Friday, July 17, 2009

July 17

"There is a new airline...that flies nothing but pets. ... This is why the rest of the world hates us, don't you think?"

--Talk show host David Letterman, regarding Pet Airways; cited in Political Bulletin of U.S. News & World Report; image from


Bicycle Podcast and Transcript of Yesterday's Rose Garden Speech ... - Alex Villanueva, Daily Dose: "The briefing was pretty well uneventful save for the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, Judith McHale, making a surprise guest appearance to tell the Press Corps about the public diplomacy and outreach efforts in Ghana and throughout the rest of Africa for President Obama’s visit. Efforts included providing microgrants to small theaters in Sierra Leone to show the speech for free, receiving 250,000 questions for the President via SMS/text message and email, and answering some of those questions in a podcast, which was dubbed into French, Swahili, Portuguese, and Arabic, and then taken to broadcast at radio stations via bicycle. I don’t know, I thought that was kind of cool. Nice to see we’re not solely relying on new technology to get the message out to the developing world." Image from

Obama will answer your questions - Angela Quintal, The Star, South Africa: "Judith McHale, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, told reporters in Washington on Wednesday, that the unprecedented engagement with Africans 'showed the world that America listens and wants to engage.'"

White House Briefing by Judith McHale – William Kiehl, My PD Blog: "The text of Judith McHale's briefing to the White House Press Corps follows. I would have liked to have seen just a little more background knowledge on the history of public diplomacy by the Under Secretary and a lot more specific knowledge--like the budget for PD! --but the initiative to appear before the WH press was a good one. Much of what is mentioned here is new wine in old bottles, of course. The truest thing she said was: "What made all this work were ambassadors and a corps of professional foreign service officers and locally engaged staff at embassies and consulates overseas. They provided the ideas and advice we needed to bridge our electronic efforts here with real live people overseas. And they carried out the face-to-face personal engagement that will always be the heart of successful public diplomacy." Kiehl image from

Gibbs re: Secretary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Address - mattie14, Citizens Against Pro-Obama Media Bias: "Last question taken by Gibbs in his press briefing concerned Secretary Clinton’s speech and her relationship with barry [Barack Obama]. He did not even refer to Clinton by name and pretended he didn’t see any of the speech himself. MR. GIBBS: Christina. I’ll take one more. Q What does the President think of the Secretary of State’s speech today? I know that the timing was about the same time he was talking, but did he see it? And what does he think of some reports that suggest that their relationship isn’t as great as some people would – MR. GIBBS: I don’t know if they discussed that today in their meeting. But this story has been tried to be written for probably years now. They enjoy a very close relationship. I think the Secretary of State is somebody who the President relies on greatly. She has an enormously important role in the development of and the execution of a foreign policy that changes our image in the world, some of which we’ve talked about here with the State Department’s Public Diplomacy outfit. I think the notion that there’s some rift or disagreement is nothing more than silly Washington games."

Treadstone, Yamamoto, or none of the above - Thomas Nephew, "Electing an Obama who could and would go to Cairo was a fairly inspired bit of public diplomacy by the American people … . But that’s all it was — a nice bit of symbolism, and everyone moved on. As a people, we need to not just be sending symbolic messages, but also rethinking what our substantive ones should be."

The Obama-Clinton One-Two Tech-Powered Public Diplomacy Punch - Nancy Scola, techPresident: "[F]orward-looking folks in both institutions [White House and State Department] are working together to use technology in support of the administration's diplomatic aims. …

This isn't the first time a State Department has supported a president. It's part of the job description. But technology seems to be greasing the wheels on that relationship. One or two runs below Clinton, there's tech-driven symbiosis afoot. Take Obama's speech last week in Accra, Ghana. It's a great example of how, using new media, two DC powerhouses are feeding off one another's efforts." Tech-powered suit image from

Window of Opportunity for a Two-State Solution Policy recommendations to the Obama administration on the Israeli-Palestinian front - Brian Katulis, Marc Lynch, and Robert C. Adler, Center for American Progress: "The Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts over the settlements are not yet concluded and must be continued in order to revive U.S. credibility in Palestine and the Arab world. But the settlements themselves are only a small portion of the problem. The time has come to pivot to the next step—articulate a coherent strategy and build support for that strategy through a sustained public outreach and strategic communications effort. …

This public diplomacy campaign needs to actively and aggressively pre-empt the legacy of cynicism shaped by the failures of the Quartet’s 'road map'—a performance-based plan outlined by the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations with commitments for both the Palestinian Authority and Israel—and the Annapolis process attempted by the Bush administration, in which commitments were routinely ignored without consequences. … In order to keep the decades-long U.S.-Israel alliance strong and functional, the Obama administration needs to invest in steady diplomacy, enhanced public diplomacy, and continued security and economic cooperation to boost Israel’s confidence so that it is prepared to strike compromises with its neighbors. Leaders of Israel and the United States meet regularly, and the Obama administration should continue to enhance its communication and coordination to maintain a strong alliance. But it needs to develop a more active public diplomacy and communications effort in Israel and the broader Middle East to achieve the goal of a two-state solution." See also. Image from

How to get information into Iran? O3b, electronic attacks, and (of course) increased spending - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: Mention, inter alia, of Voice of America, Radio Farda, funding for US international broadcasting.

