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What is Arming for the War We’re In? In short, it is an extension of my blogging at mountainrunner.us, launched in 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, a “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 wide public awareness and support (while also nearly completely absent from the scholarly literature). 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 office after Senators approached me following my tenure as the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy executive director. I also served on the board of the Public Diplomacy Council, including two years as Secretary, now named the Public Diplomacy Council of America. I taught graduate courses in public diplomacy at the USC Annenberg School as an adjunct lecturer, and was an adjunct lecturer with the Joint Special Operations University. I have also been a guest lecturer at the National War College, the National Intelligence University, the Army War College, the NATO School Oberammergau, and several universities across Europe.

In addition to testifying three times before House committees, since about 2005, I have worked extensively with Members and staff in the Senate and House on public diplomacy, strategic communication, and political warfare topics, including helping to launch a House caucus centered on this topic1 and helped write and provide support for related bills, including the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act. I worked extensively with the Defense Department, including under the label “graybeard,” long before I had any gray. In addition, I am on the advisory board for the Information Professionals Association. I am honored to have been inducted into the Psychological Operations Regiment at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School as an Honorary Member.

Russia sanctioned me in May 2022, so perhaps I’m doing something right.2

I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. at King’s College London looking at how the US responded to Russian political warfare in the early cold war3 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. However, that history is relevant today since we sadly know little about – and learn less – from our past. (Calls to bring back the US Information Agency is a poster child for such ignorance.)

I earned a B.A. in International Relations and a Master of Public Diplomacy from the University of Southern California. I also studied European security and the Middle East at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Some personal details. I lived in Switzerland (near Zürich) from August 2016 through July 2023 after 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, another from Latvia, and our dog is a rescue from Romania. He’s not, however, the dog in my profile picture. That dog was a rescue from the Carson, CA, animal shelter and is the source of the “MountainRunner” name. That story is available here. I’ve done a bunch of Ironman triathlons (8 starts, seven finishes — aeros bars broke in my third, messing up my back, resulting in a DNF), a dozen or so ultramarathons (the longest was 70 miles, median is around 40 miles), a couple dozen marathons, perhaps three 5k’s and maybe two 10k’s. I used to enjoy 3-mile ocean swim races back when I lived near an ocean in the Los Angeles area. 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) and held coaching certificates from USA Cycling (Level 2), USA Triathlon, USA Track & Field, and for US Masters Swimming.

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 the broad field often referred to as public diplomacy.


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, though it’s possible both are true.


The label “Cold War” is lowercase here to fit the use in the covered period. By and large, the term didn’t become a proper noun until the early 1960s and détente.

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Discussing the past and present of political warfare and public diplomacy


I was a Governor of the BBG & former exec dir of the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. I am an Honorary Member of the PSYOP Regiment, sanctioned by Russia, & am writing a PhD on the US response to Russian political warfare ‘45-‘65.