09 April 2009

MountainRunner's Guest Post: Public Diplomacy and LOLCats

I had to wait until I got back to my room today to post this one, because Big Brother blocked one of my favorite blogs on public diplomacy, MountainRunner. Fortunately, I could view it in my Google Reader feed, and I found myself amazed at the fact that MountainRunner's guest poster was able to discuss America's various public diplomacy agencies AND include LOLCats.

Hey, we all love LOLCats.

He brings up a good aspect of governmental public diplomacy:

Take communication for example. In the Defense Department, we have information operations, PSYOP, public affairs, deception, strategic communication, and all manner of other information warfare disciplines. At the State Department, we have the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, the Bureau for Interational Information Programs, the Global Strategic Engagement Center, and multitudes of public diplomacy officers across regional bureaus and indvidual embassies. In a quasi-governmental fashion, we have the Broadcasting Board of Governors and all its associated international broadcasting institutions. We have so many people and agencies and offices responsible for communicating and overseeing communication that you would think America speaks with one concerted voice, right?

If you just heard the "EHHHH!!!" strikeout noise from Family Feud, you wouldn't be crazy. The example I just provided has been reiterated time and again. America's strategic communication / public diplomacy / IO / PSYOP / whatever-you-want-to-call-it apparatus is broken. Everything is wrong. Foreign Affairs Officers consorting with PSYOPpers. Mass hysteria. Nothing new in that observation.

Part of the reason this is true, however, has to do with our will - or lack thereof - to achieve the very best in all things. We have become comfortable with a government that maintains a status quo, even when it's a status quo of dysfunction. We no longer strive for the feeling of AWESOME, if we ever did. Instead, we SETTLE. We settle for what works, even if it's only 80% or 70% or even 51%.

In terms of our communication apparatus, we shouldn't be striving for one concerted voice. We should be striving for a CHOIR. We should be assembling an ALL-STAR CAST with an AWARD WINNING DIRECTOR. We should be forming a ROCK BAND with all our combined GUITAR HEROES. We should be AWESOME!

While I agree that it would be great if these government agencies coordinated their public diplomacy efforts, you have to also consider that American voices aren't just the voices of the government--America speaks with plenty of extra-governmental voices, which are even more empowered and louder through the Information revolution, and particularly the social networking of Web 2.0.

No comments: