Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July 29

"They destroyed the whole country, … So what are a few old bricks and mud walls in comparison?"

--Maytham Hamzah, the head of the Babylon museum, speaking about US forces in Iraq, and referring to the remains of King Nebuchadnezzar's guest palace in Babylon, one of the world's first great cities, which was turned into Camp Alpha, a US military base; image from

"Stratcomm includes far-forward outset engagements, née PSYOP in exigent AORs, to medium to longer-term state rebuilding or reacculturation efforts, to the most sophisticated types of cultural diplomacy and special operations in overseas markets, and it’s time to recognize it for what it is:

a vibrant and healthy continuum; a full orchestra loudly playing a cacophony from the same score, absent a conductor possessing a vision of the whole work."

--Larisa Breton, owner of FullCircle Communications, a strategic communications company, writing about “Superfriends and the Strategic Communication Continuum”; image from


Death of a Doctrine: Obama Discovers Engagement's Limits - Michael Gerson, Washington Post: "The Obama administration lacks a foreign policy ideology as a matter of ideology. … But even lacking an ideology, the administration does have a doctrine. The defining principle of President Obama's foreign policy is engagement with America's adversaries. Much of the president's public diplomacy has been designed to clear a path for such talks -- expressing respect for legitimate grievances, apologizing for past wrongs and offering dialogue without preconditions. Six months on, how fares the Obama doctrine? Concerning North Korea and Iran, the doctrine is on its deathbed." See also; Gerson image in the White House from

How Not to Reset - Jacqueline McLaren Miller, EastWest Institute: "Jacqueline McLaren Miller urges the U.S. to engage in a more concerted public diplomacy effort to offset Vice President Joe Biden’s injudicious remarks about Russia."

Building Confidence For Arab-Israeli Peace - Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Ian Millhiser and Nate Carlile, The Progress report, Huffington Post: "Having recently returned from a trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Brian Katulis wrote in his report that 'the window of opportunity for achieving a viable two-state solution is rapidly closing.' In addition to 'a tightly focused strategic communications effort directed toward building support for a two-state solution among Palestinians and the broader Arab world,' Katulis advocated better public diplomacy toward the Israeli public, writing That 'Washington needs to reassure Israel that it will continue to support its security and work to maintain a close bilateral relationship while also pushing forcefully for a two-state solution which it sees as in the best interests of the region.'" Katulis image from

Eagle's Eye: Hillary Visit – INFA, Central Chronicle: "One of the newest initiatives of Secretary Clinton during her visit [to India] was to go beyond traditional meetings with the Government officials and engage in over-arching public diplomacy. Significantly, she chose to land first in the nation's financial capital, Mumbai, and interacted with business tycoons, such as Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata."

Judith McHale and the White House Press Corps - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View:

"In what turned out to be a less than stellar encounter with the White House Press Corps on July 15, America’s new Public Diplomacy Under Secretary Judith McHale fell just short of flat on her face during the Qs and As. … It seems to me that until McHale gains a firmer grasp of the basics of her own portfolio, the White House – and the State Department for that matter – should think carefully about her engaging in a similar high stakes media rematch any time soon." Image from

Perspectives: Farah Pandith and US engagement with Muslims - Anja Manuel and Ahmed Charai, Pakistan Christian Post: "In July 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named Farah Pandith the Special Representative to Muslim Communities. It is a historic step. Pandith's experience – and the new responsibility she is taking on with this role – signals that US President Barack Obama's administration is serious about a nuanced approach to engaging Muslim communities around the world. … It is by basing American policies in the Muslim world on democratic values that Pandith is most likely to succeed in her public diplomacy mission. At present, American assistance and support often benefit autocratic regimes."

Is Anti-americanism A New Phenomenon.

