Wednesday, September 29, 2010

September 29

On the war in Afghanistan:

"Basically we're screwed."

--U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry, quoted as saying

"you can't win."

--National security adviser James L. Jones's view

"This is a house of cards."

--Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, who is the senior coordinator for Afghanistan on the National Security Council; image from


Walter Isaacson: America's Voice Must Be Credible And Must Be Heard - RFE/RL: "Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Chairman Walter Isaacson tonight announced a new direction for U.S. international broadcasting that 'seizes on the latest media tools and technology to stay one step ahead of those who seek to repress free information around the world.' As Chairman of the BBG, Isaacson oversees RFE, VOA, Radio Free Asia, Radio/TV Marti, Radio Sawa, and Alhurra TV, which have a combined weekly audience of more than 171 million people. 'The challenges we face in the new global struggle against repression and intolerance are as great today as they were during the Cold War,' he said at a reception marking the 60th anniversary of RFE's first broadcast.

'And just as the founders of Radio Free Europe succeeded in developing creative and innovative ways to get news and information to people suffering behind the Iron Curtain, so too must today's U.S. international broadcasters respond to modern threats to freedom in new and inventive ways.' Speaking at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Isaacson said, 'America cannot let itself be out-communicated by its enemies.' 'Our traditional role of delivering the news top down needs to be complimented by a new approach that catalyzes social networks,' said Isaacson. 'By creating peer-to-peer global communities, we help guarantee the universal human right of access to the free flow of information.'" Isaacson image from article. [PDPBR compiler note: According to the invitation to the event, it was made possible "With generous support from the Freedom Broadcasting Foundation." Little information about this organization is available on the Web]

Get Green Alerts‎ - Bob Jacobson: Huffington Post: "As the [Shanghai] Expo nears completion, it's difficult to point to a single aspect of the USA Pavilion that has genuinely and honestly kept to the Expo's sustainability theme. Not a single one. And with each USA Pavilion faux pas, Clinton's argument for privatizing public diplomacy grows weaker. The bottom line: turning the State Department's functions over to Beltway bandits and Hollywood hucksters is not in the interest of the American people. And never will be."

America The Invisible - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View:

Observations by Ms. Kushlis regarding public diplomacy in the comments section [scroll down link]: "[T]he Internet and its social networking components are powerful tools but they should be seen as one part of an information officer's tool box not as a substitute for bricks and mortar (information centers and libraries) or one-on-one communications (Murrow's last three feet.) ... Publicly accessible Information Centers and Libraries are crucial outreach tools. ... I'd like to see the USG take a proactive role in top level international expos. ... Military strategic communications and civilian public diplomacy are not the same and should not be mixed intellectually or in reality - although they employ some of the same communications tools. They play by different rules and have different goals. ... If and, hopefully when, the US government reduces its military footprint abroad, I think it should increase, not reduce its public diplomacy efforts. ... I think the BBG needs to be depoliticized and broadcasting rethought. ... I really like Ari Fisher's communications continuum employed by the British Council and Foreign Office to encapsulate the UK's public diplomacy approach. ... And finally (enough already) I continue to think that a separate public diplomacy agency with a permanent charter needs to be created - or recreated. The bifurcation of the functions has, with only a few exceptions, not worked well for so many reasons." Image from

Discussion & Webcast: Freedom vs. National Security: Finding a Middle Ground - Matt Armstrong, "The Voice of America is hosting a discussion and webcast entitled Online Freedom vs. National Security: Finding a Middle Ground. Government efforts seeking new controls over the Internet and mobile communications are raising concerns about the possible erosion of human rights and basic freedoms. Participating are: Bob Boorstin, Director, Corporate & Policy Communications, Google; Arnaud de Borchgrave, Director & Senior Advisor, Transnational Threats Project, Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS); Julie Barko Germany, Vice President for Digital Strategy, DCI Group; and Marc Rotenberg, President & Executive Director, Electronic Privacy Information Center. When: Tuesday, October 5, 2010, 10:00am ET - 11:00am ET. Where: Voice of America Briefing Room 1528-A 330 Independence Ave, SW Washington, DC 20237 RSVP at or call (202) 203-4959 [Armstrong comment:] It is not clear to me that this worthwhile and necessary discussion should be available to audiences within the borders of the United States as a result of continuing Congressional censorship found within the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948. Further, will someone mention irony of the firewall at the US border that inhibits informing audiences both abroad (at the very least by such engagement to Americans, including its value and content) and ignores diasporas (real or manufactured through empathy, sympathy, or other joining beyond the traditional ethnic, cultural, or linguistic bonds)?"

