Toppling Assad in Syria: A Western Plot?

By Chris Lundry Indonesian Islamist site syabab.com featured a story on Syria’s embattled leader Bashar al-Assad which states that his looming demise is the culmination of a “Western Plot.” This “news” is fascinating for those who have paid even just a little attention to events as they unfold in Syria. Didn’t the US and the West equivocate for months as Assad murdered his own people? Was that part of the plan? Was part of the […] Read more »

NATO Admiral Says the Future of Global Security is Strategic Communication

by Scott W. Ruston The title of this post is my interpretation of what ADM James Stavridis, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and Commander of United States European Command (USEUCOM), says in a new TED Talk. To be fair, what he actually says is that strategic communication should be the means by which the partnerships of an open source security strategy will be knitted together. I’ve been admirer of ADM Stavridis for a long […] Read more »

Review: “De-Legitimizing al-Qaeda”

by Jeffry R. Halverson The Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) has released a short monograph, De-Legitimizing al-Qaeda: A Jihad-Realist Approach, by sociologist Paul Kamolnick, a professor at Eastern Tennessee State University. Kamolnick criticizes current US efforts to counter al-Qaeda’s messaging and recruitment strategies as ineffective, and proposes an alternative two-fold solution to marginalize and defeat al-Qaeda. However, Kamolnick’s proposed strategy is problematic for several reasons. In the first component of his proposed strategy, Kamolnick suggests that […] Read more »

Extremism and Contested Tunisian Identity in Kairouan

by Jeffry R. Halverson I recently traveled to Tunisia where I visited the ancient holy city of Kairouan. Elections for the constituent assembly to produce a new Tunisian constitution are less than two weeks away and there is a lot of discussion taking place about the nature of Tunisian identity and the role of Islam in Tunisian society. Islamists, both mainstream and radical, obviously envision a prominent role for Islam. However, my experiences in Kairouan, […] Read more »

With bin Laden Dead Let’s Kill the Binary Narrative

by Scott Ruston As details pour in regarding this past weekend’s daring raid in which U.S. Navy SEALs  killed elusive al-Qaeda leader and world’s most wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden, the exact details of the events keep changing slightly. The New York Times titled an article covering a recent revision to the sequence of events and details about the operation as “White House Corrects Bin Laden Narrative”. I would argue, however, the “Bin Laden Narrative” […] 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 »

NATO Conference on Strategic Communication

by Steven R. Corman Hi there.  Long time, no blog.  That’s in part because I was attending a conference entitled Strategic Communication for Combating Terrorism sponsored by the NATO Center of Excellence for Defense Against Terrorism in Ankara, Turkey.  The workshop featured 15 experts on strategic communication, including fellow blogger Matt Armstrong of MountainRunner. Considering that we did not coordinate our subject matter in advance, there was a remarkable amount of  convergence among the presentations.  […] Read more »

New UK Primer on Strategic Communication

by Steven R. Corman The Advanced Research and Assessment Group of the Defense Academy of the United Kingdom has just released a new primer on Strategic Communication.  The executive summary says: This paper attempts to address a perceived gap in UK defence thinking which currently has little documentation, on the emerging and cross governmental art of Strategic Communication. After defining the term this paper attempts to locate its utility within the defence community, considering its […] Read more »

The Problem with Smith-Mundt

by Steven R. Corman Matt Armstrong of the MountainRunner blog probably knows more about the Smith-Mundt Act than any other living human, and he’s not even a lawyer. He has just published an “interim version” (?) of an essay on Smith-Mundt over at Small Wars Journal.  It begins with the (very good) question “how can a guy in cave out propagandize the country that created public relations and the Internet?” Partial answer: The Smith-Mundt Act. […] Read more »

Strategic Communication on a Rugged Landscape

by Steven R. Corman Today the CSC has released a new white paper that is a companion piece to our Pragmatic Complexity paper from last year. This paper applies another idea from complexity theory, Kauffman’s Rugged Landscape Model, to the problem of finding the right message. The link and executive summary are below. Strategic Communication on a Rugged Landscape: Principles for Finding the Right Message For approximately the last decade, the United States has been […] Read more »