Or Did The Wot Just Bring Out The Haters That Were Always There?
– MMHKD, Qatar eTrade Educational Software: "If Muslims truly believe that their long winter of decline is the fault of the United States, no campaign of public diplomacy shall deliver them from that incoherence." Image from

Public Diplomacy 2.0… - Paul Gibbins, Albany Blog: "[T]hat Twitter has been deconstructed so carefully for use by government departments suggests that it is now (finally) okay to tweet. Once the preserve of celebrities stuck in lifts, it’s now an acceptable tool of communication in the execution of ‘Public Diplomacy’; twitter has truly come of age! Although a survey on LinkedIn recently concluded that in the US, ‘advertisers believe much more highly in the importance of Twitter than the average consumer, of the 2,025 U.S. adults surveyed, 69% said they didn’t know enough about Twitter to comment on the service.’ Contrast this with Congress near obsession with it! … Whatever the results of the Government’s guidelines, it can’t be faulted for not trying at digital diplomacy. Be it a domestic or international audience, politics is about communications and all politics is local, it now happens to be 140 characters and on-line..!"

China's new Arabic TV station – Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: "Whatever the case, the rush of America's great power competitors to launch Arabic language satellite television stations is a marvel to behold. America's al-Hurra has been a hugely expensive sinkhole which has had virtually no identifiable impact on Arab public opinion. But instead of happily watching the U.S. throw its money away, all of its great power competitors have instead opted to throw their good money down the same mine shaft, thus helping to erase the relative costs of the endeavor (in relation to U.S. competitors, at least, if not with regard to other possible public diplomacy or foreign policy initiatives). Success!" Lynch image from

House resolution to establish Gandhi-King Scholarly Initiative - Indian Express: "A Congressional resolution has been introduced in the US House of Representatives to establish 'Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative' focusing on peace and non-violence in global conflict resolution. The initiative is being established in the name of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr - the two apostle of peace. The resolution introduced on July 24 by Congressman John Lewis and co-sponsored by seven others. Sent to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs for necessary action, the House Resolution No 3328, implies on the US Secretary of State to work with the appropriate Indian agency to start the 'Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative'. The initiative shall be comprised of educational, scholarly, and professional exchange programmes, including an annual public diplomacy forum for scholars from the US and India that focuses on the legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, which shall be held alternately in the two countries and include representatives from governments, non-governmental organisations, educational institutions, cultural organizations, and civic organisations."

State Dept. Program Provides Professional Development to Visiting Artists – Ben Burdik, Artsblog: "How important do you think cultural exchange is to diplomatic relations between the U.S. and other countries?"

Jack Josephson on a CPAC Historical Perspective - Cultural Property Observer: "At the IFAR [International Foundation for Art Research] Panel (see below at ), Jack A. Josephson provided a historical perspective about the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) and its role at the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Mr. Josephson … served as CPAC's Chairman from 1990-1995. He currently serves as IFAR's Chairman. Josephson provided a brief historical overview about looting and the UNESCO Convention before turning his attention to the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA). He noted … The law is very specific on the requirement that public diplomacy by the State Department must be invoked in order to prevent the dispersal of embargoed cultural property to markets in other countries, thereby simply transferring sales overseas." Image from

Public Diplomacy in every day life - Mahtab Farid, From Washington to Tehran: A New Perspective On U.S. Iran Relations: "The practice of public diplomacy should not just be used for crisis. The practice of public diplomacy should be weaved into our lives. Just like learning a new language or learning how to play a musical instrument, the learning of public diplomacy should start at the early age. Yes, public diplomacy started from my classes in High School and continues to play a role in my complicated profession of journalism."

More History On A Murrow Obsession - Alvin Snyder, Newswire – CPD Blog & Blogroll – USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Edward R. Murrow's famous remark about the importance of 'the last three feet' to bridge personal contact was not unexpectedly raised at last week's conference that I attended at George Washington University, on the 50th anniversary of the Nixon-Krushchev 'Kitchen Debate' at the 1959 U.S. Exhibition in Moscow. But few may know that Murrow raised the last few feet issue informally, and more than once, with colleagues at CBS News in New York long before he uttered them as director of the U.S. Information Agency." Murrow image from

Will Obama Make Expanded Powers of the Military Permanent?Isaac-Davy Aronson, The Faster Times: "The encroachment by the Defense Department onto the turf of the State Department and the intelligence community in the planning and execution of the Iraq War and in counter-terrorism operations is well-known. But it’s also true that the expanded role of the military in those areas - in other words, an expanded role in diplomatic and law enforcement arenas - is incredibly hard to walk back, even if the Obama administration has a mind to do so. This might give pause not just to civil libertarians but to anyone concerned with preserving oversight and institutional checks on government operations. The Washington Post’s Walter Pincus writes today that several Congressional committees are sounding alarm bells over Pentagon communications programs - 'that until recent years had been the sole province of the State Department’s public diplomacy effort' - that have ballooned from nearly $10 million to nearly a billion in the last 4 years."

