Brokering Power, “Soft” and “Hard”

Along the gradient of power, there’s a possible mix of “soft” and “hard” varieties.  The public diplomacy originating at the U.S. State Department is commonly associated with the “soft” power of peaceful persuasion and cultural appeal;  the foreign information efforts at the Pentagon are often in the service of some ... Read more »

Police Power, Soft Power and Extremist Sub-culture in Indonesia

by Mark Woodward, Ali Amin and  Inayah Rohmaniyah* In recent months, Indonesian security forces, including the US-trained Detachment 88, have proven to be increasingly effective in locating, capturing or killing suspected terrorists. But police power alone will never defeat a deeply entrenched extremist sub-culture.  Soft power is a crucial component as well, perhaps even more important than enforcement. The deaths of Noordin Top on September 17, 2009 and Dulmatin on March 9 of this year, […] Read more »

The Narrative Gap in the New PD Strategy

by Steven R. Corman A new “strategic framework” for U.S. Public Diplomacy has at long last been released. Oddly, it is a slide show rather than a paper, but perhaps that’s because it is to be the basis for a briefing today. My colleague Phil Seib has already expressed disappointment in the new proposal: It is so lacking in imagination, so narrow in its scope, and so insufficient in its appraisal of the tasks facing U.S. […] Read more »

Ridicule as Strategic Communication

by Kristin Fleischer In his book Fighting the War of Ideas like Real War: Messages to Defeat the Terrorists, J. Michael Waller argues that the United States already has a “secret weapon worse than death,” and it is cheap, readily available and easy to deploy. That weapon is ridicule. Although the suggestion that ridicule and satire are legitimate tools of strategic communication might receive some – dare I say it – ridicule, Waller’s argument is […] Read more »

Recent Events in Indonesia and the Philippines

Having recently returned from a brief (four-day!) trip to Indonesia and Singapore, I’ve been reminded of the value of simply being in a location with eyes and ears open in order to gain insight into current events. While in Indonesia, some interesting communication- and terrorism-related news emerged. Facebook has been gaining ground in Indonesia, and in terms of absolute number of users, Indonesia is now ranked third in the world after the US and the UK. […] Read more »

How Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp Can Save the World

by Jeff Halverson In the war of ideas for the “hearts and minds” of the Muslim world, cultural diplomacy can go a long way. The US government may not be very popular abroad, but our cultural products certainly are. Many Muslims hate our policies, but they still love our movies, listen to our pop music, and cheer for our athletes. Extremists, on the other hand, actively try to disseminate monolithic images of “the other” to […] Read more »