Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 27

"I lose sleep because I'm getting older, but not because of China's stepped up public diplomacy efforts."

--USG International Broadcasting guru Kim Andrew Elliott; image from


Battery Dance Company Toolkit Prototype v1.0: "For nearly three decades Battery Dance Company

has been empowering meaningful cultural relations through teaching and sharing dance. This is the story of what, why and how they do it." Via; image from


Pentagon, Inc.: How to Sell an Unpopular War - Nancy Snow, Huffington Post: "The American army still engages in a war far, far away [in Afghanistan] but the American citizenry isn't there. We don't engage. We don't support that far-away war, but we continue to pay for it.

It's precisely because of this disconnect between apathetic or weak public support for the Afghanistan war and a costly war raging on at a distance that leads to a full-spectrum influence strategy where public relations, public diplomacy, info ops and psy-ops -- and now Information Engagement cells -- are the soup to nuts menu for getting the purse-holders to board the train." Image from

The Biggest Losers (Middle Eastern edition) - "[T]he US government ... reacted slowly, clumsily and viscerally to the wave of [Middle East] protests, engaged in a series of quick policy shifts and contradictory pronouncements, and which has been shown to have a limited ability to predict, respond or influence events on the ground in that strategically important region even as it pontificates about its newly discovered commitment to democracy and human rights in it (it should be noted that other great powers such as China and Russia did not engage in public diplomacy about the unrest, which may be more due to their own authoritarian records rather than a respect for national sovereignty and preference for private diplomacy but which in any event does not leave them looking like hypocrites on the matter). ... But the biggest loser by far in this historic moment is the one actor that only gets mentioned by fear-mongerers: al-Qaeda and the international jihadist movement. In spite of repeated calls for the Muslim masses to join them in their struggle, after years of sacrifice of blood and treasure, international jihadists have seen few echoes of their views in the Middle Eastern uprisings."

McCain and Lieberman on Future TV: Public Diplomacy blues - "If these were indeed the talking points for the two senators, then US public diplomacy in Lebanon is truly at its weakest point in six years.

Incredible responses on LAF aid, Hariri as a hero etc…. the two mainstays of US foriegn policy looked confused and uncomfortable, bereft of their former certainties…." Image from

Russia: Internet Freedom As Cold War 2.0 - Gregory Asmolov, "On February 15, 2010 Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, shared her vision of the Internet’s role in the modern world. New remarks emphasized the definition of the cyberspace as 'the public space of the 21st century' and the U.S. commitment to promote Internet freedom. It seemed that this kind of speech would be supported by bloggers all over the world. Surprisingly, Russian bloggers and, not surprisingly, Russian media were mostly skeptical about Clinton's speech. Article titles vividly illustrate the framing of the address: 'Top-Level Trolling: U.S. Government Plans To Enlighten Russian Citizens Via Twitter' (Vzglyad [RUS]), 'Strategic Twitter Offensive: the U.S. Claims Authority Over Defending Free Internet All Over the World' ( [RUS]), 'Enemy Voices In 140 Symbols' ( [RUS].

Two elements of the speech attracted most attention. The first one is the launch of State Department Twitter account in Russian. And the second one is the decision of the U.S. to invest $25 million in the 'Internet freedom' initiatives. One may assume that the reaction of Russian bloggers could be an unexpected surprise for those who had developed the new U.S. Internet freedom strategy. Hillary Clinton, however, wasn’t the first one to approach Russian citizens online. In 2008, the undersecretary for public diplomacy James Glassman announced creation of Russian language 'Digital Outreach Team', that would engage in RuNet discussions about American politics. The initiative was badly received. There are probably a number of explanations for this type of reaction. One of them is offered [ENG] by Steven Corman and his colleagues. They suggest the U.S. communication failures in other countries are caused by the lack of understanding that 'a meaning cannot simply be transferred, like a letter mailed from point A to point B,' but it depends primarily on 'interpreting one-another’s actions and making attributions about thoughts, motivations, and intentions'." Image from article

