Monday, November 30, 2009

November 30

"There is only one way out of Afghanistan: We need a BIGGER and more dangerous enemy somewhere else. For the sake of innocent victims we might kill or injure on this planet and for the sake of civlization in general, I vote for attacking space aliens in the farthest reaches of the Galaxy. The technological innovation necessary for such an undertaking and the amounts of money to be made in the defense industry makes that a win for eve[r]yone."

--joeneri, commenting on a piece in the Huffington Post regarding President Obama's Afghan war plans; image from


Coverage of public diplomacy in the media has declined considerably in recent days; so enjoy, at least, the pictures below!; above image from


Thanks Al - Matt Armstrong, MuntainRunner.u.s.: "If you’re new to via Al Kamen’s In the Loop, welcome and browse a while. By the way, Kamen was referring to this post Fresh Start for the Broadcasting Board of Governors when he cited me and this blog. Michael Meehan, like other BBG nominees, was previously nominated to the Board by President George W. Bush. The (informal) link between the BBG and State Department’s public diplomacy office may potentially benefit State’s public diplomacy efforts."

Israel's Frozen Chutzpah - Emmanuel Navon, For the Sake of Zion: "Israel should not have announced a settlement freeze without demanding that the PA finally fulfills its most basic commitments under the Oslo Agreements, after systematically violating them for the past sixteen years.

Likewise, Israel could have used the public diplomacy card by pointing out to Barack Obama's double standards when in comes to his alleged commitment to human rights. During his recent trip to Asia, Obama shamefully let China and Myanmar get away with their human rights violations. While in China, Obama said that America believes fundamental human freedoms are universal; but he refrained from openly saying that China does not respect those very freedoms." Image from

EU's quiet diplomat steps aside after 10 years - Andrew Rettman, "EU foreign relations chief Javier Solana, who retires this week, will be remembered as a master of quiet, behind-the-scenes diplomacy. But campaigners say he should have done more to put human rights at the forefront of his work. ... Human Rights Watch advocate Lotte Leicht [said] ... [h]e may deliver a tough message in behind-closed-doors talks with world leaders, for all we know, she added. But he has not put human rights at the heart of the EU's identity in a public way. 'In terms of quiet diplomacy he has probably performed quite well. But in terms of public diplomacy he has not,' Ms Lotte said. 'It's a missed opportunity.'"

Work Agenda - Andy Carling, Brussels Agenda: 3 Dec - "Speaking With One Voice: what public diplomacy for the EU? 18:45 to 20:00, The Centre, 22, Avenue Marnix The Centre is hosting a debate on EU foreign policy post-Lisbon

and new opportunities to engage with third countries with Jamie Shea, Director Policy Planning at NATO, and Steven Everts, Personal Representative of Javier Solana for energy and foreign policy." Image from

U.S. Embassy in Colombo on the expression out for new media help - jcptypoi: “The U.S.A. Embassy in Colombo holds positioned out an advert for a new media assistant I conceive it Holds the first diplomatic mission in Democratic socialist republic of sri lanka to expressly name for a place that prosecutes with new media, proposing the turning importance of public diplomacy leveraging the web and Mobile postwar.”


The US "war on the internet" – Blog from the Middle East: The US "war on the internet" information below is just the tip of a terrible iceberg, rarely even mentioned, much less examined by US mainstream media.

Total surveillance and control of information and communications is central and essential to the phony 'war on terror' --- a state terror war for global domination as so much of the world on the deadly receiving end knows. Image from

White House emphasizes the positive in Afghanistan:In the run-up to Obama's expected troop-increase announcement, administration officials praise the Afghan government for progress in crucial areas - Paul Richter,

Defend the defensible - Larry Franklin, Washington Times:

Ultimately, only President Obama can decide whether our interest is so compelling as to demand the continued sacrifice of our blood and treasure in Afghanistan. It is on him. The president would do well to read the memoirs of 19th century veterans of Britain's Afghan wars before granting our commanders their requests for additional troops. This swamp cannot be drained. Image from

Europe Is Missing the Action in Afghanistan: NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen would like to see the Allies 'allowing for more flexibility in the use of their forces' - Daniel Schwammenthal, Wall Street Journal: Rather than dispatching more combat troops, the mood in Europe (and increasingly in the U.S.) is to find some sort of exit strategy.

The Arabs Have Stopped Applauding Obama: A foreign policy of penance has won America no friends – Foujad Ajami, Wall Street Journal:

No one told Mr. Obama that the Islamic world, where American power is engaged and so dangerously exposed, it is considered bad form, nay a great moral lapse, to speak ill of one's own tribe when in the midst, and in the lands, of others. The laws of gravity, the weight of history and of precedent, have caught up with the Obama presidency. We are beyond stirring speeches. Image from

In Elections, Honduras Defeats Chávez: The tiny country beats back the colonial aspirations of its neighbors – Mary Anastasia O’Grady, Wall Street Journal: Unless something monumental happens in the Western Hemisphere in the next 31 days, the big regional story for 2009 will be how tiny Honduras managed to beat back the colonial aspirations of its most powerful neighbors and preserve its constitution. Yesterday's elections for president and Congress, held as scheduled and without incident, were the crowning achievement of that struggle. The fact that the U.S. has said it will recognize their legitimacy shows that this reality eventually made its way to the White House.

The impossible dream, again - Everett 'Ted' Ellis Briggs, Washington Times:

Cuba remains a cancer in the Western Hemisphere. With help from Venezuela and radical Arab states, it has resumed spreading virulent anti-American propaganda, most recently accusing the United States of genocide against Cuba.

Enlarging NATO, Expanding Confusion - Mary Elise Sarotte, New York Times:
Twenty years ago, dictatorships across Central and Eastern Europe toppled. During this season of remembering, the focus has rightly been on celebration of the new freedoms gained by the inhabitants of those countries: to speak freely, to travel, to vote and to choose their own national futures and alliances. Yet the legacy of 1989 has difficult aspects as well, mostly centering on the origins and legitimacy of later NATO expansion to former East German and Warsaw Pact territory; acknowledgment of them by the United States could greatly improve American and Russian relations.

