strategic communication

The State Department on Monday awarded a task order worth up to $275 million over the next five years to AT&T Government Solutions to design and provide secure telephone and communications systems run over the Internet to more than 300 U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide.

In October, I had the opportunity to take part in a unique project; creating a music video for a social action campaign. The project emerged from several conversations with fellow Annenberg graduate student Rotana Tarabzouni, a woman born and raised in Dhahran (an eastern city in Saudi Arabia). As a Saudi woman, Rotana grew up under a system that imposes restrictions on her individual agency.

Claudia Auer and Alice Srugies co-author the latest issue of CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy which examines the practices and scholarship of German public diplomacy.

Last month the Economist published a brace of articles setting in motion a spirited debate over whether India has a strategic culture. The authors draw an unfavorable contrast between neighboring China, whose "rise is a given," and India, which "is still widely seen as a nearly-power that cannot quite get its act together." They catalogue several factors that purportedly explain New Delhi's underperformance in diplomacy and strategy.

A couple of public diplomacy colleagues have asked me what we should think of the Pentagon memo issued earlier this month, the one that seems to say Strategic Communication is out. Over. Finished... Does this mean the end of MIST teams at embassies? No more military websites targeting foreign audiences? Is it the end of a fat foreign media analysis landing on your desk every morning? No more social and cultural adaptation training for troops deploying? Probably not.

George Little, the Pentagon spokesperson, appeared to make an important announcement last week, saying "strategic communication" had been banned from the Pentagon's lexicon. Sounded like a good thing; strategic communication was a brainchild of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in full flower of his moment when the Pentagon could not only "do it all," it should "do it all."

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