Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 17

"Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła,
Kiedy my żyjemy.
Co nam obca przemoc wzięła,
Szablą odbierzemy."

"Poland has not perished yet
So long as we still live
That which alien force has seized
We at sabrepoint shall retrieve."

--First lines of the Polish National Anthem; image from


September 17 could be a new date in US-Polish relations – Ted Lipien, "Stratfor global intelligence analysis website reports that 'rumors are flying late Sept. 16 that the United States could be shelving its plans to build a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system in Poland and Czech Republic. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates reportedly will hold a news conference on the issue sometime Sept. 17 or Sept. 18, and U.S. security officials are apparently in Poland briefing Warsaw on the development.' If these reports are accurate and indeed the announcement is made on September 17, the date might have a historical significance that the Obama White House may have not intended. 70 years ago the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland on September 17, 1939 under the terms of the Hitler-Stalin Pact while western and central parts of Poland were being overrun by German armies. … These may be completely different times and different political stakes, but the Obama Administration has already demonstrated its lack of historical sensitivity and public diplomacy strategy when it refused Poland’s invitation to send a high level representative to the official observances in Gdansk of the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II. Prime Minister Putin was there and even made sort of an apology for the Hitler-Stalin Pact. The Poles are proud and they think in historical terms. This may turn out to be a new public diplomacy disaster for President Obama." Image from. Update (2:40 pm): White House to Scrap Bush’s Approach to Missile Shield - Peter Baker, New York Times: "[T]he decision is sensitive in Europe and Russia. As details began to leak, the White House arranged for a post-midnight call from Mr. Obama to the Czech prime minister and a call in the morning to Poland’s prime minister. It also dispatched top officials to Prague and Warsaw to explain the decision and calm any anxieties. But it made for unfortunate timing, as Thursday was the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland at the start of World War II, a date fraught with sensitivity for Poles who viewed the Bush missile defense system as a political security blanket against Russia. Poland and many other countries in the former Soviet sphere worry that Mr. Obama is less willing than Mr. Bush was to stand up to Russia."

Missing in Action: Obama’s Public Diplomacy – Morgan Roach, The Foundry, The Heritage Foundation: "Despite the plethora of reports vying for executive acceptance, it would be an understatement to say that the administration has been slow in formulating a strategic plan for remedying America’s neglected state of diplomatic outreach. For example, the late nomination and subsequent Senate confirmation of Judith McHale, Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs raises many questions over Obama’s dedication to public diplomacy. Considering Obama vigorously campaigned for robust public diplomacy, it is surprising that he has not delivered on his adamant campaign. Furthermore, Obama’s eloquent speeches, (expertly read from a teleprompter,) are no replacement for strategic policy. Until the president takes the initiative to implement actions that follow up on his eloquent promises,” the United States will continue to find itself disadvantaged by a credibility gap in the international community."

Embassy expansion plans on track - Tariq Butt, The News, Pakistan: "Public hue and cry over the possible expansion of the US embassy in the federal capital notwithstanding, the allotment of an additional piece of land measuring 18.5 acres to the US embassy in Islamabad by the Capital Development (CDA) for its extension is in final stages. … The expansion of US embassy has been justified on the future increased presence of Americans in Pakistan in connection with the utilization of the annual $1.5 billion funding for the next five years under the Kerry-Lugar bill. On 19 August, US Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale was quoted as saying that the embassy expansion reflected Washington’s added focus on its relations with Pakistan. She said the US was focused on efforts to expand its relations with Pakistan and intended to fulfill its commitments with the people of Pakistan. 'The expansion of US assistance to Pakistan in the years ahead requires more personnel in our embassy as we are going to assist Pakistan in various fields of economy. A small number of US marines would also be deployed in the Islamabad embassy, which is a routine matter and it must not be a cause for concern for Pakistani people.'” Image from

Daily Appointments Schedule for September 16, 2009U.S. Department of State: "4:30 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale and Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)"

Internet censorship: reality lies somewhere between "myth and reality" - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "So social media and other internet content flow, more or less, within China.

Things may be a bit more restricted in Iran. And information from outside, from Western news organizations such as VOA, RFA, RFE/RL, and BBC, is blocked. One possible scenario: the few savvy internet users who can use proxy sites and other workarounds can retrieve VOA, RFA, RFE/RL, and BBC content and repost it on their blogs or through their Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts. At least for a while." Image from

U.S. Embassy Launches Youtube Channel For Indonesian Viewers - Bernama: "The U.S. Embassy launched its own YouTube channel, featuring over 100 short videos covering a wide range of topics about the United States. Located at, the clips featured on the video-sharing website are in Indonesian or have Indonesian subtitles, a release from the US embassy made available to Antara news agency here on Thursday, said. … The launch of a YouTube channel is the latest in a series of innovative steps that the U.S. Embassy has taken to use technology to conduct public diplomacy in Indonesia."

Fulbright Foreign Student Program for Master's or phD at USA universities - Jigar Patel: "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."

General Questions about the Exchange Visitor Program (J-1 Visa Program) - and News for the J1 Program - "What is the role and responsibility of the State Department’s Office of Private Sector Exchange? The State Department’s Office of Private Sector Exchange in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is responsible for designating and monitoring eligible U.S. government, academic and private sector entities to administer their own exchange visitor programs in order to further promote international exchanges and the U.S. government’s public diplomacy efforts."

