Friday, August 28, 2009

August 28

"Most post-modernist professors argue that truth is relative except when it comes time for tenure."

--Errol Morris, writing in the New York Times; image from


Message to Muslim World Gets a Critique - Thom Shanker, New York Times: "The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has written a searing critique of government efforts at 'strategic communication' with the Muslim world, saying that no amount of public relations will establish credibility if American behavior overseas is perceived as arrogant, uncaring or insulting. … 'To put it simply, we need to worry a lot less about how to communicate our actions and much more about what our actions communicate,' Admiral Mullen wrote in the critique, an essay to be published Friday by Joint Force Quarterly, an official military journal. … Admiral Mullen expressed concern over a trend to create entirely new government and military organizations to manage a broad public relations effort to counter anti-Americanism, which he said had allowed strategic communication to become a series of bureaucracies rather than a way to combat extremist ideology. … Members of Congress also have expressed concern about the government’s programs for strategic communication, public diplomacy and public affairs. Both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees have raised questions about the Pentagon’s programs for strategic communication — and about how money is spent on them." See also. Image from

Public Diplomacy And Public Drama In Pakistan - Rob Asghar, Newswire – CPD Blog & Blogroll, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "[Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith] McHale and the Obama administration as they attempt to extend the steady hand of fellowship while dodging verbal bullets … will have to bear in mind that Pakistanis’ recent expressions of disgust toward the U.S. are real but also paper-thin. Those feelings represent a sense of betrayal that will not disappear overnight, but which is not necessarily permanent. But Pakistanis also have their own challenge in moving from public drama to public diplomacy. Too much angry posturing by Pakistanis may not have the intended effect."

Rendon Group gives Public Diplomacy a Bad Name - PR Strategy and Application's [sic] Blog: "The Rendon Group is reported to have trained the members of the Iraqi National Congress on their intelligence. Many claim the Rendon Group was simply using perception management. … The downside of perception management is that is gets confused with public diplomacy. However, public diplomacy has or should have concern for the truth while perception management is about results, not truth. It is part of information warfare so everything is fair game. Public diplomacy, on the other hand, is aligning with public relations and should be based on truth—the ends should not justify the means. The actions of the Rendon Group raises ethical concerns as it gives an insight into a rather dark and disturbing application of public diplomacy and public relations." See also. Image from

US House delegation arrives in Burma - Mizzima News: "A three-member United States delegation arrived in Burma today as part of Washington's ongoing review of its public diplomacy and assistance program, according to diplomatic sources. The delegation of staff members from the House Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to visit Cyclone Nargis-affected areas as well as meet with non-governmental organizations, prior to their departure on Sunday."

VOL. V NO. 18, August 14-August 28, 2009 - The Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media

The State Department's Tech.Del: Can People Power Crush Mexico's Drug Cartels? - Nancy Scola, techPresident: "A State Department 'tech.del,' or technology delegation,

has been in Mexico this week exploring how U.S. tech companies can support people-to-people resistance against Mexico's destructive drug cartels. On the State Department's DipNote blog, public diplomacy advisor Suzanne Hall says the purpose of the trip is determine how America's technology can 'help Mexican citizens amplify their voices against narco-violence.' If that sounds crazy, it's worth remembering that (a) the U.S. hasn't found much success through the more traditional means listed above and (b) like violent thugs around the world, Mexican cartels themselves recognize the value of shaping public opinion through media, new and old alike." Image from

Troubling Signs On Foreign Student ApplicationsHeritage Foundation: "International graduate students are cooling on the United States a new study released this week by the The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) shows. … Countering this drop in foreign student interest will be important from the perspective not just of institutions of higher learning, but of U.S. public diplomacy as well — for which educational exchanges are a cornerstone."

More Calls to Artists - The Art League Gallery: "Arts in Embassies Program - Deadline: Rolling [.] Established by the United States Department of State in 1964, the Art in Embassies Program is a global museum that exhibits original works of art by US citizens in the public rooms of approximately 180 American diplomatic residences worldwide.

These exhibitions, with art loaned from galleries, museums, individual artists, and corporate and private collections, play an important role in our nation's public diplomacy. They provide international audiences with a sense of the quality, scope, and diversity of American art and culture through the accomplishments of some of our most important citizens, our artists. For more information and to submit artwork visit:" Image: "This is a glass laminated 'vase' by American artist Sidney Hutter. The [above] photo is the vase as it sits in a glass case on the piano inside Habib House, the U.S. Ambassador's house in Seoul, Korea. It is part of the 'Art in Embassies' program where U.S. Ambassadors being assigned to a country are invited to take American art with them to display in their homes."

Iraq Museum Damaged Again - Lamia al-Gailani Wehr, via the Iraqcrisis listhost, Safe Corner: "Speaking recently about the State Department's involvement in a site assessment of the ancient city of Ashur, a Public Diplomacy Officer remarked, ['] 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. When the security situation arrives at the point when there is an opportunity for wide-spread tourism, our good stewardship of these sites will pay off because we will have met the immediate needs to preserve these sites now.['] The danger is that if we do not recognize that taking proper care means worrying about security first and foremost, the legacy that we leave behind will be of a country whose heritage remains inexcusably vulnerable."

