Monday, March 23, 2009

March 21-23

"[C]ertainly it’s fair to state that the State Department was involved with the crafting of the message in some fashion. I just can’t tell you how."

--Robert A. Wood, the State Department's Deputy Spokesman and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, regarding President Obama's YouTube message to Iran; image from

“We need to find countries with a mass sports culture. Countries where they play either rugby or Australian Rules Football or soccer … Not places where they play cricket. I would not go there.”

--Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; image from


Iran Disses Obama: No Change Is Seen But Iranian Public Shows Warmer Reaction to U.S. President's Overture - Kirit Radia and Lara Setrakian, ABC News: “The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for evidence of a substantive shift in U.S. policy toward the country, a day after President Barack Obama broadcast a message of goodwill on the occasion of the Persian New Year. …

The cool reception by the top Iranian leader was belied, however, by signs that the Iranian public had responded favorably to an act of public diplomacy that analysts hailed as a potentially watershed moment in U.S.-Iranian affairs. … Obama's message -- especially his emphasis on respect and praise for Persian culture -- was noted and well received by the public. … The coda to Obama's message, a quotation from the poet Saadi, seemed especially resonant with the Iranian public. Traditional poetry is a frequent and revered element of cultural life in Iran.” Image from

Iran to Obama: Less talk, more rock - Passport, Foreign Policy: "So how did Iran respond to U.S. President Barack Obama's midnight overture? Predictably, by kicking him in the teeth. Speaking before an audience of thousands in Mashhad, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said Saturday that 'changes in words' wouldn't be enough to recast the relationship. So far, Khamenei sees more of the same. 'We do not have any record of the new U.S. president,' he told the crowd. 'We are observing, watching and judging. If you change, we will also change our behavior. If you do not change, we will be the same nation as 30 years ago.' [comment by] papicek: 'This was predictable. Is it all that unreasonable that country ‘A’ lift its sanctions on country ‘B’ (or some of them) for relations to develop? Everyone is playing the public diplomacy game here. That goes for both Obama and Khameni.'” Image from

Public Diplomacy with Teheran and direct involvement with the American taxpayer - Toni Muzi Falconi, PR Conversations: “Many in the world today hail the recent Obama video message to the Iranians as a quantum leap to a liberalist, rather than a realist policy of public diplomacy. They even naively stress the Farsi subtitles as authentic proof of good will, as if the Nazis or the Soviets had the habit of distributing propaganda in other countries in the German or Russian language! Here is at least one certainty: Obama is keeping his bold campaign pledge to open a proactive dialogue and a diplomatic drive with the Iranian people and leaders, and he is doing this in a very public way. … [I]t appears that this administration is very much counting on public diplomacy as much as it is evident that Obama is seeking to gather popular support for his highly risky, but again bold and coherent with his electoral platform, economic and social recovery plan at home.” Image from

Iran: Obama's Foreign Policy Failure, Public Diplomacy Success - Public Diplomacy Journal: “In one of the best examples of Public Diplomacy in action, Barack Obama reached out to Iranian leaders through an online video. Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed Obama's invitation to engage in dialogue. While Obama may have failed from a foreign policy perspective, he succeeded in the realm of public diplomacy.“

Foreign Relations Chair applauds Obama Iran video: Jeremy P. Jacobs, The Hill's Blog Briefing Room: “Senate Foreign Relations Chair John Kerry (D-Mass.) on Friday morning applauded President Obama's video address to Iran. 'President Obama's eloquent address to the people and leaders of Iran commemorating Nowruz can be a watershed moment in public diplomacy, with a unique president using the powers of persuasion to great effect,' Kerry said in a statement.”
Image from

Public Diplomacy in Action - Mark Leon Goldberg, UN Dispatch: "President Obama issues a special message to the Iranian people on the occasion of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. Be sure to watch to the end in which President Obama issues a send off in farsi. From the White House. This line, 'The measure of that greatness is not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build and create,' sticks out. Obama seems to be signaling to the Iranian people that he understands that the Iranian nuclear program is a point of national pride. In turn, Obama seems to be showing the rest of us that curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions is going to require more than just pressure on the elites."