How to Study a Superpower: Experts guided policy, then turned against it [Review of Know Your Enemy by David C. Engerman] - Arch Puddington, Wall Street Journal:

The idea that a historian must check his moral outrage at the door was no more relevant to the study of communism than to the study of Hitlerism. That many, perhaps most, Soviet specialists did not understand this obvious truth at the end of the Cold War ranks among the great intellectual scandals of our time.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

November 29

“The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself.”

--Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger); image from


World monuments (World Monuments Fund) - Los Angeles Times: "In an effort to preserve cultural sites around the world, the World Monuments Fund releases a list of endangered sites every two years.

This year's list includes 93 sites drawn from 47 countries, from well-known attractions to obscure ruins. Here are the spots from the list that sparked our interest, including some that you may want to visit. In the first part of this two-part series, we shared our picks in the Americas. Now we give you our picks from the rest of the world." Historic Center of Craco, Craco, Italy


Going viral ain’t easy – Efe, Reaching the Public: "I have been pondering about the impacts of internet communication, Web 2.0 in specific, on nation branding and public diplomacy. A friend of mine and I have decided to launch a Web 2.0 campaign for Turkey’s nation branding. We have started working on our project proposal around May 2009. I have been working on the issue for around 6 months. There is a great literature on the subject. Dr. Craig Hayden of American University discusses Web 2.0 and Public Diplomacy in his blog post Soft Power and the Open-Source Ethics of Public Diplomacy 2.0 which practically gives you an idea about the discussion."

End-of-November Roundup - Jason Gillikin, A Mild Voice of Reason: "I recently finished Natan Sharansky’s The Case for Democracy. The first two-thirds were a fascinating insight into the political possibilities of linking human rights to public diplomacy.

I can see why this book was so influential among the neocons during the Bush administration. Yet the final one-third disappointed; it was basically Sharansky saying, 'Pfft, the morons didn’t listen to me and so the chance for Middle East peace was lost.' Nevertheless, it was a book worth reading and thinking about." Rice terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, Ifugao, Philippines

Diplomacy expert to speak at Madonna - Livonia Observer - ‎ "Madonna University will host a Corporate Roundtable event called Success in the Global Market 6-8 p.m. Wednesday. Guest speaker Cari Guittard, executive director of Business for Diplomatic Action, will discuss the impact of the United States' overseas image on business profits in Michigan. She also will suggest ways to improve the international climate for business and trade. Guittard, former special assistant to the under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, was named one of San Francisco Magazine's Hot 20 Under 40. She has addressed audiences throughout the world, speaking on issues ranging from public diplomacy and international affairs to crisis communications and national security."


The impact of Obama's Asia tour - Masum Billah, The New Nation, Bangladesh: "Barrack Obama's first Asian trip as president included Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea but not Indonesia where he spent four years of his life. He continued on his first official state visit to Asia to meet the leaders of this region to discuss a variety of topics including American foreign policy and the world economy.

He was drawing on personal experience and family roots in Asia to convey during the trip that he is intent on engaging deeply in the region. But he will need to marshal all his skills in cultural diplomacy to rebuild the U.S. position in a region that Washington has neglected in recent years as China has grown in influence." Lietava Castle, Lietava, Slovakia

Congressman Payne, Modern Politician or Neo-Colonial Martinet? - Ahmed M.I. Egal, Awdalnews Networks: "I have just read the Press Release issued by Congressman Donald Payne entitled 'Somalia: Abusive Behavior in Puntland' dated 21 November 2009, in which Congressman Payne roundly berates the government of Puntland for their treatment of ONLF prisoners in their custody. ... Congressman Payne clearly believes that he has the right, the authority and the power to demand immediate, total and unquestioning compliance by Somali authorities to bend to his will. ... He is acting like a martinet of the colonial era, rather than a seasoned politician with experience of international politics and the nuanced etiquette of cross-cultural diplomacy."

"Extremely Hungary" cultural season in New York a success, says minister - MTI: "Hungary's cultural season in the United States ended with success, scoring points as the most comprehensive programme in Hungarian cultural diplomacy ever, Culture Minister Istvan Hiller told MTI on Sunday, US time.

The series of events dubbed Extremely Hungary, organised by the Hungarian Cultural Centre in New York, were running on a three-year budget of 700 million forints (EUR 2.6m), funding well spent on the best of contemporary productions in music, literature, fine arts, dance and film, Hiller said. The programme's benefits were threefold: it has won further future cooperation between the institutions involved, improved the country image and earned a good press coverage for Hungary and Hungarian culture, he added." Aghjots Monastery, Garni Village, Armenia

Chinese & Swiss artists present new media art - Zhang Ning, CCTV: "[A]perfect example of cultural diplomacy that's worth taking a few photos of [--]Chinese and Swiss artists have united in a transnational presentation of new media art at an newly-opened exhibition at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing. 'Time Lapse' unveils the cultural sensibilities of the artists through the formal expression of technology."


The Afghan decision: President Obama must convince the world that he himself is convinced - Editorial, Washington Post:

If he now is to propose going forward with a campaign to defeat the Taliban and stabilize the country, Mr. Obama needs to make the case strongly for why it is needed and how it can work. Both Americans and Afghans wonder whether the president believes in the war and has the will to win it. Wonderwerk Cave, Ga-Segonyana/Kuruman, South Africa

After Cheney - James Traub, New York Times: Obama is pulled both toward the grand project — as in the campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons — and toward the chastened recalibration, as evident in the reined-in language on democracy promotion. The tension falls between the extreme ambitiousness of the goals and the caution required to achieve them — a sense of prudence born in no small part of the failure of George W. Bush’s transformative schemes.

94 DAYS: Was Obama dithering or decisive? – Washington Post: On Tuesday night at West Point, President Obama will finally announce his new strategy for Afghanistan.

