Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 19-20

"You never hear of anyone dying of happiness."

--Fauja Singh, the 100-year-old runner who this week became the world's oldest person to complete a full-length marathon, crossing the line at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront event in eight hours, 25 minutes and 16 seconds. (And he didn't finish last: five came in after him.); image and text from; via AB on facebook


Is China Top Dog in The Great Game? - Walter Russell, Via Meadia: "Aaron Friedberg – formerly of the Bush administration, now Asia-Pacific adviser for Romney – wants Americans to get their heads back into the Asian Great Game. From his WaPo interview: ['] ... In addition to public diplomacy, the U.S. government should continue to support the development of software that may make it easier for citizens of countries with repressive regimes to access the Internet without fear of surveillance. ... ['] For now, let me just say that I think Aaron Friedberg’s take is an

important one which should not be ignored." Image from

Putin and the US Senate - Anna Borshchevskaya, New Atlanticist: "On October 12, the U.S. Senate held a hearing to confirm National Security Council official Michael McFaul to be the next U.S. ambassador to Russia. McFaul used his testimony to defend the Obama administration’s 'reset' policy, even though the policy has neither reversed the antagonism

which marks the U.S.-Russian relationship nor improved U.S. national security. America’s Russia policy needs a reset, but not in public diplomacy. Rather, the White House, State Department, and the able McFaul should reset Washington’s willingness to accept Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as a force for stability rather than seek true reform." Putin image from article

US mission unveils Web-based Virtual AIT World‎ - Shih Hsiu-chuan, Taipei Times: "The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday became the only US mission abroad that runs a Web-based virtual program to promote US public diplomacy. With the program, the AIT hopes to let Taiwanese know that the AIT 'is not only a place where they come to apply for visas,' but that it 'provides many other wonderful things' for them to discover, AIT spokesperson Christopher Kavanagh said at the launch of Virtual AIT World. During the initial stage of the program, the AIT will share online three of its most popular exhibits — 'American Footsteps in Taiwan,' 'Dr Sun Yat-sen and the United States' and 'Picturing America.' ... AIT spokesperson Sheila Paskman said the AIT obtained a lump sum of US$40,000 to create Virtual AIT World after its application for a grant from the US Department of State was approved. ... The AIT is the only US overseas mission to run a virtual program, she said." See also

Experience America New Orleans - Taken Question, Office of the Spokesperson, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC: "Established in 2007, Experience America is a public diplomacy program aimed at educating other nations about America and strengthening our bonds economically, socially and politically with countries around the globe. The goal of Experience America is to share the best of our nation with senior foreign officials and foster new, mutually beneficial relationships with the American communities they visit.

The trip to New Orleans is the eighth Experience America trip and fourth of this Administration. Other destinations included California, Texas, Florida, New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, and Alaska. Experience America trips are announced to the foreign diplomatic missions and chiefs of mission participate as their schedules permit. Participating ambassadors pay for their lodging and travel, and other expenses are covered by hosts of events and supporters of the program." Image from

State Department Persian-Language Spokesman Addresses Iranian-American Community - "As the Persian-Language Spokesman, [Alan] Eyre’s role allows the U.S. State Department to more routinely communicate with Iranians in a timely manner. Eyre discussed new mediums, specifically social media, used by the State Department in engaging Iranians and

Iranian Americans. These new initiatives enable individuals to promote policy change, citing the example of how, in response to a cascade of Facebook messages from Iranians, the U.S. government quickly became aware of and changed government documents which used the term 'Arabian Gulf' instead of the official US government term 'Persian Gulf.' Eyre highlighted the special role that the U.S. State Department serves in trying to 'tear down the electronic curtain' erected by the Iranian government, by using diplomatic measures, provision of technology, and the use of public diplomacy. The U.S. State Department’s USAdarFarsi Twitter, Facebook and YouTube page, and the monthly-featured series, 'Ask Alan,' address topics like U.S. visa policy, Iran trade sanctions, and Iranian foreign relations. More recently, with the new change in Iranian student visas, from single entry to multiple-entry, the State Department’s website, EducationUSAIran, informs and encourages Iranian students interested in studying in the United States." Image from article

Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate‎ - press release, "NOMINATIONS SENT TO THE SENATE: ... Alfredo J. Balsera, of Florida, to be a Member of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy for a term expiring July 1, 2014, vice Elizabeth F. Bagley, term expired."

Circus Attaché in Moscow - Yale Richmond, American Diplomacy: "It’s not often that an embassy sponsors a tour by a circus but that’s exactly

what happened in 1968 when the State Department sent an American circus to the Soviet Union under the US-USSR cultural exchange agreement." Image from article

New strategic plan "aims to make BBG the world’s leading international news agency by 2016." With comments - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "USIB, if it aspires to be the leading news agency, must form an alliance within US domestic media. US private news organizations, to protect their credibility, would initially be loath to take money from the government. Any such deal between USIB and US private media must therefore be carefully crafted."

