Out of Their Heads and Into Their Conversation: Countering Extremist Ideology

by Angela Trethewey, Steven R. Corman & Bud Goodall Ideology is often ignored or deemed irrelevant to strategic communication because it is an old, possibly leftist, idea that is associated with academic social critique. It is treated as something that lives in the heads of individuals, driving them to radical action. From this point of view the concept is not really practical because by the time someone has adopted an ideology, it is too late. […] Read more »

Israeli Nukes versus Palestinian Slingshots

by Ronald Lukens-Bull & Mark Woodward Indonesian press reportage of the recent conflict in Gaza claims that the Israelis used “Nuclear Weapons.” To Western readers these reports appear to be wildly inaccurate. But from a local perspective these reports are not fabrications. Rather they employ interpretive strategies rooted in local cultures to bring order to a complex body of information concerning the conflict. They invoke and scientific and pseudo scientific literature concerning degraded uranium and […] Read more »

Strategic Communication on a Rugged Landscape: Principles for Finding the Right Message

Steven R. Corman & Kevin J. Dooley For approximately the last decade, the United States has been moving to centralize and more tightly control its messages. Accelerating this trend, U.S. strategic communication efforts under the current administration follow the dictum that effectiveness equals control of a singular message. The problems with this approach were described in a previous CSC white paper. But there is also a more basic issue: How do we know when we […] Read more »

(Re)Defining the Long War: Toward a New Vocabulary of International Terrorism

by Aaron Hess & Z. S. Justus As the fight against terrorism continues, language plays a pivotal role. In current policies, the language of war continues to dominate. Based on an analysis of President Bush’s September 11th anniversary campaign speeches, we propose that war metaphors and language, such as victory, enemies, and allies, occlude the reality of counterterrorism efforts. It is difficult to pinpoint victory in this conflict, a requisite of the vocabulary of war […] Read more »

Islam, Pluralism and Democracy

by Mark Woodward It is now common in both academic and policy circles to ask the question “Where are the liberal Muslims?” Abrurrahman Wahid, former president of Indonesia, leads the world’s largest Muslim organization and advocates for human rights, democracy and religious pluralism. In 1990 he wrote a paper, translated here by Mark Woodward, which was strongly critical of the Suharto regime. When that regime collapsed in 1997, Wahid worked to ensure that the political […] Read more »

A 21st Century Model for Communication in the Global War of Ideas

by Steven R. Corman, Angela Trethewey, & Bud Goodall In the global war of ideas, the United States finds itself facing a systems problem that cannot be solved by simply delivering the right message. The question is not “how can we construct a more persuasive message?” Rather it is “what kind of reality has this particular system [that we are trying to influence] constructed for itself?” The present strategic communication efforts by the U.S. and […] Read more »

One Message for Many Audiences: Framing the Death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

by Z. S Justus & Aaron Hess Globalization and telecommunications technology have made every message global. The consequence of this phenomenon is that when the United States makes announcements concerning the Global War on Terrorism a global, rather than a local audience, receives the message. While similar messages may circulate in different areas throughout the globe, the messages interact with national and/or cultural traditions that result in different types of message interpretation. Using Entman’s (2003a; […] Read more »

Strategic Ambiguity, Communication, and Public Diplomacy in an Uncertain World: Principles and Practices

by Bud Goodall, Angela Trethewey, & Kelly McDonald There is widespread recognition that the U. S. public diplomacy efforts worldwide have failed. In response to this image crisis, the Pentagon, State Department, and other agencies of the federal government are currently seeking new models for message strategy, coordination, and alignment. There are two major reasons for failures of communication in public diplomacy: (1) reliance on an outdated one-way model of influence, and (2) an inability […] Read more »

Credibility in the Global War on Terrorism

by Steven R. Corman, Aaron Hess, & Z. S. Justus The perceived credibility of the United States government on the global stage has never been lower. This impedes its ability to fight, much less to win, the “war of ideas” that is so much a part of the global war on terrorism. Cultivating improved credibility is a long-term effort, but it stands to benefit from a large body of existing research. The concept of source […] Read more »

The Iranian Letter to President Bush: Analysis and Recommendations

by Bud Goodall, Linell Cady, Steven R. Corman, Kelly McDonald, Mark Woodward, & Carolyn Forbes On May 9, 2006, world media outlets released news of a letter written by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to U.S. President George W. Bush. The letter was the first official communiqué from the Iranian government to the U.S. since the two countries broke diplomatic ties in 1979. The letter was dismissed by U.S. spokespersons as a “rambling” narrative or as […] Read more »