Small Wars Journal

Diplomacy and the War on Terror

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 7:57am

Diplomacy and the War on Terror

Stuart Murray and Patrick Blannin


Declarations from US Presidents since WWII have championed values as the linchpin for US national security and foreign policy, however, current Secretary of State Tillerson has been a vocal advocate for removing the ‘promotion of democracy’ from State’s mission statement as well as the separation of values and policy.[1]  Moreover, the nascent Trump administration has been open in its chagrin toward the State Department, diplomacy and multilateral fora in particular and has prioritised pursuing “constructive, results-oriented bilateral relations.”[2] This line of thinking is a direct reflection of President Trump’s inauguration speech in which he declared that the US would not impose its values on others.[3]  The Secretary told a meeting of departmental staff in May 2017, that the “fundamental values of freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated” guide US policy, but they “are not our policies.”[4] Tillerson declared that “sometimes values have to take a back seat to economic interests or national security.”[5] The Secretary concluded that “interests come first, and then if we can advocate and advance our values, we should.”[6] This approach raises several questions such as: will the US’s allies and partners follow suit; what will be the long-term outcome of an ‘overt’ separation of interests and values; and more importantly, can diplomacy, the core of Western-led global stabilization efforts, survive the ‘new’ norm?

Given the Trump administration’s decision to send another 4000 troops in Afghanistan to ‘win’ a war which began in 2001, and in light of the administration apparent disdain for diplomacy and State; it’s an appropriate time to reflect upon the role of diplomacy in the War on Terror (WoT) through the years of the Bush and Obama administrations. This paper contends that diplomacy has operated at the front and centre of the WoT ever since the Twin Towers fell yet it’s one analytical perspective that’s missing from current assessments. We argue that meaningful analysis of the WoT is incomplete without acknowledging the vital role diplomacy has played in the conflict.

The War on Terror (WoT) dramatically altered international, domestic and human security the world over. After 9/11, the United States of America (U.S.A.) launched two major operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and has led numerous Intel., covert or ‘black’ operations ever since. In 2016, a Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs report calculated U.S expenditure “through 2016: as $4.79 trillion and counting” making the WoT the most expensive in the United States’ (U.S.) history.[7] In addition, a vast terror industry is now engrained in America’s domestic security architecture. The Department of Homeland Security, the National Counterterrorism Centre, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are but three of the “1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies [that] work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence.”[8] Similar developments have occurred in other nations involved in the WoT – France, the United Kingdom, and Australia, for example - though not quite on the same scale. The War has also exacted a significant cost in terms of human security and life. Hundreds of thousands of combatants and non-combatants have had their lives irrevocably altered, or lost them altogether.[9]

Despite these costs, the enemy continues to proliferate. Al Qa’ida inspired groups such as Boko Haram, ISIL, Lashkar e-Taiba and Abu Sayyaf Group now operate across an arc of political instability that stretches from the west coast of Africa to South-East Asia. Their toxic anti-western ideology has inspired devastating attacks from Brussels to Nice to Orlando, Florida; attacks which are increasing in both scale and frequency. Since 2000, there has been a ninefold increase in terrorism, with 32,658 people killed in 2014 alone - the highest annual total since terrorist attack rates were first collated in 1964.[10]

The WoT looks set to continue for decades, a bleak opinion shared by leading academics such as Pape, Chowdhury and Fitzsimmons and Lister.[11] Byman agrees, writing that:

... the United States and its allies must accept the inevitability of a large, global movement bent on murder as a form of political expression. Ultimate victory, when it comes, will take decades rather than years.[12]

Practitioners also remain doubtful of any immediate conclusion to the War.  CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrel acknowledges that there has been “a reduction of the threat from the original al Qa’ida” but “it is safe say Islamic extremism is likely to be with us for generations.”[13] Similarly, former Pentagon chief Leon Panetta, former CIA/NSA Director General Michael Hayden, and current Chairman of the JCOS General Joseph Dunford all predict a thirty-year battle against radical Islamic terrorism.[14] Cleary, the U.S. and its allies have reached an “indefinite stalemate” or “strategic pause” in the battle against the growing threat of international terrorism.[15]

Arguably, how the WoT is analysed by higher research institutions and think tanks has also reached some type of stalemate. The study of the WoT is dominated by International Relations (IR) mainstays such as Strategic Studies, Political Science, and Foreign Policy Analysis, alongside new concepts such as Social Movement Theory (a.k.a. the deradicalization model), and/or Social Network Analysis. This paper contends that one analytical perspective is missing: diplomacy, which has operated at the front and centre of the War ever since the Twin Towers fell.

Any meaningful analysis of the WoT is incomplete without acknowledging the vital role diplomacy has played in the conflict. Summit, defence and secret diplomacy, for example, have been crucial to all state efforts, strategies and policies, as have newer iterations such as public, digital and even sports diplomacy. Non-state actors such as L-3 Services (formerly Titan Corporation) form part of a complex, global and plural counter terrorism (CT) diplomatic network. And, like it or loathe it, increasingly sophisticated terrorist organisations such as ISIL also engage in diplomacy. To paraphrase Bull,[16]they too gather and disseminate information, communicate, negotiate, and symbolise (or represent) a struggle to disenfranchised groups, nations and people around the world. No academic study has described and analysed these diplomatic networks, a deficiency or ‘gap’ this paper seeks to address.[17]

In terms of structure this paper simply describes, maps and validates different types of WoT diplomacy. Actors central to the War are grouped in three categories - traditional, non-traditional and radical which provides three neat sections. The first concentrates on traditional, state-qua-state diplomacy in the WoT while the second focuses on non-state actors. The third section substantiates the diplomacy of terror, that is, the means which terrorist organisations (TOs) employ to realise political ends. The paper concludes with a number of theoretical and practical recommendations. Three parameters also bear mention at the outset. First, the paper generally focuses on U.S. diplomacy, counter-terrorism and policy. It does so because the U.S. has been at the forefront of the WoT. Lessons learned are, however, applicable to other allies participating in the War. Second, due to the scope and complexity of the conflict it is unrealistic to describe every diplomatic actor, incident, policy and case, therefore the paper provides a general, meta-review of diplomacy’s role in the WoT, in a grand, abstract theoretical sense. Third, the paper does not evaluate the effectiveness of diplomacy in the WoT. As a first step to generating a deeper understanding of diplomacy in the WoT it merely describes, maps and validates. The end result is a framework which will be useful to guide future scholarship.

Ideally, this survey will raise the profile of diplomacy in the fight against terrorism. In turn, the paper seeks to complement the body of IR literature that relates to the WoT, fill a gap in the canon of diplomatic studies, and instigate further discussion, collaboration and inter-disciplinary analysis between theorists and practitioners allied to a common purpose.

The WoT and Traditional Diplomacy

The 9/11 attacks “triggered the most rapid and dramatic change in the history of U.S. foreign policy.”[18] On the 20th of September, 2001, after nine days of concerted national introspection, President George W. Bush stated that:

… our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there…We will direct every resource at our command…every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war…to the destruction and to the defeat of the global terror network…We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them...Every nation has a choice to make...In this conflict, there is no neutral ground...You're either with us or you are with the terrorists.[19]

The War aimed to deny “sponsorship, support, and sanctuary to terrorists” and “diminish the underlying conditions that terrorists seek to exploit.”[20] To achieve these goals the U.S developed and quickly implemented JP 3-26 Counterterrorism, a Whole-of-Government strategy led by military and federal law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Treasury.

Shortly after, on 7 October, 2001, the official military response to 9/11 began.  Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) was launched in Afghanistan, led by the U.S., and with the assistance of the United Kingdom and 138 other Coalition partners. The primary aims of OEF echoed U.S. policy: find Usama bin Laden, dismantle al Qa’ida, and deny it a safe base of operations by removing the Taliban from power. This mission expanded in subsequent years with the invasion of Iraq, multi-national Special Forces operations in Yemen, North Africa, and the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region, as well as extraordinary rendition programs operated by coalition intelligence agencies in clandestine locations throughout the world.

Diplomacy, the “engine room of international affairs”, has played a vital role in every effort described above.[21] Such a role is often visible, familiar and recognisable, yet often understudied, understated and underappreciated. Defined in a classical sense as “the application of intelligence and tact to the conduct of official relations between governments”, traditional diplomacy is the key historical mechanism by which states achieve their foreign policy goals in complex international relations system.[22] The proverbial means to an end, traditional diplomacy has been the sole enabler for summit, defence, secret and public diplomacy in the WoT. Each of these categories of the “dialogue between states” is introduced and substantiated below.[23]

Summit Diplomacy

Summit diplomacy - defined simply as “meetings between incumbent heads of government and/or state, or political leaders”[24]- is a common practice in international relations. From Westphalia to Vienna to Versailles summits are advantageous for states for many reasons. They are often faster, cheaper and more efficient than traditional, bi-lateral meetings between states. Because summits advance “negotiations between numerous parties simultaneously”, bargaining and transaction costs are substantially reduced.[25] And, most importantly, collective courses of political agreement can be reached over a short period of time. Such benefits have been evident in the WoT across three broad summit formats: U.S.-led, regional and global.

