Ryan Gawn

About Ryan Gawn

Ryan Gawn is Head of International Communications at ActionAid International and Director of Stratagem International, a strategic political affairs consultancy. He is a Council Member of the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House). Currently based in South Africa, he has worked overseas with the FCO, DFID, British Council and the UN. See more here.

Are we neglecting our soft power assets?

Osborne just doesn’t make the cut

As Chancellor George Osborne thanks the London Olympics for taking him off the front pages, he might want to take advantage of the breathing space to have an image makeover.

One colleague who may be able to provide some tips is his sharp-suited Chief Secretary, Danny Alexander. The former Chief of Staff to Nick Clegg, Alexander’s distinctive style and dress sense have made him something of a fashion hero in the more unlikeliest of places – Pakistan.

Sharp-suited Danny Alexander MP adorns a store front in Islamabad

As you can see, the owner of Wazir tailors in downtown Islamabad was in no doubt that Alexander trumped Osborne in the style stakes, using this timeless image taken from the 2010 Spending Review for his store front, with Osborne sadly not making the cut.

WHAM is back! And it really does Win Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan

Remember that “terrible phrase”, Winning Hearts And Minds (WHAM)? Using development programs as a tool for counterinsurgency? PRTs and Money as a Weapons System? So last decade, right? Well it’s back, and there’s some new evidence to show that it might actually work – for certain things, and when done right. From Afghanistan, of course. It’s only taken 10 years.

  Continue reading

A long way from lofty Lisbon


Karzai and NATO agree on a four year transition plan for handover of security. Source: NATO


Here in Lisbon at the 2010 NATO summit, President Karzai and NATO leaders today agreed a transition plan that will transfer security responsibility to Afghan security forces (ANSF). 4,000 miles away, the Afghan public are doubtful that the ANSF will actually be ready to assume this responsibility by 2014.

In a survey published yesterday by the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS), 61% of respondents in Helmand and Kandahar believe the ANSF will be unable to provide post-transition security. The survey interviewed 1500 Afghans in southern and northern Afghanistan, and reports that 56% believe Afghan police are helping the Taliban and 25% believe that police end up joining the Taliban.

Continue reading