Friday, February 20, 2009

February 20

"Today, almost 40% of VOA's Internet users come from the United States.”

--Broadcasting expert Alvin Snyder

"Voice of America ... is legally prohibited from broadcasting within the U.S."

--Ian Derk, COMOPS Journal


Clinton trip puts Asia back on US agendaInternational Relations Articles:

“Washington's disregard and strategic neglect of Asia - epitomised by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's repeated absence from high-level ministerial meetings - gave China an opportunity to launch a diplomatic 'charm offensive' and gain political capital among regional allies. Clinton's trip signifies an appreciation of Asia's diplomatic culture, which values face-time and presence, and will be crucial to fostering a more balanced US foreign policy. … One of the many lessons learned from the Bush administration is that military force alone is insufficient to counter terrorists and their radical ideology. Clinton's decision to go to Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, underscores how serious Obama is about enhancing US public diplomacy and outreach efforts in the Muslim world.” Photo from Huffington Post

Awesome Redux! – Charles J. Brown, Undiplomatic: Re Hillary Clinton’s appearance on Indonesian television: “In all seriousness, this isn’t a bad bit of public diplomacy — appear on a program popular with young Indonesians and talk about the importance of good U.S-Indonesian relations, in the process using your own experiences to explain the relevance of the American experience to what is happening there.”

Winning the Hearts And Minds of Muslims – Steve York
Takoma Park, Letter to the Editor, Washington Post: “Ms. Clinton seems to think that America's estrangement from many of the world's Muslims is an image or public relations problem. In her remarks [in Tokyo], she cited the challenge of 'how to better communicate . . . what we stand for and who we truly are.' Does she not understand that the problem is not ‘who we are’ but what we do? Instead of another wasted public relations offensive, why not withdraw U.S. support for authoritarians and abusers of human rights in the Muslim world and elsewhere?”

Durban II – Martin Peretz, New Republic: “The first full-fledged exercise in accommodating our international antagonists so they might accommodate us is now playing itself out in Geneva where the planning for Durban II is taking place. … Maybe [UN] Ambassador Rice should have been sent.

Apparently, that the U.S. should attend this pre-extravaganza extravaganza was her cause. But there is no indication that she wanted to be directly saddled with the costs of going herself. She certainly grasped what the likely results would be. My guess, moreover, is that, contrary to the right-wing blogoshpere, Samantha Power was not especially hot on this experiment in public diplomacy. … Durban II will be chaired by Libya, with its co-chairs being filled by Cuba, Pakistan, Iran etc. Do you have confidence in this group? In any event, the preparatory documents are already out. They are horrendous.” On the Durban conference, see

International Service and the Obama Administration - David L. Caprara, Brookings Institution: “David Caprara, the director of Brookings’s Initiative on International Volunteering and Service, explores the administration’s agenda in this Q&A. … Q: The Obama administration has expressed an interest in establishing an ‘America’s Voice Initiative’ to utilize Americans with foreign language skills for public diplomacy efforts, and to increase opportunities for older individuals to serve overseas in volunteer capacities. What would these types of efforts mean for America volunteer and service programs overall? [A:]The Administration’s America’s Voice Initiative and multilateral approach to service signal a new direction that place greater emphasis on ‘track two diplomacy’ and smart power assets represented in our nation’s greatest diplomats – our volunteers. Our project policy team and national advisors will continue shaping policy options that could make multi-lateral service a reality.”

US senator urges Somalia policy overhaul – AFP, posted at US President “Barack Obama must urgently seize the opportunity to help Somalia’s new leaders unite their strife-torn country under the rule of law, a senator said in a letter released Thursday. ‘The need to develop and implement a new approach is urgent,’ Democratic Senator Russ Feingold told Obama in a letter dated February 13, urging the new US president to break with predecessor George W. Bush’s approach. Feingold, an outspoken Bush critic, urged Obama ‘to consider making a public, unequivocal statement that you intend to make a clear break from past policies toward Somalia.’ ‘I believe doing so could make a tremendous impression on ordinary Somalis and greatly advance US public diplomacy efforts in the Horn of Africa and across the Muslim world,’ he said.”

Part Two: Clocking Government Internet Traffic: Let The Races Begin - Alvin Snyder, Public Diplomacy Blog, University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy:

“The Voice of America has one of the most popular Internet news websites in the world, and in the United States as well, based on website page turns and user reach. … [A]lthough its news website is one of the most popular in the U.S., it [VOA] was not intended to be heard in the U.S., as the Congress's Smith-Mundt Act banned domestic dissemination of such information intended for audiences abroad in 1948. Today, almost 40% of VOA's Internet users come from the United States."

