Saturday, February 6, 2016

Marine Corps Univ. Seeking Strategic Communications Faculty
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(2 February 2016). Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia is seeking an individual for its strategic communications faculty, with areas of interest including public diplomacy. The position, funded by the Marine Corps University Foundation, is the Donald Bren Chair of Strategic Communications, for the 2016-17 academic year.
The chair provides the Marine Corps University a resident scholar with expertise in the theory and practice of strategic communications. ...

Aly Z. Ramji: Public diplomacy and consulting advisor

Aly Z. Ramji: Public diplomacy and consulting advisor
Aly Z. Ramji is currently the principal of Gamut International (, a Canadian/US based trade and investment advisory, as well as public diplomacy consulting firm. Ramji’s core competencies in image management, government branding and international public diplomacy has enabled his firm Gamut International Corporation, to work with government agencies, foundations, NGO’s, non-profits and international agencies in the areas of diplomacy, and sustainable and ethical investment and development. ... 
During his graduate studies, Ramji was responsible for creating the esteemed Graduate Program in Public Diplomacy at Syracuse University, merging the University’s Maxwell School of Public Policy and the Newhouse School of Public Communications via their Masters of International Affairs and Masters in Public Relations into a streamlined program. Today, the Program is considered as one of the top graduate courses, bridging the world of communications and international affairs.

Adviser- Culture and Public Diplomacy in Mumbai

Last updated: 04.02.2016 // The Royal Norwegian Consulate General in Mumbai has a vacancy for a full-time position as adviser for culture and public diplomacy.
The Royal Norwegian Consulate General in Mumbai, covering Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, was re-opened in November 2015. The Consulate General is located in new premises at Bandra Kurla Complex. The opening of the Consulate General is a reflection of the rapid increase in the bilateral relations between India and Norway, especially commercial/business relations in the area of jurisdiction. The Consulate General will have a total seven staff in addition to a commercial section, Innovation Norway (three staff). Staff from the Norwegian Seafood Council and the Norwegian Business Association in India (NBAI) are also located in the consulate General.
Responsibilities and tasks
  • Planning, implementation and follow-up of press, culture, information, business and public diplomacy activities in accordance with the strategic plans for the Consulate General.
  • Manage the Consulate General’s media outreach and interaction with the local media
  • In close co-operation with the Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi
    • Assist in organizing expert trips/press trips to Norway
    • Produce and maintain information at the Consulate General’s part of the Embassy website as well as input on the Embassy’s communication platforms and Newsletter.
  • Daily media monitoring in the Consulate General’s area of jurisdiction
  • Draft talking points/speeches/articles
  • Master level degree from University within the areas of responsibilities and tasks. Long and relevant working experience may compensate for a lack of degree
  • Fluent in written and spoken English and Hindi
  • At least five years of work experience, either from government, international organisations, civil society, academia or private sector
  • International experience either related to work or studies is an advantage
  • Knowledge of Norway is an advantage
Personal skills
  • Proven ability to building networks with relevant organizations and individuals in government, civil society, academia, the media and the private sector.
  • Honesty, integrity, tolerance and respect for all individuals across social and professional distinctions are fundamental requirements
  • Openness, transparency and good communication skills are essential.
  • Ability to work independently as well as in a team setting.
Terms and conditions
  • The Consulate General is following Indian law with respect to employment rights
  • Salary in accordance with education/experience
  • Social security benefits will be in accordance with the social security legislation in India.
  • Working hours: Monday-Thursday 09:00 - 16:00. 25 days annual vacation.
  • Commencement as soon as possible
For further information please contact by telephone no. 022-61330700, Consul General, Mr. Torbjørn Holthe or Deputy Head of Mission, Consul Mr. Tor A. Dahlstrøm.
Applications by 22th February 2016 to:

Quotable: John Kerry on “the struggle to define truth”

Thursday, February 4th 2016

Voice of America
On January 28, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at the opening of the new offices of The Washington Post.  The newspaper’s reporter who had been held in Iran for 18 months, Jason Rezaian, was there.  Here are a few of Secretary Kerry’s general remarks:

As a species, we are driven to know what's going on in the world - maybe particularly as Americans - it's in our DNA. And that desire resides deep in the bloodstream of every journalist, aspiring or established. I can tell you from my perch - and I talked about this a little bit in Davos the other day, with the levels of corruption and failed and failing states - it is absolutely vital that the truth emerge and that facts be known, because otherwise, people just make stuff up and feed whatever propaganda they want. And we've seen that in these modern times with great damaging effect.