In February, 2015, for example, the U.S. invited sixty leaders of the coalition against ISIL to Washington D.C. for the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (the first of three CVE summits held around the world that year).[26] Chiefly, the summit focussed on domestic deradicalization and the need for Coalition partners to “empower communities to protect their families and friends and neighbours from violent ideologies and recruitment.”[27] Diplomats present agreed to work closely together in order to “create a counter-narrative using technology and people-to-people dialogue across cultures, and to facilitate partner governments to institutionalize development programs that focus on individual economic empowerment and improving education.”[28] All agreed the summit was a success. Delegates presented a united front, three phase recommendations emerged,[29] and, at its conclusion, the U.S. diplomat-in-chief, Barrack Obama, correctly noted that:

... we all recognize the need for more dialogues across countries and cultures. But what’s most needed today, perhaps, are more dialogues within countries -- not just across faiths, but also within faiths…we need to build and bolster bridges of communication and trust.[30]

The dialogue, communication and trust building measures Obama spoke of fall under the ambit of diplomacy, the “mediation of estrangement” between separate states.[31]

Regional state summits have also been important. In 2002, for instance, the Eighth ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh issued a Declaration on Terrorism, a timely statement given the terrorist attacks in Bali, Indonesia and in the cities of Zamboanga and Quezon in the Philippines earlier in the same year. Several spinoff summits were generated by the Phnom Penh leader’s meeting, such as the Inter-Sessional Meeting on Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime in early 2003, the 2007 ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism, and the 2015 East Asia Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. In addition, the Regional Counter-Terrorism Centre in Malaysia has been highly effective.  Opened in July 2003, the CT Centre traces its origin to the original 2002 summit.

In terms of fully inclusive, global summits, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is the most obvious symbol of the international society of states. Composed of 193 member states, the UNGA has been productive and proactive in fighting terrorism. In 2006, for example, the UNGA entered a new phase of institutionalised CT by reaching agreement on a global strategy to counter terrorism. The result was the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which seeks to reduce “conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism; to prevent and combat terrorism; to take measures to build state capacity; to strengthen the role of the United Nations in combating terrorism; and to ensure the respect of human rights while countering terrorism.”[32] This Resolution articulates the strategic direction and objectives of the global CT efforts since 9/11. In total the UNGA has implemented thirty-five related Resolutions, demonstrating that it is a vital diplomatic cog in the fight against terrorism.[33]

Summits matter in the WoT. They bring together prominent politicians, security specialists and representative from law enforcement agencies, create both formal and informal opportunities for negotiations, and often produce agreement on collective courses of action. They also shore up national, regional and international security efforts, and generate a series of horizontal and vertical channels for co-ordinated and ongoing communication between member states. International meetings, common agreement and collective action are crucial because, obviously, international terrorism cannot be defeated by one state.

Defence Diplomacy

A second type of state-centric diplomacy in the WoT is defence diplomacy, “the collective application of pacific and/or cooperative initiatives by national defense establishments and military practitioners for confidence building, trust creation, conflict prevention, and/or conflict resolution.”[34] Defence diplomacy involves a range of government departments but is always directed by Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFAs). It is therefore best understood as the “peaceful application by a state of resources from across the spectrum of defence, for the purpose of achieving positive outcomes in the development of bilateral and multilateral relationships … using defence assets to support diplomatic objectives and further defence interests.”[35]

In the U.S. context there is a strong historical connection between its diplomatic and military establishments, stemming from the Munroe Doctrine of the early nineteenth century through to the present. Once more, the Department of State performs a vital role.  It formulates, manages and reviews U.S. defence diplomacy and it liaises directly with the Pentagon as well as similar agencies abroad. U.S. defence diplomacy aims to build the capacity of allies, and destabilise that of so-called enemy or rogue states that may provide support for terrorist activities.

Defence diplomacy is occasionally referred to as “strategic engagement”[36] because it supports the senior partner’s “long-term strategic goals to restrict future threats and shape the international order.”[37] Through ad-hoc, threat specific groupings, defence diplomacy forms the core of burden-sharing and capacity building initiatives such as the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT’s) in Afghanistan, which facilitate U.S./Afghan civil-military engagement in the areas of governance, security, economics and development.[38] The International Security Assistance Force’s mission in Afghanistan (2003-2014) perhaps provides the best example of U.S. defence diplomacy facilitating an effective and unified CT response to a specific terrorist threat. Little wonder then that U.S. scholars such as Cottey and Forester (2004) and practitioners like current SECDEF Ash Carter (2016) fully support defence diplomacy as the ideal War medium for conflict prevention and reduction.[39]

Secret Diplomacy

A third type of diplomacy evident in the WoT is secret diplomacy, the “practice of intentionally concealing information from other governments, the media and/or the public.”[40] Secret diplomacy can also involve private, informal and clandestine backchannel meetings – particularly between states or state and non-state actors that share a publically adversarial relationship - as well as any number of activities associated with the murky world of intelligence gathering. 

In the WoT secrecy provides significant political and diplomatic utility, particularly for the U.S. As Bowman notes, clandestine action, as a mechanism for influencing behaviours, has a long history within the Department of State, the Secret Intelligence Bureau (SIB), various U.S. Military Intelligence Divisions, the Diplomatic Security Service and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).[41] There is a plethora of examples to choose from. Recently, for example, the Obama administration drastically reduced the number of Guantanamo Bay detainees by negotiating transfers to third party countries in a far from transparent process.  In 2014, after two years of covert back-and-forth, representatives from State secured the release of Army Sgt. Bo Bergdahl from the Taliban. The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to limit Iran’s nuclear weapons program (which, in turn, brought Persia into the War’s Middle East theatre) was finalized after lengthy discussions brokered by and conducted in Oman, again in the utmost secrecy. In fact, many of the programs which underpin U.S. global CT efforts have been created and maintained through secrecy. Covert programs such as extraordinary renditions, global ‘black sites,’ suspicionless surveillance and warrantless arrest and detention could simply not function with full transparency.

While newspapers like The Guardian and hacktivists such as Julian Assange continue to decry these practices as archaic and unrepresentative of the open and transparent digital age they are certain to continue in the WoT. If anything, the last fifteen years have embedded Intelligence, covert operations and back-channel negotiation as essential strategic assets in the fight against terrorism.[42] This is unlikely to change in the coming decades.

Public Diplomacy

Public diplomacy, “the process by which direct relations with people in a country are pursued to advance the interests and extend the values of those being represented”, has been extremely active throughout the WoT.[43]  They key word in this definition is values, an element of PD which “sets it apart from classical diplomacy” and its fixation on issues and interests.[44] Public diplomacy uses a variety of mediums such as television, radio, digital platforms such as YouTube, the internet, and so on, to “build and manage relationships; and influence thoughts and mobilize actions” to advance both the sending state’s interests and values.[45] These days, public diplomacy is an essential form of “diplomatic engagement.”[46]

Putting theory into practice, we turn to State, who realised the importance of public diplomacy from the outset of the War. Inspired initially by Charlotte Beers, Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs from 2001-2003, State has since produced countless public diplomacy innovations, many of which were mimicked by other Coalition partners. Under Beers’ administration, an impressive suite of public diplomacy operations was established as a way of reaching out to disenfranchised youth across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Muslim Life in America, a booklet published by the State Department in 2009, proved popular and led to the establishment of the Council of American Muslims for Understanding. State also partnered with the Smithsonian Institute to create virtual reality tours of American suburbs. These tours showcased the multicultural aspects of life in the U.S and captured “the essence and value of U.S freedom and democracy.”[47] The Arabic language Radio Sawa (together) and the al Hurrah (the free) television station, were developed by the Department to show the ‘Arab street’ the best of “American culture” and win “them over to American values.”[48] More recently, the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) has become a potent public diplomacy mechanism for State to counter anti-American messaging across the digital spectrum. The CSCC, for example, has quickly mastered low tech audio streaming as a way to target “less literature audiences” in areas where ISIL operates.[49] And, finally, the video Think Again, Turn Away is perhaps the best-known example of the U.S. State Department’s intention to combat ISIL’s formidable online presence head-on.

Digital Diplomacy

For Westcott, the revolutions in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) have multiplied and amplified the number of voices and interests involved in international policy-making.[50] In addition, the revolution has accelerated the dissemination of information, and enabled traditional diplomatic services to be delivered faster and more cost-effectively. Poignantly, Deos and Pigman claim that the internet has become “the central nervous system of international relations.”[51] In this brave new digital world “old phenomena take on new dimensions” and new technologies can seamlessly integrate elements of traditional state diplomacy and boost the pursuit of the aforementioned objectives of public diplomacy.[52] All of these developments are encapsulated in a rapidly growing area of theory and practice called digital diplomacy.

Digital diplomacy is “the use of social media for diplomatic purposes”[53] or, more specifically, the exploitation “of the internet and information communications technology in order to carry out diplomatic objectives, or solve foreign policy problems.”[54] It markedly improves a core function of diplomacy - the collection, development, management and dissemination of information for diplomatic practitioners –and greatly amplify the number of recipients for a message.

State has directed considerable resources to the digital realm (or cyber, as they refer to it) as the forth domain of the WoT (alongside land, sea and air). States digital presence allows it to focus on interrupting the online radicalisation process, disseminating targeted messaging to vulnerable communities and creating a sustainable counter-narrative. State also uses its enhanced multi-domain connectivity to overcome challenges to their command of ‘war time’ information by cyber-savvy terrorists.