Wanted: a public diplomacy director who blows a lot of smoke - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "Under USIA, VOA was subject to pendulum swings of leadership favoring policy advocacy or favoring independent journalism.The peculiar notion that it is possible to mix news and public diplomacy is the main reason the United States may never succeed at either."

International broadcasting can be strategic communication. Or it can have an audience - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: “US international broadcasting cannot be autonomous if it is not under an independent, bipartisan board.”

Recurring theme: VOA jazz memories - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Amazing Appointment — Chas Freeman as NIC Chairman – Jim Lobe, “[I]t appears that Chas Freeman has been appointed chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), the body that is charged by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) with synthesizing the analyses of the entire U.S. intelligence community and producing National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) … .

For a taste of both his rhetorical style and his politics, see, for example, this speech he gave to the U.S. Information Agency Alumni Association two years ago or, better yet, this one to the Pacific Council on International Policy in October 2007 in which he says: … ‘Israel and the United States each have our reasons for what we are doing, but no amount of public diplomacy can persuade the victims of our policies that their suffering is justified, or spin away their anger, or assuage their desire for reprisal and revenge.’”

Travelers as ambassadors – Scott Gilbertson, Vagablogging:“Audrey Scott, who has some background in formal diplomacy, talks about how travelers impact locals’ perceptions. ‘We impact the people who normally fall outside the range of formal diplomacy and intellectual exchanges… Perhaps the interconnectedness of today’s international travelers can help close the gap between formal programs and the hearts and minds of ordinary people.’ … I’m curious to hear what fellow vagablogging reader[s] think. Is Scott right when she suggests that 'traditional diplomats and traditional public diplomacy are critical, but maybe it’s time to augment the set of tools in our country’s diplomatic toolbox?' Do you see yourself as a supplement to formal ambassadors abroad? Or are you just happy to travel and do what comes naturally while on the road?”

More speculation about the new PD undersecretary (updated) - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy:

“[A] problem for me is that the State Department has no bureau or division of public diplomacy. It's just an unnamed bunch of offices under the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Given that the activities of public diplomacy are so closely linked to the State Department and the U.S. embassies, perhaps the solution is an entity like USAID, 'an independent federal government agency that receives overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State.' The head of USAID is called Administrator. That's not as crisp as Director, but better than Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Other agencies are headed by an Administrator, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency. But the Peace Corps has a Director.”

The conversation - Marc Lynch, Independent: “Strategic communications is about control: dominating the information battlefield, shaping the message, defeating the enemy. Traditional public diplomacy is about relationships: building trust, creating networks, establishing credibility. This requires a longer-term outlook, where nurturing a free and independent media in which a variety of voices, friendly and hostile, can compete on an even playing field is more important than momentary tactical information dominance. … A new model for public diplomacy is required, and it should be based not on spinning or marketing bad policies to hostile audiences, but on helping to shape policies that genuinely take into account common ideas and interests. … The traditional instruments of public diplomacy can and should be enhanced, particularly to reach millions of Arab and Muslim youth. Exchange programmes should be encouraged and visa problems dealt with more effectively, while more funding should go to support English-language instruction, libraries and speaker series in Muslim countries.”

Public, Private Sector Leaders to Present Administration with Recommendations 'To Restore Public Diplomacy as Vital, Viable Element of Smart Power' – Press Release, PRNewswire-USNewswire, posted on

“Some seventy men and women, representing a broad spectrum of public diplomacy stakeholders and practitioners, are calling on the Administration and Congress to reinvent and restore public diplomacy as a vital and viable element of 'Smart Power'. The group today issued a set of ten recommendations to guide the new Administration and Congress as they seek to revitalize and adapt public diplomacy in the context of new geopolitical realities and new communications tools. … The meeting was held at the Howard Gilman Foundation's White Oak Conference Center in northern Florida.”

Nothing New in White Oak Recommendations on Public Diplomacy - Steven R. Corman, COMOPS Journal: “Yesterday I participated in a bloggers’ roundtable on the just-released White Oak Recommendations on Public Diplomacy. … . I find nothing to disagree with in these recommendations, but my reaction to them is a strong sense of deja vu. They have been repeated over and over again in an slew of reports published over the last four years. … My point here is not to criticize the conferees or their conclusions. … However this exercise shows (as I have argued before) that our problem is not a lack of understanding or consensus about what needs to be done. Rather it is the operation of some mysterious force in the USG that keeps smart recommendations like the ones in all these reports–including those in the the White Oak report–from being implemented.”

Reinventing America's Public Diplomacy 2009: Step By Step - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View: “The [White Oak] conference was based on widely held views that America's public diplomacy apparatus - a major key to the implementation of ‘smart power’ as it is now configured does not work. The result was a one and one-half page document entitled ‘The White Oak Recommendations on Public Diplomacy’ which has just been released to the media. … If I’ve got it right, the overarching conference goal was to create a consensus that would provide a coherent and concise road-map – as opposed to the innumerable piece-meal recommendations and 30 plus lengthy reports representing various views and interests - for presentation to Congress and the new administration.”

