Saturday, December 19, 2009

December 18-19

“guano diplomacy”

--The process whereby Russia persuaded Nauru (an 8-square-mile island northeast of Papua New Guinea that has long benefited from wealth that literally fell out of the sky: bird droppings) to become the fourth country to establish formal relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Nauru crest image from

"full belly diplomacy."

--What Roswell Garst believed led to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's visit to the Garst family farm in Coon Rapids, Iowa.


Ambassador William A. Rugh on the Shortcomings of U.S. Public Diplomacy in the Middle East - Elise Crane, Fletcher Features, The Fletcher School, Tufts University: "At its best, public diplomacy is targeted, relevant, and engaging. By promoting dialogue with foreign audiences, public diplomacy aims to improve mutual understanding in even the most hostile environments. However, without effective programming and sufficient support, public diplomacy loses its vitality and fails to represent our best face to the world. ... Ambassador Rugh

is particularly critical of U.S. broadcasting programs in the region, namely Radio Sawa and al-Hurra television. The 1999 USIA-State merger placed all broadcast functions under the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which was supposedly an attempt to isolate broadcasting from political influence. The decision has had the opposite effect, Amb. Rugh argues. By endowing eight presidentially-appointed individuals with tremendous authority, broadcasting’s public diplomacy functions are often neglected in favor of profit margins and the whims of individual Board members. ... What can be done? The Public Diplomacy Council, of which Amb. Rugh is an active member, has 'tried to point out the BBG’s mistakes,' but its calls for reform have gone largely unacknowledged. ... Public diplomacy’s potential and effectiveness has essentially become a Washington budgetary issue, says Amb. Rugh, who criticizes the imbalance in resources and effort between the Pentagon and the State Department. The Pentagon’s foray into 'what amounts to public diplomacy' in the Middle East and South Asia is troubling to Amb. Rugh. ... Ultimately, the focus has to return to effective and targeted public diplomacy conducted by trained professionals, not by military officers or profit-driven broadcasting officials." Courtesy LB. Image from article. See also.

The new BBG can expect occasional poor reception - Kim Andrew Elliott, Newswire – CPD Blog & Blogroll, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: “On November 18, President Obama announced his nomination of former CNN chairman Walter Isaacson as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. He will also submit nominations for the full complement of seven members of the bipartisan board, including Bush Administration spokesperson Dana Perino as one of the Republicans. The BBG oversees all of U.S. government funded international broadcasting. ... With the present Board, through attrition, down to four members (plus the ex officio Secretary of State), many employees at VOA were hoping the Obama Administration would dissolve the BBG. They are annoyed at the BBG because it has eliminated several VOA language services, mostly to East European countries, and has cut back on shortwave radio in favor of television and the internet. The new members of the Board will not only have unhappiness from the ranks to look forward to. As part of their firewall function, they will also have to fend off, and thus incur the animosity of, members of Congress and administration officials, who might want the elements of US international broadcasting to emphasize this, or to downplay that, or not to interview some insalubrious character. Furthermore, assorted dictators will be irked by the news coverage of the BBG’s entities. All told, given the likelihood of antipathy from above, below, and abroad, membership in the BBG is not for those who crave affection. ... There certainly is a place for advocacy on behalf of U.S. foreign policy. It’s the job of the public diplomacy offices of the State Department, including the website, now in seven languages. International broadcasting and public diplomacy are necessarily conducted by separate agencies, in separate buildings, in different parts of town. The BBG should maintain that distance.”

A Half Century of Citizen Diplomacy: A Unique Public-Private Sector Partnership Connects Pittsburgh with the World - Sherry Mueller, "The National Council for International Visitors (NCIV), one of the pioneering organizations practicing citizen diplomacy, is marking its 50th anniversary with a sequence of events and initiatives. ... NCIV's half century of leadership in the field serves as a case study to explore citizen diplomacy, its relationship to public diplomacy, and its often underestimated, but nonetheless far-reaching, impact. ... [M]ost citizen diplomacy activities extend well beyond public diplomacy programs. Citizen diplomacy is the concept that, in a vibrant democracy, the individual citizen has the right -- even the responsibility -- to shape foreign relations, as some NCIV members express it, 'one handshake at a time.'