In order to improve State’s digital capacity, and to win the hearts and minds of international online communities, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell established the Office of e-Diplomacy in 2002. Since then it has “been responsible for some terrific innovations” directly related to the WoT.[55] For example, the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) and the Office of Digital Engagement use digital technology to counter the tens of thousands of pro-ISIL uploads and tweets daily by developing multi-language presence across multiple social media platforms such as Facebook, Tumblr and YouTube. Using these platforms and the Internet, CSCC’s Digital Outreach Team is “tightly focused on countering extremism” by addressing misinformation, highlighting the hypocritical and illegitimate nature of extremist rhetoric and continually undermine the extremist narrative “among the Arabic blogosphere.”[56] Likewise, State’s Virtual Presence Posts “combine web technology, travel, media outreach” enabling millions of local citizens, particularly young people, to interact with embassy personnel in states where access to U.S. diplomatic staff are limited or non-existent.[57]

Digital diplomacy has increased States connection to foreign governments and NGO’s through multi-disciplinary communication hubs and diplomatic support staff use analytic software to create and distribute thematic guidance’s on anti-ISIL topics “to nearly 3,000 U.S.G officials as well as Coalition partners on a daily basis.”[58] Scholars such as Nolan and Riordan suggest that digital diplomacy’s scope, adaptability and dynamism equip policy makers and diplomatic practitioners with powerful tools to enhance the levers of national power. State’s experience confirms this observation.[59]

This first section concentrated on traditional diplomacy in the WoT, a quiet operator compared to the more visible, high-profile kinetic military and/or law enforcement aspects of the WoT. Without diplomacy, however, none of these offensive, more prominent aspects would be possible. Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFAs) such as State have incorporated many new front-line services to combat global terrorism and are paragons of the type of “policy innovation and institutional adaptation” needed to take the fight to TOs.[60] Melissen agrees, recognising that “the state is more resilient than is sometimes suggested and one should not underestimate the innovative capacity of state-based diplomacy.”[61] Diplomacy has allowed governments to understand foreign cultures, attitudes, and behaviour, to build and strengthen existing relationships, and to influence and mobilize actions to advance their core interests and values. Diplomacy, in other words, has been an invaluable tool of CT. Kleiner adroitly notes that “the fight against terrorism has strengthened state authority,” because populations turn to their governments in times of crisis.[62] State, their MFAs and their diplomats, however, are not the only actor of significance in the WoT.

Non-Governmental Organisations, Networked Diplomacy and The WoT

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are just as dynamic in the WoT as states. Old and new media organisations and outlets, for example, produce a constant stream of emotive imagery and information from war zones, often in real time fashion. Doctors and nurses from Médecins Sans Frontières continue to operate in dangerous front-line theatres from Donetsk to Islamabad to Tripoli. Businesses such as BAE, Rapiscan and L-3 Systems have made a fortune from providing the latest CT technology, and hacktivists such as Ed Snowden have demonstrated that individuals can impact security and modern diplomacy. This diverse cast of actor’s figure prominently in the WoT yet little is known about their diplomatic character, the relations they share with each other, and the contribution they may or may not make to effective CT policies.

This section of the paper changes its key referent object from the state to the NGO. Only one, broad theoretical framework is required to understand the unique interplay of the actors described above: networked diplomacy. This framework is first explained in theory then validated in practice via a series of brief case studies which illustrate the practical, diplomatic functions many NGOs provide in the War. These actors, we argue, play a vital role in the WoT, particularly in terms of information gathering and dissemination, the provision of human security services in nations stricken by the War, and, due to their generally apolitical nature, their ability to liaise with, interact, and, on occasion, pacify terrorist organisations.  In this widened view of diplomacy, NGOs and networked diplomacy are crucial mechanisms that often influence security related outcomes and issues at the official, state level.

This type of analysis is not as unusual as may first appear. Since the end of the Cold War, and driven by successive waves of “epistemic torchbearers”, post-positivist diplomatic theory is now common in the Diplomatic Studies field.[63] In short, post-positivist diplomatic theory relaxes “the assumption that our understanding of diplomacy must be grounded in the relations of sovereign, territorial states.”[64] A view of diplomacy as a plural affair is encouraged, one that is better suited to the post-modern, digital era than archaic, traditional theories with their singular focus on the state and its diplomats. As such, post-positivist theories prove that the state does not have a monopoly on diplomacy, and that statist diplomacy is sometimes not the most effective means to enhancing a nation’s security. These ‘new’ diplomatic theories also adequately describe the emergence of “polylateral”[65] networks of civil society players who have progressively increased their influence, power, legitimacy, and credibility. Grant [66] and Melissen [67] accurately describe these positive developments as the democratisation of diplomacy.

The framework of networked diplomacy best describes the relations between states, nations, organisations and people in the twenty-first century. More specifically, it can be understood as “sets of interconnected individuals who occupy analogous positions in institutional or social structures and create new community relationships that build upon, democratize, and magnify existing social frameworks.”[68] Not only does networked diplomacy reflect the huge volume of ‘new’ diplomatic actors it also “draws attention to the different interests, cultures and identities represented by states and non-state actors.”[69]

This way of thinking about diplomacy can also be easily evidenced in practice. For Hocking et. al., networked Diplomacy acknowledges “the growing interaction between the agents of the state and international organizations and non-state actors, whether located in civil society or the business community.”[70] In nature, these networks are dynamic, adaptable, informal and collaborative,[71] and support a “range of public and private actors (sans) agreed rules and norms of (traditional) diplomatic engagement.”[72] Robust in theory and useful in practice, networked diplomacy is arguably at its best in the confusing theatre of the WoT.

Like Langhorne, we also insist that the War cannot be won “by the existing machinery.”[73] Traditional diplomatic practice alone is insufficient, parochial and rather slow. The WoT is a complex, irregular conflict involving a diverse cast of state and non-state belligerents, private enterprises, insurgents, militias, and terrorists. Ergo, many academics have argued that the growing number of NGOs involved in both intra-state and supra-state struggles deem it necessary to increase their direct involvement in the management and resolution of those conflicts.[74] As such, a networked, diplomatic approach, both in theory and in practice, is vital to any chance of success in the WoT.

The most instructive example of an actor operating across various levels of modern, CT diplomatic networks is the NGO. Now familiar in the lexicon of international relations, there are many types, ranging from “operational to advocacy organisations…. loosely or hierarchically organised, networked, member driven or privately funded, independent or linked to government…characterised by a medley of political viewpoints and outlooks.”[75] NGOs continue to grow in diplomatic stature, capacity and character. They pursue specific political objectives, and often influence both the behaviour and interests of states. Many have “adopted basic diplomatic functions such as negotiation skills, visible representation, effective communication, filtered information and political reporting and symbolism.”[76] Global NGOs such as World Vision, the Aga Khan Foundation, CARE and InterAction also have flags, policy goals, constitutions, charters and political representatives. NGOs exhibit varying levels of political legitimacy and limited forms of moral sovereignty, and, if effective, often share institutionalized and ad hoc consultative status with large Inter-Governmental Organisation’s such as the UN. In the modern diplomatic environment NGOs are no longer mere “consumers of diplomacy” but proactive “producers of diplomatic outcomes.”[77]

NGOs have been extremely active in the WoT. Consider, for example, the singular role the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights has fulfilled in terms of the gathering, reporting and dissemination of information from the Syrian war zone. In nations and regions with dysfunctional governments, NGOs also fulfil an important “gap-filling” function by providing basic amenities in war torn areas where “states can no longer provide what the people perceive to be adequate services.[78] Since Operation Enduring Freedom began in October 2001, for example, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has provided protection and assistance to refugees, returnees, internally displaced persons, as well as co-opting Afghan militants into the clearing of landmines around the city of Kandahar. The ICRC is also a valuable source of expertise, with over one hundred and fifty years’ experience of helping victims of international and internal armed conflicts. 

Neutrality is another useful strength of NGOs, particularly when it comes to negotiating with terrorist organisations. States often preach that ‘they don’t negotiate with terrorists’ (at least in theory, or in a direct, public manner), however, NGO’s are not so constrained. Apolitical NGOs often create avenues for dialogue that would never materialise for political states. The Permanent Peace Movement (PPM) and Geneva Call provide good examples of such a function. A Lebanese NGO founded in 1989, PPM has built diplomatic relationships with armed non-state actors (ANSAs) such as, Ansarullah,[79] Fatah al-Islam[80] and Hamas in Yemen, Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories. During the Syrian Civil War, PPM staff have also been active in Syria, addressing issues of religious tolerance, local capacities of resilience and domestic security concerns with the war-torn nation.

