This article is by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In it, he says all the lovely things I like having the military say, such as "No, our biggest problem isn’t caves; it’s credibility. Our messages lack credibility because we haven’t invested enough in building trust and relationships, and we haven’t always delivered on promises." He points out the the Taliban delivers, both in terror to people who disobey them and in services that they promised to deliver. This is pretty common with insurgencies, by the way... they help to ensure that the govermment they are fighting can't provide basic services like health care and garbage collection, then they deliver those services. Very effective combination.
And Mullen also says that we fail when we don't live up to our ideals as Americans:
"No other people on Earth have proven more capable at establishing trust and credibility in more places than we have. And we’ve done it primarily through the power of our example. The voyage of the Great White Fleet told the world that the United States was no longer a second-rate nation. The Marshall Plan made it clear that our strength was only as good as it was shared. The policy of containment let it be known we wouldn’t stand for the spread of communism. And relief efforts in the wake of natural disasters all over the world said calmly and clearly: we will help you through this.
We didn’t need a public opinion poll to launch that fleet. We didn’t need a “strat comm” plan to help rebuild Europe. And we sure didn’t need talking points and Power- Point slides to deliver aid. Americans simply showed up and did the right thing because it was, well, the right thing to do.
That’s the essence of good communication: having the right intent up front and letting our actions speak for themselves. We shouldn’t care if people don’t like us; that isn’t the goal. The goal is credibility. And we earn that over time."
Now THERE's something to which I can say Amen and Hallelujah.