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James Farwell discusses his book “Persuasion and Power: The Art of Strategic Communication”

On Monday, January 14, 2013, author James Farwell discussed his new book Persuasion and Power: The Art of Strategic Communication.

This event was sponsored by IWP’s Center for Culture and Security.

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Video by Adam Savit, Center for Security Policy

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The publisher’s description follows. 

Now more than ever, in the arenas of national security, diplomacy, and military operations, effective communication strategy is of paramount importance. A 24/7 television, radio, and Internet news cycle paired with an explosion in social media demands it. 

According to James P. Farwell, a former political consultant, the US government’s approach to strategic communication has been misguided. Persausion and Power stands apart for its critical evaluation of the concepts, doctrines, and activities that the US Department of Defense and Department of State employ for the art of strategic communication including psychological operations, military information support operations, propaganda, and public diplomacy. Farwell stresses that words, deeds, actions, and symbols may qualify as strategic communication and aim to mold or shape public opinion to influence behavior in order to attain specific objectives, advance interests, or-viewed from a military perspective-satisfy or create conditions that produce a desired end-state. He contends that a message that is true, consistent, and persuasive is more powerful than any deception.

Persuasion and Power is a book about communication strategy, and how figures from Julius Caesar to Barack Obama, Napoleon to Hugo Chavez, Martin Luther to Margaret Thatcher have used it to influence the outcomes of crises, conflicts, politics and diplomacy across different cultures and societies. This insightful volume will help communications, policymakers, and students understand when, where, and how they can apply the principles of communication strategy to advance national security interests.

About the Author

James P. Farwell is a defense consultant who advises the US Department of Defense and the US Special Operations Command on a range of global initiatives and actions, including strategic communication. He is also a senior research fellow in strategic studies at the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies in the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Pakistan Cauldron: Conspiracy, Assassination, and Instability.


“There is an art to effective communication, to be sure, but art without a strategic objective is of dubious merit. In this intelligent and sweeping book, James P. Farwell provides profound insights into how different countries, cultures, and institutions use words and deeds to inform and shape the ideas, values, and actions of others.”-William S. Cohen, former Secretary of Defense

“Again James Farwell connects today’s dots with the perplexing challenges of strategic communications. Every kinetic strike must have a strategic message. So much so that the message is more powerful than the strike. That is the insight that Farwell provides along with so many others. A must read for public relations officers, military information officers, and all of today’s and tomorrow’s leaders.”-Lt. Gen. Dell L. Dailey, USA (Ret.), former director, Center for Special Operations, US Special Operations command; former ambassador-at-large and coordinator for counterterrorism, State Department

“A top expert on strategic communication, James Farwell combines superb scholarship with concise, vibrant writing in this riveting study of how leaders from antiquity to today have employed the principles of communication. It’s a great read, sharply insightful, and immensely informative.”-Ambassador Gilbert A. Robinson (ret.)

“A timely examination of contemporary American strategic communication, Power and Persuasion draws on case studies ripped from the headlines of the last decade. No other book on the strategic communication shelf so clearly lays out the approaches, jargon, tools, and techniques used by State Department diplomats, military officers, and aid workers one finds on the ground in almost every foreign country.”-Amb. Brian E. Carlson, defense and diplomacy specialist, InterMedia Research Institute