Friday, October 31, 2008

October 31

“I have been always fascinated by the cleverness of the American propaganda techniques, in that very case I find it amazing that they actually announce it.”

--Russian blogger axinia

"Very strange story out of Washington. . . . The Secret Service, they arrested a man who climbed over the White House fence. True story. Yeah. The Secret Service told the man: 'Get back here, Mr. President, you have two more months.'"

--Talk show host Conan O'Brien


Petraeus Proposed Visiting Syria: VP Refused him Permission – Josh, Syria Comment: Blog quotes a report by James Denselow, Guardian, Thursday October 30: “The bad cop decision to conduct a special forces raid into Syria appears to be rapidly backfiring. Indeed the decision by Washington to offer no public diplomacy has allowed the Syrians, perhaps the least media friendly of all Middle Eastern states, to control the agenda.”

Syria files UN Security Council complaint after US raid - Men's News Daily, CA: “In a press briefing on Tuesday, James K. Glassman, the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, refused to comment on the raid. The United States Department of State (DoS) has issued no official comment.”

US-Lebanon relations 'robust' and 'growing' – [United States ambassador to Lebanon, Michele] Sison: Ambassador describes America's efforts to help build this country's institutions - Nicholas Kimbrell, Daily Star: “Q: Going back to non-military aid, are there any programs that you would like to highlight? A: In the last two years there's now been, we're talking about $1.3 billion. So about 40 percent of that is on the security side, which means that the other 60 percent is in economic growth, education, support for civil society, support to women's groups, scholarship programs, exchange programs ...These are the enduring people-to-people ties that knit this relationship together and this is really the bread and butter of what a large part of the team here is involved in through the Middle East Partnership Initiative exchanges and programs, through a variety of democracy and humans rights funded programs, through the public diplomacy program. Q: I'm interested by the State Department's interest in a free and independent media in Lebanon. Are there any specific programs? A: There've been a number of journalist training programs as well as exchanges where journalists go to the United States ...”

McComack statement: US playing with people's minds - Peter Chimutsa, Zimbawe Guardian: “Dear Editor: I was shocked to read the latest statement by Sean McComack of the US Department of State with regards to Zimbabwe. This public diplomatic approach of the US is now getting ridiculous. How can a country that has imposed sanctions on a country be concerned about the suffering people? What rank hypocrisy!”

Attaching real purpose to US foreign aid - Steven W. Barnes, Daily Star, Lebanon: “In its waning months, the Bush administration has mapped out a communications and outreach strategy designed to win the so-called 'war of ideas' against Al-Qaeda and related groups, and the candidates, their advisers, and independent analysts have outlined plans, proffered advice, and published reports detailing how to more broadly improve US public diplomacy efforts. But what has been missing - or, more accurately, under-emphasized - on the road to November 4 is the role America's economic and political development programs may play in forging stronger ties between foreign publics and the US. Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, pointed out in a recent paper, ‘International Development Assistance for Health: Ten Priorities for the Next President,’ that the World Health Organization estimates that tens of millions of lives would be saved worldwide with moderate increases in foreign aid.”

America Defends Itself on the InternetKommersant: "A briefing was held in Washington on Tuesday on 'U.S. Public Diplomacy and the War of Ideas.' Under Secretary of State James Glassman spoke about the work of 'digital outreach teams' that will work to improve the image of the United States and fight extremist propaganda on the Internet. Those teams may begin activity on the Russian-language segment of the Internet. They were set up a few years ago to combat myths and disinformation on Arabic-language blogs and ‘talk about American policy, correct mistakes that are being made, and refer people back to factual documents’ . … The digital teams work in Arabic, Farsi and Urdu now, but Glassman said the hiring of Russian-language specialists is under consideration. Russian officials have not officially reacted to that possibility. Russian bloggers are discussing it very actively, however.”

US starts the “war of ideas” on Russian Internet - axinia, 1000petals…Open a new petal every day!: “And now they are focusing on Russia. After the terror-suspected Arabic, Persian, and Urdu-speaking nations, US Department of State has officially launched the 'war of ideas' on Russian Internet. … extremism. How does it exactly work? The members of the Digital Outreach Team enter into digital conversations online either on other people’s blogs or other websites. Apparently they identify themselves as working for the United States Government and they are participating in the conversation. (I wonder if they will always do that!?). Russian bloggers notice that the 'agents' not merely discuss the American policy, but express their keen interest in the bloggers themselves, their connections, their mood… Basically being very ‘caring guys.’"

