Sunday, December 16, 2018

[Public Diplomacy Council report]

Via email

report on Dec. forum w Jody Olsen, events of interest this week


Public Diplomacy Council

2:57 PM (17 minutes ago)
to AdamHunter, bcc: John.H30
Dear Colleagues,

If you missed this month’s First Monday forum with Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen, you can see Alan Heil’s article on her remarks at

Our next First Monday lunch forum on Jan. 7 will feature Emerson Brooking and Peter Singer, authors of  Like War: The Weaponization of Social Media. As usual, we will convene at George Washington University’s Elliott School, in the Lindner Commons, Rom 602. And as always we ask that you RSVP to so we have an accurate count for catering. More about Brooking, Singer and their book at

Change of date for the next Council meeting The next meeting of the Council membership will be on Monday morning, February 11th, instead of Monday, February 4th.  The Council meeting will immediately precede our Feb. 11 lunch forum with Assistant Secretary of State Marie Royce.
Help Wanted:  PDC Board members and officers.  Five members of the Public Diplomacy Council board will be stepping down early in 2019, including the President, Secretary and Treasurer, due to having served the maximum length of time permitted by the PDC By Laws.  Term limits!  We welcome those interested in assuming a leadership role in the organization to step forward. No rush: We will discuss this at the next Council membership meeting on Monday, February 11th, with a final decision a few months later.

Future PDC / PDAA / USC forums:
Monday, Jan. 7: The Weaponization of Social Media, with Emerson Brooking and Peter Singer, authors of
Mon. Feb. 11 (note new date): Hon. Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, bio:

Events of possible interest this week (and most will be webcast):

Mon 12/17 10 am Heritage: “China’s Belt and Road in Context”
Mon 12/17 4 pm Wilson: "Garment Unions, American Labor, and the Establishment of the State of Israel"
Mon 12/17 5 pm GW: Concert and Lecture: “Building Trust through Music Diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula”
Mon 12/17 6:30 pm SAIS: “European Foreign Policy in an Age of Populism”

Tue 12/18 6 pm Embassy of France: “How to Reform Multilateralism to Support Peace?”

Wed 12/19 9 am CSIS: “Innovation, Partnership, and Self-Reliance: Health Policy Lessons from India’s Bihar State”

Have a great week!


Adam Clayton Powell III, President
Public Diplomacy Council 

[Polish Public Diplomacy at its best? ]: Michal Kurtyka, president of the climate talks in Katowice, Poland, leapt over his desk as the final session ended.

Image fromsee/hear also; on Kurtyka, see

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Guy Farmer: Bush 41 and The Greatest Generation

Farmer image from article

As the late President George H.W. Bush (Bush 41) was being laid to rest in recent days, a grateful nation honored him as president and as a prominent member of what Tom Brokaw calls the Greatest Generation, men and women who won World War II and came home to continue serving their country. They lived by four important words — duty, honor, country and family — and we'll miss them when they're gone.

I was touched by the moving tributes to Bush 41, one of the youngest U.S. Navy pilots at the outset of World War II. Although he was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, he enlisted in the Navy at the age of 18 in 1942. His eloquent biographer, Jon Meacham, described Bush as "America's last great soldier-statesman, a 20th century founding father," and lauded the courage Bush showed when, as a 20-year-old Navy pilot, he parachuted from a burning plane over the Pacific Ocean. How many of today's 20-year-olds have that kind of courage and devotion to duty?

Bush 41's son, former President George W. Bush, said his father was "a gentleman who executed the duties of his office with dignity and honor," served with integrity and honor, and "with love in his heart for the citizens of our country," even when they voted for someone else.

