Saturday, October 2, 2010

October 2

"[The] Declaration of Independence is, in effect, a work of propaganda -- or, to put it more politely, an exercise in public diplomacy intended to enlist other countries to the cause."

--New BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson, from a 2004 article

"[T]he propagandist ... is nothing else and nothing more than the representative of the organization – or, rather, a delegated fraction of it. He remains a manipulator, in the shadow of the machine."

--Jacques Ellul, Propaganda ([1962] 1965); cited in Evonne Levy, Propaganda and the Jesuit Baroque (2004), p. 72 [no link]; also cited at; image: "The Propagandist," from Kevin Titzer, sculpture; on Ellul, see.


A Review & Analysis of Current Public Diplomacy in the News - International Exchanges: A Soft Power Tool (September 2010)


Radio excerpts of North Vietnamese radio broadcast from Radio Hanoi and 'Hanoi Hannah'


Obama’s BBC Public Diplomacy - Javad Rad, Newswire – CPD Blog & Blogroll, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Beyond the harsh rhetoric on who is to blame for 9/11, [Obama's] appearance on BBC Persian has a few notable implications for U.S. public diplomacy apparatus in general and its policy towards Iran in particular. The fact that Obama went to the BBC to talk to Iranian people signals the weakness in U.S. public diplomacy apparatus, namely its own international broadcasting to Iran. Since the U.S. government has established its Persian TV service within Voice of America (VOA PNN) and funded it for nearly 15 years, why should the U.S. president resort to another country's public diplomacy network to speak to a foreign audience? The reason lies in the size of audience one can reach. Obviously VOA has not been able to reach a sizable audience inside Iran. ... Obama's BBC public diplomacy indicates another shift and that is a huge step towards the (old) policy of considering Iranian government separate from its people. While early in his presidency Obama adhered to engagement; realities in Washington, elections in Iran, and problems on nuclear issue soon weakened his political power. Now, in his interview with BBC, Obama seems to be following the same path as other U.S. presidents. He stands tough on human rights issues, adheres to sanctions, does not rule out an Israeli pre-emptive attack on Iran, and tries to talk to the Iranian people rather than their government.

[Includes comments by Shawn Powers and Kim Andrew Elliott] Powers: "The premise of this post is misguided, sorry to say. VOA's Persian News Network is watched by more Iranians than BBC Persia by every measure of audience I've seen, including those conducted by the BBC. ... The reason why President Obama gave the interview to BBC Persia is based on the idea that, had he given the interview to PNN, it would have furthered the idea that PNN is an extension of the US government's voice, rather than an independent source for news and information." Elliott: "It is understandable that the White House selected BBC Persian. This avoided the perception, however incorrect, that VOA would have asked softball questions. An interview with the President would also have been a mixed blessing for VOA. Provide too much time to senior administration officials, and people might start referring to VOA as part of the 'U.S. public diplomacy apparatus.' No genuine news organization would want to be called such a thing." Image from

In keynote speech, BBG chairman Walter Isaacson "repeatedly stressed the importance of credibility" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: Walter Isaacson's strongest arguments for the credibility of US international broadcasting came during the questions and answers after his speech. These are not included in the on-demand video, but audio of the first two questions is here (mp3, 7:32). Responding to Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy, Mr. Isaacson said that when there is a conflict between journalism and helping US policy, the BBG should 'always make the choice on the side of credible journalism.' Following up, Mr. Rogin asked, 'does maintaining that credibility include having voices that are opposed to US policy?' Isaacson: 'Yes. Of course.' The new BBG has stated the need for 'collegiality' among its entities. In her question, Claudia Rosett of Forbes Online departed from that spirit by trying to start a food fight between VOA and the Radio Free stations. She began by asking if reports of a budget cut to Radio Free Asia's Korean Service are correct. (See previous post.) Then she said: 'You have UN coverage which sometimes amounts to basically taking something like a Burmese or Iranian press release for Voice of America -- my compliments to Jeff Gedmin who has done fantastic work on Iran -- but for Voice of America and rerouting press releases, and I'm curious as to why that...' Isaacson: 'Shut down the UN bureau and put the money into North Korea?' Mr. Isaacson ignored the insinuation about VOA, saying instead that he would try to find money for broadcasts to North Korea. (Ms. Rosett has written articles critical of VOA in Pajamas Media on 8 October 2007 and 7 September 2009.) Mr. Isaacson

did not mention consolidation of U.S. international broadcasting, unless it was implied in his vision for a 'a great virtual global news service' rather than services (plural), one for each entity. It is interesting that he did not provide the oft-repeated, though inaccurate, dichotomy of VOA telling the world about America, and the surrogate stations exclusively providing news about the target countries." Image from

