Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July 27

"Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies."

Honoré de Balzac; Balzac image from


Music: The Slackers, “Propaganda”


When Words Fail: Rhetoric vs. Action in American Public Diplomacy - John Esposito, Middle East Online: "‎Like that of GWB, the current administration has failed to realize that attitudes towards America are more about whether America walks the talk. In a nutshell, the inspiring rhetoric has made current actions even more deeply disappointing. In part, this disappointment reflects the real world impact of Wikileaks. Whatever the best intentions had been behind the commitment to 21st century statecraft and public diplomacy – however positive the messages had been in what the US Government was saying publicly, the façade of being the unquestioned global good guy was exposed as a sham by the torrent of documents and reports that evidenced US complicity in supporting regimes and states in the Arab and Muslim worlds that were anti-democratic and massively repressive.

The impact of these revelations, reinforced by media images of innocent civilians killed by unmanned drones in a crescent from Northwest Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia, was compounded by the stalled peace process in Israel-Palestine. As a result, American rhetoric and policy retained little, if any, credibility. The Arab Spring encapsulates the failure of public diplomacy whose actions do not speak louder than words. The series of popular uprisings against brutal and repressive dictatorships throughout the Middle East and North Africa apparently partially resulted from the Wikileaks exposure of regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and stung the US twice – once for its foreign policy supporting these authoritarian regimes, and again for its failure to move quickly and decisively, choosing to remain on the sidelines." Image from

New POMED Policy Brief: On the Front Lines of Change - "While both the Bush and Obama administrations have prioritized the expansion of women’s rights in the Arab world, U.S. policymakers’ statements have been largely rhetorical in nature. Moving forward, [Isobel] Coleman [in the latest POMED policy brief] recommends that the U.S. condition foreign assistance on the progression of women’s rights, employ both back channel negotiation and public diplomacy to advance these rights, and build cross-country networks to strengthen women’s groups in the region."

Withdrawing Yemeni security forces fed weapons to incoming al Qaeda: military commander - "This poor guy has been surrounded for some time with no reinforcements or resupply, and he said in another interview that twice he refused orders to surrender to al Qaeda. There’s no way the US doesn’t know that Saleh et al

are playing the al Qaeda card. Despite the total absence of US public diplomacy in Yemen, the message to 22 million Yemenis is loud and clear."  Image from, with caption:  Saleh: Yemen prez failing to squelch pro-Iran rebels

Sen. Kirk says US international broadcasting should be used for "undermining the Assad dictatorship" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "VOA does not broadcast in Arabic. 'Radio Liberty,' or RFE/RL, has Arabic only to Iraq, through its Radio Free Iraq. It's easy to be confused by the mishmash of USIB brands. Reliable, independent news can play an important role in 'undermining' dictators, but perhaps

Rep. Kirk [Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk]  is thinking of a more direct approach." Image from

Cooling tempers- Anita Joshua, Frontline: ‎"[N]ow with the U.S reportedly opening its own line of communication with some Taliban groups, there is a fear in Pakistan that the U.S. may be trying to edge it out of a key role in the reconciliation phase. Reflecting on the growing impatience in Washington with Islamabad's machinations, South Asia adviser at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Moeed Yusuf, wrote in The Dawn recently that it would be a fallacy to believe 'Pakistan's criticality for Afghanistan's ‘endgame' makes its position invincible'. Caught on the back foot and cornered, Pakistan is keenly conscious that India may try to take advantage of the circumstances and force its ways through the dialogue process. But, as many strategists have pointed out, while Pakistan may buckle under U.S. pressure, an openly patronising attitude from India remains unacceptable. At the same time, there is a view that a degree of public diplomacy from the Indian diplomatic mission to counter the propaganda on festering issues such as water wars, to address fears of aggression caused by India's huge defence budget and import of weapons, and to state India's case for opposing the European Union package to help Pakistan's textile sector recover part of the losses caused by last year's floods may go a long way in changing the narrative."

Nirupama Rao: Guts is grace under pressure - Smita Prakash, ‎ "Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao ... retires as foreign secretary at the end of this month, but only to take over as India's ambassador to the United States. ...

As foreign secretary in the UPA government, ... [s]he counts among her success the setting up of the public diplomacy division . ... Nirupama Rao has earlier been ... Minister of Press Affairs in Washington D.C." Image from

A Xinhua in Times Square - Laura Mc Ginnis, manIC: "According to Reuters, China's state-sponsored Xinhua news/PD agency 'will take over one of the highest-profile advertising locations in New York's Times Square starting Monday, in perhaps the most visible step in its recent American expansion.' If this sounds familiar, it's probably because you're remembering China's recent Times Square ad campaign, which received less than enthusiastic reviews (with Chinese reporting, of course, being one notable exception). ... China seems to recognize, both ideologically and financially, the importance of state-sponsored information institutions in a way a U.S. PD scholar can only dream of. More and more, I'm starting to agree with Secretary Clinton that the U.S. may be losing the information war... Clinton called it realpolitik. Arquilla and Ronfeldt would have called in noopolitik. Either way, it boils down to this: ideas matter, and in an information-saturated global environment, the nation whose ideas get the most traction has a serious political advantage." See also.

