Narrating the Death of bin Laden and the Afterlife of bin Laden’s Narrative

by Bud Goodall Sunday night President Barack Obama officially declared Osama bin Laden dead.  He began his speech with these words: Good evening.  Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. It was nearly 10 years ago […] Read more »

New Third Way Narrative Poses Challenge to U.S. Strategic Communication

by Bud Goodall There is a new narrative responsible for the success of the uprisings that spread from Tunisia through Egypt and now are heard in the streets of Syria, Yemen, Libya, and elsewhere.  It is a secular narrative generated by young Muslims who recognize that older jihadist forms of “telling their resistance story” by linking them to Islamic Master Narratives were largely responsible for the binary oppositions that divide them, and Islam, from the […] Read more »

Democracy, God, the People, and the Pharaoh: A Master Narrative’s Work is Never Done

by Bud Goodall The Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia last week beget further democracy uprisings in Egypt and Yemen this week, as well as protests in Jordan and Mauritania.  If the protesters are finally successful in Egypt and President Hosni Mubarak is forced out, this eruption of game-changing scenarios inspired by deep conflicts between the people and their leaders, and enabled by the velocity and spread of social media, poses a whole new set of communication […] Read more »

Obama’s Nobel Speech Opens Narrative Possibilities

by Bud Goodall In Thursday’s Nobel acceptance speech, President Obama delivered the powerful narrative I had hoped to hear in his previous West Point address on Afghanistan.  I was critical of the West Point address due to: “the absence of a compelling narrative that links who we are, as a people, to what we are trying to accomplish over there.”  In this post, I want to examine the Nobel speech in more detail to explain why […] Read more »

Obama’s Speech Didn’t Close the Narrative Gap

by Bud Goodall Yesterday’s speech by President Barack Obama at West Point about the future of American commitment to Afghanistan contained no real material surprises for anyone paying attention to the news reports that led up to his carefully planned and executed event.  It was an Obama speech that lacked his usual rhetorical flair but came down hard on pragmatics, including a frank assessment of time, costs, and the real problem that is less Afghanistan […] Read more »

The Afghanistan Narrative Gap and Its Consequences

by Bud Goodall One of the important challenges of President Obama’s administration is to sell the continuation of our “overseas contingency operation” (or perhaps FATAVE) in Afghanistan to an increasingly disenchanted audience at home and abroad. But there is a worrisome absence of a good narrative–a coherent collection of stories–about why we are there and what we hope to accomplish. In recent press conferences and briefings, President Obama and Secretary of Defense Gates have maintained […] Read more »

The Story Behind Obama’s Cairo Speech

by Bud Goodall, Angela Trethewey, & Steven R. Corman President Barack Obama’s historic speech in Cairo yeserday represents a welcome break from the former President George W. Bush administration’s approach to strategic communication.  Bush’s rhetorical strategy was to divide the world into opposing forces of Good and Evil, and then demand that Muslims choose sides. By contrast, Obama tried to reframe the challenges facing America and the Muslim world as one of rejecting that division […] Read more »

Strategic Communication for an Administration-in-Transition

by Bud Goodall The headlines from WatchAmerica show worldwide optimism and support for President-Elect Obama.  Yet, despite this large and welcoming window of public diplomacy opportunity, there are still 10 weeks to go before President Obama is sworn in and can officially represent America.  In the meantime, we have a world waiting to see if we have, in fact, something newer and better to offer under a new administration while the old and roundly discredited […] Read more »

Strategic Communication vs. Public Diplomacy vs. Dialogue

by Bud Goodall In today’s “Blogger’s Roundtable” with Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, James K. Glassman, Matt Armstrong from MountainRunner asked a really good question about the relationship of strategic communication to public diplomacy.  Under Secretary Glassman provided a detailed and thoughtful response that distinguished public diplomacy, which is aimed at various publics engaging each other, from official diplomacy, which is aimed at officials engaging each other.  He went to say that […] Read more »