Likewise, Geneva Call, established in Switzerland in 2000, engages directly with terrorist organisations such as the Afghan Taliban, Al-Shabab in Somalia and Shia militias in Iraq.[81] Geneva Call is a neutral organisation which “encourages ANSAs to respect international humanitarian norms in armed conflict and other situations of violence, in particular those related to the protection of civilians.”[82] They operate all over the world, from Columbia to The Democratic Republic of the Congo to The Philippines, attempting to replicate legitimate norm-making/treaty process, and implementing their hallmark “deed of commitment” whereby ANSAs “pledge to respect humanitarian norms and be held publicly accountable for their commitments.”[83] Their efforts have been remarkably successful. MacLeod et. al. report that by April, 2016, eighteen ANSAs had signed the Deed of Commitment for the Protection of Children from the Effects of Armed Conflict, sixteen had signed the Deed of Commitment for the Prohibition of Sexual Violence in Situations of Armed Conflict and towards the Elimination of Gender Discrimination, and forty-nine had adopted the Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action.[84]

Of broad, plural networks convened and managed by traditional state actors in war zones, NGOs often feature prominently. Following the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, for example, the NGO “gold rush” delivered many of the human security programs of the international coalition’s political objectives in Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn.[85] Oxfam, Norwegian People’s Aid, QANDIL Christian Aid, and many others were employed to bridge the gap between the occupying military forces and the Iraqi people, serving as a conduit for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and as a diplomatic intermediary in transmitting, with “confidence and clarity”, the George W. Bush administration’s message of peace.[86]

For states such as the U.S., the many functions NGOs provide are vital to CT efforts because they also create opportunities for terrorist organisations and individuals to turn away from violence.[87] During the WoT, NGOs such as Cultures Interactive (Germany) have established a role in processes of de-radicalisation, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding because they are able to prioritise inclusiveness and partnership. Gordenker Weiss and add that these organisations also “establish new and essential lines of communication to introduce ideas, train individuals and help create alternate institutions.”[88] In doing so NGOs create complimentary, over-lapping diplomatic networks where peaceful norms are replicated and, on occasion, accepted by ANSAs, which can ideally hasten transition toward non-violent political actions. Little wonder then that former U.S. Secretary of State Powell labelled NSAs a “force multiplier” in the War on Terror.[89] Unsung diplomatic heroes, they are often found on the frontlines of the War, serving as vital conduits for information flows both in and out of combat zones, imparting expertise and region specific information on the operational environment, as well as championing and representing human and social concerns in CT policy debates.[90] To repeat, if any hope of winning the War is to be entertained, states must recognise, support, legitimise and tap into these vast networks of new diplomatic actors.

The Diplomacy of Terror

At first glance TOs seem anything but diplomatic. They intentionally target combatants and non-combatants and engage in shocking acts of violence. Their actions are criminal and unlawful, and they demonstrate complete indifference to international norms, treaties, conventions and laws. For many outside observers it is difficult to see beyond the barbarism of TOs. However, most of them, even the nihilistic ones, have political goals they seek to realise through many means – violence, alliances with criminal organisations, exploitation of new ICTs, and, the subject of this section, diplomacy.

This area of inquiry is not as controversial as it first appears. Diplomatic analyses of TOs are quite common. Deos and Pigman’s work on the Good Friday process in Northern Ireland, or Powell’s detailed case-study analysis of Basque separatists (ETA), the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), are good examples.[91] This section of the paper also “risks suspicion” of “having sympathy with the terrorist devil” by describing the diplomacy of TOs in the WoT.[92] It does so to complement this body of literature described above and, we hope, lead to more realistic and objective CT strategies. Labelling TOs as criminal, medieval, violent, cave-dwelling barbarians is both incorrect and dangerous, in that the allies in the War continue to underestimate the offensive capabilities of the ‘enemy.’ If such an enemy is to be effectively countered and ultimately defeated, then describing and charting their diplomatic capability is important. Of course, TOs that intentionally target and murder innocent civilians are malodourous, repugnant and must be stopped. To do so, however, is to expose and examine a means besides terror they employ on a daily basis: diplomacy.

This diplomatic capacity is a hallmark of Hamas and Hizballah as well as global jihadist movements such as al Qa’ida, ISIL and their respective franchises. For Crenshaw, new terrorism centres on “the increasing lethality of terrorism and the role of religion” in motivating large-scale, mass attacks on non-combatants.[93] This motivational and tactical ‘evolution’[94] draws inspiration from a violent interpretation of sacred Islamic texts, targets both the near (apostate civilians and/or politicians) and far enemy (western nations such as the U.S. or France, the United Kingdom or Belgium), and seeks to re-establish the Islamic Caliphate, to name but a few of new terrorism’s objectives. In pursuit of such a grand strategy, TOs practice some forms of diplomacy. A few have overseas embassies staffed by representatives, others gather and disseminate information, all communicate messages via old and new media, and several, as they grow more sophisticated, become adroit negotiators. Each of these diplomatic functions is explored below, using the TO as our key referent object. 

First, and in terms of representation, more than a few TOs have a political office or embassy, staffed by individuals who symbolise the group core interests. This is nothing new. As they mature, some TOs develop political capacities. In 2013, the Afghan Taliban made headline news around the world when, they opened their first official overseas office in Doha, Qatar. Populated by roughly twenty individuals, the office gives the Taliban a degree of political legitimacy, a fixed, known address, and a number of skilled representatives who can openly talk, meet and travel. During the past three years Taliban representatives have participated in conferences and meetings in Germany, Japan and France, and actively seek to pressure sovereign states. In September, 2016, for example, the Taliban demanded the Indian government reconsider a multi-million dollar, NATO endorsed, deal which would deliver military equipment to the Afghan government. A Taliban spokesman called “on India to stop exporting items of killing and destruction to Afghanistan and to stop efforts of prolonging the lifespan of this corrupt regime with its military aid”.[95] The Al Qa’ida linked Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Al Nusra Front) also engages in diplomatic representation. A central protagonist in Syrian Civil War, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham participates in the Turkish based Syrian Islamic Council, the Syrian Revolution General Commission, the Supreme Military Council Command and the High Negotiation Committee (the primary representative body for the Syrian opposition involved in the Geneva Peace Talks). And, in September 2016, representatives from the narco-terrorist organisation Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) assembled in Cartagena to sign a peace agreement with the Columbian government. This historic agreement marked the end of fifty-two years of conflict between the state and FARC which killed 26,000 and left more than six million internally displaced.

Second, TOs also are more than capable negotiators, particularly when their power begins to waver. Recognising this ability has been vital to the de-escalation of unconventional conflicts involving TOs the world over. The various Declarations of Peace in Northern Ireland during the 1990’s, for instance, or the cease-fire Agreement with the Basque separatists ETA in 2011, followed decades of secret negotiations between states and terrorist negotiators. More recently, the incumbent Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani realised the value of ‘negotiating with terrorists’ as a crucial step toward greater national and regional stability. In 2016 the Afghan government entered into negotiations with Hizb-e-Islami, a domestic political and paramilitary organisation led by former Afghan Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Although Hekmatyar and his group were proscribed as terrorists by the U.S. Department of State, President Ghani realised the value of pacifying Hizb-e-Islami across the negotiating table as opposed to a protracted and bloody anti-terror campaign. The gesture, the frank and cordial atmosphere during talks, and the signed, formal peace agreement was highly symbolic for the war-ravaged nation because it was the first domestic peace initiative that had no foreign state or UN mediation. Afghan watchers are hopeful the peace agreement might even encourage some Taliban leaders to consider a similar path.

Third, all TOs communicate political and diplomatic messages via old and new media. Indeed, violence itself is a form of communication. As Kurth Cronin adroitly notes, “the targets of a terrorist episode are not simply the victims who are killed or maimed in an attack but governments, publics, or constituents among whom the terrorists hope to engender a reaction-such as fear, repulsion, intimidation, overreaction, or radicalisation.”[96] This violence-as-communication is also known in terrorism parlance as “propaganda by the deed,” a statement attributed to Russian and French anarchist’s Kropotkin and Brousse.[97] One main objective of terrorism is to create fear in a wider audience, conducive to proselyting a message or edging the organisation closer to a political goal. This message (propaganda) or affect (deed) can be greatly amplified by violent actions across various types of media.

TOs are masters of exploiting media for the dissemination of a political message. As Der Derian notes, international terrorism is carefully stage managed as “a televisual strategic simulation choreographed by violence and staged for a fearful captive global audience.”[98] The live broadcast of the PLFP blowing up three El Al jetliners on Dawson’s Field, Jordan in 1970, the Munich Olympic Games tragedy of 1972, and the strikes on the Twin Towers in Manhattan in 2001 are all infamous examples of TOs conducting violent shocking acts with a salacious media in mind. After the Munich tragedy, Jamal Al-Gashey a member of the radical Black September Group which carried out the attack, quite rightly noted that:

... a bomb in the White House, a mine in the Vatican, the death of Mao-Tse-tung, an earthquake in Paris could not have echoed through the consciousness of every man in the world like the operation at Munich . . . the choice of the Olympics, from a purely propagandistic viewpoint was 100 percent successful. It was like painting the name of Palestine on a mountain that can be seen from the four corners of the earth.[99]

Little has changed since 1972. The leader of Al Qa’ida Ayman al Zawahiri once told Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (the deceased founder of AQI) that “we are in a battle, and…more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media.”[100] Similarly, al Shahab jihadist Omar Hammami declared “the war of narratives has become more even important than the war of navies, napalm, and knives.”[101] No wonder then that AQAP recruiter, Anwar al-Awlaki was a master of media manipulation, and even produced a monthly, glossy magazine named Inspire. ISIL, perhaps the most media-savvy of the lot, has its own magazine (Dabiq), news agency (The Amaq News Agency), and actively recruited specialists such as  Junaid Hussain (Hussain al-Britani), Nasser Muthana (Abu Muthana al-Yemeni) and Raphael Hostey (Abu Qaqa) for their ICT and media expertise.[102] ISIL’s twitter army of supporters, “bots and apps”[103] produce as many as 100,000 “vibrant and self-reinforcing” tweets a day.[104] Indeed, a large body of research[105] unequivocally proves that modern TOs use Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, and even the Sony PS4 as capability extenders, whether that be to recruit, terrify, or dominate the virtual, global battlefield of the WoT.  Such aptitude, once more, confirms that TOs are far more sophisticated diplomatic actors than their violent veneer first suggests.