In recent weeks, however, the debate has centered less on what the president will decide and more on how long it's taken him to decide it. Has Obama dithered, as Dick Cheney charges, or has he deliberated appropriately? Tam Ting caves, Laos

A war by another means: Current strategy is miscast for mission, forces - F. Andy Messing and Kevin Dobiles, Washington Times: The conflict in Afghanistan really is a narco-guerrilla irregular war requiring special and custom elements, not a mislabeled "anti-terrorist or unconventional" fight in which conventional forces as such can be used.

Undermining Afghan health care - Leonard S. Rubenstein and William Newbrander, Washington Post: If the Obama administration is serious about supporting the emergence of a legitimate Afghan state and meeting the needs of people who have suffered for decades, it should not confuse health policy with military strategy.

The United States should maintain its commitment to proven approaches in Afghan health care and support the Ministry of Public Health's plans for expanding primary care and hospital services. Washington can continue to fund critical health services in areas of conflict. Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, Barcelona, Spain

Benchmarks in Wartime: As Reliable as Promises - Steven Lee Myers, New York Times: The window for the United States to nurture Iraq’s democratic institutions — the Parliament, government ministries, political parties, independent courts — as the route for resolving disputes is rapidly closing.

America vs. The Narrative - Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times: The Narrative is the cocktail of half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about America that have taken hold in the Arab-Muslim world since 9/11.

Propagated by jihadist Web sites, mosque preachers, Arab intellectuals, satellite news stations and books — and tacitly endorsed by some Arab regimes — this narrative posits that America has declared war on Islam, as part of a grand “American-Crusader-Zionist conspiracy” to keep Muslims down. Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Terrorism trial in New York carries few risks for government: The federal court system is stacked against terrorism defendants, making the trial a safe bet for the Obama administration. But justice would be better served by being honest about tainted evidence - Petra Bartosiewicz, What promises to be the biggest terrorism trial in U.S. history likely will be neither the civil liberties victory its proponents claim nor the terrorist propaganda opportunity its critics fear.

It is actually a safe choice for the Obama administration. This is because in recent years, the federal court system has been effectively retrofitted to all but ensure guilty verdicts in terrorism-related cases. Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos, Santa Cruz department, Bolivia

The case against military tribunals: It's a violation of the Constitution to use the panels without a declaration of war -- and just calling it a 'war' on terror doesn't count - Andrew P. Napolitano,


"As Matthew Parris pointed out in The Times, the NATO mission in Afghanistan is a semantic nightmare: 'agent for change'; 'assymetric means of operations'; 'capacity building'; 'conditionality demand reduction';

'injectors of risk'; 'kinetic situation'; 'licit livelihood'; 'light footprint'; 'partnering and mentoring'; 'reconciliation and reintegration'; 'rolling out a touchdown approach'; 'upskilling'. Today's soldiers (or 'stability enablers' as NATO prefers to call them) are lost in jargon."

--Christopher Coker, Times Literary Supplement (November 20, 2009), p. 24; image from

Saturday, November 28, 2009

November 28

"Instead of invasions we have translations."

--Cesare Pavese; cited in The Times Literary Supplement (November 20, 2009), p. 25; Pavese image from


Let Americans travel to Cuba - Lillian Manzor - "Academics like me who form part of ENCASA (Emergency Network of Cuban American Scholars and Artists to Press for Change in U.S.-Cuba policy, fully endorse and strongly support approval of the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act. The proposal before Congress comes at the right moment: Polls demonstrate that the majority of Cuban Americans and an overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens now support travel to Cuba. ... As scholars and artists, ENCASA supports, in particular, educational and artistic exchanges with Cuba.

During International Education Week, celebrated last week, Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Judith A. McHale presented 'Open Doors: The Annual Report on International Education' at the National Press Club in Washington. During her speech, she underscored the value of international education and the need to create more opportunities for American students to study abroad. She stated: 'Personally, I believe there is no better way to improve our relations than by expanding these critical programs of our students studying overseas.' ENCASA agrees: there is no better way to improve our relations with Cuba than by eliminating current restrictions and expanding opportunities." Image from

Senator Feingold would zero out Radio/TV Martí as part of his "Spotlight on Spending" - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "Easing travel restriction might help 'engage with the people of Cuba,' but for providing uncensored news to Cuba, there is still no substitute for international broadcasting."

No Propaganda Obama – John Brown, Notes and Essays: "As Andrew J. Bacevich puts it, ‘permanent war has become the de facto policy of the United States.’

US taxpayers have gotten so used to wars (even those they don't like) outsourced to the ‘professional’ military (i.e., not them, the hard-working taxpayers) that there's no need -- beltway pundits/bandits, perhaps not so imaginary, would argue -- for the US government to promote war anymore. Not even overseas through ‘public diplomacy.’" Image from

China values its friendship with Pakistan: FM Yang Jiechi – APP, The Pakistani Newspaper - "Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said here Thursday that his country values its friendship with Pakistan. 'Pakistan and China are good friends', said Yang while talking to APP after the launch of China’s Foreign Affairs Photo Album. The book comprising photographs of public diplomacy including bilateral visits and various important events that took place in 2008.Prominent display was given to the Photographs taken on the occasion of visits of Pakistan leadership including President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani."

Worst "Idea of the Day” - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy:

"Washington's think tank fellows are always yearning for organization charts that even they can understand. But they don't understand how successful international broadcasting works. Audiences listen to VOA for news that is more reliable than what they receive from their state controlled domestic media. If that news is coordinated, integrated, and directed 'towards common objectives,' it will lose its credibility and lose its audience. Doing such a thing to the news does not seem very 'progressive.'" Image from

Alhurra press releases bury mention of Alhurra - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

#140Conf Tel Aviv Schedule Update - Alan Weinkrantz’s Stream of Life: "The fourth #140Conf takes place in Tel Aviv on December 6 at Afeka College of Engineering in Tel Aviv. Here's the most recent schedule. ... Schedule Day 1 - 6/12/2009 ... 11:20am David Saranga (@DavidSaranga) The Use of Twitter in Public Diplomacy"

The Face of Polish Russophobia - Karl Naylor, Eastern Europe Watch:

"Poland has been an uncritical and unconditional vassal state of the USA is not even popular with the majority of Poles, one reason for the continuous attempt to bait Russia. After all, it is the assumption of Poland[’]s elite that only by playing on exaggerated fears of Russia in 'public diplomacy' can the sheep be moved into supporting an expansionist role for NATO in Ukraine & Georgia." Image from

CNN reports on RFE role in the Velvet Revolution - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

This Week in Jazz - Sriram Gopal - "Inspired by the jazz program on Voice of America, trumpeter Valery Ponomarev grew up in the Soviet Union with dreams of playing with Art Blakey's famous Jazz Messengers.