That's how I remember Bush 41 even though I didn't agree with all of his policies. As a member of a State Department public diplomacy [JB emphasis] task force during the first Gulf War, I disagreed with his decision to put the Defense Department in charge of rebuilding postwar Iraq, instead of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

My friend Ty Cobb, a retired Army colonel who served in the Reagan White House, recalls Bush "as a man who dedicated his life to his family and his country, guided by a commitment to leading with decency, thoughtfulness and civility." Cobb also noted Bush 41 won the first Gulf War and presided over the downfall of the Soviet Empire, signature accomplishments.

Another friend, retired Senior Foreign Service officer Marilyn Meyers, who was my boss in Australia, recalled a December 1990 White House encounter with Bush 41 when she was deputy assistant Secretary of State and a new ambassador from Micronesia was presenting his diplomatic credentials to the president. "The president launched into a tale of his days in the South Pacific as a Navy fighter pilot and the ambassador sat there transfixed without saying a word," Marilyn remembered.

She made sure the Micronesian diplomat could say his piece and as she was walking out of the meeting room a photographer took a photo of her and the president "with a Christmas tree reflected in a mirror in the background." "I still have that photo in the guest bedroom of my apartment here in Washington," she told me, adding she was proud to be one of the local volunteers during the late president's funeral service at the National Cathedral. "I had tears in my eyes," she said, "and I think you can understand why." Of course I understand.

Bush 41's son, George W., broke down when describing his father as "a great and noble man, and the best father a son or daughter could have," and there wasn't a dry eye in the Cathedral.

Without wishing to make any invidious comparisons, I'll close with a personal observation: President Trump and his lovely wife Melania looked as if they were marooned on a desert island in that sea of mourners at the National Cathedral. Draw your own conclusions.

Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal's senior political columnist.

Blank Sheet of Paper Distributed in Front of the White House [joke]

See also, as an indirect reference: Paul Rockower, "Stand-Up Diplomacy: Humor as Public Diplomacy,"

Image result for blank sheet of paper
image from

JB's attempt at humor:

In Trumpian times, USA's Americans are telling a joke about a suspicious-looking man named Joe Smith who is distributing pamphlets in front of the White House. In a matter of minutes, the Secret Service finds him and takes him to headquarters. Only there do the agents realize that the sheets of paper are completely blank. “But there’s nothing written here,” one of them says. Smith says: “They know quite well what I mean.”
Stolen from the following joke [anekdot]: 

In Soviet times, Russia’s Jews told a joke about a man named Rabinovitch who was distributing pamphlets in Red Square. In a matter of minutes, the KGB had found him and taken him to headquarters. Only there did the agents realize that the sheets of paper were completely blank. “But there’s nothing written here,” one of them said. Rabinovitch said: “They know quite well what I mean.”

Friday, December 14, 2018

EURASIAN CHAPTER’s 2018: public diplomacy, trainings and more…

This year was rich of activities, yet difficult for many reasons. Namely, the community portal has not been working since April, due to the change of EMA’s service provider, which made it mpossible for us to contact our chapter’s members and access to the mailing lists per countries or per chapter. If you are our chapter’s member and haven’t heard from us for a while, this is the reason why. At present, we can only contact members registered in our Facebook groups (EMA Eurasian chapter and various countries’ groups) and those who have personally been in contact with us. Besides, no EMA/ESAA budget was available this year, so we had to rely exclusively on our local partners to fund all the events. Nevertheless, over 40 events were organised across our chapter in 2018. This is a non-exhaustive overview of the main directions of our activities this year.

