open-source, visually represented, content credibility metrics generated by citizen scientists (118-)
▪ Wake up Colombia: Bringing awareness of misinformation in the 2018 election (141-)
▪ Les Décodeurs: Venons-en Aux Faits (166-)
▪ Credibility Scores: Provide credibility scores for online news content – a FICO scofre for information (170-)
▪ Data Solidarity Group: Fact-checking data standards for moving facts effectively among organizations, platforms, devices (187-)
▪ Mission: Information (193-)
▪ Meme-inar: meme literacy for the war on disinformation (206-)
▪ SMASH: Social Media Accountability Statistics Here (213-)
● The study . . . is a multidisciplinary effort to design an analytical framework for analysing humour in scenarios where researchers and practitioners find themselves working through large data collections where humour has been used as a potent tool in the construction of messages designed for strategic communication.
NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, March 15, 2017
● This article asks whether NATO members have given sufficient thought to the ethical puzzles raised by the changing landscape of strategic communications for international relations practitioners…
Mervyn Frost, Nicholas Michelsen, Defence Strategic Communications Journal, Spring 2017
● Strategic communication can either create or close down opportunities for diplomacy and conflict resolution. It can deter opponents and rally support, provide legitimacy and forge alliances or, when badly done, make national strategy impossible. If done well, it can transform obstacles into strategic openings.
John Williams, Defence Strategic Communications Journal, Spring 2017
● This short report provides a worked example of the approach to the assessment and evaluation of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) efforts to inform, influence, and persuade . . . . to identify and recommend selected best practices in assessment and evaluation drawn from existing practice in DoD, academic evaluation research, public relations, public diplomacy, and public communication, including social marketing.
Christopher Paul, RAND, 2017
11. SOFT POWER
● As a four-star combatant commander and senior defense leader for almost a decade, I watched the interplay of hard and soft power in peace and crisis. The ability to wield them together is crucial. When we have done so, the outcomes have been far better than when either is used alone: ending the furious wars in the Balkans in the 1990s and the virulent insurgency in Colombia, a vital ally of the U.S.
James Stavridis, Time, March 16, 2017
● Readers are inherently lazy, often reading only a headline to form a finished opinion. Facebook let a fake headline stay on its pages for months, only taking it down when a reporter brought attention to the issue. Political warfare, here using headlines, is evil, insidious, and without responsibility. “Anything goes”. Headlines and quotes can be faked without consequence.
Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence, March 22, 2017
13. INFORMATION WARFARE
● As Moscow stands accused of deploying an array of digital tools in an effort to sway the U.S. presidential election, and Western European governments warn of Russian meddling as they hold their own polls this year, critics say the Russian model is visible in its most advanced form in countries like Bulgaria, which next year is scheduled to hold the EU’s rotating presidency for the first time.
Joe Parkinson and Georgi Kantchev, The Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2017
● . . . a grounded understanding of the major conceptual narratives influencing Russian thinking about information warfare, as well as perspectives on how these narratives have been politicised, is of paramount importance.
The Russian Perspective On Information Warfare: Conceptual Roots And Politicisation In Russian Academic, Political, And Public Discourse
Ofer Fridman, Defence Strategic Communications Journal, Spring 2017
● "We have information operations that are military and I have those that are countering malign influence in Europe. But what we really need is we need a whole of government approach, a whole of government information campaign . . .." During the Cold War, the United States operated the U.S. Information Agency and several official and semi-official radio stations. USIA was disbanded in 1999, and U.S. radio programs are poorly led and funded. "We need somebody to lead that and then we need to finance it and form a governmental strategy," Scaparrotti said.
Bill Gertz, The Washington Free Beacon, March 24, 2017
● The bad news in all of this is that the U.S. and other Western democracies appear woefully unprepared to blunt or deter Russian propaganda. The Russians have all sorts of domestic information controls, but we largely don’t. That does not mean other elements of civil society – academics, activists, and technologists – can’t begin to identify and flag propaganda floated through gray sources, however.
Chris Bronk, TheHill, March 23, 2017
● This paper presents a qualitative analysis of the stories the British public tell about their country’s role in war. Focusing on genre . . . it reveals five narratives citizens use to interpret Britain’s military role. These portray Britain as Punching Above its Weight; a Vanishing Force; Learning from its Mistakes; being Led Astray, or a Selfish Imperialist.