We see it in what happens in the absence of knowledge and the power that it gives to dictators, to demagogues, to tyrants. Silence allows crime and corruption to rot whole countries. Ignorance allows demagogues to argue that up is down and black is white, that merely interviewing a dissident is somehow tantamount to treason, and yes, some people to even claim that rape and murder of an innocent is the calling of God.

You know better than I do that we live today in a global fish bowl. With the help of social media and a gazillion cameras, we have more awareness, data sources, access than ever before. And in my profession and yours, we are all constantly drawn - or pushed - to places where fundamental facts are in dispute, and somebody has to find the truth. Truth does battle with myths everywhere now, and competing myths fight one against the other, making objectivity on political life the first casualty, and often not the last.

So this struggle to define truth is really what moving into this building and continuing the great tradition of this paper is all about. Finding the truth is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli dispute. It's at the heart of defining the difference between Sunni and Shia, extremism and religion. It's at the heart of the crisis involving Russia and Ukraine. It's at the heart of the South China Sea conflict. And most starkly, it is in the narratives that are put forth by terrorists who are utterly repellent to most people but actually still attractive to some.

* * * * *

The truth is that independent media - reporters, broadcasters, photographers, bloggers, even cartoonists - are under constant pressure today, whether physical or political. And here we are well into the 21st century, and yet only about one person in six lives in a country where the press can truly be described as free.

So it is up to us, up to you, up to the defenders of liberty to close ranks. And this begins with the recognition that no government, whatever its pretensions and whatever its accomplishments, can fairly call itself great if its citizens are not allowed to say what they believe or are denied the right to learn about events and decisions that affect their lives. So let me underscore: A country without a free and independent press has nothing to brag about, nothing to teach, and no way to fulfill its potential.

To those who try to intimidate or imprison reporters, we need to stand up and say loud and clear that committing journalism, reporting on the truth, is not a crime. It is a badge of honor. It is a public service.

And that is why I am proud that each day, when America's embassies and consulates demand answers, voice objections, press for accountability on behalf of imprisoned or threatened journalists - I'm proud that the State Department and USAID have programs that support independent media in more than 30 countries.

I'm also proud to think that since Thomas Jefferson up to this very moment, our country has been associated more than any other nation on the face of this planet with liberty of expression and thought.

Is Germany the Best Country in the World?

Falk Hartig,

uncaptioned image from article

Feb 5, 2016
Germany is the best country in the world, at least according to the inaugural "Best Countries" ranking from U.S. News and World Report, the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and global brand consultants BAV Consulting. The ranking was unveiled at the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 20th. Germany, country ranking—wasn’t there something else? Yes, there was. According to the most recent Soft Power Survey by Monocle magazine published in late 2015, Germany is the world’s leading soft power. Several international studies rate the image or soft power of countries according to various criteria and in recent years Germany has come off very well.
These international comparisons are popular, influential—and quite misleading at times. One can, rightly, take issue with the way a concept like soft power is conceptualized in those rankings. One can also question the methodology, as a number of German observers have done after the “best country” votes were in. They criticize the fact that the pollsters did not analyze hard facts, but just asked people how they perceive the world: “The study says nothing at all about how it really is, but only about how people believe it could be,” which prompted othersto discount this “questionable study” altogether.
While this might be a very German way of seeing things that ignores the importance of image and reputation in contemporary international affairs, there is a grain of truth in it that relates to the mismatch between reality and imagination, or between external perception (image) and self-perception. In this regard, the question is what these rankings can tell us about the countries they analyze. To illustrate this mismatch, here are some impressions from the “best country” in the world.
A recent survey reveals that 58 percent of Germans have a feeling of living in uncertain times, compared with 44 percent in 2011. 82 percent are afraid of criminality, compared to 60 percent in June 2015 while 74 percent fear terrorist attacks and 73 percent too large an influx of refugees. Even though these figures also come from a survey, they reflect quite well the current atmosphere here. The refugee crisis, and especially the events on New Year’s Eve, when hundreds of men gathered in the plaza at the main train station in Cologne groping and robbing scores of women, has thrown the country into an incredible state of hysteria.