Recommendations for Theorists and Practitioners

The diplomatic studies field has consistently demonstrated its value to countering terrorism. Several noteworthy studies populate the canon[106] and this body of work served as a starting point for this paper which described, mapped and validated different types of diplomacy in the WoT. Other, more critical works will and should follow. The final section presents a number of related theoretical and practical recommendations. Diplomacy, the paper contends, is preferable to decades of further conflict.

In terms of theory, much work lies ahead. This paper, for one, did not actually review, laud or lambast the effectiveness of diplomacy in the WoT. Having demonstrated its prevalence, a second paper could ask if diplomacy has been a success or failure in the WoT? The answer to this question depends on perspective, of course, which a deeper, targeted inquiry would reveal. Judging the efficacy or failure of traditional diplomacy would be a particularly fecund area. In the case of the U.S. for example, many often point to the chaos left in the aftermath of the Afghanistan or Iraq interventions as evidence of failure. To jump on that bandwagon, however, is to forget the principle of the both the Bush and Obama regimes: prevent another 9/11-style attack on U.S. soil, no matter the cost. Similar insights abound in the context of NGO diplomacy in the War, or the diplomatic strategy of ISIL, for example.

More challenging diplomatic scholarship on the WoT could also boost interest by outsiders in the field of Diplomatic Studies. To state the obvious, diplomatic scholars realise the value of diplomatic perspectives on security issues such as the WoT. However, the same cannot be said of the broader IR discipline. In the U.S., for example, diplomatic scholarship continues to be overshadowed by Security Studies scholarship, degree programs and publications, while Strategic Studies and Foreign Policy Analysis attracts far more funding, students and interest than Diplomatic Studies.[107] The beltway between IR’s ivory towers and the proverbial coal face has also been busy. American academics working in popular fields of study have had unprecedented access to policy makers developing, implementing and evaluating U.S. government CT strategy. The result of this dominance is a body of research skewed toward fighting the War rather than mitigating it through peaceful, diplomatic means, channels and policies. A key job for Diplomatic Studies scholars, therefore, is to continue to demonstrate the value of diplomatic theory in understanding the WoT, with a view to ultimately stopping it. It is hoped that this paper is the first of many theoretical studies on diplomacy and the WoT to come.

Better diplomatic theory on the War should, in time, translate to an increased application in the practice of diplomacy. After all, hard power has its limitations, particularly when fighting a “shadow.”[108] Of course, the military will continue to be of crucial importance in the fight against terrorism. Besides combat operations, it plays a vital role in managing intelligence, upholding strategic alliances, and unifying strategic and tactical responses to terrorism.[109] However, a unilateral military approach, where armed forces become the sole, “default responder” to irregular, complex and dynamic conflicts like the WoT, is doomed to fail.[110] If, after all, all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail.

Arguably, as this paper has demonstrated, diplomacy is an equally effective and practical weapon for allied states in the WoT. Done well, it is also cheaper and more durable than hard, military oriented solutions. Such versatility is evident in many conflict situations where diplomacy has proved to be an important mechanism in the de-escalation of intractable conflicts, from Bosnia, Northern Ireland and South Africa to Mozambique, Nepal and El Salvador. All of these violent disputes were resolved diplomatically, challenging the belief that “wars traditionally ended when one party defeated the other on the battlefield.”[111] Even in conflicts where diplomacy has not ended the violence, such as Israel–Palestine, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Mindanao, and the Korea peninsula “on-going negotiations between the warring parties have rarely been off the table.”[112]

The first practical recommendation this paper makes, therefore, is that diplomacy should compete with the military (or, at least, complement) as the default responder in the WoT. A voluminous body of research has demonstrated that the best weapon against terrorism is not more violence but either politicization (choosing a political path), or effective and sustainable CT…or both.[113] This paper agrees, asserting that defence diplomacy, in particular, where the military and MFA strategise, implement and review CT strategies on a regular, collaborative and institutionalised basis, is crucial to effectively fighting and winning the War.

A second practical recommendation, in terms of winning, is for states to establish, manage and sustain CT networks composed of NGOs and other non-state actors (NSAs). As former commander of Joint Special Operations in Iraq, and U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal insisted “it takes a network to defeat a network.”[114] There are three obvious benefits to bedding down a network approach to CT. First, plural CT networks better synchronise the skills, resources and expertise of the private sector, which then creates an enhanced level of situational awareness and response. Second, by their cooperative nature diplomacy centred CT networks would avoid stove-piping of information, and facilitate collaboration between states, NGO’s, IGO’s, the private sector, the media, traditional and religious leaders as well as other key stakeholders. A whole of society approach, we maintain, is better than a whole-of-government strategy. And, third, a collaborative CT effort could reduce or mitigate the transference of terrorism, whereby the violence simply moves to another region or state in response to traditional military pressure by replicating strategy and capabilities among a broader network of global CT partners. 

Kerr and Wiseman are two renowned diplomatic scholars to assert that “more and more global actors are demanding that diplomacy, rather than military force, be used to settle differences.”[115] This paper is no different. To win the War, more diplomacy is required, not less. Of course, there will always be disenfranchised individuals and groups that will resort to terrorism, however with good diplomatic theory and practice it is possible to discourage and diminish its impact. A diplomatic approach can change terrorism “from a grave strategic threat to a dangerous nuisance,” one that can be isolated, contained, and, eventually, neutered.[116] The WoT is in its fifteenth year, yet despite all the money, ‘boots on the ground’, and mainstream IR scholarship it shows no sign of abating. This paper is not so naïve to think that diplomacy is a hitherto undiscovered panacea. It firmly believes, however, that diplomacy has played a pivotal, central and hitherto understudied role in the WoT. To neglect it in theory and practice is anathema to any hope of ultimately mitigating a threat that grows more virulent with every passing day.

End Notes

[1] Rogin, J. ‘State Department considers scrubbing democracy promotion from its mission’, The Washington Post, (August 1, 2017).

[2] Secretary of State Tillerson and Secretary of Defence Mattis at a Joint Press Availability, Dean Acheson Auditorium, Washington D.C., U.S. Department of State, (June 21, 2017).

[3] Blake, A. Trump’s fill inauguration speech transcript, annotated’, The Washington Post, (January 20, 2017).

[4] Tillerson R. W. ‘Remarks to US Department of State Employees’, Dean Acheson Auditorium, Washington D.C., (May 3, 2017).

[5] Ibid.

[6] Finnegan, C. Tillerson: Pushing human rights abroad ‘creates obstacles’ to US interests’, ABC News, (May 3, 2017).

[7] Nicholas C. Crawford, ‘US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016: $4.79 Trillion and Counting Summary of Costs of the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Homeland Security’, Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, Brown University, (2016), p. 1.

[8] Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, ‘A Hidden World, growing beyond control’, The Washington Post, 19 July 2010, para. 2.

[9] The death toll for Coalition Force personnel involved in WoT combat operations is approximately 15,249, while over 41,862 Iraqi and Afghan police and security force members have been killed since 2003. Civilian casualties number between 184,500 - 212,500 and the Afghan, Iraq, and Pakistan theatres alone account for the deaths of over 100,000 opposition fighters. Data compiled from a number of sources: The Institute for Economics and Peace, 2015 Global Terrorism Index, Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs-Brown University, Costs of War, (2015); Body Count: International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the War on Terror, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. First international edition, (March 2015); Hannah Fisher, CRS Casualty Report, Congressional Research Service, (2015); Nese F. DeBruyne and Anne Leyland, American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics, Congressional Research Service, (2015); as well as statistics from and the United States Defence Casualty Analysis System.

[10] ‘2015 Global Terrorism Index,’ Institute for Economics and Peace, p. 2.

[11]  Robert Pape, ’It’s the Occupation, Stupid’, Foreign Policy, 18 October 2010; Arjun Chowdhury and Scott Fitzsimmons, ‘Effective but inefficient: understanding the costs of counterterrorism’, Critical Studies on Terrorism, vol. 6, no.3, (2013), pp. 447-456; Charles Lister, ‘The Tangled Web of the Syrian Jihad’, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).

[12] Daniel Byman, ‘Scoring the War on Terrorism’, The National Interest, no. 72, (2003), p. 84.

[13] Michael Morrel, ‘Fourteen Years and Counting: The Evolving Terrorist Threat’, CTC Sentinel, vol. 8, no. 9, pp. 1-4, (2015), p.  1.

