U.S. Public Diplomacy Increasing Domestic Outreach

by Steven R. Corman I have been following developments in public diplomacy for close to twelve years now.  Lately I have noticed something new: Messages in my inbox from Tara Sonenshine, the new Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (whose department, for arcane reasons, is known as “R”). She was appointed earlier this year as successor to Judith McHale.  I cannot remember ever receiving regular email messages from this office before.  Wondering what […] Read more »

Mali Extremists Blunder, But Who Can Capitalize?

By Bennett Furlow and Jeffry Halverson Over the past week a militant Islamist group operating in Mali called Ansar Dine has destroyed a number of Sufi mausoleums and the legendary gate of a 600-year-old mosque in the fabled city of Timbuktu. Many news reports have compared these tragic events in Mali to the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban in 2001. There is a key difference though that could lead to dramatically […] Read more »

Should Captured AQ Documents Have Been Released?

By Steven R. Corman & Jarret Brachman The release last week of documents captured from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbotabad has generated a flurry of interest in the press and blogosphere.  Yet a question has arisen as to whether the release was wise, since the documents are intelligence assets that could give the enemy valuable information regarding what we know about them.  We argue that the release makes sense from a strategic communication perspective, […] 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 »

The Aftermath of Another Affront

by Chris Lundry (with R. Bennett Furlow) It did not take long for the images of the US Marines urinating on corpses of Taliban fighters to go viral. A moment of lapsed judgment will circulate as long as anyone is interested in seeing it, certainly long after short attention spans move on to other things and the fallout – including, presumably, disciplinary actions for the soldiers – settles. Predictably, extremist sites have been all over […] 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 »

Yes, Extremists are Paying Attention

by Chris Lundry Last year, my colleagues Steven Corman, Jeffrey Halverson and I wrote a series of blog posts exploring Islamist reactions to anti-Islam and anti-Muslim events in the US, including the debate over the Park51 Islamic Center and an American pastor’s proposal to burn a Qur’an on 9/11, among others. One of the points we made in our final post was that these events fuel the extremist narrative that the US and its allies […] Read more »

Has al-Qaeda Become a Toxic Brand?

by Steven R. Corman In business marketing, branding means creating demand for a product by creating an image that is appealing to potential consumers.  This probably brings to mind successful brands like Coca-Cola, Disney, and Nike.  But brands can also become “toxic.” Recent evidence suggests al-Qaeda may now be one such failed brand. Brands become toxic when they are initially strong and well known, then negative events transform their image in a way that turns […] Read more »

A New Cultural Path for Indonesia’s Islamist PKS?

by Steven R. Corman The CSC has released a new white paper entitled A New Cultural Path for Indonesia’s Islamist PKS? by Mark Woodward, Ali Amin, Inaya Rohmaniyah, and Chris Lundry.  The executive summary is as follows: With the commencement of Indonesia?s transition to democracy, following 32 years of rule by the military dictator Suharto, political space has opened for dozens of political parties to form and regularly contest elections. The Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (the […] Read more »

Osama bin Laden’s Image Appears on Toast!

By Chris Lundry It was bound to happen: London’s Daily Mail reported yesterday that the face of Osama bin Laden appeared on a Londoner’s piece of toast. I have been fascinated with how the image of Osama bin Laden became a pop cultural phenomenon after 9-11 in some parts of the Muslim world (including Indonesia, where I do much of my work). The image was usually intended to shock rather than express true solidarity with […] Read more »