Friday, October 14, 2011

October 14

"Whenever there's anything important, you don't tell anybody ... We just don't tell any son-of-a-bitch at all."

--President Richard M. Nixon, to his Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman; cited in Stephen Glain, State vs. Defense (2011), p. 208; portrait of Nixon as a young man from


Social Media's Role in US Policy Toward Latin America‎ - Liz Harper, Americas Quarterly: "One smart idea comes in a report issued by Sen. Richard Lugar’s office last week, Latin American Governments Need to ‘Friend’ Social Media and Technology. It outlines an innovative strategy to advance U.S. goals, namely through social media and technology. Because governments that embrace new media technology are shown to be more responsive to their citizens and more transparent, the report argues, the U.S. has an interest in Latin America’s technological development. ... Currently, the U.S. government uses social media sites to explain U.S. foreign policy, to engage global audiences and to develop 'partnerships with citizens in achieving shared goals: citizen security, strong democratic institutions, inclusive economic prosperity, and clean and secure energy.' ... The next assistant secretary [for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roberta Jacobson]

needs to mainstream these twenty-first century tools into our statecraft and public diplomacy—and coordinate activities across the department. In other words, pick up and expand where former Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela left off." Jacobson image from

Dialogue, Mutual Understanding, & Mutuality - R. S. Zaharna, "As usual, Bruce Gregory’s PD reading list has given us a lot to mull over. One highlight that naturally resonated with battles2bridges was Kathy Fitzpatrick’s U.S. Public Diplomacy in a Post-9/11 World: From Messages to Mutuality.

The shift from messages to mutuality is exactly the tactical shift needed to move U.S. public diplomacy from fighting information Battles to building relational Bridges." Image from

Mission Impossible: Justifying Assassination by Drone - Patricia Lee Sharpe, Whirled View: "A U.S. diplomat whose job description requires him/her to explain U.S. policy to the local media faced an assembly of representatives of said media—print, tv, electronic, et. al. The diplomat was a highly regarded officer who is at home with twitter, texting, Facebook, etc. Unfortunately, like all too many foreign service officers filling public diplomacy slots, he/she has no significant training or experience in public diplomacy and he is not an area specialist. We are told that his/her emotional range during this encounter oscillated provocatively between timidity and belligerence. ... Journalist: This was obviously a very controversial act. Could you give us the legal thinking behind it? Dream Diplomat: Sorry, that’s classified. But hey! We hit the target on the nose this time. No wedding parties. No sleeping kids."

My American Values: Introduction - Ryan J. Suto, "I would like to introduce my new blog series: My American Values. In public diplomacy we often discuss ‘American values’ as a national strength and among our nation’s greatest exports. However, I have occasioned surprisingly little ink spilled on the topic. If such a concept is so important, is it not worth critical investigation, or at least description. So, for each post I will identify a value of mine from my American perspective. The point of the title and series is not to suggest that these values are exclusive. On the contrary, I think these values are transcendental, and as such deserve to be espoused upon. I use the term ‘American’ to simply denote from where it is that I have received such values.

Could these blogs be considered an act of public diplomacy? Probably not, but the explanation and understanding of the American point of view is essential to U.S. public diplomacy." Image from

The Long, Slow Crawl Up The Mountain, Part II - The Federalist, BBG Watch: "The BBG [Broadcasting Board of Governors] is on the same trajectory that it has outlined in the goals of its so-called 'strategic plan.' It intends to curtail and then eliminate altogether its international radio broadcasting and rely solely upon websites for audio, video and text. This might be justifiable IF the agency’s intended audiences were in free societies where Internet access was open. However, the agency’s core audiences remain in societies where information access in controlled or blocked, especially on the Internet." on BBG, see.

Press freedom groups condemn Egyptian military raid on Alhurra studio - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

NATO welcomes parliamentarians and senators from Afghanistan, Japan, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea at NATO Headquarters - press release, NATO HQ: "As part of the Alliance’s ongoing initiative to engage with its partners on global security issues, a group of 12 parliamentarians and senators from Afghanistan, Japan, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea came to NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. ... Dr Stefanie Babst, Deputy Assistant Secretary General for NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division briefed

the visitors on NATO’s public diplomacy efforts. 'For us, public diplomacy is very much an instrument of soft power. We seek to inform and engage people in our countries, but also far beyond. We are fully aware of some of the stereotypes about NATO that still drive public perceptions in some countries. Ultimately, NATO’s policies and operations require solid public support.' The visit was part of the Alliance’s public diplomacy initiative for global partners aimed at developing cooperation in areas of mutual interest. Image from article

Jew to Jew Conversation ~ Hasbara Deluxe - "Hasbara is the Hebrew word for public diplomacy, i.e. the role people outside of government can have to spread pro-Israel messages and attack Israel's critics. It is a tried and tested propaganda method long relayed not only by Israeli citizens, but also pro-Israel lobbies (e.g. AIPAC), pro-Israel Jewish community groups (e.g. CRIF) and pro-Israel think tanks (e.g. WINEP).