Armenian journalist appeals to Obama to protect rights of foreign journalists at U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty - Lev Roitman, "In October, new BBG (in place since June 30th) is for the first time coming to RFE/RL in Prague. BBG Chairman, Mr. Walter Isaacson, at the festive event in Washington, quote: 'And thanks to Jeff (Gedmin), we’ve arranged to have a meeting with Havel'. No doubt, for BBG, it will be a memorable event. But, quite possibly, also an embarrassing one. For the former Czech President Vaclav Havel who came to personify morality, honesty and human decency, is well aware of the scandalous events

that systematically ruin moral reputation of the American RFE/RL hosted since the time of his presidency by the Czech Republic. ... [O]ne may wonder, why RFE/RL President did not arrange for the BBG also a meeting with staunchly pro-American Czech senator Jaromir Stetina who actively strives to protect and improve RFE/RL moral standing. Probably, the answer may be found in the following letter addressed to President Obama by former RFE/RL employee Anna Karapetian. With her expressed permission, the letter is reproduced below. ['] September 19, 2010 Re: Broadcasting Board of Governors and Radio Free Europe – Your Intervention Dear Mr. President: ... Countless reports, articles, commentaries, radio and TV broadcasts highly critical of RFE/RL discriminative personnel policies have appeared by now in American, Czech, Armenian, Croatian, Russian, Slovak print and electronic media, including statements from Czech politicians. Former Czech President Vaclav Havel, prominent human rights activist, in front of the running TV-cameras promised to personally monitor the court cases of arbitrarily fired RFE/RL employees. In fact, RFE/RL, a highly visible overseas institution of American public diplomacy intended to be a powerful tool of American 'soft power', damages America’s reputation abroad. Undoubtedly, your authoritative and timely advice will change the unfortunate situation.[']" Image from

Radio Sawa reporter speaks of the dangers to Iraqi journalists, e.g. the bomb wired to his car - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

USAID's loss is Judith McHale's gain - Matt Armstrong, "It was barely six months ago that Lynne Weil,

one of public diplomacy's best friends on the Hill as a Berman staffer on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, moved from the House to the United States Agency for International Development. This move was so noteworthy that Al Kamen wrote about it. Lynne tells me she is making another move. Starting next week, she'll be Senior Advisor to Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale. ... This move gives her a chance to work with and promote the needs and activities of public diplomacy from the inside. [USAID Administrator] Rajiv Shah's loss is McHale's (and Clinton's) gain." See also. Weil image from

US – Pakistan Spat and Prognosis - "The mood in Pakistan, as a cumulative results of the sensalisation of events amidst claims and counter claims from both sides, is belligerent

and hostile towards America. ... Its public diplomacy has taken a big hit ... and eroded the credibility of the alliance." Image from

Love, worry send Tai Shan fans to China - William Wan, Washington Post: "For four middle-aged American women, a trip to China was a chance to pull out all of their panda finery: the panda earrings, the necklaces, and the many, many panda plush toys. But what they experienced when they got to the country's largest panda reserve topped anything they'd ever done in years of devotion to their beloved bear, Tai Shan. Hunched over in brown janitorial coveralls, they used their hands to gather new ursine artifacts straight from the source: clumps of fibrous, multicolored panda poop. The sight of the Western women scrubbing down the panda pens was enough to cause flocks of Chinese tourists to swivel their cameras to catch the action.

A few even stopped the women in their tracks to pose with them for pictures." Comment on this event from a public diplomacy perspective by Laura McGinnis, Panda Politics, manIC: "Now I like a good panda poop joke as much as the next girl. But let's focus for a moment on what a smart PD move this is. The women who traveled across the Pacific to collect Tai Shan's scat actually paid for the privilege, volunteering through the Bifenxia panda research center. ... Further capitalizing on the panda's popularity, China recently announced the names of six winners of its search for 'Pambassadors' to spread the good word about the adorable bamboo-guzzlers. China's working hard to protect the panda and promote its image at home and abroad. Whether it translates into positive foreign attitudes or not remains to be seen." Image from

Iran's (attempted) media management? - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "[S]eems like Iran is improving its skills of foreign public engagement, and Russia - being the not-so-hostile territory - is a great place for such test-runs (I'm sure the case of the Moscow Embassy is not the only one, and that there are many others out there). Then, there is also the Iranian Cultural Center in Russia, with its shiny and pretty substantive website. Awesome public diplomacy, isn't it?"