Ideas exchanged in Warren: Ukrainians pay visit to city - Virginia Shank, Tribune Chronicle: "Although they were equipped with three interpreters, a group of Ukrainian leaders appeared well aware of the language barrier among them and local officials when they visited the city last week. ... The group, made up of Ukrainian planning and development leaders, is participating in the U.S. Agency for International Development, or US AID, community connections program. They arrived Feb. 16 in the U.S., planning to spend three weeks in Ohio examining urban planning and development practices. The Columbus International Program serves as host organization for

the delegation. ... The program is offered by The Community Connections Program, managed by the Bureau for Europe and Eurasia at US AID and administered by World Learning. It is designed to promote public diplomacy through the exchange of cultural ideas and values among participants, U.S. families and local community host organizations and to establish and strengthen links between U.S. communities and European countries including the Ukraine." Image from

What is Al Jazeera? and What's Al Hurra? - "US Propaganda US of A, countered with Al Hurraw [sic]. This is your tax-dollars at work. Quote: Alhurra is a United States-based satellite TV channel, sponsored by the U.S. government. It began broadcasting on February 14, 2004 in 22 countries across the Middle East. U.S. Government sources generally refer to the channel as Al-Hurra. Like all forms of U.S. public diplomacy, the station is forbidden from broadcasting within the U.S. itself under the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act concerning the broadcast of propaganda."

Israeli Government, Universities Support Student Delegation Sent to Fight Israel Apartheid Week - Connie Hackbarth, Alternative Information Center (AIC): "Ben Gurion University and the the Weitzmann Institute are joining forces with Israel’s Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs to support and finance a delegation going to the UK to counter Israel Apartheid Week at the end of March.

The 25 student strong delegation organized itself via Facebook and according to Alon Kimchi, initiator of the project, 'the time has come to stop crying about the Israeli public relations and to strengthen them in positive ways. Our goal is to act as the first filter against the lies and propaganda against Israel.'”

Chinese public diplomacy is a paper tiger funded by our trade deficit - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Empowering Women in International Relations: The €900 Atlantic Community Op-Ed Writing Competition (NATO countries) - " ... [t]o mark the 10th anniversary of this landmark UN Resolution and help realize its aims ... [is] launching the op-ed competition 'Women on Transatlantic Security,' which is sponsored by the NATO Public Diplomacy Division and the United States Mission to NATO."


Jenkins chosen for commission - The Observer: The Independent Newspaper Serving Notre Dame and St. Mary's: "University president Fr. John Jenkins

was recently appointed to a national commission that will examine the future of teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences. The Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, created by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), is co-chaired by Richard Brodhead, president of Duke University, and John Rowe, chair and chief executive officer of Exelon Corp. The commission includes prominent Americans from the humanities, social sciences, physical and life sciences, business, law, philanthropy, the arts and the media. ... The commission was spurred by a bipartisan request from U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Reps. Tom Petri (R-Wisc.) and David Price (D-N.C.). They presented the commission with the following charge: 'What are the top 10 actions that Congress, state governments, universities, foundations, educators, individual benefactors and others should take now to maintain national excellence in humanities and social scientific scholarship and education, and to achieve long-term national goals for our intellectual and economic well-being; for a stronger, more vibrant civil society; and for the success of cultural diplomacy in the 21st century?'" See also (1) (2). Jenkins image from article

Lynda Benglis & Foundation for Art & Preservation in Embassies (FAPE) Donate Art in Mumbai, India
- Press Release, PRLog: "The Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE), the leading non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the United States image abroad through American art, announced today that renowned American artist Lynda Benglis will install 14 large-scale, permanent works of art at the new U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, India this month. Benglis has donated these works to FAPE in support of the organization’s mission to use art as a tool for cultural diplomacy. Benglis donated these works to FAPE’s Site-Specific Collections, which uses art to spark cross-cultural dialogue. As part of this project, the U.S. Department of State has asked FAPE

to commission site-specific works by American artists for many U.S. embassies in construction abroad. Once an artist has been selected and has agreed to create a work, FAPE works with the embassy architects, the State Department, and the artist, to ensure that the art is sensitively integrated with its surroundings.