Ponomarev defected to the States in the 1970s, and eventually fulfilled his ambitions, spending several years with the legendary drummer." Via; Ponomarev image from article.

On the Register! - melissa, Three Years of VonHinken's: "I was working late on Wednesday evening, so Chad came out to have dinner with me and a coworker (Mike!). He handed me a fantastic letter, dated November 20: On behalf of the Board of Examiners for the Foreign Service, I am please to inform you that your name has been added to the register of those awaiting appointment to the Foreign Service as an Entry Level Officer in the Consular Affairs career track. I could hardly believe it. After all of the time I spent pending investigations [pi in italics] with Diplomatic Security (eight months and one day, from April 8 – November 9), I had finally cleared the second to last hurdle towards becoming a Foreign Service Officer. So what’s next? I say that because that’s the question I’ve been getting all (Thanksgiving) weekend from my family. So I may as well share the answers with you too.
For each career track, or cone (Consular, Management, Public Diplomacy, Economic, and Political) there is a list of people awaiting an offer to attend a training class called the A-100. The register is dynamic, and my place on it depends on two things: my score from the Oral Assessment, and the date I reached the register. Since my score was very low (but still passing!), and I was added to the register VERY recently, I’m pretty much at the bottom of the list."


Get real on Afghanistan - Colbert I. King, Washington Post: The selection of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for President Obama's announcement of his new Afghanistan war strategy is media manipulation worthy of Michael Deaver, the legendary image protector of Ronald Reagan.

What better setting than an audience of military cadets to project Obama as the reluctant warrior and commander in chief who, because of circumstances not of his making, is forced to commit the nation's finest to a war not of his choosing? Makes for a great visual, too. Image from

Diplomacy 101 – Editorial, New York Times: We were thrilled when President Obama decided to plunge fully into the Middle East peace effort. He appointed a skilled special envoy, George Mitchell, and demanded that Israel freeze settlements, Palestinians crack down on anti-Israel violence and Arab leaders demonstrate their readiness to reach out to Israel. Nine months later, the president’s promising peace initiative has unraveled.

Critics call Poland Patriot missile plan a symbolic gesture - Opinia.US:

An article in the U.S. semi-official military newspaper Stars and Stripes suggests that the Obama administration’s plan for placing a limited number of Patriot missiles in Poland has no military significance and is being implemented largely for diplomatic reasons to appease Warsaw after President Obama scrapped President Bush’s far more ambitious anti-ballistic missile defense system. Via MC on Facebook. Image from

Honduras's democratic solution: Why the Obama administration is right to support Sunday's election
- Too many Latin American governments are more interested in backing leaders who share their political inclinations than in upholding the rule of law. While loudly denouncing the "coup" against Mr. Zelaya, they have ignored the rigging of elections and the violent suppression of opposition by fellow leftists. In rejecting their attempt to nullify Honduras's democratic vote this Sunday, the Obama administration has taken a relatively isolated stance -- and a correct one.

Hollywood elitists and other morons - Burt Prelutsky, Saving the best for last brings us to Leni Riefenstahl. In Berlin, in the 30s, as in Hollywood at any time, it wasn’t what you knew but who you knew, and Leni was a chum of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda. Think of him as the head of Germany’s NEA.

It was Herr Goebbels who helped get her the opportunity to make “Triumph of the Will” and “Olympia,” a couple of over-wrought “documentaries” dedicated to hyping the Third Reich. After the end of World War II and for the remaining half of her 101 years, American and European cineastes — the same twerps who do cartwheels over Michael Moore’s propaganda flicks — showered her with honors and acclaim. This in spite of the fact that although she claimed she wasn’t a Nazi and would barely have recognized Hitler if she’d tripped over him, had said, “To me, Hitler is the greatest man who ever lived. He truly is without fault, so simple and at the same time possessed of masculine strength.” Sort of sounds like Chris Matthews going on about Obama or Oliver Stone mooning over Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro, doesn’t it? In 1993, Riefenstahl had the gall to deny that she deliberately attempted to create pro-Nazi propaganda. For good measure, she claimed she was disgusted that “Triumph of the Will” was used in such a way. It was reminiscent of Captain Renault’s shock upon discovering that gambling was taking place in the backroom at Rick’s, all the while pocketing his winnings. Having seen her most famous films, I can assure you that unless you cut the movies up into a million little slivers of celluloid and used them for toothpicks, there was no other conceivable use for them except as Nazi propaganda." Image from

Friday, November 27, 2009

November 27

"Office of Professional Responsibility"

--A branch of the Secret Service reviewing how a Virginia couple, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, managed to slip into Tuesday night's state dinner at the White House even though they were not on the guest list; image from


Americans Are Not Oxymorons: Reflections on President Obama's Afghanistan Plans – John Brown, Huffington Post: "The USG 'public diplomacy' to persuade allies to join the Pentagon's planned additional troop deployment in Afghanistan has, thus far,

been minimal." Image from

The Dirty Dozen: 12 New Policies That Undermine America’s Civil Society - Jennifer A. Marshall and Katherine Bradley, SeeinEye Blog: "7. Using Tax Dollars to Finance Abortion Abroad. On January 23, the President overturned a policy that prohibited the use of U.S. tax dollars for family planning organizations that provide abortions and abortion counseling overseas. 58 percent of Americans disapprove of this decision by the Obama Administration, according to a February 2009 USA Today/Gallup poll.U.S. taxpayers should not have to pay to export this controversial practice abroad, where it serves as poor public diplomacy for the nation’s commitment to life and liberty."

