Sunday, October 30, 2011

October 29

"I doubt those who believe, and believe those who doubt."

--A valued  PDPBR subscriber, responding to a similar thought by French writer AndrĂ© Gide; image from


Clinton seeks to bypass dictators and despots through technology - Jamie Crawford, "Gone are the days

where statecraft was conducted primarily between diplomats in world capitals, and large summit meetings between world leaders with grand signing statements. Clinton is harnessing the use of so-called 'smart power' which uses public diplomacy, development aid, public-private partnerships, and most visibly – social media, as a means to advance U.S. interests in an era of increasing austerity and tighter defense budgets. ... During her tenure, Clinton has pressed her ambassadors to expand their use of Facebook and Twitter, and requires every diplomat who attends the foreign-service institute to get training in social media." Image from

The Tale of Two Web Initiatives -

"Two very different stories dealing with Iran, the internet, and the United States have been getting attention this week. One story is about a computer virus, the other is about a 'virtual embassy'. Taken together these stories tell us something broader about the nature of the American relationship with Iran. The first story is about a new computer virus that has recently been discovered by internet security experts. The virus, named Duqu, is similar to the more famous Stuxnet virus. Both viruses are so-called 'Trojan' pieces of code that are unsuspectingly planted into a specific computer system only to be activated at some later date. In the case of Stuxnet, the virus was used to directly attack Iran’s nuclear program. ... The second significant story was about the United States’ plan to open a 'virtual embassy' for Iran. The purpose of the embassy will be to provide Iranian citizens information about visas, educational opportunities, and other ways to communicate with the United States. This effort is a primary example of how the United States uses 'public diplomacy' to try to reach the people around the world directly. It is also a clear indication that any issues that the United States has with Iran are not with the people, but with the government. Both of these stories demonstrate that the United States is highly capable of utilizing technology to advance its interests. This includes covert action, and efforts to connect with people of good will throughout the world. Our approach to our adversaries isn’t one of diplomacy or punishment, it is both. It is the Iranian regime’s choice which type of engagement the United States places at the forefront of our approach to Iran." Image from article

In interviews with BBC Persian and VOA Persian, Secretary Clinton announces plans for US "virtual Tehran embassy" - Kim Andrew Elliott Reporting on International Broadcasting. See also.

The State of U.S.-Pakistan Relations [event announcement at the United States Institute of Peace] - "In September, Admiral Mike Mullen surprised observers of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship when he called the Haqqani Network a 'veritable arm' of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency. Subsequent weeks have seen heightened tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan, followed by fresh efforts at intense public diplomacy to repair the damage. While both sides continue to underscore the central importance of the bilateral relationship for regional stability, their strategies with regard to the end game in Afghanistan remain unclear and uncoordinated. As the future of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship navigates shaky ground, Pakistan’s domestic instabilities pose a further challenge.

Though large scale militant attacks have subsided in the country’s major cities, political fragility has been increasingly evident, from the constant shifting of political party coalitions to the decreasing popularity of the current government due to power shortages and inflation, and in the case of Karachi, the country’s financial hub, the worsening law and order situation. For Washington, the state of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, particularly as it pertains to the approaching ‘end-game’ in Afghanistan, is key to

short-term interests, while long term interests depend just as greatly on Pakistan’s internal stability. Join USIP in hosting three eminent experts, all of whom have recently authored new books on Pakistan, to discuss these issues, with a special focus on the recent developments within Pakistan, and in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship."  Mullen image from; other image from

Public Diplomacy: Suggested US-Israel conference  - John Brown, Notes and Essays: "As the growing tension between the U.S. and Israel never ceases to end, despite hopeful intervals on the healing of the relationship, may I suggest that a think-tank with a public-diplomacy focus organize a symposium on the slightly provocative (perhaps politically incorrect, but I hope that would create an "honest" intellectual buzz) topic: "What's Israel Done for (to?) the United States?" (Of course, there could be also be a session on "What's the United States Done for (to?) Israel.") The discussion on this topic would, assuredly, bring the attention of the media -- and, perhaps, the public -- in both countries, leading, let us hope, to a more honest, constructive relation between the two countries."

Foreign students say visa program abused  - Pamela Constable, Washington Post: "For years, it as been touted as a form of vacation diplomacy: a U.S. government program that selects college students from across the globe to come work at beach resorts, amusement parks and other seasonal jobs. In the process, the visitors are expected to imbibe American culture, practice English and take home fond memories. But this August, a group of students complained that their work conditions were closer to a sweatshop than a summer break, sparking demands for government intervention and a firestorm of bad publicity that federal officials are now trying to tamp down. More than 300 young foreigners, packing candy in a warehouse in Pennsylvania, staged a high-profile walkout and protest against their employers and the State Department, which oversees the program.