Obama’s Nowruz Message: The Limits of Postcard Diplomacy - ganselm, Harry’s Place: “On Friday morning, President Barack Obama released a video to congratulate Iranians around the world on the occasion of the Persian New Year, or 'Nowruz.' BBC Persian’s hugely popular and officially-banned satellite channel has broadcast the message in its entirety to Iran. This video 'postcard' to Iran reflects the new administration’s emphasis on renewing American soft power and public diplomacy to tackle the many foreign policy challenges facing the US and its allies. Politics aside, President Obama’s typically eloquent rhetoric is sure to impress the Iranian masses. And his demonstration of genuine appreciation for the artistic and literary contributions of Persians (he even quotes Saadi!) is a major improvement over George W. Bush’s often culturally tone deaf approach to Iran. Tucked into this warm overture however, was a statement that should alarm all those concerned about the security of Israel, the long-term stability of the Middle East, and the Iranian people’s three decade-long struggle for freedom from theocratic misrule. 'The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations,' Obama declares. 'You have that right.'” Image from

Obama, Iran and the ‘appeasement’ meme - Ron Kampeas, Jewish Telegraphic Agency: “President Obama uses Nowruz, the Iranian new year, to directly appeal to ‘to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,’ but especially the leaders … . The usual suspects are already using the 'appeasement' word … . This seems a little overwrought. A lot overwrought, even.”

Master of Ceremonies - Mark Dillen, Public Diplomacy, Foreign Policy Association: The World Affairs Blog Network: "For all the brainpower that Barack Obama has brought to Washington, the only senior official with the right touch for articulating policy via the media seems to be the President himself. Last week he scored big in two TV firsts — a taped for broadcast greeting to Iran and an appearance on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. Markedly different in content, design and audience, the two appearances displayed Obama’s skills as a communicator." Image from

Obama's Iranian new year video unexclusive - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: “Some inside US international broadcasting are concerned that President Obama did not make this an exclusive for VOA's Persian News Network and/or RFE/RL's Radio Farda -- just as his administration earlier opted to reach Arabs via an interview on Al Arabiya rather than Alhurra. The distribution of this video is actually a good thing for both US public diplomacy and for US international broadcasting. From a public diplomacy standpoint, the Obama administration wanted this message to have the widest possible distribution. There is no better way to do this than to make the video available to a large number of news outlets. These redundancies of distribution are especially important given the vigor with which Iran blocks and jams information from outside its borders.” Image from

Europe and Eurasia: Daily Press Briefing - Press Release -- US State Department: "QUESTION: Robert, on that message [Obama’s YouTube address to Iran], since public diplomacy is what this building does, did the State Department have any input into that message, and do you know who originated the idea for doing it? MR. WOOD [Robert A. Wood, the State Department's Deputy Spokesman and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs]: I don’t know who originated the idea, but obviously the President had an interest in reaching out to Iran, as he has said that he would do. The State Department certainly was aware of the fact that the President was going to, you know, give this message to the Iranian people and its government. So -- QUESTION: But did it help to craft that message, or was it strictly the White House? MR. WOOD: Honestly, I don’t know where – you know, who had a role in providing language or editing it. I don’t know. But you can – certainly it’s fair to state that the State Department was involved with the crafting of the message in some fashion. I just can’t tell you how."

Public Diplomacy: Stop the Solemnity! - John Brown, Huffington Post:

"'[E]ngaging, informing, and influencing key international audiences’ -- the State Department's definition of public diplomacy -- is on Obama's and Clinton's agenda. Consider the president's appearance on Al-Arabiya and YouTube as a way to ‘reboot’ a dialogue with the people of the Middle East and their leaders. And, aside from her own very 'public' recent visit to Asia, we have the statement of the Secretary of State at her Congressional hearing that education is an important tool in societies' development. But 'public diplomacy' -- as a panacea for our government's failure to find support in the outside world for its policies -- has lost its Bush-era luster.” Image from

Clinton Pursues Broad Agenda With Some Key Posts Unfilled - Louise Radnofsky and Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal: “Analysts and lawmakers have expressed concerns that the department needs more high-ranking political staff to carry out its agenda. The holes lie in the ranks of undersecretaries and ambassadors who must be confirmed. Mrs. Clinton still lacks undersecretaries for arms control, economics, public diplomacy and global affairs, as well as a director of U.S. foreign assistance and several assistant secretaries.”

S. 49 Finally some common sense legislation on PD - William Kiehl, My PD Blog: “[T]he next step must be to put the pieces of Public Diplomacy back together again, either as a separate entity under the Secretary of State similar to USAID today or as an independent agency. The latter may be a couple of years away but the former can be done legislatively very easily and at NO repeat NO additional cost to the tax payer.” Photo of William Kiehl from

Call for greater online cultural dialogue - Roland Hughes, The National: "The document, Digital Diplomacy: Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds, was produced by the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, a New York-based think-tank. The co-author of the report, Rita King … [o]n a virtual tour of the Middle East, … said Muslims ‘took us into their virtual communities, houses and mosques, invited us to fatwas, took us on a virtual haj to Mecca, and discussed their perceptions of extremism, integration, creative collaboration and cultural values. … Just as the Obama campaign engaged community movements, government must understand that foreign policy, public diplomacy and strategic communication are no longer determined solely by engagement with traditional elites in the ‘physical’ world.’”