Public diplomacy [JB emphasis] and internationalisation of higher education
In June, four chapter representatives, including three current board members (Natalia Bichurina, President, Armen Grigoryan and Meerim Karybaeva), as well as the former President Kateryna Shalayeva, were invited to participate in a meeting at the European Commission DG EAC headquarters in Brussels. The meeting brought together the representatives of the DG EAC, several EU delegations worldwide and several EMA members. It was aimed at sharing good practice and innovative ideas on Erasmus+ activities and on wider public diplomacy initiatives. At the meeting, Natalia Bichurina and Kateryna Shalayeva gave presentations, drawing on Chapter’s successful activities. (For more details click here)
Focus on Central Asia: in preliminary surveys carried out by the Chapter in 2016-2017, Central Asia was identified as one of the key regions where EMA activities are needed. In March, a survey consisting of a series of interviews and discussions held by Natalia Bichurina with current CRs from Central Asian countries (Adiba Muminova, Firdavs Badalov, Madina Karsakpayeva and Meerim Karybaeva) allowed to specify the problematic issues existing in these countries in relation to the higher education. Indeed, students who participated in Erasmus Mundus programmes can provide meaningful comparative feedback, as they are acquainted with various higher education systems, in Central Asia (in their home countries, usually for their first university degree), and in several EU countries (for their Mundus Masters or PhD degrees). This comparison allowed identifying areas for improvement in higher education across Central Asia and in Europe, focusing on the link between education and professional development.

On 14-16 March 2018, Natalia gave two presentations in Warsaw at the Central Asia Education Platform (CAEP) Regional Conference. The Conference was hosted by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Poland, and brought together representatives from the European Commission, Ministers or high representatives from Ministries of education and Ministries of labour of five Central Asian Countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and experts (for more details click here). On 8 and 9 October, Meerim Karybaeva represented the Chapter in Istanbul at the Central Asia contact seminar, which brought together HEIs from Erasmus+ Programme Countries and Central Asian countries (for more details click here).

Eastern Partnership countries: as in the previous years, the Eurasian chapter follows the work of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum. This year, Chapter’s representative Sofiia Tretiak was selected by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum as an official observer for 2018-2019 for the Working group 4 “Contacts between people.” At national level, on September 19, the alumna Olga Novikova participated at the Regional Conference in Dnipro Eurointegration: Power of Opportunities, as a key-note speaker jointly with the Vice-Prime Minister of Ukraine.

Pre-Departure Orientation events
The Eurasian chapter strongly insists on organising in-person Pre-Departure Orientation seminars (PDOs) in as many countries throughout our region as possible, as such events are an exceptional opportunity not only for transmitting knowledge and experience, but also for strengthening the EMA community. Besides, recent alumni state that such events are an important step for their reintegration after coming back home from their Erasmus Mundus experience.

This year five in-person PDOs were held throughout our chapter’s region, including two two-day event, in Russia and Ukraine, which allowed for a variety of workshops and seminars:
  • Kyrgyzstan on June 30 (organised by Meerim Karybaeva),
  • Ukraine on July 6-7 (by Oleksandr Ivanov): two-days PDO with 27 newly selected students and 13 alumni (including virtual participation from Switzerland, France and Japan), representatives of several Embassies of the EU member-states and the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine.
  • Armenia on July 13 (by Armen Grigoryan):  attended by 10 newly selected students, in cooperation with the National Erasmus+ Office in Armenia and with the participation of the head of Consular section of the Embassy of Czech Republic in Armenia.
  • Belarus on July 13 (by Anna Novitskaya): attended by 7 newly selected students and 1 alumna (the PDO was organised in Belarus for the first time).
  • Russia on 9-10 August (by Natalia Bichurina): an intensive two-days PDO in Moscow, including trainings, seminars and interactive sessions held by EMA members with 52 newly selected students and 10 alumni, coming from 18 cities throughout Russia; lectures and social events with the EU Ambassador to Russia and EUD representatives, as well as meetings with the representatives of several Embassies of the EU member-states.

Where possible, the Chapter insists on the importance of inviting alumni coming r om outside the capital cities: the experience of participating in the PDO can empower them to become active EMA representatives locally and initiate their own projects. PDOs in other countries were unfortunately impossible this time, mainly due to the lack of information regarding newly-selected students.

