Monday, January 24, 2011


Today's terrorist attack on the busy Domodedovo airport in Russia is a tragedy, and it highlights the challenges states face in protecting their citizens from malicious attacks. 

U.S.-Russian cooperation on counterterrorism in the past decade has included bilateral action, such as the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and multilateral efforts. The nations have much in common, although their counterterrorism strategies are not always in sync.

In combating terrorism, it would behoove both nations to diversify their strategies, employing both hard and soft power resources. New and traditional public diplomacy tools should be directed at counterterrorism efforts. Terrorists have proven to be very savvy at using modern technology to spread negative information about their foes. While military and financial resources are essential components of foreign policy, soft power tools are particularly well suited to fostering dialogue, promoting goodwill and countering misinformation, and should be included in counterterrorism initiatives.

Of course, today's events don't represent the failure of public diplomacy or foreign policy. They are appalling, contemptible, criminal activities and should be treated as such. Stepping up public diplomacy efforts is not a panacea to end violence. It is simply a necessary, if insufficient, step in the right direction.

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