Saturday, August 1, 2009

August 1

"He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me."

-- Thomas Jefferson; see also Denise Lavoie, Associated Press, USA Today, "Jury orders student to pay $675,000 for illegally downloading music"; image from


Obama's e-campaign moves from the U.S. to world stage - Argaret Talev and Warren P. Strobel, McClatchy Newspapers, Miami Herald: "Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become central global communications tools — June's disputed elections in Iran being a case in point — and the Obama administration has aggressively seized the opportunity to spread its message farther and wider than any predecessor has, without the unwelcome scrutiny of the traditional news media. … Enter Judith McHale. The former president and CEO of Discovery Communications brought what she'd learned about marketing and networking across 170 countries to the State Department in May as the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. 'As an outsider looking in ... I felt that this was something missing in our foreign policy toolbox. ... We had to find new ways of communicating with foreign publics, given the role that they have now in the political and social lives of their countries,' McHale said in an interview. Social networks allow the U.S. government to reach 'deep into societies' as never before, McHale said, and to 'go beyond sort of traditional, elite audiences that one would have reached previously.' … [T]he U.S. government is retaining the e-mail addresses and phone numbers of its Facebook 'friends' to stay in touch with its new global constituency. 'That's just smart public diplomacy,' McHale said. The government's expanding use of social media rankles some veteran journalists, who say that the administration at times seems to be avoiding them — and the scrutiny they can bring to bear. … McHale said that she took existing initiatives — such as a Digital Outreach Team that promotes the U.S. viewpoint on Arabic-, Persian- and Urdu-language Internet sites _and was fashioning them into a strategic program. Further initiatives are planned, but McHale said it was also important to move carefully. 'You don't want to overwhelm people ... with information that they don't want,'" she said. Image from

Web 2.0 in Public Diplomacy - Strategic mismatch - Madhurjya Kotoky, The Public Diplomacy Blog: "There's much talk about using Web 2.0 for Public Diplomacy nowadays. … I am a bit cynical about its potential right now. It might be a strategic tool for some nations but may not be of use for some at all. There is indeed a digital divide in international relations with possibly interesting consequences. ... Out of 1.2 billion Indians merely 45 million are active internet users! My guess is that these 45 million are not very active voters as well to be able to enforce policy changes.”

Global Attitudes: The Puzzling Impact of Obama's 'Glasnost' "Research Center President Andrew Kohut … pointed out … that Obama's popularity as recorded in a number of countries across the globe cannot be discounted. He felt that Obama's popularity would persuade foreign audiences to listen to what America has to say. This, one should add, is a great change from reactions across a wide swath of the world's population to US public diplomacy in most of the preceding years. … [T]here is no doubt that despite some push back, the Obama Effect has raised hopes of renewal and reinvigoration through much of the international community. Ironically, this coincides with something of a slide in Obama's poll numbers at home." Image from

Fighting the war of ideas – Editorial, Washington Times: "Information operations are known by many names -- public diplomacy, strategic influence, political warfare -- but the purpose is the point. It's vital for America to advance national security by changing the way people think about our country and challenging the negative messages spread by our adversaries. …

Ideally, the United States would pursue information operations through an integrated, coordinated interagency program following a coherent strategy aimed at achieving critical strategic effects. This would require a major presidential initiative, something President George W. Bush did not do but which President Obama may yet undertake. In the meantime, the Defense Department is the sole government agency adequately executing this mission. If the Pentagon goes silent, the field will be left to our adversaries."
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US Public Diplomacy & Saudi Arabia – John Burgess, Crossroads Arabia: "The US Department of State’s public diplomacy website,, takes a look at educational and cultural exchange programs between the US and Saudi Arabia. The article is, to my eyes, surprisingly Obama-oriented. These and similar programs have been going on for decades. These specific programs were mostly planned last year, before Mr. Obama became President, if they follow the same system as was in place when I was heading the Public Diplomacy office in Riyadh. All that put aside, the article does give a glimpse of the range of exchange programs now in place." Cited article at.