Trainings and workshops

The Chapter organises various types of trainings throughout the region. One type of them is specifically aimed at students willing to apply for studying abroad scholarships, in order to promote the internationalisation of higher education and youth mobility. These workshops provide tips on successful application for Erasmus+ programmes, including writing motivation letters, research projects etc. Another type is an interactive intercultural training based on concrete experience of the Erasmus+ alumni and situations of miscommunication that they encountered (based on a preliminary survey and filmed interviews by Natalia Bichurina). This year, on April 23 two such trainings were held by Natalia in Saint- Petersburg, Russia, at the premises of the Institut fran├žais (opened by the Consul General of France and the Director of the Institut fran├žais). On July 9-10, she delivered two workshops in Ekaterinburg, where 38 students from the Urals region and Siberia were taking part in a five-days European study week.

Besides, workshops on mobility across the EU were delivered by Oleksandr Ivanov at the EU Study Days in Kherson, on June 15, and the EU Study Days in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, on July 12. He also moderated the EU Ambassador's meeting with EU Study Days Alumni at the EU Study Days II Alumni Forum on September 14-15 in Kyiv. Another workshop on Erasmus Mundus opportunities was held by Oleksandr on September 19.
On November 6-7 Erasmus+ Information Days were held in Armenia, where Armen Grigoryan and Edith Soghomonyan presented the Erasmus+ programme and application process.  A part from such workshops, a practical webinar was held for six newly elected regional chapter boards, where Natalia shared the Eurasian chapter’s approach on building a consistent and informed chapter’s strategy and organising chapter’s work.

EMA members also participated in Higher education fairs in seven cities across our Chapter’s region, in cooperation with the European Commission (coordinated by Sofiia Tretiak, board member, and Natalia Bichurina): in Astana on 29 September; Almaty on 30 September; Bishkek on 2 October; Shymkent on 4 October; Tbilisi on 13 October; Baku on 14 October; and Kyiv on 16 October.

Many other activities can be found in the Chapter’s report for 2018 (write to board.eurasian.chapter(at)em-a(dot)eu)

Video reports from our events:
PDO in Ukraine:

PDO in Moscow: In-person PDO allowed for media coverage of Erasmus+ alumni experience in general (video testimonials in Russian):

Report by: Natalia bichurina, President of EMA Eurasian Chapter.

VOA’s Turkish Service Wins Burke Award

via VOA email (VOA press release); see also

VOA Director Amanda Bennett (center) with VOA Turkish Chief Hulya S. Polat and members of the service.
Voice of America’s Turkish language service received the David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award for its breaking news coverage and extensive follow-up on the attacks on peaceful protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C., in May 2017. Turkish service reporters risked physical harm and continued harassment by the government of Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a result of their coverage of this incident. 

VOA Turkish captured exclusive video during President Erdogan’s visit to Washington on May 16, 2017. The video showed Erdogan supporters, as well as presidential security forces and several other armed individuals, assaulting peaceful protesters outside the residence in a manner the Washington Metropolitan Police Department characterized as a “brutal attack.”

The footage of the brawl went viral as national and international news outlets used it in their own reporting on the incident. The skirmish and video footage also became a point of contention between the U.S. and Turkish governments. As a result of the graphic evidence, the FBI investigated the incident and the Washington, D.C. police department sought the arrest of several people linked to the attack, including bodyguards to the Turkish president. A total of 19 people, including 15 identified as Turkish security officials, were indicted by a grand jury in Washington, D.C. for the May 2017 attack. 

“I’m so proud of the work and bravery of VOA’s Turkish service,” said VOA Director Amanda Bennett. “This graphic, honest journalism is not the kind of reporting the Erdogan government wants to see, but it is the type of reporting VOA journalists do every day.”

VOA Turkish is a multimedia language service. Its TV programs air on leading news networks in Turkey. The VOA Turkish website garners more than 75,000 views weekly, while the service’s Facebook page surpassed 2 million weekly video views.