Знак предсказанной неуправляемости - "война идей" / A sign of predicted mismanagement - "the war of ideas" - Nikolay Kryachkov, blog - ”In 2002 I said about text viruses as the method of war in intellectual (knowledge based) socioeconomic type where subject of work is human being (thinking), result of work is behavior (actions), object of capital's competition is educational programmes (health, knowledge). … James K. Glassman speaks about the 'universal values such as tolerance'. But how to connect tolerance and war? It looks like spreading text viruses (contradictive activity).”

Somalia: Why VOA Re-established its service in Somalia - Abdullahi Mohamed, Geeska Afrika, Somalia: "Former US Ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn, speaking 'Islam and Conflict in the Horn of Africa,' said it is vital to reorient US approaches to the region. He called for greater public diplomacy (people-to-people) efforts and radio broadcasts in more languages that will reach a wider audience. With Arabic the principal language in Sudan and spoken widely along the Red Sea and Indian Ocean coasts, Shinn said, 'it is inexplicable' that the US government's principal overseas radio broadcaster, the Voice of America (VOA), no longer broadcasts in the language. Instead, VOA's Arabic language service has been supplanted by 'Radio Sawa,' a VOA commercial enterprise that 'focuses on the Middle East and reportedly does not even reach the Horn of Africa,' she explained. Given the interests of the United States in dealing with terrorism in the region, Shinn said, 'it is equally inexplicable that the Voice of America has not yet established a service in Somali, a language spoken throughout Somalia/Somaliland and parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.'"

The Great Pumpkin — A Halloween Look At U.S. Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting – QuoVadis, & Free Media Online Blog: “If, as the polls indicate, Senator Biden becomes our next vice-president, election eve, particularly for international broadcasters yet employed by the U.S. government, could conjure up some mighty frightening figures and events from the past. Although known more for his verbal gaffes, Senator Biden has a foreign policy gaffe or two in his portfolio, most prominently, responsibility for the dissolution of the U.S. Information Agency in the late ’90’s and the ‘reorganization’ of international broadcasting after the Cold War with the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act.”

How We Almost Killed Public Diplomacy – Broadnax, World-Wide-Matel: “The golden age of public diplomacy came during the Cold War. Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were effective alternative media for those countries trapped behind the Iron Curtain. The government also created the United States Information Agency (USIA) to carry out a broad range of information programs. Republican and Democratic Administrations supported this. … When 9/11 happened … we found that we no longer had enough wing tips on the ground overseas and a decade of neglect had allowed our network of contacts to atrophy. … Rebuilding American diplomatic capacity began soon after 9/11. … It will be a good time to look for a job in the Foreign Service, but our government will be paying for mistakes of the 1990s for the next ten years.”

Making Diplomacy Public – Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: “It is essential the public, both foreign and domestic, be realized as central to the enduring psychological struggle of minds and wills. They are not only the target the persuasion from information activities to cultural and educational exchanges, but the agents of influence themselves.”

Two Public diplomacy reports you probably haven’t read - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner:“Two reports I wanted to throw out into the wild for discussion. I’ll discuss more later post. Brand Sweden: The road to an updated image of Sweden abroad. … The Public Diplomacy Of Other Countries:Implications For The United States [1979].”

Marketing Uncle Sam - Nina, Nina in Washington „Das Image der USA im Ausland ist – um es glimpflich auszudrücken – am Boden. George W. Bush hat seinen erheblichen Teil dazu beigetragen. Die Lösung des Problems heißt Public Diplomacy. Bei einer Buchvorstellung samt Panel Diskussion versuchten Public Diplomacy Experten darzulegen, wie das Image im Ausland auf Vordermann gebracht werden kann, und (dank meinem Beitrag zur Diskussion) welche Auswirkungen das Ergebnis der Präsidentschaftswahl auf das Image hat.“

花薄ビルを囲みて揺れにけり- maple 217, ニューヨー句: Mention of public diplomacy.

ACLU names diplomat S.C. executive directorState, SC: “The American Civil Liberties Union today announced the appointment of Victoria Middleton, a career U.S. diplomat, as the new executive director of its South Carolina office. … Middleton, a graduate of Pennsylvania’s Bryn Mawr College and the University of California at Berkeley, spent 21 years as a public diplomacy officer for the State Department. In that role, she worked to advance U.S. policies and promote mutual understanding in the Philippines, India, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Finland.”

ABOVE MURALS FROM: Digital Art Brings Back WWII Propaganda -- With a Twist: St. Louis artist Mark Florida re-imagines World War II propaganda through a modern lens in a photography and digital media exhibit at phd, a gallery at 2300 Cherokee Street by Philip Hitchcock.