BBC America developing content specifically for US audiences, including series that "helps the shy and retiring to man up" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

New Challenges - New NATO
- "'s new web module 'NATO's Agenda' is sponsored by the Public Diplomacy Division of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

We encourage you to comment and submit op-ed articles with your analyses and policy recommendations for 'NATO's Agenda.'" Image from

Over 170,000 views for YouTube video "The truth about the West Bank" – Israeli Ministry of foreign Affairs: ”Last week, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon released a video describing the history of the Israeli Palestinian conflict in a concise easy to follow video on YouTube. The video explains where the terms ‘West Bank’, ‘occupied territories’ and ‘67 Borders’ originated and how they are incorrectly used and applied. The video has already been viewed by over 170,000 worldwide. Ayalon explains that the idea behind the video is to disseminate Israel's long-standing but neglected position, in an innovative way, to combat the Palestinian attempt to have a unilaterally-declared state recognized. In addition, when direct negotiations will restart the historical context should be well known to the interested public to provide a

greater understanding of the current situation. ‘For too many years, our public diplomacy has been mainly based on a 'peace narrative', where Israeli officials talk about how much we are willing to concede for peace, while the Palestinian public diplomacy is all about supposed rights and international law,’ Ayalon said. ‘While we do all we can do promote peace, it is time for Israel to return to a 'rights-based diplomacy' and talk about the facts, rights, history and international law which are little known but give a dramatically different viewpoint to what is currently accepted.’" Uncaptioned image from article

Turkey in the Unpredictable Middle East - Fadi Hakura, eInternational Relations: "Coalition-building entails that Turkey does not fall into any particular camp at the expense of another. It can straddle with skill – and admittedly with lots of luck – the multiple regional fissures, whether between Saudi Arabia and Iran, US and Iran or Israel and the Arab countries. Similarly, Turkish public diplomacy should not bolster expectations that will remain largely unfulfilled. Modesty is normally a virtue, not a vice. Mr Erdogan’s issuance of ultimatums on Mr Al-Assad created impressions that Turkey will resolve the Syrian conundrum. Ultimately, Mr Al-Assad’s steadfast refusal exposed the limitations of Turkey’s influence. ... It is true that the combination of variable coalition-building, subdued public diplomacy and selective intervention may not capture the headlines. But what counts for an effective foreign policy is not noise but outcomes. With the right ingredients, Turkey will be in an enviable position to fully utilise its strategic geography, NATO membership and web of relations to advance Turkish interests in the region."

First-ever Tongan candidates to participate in JET programme - Tonga Government Portal: "Two successful candidates from the Kingdom of Tonga have been selected and will leave the Kingdom of Tonga on Saturday, July 30th to commence with their one year appointment with the JET Programme. Prior to their departure, two participants - Ms. Maria Mabnolia Francis Halahingano and Mr. Peseti Tupou Vea - visited the Embassy of Japan in the Kingdom of Tonga on Tuesday, July 26th. H.E. Mr. Yasuo Takase, Ambassador of Japan to the Kingdom of Tonga, welcomed and congratulated Ms. Halahingano and Mr. Vea.

During the meeting, H.E. Mr. Takase said that this was the historical moment for the Japan-Tonga relationship. 'The JET Programme is one of the center pillars of Japan's public diplomacy and the Embassy of Japan expects that you also serve as an ambassador from the Kingdom of Tonga to represent your country, along with teaching English. And, your outstanding contributions in Japan will leads to an increase of participants from Tonga" he also added." Image from article, with caption: Ambassador Takase with JET first-ever candidates

Azerbaijan has 'balanced' energy policy - ‎ "News.Az interviews Inessa Baban, Ph.D. candidate in geopolitics at the Paris-Sorbonne University. ... [Q:] Much is said about the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest in Baku. What role can this event play in Azerbaijan’s path to Europe? [Baban:] The organization of this European event in Azerbaijan will contribute to the discovery of Azerbaijan by many Europeans, its identification and distinction between Azerbaijan and the other 'stan' countries.

