Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 27

"I do care when propaganda is confined to one side while the other is stripped and silent."

--W.E.B. DuBois, from the speech Criteria of Negro Art; image from


Pentagon game to divide Iranians and Arabs: A military planning exercise illuminates the story driving Washington's response to the Arab Spring - Sharmine Narwani, Salon: "Analysts and pundits have spent the past two weeks puzzling over the alleged Iranian plot to assassinate a Saudi diplomat in Washington, in part because of a complete lack of either motive or benefit for the Islamic Republic. ... Instead of scrutinizing the 'whys' of Iran’s involvement, it may be more illuminating to examine Washington’s motivation in advancing this bit of political theater. The criminal charges were followed by high-profile statements and sanctioned leaks from the White House, the departments of State, Justice, Treasury, Defense, FBI and the CIA, well orchestrated for maximum impact. The U.S. government then sought to persuade the global community via the U.N. Security Council and 'phone calls to many capitals' of the gravity of the charges.

Such fanfare went beyond the service of prosecuting a single crime. More likely, the charges being leveled at Iran came in the service of 'public diplomacy,' an attempt to establish a broad narrative that serves a policy decision. Pushing the narrative of the Iranian 'boogeyman' is not unusual in U.S. policy circles. ... [I]t appears the United States is acting not in accordance with its declared values, but is instead allowing financial and hegemonic calculations to drive foreign policy. Narratives manufactured to support myopic interests over fundamental values cast a long shadow over our ability to play a leading role in global affairs. We don’t reason, we spin."  Image from

Afghan reconciliation - "How will the core group of America, Pakistan and Afghanistan work alongside the bilateral effort that Pakistan and Afghanistan have supposedly been working on? What red lines are in fact workable? Is giving up arms, for example, a realistic precondition given the cultural issues involved? It is about time to start implementing the reconciliation process — or to restart it, rather — but the path forward is not as clear as public diplomacy might suggest."

Cultural Diplomacy: A Night of Art, Dance, and Children - Helen Tol Dosta, CPD blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: It’s been over 30 years since the horrors of Pol Pot’s terrorizing reign and while there are many remnants of the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge regime remaining, the country is rebuilding. Since the influx of NGOs and IGOs in the mid 1990s, Cambodia has seen all types of organizations enter and leave, providing much needed assistance in health care, educational and cultural programs. ... Intriguingly, in developing a

cultural diplomacy program, a debate among scholars arises from the question of who the true target audience shall be: the foreign masses or the locals? Successfully engaging the people is key to any public diplomacy initiative and convincing the locals of participating and furthering their own culture can be more challenging than persuading foreign audiences. ... Globally, cultural diplomacy was ... experiencing a resurgence in the early to mid 2000s; most notably since the Cold War. In 2003, following the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. State Department sent choreographers to densely Muslim-populated nations in response to polls that reported global displeasure with American attitudes toward Muslims in the U.S. and abroad. Art and dance are reflections and representations of the complexities of humanity, which is designed to captivate us visually and audibly, invoking a deep emotional connection that transcends through time and boundaries, proving their importance as the essential tools of cultural diplomacy." Image from

In The Presence of Greatness - Rajesh Mirchandani, CPD blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "For anyone who is Indian-born, as I am, the chance to see Ravi Shankar perform is akin to an audience with the Pope for Catholics – and perhaps even harder to accomplish. This one-off show at the Disney Hall [in Los Angeles] had been scheduled for October last year and postponed twice - due, the press release said, to 'illness and visa complications' (a public diplomacy blunder for U.S. immigration?). ... Shankar is arguably India’s greatest cultural diplomat. Over sixty years, he and his sitar have not only given the complicated rhythms of Indian classical music an international audience, but have also influenced successive waves of Western musicians from The Beatles to Yehudi Menuhin to Phillip Glass."

India’s Regional Literature in Popular Culture - Madhurjya Kotoky, CPD blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "When it comes to literature, spreading awareness is just not enough. It is important for stories from India to become a part of popular culture to generate influence."

Indian minister’s hogwash - "[I]f the decades-long brutalization of the Kashmir by the Indian military in its occupied territory has now begun revelling apart to expose the Indian State’s brute face damnably, it is all because of the Kashmiris themselves.