Before You Speak Think About What You’re Trying To Say - Spencer Ackerman, Attackerman: “Last week I reported that Doug Wilson, a veteran of public diplomacy efforts at the defunct U.S. Information Agency and the Pentagon, was passed over for the job of undersecretary of state for public diplomacy by the Obama administration. One interesting thing about Wilson: even though he won't get the position, he helped bring a bunch of diplomats, concerned businessmen, military figures and other national-security heavies to a Florida plantation called White Oak three weeks ago to brainstorm a strategy for public diplomacy. He talked me through the strategy last week on the condition that I couldn't describe it in anything but generic terms. But now the embargo is lifted. After the jump: Wilson and the White Oak conference's public-diplomacy strategy. … What, nothing about Twitter [in the conference report] ? In all seriousness, the State Department officials I spoke with last week for this piece indicated that they wouldn’t be pleased if the Obama administration made a National Security Council staffer the quarterback for public diplomacy. We’ll see what happens after, as expected, Judith McHale is nominated for the undersecretaryship.”

White Oak: We’re going to need a bigger boat (for PD) - Craig Hayden, Intermap: Hayden’s reaction to some of the recommendations of the Howard Gilman Foundation’s White Oak conference center public diplomacy conference.

Networked R&D - Wandren PD: A testing ground for new possibilities: “The ISA panel session; Bridging the gap between theory and practice in Public Diplomacy provided a useful opportunity to discuss how links could be strengthened between academics and practitioners. Accepting the premise that there is a gap between academics and practitioners I considered the means to create a bridge for theoretical perspectives to enter practice, and equally for the reverse to occur.”

Center on Public Diplomacy examines Olympics through worldwide lens - Lara Levin, USC Annenberg News, University of Southern California: "As part of its conference series, the USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School united scholars from across the country for a Jan. 30 symposium titled The 2008 Beijing Olympics: Public Policy Triumph or Public Relations Spectacle?. After presentations on the international and domestic politics, economy legacy, and the role of the media in the Games, the common feeling among all panelists of varying disciplines was one of anticipation for the future of China in face of numerous challenges after what the International Olympic Committee called 'an undisputable success.'”

CPD announces the launch of PD MagazineUSC Center on Public Diplomacy: “In February 2009, the Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars at the University of Southern California launched the inaugural issue of PD the world’s first magazine focused exclusively on Public Diplomacy issues.”

Bright Ideas: Mary Dudziak on Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall’s African Journey - Deven Desai, Concurring Opinions: “Professor Dudziak is the Judge Edward J. and Ruey L. Guirado Professor of Law, History and Political Science at the University of Southern California. Her most recent book is Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall’s African Journey (Oxford, 2008). … MARY DUDZIAK: ‘But how did Marshall end up in Kenya? This book [Exporting American Dreams] started with a question that grew out of research on my first book, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy. That work made it clear that American law has played a role in U.S. public diplomacy. The image of American constitutionalism and rights has been important to the construction of American identity around the world (something we learned again the hard way in the era of Abu Ghraib). To focus more on the story of American law in the world, my starting point was simply to follow American lawyers overseas. But then I learned that Thurgood Marshall participated in deliberations on an independence constitution for Kenya. Before long, Marshall’s work in Kenya became the focus of the book.’”

Jennifer Mitzen on Ontological Security, Multilateral Diplomacy, and States’ Addiction to War – Theory Talk #26: Jennifer Mitzen, Theory Talks: “In this Talk, Jennifer Mitzen shows – amongst others – how the most important thing seems to be not the nature of state relations but rather their stability, and, in this line of thought, she probes into the history of multilateral diplomacy to show how it provokes peace for surprising reasons. … [Q:] Anarchy is, for realists, the most structural characteristic of the international system. However, if public diplomacy matters, couldn’t one argue that there is no anarchy between states? [A:] It depends on what we mean by anarchy. If we’re talking about the fact that the use of force is de-centralized and not unified into a world state, then of course there is still anarchy. But when anarchy is defined as a distribution of political authority, namely as the flip side of sovereignty, where sovereignty implies that all political authority is inside the state and none is between them, then whether anarchy exists is an open question.”

NATO's New Public Diplomacy: The Art of Engaging and Influencing - Stefanie Babst, “If governments are to deal effectively with the key foreign policy challenges of our age, they must engage in a new form of public diplomacy: one that combines understanding a given challenge with the ability to mobilize networks and public support to bring about concrete change.”