Azerbaijan will get a name and location on the mental map of Europeans who will discover the complexity of this country which has been seen so far as an oil and gas supplier or a 'gas station', to quote American Professor Thomas Goltz's criticism of this false perception. As the EU ambassador to Azerbaijan, Roland Kobia, stressed: 'This will be a golden opportunity for Azerbaijan to show to the world the resolute and sweeping modernization of its society.' This event should enhance Azerbaijan’s public diplomacy at the international level. But we should not forget that this kind of event also implies a lot of responsibility, because all Europeans are now watching Azerbaijan." Baban image from article

What is a president for and how do we choose? - "[Comment by:] Robin Low ... The president though ceremonial, can have an effect if the president is active. As a figurehead, practicing soft powers for public diplomacy can empower a whole nation and affect changes, especially if there is foreign attention.

I sure hope we have an active president, one that looks out for the needs of Singaporeans." Image from article

Finland - Marko Ruonala appointed Press Attaché in Paris - ‎ISRIA: "The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has appointed Marko Ruonala as Press Attaché at the Finnish Embassy in Paris for a three-year term. ... At the Embassy in Paris, Ruonala’s responsibilities will include the Embassy’s communications and media relations. The Press Attaché’s role is to further Finnish interests in France by means of public diplomacy and to work closely with other stakeholders to promote cultural and other exchange between the two countries."

Breaking: Is CCI’s License Suspended in Ethiopia? - "Breaking news this morning: according to the US Embassy, the Ethiopian government has suspended Celebrate Children International’s operating license. According to Celebrate Children International, this is untrue. ... When I found a direct line to the Ethiopian Embassy’s Public Relations and Public Diplomacy department, I spoke with a man named Tesfaye Yilma there. 'Only in Addis can you find out what happened,' he said. 'Most likely, there would be a good reason to suspend a license. The government has been tightening oversight and control over agencies in Ethiopia.'"

Can social media monitoring predict events? Mediating Diplomacy workshop on Thursday  "Mediating Diplomacy:  Strategies, Challenges, Methodologies

An International Workshop The Open University Camden Town 28 July 2011 1-5pm PROGRAMME 1400-1415 Welcome and Introduction Marie Gillespie and Hugh Mackay Public Diplomacy or Intercultural Dialogue? 1415-1515 Nick Cull The Future Landscape of Public Diplomacy Annabelle Sreberny The Hubris of Public Diplomacy 1515-1615 Ali Fisher Networked Audiences: New Rules of Engagement Ben O’Loughlin Can Social Media Monitoring Predict Events?" Image from

Public Affairs Specialist - "Education Partnership Outreach Services • Jakarta, Indonesia Coffey International Development are currently tendering for the AusAID funded Education Partnership Outreach Services (EPOS). EPOS aims to raise the profile of Australia and its contribution to Indonesia’s education sector, forming part of Australia’s $500 million investment in the Education Partnership with Indonesia. In tendering for this program, we are seeking expressions of interest for the position of Public Affairs Specialist. • The Position As Public Affairs Specialist, you will work in close consultation with the Operations Manager and AusAID in assisting in the preparation of an Education Partnership Public Diplomacy Strategy and Implementation Plan."


Not O.K. at the O.K. Corral - Maureen Dowd, New York Times: The last century was the American century. But this one will not be, thanks to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who used their boots and spurs to ride roughshod over the globe and American economy. They spent eight years and trillions of dollars either barging into stuff they should have left alone or leaving alone stuff they should have intervened on.

U.S. officials believe al-Qaeda on brink of collapse - Greg Miller, Washington Post: U.S. counterterrorism officials are increasingly convinced that the killing of Osama bin Laden and the toll of seven years of CIA drone strikes have pushed al­Qaeda to the brink of collapse.

The assessment reflects a widespread view at the CIA and other agencies that a relatively small number of additional blows could effectively extinguish the Pakistan-based organization that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — an outcome that was seen as a distant prospect for much of the past decade. Image from

The perils of seeing your reporting used in Taliban propaganda video - ‎James Foley, Global Post: Most jihadist propaganda videos out of Afghanistan and Pakistan have similar tropes — the blessings to Allah, prayerful music followed by shaky video and a long-distance explosion on what is claimed to be a U.S. convoy that kills many "infidels." These videos have recently become more and more more sophisticated, complete with higher quality production values. In short, they appear, well, more "real." The Taliban in Afghanistan have even begun tweeting their propaganda in the last year as they increase their media sophistication. See GlobalPost's Taliban embrace New Media: "Mobile phones, the internet, television — all of these were invented by the West, but Islam allows us to use it within the boundaries of our religion,” one Taliban fighter, speaking from Pakistan via Google Chat said. This trend was epitomized by a gruesome video showing an up-close execution of 16 captured Pakistani policemen in June. They are gunned down in a row and each shot again for good measure. Also, it's a disturbing when your own footage is spliced into one of these videos.