Wargaming the Future Maritime Environment -, Strategic Communications: "All of the cells considered effective strategic communications – defined as the sum of all actions and messages (intentional and unintentional) influencing target audiences – as an integral part of any successful U.S. strategy. An important corollary was that the Navy had to develop and disseminate coordinated and consistent strategic communications.

Thus, to be successful, the Navy must establish the ability to design and implement a standardized process at the Navy component commander level for effectively coordinating maritime actions and messages so as to convey consistent U.S. government purposes and objectives. Very wise words, but this is an enormous topic and really is a sea change for the Navy in terms of how they manage information. If you read it carefully you will note the intent is to develop information as an extension of naval activity with the intent of linking that activity to a public diplomacy effort. I think the strategic communication model the wargame suggests is needed would drive the Navy towards the return of naval diplomacy in the information age." Image from

Our "Strategic" Communications Policy: Watch What I Say, Not What I Do - Bill Leonard, Informed Consent: Spotlight on Excessive Government Secrecy: "When I served in the Pentagon as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Security and Information Operations … we advanced a concept known as 'shaping the information environment.' Upon reflection, to think that as a nation we could 'shape the information environment' as opposed to being shaped by that environment ourselves was both arrogant and foolhardy.

It's as if we believed we could repeal the law of gravity. Unfortunately, based upon results on the ground today in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, 'strategic communications' continues to be primarily viewed by our government through the prism of 'spinning' the news in order to show U.S. goals and objectives in a favorable light and those of our adversaries in a negative manner. However, much to my frustration, both then and now, such a 'strategy' fails to recognize that the best strategic communication plan is often the simplest, i.e. 'watch what we do, not what we (or the adversary) say.'" Leonard image from

Guest Post: Superfriends and the Strategic Communication Continuum - Larisa Breton, "Americans already enjoy the gentle second-and third-order effects of an imported comic pantheon from Marvel Comics’ 'The 99', courtesy of private (or semi-private) commerce. … This development coincides with an evolution point of strategic communication (née public diplomacy) that is worth examining."

Crafting Israel’s Image - Sharon Udasin, The Jewish Week: "[I]n New York, however, the man most responsible for changing Israel’s image is David Saranga, who is completing his four-year tenure next month as consul for media and public affairs at the Israeli Consulate. As his term winds down, Saranga, a Foreign Ministry diplomat, sits down with The Jewish Week to discuss Israel’s branding progress. … [Saranga:] We were the first country to use Web 2.0 for public diplomacy. Regarding showing the normality of Israel, last fall, The New York Times dedicated three different articles to Tel Aviv as the next hotspot in culture and tourism.We brought our message to the masses via social media, sometimes bypassing the conventional media. The best example is the Twitter press conference that we conducted during the war in Gaza."

We've made huge strides, but China's influence has its limits: China needs to do more in terms of explaining its story, writes Fu Ying - "As China's relations with the world grow, the opportunities and challenges in terms of public diplomacy also increase. In recent years, Chinese leaders and diplomatic missions have made greater efforts in this area. Chinese people travelling, studying and working abroad have also played a role. Fu Ying is Chinese Ambassador to the UK." Fu Ying image from

The Guinea Pigs of G-Force: They Taste Like Chicken But in 3-D – Ruben Rodriguez, National Geographic: "For thousands of years, guinea pigs (or 'cuy') have been an important food/religious/tourist-shocking staple in Andean mountain culture. So entrenched are the critters in Peruvian history, you can find churches with artistic depictions of the Last Supper featuring Jesus and his disciples noshing on them. Sadly, Biblical archaeological evidence on the veracity of Jesus eating guinea pig is scant. But really, all things considered, who can argue as to why 'guinea is good' given the rousing endorsement by Alejandro Riveros, former head of public diplomacy for the Embassy of Peru: 'And it's tasty.'"

