Saturday, July 25, 2009

July 24-25


“They’ve got so goddamn much money nobody was watching them, nobody was paying attention to them.”

--Rep. John Murtha, regarding The Defense Department’s request for nearly $1 billion next year for its greatly expanded Information Operations programs -- much of it targeted at the Afghan and Iraqi populations; image from

PUBLIC DIPLOMACY

A face, it seems, is not enough: Barack Obama and Muslim opinion - Kal, The Moor Next Door:Maghreb Affairs :: Geopolitics :: International Relations: "A primary assumption about Barack Obama and the Muslim world has been that he could challenge and change the mistrust that existed between many Muslim populations and the United States. That assumption has gone largely unchallenged and has assumed a position near to fact in the heads of some American policy thinkers. His foreign policy has turned out to be more realistic than many of the public diplomacy-obsessed had anticipated. And significant numbers of Muslims in key demographics seem unmoved by the President’s use of local color on YouTube and in Cairo. … From the very beginning of his campaign there was an over estimation of the ability of now President Obama to 'change' the views of Muslims. 'His face,' wrote Andrew Sullivan, by a 're-branding of the United States,' would deter terrorists. Utter nonsense. That’s what it was, and that’s what it remains.” Image from article.

Watch out for an Iranian backlash: Considering how Iran's domestic shake-up caught everyone off guard, Western states should be prepared for what the regime might do next - Joshua Gleis, Christian Science Monitor: "[C]onsidering how Iran's domestic upheaval caught everyone off guard, Western states should be prepared for any scenario. Washington must increase its use of coercive diplomacy and public diplomacy, as past administrations did successfully in the Balkans and Haiti."

YouTube Diplomacy Meets #iranelection - Andrew Rosen, A Couple Things: "Twitter and the birth of the 'real-time' web mark a new chapter in the rapidly evolving new era of public diplomacy. … The Obama Administration should continue to proceed carefully, but must recalibrate its evangelism of 21st Century Statecraft. To bet heavily on Web 2.0, particularly in light of the events in Iran, is too aggressive a step for the Obama Administration with too unpredictable a technology still early in its infancy." Image from

Obama Speaks To The WorldThe Political Carnival: “That's the way to do it. With Google's release of expanded metrics for YouTube videos, Micah Sifry notes that President Obama has been successful in using the service to speak directly to people of other nations. For instance, Obama's video message to the people of Iran in March was viewed by the most people in Iran. As Ben Smith notes, that's ‘a remarkable success for public diplomacy, and an end-run around state-controlled media.’"

HIV/AIDS: Nigerian Army Protests US Statement Juliana Taiwo, THISDAY: "Nigerian Army has officially protested to the Ministry of Defence to use diplomatic means to get the United State Government to retract the statement that Nigerian peacekeepers in operation zones have high rate of HIV/AIDS or be sued, THISDAY investigations has revealed. … The United State Govern-ment, on June 11th through its Under Secretary on Public Diplomacy and Security [sic] in the State Department, Judith A. McHale, was quoted by Empowered Newswire to have expressed worries that high rate of HIV/AIDS among Nigerian soldiers was impeding the country's participation in international peace-keeping missions. McHale, while speaking on the national security implications of US engagement with other countries in the world at a public lecture on Public Diplomacy: A National Security Imperative at the Centre for New American Security, was quoted to have said the US had discovered through interaction with the Nigerian military that many of the country's soldiers were carriers of the dreaded HIV virus. She had said the rise in US resources and personnel for public diplomacy had resulted in gains to America's public diplomacy, noting that this has been evidenced in the America's help to deal with the problem of HIV/AIDS among Nigerian soldiers." Image from

The first crack in the Curtain - John Barber, Globe and Mail: "Barack Obama did not merely deliver speeches during his recent travels to Egypt and Ghana, his newly installed Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, Judith McHale, told the White House press gallery last week. Instead, she said, the U.S. President had launched an era of 'unprecedented engagement with people in Africa and around the world,' with an aggressive outreach campaign 'designed to reach deep into these countries' and show them 'that America listens and wants to engage.' Embassy officials distributed podcasts of Mr. Obama's Ghana speech by bicycle to radio stations throughout Africa, she said. They rented cinemas in Sierra Leone to show videos of it for free.

