Monday, March 15, 2010

March 15

"It's useless to play lullabies for those who cannot sleep."

--Composer John Cage; Cage image from

Below images from: Don't mention the war, girls: For sale, a treasure trove of very un-PC WWII propaganda posters - Daily Mail Reporter


Obama’s Public Diplomacy Corner: Big Symbols, Limited Interaction with Muslim World - Darrell Ezell, Enduring America: "[T]o a degree, this administration’s approach to interaction with the Muslim world resembles outreach under the Bush administration. Most of the outreach strategy of Assistant Secretaries of State like Charlotte Beers and Karen P. Hughes strategy revolved around listening tours with elite audiences and a bold secular agenda on Education, Science/Technology, and Economic Development. Mindful of the many setbacks under Beers and Hughes generated by an overreliance on symbols, one might imagine this administration would grasp the importance of assessing their strategy in order to avoid complications.

Instead, It appears the Obama administration has lapsed into the same problem, with those symbols standing in for direct interaction with Muslim communities. ... While the Obama Administration has taken the correct steps to make engagement a top priority on its agenda, unfortunately, its approach is imbalanced. Since Cairo, this engagement has been primarily directed to restoring communication with elites rather than with Muslim communities. With this imbalance, PD symbols try to mollify Muslim communities until a broad strategy is developed: *Reinstating existing cultural exchange and PD programs directed primarily at Muslim youth and women; *Appointing Special Representative Farah A. Pandith and Special Envoy Rashad Hussain; *Recurring visits by Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Muslim countries; and *Promoting America’s secular vision to the Muslim world [.] While PD symbols are often effective in launching engagement, in recent years they have ineffective in communication with the Muslim world. Hence, a more sustained effort is required. Regardless of how many PD symbols this administration decides to implement, recognizing and incorporating religious perspectives is vital to an enriched engagement. Real dialogue must occur at the grassroots level, incorporating the aspirations and perspectives of religious leadership and civic activists into the administration’s foreign policy vision. Integrating this important dimension will require Obama quelling political fears in Washington toward the religion of Islam."

A Surfeit of America: Engaging the World in a Time of Excess - Nancy Snow, Huffington Post: "The best public diplomacy for the United States will have less to do with how we craft our own stories from inside the Beltway of Washington and more about how we assist others in shaping theirs. We need to play off our strengths in mass media persuasion by partnering with US companies in the private sector that are concerned about how this excess of misinformation affects their bottom line. We also need to seriously pursue the establishment of a Ministry of Culture or at least do more collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution. It's very difficult for the State Department to take the lead in telling America's story to the global masses when it is also responsible for official diplomatic negotiation and security. We have so many war memorials in the United States and a Department of Defense to coordinate our national security. The Chinese now have over 45 Confucius Institutes on American university campuses. Why no U.S. agency to coordinate cultural ties with our global partners like the Japan Foundation, British Council, or Goethe Institute, or Alliance Francaise?"

New Public Diplomacy and a Bureau "Realignment" - Domani Spero, DiploPundit: "Under Secretary Judith McHale went before the SFRC last week on the future of U.S. Public Diplomacy. Testimony is here. She cited Pakistan as a case study on the new approach. ... In related news, the NYT reported that 'A tour of the United States arranged by the State Department to improve ties to Pakistani legislators ended in a public relations fiasco when the members of the group refused to submit to extra airport screening in Washington, and they are now being hailed as heroes on their return home.'

That same NYT report also quoted Larry Schwartz, the 'senior communications adviser at the American Embassy in Islamabad.' I can’t keep track of all these new titles anymore. David Ensor recently came onboard as Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy at the US Embassy in Kabul. I wonder if he and Larry have an equivalent at the US Embassy in Baghdad. No, not the PAO, silly – somebody with an updated title like them."