Where is Pakistan Heading? - Farhana Ali, Counterterrorism Blog: “Given the solemn gravity of Pakistan's problems, I offer three solutions: [among them] … c) improve America's image in the region with creative use of the media. Touted as 'public diplomacy' projects, the use of media to counter radicalization is one way to replace feelings of hate and revenge with messages that include respect for self and society.”

Hillary, Human Rights and Tibet – John Pomfret, Pomfret’s China: “[I]f you're going to tweak your human rights policy with China, you probably want to do it quietly. Unconfirmed reports this week that China is engaged in a human rights crackdown have, if anything, reinforced my belief that Clinton's public diplomacy last month was at best premature.

Here's why. First, her pronouncements could embolden the Chinese. China's security services do pay attention to what the United States says publicly. Saying you're going to down play human rights could be interpreted by China as a green light to break heads. Second, announcing that a lot of other issues are more important than human rights (operative Clinton quote: Human rights 'can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crises') makes it harder to raise human rights as an issue when they do become important. You look silly. And your interlocutors won't take you seriously.” Image from

Obama’s Diplomatic Offensive and the Reality of Geopolitics - Reva Bhalla - Tavs Weblog: “At the Geneva NATO summit, Clinton … signaled that the United States might even be willing to throw in a halt to NATO expansion, thereby putting at risk a number of U.S. allies in the former Soviet Union that rely on the United States to protect them from a resurgent Russia. This gesture will set the stage for Obama’s upcoming trip to Russia to meet with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, but the Russians will be watching closely to see if such gestures are being made for the sake of public diplomacy or if the United States really intends to get down to business.”

The U.S. needs to unmix the message in Mexico: When Hillary Clinton visits the country, she needs to clearly state what Washington wants and what it will do - Denise Dresser, Los Angeles Times: “Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow has compared Mexico to a porcupine because of the country's prickly nationalism, and right now its worst symptoms are on full display. …

Mexico's quills are standing straight up, and Clinton will need to placate Mexicans with a good dose of public diplomacy. The best way to accomplish this goal would be to arrive with what has been lacking so far: a clear, unified message from the Obama administration regarding the sort of relationship it wants with Mexico.” Image from

The Death of Public Service: Serve America Act Sends Volunteerism to Hooverville - Brian Brown, WebMemo #2351, Heritage Foundation: “During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama suggested the government create a few new programs for public service in new areas such as public diplomacy and 'green jobs,' use the Internet to make the federal government a central figure in connecting people with service opportunities, and increase government involvement in the nonprofit sector. … Much of this and more has made it into Serve America, which supporters contend makes a statement about the government's dedication to invigorating public service. … These goals are important, because they highlight the bill's real statement about public service, the one that has lurked in the President's rhetoric since the campaign: that public service cannot meet its objectives--and may not even be able to survive--without federal funding.”

Study Abroad Alumni of the World, Unite! To spur greater friendship and understanding worldwide, it's time for an international study abroad alumni organization dedicated to building a community of global citizens - Matthew Cossolotto, press release, “I'm pleased to announce the formation of Study Abroad Alumni International (SAAI), dedicated to building a more peaceful world by fostering international friendship and understanding. … As the organization matures over time, we will undoubtedly take on … projects and perform other important public diplomacy-related functions in various countries -- in cooperation with existing like-minded organizations.”

Assorted VOA memories - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy. Image from

Condoleezza Rice a big hit at NFL meetings: Former Secretary of State invited to speak before ‘NFL family’ – Associated Press, NBC Sports: “Rice praised the NFL for its efforts in internationalizing the game. ‘What the NFL does abroad is a part of public diplomacy,’ she said. ‘To try to use sports and sports diplomacy to present the values we stand for, to give people a little different outlook at what we stand for (as Americans). America’s game, I just know, will be one day an international game of some proportion.’ … She also congratulated Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney for being nominated as ambassador to Ireland.” Image from. See also John Brown, "10 Percent Intellectual: The Mind of Condoleezzza Rice."

The Fo[u]rth Fleet and power projection in the Western Hemisphere - de re militari: “The Center for Strategic and International Studies published a multi-authored monograph last month titled “The Fo[u]rth Fleet: A Tool of U.S. Engagement in the Americas.” … The authors suggest several opportunities for furthering U.S. policy objectives in the region [among them]: 1) The Fourth Fleet can contribute to the pursuit of a smart power strategy for the United States; 2) To reduce the skepticism and negative responses of the United States’ Latin American partners in this hemisphere, SOUTHCOM should coordinate with the Department of State to create a public diplomacy campaign to dispel any further unease about the role and mission of the Fourth Fleet.”