World’s Most Influential Websites – Liriel,

"Obviously, effective public diplomacy takes into account the technology most available to the local populations – with cell phones winning out over PCs, in many cases. Still, the 'good lessons' about how social media is creating new forms of influence are also applicable to governments and individual seeking to engage in diplomacy." Image from

A digital diplomacy community? - Stephen Hale, Digital Diplomacy, Foreign and Commonwealth Office: "Target audience for this blog: people doing digital jobs in embassies and foreign ministries. ... In the Foreign Office, we tend to use the phrases 'digital engagement' and 'digital diplomacy' interchangeably. But there is something distinct about digital diplomacy. It's something to do with the nature of foreign policy, public diplomacy, and global audiences. We're using the tools of digital engagement, but within slightly different boundaries."

Opposing UN Defamation of Religions Proposal - Abu Faris, The Spittoon: "The United Nations has continuously passed non-binding resolutions on defamation of religions since 1999.

However, for the first time ever, a UN body has now proposed a binding treaty to combat the defamation of religions. In response, over 100 NGOS from over 20 countries have signed a Common Statement protesting the resolution against the concept of defamation of religions [which states in part] ... 'Finally, legal efforts alone cannot foster an environment of respect and religious freedom. Education and public diplomacy are vital tools in the protection of a peaceful and robust exchange of ideas and beliefs.'” Image from

NATO to Haaretz: We won't play role in Mideast peace process - Amir Oren, Haaretz: Deputy Secretary General of NATO, Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero: "I would like to congratulate Israel for the quantitative leap in our relations and I welcome Israel's interest in furthering cooperation with NATO, especially in important areas such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, interoperability, armaments cooperation, the fight against terrorism, civil emergency planning and public diplomacy, to mention just a few."

Sizeable crowds gather to usher in Anglo civic groups - Raphael Ahren, Ha'aretz: "Two Anglo pro-Israel public diplomacy groups were launched this week in Jerusalem with panel discussions including some high-caliber speakers from the English-speaking world.

Both the new local branch of the British Zionist Federation, called European Friends of Israel, and Hadar - Council for Civic Action held their inaugural events in front of capacity crowds in the capital's Menachem Begin Center." Image from

Europe: Prevent Turkey Turning East - Ghassan Dahhan, "Europe should be alerted by Turkey’s foreign policy shift and start treating Turkey as a respected ally, by offering Turkey real EU membership prospects. Turkey is of major strategic importance to Europe and it is up to the politicians of EU member states to alter public opinion. ... Julia Follick, Georgetown University, Gold Contributor (121)[:]Mr. Dahhan, You make a really good point about the need for increased public diplomacy within the EU. Whereas negative public opinion towards Turkey has thus far acted as a brake on constructive collaboration and progress towards eventual EU membership for Turkey, positive public opinion could do more to speed this process than any number of governmental initiatives. A concerted effort towards increased understanding and acceptance of Turkey would also improve the situation of Turkish migrants and minorities in Europe, a development that is long past due. Purposeful, targeted public diplomacy is not something European governments are accustomed to doing, but the second vote in Ireland shows that they are capable of it, and how effective it can be. I hope we see more of this in the future."

Online Course in Public Diplomacy Scholarship - The Communication Initiative Network: "The Policy Center for Roma & Minorities and DiploFoundation, supported by the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

launch a call for a scholarship for an online Public Diplomacy course starting in February 2010. The selected applicant will receive a scholarship covering full tuition to attend a 10-week online course in Public Diplomacy, run by DiploFoundation, an international provider of online training in diplomacy and international relations. After completing the course, the selected candidate is offered a 2-month internship at the Policy Center in collaboration with the Department of Public Diplomacy of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs." Image from

Sarkozy 'very effective' in securing Polanski release - Times Online: ‎ "Roman Polanski’s family yesterday praised the role played by Nicolas Sarkozy in securing the film director’s release on bail after two months in a Swiss prison. ... Mr Polanski holds joint Polish and French citizenship and is regarded as a denizen of the Paris cultural scene where he lives with his wife and their two children. France does not extradite its citizens to the US. At first French politicians including Bernard Kouchner, the Foreign Minister, and Frédéric Mitterrand, the Culture Minister, were outspoken in their outrage at the arrest but after a couple of weeks France’s public diplomacy fell silent. Clearly efforts were going on in the background all along and have now paid dividends. Mr Polanski must turn in his passport and have a surveillance system installed at his chalet, where he will wear electronic tagging, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement."


What Are We Doing in Afghanistan? I’ll tell you but it’s off the record … - Domani Spero, Diplopundit:

"The Deputy Ambassador of US Embassy Kabul, Frank Ricciardone was apparently over at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University recently for an evening lecture titled, 'What Are We Doing in Afghanistan?' He sat down with The Herald staff writer Monique Vernon to talk about his life as a diplomat and about American relations with Afghanistan but requested that his lecture be 'off the record.' ... I am trying hard to be sympathetic to Ambassador’s Ricciardone’s position here. But I am having a mighty hard time. Here is one of our top career diplomats talking about what is currently our top foreign policy engagement. I am wondering on the purpose of giving a lecture titled 'What Are We Doing in Afghanistan?' if one can only explain it off the record to a limited number of seats populated by Brown University students?" Image from

He Can't Take Another Bow: An icon of a White House that is coming to seem amateurish – Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal: Just as stinging as Elizabeth Drew on domestic matters was Leslie Gelb on Mr. Obama and foreign policy in the Daily Beast. Mr. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and fully plugged into the Democratic foreign-policy establishment, wrote this week that the president's Asia trip suggested "a disturbing amateurishness in managing America's power." The president's Afghanistan review has been "inexcusably clumsy," Mideast negotiations have been "fumbling." So unsuccessful was the trip that Mr. Gelb suggested Mr. Obama take responsibility for it "as President Kennedy did after the Bay of Pigs."