With the advent of the web, pro-Israel groups working in tandem with Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has conducted an often successful and often intensive hasbara effort targeting bloggers. This has included, for instance, efforts to leave comments in blog posts regarding Israel to defend the Israeli perspective." Image from article

Political marketing through international diplomacy by OBAMA: Changing Diplomatic Landscape in South Asia - Governance and Government: "The new China now presents itself as an alternative center of power, and financial largesse, to the United States—and has the resources to back it up. Having flexed its muscles to reinforce this new position, Beijing sought to allay growing fears that China’s success might pose either an economic or military threat with the establishment in 2005 of the 'Peaceful Rise of China' Public Diplomacy campaign. China’s successful implementation of this campaign in playing down the possible negative consequences of China’s ever-increasing dominance was illustrated in President Obama’s response to a question during the recent 2010 state visit by President Hu, 'I absolutely believe that China’s peaceful rise is good for the world, and it’s good for America.[']"

Miners still in the dark despite PD victory for Chile - Jackie Kochell, "The story of the Chilean miners’ rescue serves as a triumph of modern day public diplomacy. Through international cooperation from political figures and national agencies such as NASA, active involvement of the Chilean government, and an emotional storyline, the elements of the rescue justified the high volume of international media attention."

Arab Spring for fundamentalism? - The Broad Mind: Opinions from the Takshashila community:
"India has so much to share in nation building and management of multi-cultural diversity for those who want to learn in the MENA region.

Our public diplomacy efforts have shown tremendous interest among Egyptian youth to learn from India’s success in keeping its diverse flock together. Unity and civic consciousness are the needs of the hour to save the Arab Spring. India can offer great lessons and models of coexistence that are replicable with some local contextual adjustments." Image from, with caption: Julian (?) Monastery, Takshashila

Improve SEO with Social Media Optimization - Thai SEO Bookmark: "Social Media Coordinator, Department of Internal is the site of the state to centralize information on using social media for public diplomacy. She developed and contain several WordPress custom plug-ins. ... Social Media Optimization means to promote

your site or business through social media. Basic tools of media optimization, social blogs, bookmarks, social sites, etc. Social media optimization is one of the most popular ways of economic development. Social media optimization is mostly used by SEO companies. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or search engine." Image from article

craigslist and craigconnects Founder Craig Newmark Releases Infographic Detailing Use of Social Media by Nonprofits - press release, eReleases: "Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and craigconnects, today released an infographic detailing the use of social media by leading nonprofit organizations. The infographic is available for viewing on Newmark’s Facebook page at . ... craigconnects is Newmark’s personal, Web-based initiative aimed at helping people work together for the common good using the Internet.

The initiative spotlights organizations and agencies working in the areas of veterans and military families, public diplomacy, open government, back-to-basics journalism, consumer protection, and the use of technology for the common good. For more information, visit Newmark image from

The Lebanese Civil Coalition - "About Me [:] Debbie Trent I am finishing a doctoral dissertation. The topic is U.S. government engagement with Lebanese Americans in shaping and implementing public diplomacy in Lebanon. Prior to returning to school, I worked in federal government, as an international education/training consultant, and as a research coordinator."


The World Today – Ex-CIA warns US ‘dangerously wrong’ on Iran - "ELEANOR HALL: Now to the United States where a former intelligence analyst is warning the Obama administration to step back from blaming Iran for the foiled assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador in Washington. ... Robert Baer [ex-CIA], were you surprised when you heard about this assassination plot? ROBERT BAER: Oh absolutely. I mean right now is not the time for Iran to provoke the United States. We’re on edge already vis-a-vis Iran and it came as a total surprise to me. ELEANOR HALL: The Iranian authorities have dismissed this as US propaganda; is it credible that the Iranian government is behind it? ROBERT BAER: I don’t think it’s credible, not the central government, there may be a rogue element behind it.