They gathered millions into a Facebook group to discuss it. Using new media and old to rearm a neglected arsenal of 'soft power,' the Africa campaign was 'a model of creative public diplomacy for the 21st century,' according to Ms. McHale, a former media executive in charge of reviving the hearts-and-minds file for the Obama administration. Certainly the timing is auspicious. Fifty years ago today, the same embattled superpower reached deep inside the hearts and minds of its then-enemies with the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, a quickly thrown together mini-expo that detonated like a sapper's bomb inside the well-fortified cultural heartland of the Soviet empire. Image (from article): Soviet citizens check out the latest in U.S. television technology on display at the American National Exhibition in 1959. For youngsters, free Pepsi was a big hit.

Remembering Sokolniki Park - Guest Contributor Hans N. Tuch, Whirled View: "Hans Tuch is a retired Career Minister in the U.S. Foreign Service. His latest book is 'Arias, Cabalettas and Foreign Affairs: A Public Diplomat's Quasi-Musical Memoir.' The following speech by Mr. Tuch was given on July 9 at Spaso House, the American Embassy Residence in Moscow: [Excerpt] In January 1958, the United States and the Soviet Governments concluded their first Cultural Exchange Agreement. It represented the initial evidence of a developing thaw in the icy relationship that had prevailed between the two countries during the previous forty years. Under this agreement--renewed subsequently every two years--cultural, educational, scientific and informational exchanges would thrive, an early manifestation being the hugely successful American exhibition here in Sokolniki Park in August 1959. While the U.S. had participated in earlier World Fair expositions, this was the biggest, comprehensive, most carefully planned and executed endeavor the U.S. Information Agency had ever undertaken in its worldwide public diplomacy efforts." "Arias, Cabalettas and Foreign Affairs: A Public Diplomat's Quasi-Musical Memoir" image from

The Cold War’s Hot Kitchen - William Safire, New York Times: "Exactly one-half century ago, one of the great confrontational moments of the cold war seized the world’s attention: Nikita Khrushchev, bombastic anti-capitalist leader of the Soviet Union, and Richard Nixon, vice president of the United States with the reputation of a hard-line anti-communist, came to rhetorical grips in the model kitchen of the 'typical American house' at the 1959 American exhibition at Sokolniki Park in Moscow.

I was in that kitchen, not because I then had anything to do with Nixon, the exhibition’s official host, but as a young press agent for the American company that built the house. … Thanks to Gilbert Robinson, a coordinator of the exhibition (and later head of State Department public diplomacy in the Reagan years), I arranged to make a certain section of fence disappear, allowing a crowd from the other side to spill in and trapping the official party inside the house. Nixon made a beeline to the railing that exposed the kitchen." Image from article. On Robinson, see also.

A Forgotten Kitchen Debate and American Public Diplomacy – John Brown, Huffington Post: "If there is one theme at today's impressive conference at George Washington University's 'Face-off to Facebook: From the Nixon-Khrushchev Kitchen debate to Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century', it is that US public diplomacy [PD], though its tools of persuasion have changed during the past fifty years, is, above all, about human beings connecting with one another rather than a government 'pushing a message' on a 'target audience.' … But a key question, asked by a member of the audience, is how the many-to-many 'connections' made possible by the internet can, in fact, act as a last-three-feet, truly personal, one-on-one 'human presence.'" Image from

How the Nixon-Krushchev 'kitchen debate' heated up the Cold War - Araminta Wordsworth, National Post: "The 'kitchen debate' is even the subject of scholarly debate, spawning a conference, 'Face-off to Facebook: From the Nixon-Khrushchev Kitchen debate to Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century,' at George Washington University."

