Tuesday, June 21, 2011
"I'm tired of having my actions construed as instruments of U.S. policy. 'Truth, justice, and the American way'—it's not enough anymore."
--Superman, in Action Comics No. 900, published in April; image from
Opening Remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations - Judith A. McHale, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs – U.S. Department of State: "In a world where power and influence truly belongs to the many, we must engage with more people in more places. That is the essential truth of public diplomacy in the internet age. ... For many years we looked at foreign publics through a political or an economic lens. We aimed for the top of the pyramid – for political, military, and labor leaders, and the economic elite. Which means we missed the young, the unaffiliated, the unemployed, and anyone else who didn’t fit neatly into one of those boxes. We missed some of the very people who are driving the change we see all around us.
The inverted pyramid makes integrating a consideration of the attitudes and opinions of foreign publics an essential component of the foreign policy decision-making process in the 21st century. ... Citizens around the world are increasingly driving political, social, and economic trends, and we must adapt. In this rapidly evolving landscape, as we seek to advance our foreign policy and enhance the security and prosperity of our world, our approach must have public diplomacy—and the citizens it seeks to engage—at its core." Image from
Clinton backs 'brave' Saudi women driver protest - Matthew Lee, AP: “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday lent her support to "brave" women in Saudi Arabia who are protesting the Islamic kingdom's ban on female drivers, making her first public comments on an issue that has become an irritant in complex ties between the U.S. and Saudi governments. A day after the State Department said it was handling the issue through "quiet diplomacy" and not public pronouncements, Clinton praised the protesters, but stressed they are acting on their own, on behalf of their own rights, and not at the behest of outsiders like herself. Clinton's comments came after the activists appealed for her to use her position as America's top diplomat and standing as a well-known advocate for women's equality to speak out in support of their aim. ‘What these women are doing is brave and what they are seeking is right, but the effort belongs to them,,’Clinton told reporters at a State Department news conference with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and their counterparts from Japan. ‘I am moved by it and I support them, but I want to underscore the fact that this is not coming from outside of their country. This is the women themselves, seeking to be recognized.’"
Why Hillary Clinton hasn't weighed in on Saudi women's right to drive: A group calling itself Saudi Women for Driving says it is perplexed by Hillary Clinton’s ‘silence’ on the issue. But there could be several reasons she has not spoken publicly about it - Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor: "[D]efending Saudi women’s right to drive can be a tricky cause to take on – as one advocate of American ideals in the Bush administration, Karen Hughes, discovered during her time in office. On a 2005 trip to the Saudi kingdom that included meetings with Saudi women, Ms. Hughes – then the undersecretary of State for public diplomacy – received pushback from women when she addressed the driving issue and described her right to drive as 'an important part of my freedom.' Some of the women Hughes met described the US focus on the driving interdiction as emblematic of the West’s desire to impose its
concept of human rights on other cultures. One woman doctor said a driver’s license paled in importance compared with her right to have obtained a medical degree and to practice her profession. Clinton, whose aides did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the Saudi letter, may have remembered the much-discussed comeuppance that Hughes got on the driving issue. The letter may also have been viewed at the State Department as a bit of baiting: Its distribution – and the inclusion of the telephone numbers of the secretary’s public-affairs staff – was organized by Change.org, the liberal social-change advocacy group. Yet another possibility is that Clinton is following in the footsteps of her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice. As secretary of State, Dr. Rice addressed issues of democracy and freedom on her Middle East forays, but pointedly left alone the issue of women’s right to drive." Image from article, with caption: In this image made from video released by Change.org, a Saudi Arabian woman drives a car as part of a campaign to defy Saudi Arabia's ban on women driving, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 17.
New Government Report: Review of the Use of Social media by the Department of State - Steven Waldman, dianepub.wordpress.com: "Given the rapid growth of social media worldwide in recent years, especially among young people, embassies are increasingly using social media as an important public diplomacy tool. From the beginning of her time in office, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has voiced support for the use of social media to communicate with people around the world. A May 2010 survey found that over half the U.S. missions had Facebook accounts, and a quarter had Twitter accounts. This sensitive but unclassified report examined the use of social media at 22 U.S. missions."