Ireland Launches Five-Year International Education Strategy - Kevin Dillon, NAFSA: "Last week, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen launched an ambitious new plan to establish Ireland as a hub of international education. With the aim of expanding international students in higher education by 50% and in English language schools by 25% over the next five years, the industry would contribute some 1.2 billion euro to the economy by 2015. Ten separate strategic aims are set out in the plan to achieve in the Taoiseach’s words, a reputation as 'a world-leading provider of international education.' ... Interestingly, the strategy is fully aware of the role of international education in shaping public diplomacy. A specific aim of the plan is to create a new generation of advocates for Ireland across the world after they complete their studies in the country."

Should Brands Approach Community Engagement Like Governments Approach Public Diplomacy? - Gaurav Mishra, "Like traditional diplomacy, traditional public relations concerned itself with a small group of elites: editors, journalists and experts. Like public diplomacy, 'people relations' or community engagement at its best starts with the premise that everyone is an opinion leader and shared socio-cultural artifacts are the key to engage people in a dialogue.

Finally, like public diplomacy, the perceived intent behind community engagement programs is often more important than the specific elements of the program. A program that is perceived to promote misleading or self-serving brand messages often results in brand backlashes." Image from

Soft Power in a Hostel Environment - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I have a new article in CPD's PDiN Monitor called 'Soft Power in a Hostel Environment'. I look at the role tourism and travel can play in public diplomacy, and offer the youth hostel up as the purest form of cultural exchange."

Jozef Swiatlo, Radio Free Europe and Balloons - Richard Cummings, "In West Berlin, on Saturday, 5 December 1953, Jozef Swiatlo, a lieutenant colonel in the Polish secret police, 'defected' to the West. ... Swiatlo's broadcast over Radio Free Europe reportedly caused a major chain reaction in Poland with the dismissal, transfer, and worse, of thousands of Communist Party members and government officials.

Perhaps as many as 150,000 party members, according to one estimate, were affected by RFE's programming. RFE’s radio programs about Swiatlo were described, 'a brilliant tactical decision that brought unforeseeable strategic gains,' and 'one of the most successful pieces of radio propaganda ever.' The Polish regime responded with silence for a few weeks before it launched a heavy counter-propaganda campaign of radio commentaries, articles, poems, and cartoons." Via. Swiatlo image from article

More Voice of America history: the move from New York in 1954, and VOA operations in 1955 - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting


U.S. struggles to counter Taliban propaganda - Ernesto Londoño, Washington Post: The Taliban in recent months has developed increasingly sophisticated and nimble propaganda tactics that have alarmed U.S. officials struggling to curb the militant group's growing influence across Afghanistan. U.S. officials and Afghan analysts say the Taliban has become adept at portraying the West as being on the brink of defeat, at exploiting rifts between Washington and Kabul and at disparaging the administration of President Hamid Karzai as a "puppet" state with little reach outside the capital.

The group is also attempting to assure Afghans that it has a strategy for governing the country again, presenting a platform of stamping out corruption and even protecting women's rights. As the radical Islamist movement steps up conventional grass-roots propaganda efforts and polishes its online presence - going so as far as to provide Facebook and Twitter icons online that allow readers to disseminate press releases - the U.S.-led coalition finds itself on the defensive in the media war. Image from

Japan's Weird, Wonderful American Propaganda Theme Park - Hampton Stevens, Twin Ring, named for an unusual, dual-track configuration,

is the centerpiece and raison d'être for Mobilityland—a sprawling, motorsports-themed entertainment complex built by Honda Motor Company. A citadel of cultural imperialism and self-contained bubble of hyperrealist sensory overload, Mobilityland boasts the Twin Ring tracks, seating about 60,000, plus a luxury resort, a motorsports-themed kids' playland, interactive driving exhibits, and glittering glass-and-steel automotive museum celebrating all things fast and Honda. Mobilityland wasn't created to promote a brand, but a lifestyle. Or, more accurately, to propagandize an alien culture. Namely: ours. The park was built, according to the lilting English version of the company's website, to offer "the new mobility culture of American motorsports" to the Japanese people. Judging from the packed house at the IndyCar race, they've accepted. Image from Mobilityland corporation

Propaganda on Twitter and Youtube - jung ryul kim, Twitter and Youtube are probably one of the most limitless and individualized methods of communication on the Internet. The fact that North Korea makes a use of these Internet-based social networking service

implies how badly they want to make a connection with the people of the outside world and let the others know North Korean’s argument in order to evade the international pressure. Image from

