Small contractors that focus on the civilian tools of national security, such as diplomacy and law enforcement rather than weapons development, have found a valuable niche in recent years, growing exponentially as the Pentagon deployed these skills in Iraq and Afghanistan.

...the State Department is barreling ahead with plans to privatize its public diplomacy functions -- functions that might have averted some of the tragedies taking place in the Middle East -- using corporate funds that all but guarantee an American public diplomacy that serves multinational business but not the American people.

More than four months after Haiti's lethal earthquake, the international commission overseeing the recovery is still mulling how to spend the $9.9 billion pledged to the nation. But U.S. contractors are diving in, making high-stakes bets that reconstruction deals will eventually bring a windfall.

Along the gradient of power, there’s a possible mix of “soft” and “hard” varieties. The public diplomacy originating at the U.S. State Department is commonly associated with the “soft” power of peaceful persuasion and cultural appeal; the foreign information efforts at the Pentagon are often in the service of some tangible “hard” power goal. The mixing often takes place in conflict zones, where a variety of forces and actors are in play. So who decides the mix, and how?

The war in Iraq has spawned a new industry in Washington that could be called Psy-ops Journalism. The new breed of journalists are following the money trail to the Pentagon.