Noteworthy

“The U.S. government needs to resurrect the nonviolent practice of "political warfare" and create an agency to manage it. … Mr. Obama's administration could use as a model the British Political Warfare Executive, which rallied support for the Allied cause behind enemy lines during World War II, or the U.S. Information Agency, which helped network opponents of communism and undermine Moscow's intellectual appeal during the Cold War.” – “Information Warfare Matters: We need to confront the jihadist ideology directly” by Christian Whiton and Kristofer Harrison, two State Department employees writing in Wall Street Journal Asia. This Op-Ed sounds a lot like the need to return to the fighting a psychological struggle for minds and wills with all means available. The authors are asking to return to core roots of what became known as public diplomacy. Makes the upcoming Smith-Mundt discussion even more timely. See also “Information Warfare and VOA” at the VOA blog.

  “Discussing Special Operations forces' information role in the "war of ideas" with Islamist terrorists, Vickers said during an appearance at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that the "themes you emphasize, how well they resonate, the distribution mechanisms, who's giving the message" are important factors.” - Walter Pincus of The Washington Post writing about Defense Department Sustains Focus On 'War of Ideas' in Anti-Terrorism Efforts. This doesn’t concern me. Why? Because both Special Operations and Public Diplomats have the same basic mission: operate by, with, and through indigenous people to prevent conflict. Both communities also share a similar lack of visibility and constituency in Congress to protect funding streams. On the specific subject of the news and information websites, this isn’t really new: www.setimes.com, www.magharebia.com, etc.

“Let’s say we came up with four or five concepts of messages that we would want to send out. Potentially, those messages could even create second- and third-order effects. This guy does A, it causes this guy to do B. Well, tell me how you would rehearse prior to actually sending those messages out? How would you codify the potential impact of that message set before you sent it out?” - “Range Accelerates Information Operations Planning: Joint Management Office creates environment for exploring nonkinetic options” by Maryann Lawlor.

  “Once the coordinated attacks began, the terrorists were on their cell phones constantly. They used BlackBerries "to monitor international reaction to the atrocities, and to check on the police response via the internet…” – cited by Noah Shachtman in How Gadgets Helped Mumbai Attackers.

“Welcome to the age of celebrity terrorism.” cited by Andrew Exum at Abu Muqawama. Media is the oxygen of the terrorist. It is also the oxygen of the counterterrorist. We must be agile to negate and counter the attractiveness of terrorist, create alternatives from building local capacity to creating opportunities. Inability to function at speed in the global information environment will bring new meaning to the phrase the quick and the dead.  

“We can seldom match the speed of Taleban disinformation. but we can, in information terms, switch thebattle to ground of our own choosing….Information Operations must be at the heart of any counter-insurgency campaign, and the size, efficiency and prominenceof the relevant organisation ought to reflect this. … we need political leadership from Kabul of the information effort in Afghanistan.” - Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, Chief of the UK Defence Staff, at UK Defence Forum Defence Viewpoints blogsite.

“It took the Bush Administration seven years before, as enunciated by Undersecretary Jim Glassman, it recognized that public diplomacy is mainly about “them” (empowering mainstream Muslims to compete with and defeat radical Islamists) and not about “us” (harnessing our best researchers, pollsters, and marketeers to improve the American brand).” – Robert Satloff at Middle East Strategy at Harvard on Kristin Lord’s Voices of America: U.S. Public Diplomacy for the 21st Century