The artists donate all artworks while FAPE provides funds for their fabrication and installation." Top image from; below image from

Cultural diplomacy - ‎Nicole Pope, Today's Zaman: "I recently received a frustrated e-mail from the artistic co-director of the International Culture Lab, a Brooklyn-based theater group that specializes in cross-cultural artistic cooperation. For the past three years, they have been working on a joint American-Turkish theatrical project, bringing together actors and writers from both countries. ... For this project, titled 'S/HE,' two one-act plays written by American playwright Tammy Ryan and her Turkish counterpart Zeynep Kaçar will be merged into one performance that will have a two-week run at the Kitchen Theater in Ithica [sic], the home of Cornell University, in May, a four-week run at the Irondale Theater in Brooklyn in October before moving to İstanbul to greet a Turkish audience at Garajistanbul

in November. ... [W]hile the men and women behind this project found sympathetic ears in the US, they have faced major reluctance on the Turkish side. In fact, they found themselves wading in the murky waters of internal politics, since gender has become a focus of internal divisions. ... We can only hope that Turkish organizations will see that international projects like this one are an occasion to show different aspects of contemporary Turkey and will rise to the challenge." Image from

New Yorkers protest Israel Philharmonic, more protests planned in other cities - Adalah-NY, Palestine: "Seventy New Yorkers protested the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s (IPO) performance at Carnegie Hall Tuesday evening, using chants, songs and street theater to highlight the IPO’s role in whitewashing Israel’s apartheid policies against the Palestinian people. The orchestra’s performances are being met with protests in six of the seven cities on its US tour, including a protest last Sunday evening in West Palm Beach, an upcoming Wednesday protest in Newark, and further protests in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as reported by the Israeli news website YNet. ... By serving as cultural ambassadors for Israel, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is supporting the 'Brand Israel'

initiative, a campaign by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to divert attention from Israel's oppression of Palestinians and 'show Israel’s prettier face, so we [Israel] are not thought of purely in the context of war.' The IPO refrains from criticism of Israel's policies and is described by the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra as 'Israel’s finest cultural emissary.' American Friends of the IPO further notes that 'the goodwill created by [the IPO's] of enormous value to the State of Israel. As a result, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra maintains its position at the forefront of cultural diplomacy and the international music scene.' One corporate sponsor of the IPO's US tour is Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, who hosted a gala IPO fundraiser. Leviev’s companies have been shunned by UNICEF, CARE, Oxfam, the British and Norwegian governments, and Hollywood stars for building illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and for involvement in human rights abuses in the diamond industry in Southern Africa." See also.

Cultural diplomacy comes into its own
- Viet Nam News: "Cultural diplomacy is expected be taught as a subject in several major universities by the end of this year as part of a Government promotion strategy. The deployment of the strategy will be closely combined with overseas diplomatic activities. However, it will also be used internally to promote matters of national interest and importance. The Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam (IIR),

Ha Noi University of Culture (HUC), the Academy of Journalism and Communication (AJC) and several other universities will take part in the scheme. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the strategy would help speed up cultural diplomacy in the next decade to broaden the international community's understandings of Viet Nam and to consolidate ties with other nations. Image from article, with caption: Vietnamese youngsters at the World Festival of Youth and Students in South Africa last year. Cultural diplomacy can be used to promote Vietnamese culture to enhance political and trade activities."


