Sunday, August 16, 2009

August 16

“the package”

--How Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is referred to in the lingo of staff who arrange her foreign visits; image from

“A term of reproach for a Frenchman”

--Samuel Johnson, defining “monsieur” in his 1755 Dictionary


U.S. Plans a Mission Against Taliban’s Propaganda - Thom Shanker, New York times: "The Obama administration is establishing a new unit within the State Department for countering militant propaganda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, engaging more fully than ever in a war of words and ideas that it acknowledges the United States has been losing. Proposals are being considered to give the team up to $150 million a year to spend on local FM radio stations, to counter illegal militant broadcasting, and on expanded cellphone service across Afghanistan and Pakistan. The project would step up the training of local journalists and help produce audio and video programming, as well as pamphlets, posters and CDs denigrating militants and their messages. Senior officials say they consider the counterpropaganda mission to be vital to the war. 'Concurrent with the insurgency is an information war,' said Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who will direct the effort. 'We are losing that war. The Taliban have unrestricted, unchallenged access to the radio, which is the main means of communication,' he added. 'We can’t succeed, however you define success, if we cede the airways to people who present themselves as false messengers of a prophet, which is what they do. And we need to combat it.' The team he is putting together is the latest entry into the government’s effort to direct the flow of information in support of American policy. The campaign is scattered throughout the bureaucracy and the military, variously named public affairs, public diplomacy, strategic communications and information operations. Officials acknowledge that the government routinely fails when trying to speak to the Muslim world and battle the propaganda of extremism — most often because the efforts to describe American policy and showcase American values are themselves viewed as propaganda." See also (1) (2). Holbrooke image from. See also John Brown, "Richard Holbrooke: Able and Insufferable," Huffington Post.

Interesting remarks by newly appointed US ambassador to MoroccoArab News: “[The] Obama administration’s nominee as US ambassador to Morocco … is Samuel Kaplan. Samuel Kaplan is apparently a Democratic wheeler & dealer from Minnesota, on top of being a successful lawyer & businessman. … The short statement given by Kaplan before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 22 is interesting. … Press freedom is mentioned, an a way that is too flattering, while US public diplomacy initiatives are mentioned (Radio Sawa is unfortunately already on air in Casablanca and Rabat, while the US military’s Africa Command maintains the Magharebia … news website)."

New Pro-Israel Lobby, New Point of View - Jonathan Broder, CQ Quarterly: "J Street … [is] a new pro-Israel lobby with an approach to the Middle East conflict that emphasizes peace negotiations and accommodation … . Whether J Street can develop true political power will depend on such factors as the way Obama handles Israel’s feeling that it is being singled out for U.S. pressure to make concessions, especially on the issue of a settlement freeze. The debate over this and other Middle East issues is expected to intensify over the coming weeks, when the White House launches an aggressive public diplomacy campaign at home and in the Middle East to clarify Obama’s plans for a comprehensive peace agreement. But as that debate plays out, another important factor is whether J Street, with its pro-peace-process agenda, is a better reflection of American Jewish sentiment than AIPAC is." Image from

Pakistani reporter for VOA still held in US immigration lockup - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

NPR slide show on [State Department sponsored] Jazz Ambassadors traveling exhibit [during the Cold War] - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Disbanded Government Departments and Reasoning Why - Tolerance Free: Curing the masses of the disease of tolerance worldwide: "List of Existing US Government Departments Disbanded or Assimilated by the Four Departments of the Simplified Individualistic Government ... - d. Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs DISBANDED All that this department does is performed much better by the GEP [?] with the people as priority. The Individualistic society has no interest in soliciting the American image outside its own borders for it has no desire in propaganda of any type."

Hammer Forum: Distant Neighbors: The US and mexicoExperience LA: "As Mexico fights a war against criminal cartels, fueled by a demand for drugs in the U.S. and inflamed by the unrestrained flow of firepower from America’s gun shops, relations between the U.S. and our neighbor to the South are becoming increasingly strained.

Distinguished scholars Pamela Starr and Lorenzo Meyer join us to discuss ways to improve relations and find solutions to the challenges that we share. Dr. Starr is a Pacific Council adjunct fellow specializing in Mexico and U.S.-Mexico affairs and a senior lecturer in public diplomacy and international relations at the University of Southern California, where she is also a senior fellow at the Center on Public Diplomacy." Image from


Hillary Clinton and the Diplomacy of Folksy - Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times: Clinton is a recovering politician, with First Lady tendencies. And a celebrity in her own right.

She can’t resist the rope line even when it’s in a South African housing project teaming with glassy-eyed men and her secret service agents are practically shouting into their cufflinks. Her style is to go heavy on the politics, heavy on the policy, but mix in some real people as well. Image from

Al Qaida roar rings hollowReuters: Al Qaida propaganda has gone into overdrive to try to discredit US President Barack Obama's charm offensive among Muslims, but its outpouring of rage will ring hollow if it cannot land a punishing new blow in the West. Four years after the last Al Qaida-linked bombing in a Western country, Osama Bin Laden's shadowy network is pumping out videos of increasing sophistication and frequency to stir hatred of Obama, the West and its ally Israel. But experts who track the output say the lack of an Al Qaida-linked strike in the West is hurting its credibility and limiting the group's appeal to the already-committed.

Television Under The Swastika (DVD)- Phil Hall, Film Threat: From 1935 through 1944, Nazi Germany took the unexpected lead in the development of television broadcasting. While the reach of the Nazi television was relatively limited – mostly to the political elite in Berlin and to Army hospitals – the new medium nonetheless found a diverse amount of programming ranging from cabaret-style entertainment to cooking shows to the tried-and-true propaganda posturing.

Michael Kloft’s documentary “Television Under the Swastika” provides a brief overview of the Nazi foray into television programming. Surprisingly, a great deal of 35mm films used for the broadcasts still survive, though no footage of the live telecasts survive from that pre-kinescope era. Image from

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