President Obama's Nominee to United States Ambassador to the People's Republic of China: Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.; Ambassador-Designate to the People's Republic of China Statement Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Washington, DC July 23, 2009U.S. Department of State: "Secretary Clinton has emphasized that the promotion of human rights is an essential element of American global foreign policy, and if confirmed, I look forward to robust engagement with China on human rights. In addition to expressing candidly our concerns regarding individual cases, it will be my objective to find new and constructive ways to support the efforts of Chinese citizens to strengthen civil society and rule of law in their own country. I believe that much can be achieved through dynamic public diplomacy, people-to-people exchanges, and other programs designed to assist China to implement the rule of law, support the development of civil society, promote religious freedom, and improve policies to protect the unique languages, cultures and religions of China’s ethnic minorities." Huntsman image from

Interview: Ambassador Victor Ashe - Anna Spysz, Krakow Post: "Victor Ashe, who has held the position of U.S. ambassador to Poland since June 2004, was to finish his term in February 2009. However, he was asked to extend his stay until this September, when he will pack his bags in Warsaw and return to America. … KP: What would you count as the biggest successes of your term? VA: I think in the five years here I've reached out to local cities and governments of Poland and tried to put a human face on the United States and push public diplomacy."

US Senate targets Iran censorship - AFP: "The US Senate has approved funds for measures to help Iran's opposition defeat curbs on news and Internet social networking sites it has used to organize since a disputed presidential vote. … Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman and Democratic Senators Ted Kaufman and Robert Casey were the lead authors of the Victims of Iranian Censorship (VOICE) Act. … The measure calls for providing 30 million dollars for expanding Radio Free Europe-backed Farsi-language radio broadcasts into Iran, to be used to try to counter Iranian government efforts to jam radio, satellite, and Internet-based transmissions. The funding would also go to try to overrun the Iranian government's efforts to block access to websites or text messages over cell phone networks. Another 20 million dollars would go to create a special fund to develop ways for Iranians to get access to and share information, and counter Tehran's 'efforts to block, censor, or monitor the Internet in Iran.'" See also. Image from

Toward a more incomprehensible US public diplomacy - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: Comment on article by Philip Seib: "Survey data I've seen indicates that Arabs are interested mostly in news about the Arab world. Hence, Alhurra's present regional focus. Can Alhurra hold its own amid heady competition -- Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, BBC Arabic -- providing the same regional focus? Alhurra does not have to be number one, but it does need a respectable showing. Or USIB could, as Professor Seib suggests, just dub a US network newscast in Arabic and make the best of the niche audience that would result. Either way, it's best to keep US international broadcasting (which focuses on the information the audience wants to receive) separate from US public diplomacy (which focuses on the information the US Government wants the audience to receive)."

VOA director and RFE/RL president appear before House subcommittee - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

VOA Director Testifies Before Congress About Strategy in Russia and Cyber Attack on VOA Website But Serious Mistakes Go Unreported - Ted, FreeMediaOnline.org, Free Media Online Blog, GovoritAmerika.us:

"Voice of America director Dan Austin had a hard job explaining before Congress the broadcasting and program delivery strategy for Russia and the cyber attack that shut down the VOA website, including its Russian-language site, for at least two full days during President Obama’s visit to Russia earlier this month. His testimony was most revealing in how damaging information was being obscured from members of Congress and American taxpayers." Image from article.

Wadah Khanfar: Pushing Reset on America's Relationship with Al Jazeera and the Arab World - Steve Clemons, The Washington Note: "After Al Jazeera's Baghdad headquarters was bombed in April 2003, reports surfaced that George W. Bush had joked about making Al Jazeera a deliberate target of U.S. attacks. Wadah Khanfar was the bureau chief of Al Jazeera's operations in Baghdad at that time. … To discuss how the United States might recalibrate its public diplomacy toward the Arab world, I will be chairing what will be a fascinating and politically significant public forum featuring Wadah Khanfar this Monday, July 27 from 12:15 pm - 1:45 pm at the New America Foundation."