Thomas Colley, Defence Strategic Communications Journal, Spring 2017
● This week, disinformation and its role in the Russian school system became topical after independent Russian outlet Meduza published a recording of a conversation in a school class . . . A teacher and the school’s headmistress explain to the children that the conflict in Ukraine is the fault of the EU and the US, that Crimea was not illegally annexed and that the corruption allegations . . . against Prime Minister Medvedev should not be taken seriously.
Disinformation Review, March 23, 2017
● We should recognize that no amount of cajolery can create public support for a foreign undertaking where none already exists. (This our commitments must be related to perceived national interests.) An administration, by active leadership, can only energize latent support.
Memorandum for Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft, The White House, Subject: Lessons of Vietnam, May 9, 1975
Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2015, pp. 54ff
● Notably, none of these informed and thoughtful contemporary analyses attribute the loss of South Vietnam to the media, which in the years since seems to have taken on a major role in the nation’s popular memory.
Stephen Randolph, Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2015, pp. 52ff
● . . . the Nazis had no theory of soft power; however, they were much more aware of the value of entertainment as propaganda than contemporary populist autocracies. The article promotes a rigorous examination of the evidence for the ‘impact’ of propaganda—How effective is it really? —and the need for a more sophisticated understanding of its effects and purpose.
Nicholas O’Shaughnessy, Defence Strategic Communications Journal, Spring 2017
● An overview of British underground propaganda against Nazi Germany -- transcript of a talk, with accompanying slides, given by Lee Richards, London, May 2014.
Lee Richards, psywar.org, January 25, 2017
● . . . the Cold War. Throughout those decades, the U.S. endeavored to breach the Curtain and reach out to Soviet society through radio, exchanges, exhibits and other forms of public diplomacy.
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, March 2017
● Chinese bilingual elites played an important role in linking the [KMT's] party-led propaganda system with the treaty-port press. Yet the development of propaganda institution did not foster the realization of individual ideals. As the Sino-Japanese crisis deepened, the war machine absorbed treaty-port journalists into the militarized propaganda system and dashed their hopes of maintaining a liberal information order.
News under Fire: China’s Propaganda against Japan in the English-Language Press, 1928–1941 by Shuge Wei
Hong Kong University Press publication notice, March, 2017
● Access to information is almost unlimited now. But one must know how to use this information. That is why we should describe education not only as knowledge . . . . education should be measured by in one’s critical approach to information flow, the ability to analyze and draw conclusions, an ability to form accurate opinions based on reality.
Thomas E. Ricks, Foreign Policy, March 21, 2017
● This article examines the varied dynamics of empathy through the lens of American politics at domestic and international levels. It argues that empathy is a multifaceted and complex concept with transformative power, but also with practical and political limitations,
Claire Yorke, Defence Strategic Communications Journal, Spring 2017
● . . . the youth boom stands out for carrying the largest potential benefits for the world (rather than simply risks) and for being the trend most susceptible to human influence . . . . Those two factors suggest the need for a deliberate and focused strategy that involves governments, universities, international organizations, businesses, and other local and global organizations positioned to contribute. What should such a strategy look like?
Kristin M. Lord, Journal of International Affairs, March 15, 2017
● One crucial way that people can best learn to live with one another is by increasing their religious literacy. In 1945, the British author C S Lewis said that one will gain greater insight into other belief systems by stepping inside and looking ‘along’ them, rather than looking ‘at’ them from the outside.
Kenneth Primrose, Aeon, February 13, 2017
● The foundation of the United States’ unrivaled global leadership rests only in part on our military might, the strength of our economy and the power of our ideals. It is also grounded in the perception that the United States is steady, rational and fact-based.
Susan E. Rice, The Washington Post, March 21, 2017
● According to its supporters, without the NEA, art in America would cease to exist. They have a point. Absolutely nothing can happen in this country unless the federal government funds or mandates it. Without Washington we are a wasteland. After all, the NEA wasn’t established until 1965, and before that there was hardly an American artist to be found. Well, except maybe people like Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keefe, John Singer Sargent, Edmonia Lewis, Charles Sheeler, Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer . . .Separate Art and State
Michael Tanner, National Review, March 22, 2017
● "American capitalism has brought more benefits to more people than any other system in any part of the world at any time in history," [David Rockefeller] said. "The problem is to see that the system is run as efficiently and as honestly as it can be."
