Monday, December 27, 2010
--Guide who treats visitors to the Spam Museum (Austin, Minnesota), which includes a movie presentation that draws heavily on the musical work of a group of ladies called the Spamettes; via PR; image from
Why U.S. public diplomacy no longer works and can it be fixed? - TedLipien.com: "The current problem with having effective U.S. public diplomacy is largely due to the recent breakdown of domestic consensus on important values and foreign policy issues that existed during the Cold War, but bureaucratic inertia and incompetence also play a very large role. [T]here can be no effective public diplomacy if the administration is afraid to or does not want to tell foreign audiences what Americans really think and say about foreign and domestic issues. Censoring members of Congress by State Department officials is particularly outrageous, but in some cases even professional journalists employed by the U.S. government practice self-censorship or promote the administration’s policies, because they agree with them, without regard for full accuracy and balance. I have checked the Voice of America’s recent coverage of the START treaty debate and found that the VOA English Service devoted about 90 percent of its online START news content
to views in support of the treaty. ... Individuals and organizations in the United States can help to expose foreign policy and public diplomacy mistakes, demand action, and in some cases communicate directly with audiences abroad. Unfortunately, however, citizen diplomacy is not the complete solution to the current problem. Statements and actions by NGOs do not have, again in most cases, the same impact as communications on behalf the of the U.S. government, and NGOs simply lack the resources available to federal agencies. So whether we like it or not, NGOs cannot completely replace the U.S. government in this area of foreign policy. Greater scrutiny and reform of the U.S. public diplomacy establishment must therefore become a goal of all individuals and organizations concerned with the state of America’s relations with her allies and the rest of the world." Image from
CIA Mouthpiece–Part II, Syed Builds on CIA Theme, “Al-Qaeda” Has Infested Quetta - Therearenosunglasses’s Weblog building an American resistance movement: "As with all CIA 'Public Diplomacy' psyops ..., the well-placed agency writer/patsies, like Syed Saleem Shahzad, follow the traditional tactic of citing his last installment as established fact and self-reinforcing proof of his latest claims. His words gain credibility when unnamed 'security officials' give unsubstantiated leaks that are echoed by current news reports ... Now, Syed is setting us up for the next psyop, by introducing the concept of the 'strategic corridor' into the media ... only he is doing his usual job of flipping the truth, making claims that it is 'al Qaida' who has plans to occupy the western corner of Balochistan, setting us up by introducing the false plot line, in order to justify pursuit by the American/international coalition."
Policy Guidance for EducationUSA Centers on Commercial Recruitment Agents - maavn, An International Educator in Vietnam Information, Insights & (Occasionally) Intrigue:
"ECA’s [State Deparment Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs] Office of Academic Programs does not permit advising centers that receive support from ECA to become involved with commercial recruitment agents for the following reasons in bold. I present – in italics – another perspective, additional information and/or a counterpoint. ... C. Commercial recruitment agents understandably direct their services to students with the ability to pay. EducationUSA center association with commercial agents would undermine our public diplomacy message of outreach to well-qualified students from throughout society, including underserved sectors. U.S. higher education is one of the most expensive in the world. Therefore, the overwhelming majority of international students who study in the U.S. are individuals 'of means,' sons and daughters of their respective countries’ elites, including many who receive merit-based scholarships. While there are some inspirational 'rags-to-riches' stories of extremely bright, highly motivated and hard-working poor students who are able to reap the benefits of a U.S. higher education, the reality is that most 'well-qualified' students are well-qualified because they have had the advantages of tutoring, extra classes, etc., all of which cost money. To claim otherwise is disingenuous at best. Many of those from 'underserved sectors' need the type of remedial training that programs such as the Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program and similar programs offer. Well-known U.S. government scholarship programs such as Fulbright and Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) do not target 'underserved sectors.' Compared to its friendly competitors, Australia and the UK, the U.S. has relatively few scholarships available for Vietnamese and other international students. Last year, for example, there were 39 VEF Fellows and 28 student Fulbrighters. ... Disclosure: I served as country director of the Institute of International Education in Vietnam from 2005-09. During that time, IIE-VN administered EducationUSA advising centers on behalf of ECA, US State Department." Image from
Sweden's Program Addressing Islamism: Cablegate Background : A December 18, 2009, cable addressing Swedish programs to deal with radicalization in Sweden's Islamic community, reproduced in its entirety: ... C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 STOCKHOLM 000787 ... SUBJECT: SWEDEN'S PROGRAM OF PREVENTING ISLAMIST RADICALIZATION AND EXTREMISM 18. (C) Post's Muslim engagement plan will continue to amplify the President's program of framing the U.S. - Muslim relationship in terms of common values, partnership, and mpowerment (ref F). Post is currently developing contacts in support of interfaith dialogue programs with religious leaders around Sweden, and we will focus our public diplomacy outreach beyond religious institutions to engage civic leaders from minority communities (ref G). Post will also reach out to Muslim individuals beyond the Stockholm metropolitan area through educational and cultural programs."