The military/media attacks on the Hastings article - Glenn Greewald, Salon: Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings has now written another Rolling Stone article that reflects poorly on a U.S. General in Afghanistan. Military officials want to impugn Hastings, but are afraid to attach their names to their claims and thus be accountable

for them -- exactly the way these officials seek to influence the Afghanistan war debate with covert propaganda, all without any accountability. So they instruct their media servants to disseminate their message anonymously, uncritically, and without a shred of accountability, and "journalists" like O'Donnell and Barnes then snap into line and comply." See also. Image from

Military denies use of intelligence tactics on senators - Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post: When Lt. Col. Michael D. Holmes was assigned to the U.S.-led headquarters in Kabul responsible for training Afghan security forces, he assumed he would spend a year employing his skills as an information operations officer. Perhaps, he thought, he would work on ways to influence Afghans to join their army, or he would develop anti-Taliban propaganda. Officers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Holmes never was asked to use psychological operations, deception or other tactics that would be illegal when applied to fellow Americans. He simply was being asked to conduct research using publicly available material, they said. They also said Holmes never attended any of the meetings with visiting members of Congress. The Army said it has no record of training Holmes in "psychological operations." Holmes was accused of spending too much time on Facebook.

An American in Pakistan - Arthur R. Brisbane, New York Times: The Times’s disclosure on Monday that it withheld information about Raymond Davis’s connection to the Central Intelligence Agency has kicked up a powerful response,

some of it as bitterly critical as these readers’ comments. Mr. Davis was charged with murder after shooting two Pakistani men in Lahore on Jan. 27. The Times jumped on the story, but on Feb. 8, the State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, contacted the executive editor, Bill Keller, with a request. “He was asking us not to speculate, or to recycle charges in the Pakistani press,” Mr. Keller said. “His concern was that the letters C-I-A in an article in the NYT, even as speculation, would be taken as authoritative and would be a red flag in Pakistan.” Image from

Doyle McManus: Helping the Arabs help themselves: The U.S. must find a way, and funding, to promote democracy - Doyle McManus, Obama and his aides have used the uprisings in the Arab world as a reproach to the authoritarian government of Iran, which has attacked demonstrators in Tehran even as it praised them in Cairo. But the best way to promote democracy in Iran — or Syria or Saudi Arabia — is to help democracy succeed in Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia.

Unfit for Democracy? - Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times: "In Egypt and Bahrain in recent weeks, I’ve been humbled by the lionhearted men and women I’ve seen defying tear gas or bullets for freedom that we take for granted. How can we say that these people are unready for a democracy that they are prepared to die for?"

How the Arabs Turned Shame Into Liberty - Fouad Ajami, New York Times: For decades, Arabs walked and cowered in fear. Now they seem eager to take freedom’s ride. Wisely, they are paying no heed to those who wish to speak to them of liberty’s risks.

After Iraq's Day of Rage, a Crackdown on Intellectuals - Stephanie McCrummen, Washington Post: The Iraq protests were different from many of the revolts sweeping the Middle East and North Africa in that demonstrators were calling for reform, not for getting rid of the government. Their demands ranged from more electricity and jobs to ending corruption, reflecting a dissatisfaction with government that cuts across sectarian and class lines.

Yet the protests were similar to others in that they were organized, at least in part, by middle-class, secular intellectuals, many of whom started Facebook groups, wrote and gave interviews supporting the planned demonstrations. Image from

State Dept official "weighing his words carefully ... both praised and criticized Al Jazeera" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Al Jazeera English in the USA: more arguments for and against - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

China launches propaganda campaign‎ - Kathrin Hille, Patti Waldmeir, Financial Times: China muffled calls for a pro-democracy movement on Sunday with a show of force from its security apparatus and an all-out propaganda offensive. Huge numbers of uniformed and plainclothes police, combined with street-cleaning vehicles, made sure no crowds formed on Wangfujing, one of the busiest shopping streets in Beijing, where an anonymous online appeal has been calling on people to gather for weekly ‘strolls’ for democracy.