Egyptian-American comedian offered a VOA Parazit-inspired one minute to "say anything you want" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting. Image from
Two months before UN vote on Palestinian state, Israel lacks ambassadors in key cities: As September nears, Israel still hasn't filled important diplomatic postings in Berlin, Rome, Madrid, and Brussels - Barak Ravid, haaretz.com: "Israeli ambassadors in several critical world capitals are being replaced just as Palestinian efforts to obtain unilateral UN recognition of a state are approaching a fever pitch. This means that
just when Israel is supposed to be making a worldwide attempt to thwart the Palestinian move, some crucial capitals will be without permanent ambassadors, while in others, the ambassadors will still be learning the ropes. ... During July and August, the envoys to Berlin, Rome, Madrid, The Hague, Budapest and the European Union in Brussels are due to complete their tours of duty, while former Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor left London a few weeks ago to become ambassador to the United Nations - where he, too, is just getting his feet wet. The envoys in these capitals were considered some of Israel's most experienced diplomats, and they had developed ties over the years that were supposed to have been available for use during just such a public diplomacy crisis as is liable to occur in September. A Foreign Ministry source said the suggestion had been raised that these envoys' tours of duty be extended by a month or two to cope with the looming crisis, but Foreign Ministry Director General Rafi Barak objected." Image from article, with caption: Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman seen speaking to the World Jewish Congress Monday.
Redistributing Power in the Taiwan Strait - Eddie Walsh, ISN Insights: "The rise of the People's Republic of China (PRC) has significantly altered the security situation in the Taiwan Strait. The wealth and prestige generated from the successful implementation of market reforms over the last three decades has enabled the PRC to radically shift the balance of economic, diplomatic, and military power vis-a-vis the Republic of China (ROC) - otherwise known as Taiwan - in its favor. ... The PRC's effectiveness at diplomatically isolating the ROC provided opportunities for new diplomatic engagement within the context of the status quo. This led the PRC to play a more cooperative role, 'permitting' the ROC limited recognition as a non-state
actor in international institutions such as the WHO. While this cooperation clearly requires ongoing recognition of 'One China,' it allows the PRC to appear responsive to international partners as well as build better relations with the ROC. It also provides the ROC with the ability to re-establish limited diplomatic relations on a small range of important issues. That said, coercive diplomatic actions are still employed by the PRC. This is evident in the development of the concept of legal warfare as a component of military diplomacy. In the eyes of the PRC, the external affairs of the ROC remain a fundamentally military issue, and are dealt with in the framework of an internal opposition grouping seeking to build international relations independently. It therefore is unlikely that the PRC will be willing to significantly advance the diplomatic engagement of the ROC. The use of the diplomatic carrot will likely continue, but as a method of advancing a PRC narrative rather than as public diplomacy for the benefit of Taiwan." Image from article, with caption: Taiwanese flags
Why is India’s PR so shoddy? - Deccan Chronicle: "The silly 'confrontation' between an Indian and a Pakistani warship — flowing from the recent minor episode of the rescue from Somali pirates of the Egyptian merchant ship MV Suez, whose crew of 22 included six Indian nationals — won’t even merit a footnote in a study of India-Pakistan relations. But there has been a lot of noise, a lot of smoke without fire, and a lot of uninformed breathless television reporting, before which the Indian government simply keeled over. It was overwhelmed by the rush of events and their high-pitched media reporting. Since our bureaucrats are fundamentally trained to communicate only with one another, and only on file, in a situation deemed to be 'sensitive' they tend to close shop and cite rules and precedents that might satisfy their superiors but does little to assuage sentiments in the public sphere. ... The pity is that this sideshow played out just a few days before a scheduled round of talks between the foreign secretaries of the two countries. It is not inconceivable that in being aggressive, Pakistan’s overall plan was to manufacture an unpleasant incident before a round of talks. But this is nothing compared to what might happen if the six Indian crew are not released by Pakistan swiftly, as that would set off an outcry within this country, forcing the government into a crouch of sorts. Much of this could have been prevented if the Indian government’s public diplomacy machinery was proactive and shipshape. Its own narrative could have been built on an entirely different basis — say, one of courtesy and magnanimity to the Pakistani ship that took the lead as it was in closer proximity to the Egyptian vessel in distress."
RT (Russia Today), when described as "state-run," says "consider the pond we’re all swimming in" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "Almost all international broadcasters are subject to some governing document that ties the international broadcaster to the policies or goals of its funding government.
International broadcasters succeed in attracting audiences to the extent that they ignore such language." Image from
BBC Worldwide exec: "American cable companies love our drama" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting
World's cities (heart) branding - Gail Johnson, The Globe and Mail: "Nicolas Papadopoulos, professor of marketing and international business and director of the international business study group at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business, talks about the role of city branding in economic development. ... [Question:] Where will place branding go from here? Branding is still a fad. Lots of cities, regions, provinces and countries have jumped on the bandwagon and are starting to do place branding.