What Solution on Iran?
- Andrew Lebovich, The Washington Note: "Yet as debate on Iran continues to stagnate, there is still the ever-present fear that something will snap in the Middle East, and war could break out in the event that Israel decides to act on Iran, with or without American help. It is in this context that I took another look at former Bush Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy James K. Glassman and Michael Doran's Wall Street Journal op-ed from January, arguing for a 'soft-power' solution on Iran, with a combination of sanctions, support for the Green Movement, and strategic communications helping create a situation in Iran that is more favorable to the U.S. and its allies. While I hesitate to accept this view or advocate for regime change in Iran, whether through force or soft power, Glassman's idea that the U.S. should be using all of its tools on Iran is an important one that deserves more attention. For those interested in this debate, Glassman will be speaking at the New America Foundation Tuesday, March 16, discussing how he feels strategic communications can help the U.S. in Iran. The event will be moderated by Steve Clemons, and will be from 12:15 pm to 1:45 pm, and will also be webcast live here at The Washington Note."

Biden’s Israel Debacle Puts Obama’s Flawed Middle East Strategy Squarely In The Spotlight - race for Iran: "1. JohnH says: March 14, 2010 at 1:24 am Ahmadinejad knows that the US media and propaganda will portray him the same way, no matter what he says. As a result, he is free to say whatever will win him points inside of Iran and wherever people are allowed to hear what he says.

This includes the Arab 'street.' Where he is allowed to be heard, he scores points against an overbearing West. The problem for Obama is not what Ahmadinejad says or does. His problem is the opposite of Ahmadinejad’s. Instead of being free to say something constructive, he is constrained by the Iranian frame that is highly entrenched in the US media and public 'diplomacy.' To have any hope of changing anything, Obama has to start exercising leadership by changing the frame of the narrative by going behind closed doors or by going over the heads of the talking heads and hired pens. He started to do this by talking about engaging Iran. But then he promptly shot himself in the foot by making Iran an offer on the TRR that they had to refuse."

Public diplomacy with Yerevan picks up speed - Today's Zaman: "Collaboration between Armenian and Turkish civil society organizations has helped to ease the recent tension in Turkish-Armenian relations as various civil society organizations from Turkey continue meeting with their counterparts in Yerevan. ... An improvement in relations with Armenia started when President Abdullah Gül visited the country to watch a soccer match between Turkey and Armenia in 2008. This was followed by two protocols signed by the two countries last year to improve relations between them. However, while the Armenian Constitutional Court upheld the legality of the two protocols in January, it underlined that they could not contradict Yerevan's official position that the alleged Armenian genocide must be internationally recognized. The US House Committee on Foreign Affairs also passed a resolution recognizing the 1915 mass killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottomans as genocide, which further damaged the process. Experts believe these developments have been caused by Turkey's limited success in terms of public diplomacy and explaining its own position internationally. However, civil society organizations have continued to visit Armenia."

Israel's first real response to Goldstone - Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post: ‎"Over a year after Operation Cast Lead and following wide-ranging criticism and countless international condemnations, the vindication of the IDF has finally begun. ... The 500-page report revealed Monday by The Jerusalem Post and authored by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center is the first real, aggressive Israeli response to the Goldstone Report, taking it apart piece-by-piece and explaining the true nature of the conflict against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. ...

The radio waves are full these days of commercials from Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein’s new campaign to get regular Israelis, during their travels abroad, to explain that they don’t ride camels or eat only barbecued foods. Instead of wasting taxpayer’s money, Edelstein’s budget should go to establishing an official response team that will be responsible for writing such reports and disseminating them to the media, not a year after the operation but rather as the fighting is still going on. Until this happens, Israel has only itself to blame for the level of criticism it faces after every war and operation. "

Mideast: Israel Lands in Public Relations Nightmare - Mel Frykberg, Inter Press Service: "Israeli riot police and soldiers have, since Friday, sealed off the Al Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine, restricting entry to women and Palestinian men over 50. ... The tense situation on the ground has coincided with a diplomatic crisis of sorts with the Israeli government in confrontation with visiting United States Vice-President Joe Biden. ... Simultaneously, construction of public buildings, such as schools and those housing units with their foundations already established, proceed unabated in the settlements. But analysts are questioning why Israel would deliberately shoot itself in the foot with the latest in-your-face announcements, especially taking into consideration the country’s slick and well-oiled publicity machine. Israeli journalist and commentator from the daily ‘Haaretz’, Bradley Burston, explained that the hard-right in Israel sees this confrontational and provocative behaviour with the Palestinians and the international community as an effort to 'expunge any trace of grovelling to the colonial master.' 'People are laughing at you. Who is advising you on your brand? This is not good, this is pretty bad,' Jonathan Gabay, a London-based marketing and branding expert, told ‘Haaretz’. Gabay was commenting on Israel’s ramped up Hasbara, or public diplomacy, efforts to counter the growing international criticism. "