Public diplomacy and the importance of soft power in a complex international system - Magda Dassouki, The New Diplomacy: “An effective promotion of soft power nowadays needs to include a variety of elements from non-state actors to the internet. Public diplomacy can only be effective when the promotion of certain interests can be mutually recognized: you need to convince the other party that what you want is what they want and vice-versa.” Image from

Public Diplomacy Program Assistant - East African Career and Job-Hunting Blog: “EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY – Public Diplomacy Program Assistant The U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam is seeking an individual for the position of Public Diplomacy Program Assistant in the Public Affairs Section.”


American propaganda in Arab media - As'ad, The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: “American propaganda is so crude when it permeates Arab media. Like lately, I have noticed that pro-Saudi Arab media have been consistently publishing (on the front page) pictures of US soldiers gently playing with Iraqi children. Look at this picture on the front page of the Iraqi newspaper Az-Zaman. And by the way, this is the newspaper founded by Saddam's chief propagandist, Sa`d Bazzaz who--along with Kuwait editor, Ahmad Al-Jarallah, were key in building Saddam's personality cult in Arab media in the 1970s and 1980s. (thanks Amer)”

Re-Branding Israel - One Bikini Clad Model at a time - Deeba Haider, Borderless Culture:

“Ultimately, it would benefit the Israeli government to learn from past failures of their staunchest ally, the United States. Under President George W. Bush … pathetic attempts to promote American society and culture overseas were largely unsuccessful because they were superficial and American policies which were the heart of the problem did not change. Instead these efforts were mocked by the Arab press and America's image continued to deteriorate further.” Image from

Waltz with Sisyphus: Israel's impossible propaganda war - Jonathan Yudelman, Jerusalem Post: “Israel's supporters mostly agree that the country has an image problem. To solve it, they look to ways of improving hasbara. The telling Hebrew expression literally means ‘explanation,’ and its ideal is the revelation of the nation's dreams and pain to the world. Its creed might be rendered 'the better we are known, the more we will be understood and supported.' … The bitter truth is that hasbara is not propaganda at all, so much as a moral need particular to the Israeli psyche. And Israel's need to be known, warts and all, does not convince Westerners of justice of its cause.”

Israel needs PR ministry: We must face reality whereby wars increasingly won beyond battlefield - Adi Mintz,

“An Israeli PR ministry would not be able to change the images of destruction from Gaza, yet should the PR apparatus be given proper budget, and headed by a PR minister with the ability to effectively coordinate and manage our efforts, it may counter-balance the venomous propaganda with other images.” Image from

A Public Relations Ministry: Constructive or Another Layer of Duplicate Leftist Bureaucracy? – MB, Israel and The Sin of Expulsion: “The main reason that Israel lacks a competitive PR Hasbara is because her leaders and spokesmen, on ALL levels, lack the strength of conviction and principle to express why there is a modern-day state of Israel and to express the inalienable Divine Jewish right to The Land which Hashem gave to B’nai Yisrael. … Only when there exists a well-organized, pro-active, faith-based Jewish leadership and governance which believes, with perfect faith, in Israel’s Divinely-ordained right to nationhood on indivisible Jewish land, will Israel be capable of the highest levels of Hasbara competence.”

A Little Palestinian Propaganda – themiddle, Jewlicious

Report: NKorea names new top propaganda official – Associated Press, International Herald Tribune: "Kim appointed former Culture Minister Choe Ik Gyu in February as head of a ruling Workers' Party bureau in charge of the communist regime's domestic publicity campaign, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency. … The North's move to fill the top propaganda post signals an effort to unite its 24 million people behind Kim amid strained ties with regional powers over its nuclear and missile development programs, said Paik Hak-soon, an analyst at the private think tank Sejong Institute near Seoul.”

Butterfly Propaganda – Editor, Robert Amsterdam: “The who-started-it debate on the Georgian war has resurfaced, thanks to a Russian action film 'shot in the same style as the Bourne trilogy' which is due to be broadcast on Russian television in the coming weeks.”

Propaganda Art From Colonial Korea - Park Chung-a, Japan Focus: 'Four-hundred pictures [of the exhibit 'Choson in the Japanese Colonial Period and War Art'], including art works, visual images and various propaganda of the Japanese regime, depict the lives of Korean people who had to put up with the plundering and exploitation of manpower as well as resources through conscription of labor, the draft, and the forced mobilization of comfort women."

Soviet propaganda cartoon DVDs - Posted by Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing:

"This two-disc set of Soviet propaganda cartoons (subtitled 'American Imperialists and Fascist Barbarians,' and 'Capitalist Sharks and Communism's Shining Future') looks like a hell of a lot of fun. Just ordered mine! … (Thanks, A.Simmons!).”

No comments: