Smith-Mundt Has Been Modernized

by Steven R. Corman I was shocked to see  in a post at bbgstrategy.com that the 2013 Defense Authorization Act had passed and was signed into law over the holidays with Smith-Mundt modernization provisions intact.  I say shocked because of the sh#*tstorm that erupted when these provisions were proposed last summer.  I thought this was a no-go, or would at least require a fight, but the critics seem to have either lost track or lost […] 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 »

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 »

Ridiculing AQ’s Irrelevance in the Arab Spring

by Steven R. Corman A few weeks ago I did a keynote speech at a public meeting of the U.S. Advisory Commission in Public Diplomacy.  Later in the meeting I heard a presentation by Ambassador Richard LeBaron, Coordinator of the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC).  The topic of his talk tied together several topics recently discussed on COMOPS Journal, and accordingly I want to share it with readers. Presumably in response to […] 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 »

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 »

State’s Digital Outreach Team May Do More Harm Than Good

by Cameron Bean Since November of 2006, the State Department has taken its public diplomacy efforts into the online arena of Arabic, Urdu, and Persian discussion boards. Heading this effort is the Digital Outreach Team (DOT). According to DOT member Muath Alsufy, the initiative began after the realization that “there was a lot of misinformation about the US, mainly foreign policies, and there was a void… no source on these forums and blogs that would […] Read more »

Foreign Reaction to U.S. Anti-Muslim Events, Part IV: Narrative Coherence

by Steven R. Corman, Jeffry R. Halverson, and Chris Lundry This series has examined the reaction, mostly in mainstream news sources of foreign Muslim societies, to the recent surge in anti-Islam events in the United States. Part I focused on the Park51 (or Cordoba House) project, the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” In part II we looked at the controversy surrounding the “International Burn a Qur’an Day,” previously scheduled for tomorrow. Part III examined various other  incidents involving Muslims […] Read more »

Hip-Hop Ambassadors Wanted

by Jeffry R. Halverson Apparently I wasn’t the only one thinking about the diplomatic potential of Muslim hip-hop when I posted a blog about it for COMOPS Journal back in September of 2009. Recently we heard from Tyson Amir, one of the Muslim artists that I featured in the blog, and he had some interesting news to report. Amir is from San Jose, California, and currently performs with the Remarkable Current Musician Collective, founded by […] 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 »