Matt Armstrong, author of the mountainrunner.us blog, shares his view that the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs should be abolished. Noting that the position, established in 1999 by direction of Congress to centralize leadership for the execution and coordination of government information and engagement programs abroad and at home, has gone unfilled almost as long as it has been occupied, Armstrong argues that the lack of government commitment signifies it is time to abolish the position and better integrate informational responsibilities across the State Department. Armstrong and collaborator Cole Livieratos wrote in an unpublished piece:
“Properly employing the information element of national power is more than reacting to disinformation, anticipating adversarial actions, or exploitable opportunities. It requires integration from the identification of objectives across the policymaking process of our political, military, and economic agencies and through the execution and support of these policies.”
Armstrong’s post, available here, recommends elimination of the position. At the very least, the history of neglect, failure to fill the Under Secretary position consistently, and an overall lack of leadership and integration during the times it has been filled leaves open the door for re-envisioning or rethinking the U.S. government’s approach to public diplomacy and public affairs. Others in the community have called for the recreation of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) or establishment of a new “whole-of-government” agency to tackle the information domain globally.
IPA welcomes ideas and recommended approaches from among the broad membership. Feel free to leave a reply on this post on our blog.