The term 'citizen diplomacy' has been around for a long time. In fact, it predates the term 'public diplomacy' (first coined in the 1960s by Ambassador Edmund Gullion, Dean of the Fletcher School) which has received so much scrutiny in recent years. ... In the 21st century, citizen diplomacy is continuing to gain attention, finding its way into more public speeches, legislation, and 'smart power' discussions. One major reason for this is the sequence of events triggered by 9/11 and the severely tarnished American image around the world that generated alarm from Main Street to Madison Avenue." Mueller image from

US a "Berlin Wall Against Cultural Diversity" or Why We Need Officer 2.0 in Gov 2.0 - Joshua Fouts, The Imagination Age: "The Wall Street Journal published a damning article, ‘Send Us Your Tired, Your Poor, But Only if They're 'Culturally Unique' ' about the continuing visa travails experienced by non-US citizen performing artists and musicians who are invited to the US to perform, oftentimes at the invitation of the US government, but who are denied entry to the US because of bizarre subjective evaluations by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. ... This past May, Andrea DiMaio of Gartner Research wrote an important blogpost that merits revisiting in light of the Wall Street Journal's piece. Her post, ‘Government 2.0 Won’t Happen Without Officer 2.0’ addresses the communication gap between meta government and those who enforce government policies and the need for everyone to be on the same page toward the transformation of government culture. ... In 2007 the British Council did an amazing and bold cultural relations program in the US -- a tour of the Scottish National Theater's play Black Watch. The play was one of the first theatrical explorations of the cultural and societal impact of the war in Iraq. The New York Times did a great write-up. Creativity and cultural relations cannot thrive in the Imagination Age if we don't also have collaboration and cooperation.”

State Department revamps website in Web 2.0 push - AFP: “The US State Department unveiled a new look website on Thursday as it embraces social networking and other Web 2.0 tools in an exercise it called ‘21st Century statecraft.’ ‘Smart power meets smart design,' Katie Dowd, the State Department's "New Media Director,’ said in a post outlining the changes to on the State Department blog ‘DipNote,’ which is also undergoing a facelift.

‘This redesigned website and the redesigned blog, DipNote, both aim to employ the practices of 21st Century statecraft; to educate, listen, learn and engage,' Dowd said. ... Speaking Wednesday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new State Department building, the secretary of state ... touched on the new digital environment. ‘Public diplomacy is changing so rapidly because of digital media,’ she said. ‘You need the tools to communicate constantly in an increasingly interconnected world with 24/7 news feeds, constantly updated blogs, and of course, viral video.’” Image from

Anti-terrorist satellite legislation could affect Alhurra - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Ozomatli as cultural ambassadors: Sent around the world by the State Department, the L.A. band learns from and shares with its new audiences - Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times: "Ozomatli's U.S. government sponsors enlisted the group to perform as part of a long-standing cultural diplomacy program that was developed during the Cold War to win hearts and minds abroad for the American way of life.

During that period, a number of mainly African American jazzmen, including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones, were recruited by Uncle Sam to be the artistic face of America, touring many communist and developing countries. Although such programs had receded over the decades, they were jump-started in the post-Sept. 11 years by Karen Hughes, who was then U.S. undersecretary of State for public diplomacy, partly in an effort to counter growing anti-U.S. sentiment. The band came to the Bush administration's attention after a U.S. cultural attaché posted in Nepal heard a story about them on National Public Radio." Ozomatli image from

Quickie: Public Diplomacy 2.0: Where the USG Meets "New Media" - Domani Spero, “[I]n October, Secretary Clinton, in response to a question during the Dean Acheson lecture said that ‘a new team going in to Pakistan’ and that ‘We have adopted a new approach, which is we do not leave any misstatement or inaccuracy unanswered.’ The US Embassy Pakistan’s Facebook page was created in late October, four days before Secretary Clinton’s visit to Pakistan. It has 627 fans and about a couple dozen photos online as of this writing. Odd thing though -- there is no link from the official embassy website to its Facebook page; so you’ve got to know what you’re looking for. Since November 4, US Embassy Islamabad’s press office has also issued seven Corrections for the Record statements ranging from the US Embassy construction to ‘suspected Blackwater house.’ But other than these, it’s hard to tell how much this rapid response team has done so far."

Call-in with US ambassador to Kabul, and other RFE/RL items - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

A New World War for a New World Order, The Origins of World War III - Andrew G Marshall, The Market Oracle:

“There was, for many years, a split in the administration of George W. Bush in regards to US policy towards Iran. On the one hand, there was the hardliner neoconservative element, led by Dick Cheney, with Rumsfeld in the Pentagon; who were long pushing for a military confrontation with Iran. On the other hand, there was Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State, who was pushing for a more diplomatic, or ‘soft’ approach to Iran. In February of 2006, Condoleezza Rice introduced a new Iran strategy to the Senate, ‘emphasizing the tools of so-called soft diplomacy. She called for ramping up funding to assist pro-democracy groups, public diplomacy initiatives, and cultural and education fellowships, in addition to expanding U.S.-funded radio, television, and Internet and satellite-based broadcasting, which are increasingly popular among younger Iranians.’” Image from