Pentagon Burns Books in Name of National Security... - LaurenceJarvikOnline: "The book is called Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan -- and the Path to Victory by Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, and the Pentagon has bought the initial press run to burn before reading, according to this article in Digital Journal ['Pentagon purchases and burns memoir written by ex-officer'].

I just have one question: Has anyone considered the public diplomacy implications of this story for US credibility in relation to freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and so forth in the struggle against Islamist extremism? IMHO, I'd say that after the handling of Abu Gharib torture pictures, this is the second worst P/R move I've seen since 9/11 from the United States government." Image from

1 October Event at American Center - TonyEnglish: English learning environment for English learners: "Join State Department Public Diplomacy Officer, Peter Velasco at the American Center as he takes a look at the current state of political affairs in the U.S. Speaker Program: Mid-term Elections in the U.S. Time: 9:30 - 10:30, October 1, 2010 Venue: The American Center, 1st Fl, Rose Garden Tower, 170 Ngoc Khanh Street, Hanoi."

Radio Free Europe was rather more than "a flea on the behind of an elephant" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "Canada Free Press, 27 Sept 2010, Ron Ewart: 'In the 20th Century, with the new technology of radio and eventually TV, the news reached the people virtually instantly. But never have the people of the planet been able to obtain so much news and information and communicate, discuss and debate that information amongst themselves, individually, until the Internet and e-mail was born. The World Wide Web has brought the citizens of the world together like no other time in history. Never before have the roots of freedom been able to reach almost anyone in the world with a computer and internet access. Radio Free Europe was a flea on the behind of an elephant, in comparison to the millions who are now wired into the Internet.' [Elliott comment:] In Cold War Eastern Europe, RFE/RL and VOA were the two main sources of information, with BBC and Deutsche Welle also important.

With this paucity of competition, each station was assured of large audiences. When East Europeans were able to get access to satellite television in the 1990s, they had a choice of a hundred or so channels. When the internet emerged, hundreds, then thousands of websites were available. Blogs were easier to produce than conventional websites, so tens of thousands emerged. With the social media, millions are participating. With the migration of to the internet, international broadcasting finds itself in an environment of vast oversupply. The large audiences of decades past have been subdivided." Image from

Daily Press Briefing ‎Washington, DC September 28, 2010 - US Department of State: "MR. CROWLEY: ... [B]efore taking your questions, we’d like to welcome our guests today at the briefing, the spokesperson for the European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton, spokesperson Darren Ennis, also her senior media advisor Kasper Zeuthen and Silvia Kofler, who is the spokesperson and head of the office of press and public diplomacy for the EU mission here in Washington, D.C."

00 minutes 10 seconds at the 8th September, 2,010 29 - WeBLOG Nagashima Akihisa: Google translation: "Dear Prime Minister Naoto Kan, We would like to advance our views on the responses regarding the recent collision between the Chinese fishing boat and the Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels near the Senkaku Islands

of Okinawa Prefecture . ... [W]hen we look back at reports in the international media of the past couple of weeks, especially in relation to international public opinion, we should have pressed for an understanding of the legitimacy of asserting our claim of the islands and our series of measures involving domestic order of law, but it is highly regrettable that there was a decisive lack of efforts in public diplomacy to capture firm support." Image from

Hitler at the gate: ‎Nevertheless, how can Netanyahu refrain from an action to stop Hitler's heir, Ahmadinejad, when the year is already 1939, if not 1940? - Aluf Benn, Ha'aretz: "According to Netanyahu's reasoning, if he refrains from acting history will condemn him for 'not preventing a crime' . ... This, of course, is not going to happen. The risks are too great and the intention here is not to give operational advice but rather to demonstrate the gap between those shouting from the opposition and those in power, and between 'public diplomacy' - Israel's latest official translation for the term hasbara, which is something between self-justification and propaganda - and statesmanship.