All this does not describe the “best country in the world,” but rather a country very much in conflict with itself.

It all started with Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to welcome Syrian refugees last September, resulting in a dramatic inflow of not only people from Syria, but also from the Balkans and North Africa. Ever since, there have been intense—to put it mildly—debates about how to deal with the influx of people. There is general agreement that the numbers have to be reduced dramatically because even a country like Germany could not handle another million refugees. But there is no realistic plan on the horizon. The question of whether to close the borders or not has become the Gretchenfrage (crucial question) in Germany today. Merkel is isolated, both in Europe and in large parts of Germany’s political circles, and her approval ratings within the population are declining constantly.
After the violent excesses in Cologne, German government failures have come to light, with many asking whether the German state has lost control and if the country is still safe. This impression is fueled by the poor, or embarrassing, performance of German politicians who are more concerned with inner and intra-party rivalries and less so, it seems, with managing this epic task. Worldviews that once seemed permanent do erode, as conservatives show enthusiasm for the rights for women and homosexuals (mainly to pursue their agenda against asylum seekers and illegal immigrants from North Africa) while Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, the head of the Social Democrats (who are normally quite moderate in this regard), went into law and order mode, noting that foreign criminals should be sent to prisons in their country of origin. Furthermore, there is rising xenophobia and increasing attacks on foreigners, while the small but noisy Eurosceptic right-wing anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany reaches 10 percent in polls in the run-up to three regional elections in March. Beyond all that, the public debate is getting nasty: Lügenpresse (lying press), a slur popular during the Nazi era, has come into vogue again in right-wing circles, while a former Interior Minister is accusing public broadcasters of operating a “cartel of silence.” Supporters of Merkel’s open door policy are defamed as goody-goody/starry-eyed idealists, while the “Nazi card” is played to silence critics, even if they do not belong to the ever-growing group of ring-wing conspiracy theorists who link everything to a secret world government like the Freemasons or Bilderberger. All this does not describe the “best country in the world,” but rather a country very much in conflict with itself.
The crucial point here is that the diagnostic value of rankings like the “best country” classification has to be treated with caution. That is precisely because they do not sample hard facts but rather people’s opinions or images of a country. And as German public relations scholar Michael Kunczik reminds us, “the image of a certain nation exists in many people purely as affect with no knowledge basis whatsoever.” In the case of Germany, this mismatch becomes strikingly clear at the moment; what others, for whatever reasons, like about us at the moment—(still) showing a soft side in the refugee crisis—is exactly what leads to the heated and quite uneasy atmosphere in the country. And this is something that the “best country” ranking does not reflect, not at all.

Quotable: The John Hay Initiative on "gaps in our foreign and defense policy toolkits"

Friday, February 5th 2016
“The challenges that American national security policy has encountered in recent years have also revealed some significant gaps in our foreign and defense policy toolkits.  Three particularly acute needs [include] . . . building an institutional ability to wage ideological warfare, especially the battles of ideas against jihadism and the propaganda of expansionist authoritarian regimes such as Russia and China.”  Thus closed the final chapter of the John Hay Institute’s report, Choosing to Lead: American Foreign Policy for a Disordered World, issued in September, 2015.  It is “dedicated to the next President of the United States.”

The John Hay Initiative was founded in 2013 by Eliot Cohen, Eric Edelman, and Brian Hook.  A “volunteer network of over 250 foreign policy, defense, and intelligence experts,” it has “countered the neo-isolationist strains of thought in both of our major political parties by articulating and defending conservative internationalism. . . . It emphasizes the importance of self-confident American leadership to secure our country, foster international peace and economic prosperity, strengthen our friends, and uphold values of liberty and the rule of law.”

The 284-page report opened with an introduction by Cohen, Edelman, and Hook, followed by chapters on “Rebuilding American Alliances,” “National Defense,” “Addressing Threats to National Security,” “China,” “International Economics,” and “Functional Challenges” (which include cyber deterrence, intelligence, nuclear threats, energy security, international organizations, development, and democracy and human rights).  The final chapter is “Organizing for Success: implementing an effective foreign policy.”

