Saturday, September 18, 2010

September 18

"The fervour and commitment of a mass of people dedicated to poetry and moved to action by its structures and messages of intellectual freedom now seem historically unique."

--Andrew Kahn, a Reader in Russian at Oxford, in a book review (The Times Literary Supplement, September 10, 2010, p. 15), under the title "Causework: The poet's authority in the age of utopia," which deals with Russian- and Polish-born poets (Czesław Miłosz; Joseph Brodsky); image from; on Plato and poetry, see


Obama Soft Power - Hichem Karoui, The Gulf Today: "[T]he US leaders need still to be reminded that while this idea of 'positive and morally attractive leadership' is correct, we live in a world of sovereign states that are theoretically equal. Nobody needs to receive lessons from a 'Big Brother.' The notion of a US global leadership itself seems necessary only to Americans, not to the other nations (even allies), especially when there is an emphasis on Soft power, as it is the case today. ... A great theoretician of soft power like Joseph Nye, who served in the Clinton administration, says Soft power is the ability to get what you want, not through military and economic coercion, but through the positive attraction of your values and your society. So, you don’t have to impose anything. The key-word is: attraction. However, contrary to the US military establishment, Soft power US agencies

involved in foreign policy were Before Sept. 11, 'under-funded, demoralised and disorganised.' ... As public diplomacy is an integral part of the promotion of peace and democracy, and peacemaking is nonsense without democratic institutions, the authority in this field is equally shared between the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (State Department), and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees several agencies, including: Voice of America, Radio SAWA, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Alhurra, Radio Farda, etc… In this regard, [Francis] Fukuyama notes 'there is no overall coordination of these activities, which means many of them are duplicated, uncoordinated, and it is not uncommon that they pursue conflicting goals.'” Above Image from; on Fukuyama,

see (image from reference)

Blackmail In Bolachistan – An Abduction Blamed On Pakistani Spooks - "The overlap between the Pakistani and US governments in criticizing the Pakistani media, and especially one of its most influential outlets, the Jang Group, was an important indication of the extent of US support for the Zardari government despite recognizing its weaknesses. [On Wednesday, Sept. 15, Mr. Holbrooke tried to mend his earlier anti-Geo remarks by taking time out from his tour of flooded areas in Sindh to visit the Jang Group offices in Karachi. His effort, coming at a time when the media group is under attack, was most probably an attempt to sway Pakistan’s most influential media conglomerate, part of the overall US public diplomacy effort in Pakistan. US ambassador did the same thing during Musharraf government’s clampdown on Jang.]" On Geo News, see.

Social media becomes a diplomatic battleground - Henry Kenyon, "Social media’s capacity for sharing and disseminating information hasn’t gone unnoticed by the government. The Defense Department and civilian agencies are looking at the tools for extending public diplomacy and winning hearts and minds. Linton Wells, transformation chairman at the National Defense University, said using social media

is critical for supporting population-centric strategies such as military operations in southwest Asia. ... However, the United States is not the only government interested in social media. Wells noted that authoritarian regimes are also using social media for their own ends and cited the recent political unrest in Iran, which began with protesters using social media tools to organize and get around the regime’s restrictions on organizing." Image from: Anti-social media blog

Democracy Video Challenge Recognizes Nepali Student - "Rising Nepali filmmaker Anup Poudel accomplished his dream, becoming the South and Central Asia region’s winner for the Democracy Video Challenge Award. The award includes an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, New York, and Los Angeles to meet leaders in film, democracy, and government. The challenge is part of the State Department’s 'Democracy Is…' campaign, which includes video, photo, and social media contests. More than 150 U.S. embassies and consulates have participated in the challenge since the Bureau of International Information Programs launched it in 2008, with more than 1,600 videos from 111 countries submitted. This is the second year in a row that Nepal has won for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. The idea of the challenge is for participants to interpret the meaning of democracy through a film no longer than three minutes. Anup and the five other regional winners were presented with their awards in a special ceremony featuring Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale on September 10. ... About the Author: Rebecca Morgan is the Desk Officer for Nepal and Bhutan in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs."

