Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March 31

"More recently, the Defense Department has even organized its information operations into named 'operations' ... Today, the 'named' operations include Operation Earnest Voice, which covers U.S. Central Command; Assured Voice, for European Command; and Operation Objective Voice, for U.S. African Command."

--Sharon Weinberger, “Info or Propaganda? Pentagon Efforts Reviewed,” Aol.News; image from

Event: Engaging Iran: Challenges and Opportunities for Civil Society


Obama's six-hour trip to Kabul - Gregg Carlstrom, The Majlis:

"I'm just now catching up on the news (what little there was) from President Obama's quick hop to Afghanistan. Needless to say, the trip itself won't accomplish much: A six-hour visit to Kabul, half of it spent at Bagram Air Base, won't cause Hamid Karzai to rethink his politics or policy. But it fits into a broader public diplomacy campaign aimed at putting pressure on Karzai. American and European diplomats are whispering (anonymously, of course) about the Afghan president 'slipping away from the West,' and Karzai's recent visit with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad apparently ruffled some feathers in Washington." Image from

Spinning Obama’s Foreign-Policy Flops - Jennifer Rubin, Contentions, Commentary: "Let’s get real — Obama has not really used his charisma to promote anything but himself. ... [D]espite all the reverential treatment by liberal elites, Obama has yet to develop effective ties with allies or used public diplomacy to further American interests. His infatuation with dictatorial regimes, his embrace of multilateralism, and his willingness to kick allies (e.g., Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic, Britain, Honduras) in the shins have left America more isolated and rogue states more emboldened than ever before."

Disaster Responses Illustrate Evolution of Public Diplomacy - Siobhan Sheils, DipNote:

"[I]t is clear that public diplomacy is not just serving a public relations, or 'Brand U.S.' function; it is also saving lives. ... [T]he U.S. response to recent natural disasters in Latin America shows an acknowledgement that people-to-people problem-solving is a major component of '21st Century Diplomacy.'" Image from

Religious freedom needs an advocate - Thomas Farr, On Faith, Washington Post: "On March 30 a diverse group of scholars, policy thinkers, and religious freedom activists told President Obama that his administration was missing an enormous opportunity -- for the nation and the world -- by failing to advance international religious freedom in American foreign policy. 'The absence of senior level leadership in your administration on this critical issue,' their letter warned the President, 'is of grave and urgent concern.' The letter, which was organized by Freedom House and the Institute for Global Engagement, was written by my colleague and co-author, Dennis Hoover, editor of The Review of Faith & International Affairs. He and I have elsewhere urged the Obama administration to take advantage of the opportunity to correct mistakes made by earlier administrations in the field of international religious freedom. ... Perhaps the boldest proposal in the letter is that the administration develop strategies that link 'religious freedom policy and other key foreign policy areas, including national security (especially counter-insurgency and stability operations), development, conflict resolution/reconciliation, public diplomacy, democracy promotion and consolidation, and U.S. engagement of multilateral institutions and international law.'"

Ethiopia, already jamming VOA shortwave, may also be blocking VOA's website - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Ethiopia and the Art of the Outrageous Statement - Alex Belida, VOA News Blog:

"We are all accustomed to hearing political figures, especially from authoritarian countries, make outrageous statements. But I think Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi may have uttered the most outrageous statement of all this past month when he compared Voice of America broadcasts to Ethiopia to the broadcasts of Radio Milles Collines, the infamous 'hate radio' blamed for inciting the Rwandan genocide of 1994." Image from

Tech Weekly live: Personal privacy and public diplomacy - Aleks Krotoski, The Guardian: "Becky Hogge from the Open Rights Group joins Aleks Krotoski and Charles Arthur in a special Tech Weekly, recorded live at the Science Museum's Dana Centre. Our other guests? Austin Heap is a wunderkind hacker who used his own encryption software, Haystack, to open up the Iranian internet in the aftermath of the disputed elections in 2009. By breaking through the Iranian government's blockade, the software allowed people on the ground in Tehran to access communication tools they could use to describe unfolding events to the rest of the world. Meanwhile, personal surveillance has reached an all-time high: our web traffic is observed and recorded by governments and corporations. With every click we create personal digital identities that 'belong' to other people. Should we be worried about the private becoming public in this way, or should we reclaim ourselves using encryption software that hides who we are and where we go online? NO2ID's Christine Zaba will be on hand to lead you through the issues and the options."

Legitimizing (and questioning) culture’s utility – Karen, Culture, Please: "Early last Thursday morning I joined other students of cultural policy and international relations to hear a panel discussion on the topic of cultural diplomacy. The panel, entitled 'Culture as a tool: Diplomacy and International Exchange in the 21st Century' was co-presented by NYU’s John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress and the Wagner School’s Student Network Exploring Arts and Culture (SNEAC). ... The ... presentations were directed at making the case for culture so that it will be recognized and valued more frequently as a strategic tool. In my professional life, I often find myself making some of the same arguments. As I left Thursday’s panel, however, I found myself questioning my eagerness to promote 'culture as a tool'.

