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Strategic Communication Public Lectures

Public Lectures

Defining the Threat (ASU iTunes U podcast)
Maj. Reid Sawyer, assistant professor, Department of Social Sciences, and director, Combative Terrorism Center, United States Military Academy at West Point

Many Americans think terrorism began on September 11, 2001, and that it was the first foreign attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. Sawyer shows is it has a much longer history and argues that it is our failure to recognize the changing story underlying this history that has left us vulnerable to attack. Working backward from the first World Trade Center attack in 1993 to the beginnings of modern terrorism in the late 1960s, he paints a picture of a shift from political to religious to ideological terrorism and illustrates how the U.S. has routinely interpreted present threats in terms of outdated frameworks. Sawyer concludes that we are in danger of doing this again, interpreting the present terrorist threats in terms of the “hard-wired” Al Qaida networks of 2001, while the real threat comes from a new, diffuse, and ideological terrorism that has grown in recent years.

Terrorism, Propaganda, and the Politics of Fear (ASU iTunes U podcast)
David Altheide, Regent's Professor, School of Social Justice and Social Inquiry, Arizona State University

This lecture explores the role news media and entertainment play in producing a discourse of fear. Altheide argues that the culture of fear current in the U.S. and associated with the global war on terror (GWOT) is directly related to the politics responsible for producing fear in crime reporting. The politics of fear produces a desire for control, which in turn leads to a suspension of civil rights and an abandonment of critical coverage of the GWOT.

Losing the War of Ideas: U.S. Strategic Miscommunication (ASU iTunes U podcast)
Andrew Garfield, European director for the Terrorism Research Center former intelligence officer and senior policy advisor in the U.K. Ministry of Defense

Garfield argues that the United States is critically misunderstanding the global war on terrorism. Instead of focusing on direct action, the United States must begin to address the underlying causes of terrorism and change the perception about the U.S. in the Muslim world thus engaging in a “war of ideas.” To accomplish this, Garfield addresses the historical roots of terrorism, noting the key similarities between the September 11 terrorists and the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He discusses the goals and tactics of terrorist organizations, citing the communities around the terrorist groups as the center of gravity. Garfield then emphasizes several deficiencies in the current U.S. information strategy, listing his solutions to the numerous errors.

Just Won't Burn: Remembering the Cold War in the war on terror (ASU iTunes U podcast)
Bryan Taylor
, associate professor, University of Colorado at Boulder and president, Rocky Flats Nuclear Museum

This lecture explores the discourses emerging from the Cold War (CW) and the Post Cold War (PCW) from rhetorical and cultural perspectives. Beginning with “collective historical memory about war” as a framing device, dominant themes in CW and PCW culture and rhetoric are examined. These themes are then used to chart ways in which historical memory both supports and challenges existing post-September 11 national cecurity discourses.

Bio (In) Security: Rhetoric and Technology in the Age of Bioterrorism (ASU iTunes U podcast)
Lisa Keränen, assistant professor and affiliate of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Colorado at Boulder

Experts have warned for decades that the United States was vulnerable to attacks involving biological weapons. Post-September 11, the possibility of pathogen-based terrorist attacks acquired heightened urgency in the public sphere. This public lecture considers the role of language in shaping our understanding of the threat of bioterrorism. Specifically, it focuses on the rhetoric of technology that characterizes much public discourse of bioterrorism and considers how this rhetoric alternately amplifies perceptions of the threat of bioterrorism and provides reassurance to an anxious citizenry. The talk concludes by considering the ethical implications, possibilities and limitations of technologically-inflected rhetorical constructions of bioterrorism that shape both U.S. policy and public consciousness.

Fighting the War on Terrorism (ASU iTunes U podcast)
Brig. Gen. Paulette M. Risher, president, Joint Special Operations University; director, Center for Knowledge & Futures, United States Special Operations Command

This talk provides a clearer understanding of the organizational structure and responsibilities of a key player in the global war on terrorism – the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM). SOCOM has the primary responsibility of coordinating special operations forces from the various branches of the United States military. Uniquely positioned with a global organizational and operational reach, SOCOM has assumed primary responsibility for counter-terrorism activities and the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. In addition, SOCOM also assumes primary responsibility for knowledge and information management and its application in both strategic offensive and defensive operations. In her position as president, Joint Special Operations University and director, Center for Knowledge and Futures, Brig. Gen. Risher is uniquely qualified to provide comments and insight about an organization vital to the global war on terrorism.