My cursory word search of the full report may provide an indicator of the authors’ sense of priorities.  There are 22 mentions of “diplomacy” but only one for “public diplomacy.”  Here are tallies for some other keywords:  exchanges 0, Fulbright 1, broadcasting 2, information (non-IT) 2, information warfare 2, culture 3, soft power 5, social media 6, message or messaging 6, propaganda 13, and ideology 26.

Perhaps must informative for Public Diplomacy is the book’s final chapter, “Organizing for Success,” written by Peter Feaver and Will Inboden.  Feaver now teaches at Duke University, but he served on the NSC staff in the Clinton and Bush43 administrations.  Inboden, now at the University of Texas, also served on the NSC staff and at the State Department. 

Foreign Service officers who mostly served at embassies and consulates will find the discussion of the size and organization of the National Security Council staff over several administrations to be informative, I am confident.  So will the discussion of the relationship between White House principals and executive departments and agencies.  The chapter closes with a few specific thoughts of interest that relate to Public Diplomacy:

  • The challenges that American national security policy has encountered in recent years have also revealed some significant gaps in our foreign and defense policy toolkits.

  • Three particularly acute needs are improving our Military Assistance Programs for training and equipping foreign fighters; developing a permanent stability-operations capacity that harnesses civilian and military power for failing states and post-conflict situations; and building an institutional ability to wage ideological warfare, especially the battles of ideas against jihadism and the propaganda of expansionist authoritarian regimes such as Russia and China.

  • The Cold War stands as the high-water mark of American engagement in the contest of ideas, with dedicated institutions such as the United States Information Agency, numerous broadcasting entities, and active participation by the intelligence community in covert information warfare—all of which contributed to countering communist ideology and enhancing America’s reputational power. Countering our various ideological adversaries today may not entail replicating the USIA, but it should entail building new institutions and capabilities (including reforming or scrapping the feckless Broadcasting Board of Governors) adapted to the challenges of 21st-century information warfare.

Quotable: Michael Rubin on sports diplomacy

Friday, February 5th 2016
News of a hockey tournament with retired NHL players slated for March in Pyongyang – “a charity event to raise money for sports equipment for disabled North Korean athletes” -- prompted Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute to challenge some of the comfortable assumptions about “sports diplomacy.”  His essay, “Is Engaging North Korea ‘Innocuous’?” was posted to the Commentary magazine website on January 31, 2016.  For details of the hockey tournament, see the full article by Kent Boydston of the Peterson Institute for International Economics – and a back-and-forth between Rubin and Boydston -- here.  These are some of Rubin’s key points on sports diplomacy in general:

  • First, does sporting diplomacy really break barriers or come without a cost? The record is spotty.

  • Take Jesse Owens’ record at the 1936 Berlin Olympics: Certainly, an African-American winning four gold medals at games hosted by Nazi Germany undercut Adolf Hitler’s racial theories, but it did nothing in reality to delegitimize Hitler in the eyes of the German masses; quite the contrary, the 1936 Olympics became a propaganda triumph for Hitler, Nazism, and the idea of a resurgent Germany.

  • As for the “ping-pong diplomacy” . . . ? That actually followed months of secret talks — diplomacy preceded sports, not the other way around.

  • When Iran’s soccer team triumphed over the United States in the 1998 World Cup, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei congratulated Iran’s team, saying, “Tonight, again, the strong and arrogant opponent felt the bitter taste of defeat at your hands,” hardly a sign that the match had furthered peace.

  • The Sochi Olympics became a testament to Putinism and, as former chess Grand Master turned democracy activist Garry Kasparov discussed in his new book, Winter is Coming, an opportunity for massive graft to enrich Putin and his close allies.

  • Back to North Korea: Pyongyang seldom agrees to international initiatives, so it is worthwhile to consider why, when it comes to the occasional athletic exhibition, it agrees readily. The reason, as military historian and POW activist Mark Sauter notes, is “not because they care about their ‘disabled hockey players’ or international sportsmanship. They agree to such events for two main reasons: acquiring Western currency and producing agitprop designed to support regime propaganda themes. On the margin, such events typically make the regime stronger and its opponents weaker.”

  • The notion that, as Boydston suggests, “in the big picture these kind of engagement activities are fairly innocuous,” might be conventional wisdom in the State Department and among those who see the world in the more sterile terms of economics and trade, but to write-off the cynical motivation of totalitarian dictators or see such exchanges as cost-free is both naïve and destructive.