Women Share Lessons Learned and Hone Strategies for The Future - ‎NewsBlaze: "Fifteen years after the UN Conference on Women that took place in Beijing, a three day women's empowerment summit, co-sponsored by the State Department, Vital Voices Global Partnership

and the international business community, opened September 15 in New Delhi. Over 250 women leaders from South, Pacific and East Asia have joined with government, business and civil society experts from across the globe to share lessons learned and hone strategies for the future. ... The Summit's panel discussions and breakout sessions are focused on three key areas: Women as an Economic Force, Women in Political Leadership and Public Life, and Safeguarding Women's Human Rights. Following this Summit, the State Department will work with Vital Voices and other private partners in furtherance of achieving women's empowerment though high-level policy dialogues, development assistance projects, and public diplomacy. Source: U.S. Department of State." Image from

14 Liberians Depart for Entrepreneurial Training in the US‎ - Liberian Daily Observer: "Fourteen Liberian entrepreneurs departed Liberia to participate in a training program funded by the U.S. Department of State and implemented by Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. An additional two participants and two faculty of the University of Liberia Business School will join them on Monday, September 19, 2010. Before their departure, they had a pre-departure briefing session at the Public Diplomacy Section of the U.S. Embassy."

More Good People Doing Great Things in Samoa - David Huebner: U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa: "As I have said before, I am a vigorous partisan of NGOs because of their critical contribution to the development, sustainability, and health of civil society. Time and again I also find that NGOs are dynamic incubators of new ideas and new approaches. They are nimble, adaptive, and creative in ways that government agencies often cannot be. There is also salutary Darwinism afoot in the NGO sector. If unsuccessful in their work, NGOs usually fade away rather than continue to consume resources or accrete bureaucracy. If successful, NGOs create best practices, propagate effective projects, popularize useful solutions, and thereby improve the lives of all of us. So, when I was up in Samoa last week, we held a reception at the Embassy to congratulate our most recent public diplomacy grant recipients from the NGO community for the superb work that they are doing."

Image from article illustrating "U.S. Veterans of Samoa Association: Samoa Perimeter Relay 2010. This grant of WS$ 3,600 was used to provide publicity and advertising for the second annual Samoa Perimeter Relay coordinated by the U.S. Veterans of Samoa which took place on August 28, 2010. The 104-kilometer relay race across half the island of Upolu each year is intended to promote both healthy living and charitable activity."

Daily Afghan-Iraq Update/9-18 - Troop Scoop: Positive daily updates about our heroic troops and their successes in Iraq and Afghanistan: Image from article: "U.S. Maj. William Hansen with 4th Bde, 3rd ID Advise and Assist Bde., along with Gabriel Hons-Olivier, Public Diplomacy Section Head for Al Anbar prov., discuss local events with Iraqi civilians."

Image from article

Reporters get ready for the election coverage in Afghanistan - Mahtab Farid,Public Diplomacy in Afghanistan: "State Department co hosted a media conference with Radio Bamyan and governor’s office to bring reporters from various news agencies together to build coordination on reporting for the Election Day. A number of reporters from different outlets showed up to an all day conference with government representatives and election officials on how to get information in different districts and how to share information. ... Mahtab Farid is a State Department Public Diplomacy Officer, communication strategist and cultural advisor to the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan. She also leads a number of media workshops for Afghan journalists and cultural trainings for the coalition forces. Prior to her post in Afghanistan, she was an award winning, international correspondent with Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty."

Image from article

US radio takes on Taliban in Afghan propaganda war‎ - Dusan Stojanovic, The Associated Press: "A U.S.-funded radio station is hoping a small hand-cranked radio can help turn the tide in a propaganda war against the Taliban, handing out thousands of the devices in the hopes of winning over ordinary Afghans. The idea is to counter the Taliban-sponsored stations — the so called 'Mullah Radios' — that operate mainly in the tribal areas along the Pakistani border and broadcast propaganda that helps turn public opinion against foreign troops and the pro-Western Afghan government. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty this week started distributing 20,000 free radio sets to Afghans, including those in distant mountain villages and refugee camps.