This doesn’t fit their modus operandi at all. It’s completely out of character, they’re much better than this. They wouldn’t be sending money through an American bank, they wouldn’t be going to the cartels in Mexico to do this. It’s just not the way they work. I’ve followed them for 30 years and they’re much more careful. And they always use a proxy between them and the operation, and in this case they didn’t. I mean it’s the, either they’re shooting themselves in the foot or there’s pieces of the story, I don’t know what they are." Image from

Beating Up on Iran - Stephen Lendman, After Washington bogusly accused Iran of an implausible terror plot on US soil, America's media brazenly regurgitated official lies. It's nothing new. It's what they do instead of providing real news, information and analysis. Long ago they stopped trying, especially on television. It's little more than a worthless sinkhole no one should waste time on watching. They don't inform. They lie, distract, entertain, and provide a platform for corporate America to sell people junk they don't need. Or as media critic George Gerbner once said, "they have everything to sell and nothing to tell." No wonder they believe official lies, especially about alleged homegrown or foreign instigated terror plots. Iran's a favorite, beaten up on at well chosen strategic moments. What better time than now. Main Street's in Depression. Public anger's raging across America because millions lost work and can't find jobs.

America the Overcommitted - Jeremi Suri, New York Times: We are trying to accomplish too many things in too many places at a time when American foreign policy is stymied by some of the worst partisan divisions in the country’s history. Consequently, we are not doing anything very well. The solution is simple: set clear priorities

and reduce other commitments. The Obama administration should set three international goals that it is capable of achieving: maintain the credibility of the dollar as the de facto reserve currency of the world; halt the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; and maintain peaceful relations with China. This is not a recipe for isolation, but for targeted internationalism; it is the only viable path to restoring lost leadership. Image from

Islamic superheroes: Role models or propaganda? 'The 99,’ whose costumed characters embody attributes of Allah, draws criticism - Rick Schindler, Jabbar the Powerful is a Saudi Arabian teen with superhuman strength. Jami the Assembler is a Hungarian prodigy who can instantly create gadgets and weapons. Sami the Listener, from Sudan, has super-hearing. Those are just a few of the colorful members of The 99, an international team of young superheroes who battle bad guys in comic books, not unlike the X-Men. But while the X-Men have attracted some criticism for the violence in their cartoons, nobody ever accused them of trying to indoctrinate American children in Islamic values. The 99 are the brainchildren of Naif Al-Mutawa, a Kuwaiti clinical psychologist. As chronicled in “Wham! Bam! Islam!”, a documentary airing tonight on PBS, the Columbia Business School graduate set out to create positive role models for Muslim children like his own five sons, who range in age from 2 to 15. Against long odds, The 99 found footholds in the Middle East, India, and Indonesia. And even the United States: Last year, DC Comics partnered with Al-Mutawa’s Kuwait-based Teshkeel Comics to publish a six-issue miniseries teaming The 99 with DC’s Justice League, which includes such icons as Superman and Batman.

Al-Mutawa’s efforts even caught the eye of the White House. At the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in April 2010, President Obama singled out Al-Mutawa for creating “superheroes who embody the teachings and tolerance of Islam” and noted that “Superman and Batman reached out to their Muslim counterparts.” But not everyone shared Obama’s enthusiasm. In an article titled “Meet the Muslim Superheroes who are Ready to Indoctrinate American Kids,” Family Security Matters — a group sponsored by the Center for Security Policy, a Washington, D.C., think tank — called The 99 “the latest exercise in Muslim propaganda” and criticized “Obama’s totally inappropriate promotion.” And in the New York Post, columnist Andrea Peyser warned: “These Islamic butt-kickers are ready to bring truth, justice and indoctrination to impressionable Western minds.” Al-Mutawa attributed much of the outcry against his heroes to political opponents of President Obama who mobilized when the president singled him out in April 2010. Still, he said, “Whatever the outcome, President Obama talking about The 99 in that conference will forever be one of the proudest days of my life.” Image from article, with caption: Muslim superheroes The 99 teamed up with such icons as Superman and Batman in a 2010 series.

Iranian government - As'ad, The Angry Arab News Service: By the way, people don't realize that the lousy Iranian government is extremely cowardly in responding to Saudi propaganda attacks. Like the lousy Syrian regime, the Iranian regime deceptively always claims that all is well between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Al-`Alam TV (an Arabic propaganda regime by the Iranian government) does on occasions allow criticisms of Saudi Arabia but often they clamp on any expressions of criticisms of Saudi Arabia. Iran and Syria seem to think that if we pretend that all is well with Saudi Arabia all will be well with Saudi Arabia.

Chinese Bible Exhibition is Political Propaganda Disguised as Religious Outreach - China Aid Association released a commentary on Thursday showing how a Chinese-government organized exhibit of Chinese Bibles currently touring the United States is a government propaganda ploy to deflect attention from reports of growing religious persecution in China.

Image from article, with caption: Beijing house church leader Shi Weihan during a prison visit. He was arrested and sentenced to 3-1/2 years in prison for printing and transporting Bibles and other Christian materials.