Youth Summit @ Strasbourg NATO Summit - “NATO in 2020: What lies ahead” - vpedicino, INTA Graduate Advising: “This April, young leaders from across the Atlantic Community will meet on the margins of the 60th Anniversary NATO Summit in Strasbourg for a major event, ‘NATO in 2020: What lies ahead?’ This initiative is being organized under the leadership of NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division and in partnership with the Atlantic Council of the United States, Youth Atlantic Treaty Association, the, l’Ecole Nationale D’Administration (ENA) and l’Office Franco-Allemand pour la Jeunesse (OFAJ).”

Rat Catcher TV – Admin, Thinktank: “Like all international bodies, the European Union is concerned about public diplomacy.

So in order to communicate its message more effectively, the European Parliament launched its own internet-based TV Channel this September – ‘Europarl-TV’. At a cost of €40 million (c. $50 million) over four years, the Parliament’s Vice-President for Information and Communication Policy predicted it would garner an audience of 20-40 million viewers for important debates. Sadly, Bruno Waterfield from the Telegraph has burst the EU’s bubble by revealing that Europarl-TV attracts less than 1,200 viewers per day.”

If China is in economic trouble, bad expectations -
ThinktankWatch: “We have to reinforce the public diplomacy strategy to persuade Chinese officials about the need to increase the reforms towards a more balanced economic system.”

Boy Abunda still refuses to talk about rumored case against John Lapus -Melba Llanera, PEP News Feed: "I'm on my second term, International on Public Diplomacy sa Helena Benitez School of Diplomacy and by March, I'm supposed to defend my thesis. Sa isa naman, I'm doing my ComArts thesis also this March.”


Obama's Supine Diplomacy - Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post: “I would like to think the supine posture is attributable to a rookie leader otherwise preoccupied (i.e., domestically), leading a foreign policy team as yet unorganized if not disoriented.

But when the State Department says that Hugo Chávez's president-for-life referendum, which was preceded by a sham government-controlled campaign featuring the tear-gassing of the opposition, was ‘for the most part . . . a process that was fully consistent with democratic process,’ you have to wonder if Month One is not a harbinger of things to come.”

When the World Knocks at the White House Door
- Robert Dallek, New York Times: Obama will learn, as his predecessors did, that foreign crises are an unavoidable part of the job.

Backsliding on the rule of law? President Obama should immediately free Chinese detainees held at Guantanamo - Our view, Baltimore Sun

The Arab world's (uneven) progress: A knowledge society is budding. But further reform is needed, for the sake of American security, global prosperity, and Arab dignity - Kristin M. Lord, Christian Science Monitor: For the United States and the global community, thriving Arab societies bear the promise of less political instability, less anger and despair, and less animosity toward the West.

Salvaging Afghanistan – Editorial, New York Times: In coming weeks, Mr. Obama will have to grapple with a series of very difficult questions starting with how he will define success in Afghanistan.

Reverse 'oil weapon' on Iran: A card to play against Tehran's drive toward nuclear power - Mark Wallace, Washington Times:Serious countries and businesses must understand that Iran's growing economic isolation is a vital component to a diplomatic solution to the potential atomic standoff.

No 'reset' on Russia yet - Ariel Cohen, Washington Times: The Obama administration's desire to push the "reset" button in relations with Russia is understandable. Were Moscow on board, nuclear disarmament, the stabilization of Afghanistan, and sanctions to deter Iran from going nuclear might be easier to accomplish. However, haste is the enemy of wisdom when it comes to the 200-year relationship between Russia and America.

Last Flight Out of Kyrgyzstan: How the U.S. Lost a Vital Air Base - Baktybek Abdrisaev, Washington Post: Once the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan was established, it became clear that while other concerns might be voiced from time to time, only one thing really mattered: the air base. In the end, this shift served neither country's interests.

Burma's Clenched Fist: Is it time for the United States to reach out to the junta? – Editorial, Washington Post: If the United States is to extend a hand to Burma, that country's tyrants must first relax their grip on power


“The interior minister of a landlocked country

went on to the U.S. Naval Defense University?”

--Broadcasting expert Kim Andrew Elliott, speaking about Ali Ahmad Jalali, the former interior minister of Afghanistan

“Systems that facilitate high-quality content creation and editing are crucial for the Internet's continued growth, because without them we will all sink in a cesspool of drivel.”

---Jonathan Rosenberg, a top executive at Google

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The lobby to bring back USIA is the 'public Diplomacy' most are talking about when the real answer is Air force has already done all this very well. hillary can't work in her retirement to USIP or Hillary school or some other agency or Congressionally funded toy with the USIA lobby, so it has to be something else. Something with the word 'Peace' in it somewhere.

State and other agencies Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs departments won't say anything and refer to FOIA for all queries. This is what State won't fix and is costing the US lots.