“We are All Afghans” in Iran

by Jeffry R. Halverson The Arab Spring showed the world how social media can help organize mass political dissent. In the cases of Tunisia and Egypt, single issues coalesced online into far broader and diverse campaigns that toppled ruling regimes. Recently, outside of the Arab world, discriminatory government policies  in Iran against Afghans have come to light. Decried by critics as overt state-backed racism, it is a scandalous hot-button issue that the rulers of the […] Read more »

Bin Laden Worried about Impact of Muslim Killings on AQ Brand

by Steven R. Corman In previous posts I have advocated amplifying al-Qaeda’s record of killing Muslims, and argued this practice was doing serious damage toAQ’s brand.  Captured documents from bin Laden’s compound indicate that he was worried about the same thing. Last week David Ignatius of the Washington Post wrote a story based on his “exclusive look” at those documents.  The headline was about bin Laden’s supposed plot to kill President Obama.  But later in […] Read more »

Public Diplomacy: Books, Articles, Websites #60

by Bruce Gregory* Morton Abramowitz and Mark Lowenthal, “Restocking the Toollkit,” The American Interest, Winter, January/February, 2012, 57-64.  Abramowitz (Century Foundation) and Lowenthal (Intelligence and Security Academy) lament two decades of US overreliance on military force and call for a stronger “array of diverse tools to influence events abroad.”   Critical weaknesses include lack of well informed political intelligence; failure “to mobilize a genuine vision of an active and efficacious diplomacy;” too many closed-off embassies and […] Read more »

OMG! Boogers and Public Diplomacy

by Steven R. Corman I pass on, for your viewing enjoyment, a segment from the PBS Newshour about a perky, Chinese speaking, twenty-something Voice of America employee named Jessica Beinecke.  She is becoming something of a sensation in China by teaching American slang to people there via internet video.  Her program, called OMG! Meiyu, uses social media not only to distribute her shows, but to get viewers involved in selection of the slang to be […] Read more »

NATO Q&A Highlights Strategic Comm Challenges

by Scott W. Ruston* In December, COMOPS was invited to participate in a question and answer forum with General Stéphane Abrial, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, hosted by Atlantic-Community.org. Atlantic-Community is a leading European online think tank focused on transatlantic relations. The Q&A reveals that General Abrial has an integrative, forward-looking conceptualization of the role of strategic communication in NATO.  A close read also suggests that NATO faces both internal, as well as external, strategic […] Read more »

US PD Advisory Commission is no more

by Steven R. Corman In an apparent budget cutting move, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy was cut from the recently passed budget, and has ceased to exist. The move eliminates an organization over 60 years old. The Commission was established under the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 as the U.S. Advisory Commission on Information.  It was merged with an educational exchange commission in 1977 to produce the current name […] Read more »

Public Diplomacy: Books, Articles, Websites #59

by Bruce Gregory Asia Foundation, Afghanistan in 2011: A Survey of the Afghan People, November 15, 2011.  While nearly half (46%) of Afghans say their country is moving in the right direction, more respondents (35%) than at any time since the Foundation began polling there in 2004 say Afghanistan is headed in the wrong direction.  Attacks, violence, and terrorism are cited.  The survey also found, however, that Afghans see progress in access to education, drinking […] Read more »

Public Diplomacy: Books, Articles, Websites #58

by Bruce Gregory* Manan Ahmed, Where the Wild Frontiers Are: Pakistan and the American Imagination, (Just World Publishing, 2011).  The author of “Chapati Mystery” blog and a historian of Islam in South Asia (Freie Universitate Berlin) gathers his commentaries on US imaginings about Pakistan and historical and political trends within Pakistan.  Sharply critical, humorous, and well written, Ahmed’s short essays portray a failure on the part of American officials and writers in mainstream media to […] Read more »

U.S. Domestic Politics and Public Diplomacy in Asia

by Steven R. Corman As Congress is once again behaving badly, I thought I would post a brief note about some interactions I have had while visiting Asia.  Comments here show that what many of us regard as “inside baseball” matters a lot to foreign publics, and it has them worried. Last week I attended the Singapore Global Dialogue, organized by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University. It was attended […] Read more »

Public Diplomacy Books, Articles, Websites #57

by Bruce Gregory* Intended for teachers of public diplomacy and related courses, here is an update on resources that may be of general interest.  Suggestions for future updates are welcome. Jozef Batora and Monika Mokre, eds., Culture and External Relations: Europe and Beyond, (Ashgate, 2011). The essays compiled by Batora (Comenius University, Brataslava) and Mokre (Austrian Academy of Sciences) examine conceptual issues, historical case studies, and trends in the uses of culture in external relations.  […] Read more »