[14] Leon Panetta, ‘Ex-Pentagon chief predicts 30-year ISIS war’, Al Arabiya English, 25 April 2014; Michael Hayden, Gen., ‘Three Decades of terror: War with ISIS will last thirty years, claims former CIA spy boss’, UK Express, 22nd November, 2015; Joseph Dunford, Gen., ‘U.S. Strategy in the Middle East’ Testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on U.S. strategy in the Middle East, 27 October 2015.

[15] Deos, A. and G. A. Pigman, ‘Sustainable Public Diplomacy: Communicating about Identity, Interests and Terrorism’ in C. Constantinou and J. Der Derian (eds.) Sustainable Diplomacies, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 151-172; Robert J. Bunker, ‘Old and New Insurgency’, Strategic Studies Institute, (Carlisle: U.S. Army War College Press, 2016), p. 1.

[16] Hedley Bull, ‘The anarchical society: a study of order in world politics’, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977), pp. 163-166.

[17] While an academic study is yet to be produced, the subject has been discussed and debated via blogs and articles with public diplomacy’s role in CT regularly discussed. For example: Shaun Riordan, ‘What the West Lacks in the Fight Against ISIS (Part 1 and 2)’, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 24 and 27 November 2015.

[18] Stephen Walt, ‘Beyond bin Laden: Reshaping U.S. Foreign Policy’, International Security, vol. 26, no. 3, (2001), pp. 56-78.

[19] George W. Bush, ‘Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the United States Response to the Terrorist Attacks of September 11,’ 20 September 2001’, Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project available online at

[20] National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, United States Government, (February 2003), pp. 11-12.

[21] Raymond Cohen, ‘Putting Diplomatic Studies on the Map’, Diplomatic Studies Programme Newsletter, 4 May 1998.

[22] Ernest M. Satow, A guide to diplomatic practice- 4th ed., (London: Longmans, 1957), p. 1.

[23] Adam Watson, Diplomacy: the dialogue between states, (London: Routledge, 1982), p. 1.

[24] Melissen, (2003), p. 3.

[25]  Geoffrey R. Berridge, Diplomacy theory and practice, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), p. 150.

[26] The others were held in Australia (June), Spain (July), New York (September).

[27] Office of the Press Secretary, ‘Remarks by the President at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism’, The White House, 19 February 2015.

[28] Office of the Press Secretary, ‘Remarks by the President at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism’.

[29] They were, first, a continuation of the program to train allies to fight terrorists; second, to create a counter-narrative using technology and people-to-people dialogue to cross cultures and third, to facilitate partner governments to institutionalize development programs that focus on individual economic empowerment and improving education. Office of the Press Secretary, ‘Remarks by the President at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism’.

[30] Office of the Press Secretary, ‘Remarks by the President at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism’.

[31] James Der Derian, ‘Mediating estrangement: a theory for diplomacy’, Review of International Studies, vol. 13, no. 2, (1987), p. 93.

[32] UNGA, ‘The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy’ A/RES/60/288 , 8 September 2006.

[34]  See Seng, Tan and Bhubhindar Singh, ‘Introduction’, Asian Security, vol. 8, no. 3, (2012), p. 221.

[35] ‘United Kingdom Defence Doctrine-Joint Doctrine Publication 0-01 5th Edition’, Ministry of Defence, (November 2014), p. 12.

[36] Andrew Cottey and Anthony Forster, Reshaping defence diplomacy: new roles for military cooperation and assistance, (Oxford:  Oxford University Press for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2004); Neil Ferguson and Eve Binks, ‘Understanding Radicalization and Engagement in Terrorism through Religious Conversion Motifs’, Journal of Strategic Security, vol. 8, no. 1, (2015), pp. 16-26.

[37] Daniel Baldino, ‘An Exercise in Management: Defence Engagement in the Indo-Pacific’, Security Challenges, vol. 12, no. 1, (2016), p. 153.

[38] Ellen Hallams and Benjamin Schreer, ‘Towards a ‘post-American’ alliance? NATO burden-sharing after Libya’, International Affairs, vol. 88, no. 2, (2012), pp. 324-5.

[39] Andrew Cottey and Anthony Forster, ‘Reshaping defence diplomacy: new roles for military cooperation and assistance’; Ashton Carter, ‘A conversation with Ash Carter’, Council on Foreign Relations, 8 April 2016.

[40] Corneliu Bjola and Stuart Murray (eds.), Secret Diplomacy: Concepts, contexts and cases, (Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2016) p. 1.

[41] M. E. Bowman, ‘Secrets in Plain View: Covert Action the U.S. Way’, Law of Military Operations, International Law Studies vol. 72, (U.S. Naval War College, 1998), pp. 1-16.

[42] Jennifer E. Sims, ‘Diplomacy and Intelligence’, in Pauline Kerr and Geoff Wiseman (eds.), Diplomacy in a Globalizing World, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 249.

[43] Paul Sharp, ‘Obama, Clinton and the Diplomacy of Change,’ in Geoff Wiseman and Paul Sharp (eds.), American Diplomacy, (Leiden: Brill, 2011), p. 106.

[44] Peter van Ham, ‘War, lies, and videotape: Public diplomacy and the USA's war on terrorism’, Security Dialogue, vol. 34, no. 4, (2003), p. 426.

[45] Bruce Gregory, ‘American Public Diplomacy: Enduring Characteristics, Elusive Transformation’, in Geoff Wiseman and Paul Sharp (eds.), American Diplomacy, (Leiden: Brill 2011), p. 353.

[46] Jan Melissen, ‘Beyond the New Public Diplomacy’, Clingendael Paper No. 3, Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’, (2011), p. 21.

[47] Peter van Ham, ‘War, lies, and videotape: Public diplomacy and the USA's war on terrorism’, p. 428.

[48] Katerina Dalacoura, ‘US Democracy Promotion in the Arab Middle East Since 11 September 2001: A Critique’, International Affairs, vol.  81, no. 5, (2005), p. 964

[49] U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, ‘Data-Driven Public Diplomacy. Progress Towards Measuring the Impact of Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting Activities’, U.S. Department of State, (16 September 2014), pp. 3-7.

[50] Nicholas Westcott, ‘Digital Diplomacy: The Impact of the Internet on International Relations Research Report’, Oxford Internet Institute, (2008), p. 2.

[51] Anthony Deos and Geoff Pigman, ‘Sustainable Public Diplomacy: Communicating about Identity, Interests and Terrorism’, p. 155.

[52] Brian Hocking and Jan Melissen, ‘Diplomacy in the Digital Age’, Clingendael Report 58, Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael,’ (2015), p. 11.

[53] Corneliu Bjola, ‘Introduction,’ in Corneliu Bjola and Marcus Holmes (eds.), Digital diplomacy: theory and practice, (Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2015), p. 4.

[54] Fergus Hanson, ‘Revolution@ State: the spread of ediplomacy,’ (Canberra: Lowy Institute for International Policy, 2015), p. 35.

[55] Stuart Murray, ‘Evolution, not revolution’, in Corneliu Bjola and Marcus Holmes (eds.), Digital diplomacy: theory and practice, (Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2015), pp. 132-33.

[56] Fergus Hanson, Revolution@ State: the spread of ediplomacy, op.cit, p. 18.

[57] U.S. Department of State, FY2008 Performance Summary, Bureau of Resource Management and Office of Strategic and Performance Planning, (2008), p. 92.

[58] Rasha Hussain, ‘A Strategy for Countering Terrorist Propaganda in the Digital Age’, Remarks by U.S. Special Envoy and Coordinator for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications at Countering Violent Extremism Ministerial Summit, Sydney, Australia 12 June 2015 available online at

[59] James E. Nolan, Diplomacy and Security in the Twenty-first Century Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, (Washington D.C.: Georgetown University, 2009); Shaun Riordan, ‘What the West Lacks in the Fight Against ISIS (Part 1 and 2)’, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 24 and 27 November 2015, available online at

[60] Bjola, ‘Introduction,’ (2015), p. 5.

[61] Melissen, ‘Beyond the New Public Diplomacy’, p. 3.

[62] Jürgen Kleiner, Diplomatic practice between tradition and innovation, (Hackensack, NJ: World Scientific, 2008), p. 337.

[63] Stuart Murray, Paul Sharp, Geoff Wiseman,  David Criekemans, and Jan Melissen, ‘The Past Present And Future of Diplomatic Studies’, International Studies Review vol. 13, (2011), p. 711; These ‘torchbearers’ are (in alphabetical order):  Costas Constantinou (University of Cyprus), Andrew Cooper (University of Waterloo), James Der Derian (University of Sydney), Brian Hocking (Loughborough University/ ‘Clingendael’), Pauline Kerr (Australian National University), Donna Lee (University of Bradford), Jan Melissen (University of Antwerp/ ‘Clingendael’), Paul Sharp (University of Minnesota Duluth), Shaun Riordan (‘Clingendael’) and Geoff Wiseman (Australian National University).

[64] Paul Sharp, 'Diplomacy in International Relations Theory and Other Disciplinary Perspectives’, in Pauline Kerr and Geoff Wiseman (eds.), Diplomacy in Globalizing World: Theories and Practices, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 63.