China names top media watchdog: Cai Fuchao will take over at SARFT, report directly to cabinet - China has named Cai Fuchao, deputy mayor and propaganda czar of Beijing, as head of the country's powerful media watchdog, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. Cai, 60,

replaces Wang Taihua, who oversaw rapid growth of the Chinese film and TV business in the past six years, and the appointment comes shortly before next month's annual parliament, the National People's Congress. SARFT answers directly to China's cabinet, the State Council, and effectively decides what gets on TV and into the cinemas. It is the main censor and it decides which films make it under China's quota system that allows 20 foreign movies to screen every year on a revenue-share basis. He will play a key role in many ongoing projects such as the streamlining of the broadcast sytem, greater network convergence and increasing the watchdog's remit to include online and mobile content. Fuchao image from

North Korea threatens 'firing attacks' on South over leaflets about Mideast turmoil - Chico Harlan, Washington Post: North Korea on Sunday threatened to fire cross-border shots if South Korea continues a leaflet-launching propaganda campaign, which aims in part to inform the hermetic North of anti-government revolts in the Middle East.

The Lands Autocracy Won’t Quit - Clifford J. Levy, New York Times: Let the Middle East and North Africa be buffeted by populist discontent over repressive governments. Here in Lenin’s former territory, across the expanse of the old Soviet Union, rulers with iron fists still have the upper hand.

The Next Impasse [Review of The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan by Bing West] - Dexter Filkins, New York Times: The new religion is counterinsurgency, or in the military’s jargon, COIN. Why hasn’t the new faith in Afghanistan delivered the success it promises? In his remarkable book, “The Wrong War,” Bing West goes a long way to answering that question. “The Wrong War” amounts to a crushing and seemingly irrefutable critique of the American plan in Afghanistan.

Nine years of training and investment have created an Afghan Army fraught with the same corruption and lack of cohesion as the rest of the country. As it is, the Americans are now pouring more resources into the Afghan security forces than ever before. At best, the Afghans are years away from taking over the bulk of the fighting. And even that is a very fragile hope. Until then, what? As “The Wrong War” shows so well, the Americans will spend more money and more lives trying to transform Afghanistan, and their soldiers will sacrifice themselves trying to succeed. But nothing short of a miracle will give them much in return. Image from article, with caption: A security checkpoint at the edge of Marja, Afghanistan, May 2010.

How social media helps the revolution[s] - Martijn Stegink: There is lots of debate about the role of social media in social change, while

there is a disagreement about what the role exactly is, there is no denying there is one. Image from

Mosh Pit Diplomacy [Review of How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance By Parag Khanna] - Stéphanie Giry, New York Times: “How to Run the World” seems to be about the beginning of the end of the state, about the inescapable erosion of state power relative to that of supranational, subnational and private actors. Khanna’s answers to real problems tend to be vague or wishful.

Book review: 'Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage': Douglas Waller has written a splendid biography of the larger-than-life man who ran the legendary forerunner of the CIA - Tim Rutten, When war arrived, Donovan became a fervent supporter of aid to London and an opponent of U.S. isolationism. Encouraged by Churchill and the British espionage operative William Stephenson, he also became convinced that America required a professional intelligence agency like Britain's MI6, staffed with "men calculatingly reckless with disciplined daring."

Donovan proposed such a group to Roosevelt, and, in 1941, the president named the New York lawyer "coordinator of information." Thus was the legendary Office of Strategic Services, or OSS, born: Its agents — both men and women — generally lived up to Donovan's description throughout the war. Much of Waller's narrative is given over to those years, and rightly so, since they were replete with heroism of all sorts. There were stunningly daring, meticulously prepared operations as well as many — like the plan to drop bats with bombs strapped to their bodies over Germany — that simply were harebrained. Others were problematic, like a generalized collapse of OSS operations in Italy that were saved and put on a productive footing by Donovan, who repeatedly and recklessly exposed himself to enemy fire. His administrative overreaching and lack of even normally protective political instincts earned Donovan the distrust of many, as well as the undying enmity of J. Edgar Hoover. When the former spy chief died, in 1959, from complications of senile dementia, the FBI director spread a rumor that the real cause of death was syphilis.


"Men and women in the prime of their professional lives, who may have been responsible for the lives of scores or hundreds of troops, or millions of dollars in assistance, or engaging or reconciling warring tribes, may find themselves in a cube all day

re-formatting PowerPoint slides."

--Defense Secretary Robert Gates; image from

1 comment: said...

It cannot succeed as a matter of fact, that's what I suppose.