No credit goes to the Pakistani establishment. Indeed, this establishment has cared not even to mothball a persistent campaign by a section of Pakistani commentariat whose vaulting self-righteousness has snowballed to the extent of smothering or just glossing over some horrendous ground realities. They are leaving no stone unturned to denigrate the Kashmiri indigenous uprising in occupied Kashmir . ... This establishment must know in the world perceptions count and a lot, even more than hard realities. And on that front, it decidedly is faring very badly. A bit of public diplomacy it must practice, at least now to save this nation’s face from being muddied so wrongly. Image from

Guest Post: Comparative Public Diplomacy of Trade – Brazil and Venezuela - Evan Pondel, Ren's Micro Diplomacy: During the last several years, Brazil and Venezuela have embarked on different paths to achieve foreign policy objectives. Their strategies employ a variety of hard and soft power tools, some of which are quite effective in building cohesion and solidarity, and others that tend to alienate and isolate the two countries from the rest of the Western Hemisphere. Both countries have been successful in achieving certain foreign policy objectives, but internationally, Brazil has gained more economic and political clout than Venezuela. Understanding how these countries cultivate public diplomacy helps articulate why Brazil and Venezuela, especially the former, have become formidable hemispheric powers. To further illuminate their strategies, it is useful to distinguish how foreign policy objectives differ in Brazil and Venezuela, the role of hard and soft power and public diplomacy between the two countries, and the inherent strengths and weaknesses that influence the success of each country as a regional power."

EU-NA Fellows to visit the cities of Ifrane and Fez, Morocco - "With an increasing number of events held in partnership with foreign cities, more particularly in southern Spain, Fez

has created a department exclusively dedicated to public diplomacy and foreign relations, and is thus working closely with Rabat on that file." Image from

US Peace Organization Honored in Beijing: China's Foreign Ministry Recognizes Zhou Enlai and Will Promote International Peace at Public Event during APEC Conference - press release, "The Zhou Enlai Peace Institute -- a non-profit organization based in Honolulu, Hawaii seeking to improve peaceful ties between the United States and China by building trust and respect through the life of peacemaker Zhou Enlai -- was recently honored by the Chinese government during a formal dinner and ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing. Over 100 guests, many of them senior government officials, were in attendance to applaud the formation of the Institute and learn about the organization's six-part strategy to bring the people of both nations together. The event was co-sponsored by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) -- China's chief public diplomacy organization."

Implementation of FY2011 Local Staff Training in Japan - "(Note 2) Lectures by Ministry senior and other officials and external instructors on administrative works, consular affairs, public diplomacy, Japan's foreign policy, international law, etc."

State Power vs. Social Movements - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "[I]n the increasingly complex structure of world politics, non-state actors are operating alongside states, with communication playing a key enabling role.

It is here that public diplomacy and strategic communication can capitalize on the existing connections to strengthen and improve their achievements, whether directly or indirectly." Image from


America as Number Four: Discouraging trends in 'Doing Business' - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: The World Bank released its annual "Doing Business" report last week, and friends of the Obama Administration are crowing that it debunks the notion that the U.S. has become a regulatory jungle since President Obama took office. Maybe they should read it more carefully. The report, which uses various indicators to rank 183 countries on the ease of doing business, puts the U.S. in fourth place for 2012, behind Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand. That's up a notch from its fifth-place finish last year, but down one from third place in 2007.

But then there are the trend lines in the sub-rankings. In 2007, the U.S. ranked third in the "ease of starting a business" category. This year it ranks 13th. On the "paying taxes" front we've dropped to 72nd place from 63rd. The cost of starting a business, measured as a percentage of per capita income, has doubled to 1.4% from 0.7% in 2007. On "ease of registering property" the U.S. has dropped to 16th from tenth. In the "trading across borders" category, we've dropped nine spots to 20th. In 2007, the "cost to import," as measured in dollars per container, was $625. Today it's more than doubled to $1,315. Image from

To deal with Iran’s nuclear future, go back to 2008 - Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post: Early in the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama signaled that he was going to break with the Bush administration’s Manichean foreign policy. The topic was Iran. He explained repeatedly that the Bush policy of simply pressuring Iran was not working and that he would be willing to talk to the country’s leaders to find ways to reduce tensions and dangers. Two years into his presidency, Obama’s Iran policy looks a lot like George W. Bush’s — with some of the same problems that candidate Obama pointed out two years ago.

