Saturday, July 18, 2009

July 18

"If Swinburne’s two abiding memories of Eton were Greek prosody and the flogging block, is it surprising that he should have become both a masochist and a master-metrician?"

--Jonathan Bate, “Libidinous laureate of satyr,” Times Literary Supplement, July 10, 2009, p. 15; image from; on Swinburne, see

"(My favorite part is the melted toilet)"

--Roberta Smith, Art Review:'Black Acid Co-Op': Down a Rabbit Hole to Meth and Its Dysfunction, New York Times


With VOA Left Voiceless, Obama Fails to Reach Russian Public - Jonathan Liedl, Heritage Foundation: "President Obama’s foreign policy thus far has been marked by an emphasis on public diplomacy. As a result, successfully engaging foreign publics has become a top priority of his administration. The President himself has taken an active role in this effort, delivering several high-profile speeches to audiences around the world. His July 7th oration in Moscow, which focused on the importance of media freedom and human rights, was one such occasion. But Obama’s message failed to reach his intended audience- the Russian public. On Russian television, which is tightly controlled by the Kremlin, Obama’s remarks were largely ignored, receiving hardly any air-time. To make matters worse, a crippling cyber-attack had rendered the international websites of Voice of America (VOA) useless. … Unless the Obama Administration takes the necessary steps to ensure the vitality of VOA and similar programs, our nation’s outreach to foreign publics will continue to be rebuffed by unreceptive governments." Image from

Heritage blog criticizes VOA's "internet-only approach"- Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "This item [see above] is based on points made by Ted Lipien (see previous post). It makes no mention of RFE/RL's shortwave broadcasts in Russian, which did cover Obama's visit to and speeches in Moscow. (See, for example, RFE/RL, 7 July 2009.) Does Heritage want two US radio stations broadcasting the same news to the same country in the same language? Heritage states that it believes in limited government, but it apparently does not believe in limited bureaucracy. Look, the recent denial-of-service attack did not prompt many people to retrieve their shortwave radios. In Russia, the internet is now much more popular than shortwave, and so far Russian authorities have not blocked foreign websites. For the time being, then, an internet-only strategy, with adequate marketing, makes sense. Two shortwave services to post-shortwave Russia makes no sense."

McHale caught being strategic - jjohnson47: "The White House press corps gave Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy Judith McHale a rough time on July 15 when Press Secretary Robert Gibbs brought her over to brag about the messaging on President Obama to foreign audiences. … This drew pointed questions, to which McHale didn’t have crisp answers. - How much did [micro-grants for cine showings] cost? - Did you coordinate with the national governments on making lists? - How many did you reach for [Obama's] Moscow speech? - Doesn’t this medium reach only the elites? - Is the government building a data base with records on U.S. citizens? The fact is that the State Department has a poor record of keeping track of embassy contacts around the world. … Social media offers built-in measures of success (number of comments, number of those who sign up for messages, etc.) It’s not the whole answer, but it’s a start to build serious evaluation based on audience records." Image from

A Needless American Horror Story: The Double-edged Sword of International Youth Exchange - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View: "There’s a horrific story – a train-wreck not averted – that was reported by AP and CNN yesterday. It details a litany of horrors that beset 12 students from around the world who came to the US last year to attend American high schools and live with American families in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, these charges – some even criminal – may be the tip of the iceberg of a program allowed to run-amok through official US government negligence."

Radio Sawa reporter roughed up in Iraq - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

MIDEAST: Report Urges Continued U.S. Diplomatic Push - Daniel Luban, IPS: "The policy paper, released Wednesday by the Israel Policy Forum (IPF), an organisation that promotes U.S. diplomatic engagement in the Middle East, expresses support for President Barack Obama's ambitious Middle East strategy. Entitled 'After Cairo and Iran: Next Steps for U.S. Diplomacy in the Middle East', it recommends continuing attempts to engage Iran, but shifting primarily to back-channel rather than public talks in response to the recent political turmoil following June's disputed presidential elections. … Also on Wednesday, the Centre for American Progress (CAP) released a report of its own concerning the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The CAP report suggests 'four concrete steps' that the Obama administration should take in the coming months. These include preparing for potential Palestinian elections in 2010, creating an integrated institution-building plan for the Palestinian territories, taking steps to address the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, and conducting an enhanced public diplomacy effort in the Middle East, with a particular focus on Israeli public opinion." Image from

Cyber MobilizationBritannia Radio: The 'Internationale Politik' magazine notes … that … internet platforms … should be used as 'tools' for 'public diplomacy directed at foreign countries'. This could particularly serve to transform people of the world's 'crisis regions' into 'active activists' in the interests of German foreign policy. The population of foreign countries could not only be used as activists, but also as sources of strategically relevant information, the magazine writes: The 'creative potential' accumulated on a global scale in the 'web 2.0 communities' could not only be 'siphoned off' for the benefit of transnational corporations but even to the advantage of German policy."

