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MountainRunner at SWJ Blog

The prestigious SWJ Blog featured an important IO/Public Diplomacy article ” What the SecDef Didn’t Call For, But Should Have” by blogriend Matt Armstrong of MountainRunner. Matt is bringing one of those critical but obscure inside-baseball variables into the light of public view and out of the realm of government lawyers and interagency staff meetings.

An excerpt:

“In his clarion call to revamp the current structures of government to meet modern threats, Mr. Gates sidestepped an obstacle that has been misinterpreted and misapplied over the last three decades: Public Law 402: United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948, commonly known as the Smith-Mundt Act. Despite popular belief, the restrictions the Act is known for today were not designed or intended to be a prophylactic for sensitive American eyes and ears.

Understandably, Mr. Gates did not suggest revising the “anti-Goebbels” act, even if it is misunderstood (while his Department firmly believes themselves to be covered by the Act, a source tells me outgoing Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes was not aware of this until a few short months ago). Smith-Mundt has shaped the content and methods of communications from State and Defense through institutionalized firewalls created along artificial lines, fostering a bureaucratic culture of discrimination that hampers America’s ability to participate in the modern struggle over ideas and managing perceptions.

Simple communications models of the 1940’s have been replaced by global networks of formal and informal media. Perception overcomes fact as deliberation by both the consumers and producers of news shrinks to almost nothing. Too often, by the time the truth comes out, the audience and media have moved on. How America participates in this new world is central to the success of Mr. Gates’ proposed reorganization”

Go read the whole thing…and give a shout out in the SWJ  Blog comment section.

2 Responses to “MountainRunner at SWJ Blog”

  1. MountainRunner at SWJ Blog Says:

    […] Rocker Report put an intriguing blog post on MountainRunner at SWJ Blog […]

  2. Serving Patriot Says:

    From MR’s excellent article:
    "For the USIA to be effective, the Smith-Mundt committee enumerated five key requirements of the Act:

    Tell the truth.

    Explain the motives of the United States.

    Bolster morale and extend hope.

    Give a true and convincing picture of American life, methods and ideals.

    Combat misrepresentation and distortion.

    Aggressively interpret and support American foreign policy. (9)"

    Seems to me that a fundemental problem of out current PD program is our inability to:
    1 – tell the truth (especially to tell it without obvious advertising spin)
    2 – explain underlying US motives (see #1 above)
    3 – absent #1 and #2, there really is not way to either "combat misperceptions" or "give a true picture of American life, methods and ideals"; indeed, the reality of American "methods" seems to reinforce the popular global misperceptions about the United States (it does not help when an influential, vocal minority advocate for "global empire," "global policeman" and using the unipolar moment to perpetuate hegemonic power and "regime change" those nations opposing us.

    Effective propaganda requires the basic elements of truth behind the statements. No longer does the US enjoy the moniker of "benevolent," "uninterested in conquest," or "friend to the weak." The truth of our actions in the past decade, especially as seen by foreign populations, paint a far different picture than our own, self-absorbed sel-flattery.

    We have a long way to go.


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