China Reins in Liberalization of Culture - Sharon Lafraniere, Michael Wines and Edward Wong, New York Times: The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television has ordered 34 major regional television stations to limit themselves to no more than two 90-minute entertainment

shows each per week, and collectively 10 nationwide. They are also being ordered to broadcast two hours of state-approved news every evening and to disregard audience ratings in their programming decisions. The ministry said the measures, to go into effect on Jan. 1, were aimed at rooting out “excessive entertainment and vulgar tendencies.” The restrictions arrived as party leaders signaled new curbs on China’s short-message, Twitter-like microblogs, an Internet sensation that has mushroomed in less than two years into a major — and difficult to control — source of whistle-blowing. Microbloggers, some of whom have attracted millions of followers, have been exposing scandals and official malfeasance, including an attempted cover-up of a recent high-speed rail accident, with astonishing speed and popularity. On Wednesday, the Communist Party’s Central Committee called in a report on its annual meeting for an “Internet management system” that would strictly regulate social network and instant-message systems, and punish those who spread “harmful information.” The focus of the meeting, held this month, was on culture and ideology. Image from

Commentator: "BBC is retreating from global news," while Al Jazeera "is expanding" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Pravda on the Potomac - Ben Smith, Politico: Government propaganda station Russia Today sometimes does something resembling news reporting, and sometimes offers something closer to ham-handed Soviet-style hit pieces.

Iranian Ayatollah’s “Secret Security” Pressure Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani - American Center for Law and Justice: New developments for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, the Christian pastor sentenced to death in Iran, may be an effort by Ayatollah Khamenei to entrap him.

Our contacts have notified us that agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security of Iran, commonly referred to as Iran’s Secret Security, visited Pastor Youcef in jail and provided him with printed Islamic propaganda. This propaganda contained information as to why, according to Iran, Islam is the one true faith. The agents requested that Pastor Youcef read and reflect on the materials, instructing him that they would return to discuss the materials with him at a later date. Image from article

Sri Lanka says war crimes Allegations 'propaganda' - AFP: Sri Lanka's government on Thursday sought to dismiss war crimes allegations as propaganda from its defeated rivals, as it came under further pressure ahead of a Commonwealth summit. A spokesman for Sri Lankan President Mahendra Rajapakse described the heavy focus on the issue in the lead-up to Friday's gathering of leaders from the 54-nation Commonwealth bloc in the Australian city of Perth as "unfair." "This is the well-oiled propaganda machinery of the LTTE rump," spokesman Bandula Jayasekera told the ABC news network, in reference to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and its diaspora overseas.

Northwestern University exhibitions and events at Block Museum and Dittmar Gallery - An exhibition of Soviet art posters and cartoons that is a vivid reminder of the Cold War era; a companion exhibition of pre-Russian Revolution book art; and displays of Russian and American World War II propaganda posters and memorabilia from a famous Russian composer’s 1973 Evanston campus visit will be open to the public through early December. All are among the fall 2011 exhibitions at Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art and University Library.

MFA exhibit proves the duty of beauty - Megan Araghi, The Huntington News: “Beauty as Duty,” the current fashion exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Northeastern University, illustrates the way fashion can become pervasively woven into political and everyday life, ultimately reflecting the sentiments of a time period. Albeit fashion is no doubt an unusual medium for propaganda, political messages were consistently the most present theme in the exhibit.

Textile designers were never implored to include illustrations of propaganda in their designs – it just happened. However, it became something particularly omnipresent, and the fashion displayed in the exhibit illustrates it strongly. Scarves, especially from the likes of Jacqmar, who was the most famous British scarf designer at the time, kept true to British dry humor and presented colorful comic illustrations. A depiction of a cartoon Hitler cleverly eavesdropping on British citizens in the textile prints is an example of propaganda. Image from article

Thorne presents Chinese propaganda inspired art - Augustus Stahl, The Equinox: The Thorne gallery is one of the more unappreciated parts of Keene State College, with year round exhibitions of modern and historical art. It shows art from both globally acclaimed artists and students at Keene State. With dusty dollar bills filling the donations box, the atrium to the Thorne Gallery was populated by a few Chinese exchange students and a grinning curator. It was 5:30 on the dot Friday night when the doors opened and the small but eager crowd was admitted to the exhibition. The opening was for China Modern: Designing Popular Culture 1910-1970, a collection of advertising and propaganda images that narrated China’s volatile political history.

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