Using the J-1 Summer Work and Travel Program to Further Your Mission Strategic Goals – Nodoublestandards, Calling A Spade A Spade:
"I'm headed down to the Jersey Shore this week, where I'm sure to run into literally hundreds of foreign college kids

to whom I issued visas to participate in a program that has been hugely popular at my previous post: the J-1 Summer Work and Travel Program. So I thought this is as good a time as any to tell you about an initiative I developed to utilize alumni of that program to strengthen our public diplomacy and further our Mission Strategic Goals." Image of J-1 visa process from

The Visa Waiver Program: Advice for Obama - KickinVids: "Jena Baker McNeill, Homeland Security Policy Analyst at The Heritage Foundation, discusses three ways President-elect Obama can keep his pledge of strengthening America’s visa waiver program as a public diplomacy benefit for U.S. allies."

U.S. Foreign Policy: Dangerous – Destructive? - Hichem Karoui: Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann, President and Founder of the World Security Network: "As a great power, the U.S. will never have only friends. Yet she need not produce more enemies than necessary. The U.S. must be the Flag of Liberty and Democracy in the world and the Fire of Human Progress as the Founding Fathers demanded. Public diplomacy is essential for American foreign policy, as well as a clean, ethical image."

Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Holds First-ever Photojournalism Workshop - Staff Sgt. Lesley Waters, Systems: "Service members from the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Public Affairs Office, along with the U.S. Embassy here conducted media training for six Djiboutian and Somali media representatives on Camp Lemonier, July 21 and 23. U.S. Embassy Public Diplomacy Assistant Mohamed Ahmed said there were a lot of firsts for this training. 'Not only was this the first time we've done this sort of training with the U.S. military, but it was also the first time where the Somali and Djibouti news agencies were at the same training at the same time,' Ahmed said." Image from

Hard going along road to recovery in Aceh - John Aglionby, Peninsula On-line: "The work to rebuild the 115km road from Banda Aceh, capital of the Indonesian province that bore the brunt of the tsunami, to Calang has come to epitomise the progress of the reconstruction effort. … The US government decided it could best contribute to Aceh’s reconstruction by making the road the focus of its efforts. Washington’s feeling was that in addition to the road’s practical benefits, it would be a grand piece of public diplomacy to build closer ties with the region. Completed sections of the $240m (€168m, £146m) project rank among the best roads in Indonesia. Alas, they account for less than half the total length. Land acquisition has been the biggest problem. Irwandi Yusuf, the provincial governor, partly blames the US Agency for International Development for changing the route repeatedly. But like most people involved, he says weak local government has been the biggest obstacle to keeping the project on schedule."

NATO celebrates Belgian National Day - Newsblazecom: "Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer opened the NATO Village, a set of multimedia exhibitions showcasing the many facets of the transatlantic Alliance and its evolving role. … The 'NATO Village' was organized in partnership and close collaboration between NATO's International Military Staff, the Public Diplomacy Division and the Belgian Ministry of Defence." Image from

New website gives insight into army - Li Xiaokun and Cui Xiaohuo, China Daily: "The Ministry of National Defense (MND) will launch an official bilingual website on Aug 1. The move, military experts say, is a leap forward for the Chinese army, which is attempting to be more transparent and focus more on 'public diplomacy'". See also.

Hamas + Public Diplomacy = ? - Ren’s Micro Diplomacy: "Hamas wants you to know they’re a kinder, more gentle terrorist organization, and public diplomacy is the perfect tool to communicate this image rehabilitation. Check out the New York Times coverage of this fascinating story."

