Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August 10/11

"It turns out that liberal democracy -- with its protections of individual rights -- is the strongest guarantor of doubt."

Commentator Gregory Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times; image from Photo Gallery: Donald Duck Battles the Nazis, Spiegel Online (see also below images)

"No nation — even if it is our bitterest enemy — is incomprehensible."

--Yale anthropology professor Michael R. Dove


An Open Letter to President Barack Obama regarding Iranian plane crashes - Hooshang Amirahmadi, Payvand: "The American sanctions on the sale of civilian planes and parts to Iran are particularly unjustifiable from a constitutional and moral standpoint: increasingly more U.S. citizens are travelling to Iran and flying in these planes. Nor is this sanction policy a reasonable business practice while the U.S. economy is in deep recession and needs increased international trade. Sanctions on sales of civilian planes and spare parts to Iran also undercut American public diplomacy toward the Iranian people. The U.S. government rightly blames the Iranian government for abusing the human rights of its people, including their safety. But, by jeopardizing Iranian lives, U.S. sanctions are also abusing Iranian human rights."

Give PR a ChanceJason Karpf Public Relations: "The New York Times reports that the White House 'will begin a public-relations campaign in Israel and Arab countries to better explain Mr. Obama’s plans for a comprehensive peace agreement involving Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab world.' This follows a trend in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict of multiple parties placing increased priority on public relations. … Professor Eytan Gilboa, considered Israel’s premier authority on public diplomacy, calls for a 10-fold increase in the country’s PR budget with a focus on Europe and the Arab nations. … At this juncture, all sides are acknowledging the importance of image and information, investing more in so-called 'soft power.' Will improved public relations employing the 21st century’s communications platforms drive lasting change and peace? American, Israeli and Palestinian leadership say 'yes.'”

The Pentagon is up to its old tricks - Guy Farmer, Nevada Appeal: "According to Politico.com, 'The Defense Department wants nearly $1 billion for its greatly expanded information operations programs ... but lawmakers are growing leery of what they see as a hangover from the Donald Rumsfeld years, an ever-expanding propaganda machine ill-suited to the military.' I see it as a Defense Department effort designed to usurp the State Department's lead role in public diplomacy — overseas information and cultural programs. The Pentagon calls it 'strategic communications,' but it's the same thing. … The Defense Department's strategic communications budget has grown exponentially since 2005. 'We're in a battle for hearts and minds, and information operations are vital,' said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell. But I have news for Morrell: That's exactly what $900 million worth of State Department public diplomacy programs are designed to do. And besides, our diplomats have the necessary communications skills and cultural sensitivity to conduct such programs effectively, and they usually speak the host country's language, which is essential."

A suggestion for US international broadcasting so bad that it might happen - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "Creating a Radio Free Africa would precisely be reinventing the wheel, because VOA is already providing Africa with a reliable source of news about Africa.

The division of US international broadcasting into two competing stations would destroy the decades-long run of success that US international broadcasting has enjoyed in Africa. On the other hand, creation of Radio Free Africa would have excellent boondoggle value, because two suites full of senior managers would be doing the job that one managed to do before. This being Washington, bet on the boondoggle."

How Smith, Mundt, and a bureaucrat prevented VOA from providing a public service - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "There are immigrant communities in the United States that would appreciate news about their home countries in their first languages. VOA can provide such a public service, at -- this is the best part -- no extra cost to the US taxpayers. Actually, per Gartner v USIA (1989) (see previous post), it is not illegal for any private US media unit to use VOA material. It is, however, illegal for VOA to spend money or effort disseminating its content in the United States, or to encourage such dissemination. A number of radio stations in the United States are using, or have used, VOA programs on a 'don't ask, don't tell' basis. This includes WFED, Federal News Radio, 1500 kHz AM in Washington. The Raleigh Telegram frequently uses VOA news articles, most recently on 8 August. The Minneapolis radio station made the mistake of asking. Ameliorative legislation would have to be cleverly worded, to allow VOA content to be used for such a domestic public service, but in a way that money intended for international broadcasting is not diverted to an intentional domestic information campaign. By enforcing the domestic dissemination ban, VOA acceded to the presumption of Smith-Mundt that VOA is engaged in propaganda. If VOA were propaganda, people in Somalia wouldn't listen, and Somali-language radio programs in Minneapolis would not ask to retransmit its content. Another good reason to maintain distance between US international broadcasting and US public diplomacy."