VOL. V NO. 26, December 4-December 17, 2009 – Layalina Productions:

Engagement Prevails for the Nobel Peace Prize Winner While President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize demonstrates general appreciation for his diplomatic approach to international contentious issues, some argue that he has yet to deliver on his pledge for peace.
Swiss Minaret Ban a Setback for MidEast Diplomacy Switzerland's recent ban of minarets has inspired impassioned and polarized reactions on both sides of the issue, and analysts agree the ban will likely damage diplomatic outreach in the Middle East and the wider Muslim world.
Obama’s MidEast Diplomacy Generates Optimism Amidst Doubts President Obama’s first year was noted for his policy of engagement with the Middle East and the Muslim world. Yet the Arab world generally expresses disapproval of Obama’s policies in the region, diluting the positive response the president yielded after his speech in Cairo.
Media Access Restricted After Wave of Protests in Iran Reporters cover media restrictions surrounding recent anti-government demonstrations in Iran while continuing to blast Iranian officials for extreme media repression.
Propaganda on Arab TV: a Threat to US Security? The United States House of Representatives recently passed a bill that will brand Arab media outlets that broadcast “incitements to violence” against the US as terrorist entities. If the bill becomes law, it will also take action against satellite carriers that broadcast such networks.
Egyptian-Algerian Relations Get a Yellow Card After heated words and blows were exchanged between Egyptians and Algerians, the dust appears to be settling in the aftermath of the recent Egypt-Algeria soccer matches. Politicians speak of reconciliation, although tension still remains.
Women in the Arab World: Breaking New Ground? While the UN and women's rights activists strive to improve the social and economic role of women in the Arab world, recent developments are breaking new ground in the Middle East.
Gulf States Summit Aims to Make Headway on Regional Issues Gulf Cooperation Council member states gather this week in Kuwait for their 30th annual summit. Leaders are enthusiastic that the council will make advancements on issues troubling the region, but detractors claim little has been achieved on previous occasions.
Dubai Film Festival Offers Bridge between Cultures Dubai hosted the sixth annual Dubai International Film Festival despite the emirate's recent economic crisis. The festival is considered a link between cultures as it unites industry professionals from around the world who use the event to network and celebrate the world of film.
Arab Blogging Struggles to Affect Change Bloggers in the Arab world discuss the challenges they face at recent meetings and workshops. While there is increasing awareness and use of new communication technologies in the Middle East, the pace of adoption has been relatively slow.

China transforms balance of power in Copenhagen's negotiating halls: China will shape whatever deal comes out of Copenhagen, but is so far reluctant to accept its binding consequences - Jonathan Watts, – “Despite the huge differences that have emerged during the UN climate talks, one thing that almost everyone can agree on is that China has transformed the balance of power in the negotiating halls.

In its alliance-building, wallet-wielding and unusually effective public diplomacy, China will shape whatever deal comes out of Copenhagen far more than it influenced the protocol made at Kyoto 12 years ago.” Image from article: A Chinese woman washes clothes near a power plant in Yingtan, Jiangxi province. China is the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Copenhagen diary - Pallavi Aiyar, Business Standard: “I was pleasantly surprised to find amongst the 3,500 journalists covering COP-15, a number of old friends from China. Not only Chinese reporters but also fellow hacks from the foreign press corps based in Beijing. The unanimous buzz in the China-watcher camp was about the ramped-up public diplomacy of the Chinese delegation, unique for China at an international conference. Notoriously press-shy Chinese government officials waged an aggressive publicity war at Copenhagen, holding daily press briefings open to all media, speaking and answering questions in English. It was a sea change from the usually secretive and low-key manner in which the Chinese tend to operate at international fora. And it put the Indian delegation to shame, which despite the environment minister’s penchant for private interviews with the press, did not hold a single public press conference all through the second week of the negotiations.”

Unimpressive Presence and a Baffling Silence - Ajay Goyal,

"The Chinese, Brazilians and Africans all understand that Copenhagen discussions could result in an agreement that will change the economic make-up of our planet and their status in it. That is why national delegations are here with hundreds of scientists, economists, researchers, lobbyists, tribal leaders, land activists, youth and public diplomacy officials. ... Indian diplomats should have been doing the tough and intricate negotiations and the minister should have been assigned to building public trust in India and support across globe for an ambitious agenda for a cleaner, low-carbon India." Image -- Unimpressive, David -- from

Israel, Hear Our Prayer: Ari Bussel, OpEdNews: “As I sit in the plane departing Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, I think of a country like no other. Senior Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer, also known by ‘Fu'ad,’ moments ago told me: ‘Israel does not fail in its Public Diplomacy efforts, she simply has none.’ He further stated we are at war.”