FM invokes Hitler in Shepherd spat - Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post: "Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's directive this week to circulate a 1941 picture of Hitler sitting with Jerusalem mufti Amin al-Husseini represents an effort to put international reports about the Shepherd Hotel controversy into perspective, after plans to build apartments at the site were portrayed by some abroad as another Israeli attempt to usurp what belonged historically to the Palestinians, government officials said Thursday. …


The building was built in the 1930s for Husseini, an extremist Arab leader in Palestine in the 1920s and 1930s, and one of the heads of the three waves of violent Arab riots during this period. … [A] source deeply involved in hasbara work said that putting the focus on the mufti's connection to Hitler when arguing for the legitimacy of the Shepherd's Hotel project was simply ludicrous. … But some experts saw value to the move. Yariv Ben-Eliezer, a professor at the Sammy Ofer School of Communications at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, said that there was something to be said for taking an offensive public diplomacy position, rather then a defensive one." Image from article.

Taiwanese youths here todaySolomon Star: Solomon Islands Leading Newspaper: "A six-member youth group from Taiwan arrives in the country today. They are coming under the 2009 International Youth Ambassador Exchange Program. … The youth-oriented public diplomacy program was initiated by President Ma Ying-Jeou. This program is the first that involves young people of Solomon Islands and ROC (Taiwan) to work together promoting cultural understanding, academic development, youth development, raising awareness of public heath and environmental protection through shared cultural experiences."

Why are some Bangladeshis anti-Indian? - Habibul Haque Khondker, The Daily Star: "Never had I met a Singaporean who called himself anti-Malaysian. I had Malaysian Chinese friends and students who having finished their studies in Singapore returned to Malaysia while others chose to stay on and took up Singapore's residency while keeping their Malaysian citizenship. Social scientists from these two neighboring countries as well as from other Asean countries meet routinely in conferences and seminars. Sporting events and educational exchanges are common yet there is a sense that more can be done. Disagreements between governments do not translate into disagreements between people. It is the people to people relationship, the public diplomacy par excellence, that provide the basis for building sustainable good-neighbourly relationships. Neighbouring countries are likely to have contentious issues but they need to be resolved not through megaphone diplomacy but by engaging in reasoned dialogue through quiet diplomacy. Anti-Indianism which has become the 'first principle' -- almost a default position -- for many in Bangladesh stands in the way of trust-building between the two neighbours." Image from

Northeast India in Indian Public Diplomacy - Madhurjya Kotoky, The Public Diplomacy Blog: "India's public diplomacy will do well to aggressively promote people to people contacts between these two regions [Northeast India and Southeast Asia]. Instead of stage managing or institutional showcasing there should be an attempt to promote spontaneity and embed popular conciousness with ideas about each other. The government should actually make it easier for the Northeast to reach out to Southeast Asia and vice-versa."

Letter from Director General for Information and Public Diplomacy of Forei[...]gn Affairs of IndonesiaFriends of Indonesia: "Dear Mr. Achsan Djunaedi, and all Friends of Indonesia in Ottawa, Canada, I wish to express my highest appreciation for your message of sympat[h]y and condolence for the Mega Kuningan incident in Jakarta. Our Government strongly condemns this acts of terror whose victims are once again innocent civilian bystanders. This tragic attack poses a threat, not only to Indonesia, but also to all free nations that embrace the practice of peace and democracy around the world."

Joseph Nye, the soft power guy - Ren’s Micro Diplomacy:

"Before new student orientation on August 18, all Public Diplomacy students must read 'Soft Power: the Means to Success in World Politics' by Joseph Nye. Since I can’t get away with reading on the job, I’ve turned to youtube, which has a wealth of videos featuring Dr. Nye. Joseph Nye on soft power Soft power skills Soft Power (1/2) Soft Power (2/2). Nye image from

Poster_Lombardo - Nick Lombardo , Visual Communication Theory & Practice - Section 6: "Amnesty International is a global organization committed to the promotion and protection of human rights. This summer they are one of the sponsors of the Vans Warped Tour, a two-month cross-country series of alternative rock concerts. ... I chose to advertise this event both because I’m a big rock fan and because I’ve had very positive experiences working with Amnesty International in the past. As a public diplomacy student, I also wanted to deal with a topic that could be tied in to my international relations studies."