In Afghanistan, real leverage starts with more troops
- Frederick W. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan, Washington Post: Afghan governance will not improve as long as American forces are unable to provide security to the people and improve the capabilities of Afghan forces.

It will not improve as long as Afghans think that the United States is not serious about the effort. Image from

Taleban takes propaganda victories in city at heart of Afghan campaign - Kathy Gannon, A mark of the Taleban's propaganda success is the widespread belief that a US missile caused a ferocious explosion that killed 41 people and flattened a block in the heart of Kandahar last August. In fact, it was a truck bomb planted by the Taleban.

Iranians in Exile - Roger Cohen, New York Times: President Barack Obama has been too weak on human rights abuses in Iran.

Watchdog warning about TV in post-Soviet states - Veronika Oleksyn, AP:

Government-influenced television is hampering democracy in Russia, Belarus and most post-Soviet countries in Central Asia and the South Caucasus, and it could endanger international peace and security if misused as a propaganda tool, a watchdog warned Thursday. Miklos Haraszti, the outgoing media freedom representative at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said even TV stations that are not directly state-owned are often in the hands of people close to those in power. Image from

Dreaded Stasi propaganda film shows 5-yr-old kids simulating war games - ANI, News: East Germany’s secret police Stasi’s propaganda film made in 1977 shows children as young as five being made to simulate war games. The film was found in the Birthler Archive, the repository of the remaining files and documents of the Stasi, which was shut down at the same time as the East German state 20 years ago.

The black and white footage entitled “The Sun Always Lives” shows boys fighting with live ammunition as shells and smoke bombs explode around them. The film features members of the Communist party’s Young Pioneer youth movement and was filmed at one of their summer camps in the resort of Lubmin am Greifswalder Bodden. Image from

Thursday, November 26, 2009

November 26

"Woman goes shopping for turkeys at the supermarket, but they're all really small, and she has to feed a whole family. She says to the stockboy, 'Do these turkeys get any bigger?' 'No, ma'am,' he replies. 'They're dead.'"

--Professor Nancy Snow, in one of her Facebook entries; image from


Gobble, gobble, gobble – Paul Rockower, Levantine: "We have had much to be thankful for this year, but I will offer my thanks first and foremost to the man occupying the White House. The magnet at the gift store had Obama's picture and the quote 'It's okay to be an American again.' Amen to that. Thanks to President Obama using public diplomacy and soft power to bring Brand America back to the top."

Mr. Obama's Unique War – John Brown, Notes & Essays: "Instead of the crude, obscenely packaged fabrications used by his predecessor to mislead us into the war in Iraq, Obama's deliberations on a military escalation in Afghanistan have been marked by officially announced doubts about why we should engage more soldiers in that part of the world in the first place; by leaks from the principals involved,

so many of whom disagree with one another; and, from a narrow PR perspective, by an unwillingness (some would call it a failure) to craft a clear, simple message of 'why we should fight' in a little-known land thousands of miles from our shores. Moreover, the USG 'public diplomacy' to persuade allies to join the Pentagon's planned additional troop deployment in Afghanistan has, thus far, been minimal." Image from

Make New Friends, but Keep the Old - World-Wide-Matel: "[P]ublic diplomacy and the perception of events makes as much differences as the events themselves."

US State Department Sponsors Virtual Panel on Green Workplaces December 3 - Group Information in Second Life: Betterverse: "Nonprofits in the Virtual World: Covering the intersection of the public sector and the metaverse:

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs, Office of Innovative Engagement cordially invites you to attend Virtual Worlds as Green Workplaces? ... For more information about upcoming events, please register for the group 'Public Diplomacy'." Image from article

On a mission of trust, respect and honest dialogue - Claire Clausen - COP15 Post: "Japan sent their secret weapon to Denmark 14 months ago when Ambassador Seiichi Kondo arrived. A convinced public diplomat, he brings 37 years of international experience to Copenhagen, and beautiful his wife, Yoko. ... The international experience opened his eyes to the value of public diplomacy and of how cultural exchanges have powerful long-term benefits. ... [R]ecently he was director general of the Public Diplomacy Department in Tokyo promoting cultural exchanges worldwide and developing public diplomacy in Japan and its missions abroad.

‘The world is now very competitive so we have to attract attention in new ways,’ he says. These days, with massive media focus on global economies and the BRIC nations, particularly China and India, Kondo acknowledges the need to be vigilant to prevent the image of Japan being overshadowed. Image from article." Image from article

IVIR Communications Policy and Research Forum 2009 - Network Insight Institute: "The 2009 Forum was held at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) on 19-20 November. Interest areas included ICT, digital media, telecommunications, broadcasting, communications culture, Internet and e-commerce. Presentations and keynote speaches are available including ... . Twitter free Iran: An evaluation of Twitter’s role in public diplomacy and information operations in Iran’s 2009 election crisis by Alex Burns & Ben Eltham (presentation)."

Slovakia - Ambassador-Designate of Canada to the Slovak Republic residing in Prague Valerie Raymond presented today a copy of her credentials to State Secretary Oľga Algayerovác – ISRIA: "The State Secretary appreciated a good level of bilateral relations with Canada and expressed her wish to further develop them in all areas of common interest. Both sides exchanged views on the priorities of bilateral cooperation including stabilisation efforts in Afghanistan, development aid, public diplomacy, migration issues and the strengthening of economic cooperation between the EU and Canada."

About Me, Lisa Reyna's Page:

"Worked in Public Diplomacy and International Exchange for the last 13 years." Lisa image from article


Obama's skeptic in chief - David Ignatius, Washington Post: Obama's obligation is to give the military enough resources to succeed at the mission he assigns them.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told a group of key congressmen Thursday that President Obama was engaged in a "thoughtful process" of deciding on his request for additional troops in the region - Paul Kane, Washington Post

Iran Punishes Its People - Editorial, New York Times: Iran’s fraudulently elected president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will clearly stop at nothing to stifle legitimate dissent and hold on to his illegitimate power. The most recent horror is the sharp rise in executions since the June presidential elections.