Happy 70th birthday, Radio Australia - John Tebbutt, “Radio Australia has been broadcasting for 70 years (see their birthday site). It’s a remarkable achievement for a broadcaster that began with a government fiat to support British external broadcasters in the propaganda effort in second world war.International broadcasting did not have any legislative backing until 1983.

When the Australian Broadcasting Commission was reformed as a Corporation clauses were added to the new legislation to support an international role for radio and television. ... More recently the ABC’s current Managing Director, Mark Scott, argued that in the age of social networking the ‘soft diplomacy’ of state-funded international media is all the more important. And it’s competitive as well: with broadcasters from Germany’s Deutsche Welle to the pan-Arabic Al Jazeerha increasing their Asian and Pacific presence.But soft diplomacy, public diplomacy or cultural diplomacy – whatever way you want to describe it – is not a new phenomenon. Once the hostilities of the second world war cooled into the Cold War new forms of government expression were developed.” Image from

Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski is the most trusted of Polish politicians, shows a survey by a pollster CBOS - Karl Naylor, Eastern Europe Watch: “ Radek Sikorski is an formid[a]ble statesman (i.e as opposed to a mere "politician") and a right wing intellectual in the PO who cultivates the Polish gentry ethos in his public diplomacy. .... Yet his attempt to play the Great Game with Russia on a unilateral basis without consensual NATO support and his support for Washington neoconservative cliques will ensure his failure.”

The Importance of Identity in Cultural Relations - Joshua Fouts, The Imagination Age: “The British Council's Mike Hardy who heads their Intercultural Dialogue division has an amazing essay on the importance of Identity

in Cultural Relations in a new collection published by Vodafone called "Future Agenda" . ... [A] key component to contextualizing effective cultural relations using social media and Internet-based outreach is understanding how people use it and what it means to them. ... Mike's essay underscores the importance of the evolving landscape that is identity as mediated by virtual worlds, social media and culture.” Image from

Conversations in Public Diplomacy: Benjamin Goldsmith and Yusaku Horiuchi - ”Social Sciences Building, SOS B40, 12 noon Events Calendar, "The USC Center on Public Diplomacy is pleased to host Benjamin E. Goldsmith and Yusaku Horiuchi for a discussion on their recent research into U.S. foreign policy and international public opinion. Goldsmith and Horiuchi investigate both whether U.S. public diplomacy, in the form of international visits by high-level leaders, has an impact on opinion about U.S. foreign policy around the world, and whether public opinion in other countries affects those countries’ policies towards the United States."

public diplomacy – Kim, “I began looking into a career in public diplomacy with the State Department. (I remember Valerie saying they were a little confused as to why I would pursue this type of career after studying literature for so many years.) As a fairly long-term expatriate in London, I had signed up to the U.S. Embassy’s email list—a nexus of activity in itself—and received weekly updates about all the cultural, media, and educational activities related to U.S. interests.

And throughout my brief academic career, I met numerous students and professors who had been Fulbright scholars in the U.S.—one of the many cultural exchange programs affiliated with the State Department—and every one of them had positive things to say about his or her experience (as well as interesting negative perceptions of what they saw too) while they gained a firsthand, unfiltered insight into American life and culture. The description of my future office on the Istanbul Public Affairs website details the cultural and educational focus of the office, with its organization of exchanges, lectures, seminars, workshops and presentations by U.S. academics, artists, writers, and specialists. This is exactly the kind of work that I enjoyed pursuing in academia—the presentation of research and findings, the active use of information. As I was working on my Ph.D., I attended as many conferences and seminars as I could, helped organize events for the postgraduate society, and edited the English postgraduate journal, which can still be seen {here}.” Image from

Work for the British Embassy: Strategic Campaigns Officer - Ren's Micro Diplomacy: "Strategic Campaigns Officer Background: The British Embassy is looking for an enthusiastic and dynamic Strategic Campaigns Officer to join the Embassy’s Communication Team to provide strategic support and public relations skills for its climate change communication strategy. This is a full-time position. Duties and Responsibilities [inter alia] : Plan and manage our public diplomacy and communication activities in support of the Embassy’s climate change work."


Leaflets and loudspeakers: new unmanned vehicles for psyop
- Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Russia Today launches first UK ad blitz - Luke Harding, for the Kremlin the Obama image is the latest step in an ambitious attempt to create a new post-Soviet global propaganda empire.