When you are talking and looking for messages to get yourself into prime time, you can say anything without taking risks. But when you are the prime minister, the constraints of reality become clear and the gap between talk and deeds is revealed. Therefore, it is best to be cautious in speech and to remember that not everything is hasbara, as even a media gimmick can come back to haunt you. And perhaps I'm wrong. Could it be the elite special operations unit is training and Ahmadinejad and Nasrallah are on their way to secret detention facility 1391, to the cell that served the captives Sheikh Abdel Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani?" Image from

Everything Democracies Can Do on Social Media, Terrorists Can Do Better - David Saranga, Huffington Post: "This month I was invited to participate in a conference held by the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT). The talks at the panel in which I spoke - 'New Media, Terror and Counter-Terrorism' - all led to the same conclusion: everything democracies can do on social media, terrorists can do better. However, as someone who is engaged in Public Diplomacy and Social Media, I wish to examine this question from a different angle, and propose a different approach, which in the long run might reduce the motivation of young people to join terrorist organizations, and challenge them within the very social environments where terrorism is bred. ... I believe, therefore, that if we remain committed to presenting the truth objectively, and avoid cheap propaganda, chances grow that we can help reduce the motivation to carry out terrorist actions against Israel. It's important to emphasize that I am not talking about government activity: messages coming from a government, any government, will always be perceived as tendentious propaganda.

I am talking about the kind of communication that civil society, and in this case, Israeli civil society must establish with its neighbors, and this is possible by means of the social networks, which are making great inroads even into Arab societies in the Middle East." Saranga image from

Another ways to pursue public diplomacy – Foreign Policy Focus: "The development of social networks is offering a wide array of opportunities for public diplomacy. And equally, for abuse and widespread hate and terrorism on line. I was this year to a conference about the Middle East where one participant, originally from Pakistan, was encouraging the contacts between Westerners and people from the Muslim world, as a way to exchange ideas and share insights from the two worlds. On the other side, the reality is that, from my own experience, this kind of dialogues are limited unfortunately to sharing our own stereotypes and taking the advantage of anonimity for sharing the hate. In this case, a mix between classical public diplomacy tools to be continued and pursued in the virtual environment. Using only one tool is not enough and the enthusiasm is not a miraculous cure of old and aggressive hates."

Family Time; Dialogue of the Deaf - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "As we were walking up, we noticed two Taiwanese guys talking in sign language. Ellen [Paul Rockower's sister], who speaks ASL, ran over to see if she could communicate. They were floored, and we sat on the concrete, drinking tall boys and watching Ellen try to communicate with her hands. Although ASL and Taiwanese signing is different, they were able to connect enough with international signing that they could communicate. The deaf guys were overjoyed at this American girl speaking their language and conversing with them. As was Ellen, who was bursting with joy at this unexpected but poignant moment of public diplomacy and cultural exchange."


In flood-ravaged Pakistan, no sign of American aid - David Ignatius, Washington Post: The U.S. military has been working hard to provide flood assistance, but most of that is invisible to Pakistanis.

They read about American drone attacks but not about helicopters bringing food supplies. That lack of recognition upsets U.S. officials, but they haven't been able to change it. Image from

Pink Cadillac: The Communist Party propaganda film with an all-American sponsor - Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal: Moviegoers in China will probably find few surprises in the Communist Party's latest propaganda biopic, "The Great Achievement of Founding the Party." But readers outside of China may be surprised to learn the identity of the film's sponsor: Cadillac.

What Is Russia Today? The Kremlin’s propaganda outlet has an identity crisis - Julia Ioffe, Columbia Journalism Review: When there’s nothing for the propaganda channel to propagate, RT’s message becomes a slightly schizophrenic, ad hoc effort to push back against what comes out of the West.

And if there’s nothing to push back against, other than the ghosts of a bygone era, then what, really, is left to say that others aren’t already saying, and saying better? ... [Comment Mark Adomanis] That RT is a government mouthpiece, and that its reports should be treated with skepticism, is a given. But governments have always had mouthpieces and they always will. Compared to Western countries, Russia is poor and ramshackle, and it's therefor not at all surprising that its pet media outlet is often not quite as flashy or presentable as RFE/RL, the BBC, etc. Image from



--Afrikaans word to be left spongy or rotten from jetlag; cited in Paul Rockower, Levantine

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