Newspapers misreport Honduras poll results, but VOA gets it right - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

VOA interview cited in Phnom Penh eviction controversy - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Book Review [of Retaking The Offensive Against Radical Islam by Ilan Berman] : Wanted: war strategy that works - James S. Robbins, Washington Times: "The United States has not significantly increased its meager budget for public diplomacy since Sept. 11, 2001. This is an area in which small investments can go a long way, but the government has chosen not to prioritize it. Thus, our country lacks both the messages and the mechanisms effectively to pursue public-diplomacy campaigns, which Mr. Berman calls 'tantamount to strategic surrender.'" See also.

Senator Kerry Interview with Islam Online - saba7saba7, Political Islam: Comment by saba7saba7: “[W]hat has become the hallmark of US public diplomacy towards Muslims … [is] reference to a mythical construct known as the Muslim world … lazy and imprecise terminology.”

Shocker: Another State Dept Public Diplomacy Initiative Backfires Spectacularly - Omri Ceren, Mere Rhetoric:

"Hey, remember that time when public diplomacy advocates were lavished with attention - to say nothing of the institutional credibility of publication - to come up with student exchanges as a way to win global hearts and minds? And remember when conservatives said that this was a typically muddled project filled with so much State Department incompetence at so many levels that it was guaranteed to fail?" Image from

Instead of a tambourine you play a daff? Cultural diplomacy at the table and away from the table - Maria Lewytzkyj, "The former US Ambassador to the Netherlands, Cynthia P. Schneider, now an expert in cultural diplomacy, once said that, 'Public diplomacy consists of all a nation does to explain itself to the world, and cultural diplomacy, the use of creative expression and exchanges of ideas, information, and people to increase mutual understanding, supplies much of its content.' … Many senior diplomats from around the world are stressing the importance of cultural diplomacy and questioning traditional diplomacy as a way to restore full diplomatic relations and continue to boost and improve good relations. In order to improve the view that people in various countries have of each other, cultural diplomacy hand in hand with effective public policy are of extensive use in coping with forced enmities that result from political circumstances between countries."

Symphonic Diplomacy - Nate Beach-Westmoreland, You Might Be Mistaken: "CNN reported that the New York Philharmonic would be traveling to Cuba to perform in Havana. Like the Ping-Pong Diplomacy of the 1970's, the US is attempting to engage in informal Public Diplomacy. For those of you not familiar with the concept, in addition to high level talks, the US tries to engage other nations via cultural exchanges, a process referred to as 'Public Diplomacy'. In theory, these engender good-will amongst the general populace and translate into pressure on the nation's leaders to lessen their hostility. Orchestras seem a popular choice for these missions, notably having traveled to North Korea last year and the USSR." Image from

Undersecretary Building U.S. Public Diplomacy Team - John T. Bennett, DefenseNews: "U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy is creating a small team that will coordinate and improve how the Pentagon and other federal entities explain Washington's national security policies, sources tell Defense News. The move, part of a broader shake-up of the Pentagon's top policy-making office, is meant to craft communications strategies that 'are a little more attuned to our international partners' concerns,' one source said." See also.

Elevating public diplomacy and strategic communication as national security priorities - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner. "The Defense News article John T. Bennett also cites Douglas Macgregor saying the team will have little impact. I disagree with his comment that this is simply Karen Hughes-style public diplomacy revisited. Unless Macgregor changed his view of information from his two very influential books (Transformation Under Fire and Breaking the Phalanx), he is focused on organizational structure over desired effects in the real battleground. ... The article doesn’t ask the necessary follow up question, 'What about State?' Unfortunately, this can be little more than rhetorical at this point wait to see how the interagency coordination will happen. Will a somewhat dormant group in State transform into an interagency secretariat to compliment Rosa Brooks’ DoD team? " Image from

Who's In Charge? – William Kiehl, My PD Blog: "This news story [above DefenseNews article] seems to imply that the Pentagon has not lost its taste for running public diplomacy with the change of administrations."

In Wake of Unrest, Britain Replacing U.S. as Iran's 'Great Satan' - Tara Bahrampour, Washington Post: "In every Iranian crisis, the BBC has come in for blame, perhaps in part because of its history in Iran. … The station's popularity there has stoked suspicion, as has its recent introduction of Farsi-language satellite television service. 'Because the BBC is seen as having been so important during the revolution, with the fact that the BBC is opening a new channel of communication, there's a feeling that perhaps the BBC is gearing up for a new revolution,' said Dick Davis, a professor of Persian at Ohio State University."

