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What is Arming for the War We’re In? In short, it is an extension of the blogging I’ve done at mountainrunner.us since 2004, articles and book chapters I’ve written, and lectures I’ve given on the overlapping subjects of US public diplomacy and defending against foreign political warfare. The title is drawn from a lament over a failed effort to train US government personnel, US civil society leaders, and the equivalent in friendly nations abroad on Russian (primarily) political warfare tactics. The Senate bill to launch the Freedom Academy, this “Political West Point” as LIFE magazine called it, was ultimately killed by Senator Fulbright in 1963 despite enjoying significant bipartisan support in both chambers and the wider public. In 1963, the private group of citizens that originated the concept gave up the fight with what is, unfortunately, an evergreen hope: “Someday this nation will recognize that global non-military conflict must be pursued with the same intensity and preparation as global military conflicts.”

Who am I?

I’ve been working, writing, lecturing, and pontificating in and around public diplomacy, strategic communication, and political warfare since 2004. From 2013-2017, I served as a Governor on the formerly named Broadcasting Board of Governors, since renamed the US Agency for Global Media. Senators approached me and asked me to consider this position, for which I was subsequently nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, as a result of my tenure as the executive director of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. I also served on the board, and for two years as the Secretary of the Public Diplomacy Council, now the Public Diplomacy Council of America, and before then taught a graduate course in public diplomacy at the USC Annenberg School as an adjunct lecturer.

Besides extensive discussions with Senate and House Members and staff, helping launch a caucus to support public diplomacy and strategic communication, and helping write and provide support for various related bills, including the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, I have also worked with the Defense Department. I was inducted into the Psychological Operations Regiment at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School as an Honorary Member. In addition, I sit on the advisory board for the Information Professionals Association and was an adjunct lecturer with the Joint Special Operations University.

Russia sanctioned me in May 2022, so maybe I’m doing something right. (Though, in a superb demonstration of the quality of Moscow’s staffing, the stated reasons for my sanctioning included my time at the Public Diplomacy Council and a non-profit I was on the board of that sought to help US media and former US military personnel suffering from PTS. I figure the Russian interns tasked with pulling biographical information saw only the top two items on my LinkedIn profile as my government work had slid down, and their bosses didn’t care enough to check the list.)

My current focus is working on a PhD at King’s College London, Defense Studies Department, that looks at how the US responded to Russian political warfare in the early cold war years. I am also revising my book on the history and evolution of the Smith-Mundt Act, a topic I have spent way more time studying over the past dozen years than is probably wise or healthy.

Some additional details: I’ve lived in Switzerland (near Zürich) since 2016, which followed nearly three years of living in the United Kingdom (west side of London), with my wife and two kids. We have a cat from the UK and another from Latvia, and my dog is a rescue from Romania. He’s not, however, the dog in my profile picture. She was a rescue from a Carson, CA, animal shelter and is the cause of the “MountainRunner” name, which I share here.

A partial list of my publications, podcast appearances, video presentations, video chats, and the times I testified before Congress (twice before a House Armed Services Committee subcommittee and once before a subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee) can be found here.

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Discussing the past and present of political warfare and public diplomacy


Matt Armstrong
An 🇺🇸 living in 🇨🇭, Matt is a former Governor with the Broadcasting Board of Governors, was the executive director of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, is pursuing a PhD at King's College London, & is sanctioned by Russia.