They alleged that they had been worked to exhaustion and had met few Americans except supervisors who pressed them to pack faster and threatened to have them deported. ... The non-profit guest-worker group took up the students’ cause and filed a formal complaint against the State Department, as well as Hershey and the Council for Educational Travel USA (CETUSA), charging that they had exploited the students as cheap labor. The strike ignited a media frenzy and raised alarms in Congress, in part because of concerns that American workers were being displaced. CETUSA, which manages the program for the State Department, denied the allegations. Company officials suggested the striking students had been misled by union activists, and said they had placed other students at Hershey for seven summers without any problems. Hershey officials said they owned the building but had no role in hiring or supervising the students, which were handled through sub-contractors. ... [T]he bad publicity stunned and embarrassed the State Department. Officials there promised to investigate the alleged abuses and review the program, which brings more than 100,000

to the United States every summer." Top image from article, with caption: John Bilan of Romania leads the chant as members of the AFL-CIO and SEIU march in Hershey, Pa., on Sept. 23. The unions would like Hershey to pay the J-1 visa students and return the jobs to the union; below image from

RFE/RL reporter in Turkmenistan released from prison - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

RFE/RL president Steven Korn on "the ability to let people make up their own mind based on accurate information - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

The MEK's Propaganda Machine - Paul R. Pillar, "[A]nything bad you ever heard about the MEK [the Iranian cult/terrorist group Mujahedeen-e-Khalqis] a product of propaganda from the Iranian regime [according to a National Interest piece]. Evidently this means that anyone, either inside or outside of Iran, who has ever been critical of the group must have been brainwashed by the propaganda. If that were true, those responsible for U.S. public diplomacy have a lot of valuable lessons to learn from the Iranians; their propagandists must be doing something right."

China's CCTV, in international expansion mode, will find that ¥45 billion can't buy credibility - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

India Blog Series: Public Diplomacy: An Education - Aparajitha Vadlamannati, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "This year, nearly 100,000

Indian students are enrolled in American colleges (a number that continues to grow), but only 3,000 American students are studying abroad in India. The U.S. and India clearly have much to gain by encouraging exchanges. ... Students contribute to the public diplomacy efforts of both nations by building stronger alliances through open dialogue. Though problems exist, if both India and the U.S. work to mitigate them, then both they and the world at large stand to greatly benefit from this form of public diplomacy." Image from

ASEAN, preventive diplomacy and bilateral conflict‎ - P.L.E. Priatna, Jakarta Post: "It will build momentum, in turn, for ASEAN’s stakeholders to formulate a new and stronger and more workable framework for regional preventive diplomacy. Entering the ASEAN Community 2015, in terms of public diplomacy, it is a big challenge to gain public justification, even in just simplifying the split between 'bilateral and regional issues'."

Guest Post: Bread Before Ballots – The Need for Food Diplomacy - Emily Chin, Ren's Micro Diplomacy: “With unrest, hunger and desperation spurring continued unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, now is the prime time for U.S. public diplomacy in the form of

food aid.' source: from article


Tweets are new weapon in war against Taliban‎ - Pakistan Observer: US forces in Afghanistan say they’ve developed a new tactic in their war with the Taliban, using Twitter’s 140-character messages as information weapons. “The Taliban were just constantly putting out false information and propaganda,” Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings said. “Some of it was so wrong we finally had to start engaging, and backing up our information with the facts.”

Social media was the weapon of choice, he told CNN. “It allows us to keep our followers dynamically informed while also keeping the enemy’s statements in check,” Cummings said. A Twitter account that frequently puts out news reports favoring the Taliban recently teeted, “Mujahideen bring down U.S. helicopter in Kunar.” International Security Assistance Force headquarters was quick to respond with its own tweet, CNN reported. Image from

Taliban Propaganda Watch: Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight - MILNEWS.Ca.Blog: 25 NATO invaders killed in martyr attack in Kabul city.

Out of Iraq: The U.S. withdrawal will only strengthen Iran's already strong ties with the Shiite government - Frederick W. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan, The American withdrawal, which comes after the administration's failure to secure a new agreement that would have allowed troops to remain in Iraq, won't be good for ordinary Iraqis or for the region. But it will unquestionably benefit Iran. Far from assuaging Iraqi leaderMuqtada Sadr's anti-Americanism, the announcement of U.S. retreat has apparently fueled it and driven him (or his Iranian backers) to seek an even greater success through continued attacks on the U.S. Embassy and its personnel.

Many Americans felt a sense of relief when the president announced that "America's war in Iraq is over." That relief must be tempered, however, by the recognition that Tehran has achieved its goals in Iraq while the U.S. has not. Henceforth, Iranian proxy militias are likely to expand their training bases in southern Iraq and use them as staging areas for operations throughout the Persian Gulf. Image from article

U.S. tracks 'millions' of dollars stolen by Iraqi officials - Eamon Javers,, USA Today: Out of the billions of dollars in cash that the U.S. shipped to Iraq during the war, "hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars . . . was stolen by senior Iraqi officials for their own personal gain," the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction tells CNBC.

17 detained after attack on US embassy in Sarajevo‎ - Monsters and Serbian police raided homes in the largely Muslim Sandzak region on Saturday, detaining 17 people following the attack on the US embassy in Sarajevo in neighbouring Bosnia, Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said. 'This morning at 5 am an operation against the extremist Islamic Wahhabi movement was launched on the territory of Novi Pazar, Sjenica and Tutin,' Dacic said. Propaganda material relating to the movement, which is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia, had been seized, he said.

