Wednesday, February 11, 2009

February 11

"'State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda' feels like an introduction to Holocaust Museum 2.0."

--Headline in The Washington Post; link to Holocaust Museum


Clinton State Department Looks To Boost Online Presence: As Public Diplomacy Moves To The Internet, The Agency Is Trading Message Control For Broader Reach - Amy Harder, National Journal: “While face-to-face diplomacy will always be a mainstay at the State Department, the increasing ubiquity of the Internet is pushing the agency to follow its audience online.

In a handful of recent online efforts, the department has beg[u]n to explore the opportunities and limitations of its newest medium of engagement.”

The State Department's Online Ventures - Amy Harder, National Journal: “[A] rundown of some of the more innovative ways the State Department is aiming to engage the international community via the Internet.” Cites; ExchangesConnect; Alliance of Youth Movements; Digital Outreach Team.

Clocking Government Internet Traffic: Let The Races Begin - Alvin Snyder, Public Diplomacy Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: “Bulging with stats, there is something for everyone in … website popularity rankings, open for interpretation as one may wish. Imagine what fun a detractor of Radio Sawa could have by noting that the Arabic radio service of the U.S. government ranks number 27,863. … Ranked higher … is the news site of the Voice of America, 1,598, better than al Jazeera English, but not as well as al Jazeera’s Arabic-language website,, ranked at 723. … America’s website for its Arabic-language broadcasting channel, Al Hurra, which also has English-language translation, is ranked down at 146,501, with more than 1.5 million page views in January 2009- well ahead of Al-Arabiya’s website’s ranking of 531,656. It was Al-Arabiya TV that conducted Barack Obama’s first formal TV interview as U.S. President.”

The Pause That Refreshes: Some Thoughts on Obama and Public Diplomacy - John Brown, Notes and Essays: “[W]hat we don't need, above all, are Bush-like loudspeakers, on the internet or elsewhere, cheerleading the global masses into going gah-gah over the 'land of the free and the home of the brave’ or leading the charge in a so-called endless ‘war on terror’ against the ‘islamofascists.’ The world will welcome such a lowering of our government's voice. It will be a pause truly refreshing to humankind, far more, I would venture to say, than Coca Cola itself.” Article also posted at History News Network.

Resetting US Public Diplomacy – John Burgess, Crossroads Arabia: "Arab Media & Society runs an essay by Amb. Bill Rugh, a now-retired Public Diplomacy practitioner ... . Rugh takes a look at how the function of Public Diplomacy—particularly that directed toward the Arab world—has been downgraded since 1999, when the US Information Agency (USIA) was dismantled and merged into the US Department of State. The essay … suggests changes for the Obama Administration that would serve to honestly promote the United States and explain its policies abroad. It is worth reading in full. Rugh, in my opinion, does not go far enough. … Public Diplomacy needs to be separated from the bureaucracy of State Department, not just buffed up a bit."

Toward the forced marriage of news and propaganda - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "Ambassador Rugh cites [in above-mentioned article], in his list of Alhurra's failures, that it is perceived to be 'biased propaganda.' In the very next sentences, he calls for US international broadcasting to combine advocacy with reportage. He has found the problem, and the problem is the model of international broadcasting that he advocates. Some US public diplomacy experts do not understand how international broadcasting works. The audience for international broadcasting does understand how international broadcasting works. They are seeking the antidote to the propaganda they get from their state controlled domestic media. The audience offers this proposition to international broadcasters: give us independent, objective, balanced, credible news, and we will listen to your station or watch your channel. Try to mix news with propaganda, like [sic] our own media do, and we will tune elsewhere."

An initial approach to public diplomacy from a Mexican perspective – César Corona, Public diplomacy from a Mexican perspective: “Welcome to this blog about public diplomacy. It is published by an International Relations student, who recently graduated from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. …

In Mexico, public diplomacy is a new subject that is frequently mistaken for open diplomacy or citizen participation in international relations, among other issues. … From my point of view, actions of the Mexican Government abroad do[es] not fulfil the concept of public diplomacy, specifically because its communication with foreign publics is not bidirectional.”

An intact public diplomacy - Hürriyet, Turkey: “[I]n today’s world, diplomacy can only be meaningful and efficient if it goes hand in hand with public diplomacy.”

A Big Mouth With Little Legs - Roland Oliphant, Indian Express: “There is little doubt that Kashmir is moving towards normalcy. But in public diplomacy, the timing and symbolism of any action is of prime importance. The election of a young and charismatic chief minister, a new administration in Washington, a favourable international climate, and unprecedentedly low levels of violence provide the perfect moment to enact a plan for the demilitarisation of Kashmir.”