One journalist trusted by everyone? Not anymore - Randy Cordova - The Arizona Republic: "'People don't have the patience to go sit and watch the evening news at a particular time anymore,' says Nancy Snow, author of 'Persuader-in-Chief: Global Opinion and Public Diplomacy in the Age of Obama.' 'That means they're not loyal to any particular authority, and they don't give much authority to news in general.'" Snow image from

RELATED ITEMS

Anti-Americanism: is it a spent force in India? - Amulya Ganguli, SamayLive: Apart from the demise of communism, what may have reduced the scope for anti-Americanism is the realisation that the US remains the only country which is willing to directly confront the terrorists in the AfPak region. The NATO forces may also be there, but they count for little without the Americans.

House panel axes DoD 'propaganda'Politico: Winning hearts and minds overseas is costing the Pentagon a little love back home in Congress. The Defense Department wants nearly $1 billion next year for its greatly expanded Information Operations programs -- much of it targeted at the Afghan and Iraqi populations. But lawmakers are growing leery of what they see as a hangover from Donald Rumsfeld’s years and an ever-expanding propaganda machine ill-suited for the military.

Pentagon Propaganda Gets a Pass - Diane Farsetta, PR WatCH.org, Center for Media and Democracy: Is there a difference between covert propaganda and secretive campaigns to shape public opinion on controversial issues? The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) apparently thinks that there is.


The GAO recently ruled that the Pentagon pundit program did not break the law against taxpayer-funded domestic propaganda. Image from

G-20: 'One Voice' sounds like regulation military propaganda - Mike Boda, examiner.com: In plain sight, from Gaza to Garfield, costly, high-tech US military hardware and tactics continue to be employed against civilian populations, but less obvious in both the increasingly indistinguishable military and civil spheres are the strategic use of propaganda techniques and other warfare strategies intended to have a psychological impact on a given population or target audience. This doctrine is referred to by US authorities as psychological operations (PSYOPS) and is also employed by civilian law enforcement. PSYOPS are more commonly referred to as public relations (PR) by the unarmed bureaucracies, as well as entities in the private sector. With the members of the unpopular, unaccountable G-20 holding their meeting in Pittsburgh, local law enforcement is increasingly turning to the use of psychological warfare doctrines to justify the kind of high-tech, high-cost violence they are preparing to unleash upon those who object to their lives and the world being run by twenty people.

U.S. stops giving militant death tolls in Afghanistan: The military alters its policy as part of a new focus in the war - Julian E. Barnes, Los Angeles Times: U.S. military officials in Afghanistan have halted the practice of releasing the number of militants killed in fighting with American-led forces as part of an overall strategy shift that emphasizes concern for the local civilian population's well-being rather than hunting insurgent groups. The decision has triggered a quiet but fierce debate among military officers comparing the current situation with the U.S. experience in Vietnam, when military officials exaggerated body counts and used them as a measure of success. … Officers who have favored releasing insurgent death tolls said the disclosures were not intended to demonstrate military progress, but to counter and even preempt extremist propaganda alleging that international forces are killing innocent civilians.

Mainstream Media And The Propaganda Machine - Ershad Abubacker,
Countercurrents.org:

Israel is really fighting the war on two fronts, the first is the military campaign being waged in the occupied territories against the Palestinian people and the second is the Public Relations (PR) Campaign being waged in the US through the American media to ensure continuous support for Israel’s military occupation. In addition to the military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel is also involved in an attempt to ideologically occupy the world media. Image from

2 comments:

rensmicrodiplomacy said...

Hi John, loved the HuffPo article. It's always fascinating to see what's happening at other universities. I hope to see more info about the conference.

Rose said...

What namely you're saying is a terrible blunder.