Monday, January 4, 2010

January 4

“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”

--Noam Chomsky; image from


United States and Public Diplomacy: New Directions in Cultural and International History (Diplomatic Studies) (Hardcover)
~ Kenneth A. Osgood (Editor), Brian C. Etheridge (Editor)


In the war of ideas, Uncle Sam's voice must be heard: With a new board, government broadcasters like Voice of America could thrive again - John Hughes, ‎ Christian Science Monitor: "The BBG [Broadcasting Board of Governors] provides oversight for all the government’s nonmilitary international broadcasting.

Today the lineup includes not only VOA and RFE/RL but also Radio and TV Martí to Cuba, Radio Free Asia to a slew of Asian countries, Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa to Arab countries, and Radio Farda to Iran. ... Once confirmed, the new board faces some unenviable challenges: •It must determine whether, with the rapid growth of private Arab TV networks like Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, the government’s troubled Alhurra is an effective competitor. •It must decide whether, in the light of small audiences in Cuba, Radio Martí and TV Martí should continue to exist in their present form. •It must tackle the problem of overlapping broadcasting with other government entities. The State Department is pursuing its own radio programming to counter Taliban inroads in Afghanistan. The much better financed Department of Defense has a huge 'strategic communication' plan – public diplomacy. •It must determine the appropriate balance between radio broadcasting, which is still the informational lifeline for millions, and television, which has become the new provider for many in the Arab world. There is also the powerful technology of the Internet’s social media to engage in a dialogue with a vast audience of friends and foes around the globe. With new voices on the BBG, it should be given a chance to succeed." Image from

And some people might call it news - Kim Andrew Elliott Reporting on International Broadcasting: "The Secretary of State, with the the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy actually attending the meetings, has one ex officio vote in the BBG, and not just to break ties. That, legally, is the extent of State Department authority over US international broadcasting. VOA broadcasts in 45 languages."

Alhurra spokesperson speaks out for Alhurra - Kim Andrew Elliott Reporting on International Broadcasting

New Greek government says 'no haste' in relations with Turkey - Ariana Ferentinou, Hürriyet: "For the first time in Greece’s recent political history, when the Prime Minister George Papandreou

spoke of a new 'threat to our national sovereignty,' he was not referring to Turks, but to the huge public debt that has enslaved Greece to foreign creditors. ...[H]is visit to Istanbul as a Foreign Minister – he holds both portfolios that of the prime minister and the foreign minister – was a perfect public relations exercise of public diplomacy, which won the Turkish public." Panpadreou Image from

Turkey to determine 2010 foreign policy road map - Hurriyet Daily News: "Along with technological innovations and new embassies in Africa and Latin America, [Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet] Davutoğlu has focused on achieving an effective 'public diplomacy' that entails the ministry working with civil society organizations on international affairs."

Georgia Moderates Policies Towards Separatist Territories - Remy Gwaramadze, Caucasus Watch, Evolutsia.Net: "At the end of the year, Georgia sent a powerful signal to the world. The draft paper with the working title 'State Strategy towards Occupied Territories – Engagement through Cooperation' has been presented this week.

The document not only discusses the discontinuation of isolation-based politics towards Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but also providing active measures to stimulate low-level cooperation. Areas of engagement include economic, education, healthcare and cultural projects, as well as through public diplomacy, people-to-people contacts including reopening of railway connection and bus traffic. Image from

Public Diplomacy Syllabus - Matt Armstrong, "I am teaching PUBD510: Public Diplomacy and Technologies this coming semester, Spring 2010, at the University of Southern California. The syllabus is online. The purpose of the course is prepare students to effectively communicate to senior policy maker on the requirements of operating in the Now Media environment."


Where Are The Stories On What Pakistanis Actually Think About Drone Attacks? - Adrian MacNair, Perhaps our media could spend more time investigating what civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan actually think about drones, rather than copy editing the talking points from the Pakistani government and Taliban propaganda.

Obama's can't-do style: He -- and thus, America -- may mean well, but it's going to take more than that to address the world's issues - Robert J. Lieber, First, there is Obama's remarkable solipsism, i.e., his penchant for projecting himself as the personification of U.S. policy.

Second, Obama overestimates the extent to which America's adversaries determine their policies in reaction to U.S. rhetoric and policy rather than as expressions of their own values, history and interests. Third, there remains the president's inexperience, coupled with a proclivity for Olympian detachment. Image from

Obama's failed freshman year – Editorial, Washington Times: The world is a tough neighborhood. Mr. Bush was not loved, but he was feared, which Machiavelli advises is a more durable position. Mr. Obama has sought only to be loved, but in the process has disappointed America's allies and encouraged our adversaries.

'Free to speak out' in Egypt – Editorial, Washington Post: What is the U.S. position on democracy in Egypt? The American ambassador in Cairo, Margaret Scobey,

was asked that question Dec. 14, during an appearance at an Egyptian university. She said: "In my time in Egypt, I have noticed that many Egyptians are very free to speak out. The press debates so many things." The assembled students must have wondered if Ms. Scobey was talking about some other country. Egypt is rated 143rd out of 175 countries for press freedom by Reporters without Borders. Scobey image from

Afghanistan, now and then: The troop buildup is just underway, but it's not too early to start thinking about what comes next - Eric T. Olson, Most fundamental, is it necessary to win a counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan -- incurring all the costs that such a victory might entail -- in order to prevent Al Qaeda from accomplishing its purposes in Pakistan and Afghanistan?

Another failure to communicate: 9/11 was supposed to be a wake-up call for U.S. intelligence agencies. Nope - Doyle McManus, Eight years after 9/11, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are still a collection of competing entities that often cooperate but sometimes conflict.

Yes, It Was Torture, and Illegal – Editorial, New York Times: The inhumane and illegal treatment of detainees could make a return in a future administration unless the Supreme Court sends a firm message that ordering torture is a grievous violation of fundamental rights.

Letter From London: My American Friends - Geoff Dyer, New York Times:

It turns out that the qualities that make us indubitably British — that is, the ones that we don’t share with or have not imported from America — are no longer conducive to Greatness. Image: The British Empire, 1897

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