Iran's Islamic Revolution and Its Future - Abbas Maleki, Payvand's Iran News ... “The current tensions surrounding Iran's nuclear program could ease if Tehran were to adopt a three-pronged strategy: normalizing its nuclear file through greater cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); carrying out cost/benefit analyses for its nuclear industry; and using public diplomacy more effectively to present its intentions and performance.”

Head of Kazakhstan mission to NATO meets Sec Gen of Alliance - Kazinform, Kazakhstan: ”[C]ooperation [with NATO] in prevention of emergencies, scientific programs, public diplomacy and in other spheres has significantly developed.”

To Stimulate, or not? - Cascajun:
“James K. Glassman, the former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, has an excellent piece in Commentary Magazine that addresses the debate over the merits of economic stimulus. In his piece, Glassman assserts that ‘we have learned almost nothing about the use of fiscal stimulus since the Great Depression, and it is a fatal conceit to assume that we can hurriedly construct a fiscal policy that will produce the prescribed results today.’" LEFT IMAGE: Mr. Glassman's book on the stock market.


Gentler approach challenges anti-US regimes, analysts say: 'Great Satan' image suffers under Obama - Bryan Bender, Boston Globe:

The new American president, who has tried to strike a more conciliatory tone toward some of America's most intractable adversaries, may be making inroads into reducing anti-American feeling in some distant corners of the globe. In response, some of the most anti-American governments, along with the leaders of terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and Hamas, are testing out their own strategy for dealing with Obama: asserting that he's no different from George W. Bush and insisting that US policies won't change.

Hillary’s incredible, shrinking role - Dick Morris, The Hill: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is finding that her job description is dissolving under her feet, leaving her with only a vestige of the power she must have thought she acquired when she signed on to be President Obama’s chief Cabinet officer. VIA MC

Afghanistan: war on demand: Twenty years ago next Sunday, February 15, the last Soviet soldiers marched out of Afghanistan. The longest ‘hot’ conflict of the Cold war was over, but the spin wasn’t - Evgeny Belenkiy, RT: Usually media spin precedes a war to make it acceptable to general public, then goes on during the war in order to hail victories, hush down the failures and spread disinformation that affects the enemy, and then stays on for a while after the war, to reaffirm the planted ideas about the rights and wrongs of the conflict in the minds of the public.

Hitler's Terrible Weapon: Publicity - Philip Kennicott, Washington Post: The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has just opened a major new exhibition devoted to propaganda. In many ways, "State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda" feels like an introduction to Holocaust Museum 2.0. The $3.2 million exhibition is one of the largest and most ambitious in years, and certainly the most technologically slick in recent memory.

Double Take - Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog I STILL keep track of Condoleezza's hairdo so you don't have to: PHOTO:

COMMENT: "OK, so I'm doing my usual thing, hangin' out, feelin' free, performing Google News searches for the term Condoleezza, and then I'm totally, all, What? Salman Rushdie is dating Condi? Hello? And then I was all, like, Nuh-uh, he's dating the actress* who plays Condi! The one who gives Will Ferrell a lap dance on Broadway! And then I was all, like, OMG, whatever."


Anonymous said...

Much is made of how State, specifically the three disparate bureaus in R, is so slow to adopt the "new" communication applets made available via the Internet. Sadly, very little is said about why. There seems to be an assumption that it's caused by a lack of tech know-how combined with miles of red tape, yet the few stories covering the DoS forays into "web 2.0" mainly speak to a dreadful lack of meaningful content, not how much cool stuff is used.
When the three parts of R, which generally seem as cooperative as the three main factions in Iraq, are finally given their parts in a cohesive mission; when professional communicators are placed into the second and third tiers (AS, DAS); and when R is no longer the last in line at the department's resource and decision-making table, then those still around who remember how to provide content of actual interest and use to the rest of the world can get to work. When (if) that happens, much of the deliver will be done by others. Such content is still occasionally extruded by the International Information Bureau, and is then picked up by many on the outside, but that seems to be what leaks out past the apparatchik when they're busy flogging their minions to "blog about something!".

If the new administration fails to place a strong, seasoned leader at the head of R, it will again send the message that how the citizens of other countries see the US is not all that important. That will mean that the propaganda that is approved will all use "push" technology, because no one will want to "pull" it.

César Corona said...

Dear Mr. John Brown:

Thank you very much for the kind message you left in my blog (Public diplomacy from a Mexican perspective) and for including here some comments about what I write there.

I have been reading your blog ever since and I find it very useful. I will add a link from my blog to recommend it.

Yours sincerely,

Cesar Corona