Jakarta-Opening Week – Steph, Indonesia: Traveling The Islands: "Arrived in Jakarta safe and sound. … We … had an interesting dialogue with the [Indonesian] Director General for Information and Public Diplomacy. He made sure we wouldn’t do drugs or have sexual relations…or what he called 'good things'. Also he wanted to make sure we understood the nature of this 'Cultural Diplomacy' and how we were to use it in our respective countries. He didn’t want us to stay in Indonesia after the program, as past awardees have done, but rather go back home and spread the Indonesian message. (So I’m still unsure of what will happen to me after this!)"

Eating Jello with Chopsticks – Paul Rockower, Levantine:

"My moment of zen came early this morning, over breakfast in a cafeteria full of Japanese students. … The aforementioned moment of zen came as I had desert, a bowl of jello squares that I ate with chopsticks. Yes, it is as hard as it sounds. Eating jello with chopsticks requires concentration and patience- necessary skills for all public diplomacy samurai." Image from


US pulls the plug on ticker in Cuba: Sign flashing human rights messages at the US interests section in Havana goes blank – Rory Carroll, Guardian: It was smuggled through the US diplomatic pouch, secretly installed across the facade of a building overlooking Havana and given a very specific mission: to annoy Fidel Castro. The scrolling electronic sign, a low-tech version of New York's Times Square ticker, escalated the US's propaganda war with Cuba's leader three years ago by flashing human rights messages in five-foot high crimson letters. But history, or more specifically Barack Obama, appears to have pulled the plug on the billboard which flitted across 25 windows of the US interests section in Havana. The screen has gone blank - the latest indication that half a century of enmity may be winding down. Via; see also (1)(2) Image from

The Obama Soft Power EffectRen’s Micro Diplomacy: Pew Global Attitudes Project recently released a new report that documents the change in global opinion towards the U.S. since President Obama has taken office. If you are feeling adventurous, check out the full 203-page report, but if you are pressed for time, the sideshow with commentary will give you the broad strokes. For me, the most compelling data show the difference between Bush and Obama in terms of how confident people are that either will make the right decisions.

"Captain Euro is tripe" and other grumbling about EU "propaganda" - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Indian government wants international channel modeled after BBC, or Al Jazeera, or CCTV... - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

How We’ll Win in Afghanistan: Gen. Petraeus knows how to defeat an insurgency. But he will need congressional support – Bing West, Wall Street Journal: A year from now, coalition forces should be able to gradually withdraw, replaced by robust support and adviser units embedded in Afghan security forces. We shouldn’t make this a NATO war, allowing the Afghans to stand back. We’re outsiders, no matter how many schools we build or cups of tea we drink. Image from

Going past Ghana: What Obama can do in Congo: The U.S. must look beyond stable, democratic Africa to the nations torn by poverty, war and corruption. In Congo, that means a special envoy, more aid and help with a deal with China
- Helen Winternitz , Los Angeles Times


Ms. [Dayana] Mendoza, who competed as Miss Venezuela, has a blog on the pageant’s Web site, and here’s what she wrote last Friday [in March 2009], after her deployment:

This week, Guantánamo!!! It was an incredible experience.

We arrived in Gitmo on Friday and stared going around the town, everybody knew Crystle and I were coming so the first thing we did was attend a big lunch and then we visited one of the bars they have in the base. We talked about Gitmo and what is was like living there. The next days we had a wonderful time, this truly was a memorable trip! We hung out with the guys from the East Coast and they showed us the boat inside and out, how they work and what they do, we took a ride around the land and it was a loooot of fun!

We also met the Military dogs, and they did a very nice demonstration of their skills. All the guys from the Army were amazing with us.

We visited the Detainees camps and we saw the jails, where they shower, how the recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting.

We took a ride with the Marines around the land to see the division of Gitmo and Cuba while they were informed us with a little bit of history.

The water in Guantánamo Bay is soooo beautiful! It was unbelievable, we were able to enjoy it for at least an hour. We went to the glass beach, and realized the name of it comes from the little pieces of broken glass from hundred of years ago.

It is pretty to see all the colors shining with the sun. That day we met a beautiful lady named Rebeca who does wonders with the glasses from the beach. She creates jewelry with it and of course I bought a necklace from her that will remind me of Guantánamo Bay :)

I didn’t want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful.

FROM: Miss Universe Visits Guantánamo Bay, New York Times (March 30, 2009); see also John Brown, "Welcome to Guantanamo’s Exercise Program!", Selves and Others

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