Could an Obama Win Restore America's Global Image? Obama Candidacy Helps Revive America's Sagging Image Abroad - Lara Setrakian, ABC News: If the world could vote, Barack Obama would win by a landslide. Via

Security Should Be the Deciding Issue - Frederick W. Kagan, Wall Street Journal: "The next president will not break the string of fighting presidents. He will inherit two ongoing wars involving more than 180,000 troops. He will face two global enemies -- al Qaeda and Iranian terror networks, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps/Quds Force and Hezbollah. The world today offers no reason for Americans to feel safe. If we want safety, we have to be ready to fight for it.

How They Would Lead - David Von Drehle, Time: The extraordinary powers of the presidency await either Barack Obama or John McCain. So do a grim national mood and a challenging global order. McCain photo from

Making Excuses for Obama: The mythology of good intentions – Justin Raimondo, Those who are working to effect a fundamental change in American foreign policy have a duty to take Obama at his word -- hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.

U.S. agencies wait for bin Laden message - United Press: What Happens After Election Day? Memo to Progressives for Obama - Joshua Frank, Counterpunch: “Will the antiwar movement work to force Obama to take a softer approach toward Iran? Will they stop the troop increase in Afghanistan? These are but a few of the questions I'd like progressive supporters of Obama to answer.”

U.S. agencies wait for bin Laden message - UPI: U.S. intelligence agencies expect al-Qaida to release a message from Osama bin Laden just before or after next week's presidential election, ABC News reports. Sources told ABC that intelligence analysts believe bin Laden's followers may consider him irrelevant if he is not heard from at such a critical time.

Duplicity in Damascus : The complicated relationship between Syria and al Qaeda - David Schenker, Weekly Standard: Support for terrorism appears to be intrinsic to the regime. Given this dynamic, U.S. diplomacy with Damascus stands little chance of success.

New tack with the Taliban - Editorial, Boston Globe: The best way of reducing the Taliban threat to manageable proportions is to divide and conquer: Pull independent local commanders away from the fanatical true believers of the Taliban, and subtract as many tribal groups as possible from the orbit of Al Qaeda. If successful, this is the strategy most likely to accommodate the interests not only of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States, but also of more indirectly concerned countries such as India, Russia, and Iran.

Expanding War, Contracting Meaning: The Next President and the Global War on Terror - Andrew J. Bacevich, TomDispatch:
The Global War on Terror has effectively ceased to exist. When it comes to national security strategy, we need to start over from scratch.

Presidential Candidates Inspire Wave Of Pop ArtNPR: No other presidential election cycle has matched this year in terms of visual propaganda and paraphernalia. The use of political images can shape not only elections but an entire cultural sensibility. For analysis, Farai Chideya speaks with two experts on the subject: Deborah Willis -- professor of photography and imaging at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts -- and Steven Seidman, chair of the Department of Strategic Communication at Ithaca College in New York. video, "From Hope to Hero: Political Art In Election 2008."

Top 10 Propaganda Videos - Jimmy, Comments for The List Universe

Name the Propaganda – Nathaniel Bluedorn, The Fallacy Detective News - Here are three videos featuring three propaganda techniques. Can you name them? 1. “Yes We Can” Music Video 2. Vote Different 3. Dear Mr. Obama

Are Americans getting dumber? – Joel Stein, Los Angeles Times: So what if people no longer know state capitals and water boilin'? The age of a finite set of information to master is long over. Instead, we know how to problem-solve and filter information better than our grandparents ever did.


“Finally -- skipping past the wars-in-waiting, which are Syria and Iran -- there is Condi's war. This clash, which does not directly involve U.S. forces, may actually be the most important of all. The war that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has made her own is the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Having for years dismissed the insistence of Muslims, Arabs and non-Arabs alike, that the plight of the Palestinians constitutes a problem of paramount importance, Rice now embraces that view. With the fervor of a convert, she has vowed to broker an end to that conflict prior to leaving office in January 2009.

Given that Rice brings little -- perhaps nothing -- to the effort in the way of fresh ideas, her prospects of making good as a peacemaker appear slight. Yet, as with Bush and Iraq, so too with Rice and the Palestinian problem: she has a lot riding on the effort. If she flops, history will remember her as America's least effective secretary of state since Cordell Hull spent World War II being ignored, bypassed, and humiliated by Franklin Roosevelt. She will depart Foggy Bottom having accomplished nothing."

--Andrew J. Bacevich; See also: John Brown, "'10 Percent Intellectual': The Mind of Condoleezza Rice," PR, Center for Media and Democracy; "Condoleezza Rice: Biographies by Bumiller and Mabry," American Diplomacy

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