Hybl hosts advisory group – Pam Zubek, Colorado Springs Independent: "Just back from a trip to Armenia, local philanthropic kingpin Bill Hybl hosted a gathering last week to honor the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, which he chairs under a presidential appointment. …

The commission advises the president and Congress on policies affecting foreign relations. In June 2008, it issued a report critical of how the government recruits, tests, trains and evaluates personnel. 'While it did ruffle some feathers,' Hybl says, 'it was meant to make the State Department more responsive and more effective.'" Hybl image from

Public Diplomacy Front Line Letter to Principals - Matt Armstrong, "The posts (notes in Facebook lingo) by the Facebook group 'Public Diplomacy Officers for Change' are required reading. In their words, past reports on the future of public diplomacy fail to 'truly identify what we as the next generation of public diplomacy officers need to be effective in our jobs. What we don’t need is a return to USIA.

What we need is a new foundation for public diplomacy professionals to build on.'” See also; foundation image from

Public Propaganda, The Human Terrain System, and Staged Democracy in Afghanistan - Maximilian Forte, Open Anthropology: "Some interesting reports have surfaced over the past three weeks concerning initiatives with links to the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS), along with reports about control exercised over U.S. journalists, both of which come under the rubric of public propaganda (what proponents call 'public diplomacy' and others call 'strategic communications')."

US Spec Ops operates psywar websites targeted at UK - Lewis Page, therearenosunglasses: "The secretive US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has awarded arms globocorp General Dynamics a $10m contract to set up a network of psychological-warfare 'influence websites' supporting the Global War On Terror. France and Britain are specifically included as 'targeted regions'. … Now SOCOM’s Joint Military Information Support Command, which 'orchestrates a 24/7 multi-media campaign formatted to the cultures and languages of relevant audiences' in 'what has become a tough, entrenched war of ideas' has deployed what it calls the Trans-Regional Web Initiative (TRWI).

Specs on the programme were issued last year (pdf) and earlier this month General Dynamics was awarded $10,116,177 to run the Initiative for the first year. …[R]ather than a normal media boss, the Initiative websites will be controlled by managers reporting to SOCOM based in US regional command HQs around the world – managers holding US Top Secret/Secure Compartmented Information clearances, with 'extensive public diplomacy, journalism, and mediarelations skills'. Rather than ads or venture capital, the cash will come from SOCOM’s psyops war chest." Image from

Peres: Goldstone report mocks history - shalhevet Zohar, Jerusalem Post: "President Shimon Peres on Wednesday slammed the Goldstone Commission's report on Operation Cast Lead, saying it 'makes a mockery of history and fails to distinguish between aggressor and those acting in self-defense.' … Also responding to the UN report, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev said that it would hamper Middle East peace efforts. Speaking to Army Radio, Shalev added that 'the international atmosphere is very influential. We have already begun a public diplomacy campaign in world capitals in order to explain the extent to which the report is biased, one-sided and political.'"

How the Palestinians should respond to Netanyahu - Abraham Zavala, Abraham's life!!!: "Future public diplomacy efforts by the Palestinians and Arab States should also focus their attention on the mainstream American Jewish Community. A large number of American Jews support Obama's efforts to push Israel toward a settlement freeze, a fact Netanyahu is keenly aware of."


Rethinking Bagram: The administration's new proposal for reviewing detentions in Afghanistan – Editorial, Washington Post: The administration inexcusably continues to resist necessary reforms for those detainees -- among the longest held -- who were captured beyond the Afghan battlefield.

It also leaves open the possibility of future renditions to Bagram of terrorist suspects captured outside Afghanistan. Image: Sarah and Bailey, two of five Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders who toured and performed at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, May 19, 2008, display their Army T-shirts as they share words of encouragement to a standing-room-only crowd of servicemembers. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace, Combined Joint Task Force 101.

Obama Offers Ways to Rate Efforts in Afghan Region - David E. Sanger, Thom Shanker And Eric Schmitt, New York Times: The Obama administration delivered to Congress on Wednesday about 50 measures to determine whether a broad military and nation-building campaign to stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan was succeeding, paving the way for the White House to argue that the American combat effort in the region would not be open-ended.

Afghanistan is not Vietnam ... yet – Editorial, Washington Times:

Congressional Democrats may yet find a way to abandon the Karzai government to an ignominious fate while minimizing the damage to Mr. Obama's presidency, but the message to the world would be the same as it was in 1975: The United States cannot be trusted, and Washington is willing to abandon vulnerable allies because of short-sighted domestic political score-settling. Image from

How to Talk to Iran - Roger Cohen, New York Times: In the end, talks are essential because there is no viable alternative.

How low will Israel stoop to win the propaganda war? - Stuart Littlewood, Redress Information & Analysis: “The Israel Project”, a US media advocacy group, has produced a revised training manual to help the worldwide Zionist movement win the propaganda war, keep their ill-gotten territorial gains and persuade international audiences to accept that their crimes are necessary and conform to “shared values” between Israel and the civilized West. Below image from

Propaganda war: Truth is first casualty - Marvin Kurz, Jewish Tribune: If you repeat the same libel over and over again, at what point does it become true? That must be the question that occupies the minds of Israel bashers like Naomi Klein and John Greyson. Their letter of ‘objection’ to a film series dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the city of Tel Aviv has been taken up as a rallying call for a boycott of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Indian propaganda against Pak will fall flat: FO - GEO Pakistan: Foreign Office Spokesman, Abdul Basit said Indian propaganda against Pakistan cannot succeed.

Report: European survey shows CNN International losing elite audience - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic roundup. Many thanks for compiling and sharing this. I have visited before, but had somehow missed the link to your article on the difference between public diplomacy and propaganda. I look forward to reading it now.

Thanks and best wishes.