Ahead of key party meeting, China calls for more control over lively microblogs - Associated Press, Washington Post: China’s Communist Party is preparing for its biggest policy meeting of the year by ratcheting up pressure on social media sites that have fast become forums for information and public expression beyond government control. The latest warning shots at social media were fired by Wang Chen, a senior propaganda official, who told a meeting of government and Internet company officials this week that Twitter-like microblog services need tighter regulation. Wang reiterated a warning that punishment will be meted out to people who post rumors or falsehoods.

Baku Wants to Build Wall at Karabakh-Azeri Border - Azerbaijan wants to launch a construction project in the Ota Gerbend village in Aghdam to build a 700-metes-long wall along the border with the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic from Karavand to Tartar region. Former Foreign Minister of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Armen Melikyan called this another propaganda tactic by Azerbaijan to distract the international community. “They spend huge sums on propaganda, and some people benefit from this,” said Malikyan.

“They are following the example of Israel, which tried to demarcate its border with Palestinian settlements by building a wall. It also served its propaganda purposes to demonstrate how endangered Israelis are.” Image from article, with caption: Karabakh-Azerbaijan border

Genocide and Armenian propaganda - Cem Oguz, News.Az: In contrast to the Holocaust, the mainstream historiography on the “Armenian genocide” is highly disputable.

Messaging vs. Communication - Steve Owens, Media professionals often use the term messaging to indicate a small number of talking points that are repeated incessantly. I call this propaganda. To the so-called media professional staying “on message” is a virtue. Joseph Goebbels

said, “The point of a political speech is to persuade people of what we think right.” Messaging falls squarely within this tradition. Goebbels was the first master of old media. Old media is about control, and about one way communication, which, when you think about it, really isn’t communication at all. Communication is dialogue. When a union is truly communicating with its constituency, the democratically engaged members are simultaneously the recipients and the shapers of the message. Democratic engagement is the antithesis of control. Web 2.0 technologies break down the control exercised by the petty propagandists of American media. Social media, blogs and wikis are among the technologies that allow the people to talk back. These technologies represent a threat to old-media professionals. Image from


From Dmitry Potapenko's Photos; via PC on facebook


From: Peter Van Buren: We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, pp. 132-135:

[T]he Army was always a bit clumsy when it came to the ladies. Male Colonels who would probably have felt more comfortable dragging women into caves by their hair stumbled around trying to come up with what they described as “some kind of goddamn chick event" to satisfy the Line of Effort. At our FOB [Forward Operating Base in Iraq] the Colonel rooted down through his staff until he found a woman and then assigned her the task. The female Army Major stuck with the mission committed her befuddlement to the record.

12 November 2009:
I presented the non-lethal target

to the Brigade Commander. A State Department man attended and provided neither guidelines nor issues with moving forward. I relayed cost figures to the Brigade Commander. He selected the highest priced option, $22,987, because he wanted to illustrate his commitment to women’s issues.

20 November 2009:
The State Department man complained to the Embassy in an email, “I just found out a Major has stepped over our ePRT [embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team] Women’s Initiatives Advisor and is attempting to coordinate directly with the Embassy Women’s Issues Coordinator. This is not protocol. Evidently, there was even a scouting trip to the al-Rasheed Hotel Saturday morning and I was not invited!”

26 November 2009:
At the non-lethal target decision brief, the Brigade Commander asked whom we were requesting as the keynote speaker for the Woman’s Conference. I told him I would like to pursue the women’s issues Ambassador, because she projects a presence as a lifelong women’s advocate. He said she was a busy lady, so make sure we did this immediately. Great choice sir!

28 November 2009:
The Lieutenant in my planning cell asked if she could invite an Army band. I said roger and requested a chamber band of four female soldiers to play welcoming music.

29 November 2009:
The State Department man said, “I have now had three different discussions with the Major and I am not sure if she gets it.” I think he was saying I am stupid, which I do not appreciate.

01 December 2009:
The Brigade Commander decided to hold the conference the “Army Way” without the State Department’s involvement.

After another two months of back and forth, the Army held the conference at the al-Rasheed Hotel. All the males except one master of ceremonies left the room after lunch, while some 180 women, including a female US Army Sergeant who was sent to monitor the event and who provided these details, stayed. The master of ceremonies serenaded the women before switching to a DJ role and blasting out Arab pop tunes. All 180 women in the room began to dance. The group formed a large circle, and women jumped in voluntarily or were pulled in to dance what our shocked Sergeant, who came from Wisconsin, called a “kind of belly dance.” The Sergeant said she wasn’t sure whether it was the non- Wisconsin-type dancing or that the US Army paid for it all that was more upsetting to her, but she asked please not to be ordered to attend any future such events. The Iraqis have a saying that what women want is roasted ice, so maybe there was no way to have made everyone happy. The Colonel, however, was very happy, as he indeed got his chick event and could cross off another item on his brigade’s reconstructing-Iraq to-do list. Image from

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