'We want to increase the access to information to the Afghans, especially in remote areas and to the displaced persons,' said Julian Knapp, spokesman for RFE/RL. 'The objective is to help people become more informed about the democratic processes.' He said the operation, which will last for several weeks, will cost $500,000. That covers the cost of transporting the radios by Afghan Air Force helicopters to the isolated villages and the $20 price tag for each of the solar-powered, hand-cranked sets. ... Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in 2002 launched Radio Azadi — Pashto for 'Liberty' — in Afghanistan. The station — broadcasting in Pashto and Dari languages — claims to be the most popular source of news in the country, with a 43 percent market share and some 7.9 million listeners weekly." Image: An internally displaced Afghan boy turns the power crank of a radio distributed by Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty in Kabul, Afghanistan on Friday, Sept. 17, 2010.

RFE/RL distributing 20,000 self-powered radios in Afghanistan. (Psst: They also receive VOA) - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Cheer, jeer for Alhurra - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "At the Aspen Institute event Digital Statecraft: Media, Broadcasting, and the Internet as Instruments of Public Diplomacy in the Middle East, 15 Sept 2010 in Washington (video available), one of the questions from the audience also posited the failure of Alhurra.

One of the speakers, Eli Khoury, responded with a mixed assessment of Alhurra. I have seen recent data showing Alhurra and Radio Sawa to have a respectably large audience in a major Arab nation. The BBG, however, won't let me share the details, as they are from 'non-public' documents." Image: Pro Basketball Cheerleaders: America Vs Europe

Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan Media Operations Center - Tech. Sgt. Gloria Wilson, Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System, 7 Sept 2010: "If information is power then the commandos just became more powerful as their radio station here at Camp Morehead celebrated the opening of their new facility and increased coverage area with a ribbon cutting ceremony Sept. 1The radio station, known as Commando Radio, 95.1FM, is operated by Commandos trained in Afghan Information Dissemination Operations, or AIDO. It provides a variety of services to its listeners to include popular music, weather information, radio dramas, and updates on Commando operations. 'The most important aspect of Commando Radio is that all the information it provides is truthful,' said the U.S. Army Special Operations Captain responsible for training commandos in AIDO." Via

Moral-mongering - Laura McGinnis, manIC:

More from the U.S. foreign policy files: "In American Foreign Policy Since World War II, John Spanier and Steven W. Hook argue that U.S. foreign policy is largely couched in moral terms. That makes the nation generally averse to fight, but when pressed to, the fights must be framed in terms of U.S. values: protecting liberty, democracy and freedom at home and abroad. ... America's deep suspicion of diplomacy meant the nation was slow to create a permanent diplomatic corps. Hook and Spanier argue that this attitude has also made it difficult for the United States to compromise, because any compromise is not simply political but moral, which means a weakening of American values. Their observations are in keeping with the U.S. trend of increasing traditional and public diplomacy resources during times of war and crisis and decreasing them during times of relative peace. The U.S. has always been a champion of democracy, but has this led the country away from compromise toward violence?" Image from

The Foreign Office and Strategic Communications - Robin, Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "Earlier this week Ingrid d’Hooghe asked me about the relationship between public diplomacy and the strategic communications at the Foreign Office. ... I think that ... there is a lot of ‘strategic communications’ in British government. ... [A]lmost every UK government agency has departments and jobs with ‘strategic communications’ in the title. ... If we go to the Foreign Office website the Communications Directorate is listed as part of the ‘Central Group’ of functions including IT, Strategy and Planning and the legal advisors. ... [I]n FCO terms ‘strategic communications’ should be seen as a tool that exists within the context of a broader concept of diplomacy and public diplomacy. The contrast is with the way that in the US ‘strategic communication’ seems to be being used as the overarching concept . ... Public Diplomacy becomes the State Department’s contribution to strategic communication."

National Gallery of Modern Art and The India-Bhutan Foundation Presents Bhutan: An Eye To History? - "National Gallery of Modern Art as well as the India-Bhutan Foundation presents ‘Bhutan: An Eye to History’; an muster of some-more than 80 photographs in colour as well as black as well as white from Dec 23, 2009 to Jan 31, 2010 during National Gallery of Modern Art, Jaipur House, India Gate, New Delhi. ... The India Bhutan Foundation, co-chaired by Pavan K. Varma, Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, as well as General V. Namgyal, Bhutanese Ambassador to India, has lengthened useful await as has the Public Diplomacy Division, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.