We believe that the Obama administration was right to reach out to Iran in an effort to curb its nuclear ambitions. But we also believe that there have to be limits to that forthcomingness, and time is running out. Image from

Why we should still talk with Iran
- Maziar Bahari, Washington Post: Not talking to Tehran doesn't work: The hostile rhetoric and actions of the Bush administration against even the reformist government of Mohammad Khatami helped the hard-liners to consolidate power. Only by engaging, even with a more radical regime, can the West force Tehran to measure the costs and benefits of dealing with the outside world.

Obama’s Troubles - George Packer, New Yorker:

As President, Obama seems, very strangely, to have forgotten that his most important constituency is not his small circle of advisers but his three hundred million countrymen. Apart from a few excellent speeches, he has stopped explaining to the public what he’s doing. He seems to disappear into himself for days and weeks at a time. You can feel the air going out of public confidence. For a White House that puts so much emphasis on strict message control, this is a curious state of affairs: a heavy-handed attitude toward unauthorized stories, a rather destructive campaign of apparently authorized leaks, and a habitually inward focus that leaves the country in the dark for long stretches of time. Courtesy LB. Image from

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

November 25

"In other words, why does evolution keep failing?"

--Evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson; image from


It's Complicated: U.S.-India Relations - Anant Goenka, Neon Tommy:

"From a public diplomacy point of view, a shift in power from Europe to Asia is evident and often spoken about. President Obama will require good relations with India to balance the China's power." Image from

Schram: When to leak - Martin Schram, Scripps News: "There are many ways to introduce a controversial topic -- even today's about the most private tool of public diplomacy and its role in President Obama's troop decision on the Afghanistan war. ... Today's topic is: Leaks. Leaks happen in every ship of state. Leaks are decried by every captain of every ship of state. And yet, sometimes a well-placed leak can actually keep a ship of state afloat.All of this is worth noting because leaks -- carefully whispered by anonymous sources with eponymous motives that correlate to the building in which they work or the party in which they are registered -- have played major roles in President Obama's troop decisions."

Democracy Is... - Matt Armstrong,

"The second annual Democracy Video Challenge for 2010 is underway. If you haven’t checked out the winners of the 2009 challenge, do it. See also several submissions from students in USC Masters of Public Diplomacy program." Image from article

mountainrunner: @AlecJRoss on social media for public diplomacy & FSOs (RT @busofgovernment)

US online strategy holds clues for Tokyo - Fumi Yamazaki, The Japan Times: "What Tokyo needs to learn from Washington is a kind of 'beta culture,' where action is fast and problems are taken care of quickly if they arise. Lovisa A. Williams, a technology adviser at the U.S. State Department, says the key to getting citizens involved is to use the platforms they already use. Working on public diplomacy, Williams uses not only Facebook, Twitter and Second Life, but also QQNet to communicate with the Chinese community and Orkut to communicate with the Brazilians. She says that rather than building your own space for people to come to, you must go to them."

With a snipe at VOA, WIN TV begins its broadcasts to Iran - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

A Prophetess with Honour in Her Country, THISDAY - Bukola Olatunji: "Distinguished Professor of Cultural Diversity and English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Osonye Tess Onwueme has won several international awards, including a Ford Foundation research award.

She was recently appointed to the US State Department Public Diplomacy Specialist/Speaker Program for North, West, and East India. Onwueme, who has been professor at Wisconsin for 16 years and taught at various colleges in the US before then has been compared to Nigerian dramatists, Zulu Sofola, Femi Osofisan, and Wole Soyinka in her use of Nigerian performance structures and commitment to exploring the socio-political issues that affect the lives of the struggling masses, women, and youths in the global community today." Image from

Everything after that is gravy - citizen diplomacy and ambassadorial moments during Thanksgiving - Maria Lewytzkyj, "Have you ever heard of the program called the International Thanksgiving Fellowship Program? The program was founded by Trudy Trogdon of Paris, Illinois, who wanted to promote international understanding by fostering international goodwill between international students and host American families willing to open their homes during the Thanksgiving holiday. According to Sherry L. Mueller, the President of the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV), and Melissa Whited, a Program Associate at NCIV, Trudy 'thought about the international students in Chicago who had never experienced the warm hospitality and open friendliness of small-town America.'” Via MP.

Smith-Mundt Symposium: A Discourse to Shape America's Discourse - Matt Armstrong – "[T]he report on the Smith-Mundt Symposium of January 13, 2009 ... [s]ubtitled 'A Discourse to Shape America’s Discourse' ... it was a frank and open discussion across a diverse group of stakeholders, practitioners, and observers from Congress, the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security, and outside of government, many of whom never had a reason to be in the same room with one another before.

Ostensibly on the law that authorized what we now call public diplomacy, it was really a way to foster an interagency, public‐private, and inter‐tribal discussion was on the purpose, structure, and direction of America’s global engagement. The report has been online since April. It is republished at Scribd for greater attention and comment." Image from

Public Diplomacy and the United States Information Agency CPD in Washington - USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Thursday, December 10, 2009 6:00 PM Venue: USC Washington DC Office The USC Center on Public Diplomacy is pleased to host a reception and discussion to celebrate the publication of The Cold War and the United States Information Agency: American Propaganda and Public Diplomacy, 1945-1989 in association with the USC Masters Program in Public Diplomacy, USC Annenberg Chair in Communication Leadership and Policy, and the Public Diplomacy Council. The event will be held at the USC Washington DC Office."

NATO Launches Rocket Fuel Oxidizer Destruction Project in Uzbekistan - Journal of Turkish Weekly: "A NATO-sponsored project will be launched in Uzbekistan on 26 November, for the safe destruction of 1100 tonnes of melange. Stocks of this highly toxic substance, which was used during the Soviet era as rocket fuel oxidizer, is being kept in deteriorating storage conditions, posing a potential risk to the environment and local population. ...