Marriott Remains Committed to Hospitality in Jakarta and Around the WorldMarriott on the Move: "We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life and injuries that resulted from the apparent suicide bombings today at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta, Indonesia. …

It is a sad truth in today's world that, if someone is willing to sacrifice his or her own life in an attack, there are no guarantees of safety. Nonetheless, we remain committed to do our best to implement tough and effective security procedures working with our associates, outside security experts and the authorities. And we remain committed to providing a place of hospitality, for public diplomacy, business and enjoyment for our guests, and providing opportunity for our wonderful associates who work in Jakarta and around the world." JW Marriot Hotel Jakarta image from

Lianna resume - Sadie May, Visual Communication Theory & Practice: "Though I am interested in both public and private sector work in the field of public diplomacy, I feel that this résumé would be better submitted to a private public relations firm or NGO than to the U.S. government."


Learning from Israel's propaganda machine - Paul Balles, Gulf Daily News

Pugnacious Propaganda: 15 Images Of The Art Of War - En. Derin

Amazing Propaganda Posters - Amazing Data: Propaganda is a type of message aimed at influencing the opinions or behavior of people.

Instead of impartially providing information, propaganda is often deliberately misleading, using logical fallacies, that, while sometimes convincing, are not necessarily valid. The following list includes some of the more amazing propaganda posters ever made by Americans, Soviets, Nazis and others. Image from article: “The Myth and The Reality” What looks like a little American is actually a submarine.


Ted Lipien said...

Kim Andrew Elliot does not fully understand and consistently misinterprets my arguments in favor of producing live VOA radio and television broadcasts to Russia. He seems to assume that it is all about low-tech short-wave radio transmissions -- which may still be necessary in case of a catastrophic international crisis and for that reason should be maintained at some low level -- when in fact satellite radio and TV are needed because (1)they provide news content, which the Web-only approach will not generate; (2)provide programs, which can be placed on local stations if and when human rights and media situation improves ( President Obama seems to think that he can make it happen); (3)provide substantive news content, which can be placed on the Web and shared secretly with independent media outlets if human rights and media situation in Russia does not improve (which seems likely, at least in the short run); (4)VOA is only reaching about 0.2% of the Russian audience annually using the Internet (Mr. Elliott should know this) and that even very limited radio and TV placement, even broadcast placement done secretly, can generate a larger audience; (5)the Internet-only approach under the BBG rules tends to result in entertainment-oriented soft journalism; (6)killing VOA radio and TV grants victory to Mr. Putin and other enemies of media freedom and deprives USG of a bargaining position in demanding the lifting of media restrictions in Russia and equal treatment of VOA in Russia and the Russian official broadcaster Russia Today in the U.S.; (7)even now it may be possible to negotiate placement of a joint VOA-Russian live TV or radio discussion program on serious political issues if VOA would still have the expertise and ability to produce such live programs; (8)the majority of people in Russia still don't have access to the Internet and many live in remote areas; (9)it's simply wrong to assume that because the FSB has not yet blocked the VOA website it will not do so in the future if there is a crisis in U.S.-Russian relations

Mr. Elliott is also wrong that there is no need for RFE/RL broadcasting. If fact, the current media restrictions in Russia suggest that RFE/RL is still needed for producing news about the internal situation in Russia, which Washington-based VOA journalists are not fully prepared to do. There is a problem, however, in that many RFE/RL reporters are now based in Russia and subject to intimidation and threats from the Russian secret police.

Mr. Elliott is right about one thing. There is no need for two sets of broadcasting bureaucracies, so perhaps VOA and RFE/RL and all the other so-called "private broadcasting entities" under the BBG should be combined into one lean U.S. international broadcasting news operation. This would save U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars.

Ted Lipien

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