Israel Punks Itself: With Benjamin Netanyahu's ridiculous new global PR campaign, Israel just tells itself lies - Dmitry Reider, Foreign Policy: "Thus, while ostensibly making every effort to reach out, Israel is instead curling deeper and deeper into itself, engaging not so much in public diplomacy as in navel-gazing.

Rather than changing the policies that are rapidly turning it into an international pariah, or even honestly arguing its viewpoints, the state is inoculating its citizens against realistic and very real outside criticism. In the long run, this means it will become even more difficult to persuade Israel to change its course -- and to save it from the damage it inflicts upon itself. Image from article: If you use Facebook or Twitter in Canada, you probably caught this viral advertisement, subtly titled "Size Doesn't Matter," last month. Girl [peering down the camera's frame]: Uhhh... Boy: What? Girl: Don't be mad. But it's small. Boy: It's small?! Girl: I just ... I don't know if I can go there. Boy: I consider this a spot of worship. It may be small, but it's brought the driest places to life. Baby, this is paradise!

Shanghai Expo 2010: The Australian Pavilion - Joe Drury, China Briefing: "The pavilion’s directors are well aware of the unique public diplomacy opportunities the Expo facilitates by providing direct contact between Australia and the Chinese public. Public diplomacy inherently 'has a public message to it,' according to Sams [Peter Sams, Pavilion Director] . 'Australia is here as Australia, not as the Australian government.'"

Indian minister for higher level talks with Pakistan - The News International: ‎ "[Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Parneet Kaur] said her ministry was also going through a transformation where the ministries website would also have the Urdu and Arabic versions of the press releases and statements,

which would also be SMS to the media as well. The News understands the public diplomacy wing in the external affairs ministry was now including the domestic audience in matters on foreign policy. Issues of foreign affairs are now being debated the length and breath of India to gauge the internal response from a domestic audience. "

it happened - from the back of beyond: wife of FS candidate chronicles the waiting game: "We’ll be in DC 8 weeks from today, Snakes will be in the May 10th class, specializing in public diplomacy."

Barbara Moore, Paul ... Pacini, Houston MacIntosh, Gerard McConnell die - Washington Post: Barbara C. Moore U.S. Ambassador[:] Barbara C. Moore, 58, the U.S. ambassador to Nicaragua from 2002 to 2005 who had spent much of her career with the U.S. Information Agency in public diplomacy assignments, died March 11 ... . Mrs. Moore began her USIA career in the mid-1970s. She was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, from 1998 to 2002. After her ambassadorial posting, she spent a year as foreign policy adviser to the U.S. Southern Command in Miami. ... She was a recipient of USIA's Superior Honor and Meritorious Honor awards, among other awards."


Down the Rabbit Hole in Afghanistan
- Alan Bock,

The notion that the great American offensive to capture the Afghan outpost of Marjah was more public relations propaganda than military strategy or even effective counter-insurgency first began to impinge itself when U.S. and – to a lesser extent – Afghan officials started talking about it weeks before it was to take place. If it had been a real military offensive, you would think, they would have wanted the element of surprise. Instead, they informed the Taliban in advance that they would be coming.

South Korean activists fly anti-North Korea leaflets - AP, Philippine Star: South Korean activists sent millions of propaganda leaflets to North Korea by balloon Monday to urge North Korean citizens to rise up against leader Kim Jong Il's authoritarian regime. A group of activists flew large balloons carrying up to 6 million leaflets toward impoverished North Korea from Cheolwon, a city just south of the central portion of the demilitarized zone bisecting the two Koreas, lead activist Choi Woo-won said.

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