[65] Geoff Wiseman, ‘‘Polylateralism’ and New Modes of Global Dialogue’, Discussion Papers No. 59, (Leicester: Leicester Diplomatic Studies Programme, 1999) p. 36.

[66] Robert Grant, ‘The Democratization of Diplomacy: Negotiating with the Internet’, Discussion Papers in Diplomacy. The Netherland Institute of International Relations 'Clingendael', (2005), pp. 1-40.

[67] Melissen, ‘Beyond the New Public Diplomacy’, p.  2.

[68] Jamie Metzl, ‘Network Diplomacy’, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, (Winter/Spring 2001), pp. 77-78.

[69] Donna Lee and Brian Hocking, ‘Diplomacy,’ in Bertrand Bardie, Dirk-Berg Schlosser and Leonardo Morlino (eds.),

International Encyclopaedia of Political Science, (London: Sage, 2011) p. 67.

[70] Brian Hocking, Jan Melissen, Shaun Riordan and Paul Sharp, ‘Futures of Diplomacy: Integrative Diplomacy in the 21st Century’, Netherland Institute for International Relations 'Clingendael’, (2012) p. 11.

[71] Bruce Gregory, ‘American Public Diplomacy: Enduring Characteristics, Elusive Transformation’, pp. 351-372.

[72] Lee and Hocking, ‘Diplomacy’, p. 69.

[73] Richard Langhorne, ‘Contemporary Diplomacy’, Global Society, vol. 23, no. 1, (2009) p. 98.

[74] Mark Leonard, ‘Diplomacy by Other Means,’ Foreign Policy, no. 132, (2002), pp. 48-56; Anoush Begoyan,  ‘Multistakeholder processes in conflict resolution’ and Chris Lamb, ‘Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Multistakeholder Diplomacy’,  in Jovan Kurbalija and Valentin Katrandjiev (eds.), Multistakeholder Diplomacy: Challenges and Opportunities, (Malta: Diplo Foundation, 2006), pp. 165-187; Harris Pesto, ‘The Role of Diplomacy in the Fight Against Terrorism’, Connections: The Quarterly Journal  vol. 10, no. 1, (2010), pp. 64-81.

[75] Vivian Collingwood, ‘Non-governmental organisations, power and legitimacy in international society’, Review of International Studies, vol. 32, no. 3, (2006), p. 599.

[76] Murray, ‘Towards and Enhanced Understanding of Diplomacy as the Business of Peace’, p.  125.

[77] Brian Hocking, ‘Multistakeholder diplomacy: Forms, functions, and frustrations’, in Jovan Kurbalija and Valentin Katrandjiev (eds.), Multistakeholder Diplomacy: Challenges and Opportunities, (Malta: DiploFoundation, 2006), p.  17.

[78] Andrew Cooper and Brian Hocking, ‘Governments, Non-Governmental Organisations and the Recalibration of Diplomacy’, Global Society, vol. 14, no. 3, (2000), p. 368.

[79]Ansarullah or Harakat Ansar Allah (commonly known as the Houthi movement) is a Shi'a insurgent movement originating from northern Yemen, forming in 2004 to counter the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh and currently rails against the government headed by Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

[80] Fatah al-Islam emerged in 2006 as a Palestinian Sunni group. Once supported by the Assad regime in Syria, it is best known for engaging in a 4-month battle with the Lebanese Army in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in 2007.

[81] Available online at

[82] Available online at

[83] Available online at 

[84] Andrew MacLeod, Claudia Hofmann, Ben Saul, Joshua Webb and Charu Lata Hogg, Humanitarian Engagement with Non-State Armed Groups Project, (London: International Security Department and International Law Programme-Chatham House, 2016), pp. 1-74.

[85] Abby Stoddard, ‘With us or against us? NGO neutrality on the line’, Humanitarian Exchange, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 25, (2003), p. 7

[86] Eva Bjøreng, ‘Taking a stand: solidarity and neutrality in humanitarian action’, Humanitarian Exchange, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 25, (2003), p. 9.

[87] Alex P. Schmid and Rashmi Singh, ‘Measuring Success and Failure in Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism: U.S Government Metrics of the Global War on Terror’, in Alex P. Schmid and Garry F. Hindle (eds.), After the War on Terror: Regional and Multilateral Perspectives on Counter-Terrorism Strategy, (London: RUSI Books, 2009), pp. 33-61; Mary Beth Altier, Christian Thoroughgood and John Horgan, ‘Turning away from terrorism: Lessons from psychology, sociology, and criminology’, Journal of Peace Research,  vol, 51, no. 5, (2014), pp. 647-661.

[88] Leon Gordenker and Thomas G. Weiss, ‘Responsibilities: A Framework for Analysing NGOs and Services’, Third World Quarterly, vol. 18, no.3 (1997), pp. 452-3.

[89] Colin Powell, ‘Remarks to the National Foreign Policy Conference for Leaders of Nongovernmental Organizations’, Loy Henderson Conference Room, Washington D.C., 26 October 2001, para 3, Available online at

[90] Walter Haynes, ‘Elusive Victories: How Counterterrorism Campaigns Can Link Back Up with Strategy’, War on the Rocks, 13th October 2016, available online at

[91] Deos and Pigman, ‘Sustainable Public Diplomacy: Communicating about Identity, Interests and Terrorism’, pp. 151-172; Jonathan Powell, Talking to Terrorists: How to end armed conflicts, (London: The Bodley Head, 2014).

[92] James Der Derian, Spies, Terror, Speed and War, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), p.  84.

[93] Martha Crenshaw, ‘The Debate over “New” vs. “Old” Terrorism,’ The Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, Illinois, 30 August-2 September 2007, p. 3, available online at; see also Ian Lesser, Bruce Hoffman, John Arquilla, David Ronfeldt, Michele Zanini and Brian Jenkins, Countering the New Terrorism, (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1999).

[94] The evolution of terrorism is a common theme in academia for e.g., Bruce Hoffman and Fernando Reinares, Evolution of the Global Terrorist Threat: From 9/11 to Osama bin Laden's Death, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014); Seth Jones, A Persistent Threat: The Evolution of al Qa'ida and Other Salafi Jihadists, (Santa Monica, CA:  RAND Corporation, 2014); Elena Pokalova, ‘Chechnya's Terrorist Network: The Evolution of Terrorism in Russia's North Caucasus’, in James J. F. Forest (ed.), PSI Guides to Terrorists, Insurgents, and Armed Groups, Oxford: Praeger, 2015).

[95] Ayaz Gul, ‘Taliban Warns India Over Military Aid to Kabul’, Voice of America, 4th September 2016, available online at

[96] Audrey Kurth Cronin, ‘Introduction’, in Audrey Kurth Cronin and James Ludes (eds.), Attacking Terrorism: Elements of a Grand Strategy, (Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2004), p. 3.

[97] Martin A. Miller, ‘The Intellectual Origins of Modern Terrorism in Europe’, in Martha Crenshaw (ed.), Terrorism in Context, (University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 1995), p. 42. The phrase ‘propaganda by the deed’ first appeared in print in an article titled ‘La Propagnde par let fait’ in the Bulletin de la Fédération Jurassiennne, 5th August 1877, which was edited by Peter Kropotkin and Paul Brousse.

[98] Der Derian, Spies, Terror, Speed and War, p.  68.

[99] Cited in Kristine Toohey, ‘Terrorism, Sport and Public Policy in the Risk Society.’ Sport in Society, vol.  11 no. 4, (2008), p. 434.

[100] Ayman al-Zawahiri, ‘Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Letter to Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawi (English translation)’, Combatting Terrorism Center, (2005), p. 10, para 5, available on line at

[101] Omar Hammami, Introduction’, The Story of an American Jihadi-Part One by Abu Mansuur al-Amriki, (2012), p. 1. (Thanks to Aaron Zelin for access to this unique primary source document).

[102] ‘Propagandists, Recruiters, and Spokespersons’, The Counter Extremism Project, (2016), pp. 1-11, available online at 

[103] J. M. Berger and Jonathon Morgan, ‘The ISIS Twitter Census: Defining and describing the population of ISIS supporters on twitter’, The Brookings Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, (Washington, D.C.: Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, 2014), p. 24.

[104] Tuesday Reitano and Andrew Trabulsi, ‘Virtually Illicit: The Use of Social Media in a Hyper-Connected World’, in Hilary Matfess and Michael Miklaucic (eds.) Beyond Convergence: World Without Order, Center for Complex Operations, (Washington D.C.: National Defence University, 2016), pp. 215-233.

[105] James Der Derian, Virtuous war: mapping the military-industrial-media-entertainment network, (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2001); Ayla Schbley, ‘Religious Terrorism, the Media, and International Islamization Terrorism: Justifying the Unjustifiable’, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, vol. 27, no. 3, (2004), pp. 207-233; James A. Piazza, ‘Is Islamist Terrorism More Dangerous? An Empirical Study of Group Ideology, Organization, and Goal Structure’, Terrorism and Political Violence, vol. 21, no. 1, (2009), pp. 62-88; J. M. Berger and Jonathon Morgan, ‘The ISIS Twitter Census: Defining and describing the population of ISIS supporters on twitter’, pp. 1-68; Anne Aly, Stuart Macdonald, Lee Jarvis and Thomas M. Chen, ‘Introduction to the Special Issue: Terrorist Online Propaganda and Radicalization’, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, (2016) pp. 1-18; Nathan K. Schneider, ‘ISIS and Social Media: The Combatant Commander’s Guide to Countering ISIS’s Social Media Campaign’, The Center for Counterterrorism Studies, (2016). pp. 1-44.