International Media and Government - "I am looking forward to learning more about International Broadcasting from the public diplomacy perspective at the second annual symposium 'Building Bridges: The Tools of Public Diplomacy,'

organized by the Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars of Syracuse University.. [F]or decades it was BBC and DW that provided broad strata of population (not always literate and online technologically savvy) with objective and balanced information. Maybe U.S. public diplomats have to seize upon this kind of opportunities to fill the information vacuum with American media products? Look forward to hearing what real life practitioners have to say!" Image from

Putin Has Radio Svoboda On His Mind - Charles Dameron, "Dangerous and subversive CIA tool, harmless propaganda organ, or evidence of Russian liberalism? Russian Prime Minister (and once and future president) Vladimir Putin wants to have it every way when it comes to describing RFE/RL's Russian Service, aka Radio Svoboda. ... Putin provided Svoboda with a little backhanded publicity in a prime-time interview aired on October 17 with the heads of Russia's three largest television stations. Responding to a question from NTV's Vladimir Kulistikov about much-needed reforms to Russia's legal system, Putin prefaced his answer by chiding Kulistikov for having once served (1993-96) as a correspondent for Radio Svoboda. 'When I worked for the KGB, we viewed Radio Svoboda as a branch of the CIA. Of course, it was only a propaganda arm, but still. Anyway, such an attitude toward that station was not unfounded. It was funded by the CIA

and, what's more, it was even involved in spying activities in the former U.S.S.R.,' Putin said. 'Today, the situation has changed, but still, no matter how you look at it, Radio Svoboda is a media outlet that expresses the views of a foreign government. In this case, it is the U.S. government.'" Image from, with caption: Did you know that the CIA's Polygraph Division has its own seal? Here it is:

China's stagnation not an option ‎- Yong Kwon, Asia Times Online: "Many of the problems facing China, both economic and environmental, will be difficult to resolve autonomously. Therefore, closer ties and cooperation with the international community, and in particular with the US, are in the nation's best interest. ... Washington has to play its part, but so does Beijing. ... Doing business in the US is clearly important and cooperation between the two countries in developing green technology cannot be ignored either. Enhancing public diplomacy and pursuing a more considerate foreign policy in the region can improve American perceptions on China and result in significant long-term returns that better ensure the prosperity of both nations."

A National Security Strategy Document for India‎ - Arvind Gupta, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses: "Making India secure will

require building diverse capabilities – economic, diplomatic, military, human resources, governance reforms - and creating synergy between them. ... Our diplomatic resources will need to be expanded and strengthened. More diplomats, more training, and more synergy with resources outside the government will be needed. Diplomacy will need to include diverse interests. Public diplomacy will be an integral component of diplomacy." Image from website

South Korea - Spokesperson's Press Briefing, 18 october 2011 - "[T]he Foreign Ministry, along with the Korea Foundation and the Center for International Studies at Seoul National University, will co-host the 8th Meeting of the Korea Public Diplomacy Forum at the National Assembly Library on October 19. At the Forum, the participating experts will look into the institutional foundation of Korea’s public diplomacy and engage in a discussion on the 'special bill to invigorate cultural diplomacy' proposed by the National Assembly. Launched in 2010 to invigorate Korea’s public diplomacy, the Korea Public Diplomacy Forum has since functioned as an arena for discussions on the country’s policies on public diplomacy."

Swedish Institute launches Arabic website‎ - The Sweden's 'official gateway' on the internet launched an Arabic edition on Wednesday, in an effort to strengthen Sweden's dialogue with the Arabic speaking world. 'We’ve seen that this region is very important for Sweden in many ways, but that they have very little knowledge about Sweden,' Frida Roberts, Head of digital communication for, told The Local. 'This is not just another language version of the site, it is locally adapted with everything from imagery, the content, and the technological aspects.' The Swedish Institute (Svenska institutet),

Sweden's primary public diplomacy agency, initially launched the website in 2002, choosing English as the default language. The website offers advice on everything from what to do while visiting, to information about working in Sweden and housing. Since the site was first launched, additional languages have been added, including Spanish, German, French, Russian, and Chinese. And now can also be viewed in Arabic. In addition to general information about Sweden, the site also features selected news stories previously published on The Local and translated into Arabic." Image from article

When silence speaks "South Africa’s public diplomacy is coming under new scrutiny as people ask how can the party of liberation have turned into the party that supported Mugabe in Zimbabwe and Gaddafi when others had turned away. ... Employing better or more public relations experts is not going to help."

Considering Soft Power's Future‎
- Phillip Seib, Huffington Post: "[P]olicymakers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are sophisticated and articulate in their discussions of how to weave public diplomacy into the fabric of British foreign policy. They clearly see that Britain can make public diplomacy work for it, and this is reflected in their promotion of next year's Olympic Games, Queen Elizabeth's 60-year jubilee, and other events to which Britain can lay claim. ... [T]hose at the summit of power ought to contemplate the value of public diplomacy before they feel forced to do so. The UK is a good example of a country that is supplanting muscle with wisdom. If officials at the

FCO, Wilton Park, the British Council, and elsewhere within its foreign policy community retain their commitment to soft power, British leadership might become even more important in global affairs. Events in the Arab world earlier this year showed that fundamental change can take place without resort to old-style, bloody conflict. In an era in which revolutions rely more on social media than on machine guns, soft power will be ascendant. Governments throughout the world should take note." Image from

The last 65 feet ... - Gary Rawnsley, Public Diplomacy and International relations: "Scholars of public diplomacy are used to hearing about the importance of the 'last three feet' of human contact. When a woman jumped into a lake in Hangzhou (China) and started to panic, an American woman took off her coat, swam the 65 feet

and brought her back to the shore. Seeing the woman was safe, the American left without giving her name. One Chinese commentator microblogged: 'Today I see a story about an American tourist jumping into the water to save someone. I finally realized why America is such a strong country and will continue to be one.'" Image from


DARPA looking to master propaganda via 'Narrative Networks' - The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the semi-secret agency charged with coming up with new and cool ways to protect the citizens of the United States from foreign bad guys, wants to hire someone to figure

out how vulnerable some people are to “narratives” (oral stories, speeches, propaganda, books, etc. that cause people to think) and then, supplant such messages with “better” messages to head off the path that for such people might lead them to becoming a terrorist. Image from article 

Ron Paul: Iran Plot is War Propaganda (Video) -

Britain’s Own Pravda-Style Propaganda - As ever Western states and corporations are striving relentlessly to maintain control of resources and global markets, and to maximise profits for themselves, with as much force and skullduggery as they can muster. And Western media will provide intellectual cover by selling the resultant theft, slaughter and misery as “stabilisation,” “‘investment” and “the protection of human rights.”

1000 prisoners for one Israeli soldier‎ - Nick Parker, The Sun: Jonathan Shalit, cousin of Gilad, the returned Israeli soldier:

For Hamas this is a huge propaganda victory because they have secured the release of 1000 prisoners. And Israelis are celebrating the return of a loved one. Image from

Hillary Clinton: ‘US wants Qaddafi dead’ - Libya is the third Muslim country occupied by the US-NATO through propaganda lies, distortion of facts and naked military aggression. And in all three cases, Israel has been the driving force behind these propaganda lies and aggressions.

Saudi "Propaganda Center" Sets Up Shop in Vienna - Soeren Kern, Hudson New York: Saudi Arabia is spearheading the establishment of a controversial new "interreligious and intercultural dialogue center" in the Austrian capital Vienna. The King Abdullah Center for Inter-Religious and Inter-Cultural Dialogue

was inaugurated at the Albertina Museum in downtown Vienna on October 13. The foreign ministers of the three founding states -- Austria, Spain and Saudi Arabia -- were in attendance. The institution will be located at the Palais Sturany on the Schottenring in the heart of Vienna. The Saudis say the purpose of the multi-million-dollar initiative is to "foster dialogue" between the world's major religions in order to "prevent conflict." But critics say the center is an attempt by Saudi Arabia to establish a permanent "propaganda center" in central Europe from which to spread the conservative Wahhabi sect of Islam. Image from

Muslim Scholars Issue Fatwa Against ‘Islamophobic Propaganda’ - Islamic scholars tired of conservative charges that Muslims in the United States constitute a radical fifth column bent on subverting American values and obligated by their religion to launch jihadist terror attacks are fighting back by issuing a fatwa. The Islamic religious ruling, a “Resolution On Being Faithful Muslims and Loyal Americans,” is a response to what its authors call “erroneous perceptions and Islamophobic propaganda” that has built up for a decade following the 9/11 attacks and subsequent terrorist plots by adherents of al-Qaida and other extremist groups. It was issued in Virginia late last month by the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), a group of Islamic scholars who meet several times a year to draft opinions on issues of concern to American Muslims.

Turkey Remains Strong Ally of the Bosniak People in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Anniversary of death of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s first president, Alija Izetbegovic, is being commemorated in his country 8 years after his passing - Bosnian Genocide: The late president,

who witnessed the most challenging times during years of war between 1992-1995, had been known by Turkish readers earlier with his liberal books ”Islamic Declaration” and ”Islam Between East and West” published in 1970s and 80s. More than any other text, the Islamic Declaration is cited by Serbian nationalist propaganda as evidence of dangerous ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ in Europe which must be suppressed… or else. Izetbegovic image from article


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