The U.S. Agency for Global Media presents the David Burke Distinguished Journalism Awards annually to recognize courage, integrity and professionalism of journalists working for each of the USAGM networks--Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.
About Voice of America
VOA reaches a weekly global audience of more than 270 million people in 40 plus languages in nearly 100 countries. VOA programs are delivered on multiple platforms, including radio, television, web and mobile via a network of more than 2,200 media outlets worldwide. VOA’s seasoned journalists are experts on topics trending in the United States and around the world. The Voice of America is funded by the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media, an independent federal agency.

Bookshelf: ‘Behold, America’ Review: Fighting Words

Fergus M. Bordewich, The Wall Street Journal, Dec 13, 2018; see also (1)

Before World War I, Woodrow Wilson proclaimed America First as a rationale for neutrality. Before World War II, members of the America First Committee included Walt Disney, Frank Lloyd Wright and Gerald Ford


‘Behold, America’ Review: Fighting Words

Before World War I, Woodrow Wilson proclaimed America First as a rationale for neutrality. Before World War II, members of the America First Committee included Walt Disney, Frank Lloyd Wright and Gerald Ford.

World War II war propaganda poster by the America First Committee.

[On Wilsonian propaganda during the Great War, see John Brown, "Janus-Faced Public Diplomacy: Creel and Lippmann During the Great War," in Deborah L. Trent, ed. Nontraditional U.S. Public Diplomacy: Past, Present, Future (2016, pdf)]

Allusions to what we celebrate as the “American dream” are so ubiquitous that it might seem that everyone knows what the phrase refers to. In “Behold, America,” Sarah Churchwell, an American-born scholar at the University of London, tells us that we barely grasp the many meanings of this heavily freighted term. Thus she sets about unpacking its multi-layered and surprising history. And against the American dream she poses the darker but no less fascinating evolution of “America first,” a slogan recently revived as part of President Trump’s emotive rhetoric and national policy.

Ms. Churchwell delivers more than an exercise in literary archaeology. In crisp prose driven by impressive research in period newspapers, speeches and correspondence, she shows Americans wrestling over the very meaning of their nation. Both phrases, she notes, “rapidly tangled over capitalism, democracy and race, the three fates always spinning America’s destiny.” By returning to original sources, she adds, one can see the gaps between “what we tell each other that history shows, and what it actually says.”

Today the American dream almost always refers to material advancement—each generation bettering itself, rising above humble beginnings. It was not always thus. The earliest example of the phrase that Ms. Churchwell found, in a New York Evening Post editorial dating from 1900, warned that, since all previous republics had been “overthrown by rich men,” it was millionaires who posed the greatest threat to the “American dream” of social equality.

During World War I, the phrase almost exclusively referred to what America was said to be fighting for in Europe—basically, Woodrow Wilson’s purported goal of a world safe for democracy and self-determination. After the war, in 1921, Walter Lippmann used “the American dream” to describe “aspiration, assimilation and the immigrant experience,” as Ms. Churchwell summarizes it. Only during the boom years of the 1920s did the notion take on a more material definition—that any American might prosper and even become wealthy. “Faith in prosperity,” Ms. Churchwell writes, “soon started to feel like a promise, even a guarantee.”

The Depression of the 1930s put an end to such an idea for a time, and with the rise of Hitler and Mussolini the American dream was presented once again—in sermons, articles and common speech—in moral and political terms, as the humanistic alternative to dictatorship abroad and materialism at home. By the end of the 1930s, Ms. Churchwell asserts, “the American dream was all but synonymous with social democracy.” During the Cold War, the phrase was remodeled once again as an ideological weapon in the duel with communism, projecting a sunny middle-class ideal of home ownership, consumerism, material comfort and upward social mobility that still hovers in the aspirations of Americans today.