[106] Der Derian, ‘Mediating estrangement: a theory for diplomacy’; Der Derian, Spies, Terror, Speed and War; James Der Derian, ‘Imaging terror: logos, pathos and ethos," Third World Quarterly, vol.26, no. 1, (2005), pp. 23-37; David Armstrong, ‘The Diplomacy of Revolutionary States’, in Jan Melissen (ed), Innovation in Diplomatic Practice, (New York: Palgrave, 1999), pp. 43-59; Paul Sharp, ‘Mullah Zaeef and Taliban diplomacy: an English School approach’, Review of International Studies, vol. 29, no. 4, (2003); Sharp,  Diplomatic Theory of International Relations; Geoff Pigman, Contemporary diplomacy: representation and communication in a globalized world, (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2010); Kleiner, Diplomatic practice between tradition and innovation; Deos and Pigman, ‘Sustainable Public Diplomacy: Communicating about Identity, Interests and Terrorism’; Hocking, et. al., ‘Futures of Diplomacy: Integrative Diplomacy in the 21st Century’; Aaron Hoffman, Christopher R. Agnew, Laura E. VanderDrift and Robert Kulzick, ‘Norms, Diplomatic Alternatives, and the Social Psychology of War Support’, Journal of Conflict Resolution, vol. 59, no. 1, (2015), pp. 3-28.

[107]  Nic Adams, Ted Nordaus and Michael Shellenberger, ‘Counterterrorism Since 9/11: Evaluating the Efficacy of Controversial Tactics’, (Oakland, CA: The Breakthrough Institute, 2011), pp. 6-9

[108] Samuel Peleg, ‘Introduction: Terrorism and the Open Society-A Question of Balance’, in Samuel Peleg and Wilhelm Kempf (eds.), Fighting Terrorism in the Liberal State. An Integrated Model of Research, Intelligence and International Law, NATO Security through Science Series E: Human and Societal Dynamics, vol. 9, (Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2006), p. v; Charli Carpenter, Out of the Shadows: A New Paradigm for Countering Global Terrorism’, World Political Review, 5 November 2013, para 1, available online at; Driving Away the Shadows’, The Economist, 20 August 2016, available online at

[109] Todd Moss, David Roodman and Scott Standley, ‘The Global War on Terror and U.S. Development Assistance: USAID allocation by country, 1998-2005,’ Working paper no. 62, Centre for Global Development, (2005), pp. 1-19.

[110] U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report, 6 February 2006, p. 86.

[111] Fen Osler Hampson, Chester A.  Crocker and Pamela R. Aall, ‘Negotiation and international conflict’, in Charles Webel and Johan Galtung, Handbook of Peace and Conflict Studies, (Oxon, Routledge, 2007), pp. 35-50.

[112] Olsen Hampson, et. al., ‘Negotiation and international conflict’ p. 35.

[113] Leon Weinberg, ‘Turning to Terror: The Conditions under Which Political Parties Turn to Terrorist Activities’, Comparative Politics, vol. 23, no. 4, (1991), pp. 423-438; Leon Weinberg, Amy Pedahzur, and Sivan Hirsch-Hoefler, ‘The Challenges of Conceptualizing Terrorism’, Terrorism and Political Violence, vol. 16, no. 4, (2004), pp. 777-794; Seth Jones and Martin Libicki, How Terrorism Ends: Lessons for Countering al Qa'ida, (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Publications,2008); Audrey Kurth Cronin, ‘The ‘War on Terrorism’: What Does it Mean to Win?’, Journal of Strategic Studies, vol. 37, no. 2, (2013), pp. 174-197; Nic Adams, et. al., Counterterrorism Since 9/11: Evaluating The Efficacy Of Controversial Tactics, (2011); Susan Martin and Arie Perliger, ‘Turning to and from Terror: The Conditions under Which Political Groups Choose Violent and Nonviolent Tactics’, Perspective on Terrorism, vol. 6, no. 4-5, (2012), pp. 21-45; Khusrav Gaibulloev and Todd Sandler, ‘An empirical analysis of alternative ways that terrorist groups end’,  Public Choice, vol. 160, no. 1-2, (2014), pp. 25-44; Sarah Marsden, ‘How Terrorism Ends’, in Caroline Kennedy-Pipe, Gordon Clubb and Simon Mabon (eds.), Terrorism and Political Violence, (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2015), pp. 199-225.

[114] Stanley McChrystal, ‘It Takes a Network,’ Foreign Policy, 22 Feb, 2011, para 18, available online at

[115] Pauline Kerr and Geoff Wiseman, ‘Introduction’, in Pauline Kerr and Geoff Wiseman (eds.), Diplomacy in a Globalizing World: Theories and Practices, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 7.

[116] Daniel Byman, ‘US Counter–terrorism Options: A Taxonomy,’ Survival, vol. 49, no. 3, (2007), p. 127.


About the Author(s)

Dr. Stuart Murray (@Diplomacy102) is an Associate Professor in the Department of International Relations at Bond University, Queensland Australia. Dr Murray is an associate editor for Diplomacy and Foreign Policy journal (Brill) as well as a Global Fellow, The Academy of Sport, Edinburgh University. Over the past decade, Dr Murray has sought to enhance the discipline of Diplomatic Studies through numerous contributions including books, book chapters, peer-reviewed journal articles, conference papers and panel discussions.

Patrick Blannin (@PatrickBlannin) is a PhD Candidate, teaching fellow and research assistant at Bond University, Queensland, Australia. Mr Blannin’s doctoral research focuses on the role and scope of defence diplomacy in contemporary counterinsurgency and counterterrorism. He has published a research monograph titled Defence Diplomacy in the Long War (Brill) as well as peer-reviewed journal articles on topics related to transnational terrorism (organisations, funding sources and counter measures).


From the first paragraph of our article above:


Declarations from US Presidents since WWII have championed values as the linchpin for US national security and foreign policy, however, current Secretary of State Tillerson has been a vocal advocate for removing the ‘promotion of democracy’ from State’s mission statement as well as the separation of values and policy. Moreover, the nascent Trump administration has been open in its chagrin toward the State Department, diplomacy and multilateral fora in particular and has prioritized pursuing “constructive, results-oriented bilateral relations.” This line of thinking is a direct reflection of President Trump’s inauguration speech in which he declared that the US would not impose its values on others. The Secretary told a meeting of departmental staff in May 2017, that the “fundamental values of freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated” guide US policy, but they “are not our policies.” Tillerson declared that “sometimes values have to take a back seat to economic interests or national security.” The Secretary concluded that “interests come first, and then if we can advocate and advance our values, we should.” This approach raises several questions such as: will the US’s allies and partners follow suit; what will be the long-term outcome of an ‘overt’ separation of interests and values; and more importantly, can diplomacy, the core of Western-led global stabilization efforts, survive the ‘new’ norm?


Next, from Nadia Schadlow, now Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for National Security Strategy:


There are serious political competitions underway for regional and strategic dominance. These extend beyond military battlefields and are a fought across a variety of domains – political, economic, informational, and cultural. Is the United States finally ready to compete? ...

... Yet in virtually every theater of the world, local and regional competitions over ideas, economic systems, and societies affect America’s ability to protect and advance its interests.


Finally, and in consideration of the apparent -- glaring -- disconnect between these two lines of thinking (that of President Trump and Secretary Tillerson on the one hand, and that of Senior Director Schadlow on the other), here are two old sayings for us to chew on; one or the other of which might stimulate our interest re: challenging the above reasoning, decisions, etc., of President Trump and Secretary Tillerson:

First Saying: "You don't bring a knife to a gunfight."

Next Saying: "You may not be interested in war, but war may be interested in you."

Thus, if there are (see Schadlow above) " ... serious political competitions underway for regional and strategic dominance ... these extending beyond military battlefields and fought across a variety of domains -- political, economic, informational, and cultural" -- where -- "in virtually every theater of the world, local and regional competitions over ideas, economic systems, and societies affect America's ability to protect its interests,"

Then, in such a "gun fight" -- in such a "war" as this -- might not it be prudent for the U.S./the West -- thus formally challenged and confronted -- to:

a. Bring forth, and aggressively employ, ALL of our instruments of power and persuasion (to wit: bring our "guns" to the gun fight; the other guys, after all, sure as hell have!); this, given that:

b. The political, the economic, the informational, the cultural, the "ideas" and values, etc., "war" -- that President Trump and Secretary Tillerson appear not to be interested in -- this such "war" seems to be amazingly interested in us and them. (As Senior Director Schadlow so emphatically tells us above?)

So, in this new war, do we, as per President Trump and Secretary Tillerson above, tie our diplomats, our intelligence assets, and indeed our soldiers' hands, send them out to fight without their (historically proven?) best weapons and ask them, thus stripped down, to do battle? This, in a "war" -- that these two national leaders at least -- appear to have turned a blind eye toward/believe does not exist?

(Anyone see a formula for quick and decisive defeat here?)