Think Again: Twitter: The groundbreaking microblogging service is great for sharing links and communicating with friends. It's not so good at spreading democracy and overthrowing dictatorships - Evgeny Morozov, Foreign Policy:
"[T]he more we talk about 'Twitter revolutions,' the more American diplomats and policymakers fall in love with the tool. 'Twitter diplomacy' might soon replace the expensive efforts of the struggling Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). So what that they would only get 140 characters to express the American position on a given subject? Stripping these messages of the legalese would only add to their appeal, while helping to tap into the otherwise ADD-ed minds of the 'digital natives' who might never have heard the radio broadcast of BBG's Voice of America because they don't know what radio is. And given how much U.S. government money has spent to bolster the BBG, even buying Twitter outright would look like a rounding mistake." See also: John Brown, "Twittering; or, Where are the Emily Dickinsons at the State Department?," Huffington Post.

Student Program to Study in United States for Master’s degree or PhD - Scholarship Positions: "Fulbright Foreign Student Program to Study in United States for Master’s degree or PhD: A mainstay of America’s public-diplomacy efforts, the Fulbright Foreign Student Program brings citizens of other countries to the United States for Master’s degree or Ph.D. study at U.S. universities or other appropriate institutions. The program has brought some of the world’s finest minds to U.S. campuses and offers program participants insight into U.S. society and values."

Americans and Iraqis work to urgently preserve the ancient Assyrian capital - Spc. Jazz Burney & Brett Bruen, Blackanthem Military News: "The ancient Assyrian City of Ashur faces imminent threats. Recent construction of a dam on the Tigris River is causing large sections of the City to be swept away, while other precious artifacts are being looted from one of three World Heritage sites in Iraq. The United States Embassy, with the assistance of the American military, and officials from Iraq's Board of Antiquities organized the first international assessment of the site since 2003. The Embassy's most senior diplomat in the region said time is of the essence. …

Diane Siebrandt, the Embassy's Cultural Heritage Officer and an experienced archeologist, documented the deteriorated condition of the ruins. … Protecting these historical treasures can help to redefine the United States' legacy in Iraq, according to an Embassy spokesman. 'As the U.S. forces look toward our draw down out of the country, this is a great potential legacy that we can leave behind; showing that we took proper care of the ancient sites and history of the Iraqi people,' said Brett Bruen, Public Diplomacy Officer for the PRT in Salah ad Din."

DoD Playing Defense, Again - Silicon Hutong: "Once again it seems like the guardians of data at the Pentagon are raising the cyber-shields. Attempts to access defenselink.mil from the Hutong, with and without VPN, are meeting with timeouts. Not that I blame them, but it's just sad that the second-largest line-item in the U.S. budget can't come up with a better way of ferreting out malicious attacks than simply slamming the door on everyone. It is also sad that the Pentagon is losing its opportunity to conduct some decent public diplomacy among the curious Chinese. Tear down these walls, Secretary Gates, and demand that your cyber-warriors come up with a better approach than simply slamming the fort doors. The best defenses only keep the friendlies out and make the bad guys up their game."

PAYS Day 7 - "The Lisbon Summit, the Lisbon Young Atlanticist Summit and the New Strategic Concept" - Jorge Piteira Martins, CPA/AJPA: Blog oficial da Comissão Portuguesa do Atlântico e da Associação da Juventude Portuguesa do Atlântico: "On the 7th of August 2009 took place the last day of the 14th Portuguese Youth Atlantic Treaty Association. This final day resulted in the most important day of debate, since the participants had the chance to listen the NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, Mr. Jean François Bureau, who gave an interesting lecture about the challenges NATO is facing and how is it being planned to cope with these new problematic."

