Threats to America's security are complex and require understanding that policies and words are both necessary and both must be synchronized, mutually supporting, and formulated and executed in a way that recognizes the global environment. But for some, strategic communication and public diplomacy are about speaking to audiences, turning up the volume if a particular message doesn't immediately resonate. Fortunately, in recent years the reality began to sink in. Strategic communication and public diplomacy - two similar but not synonymous terms - are once again becoming recognized as powerful and essential means of global engagement.
In the US House of Representatives, there is a new non-partisan group to created to share information on issues related to global engagement. The purpose of the Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy Caucus is to "raise awareness of the challenges facing strategic communication and public diplomacy and provide multiple perspectives on proposed solutions." Congressmen Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Adam Smith (D-WA), co-chairs of the caucus, described the purpose of the group in a letter to their colleagues dated March 3, 2010 (PDF, 35kb):
In order for foreign audiences to better understand our objectives and message, we must be able to understand and engage those audiences. It is time that America finds creative new approaches to deny internet safe havens, communicate directly to the people of the world, and renew the positive reputation of our country abroad. Yet, U.S. strategic communication and public diplomacy lacks a clear strategy, as well as the tools and resources to achieve results.
Therefore, we ask you to join us as a member of the "Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy Caucus." The caucus seeks to raise awareness of the challenges facing strategic communication and public diplomacy and provide multiple perspectives on proposed solutions.
We hope that you will join us as we look for new ways forward on strategic communication and public diplomacy in the coming months. Be on the look out for announcements on upcoming caucus meetings and other related events.
Simply put, strategic communication and public diplomacy, or if you will global engagement, are the cheapest, most cost-effective, and most enduring methods of influencing people while at the same time denying opportunities and sanctuary, both ideological and physical, to our adversaries. The realm of engagement is broader than undermining terrorism and holding our enemies accountable for their actions. It extends into all aspects of the global environment, including aid and development, tourism, trade as well as facilitating American exposure to global affairs. Not to be forgotten is the power of diasporas and media found around the world, including within the territorial borders of the United States.
The Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy Caucus is essential to create a more informed and engaged Congress to address the complex requirements of today and tomorrow that cross the stove pipes of committees and subcommittees.
Read the whole "Dear Colleague" letter here (PDF, 35kb).