A new diplomatic approach: Israeli diplomat David Saranga writes about the use of new media in public diplomacy - David Saranga, "It’s time for the Israeli public to understand that instead of criticizing Israel’s public diplomacy, they have an opportunity to influence and improve it.

We can leverage the talents of our creative citizens, who are incredibly news savvy and technologically skilled, by encouraging them to help shape Israel’s image by posting articles on different blogs, uploading videos to YouTube, and participating in discussions on social networks. Right now, the tools for change are literally at our fingertips. All we have to do is move them." See also. Saranga image from

Bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Germany - Harun ur Rashid, The Daily Star: "The Centre for Foreign Affairs Studies (C-FAS), a foreign policy think-tank in Dhaka, hosted a farewell lunch for the departing German Ambassador H.E. Frank Meyke on July 14 at a local hotel. … The cultural relationship of both the countries is very strong. Cultural cooperation is mainly channeled through the Goethe Institute, which sponsors local and German cultural activities. … The Centre for Foreign Affairs Studies, by arranging such events in the non-government sector, will help in informing the general public about the useful role of our foreign friends. Our media too can play an important role in this public diplomacy.

La presse, le sport et Internet : les 3 volets de la diplomatie publique australienne – altiplano, Casus Belli: "L'Australie fait rarement l'objet des gros titres de la presse internationale. Son image dans le monde n'en est pas moins flatteuse comme le montrent plusieurs études consacrées à la réputation des nations (nation branding). Dans un entretien publié par la revue Public Diplomacy, le Consul général d'Australie à Los Angeles, Chris de Cure, explique comment les autorités australiennes ont réfléchi aux enjeux de la diplomatie publique." Image from

A time for more public diplomacyThe Armenian Reporter: "At this momentous stage of the Karabakh peace process, all Armenians would benefit from another round of public diplomacy."

Dream question: Who is a difficult equation (Alambtoson Saudis = Public Diplomacy)? [Google translation from Arabic]: "In my view that public diplomacy comes in several formats, including applications of educational and cultural programs."

Rafsanjani’s savings for a rainy day – Mehdi Jedinia - "Minoo a political science doctoral student at Tehran University in a chat interview on Facebook … said: 'This is the most important Friday prayer after the first Friday prayer at Tehran University by Ayatollah Taleqani, a senior Shi'a theologian and a founding member of the Islamic Revolution and the first sermon for Friday Prayer in Tehran after the fall of Iran's interim government -- assassinated in 1979. Ayatollah Taleqani wrested public diplomacy to stress the Islamic side of the Islamic Republic and now, it is Rafsanjani’s turn to tenure for the Republic face of this coin.'” Image from

Thank you Cheryl - Patricia H. Kushlis and Patricia Lee Sharpe, Whirled View: "WhirledView will continue to look at our world critically─and with affection. We will continue to write on international politics, US foreign policy, public diplomacy, but as ever we will stray into the arts, the law, domestic politics and other aspects of our always fascinating, but often frustrating era."

Lege Team Shuffle - Richard Whittaker, The Austin Chronicle: "Where do former Bushies go (y'know, apart from before congressional committees)? Seemingly to Speaker Joe Straus' re-election campaign, as Karen Hughes becomes his communications counselor. … Hughes was last seen on the national stage doing what was generally regarded as a shockingly poor job as Bush's Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy where she attempted to turn the office's public diplomacy role into a PR machine for the Bush Doctrine. Since then, she's been working with Austin-based PR firm Burson-Marstaller, a company whose credentials include damage control for mercenary firm Blackwater after its hired guns killed 17 Iraqi civilians, a similar job for Union Carbide after the Bhopal Disaster, and a long history of reputation-buffing for nations with, a-hem, dubious human rights records." See also.


Let's Help Iranians Beat the Censors: From satellite phones to Internet hacking, the U.S. can make a difference - Jeremy Rabkin and Ariel Rabkin, Wall Street Journal: The Internet is a great mobilizing tool. And in the struggle against tyranny, it is on our side.

Propaganda Part II: Opaque Symbols - Gene Callahan, ThinkMarkets: A blog of the NYU Colloquium on Market Institutions and Economic Processes: "The political theorist and philosopher Eric Voegelin, who was an attendee at the Mises Kreis in Vienna and a lifelong friend of Hayek and Schutz, coined (as far as I know) the term 'opaque symbols.'

What this means is that the symbol user’s connection to the experiential source of the opaque symbol is missing, so the symbol is no longer 'seen through' to what it symbolizes, but instead has become a substitute for the experience itself. Opaque symbols are a major component of ideological propaganda." Image from

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