Using Networks to Fight Networks (ASU iTunes U podcast)
Steven R. Corman, professor, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, ASU and anti-terrorism consultant for the Department of Defense

In this lecture, Corman explores the uses and limitations of network theory and methods in fighting terrorist organizations. He begins with a detailed overview of the network approach and illustrates its application to a broad range of problems in science and engineering. Corman then turns to efforts to disrupt terrorist communication networks, and the challenges of doing so, including limited intelligence about terrorist relationships. He concludes with a new application of network science designed to stress the activity systems of terrorist organizations. Activity and communication always go together, argues Corman, so stressing the organization should cause increased communication, which will improve the chances of detecting the terrorist communication networks.

Panel: Communication Challenges of First Responders (ASU iTunes U podcast)
Tom Abbott, John Burk, John Phelps, moderator: Professor Bud Goodall

This panel discusses the attempt on several levels to address the local need for emergency involvement. Several different perspectives are brought to the table from the Tempe Fire Department, the National Guard, and the Arizona Department of Homeland Security. The panel explains current moves to integrate law enforcement, fire services, health officials and rescue teams. Challenges of interoperability come to the forefront with specific legal issues within and National Guard and areas of local first responder personnel. They seek to relate those moves to current events such as the Minutemen Project on the Mexican border, and training if preventative measures fail and an attack occurs.

Politics and Dilplomacy in the War on Terror (ASU iTunes U podcast)
William McGlynn, State Department Diplomat in Resident, Arizona State University

McGlynn’s lecture focuses on the role of the U.S. Department of State Embassies in regard to terrorist activity. He argues that public diplomacy efforts, as well as U.S. counterterrorism efforts, emphasize cooperation more than any other type of U.S. policy. The role of the U.S. embassy in an American’s safety abroad as well as examples of past public diplomacy efforts in Greece and Portugal are discussed. Future movements in diplomacy, as well as counterterrorism policy, include focusing on bolstering the counterterrorism capabilities of other governments as well as removing any obstacles to counterterrorism policy in the U.S. One of the biggest obstacles is the lack of coordinated communication between state and government entities.

A Practitioner's View of Public Diplomacy (ASU iTunes U podcast)
Ambassador Sharon Wilkinson, assistant dean for global engagement, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, ASU

Wilkinson shares her views on the role of public diplomacy in the global war on terror based on her experiences as an ambassador in Mozambique. Public diplomacy in this lecture is defined as "the way our government conveys its commitment, goals and intentions to the world through a variety of means and channels." She posits that the current focus on Muslim countries and audiences has hijacked our global public diplomacy strategy. Wilkinson gives seven statements on how public diplomacy efforts can be improved to help combat the war on terror.

The New American University and the War on Terrorism  (ASU iTunes U podcast)
Michael Crow, president, Arizona State University

This chapter explores the unique intersection of the American university and the global war on terrorism. Crow argues for a distinction between Type I terrorism, rooted in age-old blood feuds, and Type II terrorism, characterized as a reaction to four modern “drivers.” These drivers are the speed of change itself; ubiquitous communication; the dominance of the capitalistic system; and technological reductionism. The university is in the unique, but complex position of producing ideas and technologies that give rise to these forces of change. It also maintains a responsibility to explore the impact of these changes on cultures and societies throughout the world. This responsibility is made more challenging by the fact that the United States is currently engaged in the global war on terrorism.

U.S. Public Diplomacy Efforts in the Muslim World  (ASU iTunes U podcast)
Orde Kittrie, professor, College of Law, ASU, former director of international anti-crime programs, U.S. State Department The significance of public diplomacy efforts in the global war on terrorism is becoming more widely recognized. This chapter explores the effectiveness of past and current public diplomacy efforts, identifies current obstacles to U.S. public diplomacy efforts, and makes suggestions for changes for policy improvement. Kittrie’s arguments begin with the assumption that the basis for the conflict is not U.S. foreign policy, as is often stated. Instead, Professor Kittrie argues that Osama bin Laden’s own words make it clear that it is the U.S. domestic character that is the target of radical Islamic terrorists. Current obstacles to U.S. diplomacy include radically-oriented Muslim teachings, the dictatorial nature of Muslim government, and high levels of economic frustration in Muslim-Arab nations. He argues that going forward, it is important for diplomacy to initiate specific diplomacy strategies, including, “peeling off” moderate Islamic leaders from Osama bin Laden, continuing to promote democratization and free-market expansion, and monitoring and responding more effectively to anti-American messages arising from the Middle East.