VOA reports on increased subscribers to North Korea's new mobile phone service - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Through VOA television, Tibetan learns about Dalai Lama's Middle Way - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Kwan Chooses School Over Skating - Nancy Armour, Associated Press, Washington Post: "The nine-time U.S. champion announced Friday she will not return to competitive skating in hopes of making the Vancouver Olympics. Instead, she will begin classes for a master's degree in international affairs at Tufts University. Kwan, who recently graduated from the University of Denver, has already made several trips as a public diplomacy envoy for the State Department." Image from

A Tribute to Corazon Aquino – The Philippines Most Unlikely President - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View: “I had the privilege of meeting Corazon Aquino one evening in 1993 after her presidential term had ended at a special reception at the American Embassy’s Ambassadorial Residence. We had both arrived early for an annual cultural event - the Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. Fellowships for Professional Development named in honor of the memory of her late husband.”

Extracurricular activities - Undergraduate DVD II - S Skaiciu Miesteliskaiciu telis: "A project by the Fulbright Educational Advising Center, Bucharest, Romania, funded by the Public Diplomacy section of the US Embassy in Romania, for the Education USA advising centers in Romania and the new democracies in East-Central Europe [Video]." Image from

Nirupama Rao takes over as the new Foreign Secretary - "Describing her new assignment as 'complex and yet fascinating', Nirupama Rao took over as the new Foreign Secretary on Saturday with a focus on further augmenting India’s diplomatic capabilities. … 'Economic diplomacy and public diplomacy are also issues that demand increased attention. We are called upon as diplomats to deal with a number of these issues, at any one given time, in a manner that is focused, mature and balanced, that is persuasive and has vision and long-term perspective, Rao said."

Religious Affairs: Waging war on the war - Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post: "A video of St.-Sgt. Amir complaining about the conduct of his fellow soldiers and commanding officers during January's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza opened this week's conference organized by Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR). … The Atmosphere of introspection and breast-beating that surrounded the screening of Amir's videotaped testimony inside the conference - which was titled 'Is This Us?: Law, Religion and Morality in Operation Cast Lead' - sharply contrasted with the calls outside for patriotism and support for the IDF at a time when Israel is in a constant state of war against terrorism. It is a tension that has existed at least since 1967, when Amos Oz and Avraham Shapira travelled to kibbutzim after the Six Day War with a tape recorder collecting testimonies that were included in the book The Seventh Day: Soldiers' Talk about the Six Day War (Siah Lohamim).

And it probably goes back even farther, to S. Yizhar's Khirbet Khizeh, written in 1949, which describes the expulsion of men, women and children from a generic village whose name means destruction in Arabic. The main difference is that texts like The Seventh Day, which might have revealed some of the uglier sides of war, were one of the nation's most effective public diplomacy tools. They presented the image of the handsome, dilemma-ridden and existentially soul-searching Israeli soldier, the tension-filled IDF value of 'purity of arms' and the very Jewish striving for moral perfection, even in times of war. In contrast, testimony like Amir's, courtesy of Breaking the Silence, an organization that provides usually anonymous eyewitness accounts by IDF soldiers of purported misdeeds perpetrated by themselves or by fellow soldiers against Palestinians, inevitably arouses international condemnation and Israel-bashing." Image from

Finland - Foreign Ministry invites young foreign journalists to spend one month in Finland - "The Ministry for Foreigh Affairs has invited 19 recently graduated journalists or journalism students about to graduate to The Foreign Correspondents' Programme (FCP), a media and training programme organised by the Ministry. ... The course is part of the Ministry’s work of public diplomacy which aims at networking with foreign, non-governmental actors."

Otto Reich and the Honduran Coup D’Etat: The Provocateur, his Protege, and the Toppling of a President – Part One - Machetera: "The story of Otto Reich’s role in fomenting the June coup d’etat in Honduras is not a brief one. This report will be posted over two days … . Reich’s history in U.S./Latin American relations is a repellent one.

He has worked tirelessly in support of the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, helped the anti-Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch find shelter in the United States, and produced domestic anti-Sandinista propaganda for the Reagan White House, through the State Department Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America. In that post, he worked with a non-profit front group called Citizens for America to spread that propaganda throughout the U.S. press." Image from article.

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