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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. I was nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate to this position after Senators approached me to consider an appointment following 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 taught graduate courses 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 related bills, including the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, I also worked with the Defense Department. I am honored to have been inducted into the Psychological Operations Regiment at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School as an Honorary Member. In addition, I am 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.
I am currently a Ph.D. student at King’s College London. My focus is examining 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, though that history is stunningly and unfortunately extremely relevant today.
I earned a B.A. in International Relations and a Master of Public Diplomacy from the University of Southern California. I also spent time at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, studying European security and the Middle East.
Some personal 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 our 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. I’ve done a bunch of Ironman triathlons (8 starts, 7 finishes — aeros bars broke in my third, messing up my back), a bunch of ultramarathons (the longest was 70 miles), a couple dozen marathons (I think, stopped counting), perhaps three 5k’s and may two 10k’s, and enjoyed 3-mile ocean swim races. I also guided a blind triathlete for two seasons. Nearer to the turn of the millennium than the present, I coached triathletes, masters swimming, and fund-raising marathoners (Team in Training).
A partial list of my publications, podcast appearances, video presentations, video chats, and the several times I testified before Congress can be found here.
This was in 2009 and seemingly a lifetime ago. I had forgotten about until 2023 when the idea for a new caucus came up when speaking with former Senators and others about the deplorable state of “public diplomacy” etc.
In a superb demonstration of Moscow’s incompetence, the reason listed for my sanctioning was formerly being on the board of the Public Diplomacy Council (now the Public Diplomacy Council of America) and formerly being on the board of a non-profit that intended to help US media and former US military personnel suffering from PTS. I can only imagine that Russian interns tasked with pulling biographical information didn’t look – or care to look – beyond the top two items on my LinkedIn profile as my government positions had slid down the chronological timeline. Their bosses either didn’t care to check or were equally incompetent, or both, I shouldn’t rule out both being true.