The paradox WikiLeaks - Wolfgang Ischinger, Cicero [Google translation:]"This is the WikiLeaks paradox: Because the U.S. government departments to communicate little with each other and therefore in the fight against terrorism after 9 / 11 were each other's way, they are fully networked with each other: the goal was efficiency through transparency. Damit schuf Washington aber selbst die technischen Voraussetzungen dafür, dass durch WikiLeaks regierungsinterne Transparenz zu globaler Öffentlichkeit umfunktioniert werden konnte: eine geradezu perverse Form von 'public diplomacy'. Die Folge: das WikiLeaks-Ziel, eine Welt totaler und dauerhafter Öffentlichkeit, rückt damit in weite Ferne, weil weniger, nicht mehr Offenheit und mehr, nicht weniger Geheimhaltung in allen Hauptstädten die absehbare Folge sein wird. This Washington created but even the technical requirements that could be converted by WikiLeaks government internal transparency to global public: an almost perverse form of 'public diplomacy'. The result: the WikiLeaks target, a world of total and permanent public to get involved, so in distant, because will be less, not more openness and more, not less secrecy in all major cities, the foreseeable consequence. Quellen werden schweigen, Botschafter werden nur noch das zu hören bekommen, was man gerne in der Zeitung lesen möchte, hochwertige Informationen werden schwerer zu erlangen sein. Sources are silent ambassadors will hear only what you would like to read in the newspaper, high-quality information will be difficult to obtain. Um undichte Stellen zu stopfen, wird der Informationsfluss innerhalb der Regierungsapparate reduziert werden. In order to plug leaks, the information flow will be reduced within the government apparatus.
Auslandsvertretungen werden möglicherweise von bestimmten Netzwerken abgeschnitten, Botschafter von Besprechungen der politischen Führung ausgeschlossen. Missions may be cut off from certain networks excluded Ambassador of meetings of political leadership. Manche Regierungen könnten in Zukunft eher auf persönliche Sondergesandte als auf den diplomatischen Apparat setzen, um den Kreis der Eingeweihten klein zu halten, und manche könnten sogar so weit gehen, keine Niederschriften bestimmter Gespräche mehr zu erlauben. Some governments may in the future rather than on personal envoy on the diplomatic machinery set to keep the small circle of initiates, and some may even go so far as to allow no more talk of certain records." Image from
Afghan people need our help now - Michel Gabaudan, USA Today: As President Obama pushes forward with his military strategy for Afghanistan, ordinary Afghans are undeniably worse off. More and more Afghans are forced from their homes by violence, especially
as the military offensive in the south pushes insecurity north. Meanwhile, the Afghan government remains too weak, and humanitarian organizations are unprepared to meet even the most basic needs of the population. Afghan child image from article
Taliban Propaganda Watch (RC South) – 261500UTC Dec 10 - MILNEWS.ca
How the US cemented its worldwide influence with Spam - Kevin Connolly, BBC News: "[E]ven when you're watching a Chinese flat-screen TV and driving an Indian car powered with Brazilian biofuels you almost certainly won't be wearing Indian-style clothing or humming Chinese pop songs as you go. Or watching Brazilian movies either. Next time you see television pictures of an anti-American demonstration anywhere on earth look closely at the crowd.
