Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 18

"Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean."

--Chief Rabbi of Britain and the Commonwealth Jonathan Sacks; cited in The Times Literary Supplement (October 7, 2011), p. 24; Sacks image from


Foreign Affairs, Anyone? Department of State Reaches Out to Americans - Helle Dale, blog.heritage.org: "In its never-ending efforts to be hip, the U.S. State Department last week launched a new Web site called 'Discover Diplomacy.' It has video clips, it has audio tracks, it has interactive maps and images—it has it all. The site is the work of the U.S. Diplomacy Center, an office in the Bureau of Public Affairs. But instead of being aimed at foreigners, it targets U.S. high school and college students as well as their professors, for whom the site is billed as a teaching tool. ... In fact, the State Department is prohibited by law from directing its communications

to the American people, the law being the Smith–Mundt Act of 1948. ... There is a real question here: Does Smith–Mundt permit the State Department to proselytize among American students via the Internet? ... Meanwhile, the Discover Diplomacy site is a mixed bag. Its headline banner suggests that touring basketball teams and American jazz (both solid components of U.S. public diplomacy) have done as much for the world as NATO summits or ceasefire negotiations with North Korea. And the site’s interactive map, which highlights 'people, places and issues' seems random.' [Comments:] MaryJ. The State Department, like other U.S. departments and agencies, has always had a Public Affairs office aimed at domestic as well as foreign audiences, which is why U.S. newspapers have reporters at State's daily press briefing, etc. This new website clearly falls under the same public affairs umbrella -- because there's certainly no law aimed at preventing Americans from knowing what their State Department does. It is quite different from the public diplomacy activities governed by Smith-Mundt, which are aimed at 'understanding, informing, and persuading' foreign publics about policy issues.  [Comment, John Brown:] ... Helle -- My reading of the Smith-Mundt Act is that the State Department is prohibited

to disseminate domestically information products intended for foreign audiences, which however does not forbid it from communicating with the American people. Indeed, if we follow your interpretation of the Act, should not US journalists be prevented from attending press conferences at Foggy Bottom? Best, John [Brown]" Top Image from. Below image from

Peter Van Buren’s “We Meant Well” – Book Review Essay - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View: "A few weeks ago an active duty 23 year veteran of the Foreign Service named Peter Van Buren who served on two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Iraq between 2008-9 published a book that described his experiences and put forth his views about the impact those teams had on Iraqis in the central region where he worked. The book’s title: We meant well: how I helped lose the battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people in essence says it all ... [It] was written as a wake up call

with the hope that Americans will start to understand the ways their hard earned taxpayer dollars have been all too cavalierly tossed around on projects of questionable utility in post-invasion Iraq. Projects that were designed and implemented by Americans too often ill-equipped for the job and assigned to well protected fortresses constructed by the US military for its own troops sent there for a grand total of six months to one year at a time and governed by the metrics they have been required to employ. ... Van Buren’s tales of public diplomacy wasted and PSYOPs gone wrong fit like the tightest of gloves with the reports I’ve read and heard elsewhere ever since US foreign policy in the Middle East went awry beginning in March 2003." Van Buren image from

Thunderbird for Good: Afghan Media Entrepreneurs Organize a Reunion and Meeting of the Minds Conversation - Amy Scerra and Anna Mussman, knowledgenetwork.thunderbird.edu: "At a reunion of sorts, nine media entrepreneurs from Nangarhar and Kunar gathered at FOB Fenty on October 13, two weeks after they returned from a 3-week exchange in the U.S., a program funded through a Public Diplomacy small grant and facilitated by American Councils for International Exchange. Thunderbird School of Global Management hosted the gentlemen for 9 days as they completed a rigorous week of business training. ... As the gathering came to an end, Mr. Shaiq,

owner of Sharq Network, asked to meet again. 'Americans have different ideas that can help us overcome problems that often seem impossible to fix,' said Mr. Shaiq, as everyone nodded in agreement." Image from article, with caption: Mr. Shaiq suggests meeting again in one month to continue the dialogue.

A network-oriented America - Mary-Katherine Ream, exchangediplomacy.com: "Throughout our studies of public diplomacy, we [the U.S.] have discussed the need for mutually beneficial relationships and clear lines of communication. We have talked about having an abundance mind-set, finding niches and refusing to see international affairs as a zero-sum game. And yet this is never the mindset we bring to the table. If we want to maintain our status (or reclaim our status– depending on how you look at it), we need to invest in the network-oriented approach. We need to engage in equal burden sharing and teamwork. We need to be the quiet leader. And for those of us not comfortable with this role, we can move to Iceland. They are always #1 for something."

Alhurra - the Zionist 'Arab' news network - Martin Iqba, mathaba.net/news: "Alhurra (also known as al-Hurra) is a US-based satellite television network established in 2004, and which broadcasts in over 22 countries worldwide. Referring to Alhurra as a 'news network' constitutes the most egregious misuse of language; funded by the US Congress, Alhurra is nothing more than an Arabic-language extension of the US State Department's propaganda mill,

the Voice of America. As is customary for such Orwellian propaganda mainstays, Alhurra is Arabic for 'The Free One'. ... Lending further weight to Alhurra's Zionist, neoconservative, corporatist and pro-war credentials is the profiles of the figures it has chosen to lend a platform. One particular format of Alhurra's programming is its long one-on-one interviews. Within this framework the station has given a platform to persons qualifying as Zionists, neoconservatives, war criminals, unelected puppets, lackeys, and all of the above." Image from article

Reports: Advisory panel again recommends that Australia Network contract be awarded to Sky News over incumbent ABC - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Alhurra targeted by flak from the left and right flanks - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Newt Gingrich calls for "a Radio Free Iran, a Television Free Iran, an Internet Free Iran" (updated: others opine about broadcasts to Iran) - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

India holds Gandhi card for Tahrir Square - Sreeram Chaulia, Asia Times: "In the absence of democratic secular champions to lead the masses towards a tolerant and pluralistic order, what alternative do young Arab activists have? It's likely they will need to re-mobilize from below and learn from examples of successful transitions to secular democracy.

It is here that India has much to share in management of multi-cultural diversity and inter-communal tensions. Earlier this year, public diplomacy efforts offered by the Indian government over the Internet found tremendous interest among Egyptian youth to learn from India about keeping its diverse flock together. Broad unity and civic consciousness are the needs of the hour to salvage the Arab Spring from the fires of religious rancor, concepts on which India can offer more than a few lessons." Image from

India Blog Series: Outward Bound-A Proposal for Indian Public Diplomacy - Jerry Edling, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "As a burgeoning, boisterous democracy and a growing economic power with a tradition of nonalignment, India has tremendous assets that can be put to work in its public diplomacy; but it should re-orient its strategy to reach out to the world in a way that leverages its strengths and national values rather than simply inviting other nations to sample its rich culture and diversity."

The real danger of China buying the old world‎ - Sydney Morning Herald: "[A] report [The Scramble for Europe] notes that five years ago, China’s total direct investment in Europe was $1.3 billion – there were three deals just in the first half of this year that each exceeded that amount.

Summarises the perhaps excitable think tank: 'China is buying up Europe. Its automobile manufacturers have bought MG and Volvo and taken a life-saving stake in Saab. Its transportation firms are acquiring, leasing or managing harbours, airports, and logistical and assembly bases across the continent. ...'" Its development bank is financing projects in Europe’s periphery much like it does in Africa. Its purchases of public debt are anxiously sought by deficit ridden EU member states. In fact, it uses the prospect of these bond purchases as part of its own public diplomacy." Image from

Li Xiaolin, the daughter of Li Xiannian as first female president of the CPAFFC - 3abc.net: "According to the National Friendship Association’s official website revealed that in September 2011, the National Friendship Association President Li Xiaolin and ancient CPAFFC main 席凯尼娅塞 Mascherano signed friendship and cooperation agreement. This is the first disclosure of Li Xiaolin new position of Friendship, which she became the ninth-term president of the association and the first female president. Meanwhile, the work of the National Director of the Asia-Africa Friendship Association of the original replacement Luo Qin Yi Lin, as the post of Secretary-General of the Association. Li Xiaolin is the daughter of former President Li Xiannian, 58-year-old, 22 years old that worked at the National Friendship Association, assumed office as the National Friendship former party secretary, executive vice president, engaged in public diplomacy affairs and social welfare services."

Australia should play greater role in India/China relations - ‎press release, Scoop.co.nz: "Australia can, and should, play a major role in facilitating co-operation between India and China, an expert in international relations argues. Speaking at the launch of the Soft Power Advocacy and Research Centre (SPARC) at Macquarie University today,

Professor Naren Chitty A.M. said that while Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had resolved to collaborate on security and trade, there was an opportunity to create much stronger ties through spaces of soft power. 'Soft power' describes the attraction between cities, countries and cultures, and how this is used in public diplomacy and governance. In contrast to 'hard power' – the use of force and coercion – soft power exploits attractive and compelling characteristics for a purpose." Chitty image from

UK - MFA - Record number of co-sponsors for UN Resolution on the Olympic Truce - isria.com: "The Olympic Truce Resolution for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games today received world-wide support from the General Assembly of the United Nations. Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham welcomed support from 193 UN member states. ... Through an active public diplomacy programme we have an opportunity to increase international public interest and involvement in conflict prevention and peace-building and to raise the level of ambition for future Olympic Truces."

High Court decides not to intervene in Schalit swap‎ - Joanna Paraszczuk, Jerusalem Post: "The High Court ruled late Monday night not to accede to requests by terror victims to interfere in the government's agreement to release Palestinian security prisoners in return for kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit.

Shvuel Schijveschuurder, who lost his parents and three brothers in the 2001 Sbarro terror attack, shouted ... as he took his seat on the front row of the public gallery. ... Schijveschuurder also sharply criticized the government's decision to deport certain of the released prisoners abroad, which he said would put the lives of Jews in other countries at risk. 'We are sending my parents' murderer abroad to do hasbara [public diplomacy],' said Schijveschuurder. 'This is a terrible mistake. I can't cope with the idea of even one terror attack being carried out abroad by these murderers.'" Image from

A Talk with Ramin Asgard - dailytrojan.com: "Center on Public Diplomacy-Journalism Directors’ Forum USC Center on Public Diplomacy 12:00pm to 1:00pm University Park Campus Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism 207 Free RSVP Ramin Asgard, director of Voice of America’s Persian News Network, discusses providing news in the face of government hostility and obstruction."

Foreign perceptions of the U.S. are complex and changeable, book argues - Meg Sullivan: "[F]oreign perceptions of the U.S. are complex, emotional and frequently internally contradictory, and they often change quickly, a UCLA adjunct professor of communication studies argues in a new book.

In "American Avatar: The United States in the Global Imagination" (Potomac Books), Barry A. Sanders provides an analysis of how views of a country are formed and what can be done to alter them. At UCLA, Sanders teaches related courses, including 'The Images of America Around the World' and 'Public Diplomacy.'" Image from

Wed Oct 19, 4:30PM SL/PST Inside the Avatar’s Studio: Login2Life - urockcliffe.com: "Bernhard Drax (aka @Draxtor) writes music for TV, commercials and feature films. In the virtual world 'Second Life' Bernhard regularly files machinima reportages on social and political issues. His story on

virtual Guantanamo won the 2008 Human Rights Media Awards from ‘Internews’ in France. ... Sponsored by the US Department of State, Bernhard also finished up a video series showcasing the use of virtual worlds in public diplomacy, focusing on the 6-month collaboration between architecture students from Cairo and USC in Los Angeles." Image from draxtor.com

New York: Internship City of Dreams - holidaytravelfun.com: "I was now poised, at the senior stages of my combined Law/Arts (International Relations) degree and I realised that I was very passionate about global issues, international relations, international business and finance, human rights, geopolitics and foreign affairs, and much more. ... In February 2010, after returning from studying European Law in Germany I came across a

golden opportunity. A vacancy was posted on the internet for an unpaid three month internship at the Australian Consulate-General, New York. Ding Ding Ding! Bells of excitement went off in my head instantly. And you know what? The moment I read the job posting, I immediately visualised myself, as an intern, at the hallowed halls that is the Australian Consulate, New York. I just knew it was mine for the taking. I just knew it had to be for me. What to do? What to do? I applied immediately! ... [M]y work at the Consulate involved the following: ... 6.Engaging in public diplomacy events aimed at furthering Australian interests in the USA." Image from


Economy eclipses Obama's relentless war on terror - DeWayne Wickham: Obama hasn't undone the economic mess he inherited from his predecessor, but he has decimated the ranks of the terrorist leaders who commanded the 9/11 attacks. In doing so, Obama has made America a lot safer than it was four years ago — which should also weigh heavily on voters' minds in 2012.

Iran calls U.S. assassination charges 'Nazi propaganda': Foreign Minister demands Washington provide information about two suspects arrested for allegedly plotting to assassinate Saudi ambassador to the U.S. - DPA, haaretz.com: Iran said Monday that it has asked the United States to provide information about the two people indicted for conspiracy to assassinate

the Saudi ambassador in Washington, in a plot that the U.S. has linked to Tehran's Republican Guard. Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said Iran would investigate the allegations. At the same time, he accused the U.S. of using propaganda methods similar to those employed by Nazi Germany. Image from

The Setup - The Iran Assassination Plot - Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, opednews.com:
For decades, the British and later Americans knew well that the best way to give rumors credibility was to ensure that such rumors were repeated by various "friendly" countries. Propaganda became "fact' if repeated by different countries. This method of propaganda was a well-known and well played tactic of the Allies against Germany. In dealing with Iran, the allegations of a plot take on a new life when repeated by various allies.

Libyans Struggle to Control Information Flow ‎- Kim Gamel, ABC News: The celebratory gunfire was deafening as reports spread that Moammar Gadhafi's son Muatassim had been captured. The problem is, Libyan officials say, it wasn't true.

Libya's new rulers have found it hard to control the flow of information in a country that was run by one man for more than four decades. Fighters often tell a different story than officials in Tripoli, reflecting the uprising's lack of organization. Propaganda also has been used by both sides in the brutal,eight-month conflict. Image from

Al Qaeda 'aid propaganda' in drought-hit Somalia - todayonline.com: Al Qaeda is not known for its philanthropic activities, but at the weekend in Somalia the terrorist group appeared to have branched into a new business: Distributing humanitarian aid. In a surreal scene, a man with a scarf twisted over his face stood in the middle of a camp full of starving people and announced that he had come to Somalia on behalf of Ayman Al Zawahri, Al Qaeda's leader, and that Al Qaeda was eager to help famine victims. Somali officials insist that Al Qaeda is working with Al Shabab and that the food handout was simply propaganda.

Wearing Emporio Armani considered Armenian propaganda in Turkey, and is punishable by law - news.am: "Turkish press widely covered Taraf daily’s columnist Roni Margulies’ funny story about three unlucky Turks, who were found guilty of wearing

Emporio Armani t-shirts and thus carrying out Armenian propaganda. In his article, Margulies presents the three Turks’ self-defending speeches made in the court. '…a merchant asked me why I’m wearing that t-shirt and called the police…I don’t think I was making propaganda,' said the first defendant." Image from article

Propaganda and Indoctrination - magictrickscool.com: "Because you probably believe like I did when I was in high school and still ignorant of the lies and manipulations of these masters of the universe and their diabolical schemes, you might still think that it is only ‘evil empires’ like the former Soviet Union and Communist China who use propaganda on their citizens? Well fortunately, scholars like Chomsky show us that ‘our government’ is equally guilty of manipulating us with its own propaganda."

Pop Culture Is Killing Us - Tom Matlack, goodmenproject.com: Propaganda has historically been used by totalitarian regimes to justify their existence. Many of our greatest writers and artists have pointed out the hypocrisy of the capitalist system here in America. They touched the truth known by the thinking populace but not spoken out loud.

Pop culture of the past relied on a populace that was thinking, grappling with the deeper meaning of life and our collective challenges. It had an edge that forced us to look at ourselves more critically. The truth is that reality television and our current obsession with celebrity has no such underlying social commentary. It’s the kind of propaganda used in the past to control the minds of masses of humanity who are actually suffering unspoken atrocities. The difference here is that there is no dictator shoving this stuff down our throats. There is an enemy, and it’s us. We have chosen to tune out. Image from

Berg Heil! New book explores Nazi-era mountaineering - AFP: Hitler was no mountaineer, but the Nazis were well aware of the propaganda value of the sport, as a new book published in the Nazi dictator's native Austria on Monday shows. "Berg Heil! Alpenverein und Bergsteigen 1919-1945" ("Hail the Mountain! The Alpine Club and Mountaineering 1919-1945") deals for the first time with the "dark chapter" of scaling Austrian and German peaks under the Nazis. Until the "annexation" of Austria in 1938, the German Alpine climbing association "was the only significant organisation where the idea of a 'greater Germany' became reality,"

according to the authors. The Nazis also turned Himalayan expeditions into propaganda events, despite many ending in disaster, with one dead climber, Alfred Drexel, whose body was wrapped in a Nazi flag and photographed, becoming a national hero in 1934. Mountaineers used the cry "Heil Berg!", reminiscent of the "Heil Hitler!" greeting, well before Hitler came to power, however, with "Heil!" having become popular among German nationalists from the late 19th century onwards. Image from article, with caption: SA storm troopers scaled Austria's biggest mountain, the Grossglockner, in 1938, planting a Nazi flag at the summit.

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