The relegation of ‘culture’ to the toolkit as an instrument to be wielded by those in power to affect particular sorts of social change seems to threaten some of cultures’ unique qualities. The power of culture lies in its insistence to evolve, experiment, react, and sometimes, to push back. Culture, however you want to define it, may not fit so comfortably in its toolkit slot. At the same time, if culture is not nurtured and valued outside of its instrumental use (like culture-based interventions in service of development goals) it may prove to be an empty tool without cultural practitioners to wield it and cultural contexts to receive it." Image from

The Arts Policy Diaries: Canada 150 – A Small Act of Citizenship - Shannon Litzenberger, Shannonlitz’s Blog: "Admittedly, I tuned in to the Liberal ‘Canada 150‘ conference this weekend (intermittently, but yes it’s true). ... I watched with interest parts of the panel on ‘The Creative and Competitive Economy: Culture in the digital world’ on Saturday as well as ‘Canada’s Presence in the World of 2017′ on Sunday morning. ... The Sunday morning session was all about foreign policy, with a focus on trade, defense and international aid. The panel included Pierre Martin, Jeremy Kinsman and Janice Stein. ... Kinsman was my favourite – clearly an experienced diplomat and now commentator on foreign affairs for the CBC. ... So, as I was watching the debate ensue, I typed my name into the little ’submit a question’ box at the corner of my computer screen. I asked (obviously tongue and cheek): 'Was the removal of culture as the third pillar of public diplomacy a positive step toward strengthening international relationships?' To my surprise, the question was addressed! It was Kinsman who replied with gusto by saying that 'the removal of culture was a stupid step backwards… Culture is a fundamental vehicle of communication.'”

Romanian-Moldovan dialogue at Foreign Ministry - Financiarul:

"Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodor Baconschi had on Monday, March 29, a meeting with the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Moldova, Vitalie Marinuta, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) informs in a release. ... The two sides welcomed the restart of bilateral cooperation in the military field, especially in the educational area, as well as the signature of the Protocol of collaboration between Romania’s Air Forces and the Moldovan Air Force. Within the meeting, the positive role played by the NATO Center of Information and Documentation in the Republic of Moldova was appreciated in the field of public diplomacy." Image from

Baku to host NATO conference - News.Az: "A conference on the 61st anniversary of NATO called 'NATO-past and future' will be held in Baku on April 1. According to the news service for the Romanian embassy in Azerbaijan, the event will be attended by heads of diplomatic missions of the NATO member-states in Azerbaijan, representatives of the civil community, analysts, political scientists, NATO's public diplomacy department and NGOs."

When AIPAC said 'no' to Israel - Sasha Polakow-Suransky, Foreign Policy:

"The U.S.-Israel relationship has entered into a tailspin for the first time since 1991, when Secretary of State James Baker refused loan guarantees to Yitzhak Shamir's Likud government. Now, like then, the issue is Jewish settlements in areas Israel conquered in 1967. ... [M]ost clear-eyed observers of the Middle East regard the settlement enterprise as a public diplomacy disaster for Israel--not to mention a long-term strategic liability. If AIPAC is truly concerned about Israel's long-term security, it should be denouncing new settlements and demanding the dismantlement of existing ones with even greater fervor than the Obama administration." Image from article

How The World Sees The Netherlands - Giles Scott-Smith, "In mid-March Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen reported the results of an opinion survey on how other nations view the Netherlands. The purpose was to discover to what extent the domestic debate over Islam ('het binnenlandse moslimdebat') was affecting the country’s trade position. The report also included details of the Dutch public diplomacy activities designed to promote positive opinion abroad."

Indonesia’s Oil Palm Biomass Conversion: Facing the Global Challenge of Energy Sustainability - Guinandra Luthfan Jatikusumo, Envisioning The Future, Mapping Life: “'Government of Indonesia will decrease carbon emissions by 21% from the initial state, with the targeted year of 2020. On 2050, we pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 41% from the initial state.' The sentence above is a statement declared by the President of Indonesia, with credible inputs from Rahmat Witoelar, when Indonesia attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Is the statement politically-marinated? It could be. For scientists, the statement might be categorized as a challenging brainstorming of theoretical concepts and scientific applications. But for well seasoned diplomats, these statements can be likened to be a ‘Public Diplomacy’ which may brighten the image of Indonesia in the international society." Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono image from

Carolina Friends of the Foreign Service: "The purpose of the organization is to promote a better understanding of foreign policy-related issues among its members through periodic meetings and social events. Membership consists of present or former foreign service employees, military, and other US Government civil servants, former employees of private companies who have worked overseas and others interested in foreign affairs and/or public diplomacy."