Boston Herald, March 20, 2017
● I had several young Arabs from around the region tell me that when America lets its own leader get away with lying, hiding information and smearing the press or a political opponent, it is taken as a license by all Middle Eastern leaders, or the leaders of Turkey or Russia, to do the exact same thing and say: “See, the American president does it, why shouldn’t we?”
Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times, March 22, 2017
Countries and Regions
● “Patriotism has become so officious and insincere that it has begun to be rejected” by Russians, especially given that those officials who are promoting it are presiding over a situation in which Russians are living far worse than they did, according to Moscow political analyst Abbas Gallyamov.
Paul Goble, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com, March 22, 2017
● The previous representatives of the United States to the United Nations, Ambassador Samantha Power, would call Russian diplomats thugs and murderers. That's the kind of language they react to in a very negative way, asking why the Americans are demonizing them.
Karen Turner, Vox, March 20, 2017
● The article conceptualises Russia’s anti-hegemonic drive as a three-pronged strategic narrative offensive that operationally seeks to 1) ‘desynchronise’ political developments in the European Neighbourhood to ‘distort’ European perceptions of reality; 2) ‘de-articulate’ the West, i.e., splitting the Atlantic democracies from the European mainland; and 3) ‘saturate’ the vacuum with false and fictitious narratives, to sow confusion and maintain manageable disorder.
James Rogers and Andriy Tyushka, Defence Strategic Communications Journal, Spring 2017
● Lithuania exemplifies what Havel called “Living in Truth.” At a time when democracy is under attack and faces an historic crisis of belief and conviction in the democratic heartland of Europe and the United States, Lithuania’s example can help reignite the flame of freedom and revive the commitment to the defense of human dignity and responsibility.
National Endowment for Democracy, March 15, 2017
● United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched . . . a long-term government plan to strengthen the country's reputation and soft power, and to ensure that government revenues rely less on oil, state news agency WAM reported.
Xinhua, March 23, 2017
22. ISLAMIC STATE
● To defeat this enemy, we must not only remove them from the battlefield but also degrade their ability to replenish their ranks by discrediting the underlying violent ideology so prevalent in the digital world.
James Prince, The Hill, March 15, 2017
● ISIS has effectively used Islamist narratives and selectively appropriated aspects of Islam to recruit to its cause . . . . This article examines the core narratives that characterise ISIS propaganda disseminated through its media productions.
Samantha Mahood and Halim Rane, The Journal of International Communications, December 20, 2016
● . . . Islam as understood by many Muslims today needs a major reformation or else it will continue to be a destructive force. The essay further discusses Islam as two distinct levels; one that suited the times of Prophet Mohamed and another that suits our time.
Haydar Badawi Sadig, The Journal of International Communication, December 28, 2016
● Overall, however, the [Muslim] Brotherhood has explicitly distanced itself over past decades from the thinkers that inspire al-Qaeda and ISIS. Its political Islam is perhaps jihadists’ main ideological competitor; ISIS and al-Qaeda propagandists reserve particular venom for its gradualism and electoral participation. . . .
International Crisis Group, March 22, 2017
● Most existing work on coverage of foreign issues focuses on events and therefore fails to assess coverage over time. The current study offers a more systematic analysis of news coverage in the US by examining the coverage of one country – Israel – over three decades (1981–2013): Analysing the intensity of the coverage and the topics discussed.
Moran Yarchi, Amnon Cavari and Shira Pindyck, The Journal of International Communication, March 17, 2017
● Beijing, which has a monopoly on breeding the rare bears, strategically lends them abroad as a soft-power tool to promote warm feelings for the Middle Kingdom—and sometimes dangles them to gain leverage…
Kate O’Keefe, The Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2017
● China’s soft-power strategy focuses mainly on promoting its culture and trying to give the impression that its foreign policy is, for such a big country, unusually benign. The culture that the party has chosen for foreign consumption is mainly one that was formed long before communism. Confucius, condemned by Mao as a peddler of feudal thought, is now being proffered as a sage with a message of harmony.
The Economist, March 23, 2017
● Perhaps one of the best USA "public diplomacy" messages to the world in the past century was the music of Chuck Berry -- electrifying songs, way above politics, coming from a young New World country . . . . a country that conceivably could not have come into existence without the sweat and tears of enslaved African-Americans.
John Brown, John Brown’s Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review, March 20, 2017