We now have a journal called Place Branding and Public Diplomacy. The issue is being discussed all over the place. But for now it’s a fad, and that’s why there are so many errors and examples of poor performance. But in the long run, I think it will work. Place branding makes sense. The future is good. The whole business will mature." Image from
Twitter Tweets about Vacancies as of June 21, 2011 - jobsinleedsjobsite.co.uk: "Eitilop: RT @chgroenusa: Tijdje in Washington werken? DutchEmbassyDC Netherlands Embassy Hiring! Office manager Public Diplomacy.Retweet! http://t.co/jOaDecy 2011-06-21"
Smart Power Setback - David Brooks, New York Times: A flood of money washed into Afghanistan, and the reports warn about what will happen when the flood dries up in a few years. This experience should have a chastening influence on the advocates of smart power. When she became secretary of state, Hillary Clinton sketched out a very attractive foreign policy vision that would use “the full range of tools at our disposal: diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal and cultural.”
But it could be that cultural and economic development works on a different timetable than traditional foreign policy. Perhaps we don’t know enough, can’t plan enough, can’t implement effectively enough to coordinate nation building with national security objectives. Image from
Libya accuses Nato of 700 civilian deaths - Oliver Poole, Evening Standard: Libya today sought to exploit cracks in the Nato alliance caused by two air strikes in as many days which it is claimed killed civilian men, women and children.
Officials repeated propaganda claims that more than 700 civilians have died in Nato strikes, including one of Colonel Gaddafi's sons and three of his grandchildren, while Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini warned that the alliance's "credibility" was undermined by thedeaths.Image from article, with caption: Grief: Khweldi el-Hamedi's compound, where it is claimed 15 people died
NATO Bombed Military Targets in Libya, no civilians hit - International Reporter: There was a serious allegation against NATO that it had killed several civilians in their strike West of Tripoli but the NATO has rejected the allegation and clarified that they had hit only military target. Allegation of hitting the civilian target is mere a propaganda. NATO also confirmed that it had not lost any attack helicopters during Operation Unified Protectors.
Libya ‘Rape’ Propaganda Plunges to New Depths of Desperation - empirestrikesblack.com: The Libya war propaganda drive has plunged to new depths of cynicism, depravity, and a downright embarrassing lack of credibility. Over a week after the ICC’s completely baseless claims of ‘rape being used as a weapon’ by Gaddafi’s forces, today CNN is running a propaganda set-piece that is so blatantly invented it makes one cringe with embarrassment for this rabble of liars and propagandists. CNN claims that rebel forces have found mobile phone footage on ‘Gaddafi loyalists’, which allegedly shows them ‘raping women and torturing people’. Lo and behold, the story completely falls apart upon the most cursory inspection.
"You Are Followers of the Juche Philosophy, So I Can Put My Trust in You": Reading North Korea's comic book propaganda - Sebastian Strangio, Salon: The North Korean regime's comics, known locally as gruim-chaek ("picture books"), are mass produced on thin, low-quality paper and distributed widely among the isolated regime's privileged classes. As you might expect, they are unabashedly propagandistic, serving up outlandish plots that help inculcate reverence for Great Leader Kim Il Sung and the regime's perennial battles against imperialists of all stripes.
Despite the heavy-handed North-Korea-as-global-savior theme, the comics do seem to be genuinely popular. "Certainly when I've bought them, my interpreter, driver, and everyone else likes to borrow and read them," says Glyn Ford, author of North Korea on the Brink: Struggle for Survival. Some are even pretty entertaining. "They are comics, not the Works of Kim Il Sung, after all." Image from article
Mysteries of a Nazi Photo Album - David W. Dunlap, The New York Times: There are certainly many photo albums of Nazi leaders and many photo albums of the Nazis’ victims. But it’s hard to imagine many albums depicting both, just a few pages apart. At least one does, however,
and it has surfaced in New York City. Its creator was able — apparently within weeks — to photograph Hitler as he warred on Russia and also to photograph some of the earliest victims of that brutal campaign, known as Operation Barbarossa, which began 70 years ago Wednesday. “This album differs from most other albums in the quality of the photos,” said Judith Cohen, the director of the photographic reference collection at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “The photographer was clearly a professional and knew what he was doing. It is possible that it is a personal album of a PK photographer.” The PK, or Propagandakompanie, was the field unit of the Wehrmacht’s propaganda corps. Image from article
ONE MORE QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
“The unintended consequences of pumping large amounts of money into a war zone cannot be underestimated.”
--The staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, after a thorough two-year review of U.S. aid efforts in Afghanistan