Al Jazeera statecraft: New media as public diplomacy tools - Philip Seib, Up Close Podcast

Telescopic Analysis Social reform and Human Rights: A heightened awareness of social issues, a shift in societal trends or triggered by international pressures/influence? -BPM- Asia Zone: "Qatar's National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) wants the law protecting women's rights to be reviewed. … This activity on the human rights front comes in an environment of international integration and global influence. Al Jisr project aimed at Public Diplomacy and Outreach devoted to the European Union and EU-GCC Relations notes that human rights forms an integral part of the EU’s Free Trade Area negotiations."

Na├»ve pan-Arabism in Washington - Michael Doran, Middle East Strategy at Harvard, posted at Roberto Scaruffi: "It’s about time we started building our strategies around the Saudis as they actually are rather than as we would wish them to be. ...

The writer served as Senior Adviser to the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the State Department." Doran image from

Video: The Joke’s On You: CNN Gulf War Propaganda -posted by sakerfa, "In the 1980s, officers from the 4th Army PSYOPS group staffed the National Security Council’s Office of Public Diplomacy (OPD), a shadowy government propaganda agency that planted stories in the U.S. media supporting the Reagan Administration’s Central America policies, according to FAIR." Below image from

Reagan Spawned Bush II Catastrophes - hungeski, Antemedius - Liberally Critical Thinking: "To muster support for invading Iraq, Bush published phony intelligence reports, like those claiming that Iraq was working with al-Qaeda. In that he followed the lead of Reagan, who, to gain support for aid to brutal regimes in Latin America, set up 'The Office of Public Diplomacy' to use CIA propaganda techniques against the American people, and who, to gain support for his military build up, edited radio transcripts to give the false picture that the Soviets willfully shot down civilian flight KAL-007."

Onion PD – Paul Rockower, Levantine: "As always, the nation's finest news source covers the best public diplomacy: Socialites Without Borders."


Joy of Jazz Cultural Exchange The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz (SBJoJ) -- which starts today in Newtown and runs until Saturday -- is introducing an American cultural exchange programme.

The programme, part of the festival’s 10th anniversary celebrations, will see the sharing of musical talent between South Africa and the US. Via. Image from

Military Prepares Profiles on Reporters Visiting War Zones - Ann Scott Tyson, Washington Post: The U.S. military in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere regularly assesses the content and tone of the work of individual reporters to prepare for trips and interviews by those reporters, according to defense and military officials. But the officials denied that the analysis has been used to exclude journalists from embedding with U.S. military units in combat zones or to bar them from interviewing military personnel. A controversy has arisen in recent days over media work performed for the U.S. military command in Afghanistan by the Rendon Group, a contractor that classifies the content of stories by reporters as positive, negative or neutral in relation to military objectives.

USA and USMC Counterinsurgency Center Blog: More Taliban Propaganda - Combined Arms Center Blog

Is the National Endowment for the Arts flirting with propaganda? - J.D. Tuccille, Given the large role the NEA plays in funding art (It has a $155 million budget this year -- a small sum in absolute terms, but one that makes it a major player in the arts scene), a successful effort to co-opt the artists it supports into propagandizing on behalf of the Obama administration's political agenda could, conceivably, be an effective way of shifting the national poliical environment. Then again, it might all be wasted effort. Totalitarian governments have long drafted writers, film directors, playwrights and musicians into pro-state efforts, ony to produce clunky tripe that left the audience both bored and more cynical than ever. People often know when somebody is trying to push their buttons. Ideology, ultimately, is no substitute for real art. Image from

National Endowment for the Arts promoting propaganda? – Barbara, Mommy Life: "I know some of you are very interested in the National Endowment for the Arts propaganda overture I reported on yesterday. This is a BIG story we are not hearing about from the Government-Controlled Media.” See also.

American-Russian Cold War Propaganda – John Foster, Accidental Mysteries: "It is quite revealing, in retrospect, to examine American-Russian Cold War propaganda. Time Puts Everything In Its Proper Perspective. In this post, I have gathered posters and other media visuals from both the former USSR and the United States, to see how each side portrayed the other. Somewhere between all of this lies a little strip of land called the truth, but it’s only through education, awareness and the questioning of authority that you will be able to find it." Image ("love the motherland!") from article.

The Four-Minute Men: American Propaganda in World War I - Martin Dula, American History: World War I saw not only the first total mobilization of whole economies, it saw the first total mobilization of national propaganda machines to control information and engender national support for the respective countries involved. Primarily in movie theaters during intermissions (it took about four minutes to change movie reels), it is estimated the Four-Minute Men, volunteer group of 75,000 speakers, made over 750,000 speeches to more than 314 million people. They also made appearances in churches, synagogues, labor union and lodge halls, diffusing various propaganda messages from the big city to the small town.


3,900 stimulus checks went to prison inmates - AP


“He [Hitler] sat down with Albert Speer on the bench under the trees outside his wooden bungalow in his Ukrainian headquarters. The tranquility was disturbed only by the Fuhrer’s low, hoarse voice as he predicted that the Wehrmacht would continue through the Caucasus into Iran and Afghanistan. ‘If in the course of the next year we manage to cover only the same distance … by the end of 1943 we will pitch our tents in Teheran, in Baghdad and on the Persian Gulf.”

--Mark Mazower, Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe (2008), pp. 205-206.

“As the Reich expanded and became an imperial power, Germany’s civil servants watched the confusion grow worse.”

--Ibid, p. 224.

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