You Communicate, But Do You Connect? - George Kennedy, Stepping Stones To Success. . . : "In the May 2010 issue of Success From Home magazine, John Maxwell, noted author and usiness advisor, penned an article entitled 'Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.'

Coming from a background in international communications and public diplomacy, he captured my attention. I read the article and highly recommend it – especially if you are an entrepreneur or run a home-based-business. Networking is at the heart of entrepreneurial success since it is all about communicating." Image from

Colleen_Graffy - Twitter: I'm in BA April 8-14. I also spoke on public diplomacy in Madrid 4 Spanish foreign service officers.


U.S. prep schools push to recruit foreign students - Michael Alison Chandler, Washington Post:

At a time when many "Made in the USA" products struggle in the global marketplace, American diplomas are more coveted than ever. More than 650,000 international students were enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities in 2009, fueling a nearly $18 billion international education industry. Federal government data show that 35,000 foreign students attend primary or secondary schools in the United States, not including one-year cultural exchange programs or short-term language courses. Image from

Info or Propaganda? Pentagon Efforts Reviewed - Sharon Weinberger, Aol.News: Some eight years ago, a furor broke out over then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's plans to open an office dedicated to influencing foreign audiences. The Office of Strategic Influence was quickly shuttered after publicity of its existence led to accusations that it was a propaganda arm of the Pentagon. But the Pentagon's efforts to influence foreign public opinion are again being scrutinized as part of a new review. Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week ordered the two-week review of the military's information operations -- a term used to describe media and information campaigns targeted at foreign audiences but also sometimes referred to as propaganda. The review comes amid allegations that a civilian employee of the Defense Department used money allotted for these efforts to hire private intelligence operatives. Despite its controversial history, the scale and scope of the Pentagon's information operations has grown rapidly since 9/11. Military officials have argued for an aggressive strategy to counter what they characterize as extremist propaganda. The Pentagon's budget for information operations was $528 million for fiscal year 2010; the Defense Department has requested $384.4 million for fiscal year 2011.

The New Rules of War: The visionary who first saw the age of "netwar" coming warns that the U.S. military is getting it wrong all over again. Here's his plan to make conflict cheaper, smaller, and smarter - John Arquilla, Foreign Policy: In an era in which the attraction to persuasive "soft power" has grown dramatically, coercive "hard power" continues to dominate in world affairs. This primary reliance on coercive capabilities is also on display across a range of countries great and small, most notably the United States, whose defense policy has over the past decade largely become its foreign policy. From the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to simmering crises with North Korea and Iran, and on to longer-range strategic concerns about East Asian and Central European security, the United States today is heavily invested in hard-power solutions. And it will continue to be. But if the radical adjustments in strategy, organization, and doctrine implied by the new rules of war are ignored, Americans will go on spending more and getting less when it comes to national defense. Networks will persist until they have the capability to land nuclear blows. Other countries will leapfrog ahead of the United States militarily, and concepts like "deterrence" and "containment" of aggression will blow away like leaves in the wind.

This Time We Really Mean It - Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times: President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan must think that anti-Americanism plays well on the streets of Afghanistan and that by dabbling in it himself — as he did during his presidential campaign — he will strengthen himself politically. That is not a good sign.

Administration fell for propaganda trick during Obama trip to China‎ - World Tribune: Chinese propaganda organs have seized on a key blunder made by the Obama administration during the U.S. president's trip to China last November.

A joint U.S.-China statement issued Nov. 17 contained a new phrase that has since become a major element of Chinese strategy and propaganda, namely Beijing’s focus on promoting and protecting what it deems to be its “core interests.” White House advisers did not fully understand the new propaganda theme when they agreed to include the phrase in the joint statement that said: “The two sides agreed that respecting each other's core interests is extremely important to ensure steady progress in U.S.-China relations.” Image from

A flawed American political model aids China - Harold Meyerson, Washington Post: Don't conservatives realize that China is making hay in the developing world through a combination of throwing its wealth around and arguing that American democracy is little more than a veneer for plutocracy? At the height of the Cold War, the whole world was watching us, and we rose to the occasion by expanding equality and prosperity. The achievements of the postwar era were driven by domestic pressures, of course: the demands of African Americans for equality, the high rate of unionization, the ascendance of manufacturing over banking. But our foreign policy operatives took care to market our achievements and our culture -- the American model -- to a model-shopping world.

Journalists’ E-Mails Hacked in China - Andrew Jacobs, New York Times

Why Foreigners Can't Win in China - Warren Kozak, Wall Street Journal (subscription)

Effective Propaganda - Calvin's Canadian Cave Of Cool: "I am not a fan of wartime propaganda but I understand it.

Combine the vile octopus with a vile characterization of the Japanese and you have a very memorable and effective message. There is no mistaking what side you want to be on. So what if few octopus get killed in the advancement of liberty, right? Ah, to go back to a time when we actually believed that our side could do no wrong." Image from article

1 comment:

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