S. Korea charges pastor over N. Korea trip - AFP: ‎Prosecutors said Wednesday they have charged a South Korean pastor who secretly entered North Korea to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il-Sung. The pastor, a 75-year-old US resident only identified by his family name Hong, is accused of visiting the North without Seoul government approval to celebrate the event on April 15. Hong was also charged on Tuesday with praising the regime, meeting North Korean officials and possessing propaganda material for the communist regime, the Supreme Prosecutor's Office said in a statement Wednesday.

Truth is the first casualty of war movies - Brendan O’Neill, Spiked: A new film about the Russian-Georgian War of August 2008, Renny Harlin’s Five Days of War, claims to be ‘based on actual events’. Like hell it is.

The Georgian president is a teary-eyed hero of democracy while the Russians are all toothless brutes who play the accordion as they chase bloodied, half-naked girls through pig farms. Image from article

Terrorism is propaganda - Robert Lambert, With the death toll nearing 100, Anders Behring Breivik has been arrested and charged with Norway’s worst act of terrorism. His lawyer has indicated that Breivik had planned the attack for some time and would explain in court on Monday why he thought his act of terrorism was necessary. ... Breivik can claim to have followed a long tradition of terrorism target selection that is intended to send a strong message to politicians in an attempt to persuade them to change policy. As leading terrorism scholar Alex Schmid reminds us, terrorism is a form of communication that “cannot be understood only in terms of violence”.

Rather, he suggests, “it has to be understood primarily in terms of propaganda” in order to penetrate the terrorist’s strategic purpose. Breivik appears to understand Schmid’s analysis that terrorism is a combination of violence and propaganda. “By using violence against one victim,” a terrorist “seeks to coerce and persuade others”, Schmid explains. ”The immediate victim is merely instrumental, the skin on a drum beaten to achieve a calculated impact on a wider audience.” This is certainly the kind of rationalisation that perpetrators of political violence have adopted in many contexts in pursuit of diverse political causes for decades. Image from article

The greatest peril of propaganda - John Brown, Notes and Essays: The greatest peril of propaganda

is when the propaganda controls the propagandist, rather than the propagandist the propaganda. Image from

Israeli Orchestra Gives Unprecedented Wagner Performance in Germany - Voice of America: An Israeli orchestra visiting Germany has given an unprecedented performance of a piece by Richard Wagner, a 19th-century composer whose music was used in Nazi propaganda before and during World War Two. The Israel Chamber Orchestra performed Wagner's “Siegfried Idyll” on Tuesday, at the end of a two-hour concert in the southeastern German town of Bayreuth, the composer's home. The 34-member ensemble also performed works by Jewish-born composers Gustav Mahler and Felix Mendelssohn, whose works were banned by the Nazis. Israel has largely upheld an informal ban on Wagner's music since the country's creation in 1948, because of the composer's anti-Semitic writings and the appropriation of his music by Adolf Hitler's Nazi movement. Tuesday's concert won loud applause from the audience and coincided with the annual Beyreuth opera festival. But, the performance drew criticism from a U.S. Jewish organization, the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants. The group says the orchestra was “tone deaf to the anguish of victims who lived through the instrumentalization of Wagner's music in the service of spreading hate.”

Cold War Fallout Shelters: Propaganda by Architecture - American Style: Americans invested millions of dollars in nuclear fallout shelters during the Cold War's coldest decades; some 200,000 were built by 1965, according to a fascinating new book by architecture and design writer Susan Roy. To quell the fears of its citizens and to "normalize" a nuclear attack, the government encouraged Americans to build such bunkers. Some were elaborate. Some downright hilarious, according to Roy's book, Bomboozled: How the U.S. Government Misled Itself and Its People into Believing They Could Survive a Nuclear Attack. Even interior designers and architects jumped on the hysteria bandwagon, drafting surreal and sometimes downright hilarious blueprints for stylish and "livable" underground bunkers.

Roy's book is full of illustrations of imagined "shelter life", which depict families living out subterranean Leave it to Beaver fantasies.  Roy says that the fallout shelter of the 1950s and 60s was "propaganda by architecture created in a surprising variety of forms and materials. There were cubes, domes, lozenges, cylinders, and pods. They were made of steel, poured concrete, concrete block, wood, and fiberglass." Bathrooms, lighting, and fresh air are conveniently absent from the designs, of course, because, well...there weren't any underground! No need to get bogged down in depressing details! Image from article


Tiny kids hired as models for inflatable swimming pool photo 2 - Boing Boing: Remember when Banzai hired tiny kids as models to advertise its “Wild Waves Water Park?” They’ve done it again. (Via Sociological Images)

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