Two decades after the demise of Pravda, the Kremlin's 24-hour English language TV channel, Russia Today (RT), is launching its first major advertising blitz across the UK. Dubbed North Korean TV by its detractors, the channel, available on satellite and cable TV, gives an unashamedly pro-Vladimir Putin view of the world, and says it seeks to correct the "biased" western view offered by the BBC and CNN. Image from

Mobile phone English lessons a hit in Bangladesh- Shafiq Alam, AFP: Every morning, Ahmed Shariar Sarwar makes it his daily ritual to call number 3000 on his mobile phone to get lessons in English -- his passport to a better life in impoverished Bangladesh. The mobile tutorial lasts only three minutes, but Rahman, 21, who is studying the textile trade says it is already helping him learn the language, which is key to getting a lucrative job in foreign firms based in Dhaka. He is among hundreds of thousands of young men who have turned to the novel English teaching service since it was launched last month by a charity arm of the BBC. The aim is to teach the language to six million people by 2011. Via

China Imposes New Internet Controls - Sharon LaFraniere, Jonathan Ansfield, New York Times

Guantanamo North, and East: Al Qaeda detainees move to Illinois and Yemen – Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal: President Obama's scramble to close Guantanamo is picking up speed as his arbitrary one-year deadline approaches, with Yemen and Illinois as the latest detainee destinations. Neither decision will enhance U.S. security.

The plan to move Gitmo detainees to the U.S. has a gaping hole – Editorial, Washington Post:

The president needs the ability to hold a suspect where there is hard intelligence that he is too dangerous to release. But no president -- regardless of party -- should be able to wield this power unilaterally, as the Obama administration argues it can. Congress should establish clear legal guidelines that require periodic judicial review, set out clear rules of evidence and guarantee each detainee has an attorney. President Obama will defeat the purpose of closing Guantanamo if he continues to embrace the lawless policies of the past. Image from

The Latest Incoherence - Paul Greenberg, There actually is a law forbidding the importation of the prisoners now held at Guantanamo onto U.S. soil, but with a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, the administration may have no problem repealing it. Or maybe just ignoring it. Hey, it's only the law.If there's any rhyme, reason or legal precedent for these latest, confusing moves, it escapes me. Closing the prison at Guantanamo, the country is assured, will deprive al-Qaida and associated terrorist gangs of using it for propaganda purposes to win new recruits. Really? Won't the terrorists simply start denouncing the prison at Thomson, Ill., instead of the one at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba? The more enemy propaganda changes, the more it stays the same.

Gitmo terror suspects to use court for propaganda - Eric Holder,

Predator war: How we're taking out al Qaeda – Austin Bay, Washington Times:

Mr. Obama is pursuing one of the Bush administration's key policies of "holding at risk" terrorist leaders, which is a euphemism for targeting them. Image from

Our flip-flopping fights - Victor Davis Hanson, Washington Times: Iraq was never lost, and Afghanistan was never quite the easy good war.

G.I.’s in Iraq Hope to Heal Sacred Walls - Steven Lee Myers, New York Times: The Americans hope to restore St. Elijah’s. Army engineers have drawn up plans to shore up the roof and walls of its main sanctuary — believed to have been built in the 11th century — before the last American troops leave the Christian monastery to an uncertain fate.

Ward Off Western Propaganda Against Jihad, Muslims Told - Western orientalists' propaganda that describes Jihad as a "holy war" to spread Islam across the world should be tackled seriously by all Muslims, World Union of Muslim Ulama chairman Prof Dr Yusuf Abdullah Ali Al-Qaradawi said.

Diplomat, scholar led exciting lives [review of An American by Degrees: The Extraordinary Lives of French Ambassador Jules Jusserand by Robert J. Young] - Graeme Voyer, Winnipeg Free Press - In 1898, Jusserand became de facto ambassador to Denmark. Four years later, he was assigned to Washington as French ambassador to the U.S., a position that he would hold for 22 years. Central to Jusserand's tenure as ambassador in Washington was an ongoing controversy over the best means to influence American opinion. This controversy became especially acute during the First World War, when Germany was spending lavishly on propaganda. Jusserand maintained that the German approach would be counterproductive; it would alienate Americans. Instead, Jusserand urged subtlety and restraint. Americans, he argued, would appreciate "dignified, proud and stoical deportment." But Jusserand

had his critics in France and America who wanted a more vigorous propaganda campaign. Jusserand image from


"No ideas/but in things."

American poet -- and physician -- William Carlos Williams


From: Black Tattoo Art: Modern Expressions of the Tribal – Boing Boing


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