The Changing Role of Embassies in EU Member States - Michael Siebert, German Embassy, LondonUACES: Exchanging ideas on Europe: “As a member of the Political Department of the German Embassy in London, you wouldn’t expect me to dig my own grave, of course. But I can assure you that we are certainly not short of work! The role of embassies in Europe has changed remarkably in recent years. But it is still hugely important. Let me give you three examples. First, the embassy is in constant, direct and intensive dialogue with British government officials, members of parliament, think tanks, academia, NGOs, lobby groups, journalists, fellow-diplomats and many more. … Second, embassies today put more emphasis on 'public diplomacy' - the interaction with civil society and institutions in culture, media, business and research. So diplomats spend considerable time at conferences, workshops, meetings and well, yes, receptions, in order to proactively promote German political views and foster an accurate perception of modern Germany. Third, the nature of the expertise embassies in EU member states provide to their governments has changed. It makes no sense for diplomats to compete with worldwide media news coverage. To really make a difference for their national capitals, diplomats have to analyse the factors behind political decisions, such as the political culture of the host country, the mindset of politicians, media pressure and lobby interests."

Winds of change sweep India's foreign office - The Economic Times: "The manpower crunch - just 669 diplomats spread across the headquarters in New Delhi, 119 resident missions and 49 consulates - that has hobbled the ministry is now finally being addressed. … An article by an American strategic expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, Daniel Markey, that did the rounds, critiqued the functioning of India's diplomatic institutions. Markey said in his article, 'Developing India's Foreign Policy Software', that the IFS [Indian Foreign Service] is a right fit for a country like Malaysia, but surely not for a rising power. … Markey's articles were discussed internally but foreign offices sources point out that changes had already begun with opening of new missions, specially in Africa, where an Indian envoy is sometimes responsible for more than two to three countries, and more emphasis being paid to public diplomacy with a region that has often stood neglected despite long-standing political and ethnic ties."

N.z and Oz Bully the Pacific countries – lolaorlando, letters to express the need for revolution: "New Zealand ministry of Foreign affairs & Trade. … Public Diplomacy and Outreach Division Public Diplomacy and Outreach is about communicating with persons and groups outside traditional diplomatic channels. These range from interest groups closely engaged with the Ministry on specific issues to much larger populations both in New Zealand and overseas. To ensure that New Zealand’s voice is heard in the world with clarity and consistency, the Division has a number of functions, including media relations, managing the Ministry’s websites, cultural diplomacy, oversight of Ministry publications and input into all of the Ministry’s public diplomacy and outreach efforts."

UAR comments on Azeri Ambassador’s statement - Information-Analytic Agency NEWS.am: "Talking to the Russian news service, Gegham Khalatyan, Vice-President of the Union of Armenians of Russia (UAR), made a comment on a statement by Azerbaijani Ambassador to Russia Polad Bul-Bul oghly, who threatened Armenia with aggression, calling it 'a peace-enforcement operation. … [Khalatyan:] “It is also strange to hear warlike statements like that from a person who only recently was a member of a large delegation of Russian, Azerbaijani and Armenian cultural workers that visited Nagorno-Karabakh, Yerevan and Baku with what is known as a peace mission. This must be the reason why public diplomacy fails to produce appreciable results – it is used by people like Polad Bul-bul oghly, who have harbored a grudge against others. This can only be most upsetting."

Tourism as Public Diplomacy: International Conference - Yudi Perbawaningsih: "The Faculty of Social and Political Science, Atma Jaya Yogyakarta University in cooperation with Institute of Media and Communication Science, TU Ilmenau Germany conduct International Conference by title 'Public Dilplomacy: Comparing Indonesia’s image as a tourist destination-domestic and international perspectives' on Wednesday, August 19, 2009. There 11 speakers will talk about tourism in many perspective."

70 BOA: Slowing Down, Gearing UpThat Lady There; Aspiring to Join the Foreign Service at Age 50: "Meanwhile, although I have the feeling that I'm doing less, when I think about it, I realize that I'm not. I've been reading Bush Hat, Black Tie … the memoirs of a Public Diplomacy Officer who worked in the 1950s-1960s, in Nigeria and France, among other places."

Quoting History: A Sound Report - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner.us: "Below is the beginning of short op-ed from The New York Times on a recent report on what would later be called public diplomacy by the Advisory Commission on Information, to be known decades later as the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. [']Every American interested in a strong information program for this country would do well to study the latest report of the United States Advisory Commission on Information.