Among the flag-burners you'll almost certainly see someone wearing an LA Lakers shirt or a Yankees baseball cap. ... My first exposure to American culture came back in the Doris Days of the early 1960s, growing up in a Britain that was still shaking off the lingering effects of rationing and the costs of post-war reconstruction. ... We had Elvis, of course, and Hollywood but the world was a lot less global then. It was still possible, for example, for British recording artists to have hit records by simply recording their own versions of songs that were already hits for American stars on the far side of the Atlantic. But the flagship of American influence in my own life was Spam, the bright-pink pork luncheon meat that was a staple of the British working-class diet for several decades. ... It's quite a while since we stopped marvelling at the convenience of convenience food and started worrying about it was doing to us, but Spam continues to keep its place in a changing world. It is not much use as a nation-building tool in America's modern wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for example (pork, remember) but these are tough times in America and domestic sales are going rather well." Via PR. Image from article
Bloodlust and Britney Spears: Tom Payne's "Fame" examines modern celebrity through the lens of the ancient world, arguing that the Greeks and Romans can tell us much about our obsession with fame and our desire to punish celebrities for their "hubris" - Toby Young, Wall Street Journal: Payne underscores that the brutal treatment meted out to errant starlets like Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse is a form of human sacrifice. Just as the Greeks and Romans would slaughter animals to propitiate the gods—a substitute for more primitive forms of sacrifice, according to the author—so the citizens of modern, democratic societies have an almost insatiable thirst for seeing celebrities devoured by the tabloid wolves.
Instant Noodle Diplomacy; Spamalot - Paul Rockower, Levantine: A Taiwanese ultra-marathon runner has been carrying out some some ramen pd in his sub-zero runs by bringing enough hot soup to share with his fellow frozen marathoners: Chen said he took many packets of instant noodles to the South Pole and shared them with fellow runners. "At the South Pole, Taiwan instant noodles were very popular, especially with the Brazilian TV crew (covering the race)," he told reporters at the airport. "I carried out people's diplomacy with the instant noodles," said Chen, a student at the Taipei Physical Education College. 'Tis an interesting, and instant, example of gastrodiplomacy.
Netizens unmoved by propaganda from state media during festive season - temasekreview.com: In the last few days, the state media has gone on a propaganda overdrive to inject a ‘feel-good’ factor in Singaporeans during the festive season to ‘help’ them forget about their daily struggles in life as a result of the government’s misguided policies.
Channel News Asia carried a series of articles with misleading headlines such as “Thousands celebrate Christmas at Orchard Road despite downpour” and “Orchard Rd malls report 15-20% increase in Christmas sales” in a desperate attempt to convince Singaporeans that the ‘good times’ are back. With the new media gaining readership among young Singaporeans, it is no longer that easy for the state propaganda machine to ‘brainwash’ them like in the past. Image from article
President Medvedev discusses media freedom with the heads of Russia's three federal TV channels - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting
The Putinization of Hungary - Editorial, Washington Post: Next moth many European Union members may be regretting their system of a rotating presidency. That's because the gavel will be handed to Hungary, whose populist and power-hungry government has just adopted a media law more suited to an authoritarian regime than to a Western democracy. Two media laws will put Hungary in a league with Russia and Belarus on press freedom.
Book recommendation: Red Star Over Russia - James Frayne, The Campaign War Room: "One of the issues I've touched on here regularly is the power of visual imagery in politics. It's not something which receives much attention in the UK because of our press-dominated political conversation. For that reason it's always interesting to look at the imagery that comes out of countries where this is taken seriously. These days, of course, that's the US - particularly the film that comes out of the US election campaigns. In the past, one of the places that took imagery seriously was the USSR in their early period. And this is the subject of a fascinating book called Red Star Over Russia.
The book focuses on photos ('real' and staged) from the period just before the October revolution to the period when Stalin died in 1953, as well as the propaganda posters and sculptures of the time. When people talk about the propaganda genius of the communists, they're really talking about this early period, before the realities of the Soviet system became clearer to the wider world. It was a deeply unpleasant and brutal system - one that was obviously responsible for huge numbers of deaths - but extraordinarily this was a period when it was possible credibly to link the Soviet system with modernity, progress and fairness in the public mind." Image from article
ONE MORE QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"The 6th Jaddi (the Hijri Lunar year) which coincides with 27th December, is the day of the former Soviet Union’s aggression against Afghanistan. Three decades ago, on this day, 700 soldiers of the Red Army dressed in the uniform of the Afghan Army killed Hafizulla Amin, the former communist ruler of Afghanistan at Taj Beg Palace, near the capital Kabul. With this, 80,000 Red Army soldiers entered Afghanistan through land and air which, at one point, reached 150,000 soldiers."
--Statement of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Regarding the Condemnation of the 31st Anniversary of the Red Army Invasion of Afghanistan
From New York Times: In 1993 Agrinvest International, which is based in Phoenix, bought roughly 1,000 former Soviet-bloc vehicles that had been demilitarized and auctioned after German reunification. Around 350 were stored in Britain; the rest — 700 or so Russian, Czech and East German trucks and tankers — made their way to the Mississippi coast. Image from article: Gulfport, Miss., home for hundreds of former Soviet-bloc vehicles.