The slogan “America first” has a slightly longer pedigree. Ms. Churchwell traces it to 1884, when it first appeared in an Oakland, Calif., newspaper’s article about potential trade wars with Britain. But it didn’t become common until World War I, when Wilson, hoping to keep the U.S. out of the war, proclaimed it as a rationale for neutrality. Once the United States did enter the war, it became more potent as a nativist battle-cry with which to bully “hyphenated Americans,” particularly those of German extraction. It quickly took on connotations of racial purity and xenophobia, feeding a fear, writes Ms. Churchwell, “that all radicals were foreign agitators—and that all foreigners were radicals.”

By 1920, “America first” had also been adopted as an official motto of the Ku Klux Klan, which was then on the cusp of an extraordinary resurgence. In 1922, a typical Klan recruitment ad proclaimed: “The Ku Klux Klan is the one and only organization composed absolutely and exclusively of ONE HUNDRED PER CENT AMERICANS who place AMERICA FIRST.” Some Americans found the Klan’s aggressive flag waving deeply repellent. One syndicated columnist, Prudence Bradish, writing in 1923, was reminded of “that old ‘my country, right or wrong’ tone, which is just the tone we want to get out of the whole world.”

The slogan was then taken up by a smorgasbord of nativist groups, including the followers of the anti-Semitic “radio priest” Father Coughlin and the members of America First Inc., an organization whose founder, James B. True, spoke of organizing a “national Jew shoot” and claimed to have patented a billy club just for killing Jews. During World War II, he was prosecuted as a Nazi agent but died before his case was resolved.

If there is a heroine in Ms. Churchwell’s story, it is Dorothy Thompson, who is largely forgotten today but in the 1930s and 1940s was widely read as a correspondent and columnist. In 1939, Time magazine named her the second most influential woman in America, after Eleanor Roosevelt. Thompson was one of the first national voices warning of the dangers of fascism both in Europe and at home, where she predicted that it was creeping into American life under the “America first” banner. All dictators claimed to represent the will of their particular nation, Thompson wrote; an American dictator would therefore be “one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American.”

As a movement, “America first” climaxed on the eve of World War II. Even as German armies marched, and Jews desperately fled Europe, “America Firsters,” as they were known, rejected any type of foreign entanglement. As the Miami News put it in 1939: “We, too, think selfishly. We think: ‘America First!’ ” The movement’s greatest catch was the aviator Charles Lindbergh, who had made several highly publicized visits to Germany, offered advice to its air force and accepted a prestigious medal from none other than Hermann Goering. Two weeks after Germany invaded Poland, he delivered a national broadcast in which he urged Americans not to join in any European conflict unless it was to defend “the white races.” After joining the America First Committee—a group different from America First Inc.—in April 1941, he repeatedly blamed Jews for trying to drag the U.S. into war and advocated signing a treaty with Germany.

At its peak, the America First Committee claimed more than 800,000 members, among them Walt Disney, Frank Lloyd , Lillian Gish and Gerald Ford. Not all of them shared the bigotry expressed by Lindbergh. Indeed, the America First Committee for a brief time even enjoyed the support of some young liberals, such as Kingman Brewster and Sargent Shriver. The bombing of Pearl Harbor abruptly put an end to the “America first” movement, and the term seemed destined for permanent disrepute as a stand-in for defeatism and borderline treason.

Ms. Churchwell is deeply and understandably dismayed by Mr. Trump’s facile embrace of “America first” as a slogan. This may annoy some readers. Others may also feel that she strains a bit too hard to reclaim the “American dream” as an essentially social-democratic vision. For better or worse, free enterprise and material aspiration have joined with older ideas of the American dream. But she may be onto something when she asserts that the American dream has “fossilize[ed] into something static and flat,” obscuring the historical truth that Americans once “dreamed more expansively.” Her enlightening account is a valuable contribution to the never-ending debate over fundamental American values and a provocative reminder that troubling impulses may lurk beneath seemingly anodyne sloganeering and inspiring rhetoric.

—Mr. Bordewich’s most recent book is “The First Congress: How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government.”