The launch of the project will be marked by an official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday afternoon, 26 November, at the military base of Oqtosh (Samarkand region). The Minister of Defence of Uzbekistan Kabul Berdiyev and the NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy Jean-François Bureau will preside over the opening ceremony." Image from

Call to bring FATA into mainstream, The News International, Pakistan: "It is the need of the hour to limit the fighting to the South Waziristan, implement post-operation strategy of isolating the militants and bring the FATA into the mainstream. This was said by speakers at PINA roundtable discussion on Implementation of Post-Operation Strategy in South Waziristaní held ... on Tuesday and chaired by the former federal minister of religious affairs, Ejaz-ul-Haq. ... [PINA secretary general] Altaf Hasan Qureshee stressed upon the nation to adhere to democratic principles and cultivate a culture of consensus and accommodation. He pointed out that Americans were great a nation, urging his countrymen to adopt their good qualities. There is a great need to develop compatibility between the interests of the two countries through public diplomacy."

Challenge of the proxies - Ceylon Daily News: "Sri Lanka has been wise enough to develop close contacts with the emerging powers in Asia, Africa and Latin America as well as Europe and Central Asia. Today, Sri Lanka is a member of many multilateral organizations such as BIMSTEC, SCO, and ACD. These new developments have already paid dividends both economically and politically. ... Naturally there are powers that are not pleased at these developments. They are using a new fifth column

through public diplomacy. In this not so open diplomatic game the media is a vital tool in their armoury. That is why we see almost daily articles that speak disparagingly on our foreign policy outlook." Image from

My experience as a candidate - Walid Maalouf , "Walid Maalouf, former US Public Delegate to the United Nations and former Director of Public Diplomacy at USAID, has been a professional businessman and diplomat in the metropolitan Washington, DC area for more than 20 years tackling international issues on cultural, educational and political levels."

The sound of COP15 – United Nations Climate Change Conference, Dec 7-Dec 18, 2009: “'We wanted a strong identity for COP15 – both visually and audibly. The sound logo contributes to raising awareness of the conference and its crucial role,'

says Klavs A. Holm, Ambassador of Public Diplomacy at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark." Holm image from


Obama Loses a Round - Ying Chan, New York Times: While the jury is still out on what President Obama’s China visit has achieved for the long term, the president has most decidedly lost the war of symbolism in his first close encounter with China. In status-conscious China, symbolism and protocol play a role that is larger than life. U.S. diplomatic blunders could reinforce Beijing’s mindset that blatant information control works, and that a rising China can trump universal values of open, accountable government. During Mr. Obama’s visit, the Chinese outmaneuvered the Americans in all public events, from the disastrous town hall meeting in Shanghai to the stunted press conference in Beijing. In characteristic manner, the Chinese tried to shut out the public, while the U.S. unwittingly cooperated.

Modern Flourishes at Obamas’ State Dinner- Rachel L. Swarns, New York Times: It is an old tradition, a White House dinner governed by ritual and protocol that happens to be this city’s hottest social event. But at their first state dinner on Tuesday night, President Obama and his wife, Michelle, made sure to infuse the glittering gala with distinctive touches. They invited local students to witness the arrival of the guests of honor, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and his wife, Gursharan Kaur, and presented a mélange of musical entertainment, including the National Symphony Orchestra; Jennifer Hudson, the singer and actress; Kurt Elling, the jazz musician from Chicago; and A. R. Rahman, the Indian composer who wrote the score to the movie “Slumdog Millionaire.”

President Ulysses S. Grant held the first White House state dinner when he hosted King David Kalakaua of Hawaii in 1874. Through the decades, leaders have used the occasions to reward prominent allies and to nurture diplomatic relationships with more or less regularity, depending on the president. (President George W. Bush held only six state dinners, while President Bill Clinton hosted more than 20.) Image from

U.S. Strategy on Afghanistan Will Contain Many Messages - David E. Sanger, Wall Street Journal: In declaring Tuesday that he would “finish the job” in Afghanistan, President Obama used a phrase clearly meant to imply that even as he deploys an additional 30,000 or so troops, he has finally figured out how to bring the eight-year-long conflict to an end. But offering that reassuring if somewhat contradictory signal — that by adding troops he can speed the United States toward an exit — is just the first of a set of tricky messages Mr. Obama will have to deliver as he rolls out his strategy publicly. Over the next week, he will deliver multiple messages to multiple audiences: voters at home, allies, the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the extremists.

Peace negotiations with the Taliban? – David Ignatius, Washington Post:

Memo to the Taliban: We’re not saying “no” to peace negotiations, assuming you are willing to dump Osama bin Laden and stop shooting U.S. soldiers. But we’re not saying “yes,” either. Yours sincerely, Hillary Clinton, secretary of state.That’s the way I would read the oblique and little noticed message that Clinton delivered Monday. Image from

Pentagon's Detainee Policy Coordinator Resigns [no link] - Bulletin News, LLC. The Washington Post reports Phillip Carter, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee policy, has resigned. Carter "has helped craft policies that will allow hundreds of prisoners held by the US military in Afghanistan to challenge their indefinite detention under a new review system." Carter's resignation, the New York Times notes, "comes as the administration has acknowledged that it will not be able to close the prison by Jan. 22," and shortly after Greg Craig, "the White House counsel in charge of detainee policy for Mr. Obama, also announced his resignation." The Miami Herald reports Carter's decision "apparently took the Department of Defense by surprise."

Bridging a gap for India and Pakistan - Ahmed Rashid, Washington Post: To avoid a regional debacle and the Taliban gaining even more ground, Obama needs to fulfill the commitment he made to Afghanistan in March: to send more troops -- so that U.S.-NATO forces and the Afghan government can regain the military initiative -- as well as civilian experts, and more funds for development.

He must bring both India and Pakistan on board and help reduce their differences; a regional strategy is necessary for any U.S. strategy in Afghanistan to have a chance. Image from

Declaring Palestine - Louis Rene Beres, Washington Times: Any Palestinian state would have a deeply injurious impact on American strategic interests, as well as on Israel's survival.