The appeal of the exhibition, thus, lies not only in being means to transport behind to the duration in story which will never come back, though additionally get an useful sociological request from decades ago." Buhtan image from

Aljazeera: tsunami of Chinese commerce is sparking tension and and even violence in some parts of Africa - Matt Armstrong, "Earlier this month, Aljazeera screened a movie titled The Colony by Brent Huffman and Xiaoli Zhou. Huffman and Zhou explored the 'onslaught of Chinese economic might and its impact on long-standing African traditions.' This economic colonization, hence the title of the film, is not without its pitfalls with minimal assimilation, integration, or perception of mutual benefit. ... The Chinese community, which Huffman describes as unapproachable without a Chinese fixer, imports all the comforts of home and fail to integrate with the local economy. This complete ignorance of the economic and social costs (call it public diplomacy if you want) creates a lopsided engagement that will, if it is not already, undermine Chinese efforts and aspirations."

La liberté de l’Internet Sophisme et l’activisme arabe numérique - Sami Ben Gharbia, Mention of public diplomacy and USG-funded expansion of Persian-language broadcasting into Iran.

Ambassador to Greece: Who is Daniel Bennett Smith?‎ - AllGov: "From 2005 to 2007, he served as Executive Assistant to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs."

Ambassador news‎ - Laura Rozen, Politico: "Obama's nominee to be the next U.S. envoy to Pakistan Cameron Munter

has a confirmation hearing next week. A former U.S. ambasssador to Serbia and most recently the political-military advisor to the U.S. Ambassador in Iraq Chris Hill, Munter has a track record of working well with the military, has served in places with bullets flying, and wants to beef up U.S. public diplomacy in Pakistan." Munter image from


The Administration’s Press Censorship - Editorial, New York Times: The Obama administration has made many pledges of transparency and openness, but neither of those fundamental principles were anywhere to be seen when the Pentagon opened its first military trial at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, under President Obama. What we did see were intolerable limitations on journalists covering the trial — or at least trying to cover it.

Intel, Daimler May Shun Russia Forum After `Extreme' Propaganda - Lyubov Pronina and Ilya Arkhipov, Bloomberg:

Intel Corp. and Daimler AG may sever links to a Russian government-backed youth camp after the likenesses of former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other Russia critics were impaled on stakes at the event. Puppet heads bearing photos of Rice and five judges of the European Court for Human Rights were displayed in front of a banner reading “You’re not welcome here” during the All Russia Youth Innovative Forum in July, photos published this week by the Moscow newspaper Novaya Gazeta showed. Billboards carried photos of domestic opposition leaders under the word “Liars.” The “You are not welcome here” display was constructed by members of Stal, the Russian word for steel, a group formed by Nashi activists, said Makar Vihlyantsev, one of Stal’s leaders. Image: At least 33 puppet heads were on display at Russia’s Seliger 2010 youth camp, topped by Nazi symbols. Among the people depicted: Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, and five judges of the European Court for Human Rights. (Credit: Anti-Fascist Committee of Finland/Dr. Johan Backman)

Elizabeth I and the Tudor propaganda machine: As two portraits of Elizabeth I go on show in London's National Portrait Gallery, Tim Lambon analyses the use of art as propaganda in the Tudor era - and beyond - "Now, being a Richardian and thereby a staunch Yorkist, I am no lover of the Tudors, but there is fascination in the way the they used propaganda. And in the Elizabethan era, although images of the Queen were painted to project political messages about the reign's wealth, power and stability, they were seldom realistic. In the Tudor Gallery on the second floor of the National Portrait Gallery, for just one week, two portraits of Elizabeth have been reunited for the first time in nearly 30 years. ... All part of the propaganda machine, the paintings carried very specific messages within a standardised image of the monarch. The Pelican, for its mythical habit of peeling flesh from its own breast to feed its chicks in hard times, showed Elizabeth as the Mother of the Nation; the Phoenix, forever renewed by fire and believed by the medieval mind to represent re-birth, showed the Virgin Queen as pure and virtuous,

dedicating herself to her people and regeneration for the stable dynasty. Sadly for Elizabeth, the re-generation bit never worked." Image from article

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