The Commission's four members … have clarified the key problems we face in attempting to counter Communist propaganda throughout the world and have spoken plainly on matters that require plain speech. …[R]eferring to Senator McCarthy's television circus last year, the Commission says, 'The wide and unfavorable publicity … gave the agency such a bad name that professionally competent persons were reluctant to accept employment in it.' The Commission adds that the result of periodic Congressional attacks is that those who prepare our counter-propaganda for overseas 'are perforce more cautious of how the messages will sound or appear to the investigators and completely lose sight of whether they will be effective with their intended audience.' Published February 6, 1954."


Bill Clinton Shows What He’s Good At - Albert R. Hunt, New York Times: Bill Clinton emerged from more than a year of relative obscurity last week with a mission to Pyongyang, where he rescued two American journalists imprisoned by the North Koreans. It was a touching and triumphant moment, the secretary of state’s spouse as high-level diplomatic troubleshooter. The advantages of making use of Mr. Clinton are simple: He is a respected figure in much of the world. The North Koreans would accept only him as an intermediary, such is his standing and prestige — and their desire for propaganda opportunities.

A perfidious mission? Clinton trip reinforces Pyongyang regime - Jeffrey Kuhner, Washington Times. Image from

Mary Robinson’s Medal of Freedom: Anti-Americanism and anti-Israel activism win Obama’s approbation – John Bolton, Wall Street Journal: Barack Obama’s decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson has generated unexpected but emotionally charged opposition. Appointed by then-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan as high commissioner for human rights in 1997-2002, Ms. Robinson had a controversial but ineffective tenure. (Previously, she was president of Ireland, a ceremonial position.) Criticism of Mr. Obama’s award, to be officially bestowed tomorrow, has centered on Ms. Robinson’s central organizing role as secretary general of the 2001 “World Conference Against Racism” in Durban, South Africa. Instead of concentrating on its purported objectives, Durban was virulently anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and at least implicitly anti-American.

More Than Missiles - Editorial, New York Times: Force alone will not be enough to defeat the extremists. Mr. Obama pledged to support legislation — which was initially sponsored by then-Senator Joseph Biden and Senator Richard Lugar — that would provide Pakistan with $7.5 billion in development assistance over five years. When Congress returns in September, lawmakers and the White House must make passing the aid bill a top priority.

U.S. Taxpayers Fund Pro-Hamas Propaganda - Steve Emerson, Family Security Matters: With the federal government facing trillions of dollars in red ink, one might think that the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), which receives upwards of $30 million a year from the taxpayers, would want to show Congress it wasn't squandering money on propaganda for terrorist groups like Hamas.

But that hasn't happened. Instead, USIP has issued a new report that twists reality to argue that Hamas has moderated and Israel needs to negotiate with the terror organization. Image from

North Korea stages propaganda spectacle - Kwang-Tae Kim , Associated Press: Some 100,000 performers flipped and twirled in perfect synchronicity as North Korea's most lavish spectacle, the "Mass Games," opened in Pyongyang, footage from television news agency APTN showed. The "Arirang" show is a major propaganda machine for North Korea, with the huge cast — mostly children — dancing, singing and tumbling in unison. It's one of the few times average Americans, typically prohibited from visiting the communist country, are allowed visas to visit.

Propaganda extravaganza – Vladimir Kozlov, Moscow Times: Until August 30, New Tretyakov Gallery, rooms 80 to 82, 10 Krymsky Val, m. Park Kultury. This exhibition aims to give a crash course in the history of poster art in Russia, from Apsit's 1918 "God Proletarskoi Diktatury" ("Year of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat") and works by Vladimir Mayakovsky through to late-20th century posters.

The 180 works on display, from the State Tretyakov Gallery's huge collection as well as some provided by Russia's Union of Artists, are broken down into several categories, such as "The Political and Propaganda Poster of the Civil War, Collectivisation and Industrialisation period", "Theatre, Film and Circus Posters", and "Conceptual Posters of Recent Decades." Image from article.

Donald Versus Hitler: Walt Disney and the Art of WWII Propaganda - Sven Stillich, Spiegel Online: During World War II, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse weren't just about entertainment. Film studios used animated characters to spread propaganda and educate Americans about their enemies. And the animators themselves were employed to make insignia for military units and equipment.

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