Iraq War: U.S. and British Documents Give No Indication Alternatives Were Seriously Considered - Mike Hitchen Online: i On Global Trends - news, opinion, analysis: National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 328 Edited by John Prados and Christopher Ames: Contrary to statements by President George W. Bush or Prime Minister Tony Blair, declassified records from both governments posted on the Web today reflect an early and focused push to prepare war plans and enlist allies regardless of conflicting intelligence about Iraq’s threat and the evident difficulties in garnering global support. Perhaps most revealing about today’s posting on the National Security Archive’s Web site is what is missing—any indication whatsoever from the declassified record to date that top Bush administration officials seriously considered an alternative to war. In contrast there is an extensive record of efforts to energize military planning, revise existing contingency plans, and create a new, streamlined war plan.

What Confucius says is useful to China's rulers: The venerable sage's teachings have enjoyed a revival in 21st century China because they serve the communist regime well politically - Daniel K. Gardner,

Edward Bernays on propaganda and public relations - Edward Bernays on propaganda and public relations with a polemic insert from Steven Pinker’s ‘The Staff of Thought’.

Can elite bards and scribblers create new metaphors to manipulate public opinion? They can, and apparently they do [has video]. Image from

In 1932, Fox Helped Make Propaganda Films for Hitler – Webster Tarpley Posted by sakerfa, In German historian Hans Mommsen’s authoritative study entitled The Rise and Fall of Weimar Democracy, which is translated into English and widely available in over five hundred libraries in this country, we find the following: “There was nothing that escaped the ingenuity of Nazi propagandists. A case in point was the use of film. Under Goebbels’ influence the party had begun to exploit the potential of the political propaganda film to an unprecedented extent as early as 1930. Such films were shown mostly in places where Hitler and other prominent party leaders were not able to appear as speakers. For the manufacture of outdoor sound film, the NSDAP turned to an American company, Twentieth Century Fox.“

Scholar William G. Chrystal confirms this account and provides further important details in his 1975 article on “Nazi Party Election Films, 1927-1938.” Chrystal writes: “Support for two additional 1932 election films, Der Führer (The Leader), and Hitlers Kampf um Deutschland (Hitler’s Struggle for Germany) came from the German-based subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Tönende Wochenschau (Fox Weekly Sound Newsreel [i.e., Fox Movietone News]). In addition, they also supplied some mobile sound film vans to be used during the campaign. Robert Edwin Herzstein, in his article entitled “Movietone News and the Rise of Fascism in Europe, 1930-1935,” explored the partial archive of Fox Movietone News for these years now at the Thomas Cooper Library at the University of South Carolina. It is clear from this article that the regular weekly Fox Movietone newsreels also played into the hands of the Nazi and fascist media strategy. Proud of this record, “Fox called its newsreel operations ‘the mightiest of them all.’” Image from

12 Food Propaganda Posters for Design Inspiration - Jennifer Moline, "I’ve always loved propaganda posters – not necessarily their messages but at least their bold colors, blocky typography and stark imagery. Propaganda posters used a striking form of marketing: They pretty much threatened or frightened to get their point across. While most people are familiar with World War I and WWII propaganda posters – Uncle Sam declaring he wants YOU for the U.S. Army is one of the most recognized posters out there – many others from that era focused on other issues that came about from the wars. One category is food.

During the two wars, farmers went into debt, the Great Depression occurred, people didn’t have money, and there was a fear of running out of food. The U.S. Food Administration was tasked with educating – or at least urging – Americans to 'eat this but not that,' grow victory gardens and even salute the potato. What’s interesting about a lot of the propaganda from that time is a number of the messages are being recycled today: Buy locally, eat less meat, don’t waste food, and vote with your wallet."


Intercourse judge in nutty condom stunt - A judge from the US village of intercourse has been charged - after handing out condoms hidden inside acorns - Isaac Stoltzfus, 58, was charged with disorderly conduct after two women complained to police, reports the Patriot-News. He was reportedly handing out hollowed out acorns

containing condoms to passers-by outside the state capitol building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. "An individual was handing out acorns to some women who were offended when they discovered the contents in the acorn included a condom," said Edward Myslewicz, a spokesman for the Department of General Services. Police say Stoltzfus, who lives and works in Intercourse, told them it was a joke. He could be fined or disciplined by the state's Judicial Conduct Board. Via Boing Boing

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