Islamophobia used as war propaganda, says UK peace activist - “One of the reasons why Islamophobia has become so virulent in the last 10 years in British society and elsewhere is that is used as a way to try to justify the wars the West is fighting against Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East, in Africa and south-east Asia,” said

Nineham, a national officer of Stop the War Coalition (SWTC). “It is a kind of war propaganda in a way really and that is the link,” he said in an interview with IRNA. “It has been no coincidence that in the last decade, Islamophobia has rose because the West is fighting these wars,” he said. Nineham image from article

Iran Blasts Saudi Arabia Over US Cooperation – Jim Kouri, This week top officials in Saudi Arabia made harsh statements against Iran following the exposure of its plot to assassinate the ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Washington. The declarations further reinforced the anti-Saudi sentiment expressed of late by the Iranian press, according to an intelligence report from Israel’s the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center Radical Islamists in the Middle East and northern Africa blasted the Saudi Kingdom’s choice to side with the United States in what they termed “baseless allegations against Iran” They accused the Saudi Royal Family of reacting to the developments in Bahrain and Yemen — where radical Islamists see a chance for government takeovers — and Saudi anger with Iran for morally supporting the people of Bahrain. “Its regional status compromised by the popular uprisings in the region, Saudi Arabia is forced to cooperate with the United States in its psychological and propaganda war against Iran,” claim Iranian officials in their state-run news service. Islamist propaganda is telling the Arab and Muslin world that there is an internal and external crisis facing the Saudi authorities. The propaganda alleges that there were attempts made by the United States to generate a crisis between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but it won’t work because the Saudi Kingdom is currently unable to become involved in a propaganda war or military confrontation with Iran.

Ungrateful India ‎- Mohammad Jamil, Pakistan Observer: Indian military’s chopper that violated Pakistan’s airspace was allowed to return to Kargil within hours after the crew explained that it was due to the bad weather that they entered Pakistani airspace. Instead of appreciating and expressing gratitude, India chose to unleash propaganda against Pakistan stating that “Indian security has been breached in the sensitive Siachen Glacier-Aksai Chin-Ladakh-Kargil sector as Pakistan Army downloaded the GPS coordinates of all helipads from the army helicopter that strayed across the Line of Control (LoC) into Skardu region."

The narratives of hegemony — Salman Tarik Kureshi, "In common journalese, the word ‘hegemony’ is usually applied to international affairs. We speak of India’s ‘hegemonistic designs’ in the South Asian region. Or we refer to the US as the ‘international hegemon’ who wishes to control all energy resources, or is waging a war against Muslims, or is conspiring to break up Pakistan, or whatever. But the sense in which I wish to use it in today’s piece is in

the hegemony of a dominant group or class ‘within’ a society to exercise domination over other groups or classes. ... The dominant group exercises its control in two ways. First, it uses the power of the state — the midnight knock, the police knout — to suppress any tendencies that threaten its dominance. Secondly, it uses the tool of propaganda to propagate an idea, a narrative, which conceals its hegemony. This is the case even in democratic societies. Edward Bernays, an American thinker in the earlier part of the 20th century, wrote a famous book called Propaganda. Bernays argued that the manipulation of public opinion was a necessary part of democracy. He called this scientific technique of opinion-moulding the 'engineering of consent'." Kureshi image from article

China limits television programs that are "overly entertaining," e.g. "record the dark and gloomy side of society" - Kim Andrew Elliott Reporting on International Broadcasting

“Azerbaijan may use its status for propaganda only”
- “It is obvious that Azerbaijan can use the fact of becoming a non permanent member of EU for propaganda only,” the RPA member Karine Achemyan said today to According to the deputy the thing is that the 3 OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council, and they have announced for many times that the NKR issue cannot be moved to any other platform.

US Propaganda Poster A little bit of WoWp artwork - "[W]rote a little poem in the WoWp forums, and it got good reviews. Then someone asked if I could make it into a poster, and I quickly whipped up this":

Image from article

Marina Naprushkina in dialogue with Eugen Radescu - “The Office for Anti-Propaganda” was founded in 2007 in Frankfurt. The “Office” produces an archive of videos, texts and picture material on the subject of political propaganda. The focus is on Belarus because but its political model can be transferred to some other East European and Latin American countries from which Belarus gets political support. Belarus is also an outstanding example of how to establish a modern dictatorship and how the western democracies handle this “problem." “The Office for Anti-Propaganda” is the result of long-standing work in gathering and archiving the original propaganda material and the works of the artists. It is shown in the form of an installation with an archive, which every viewer can use: select and watch the videos, read correspondence between the office and German authorities, or page through the original Belorussian “patriotic” ideological literature. Marina Naprushkina, born 1981 in Minsk, Belarus. Her works is a range of media including painting, video and installation to develop critical examinations of power and the structure of the State, often using material acquired from contemporary Belarus. A rich source is the propagandistic material delivered by governmental institutions.

There so obtained images and symbols become either slightly changed or inserted in a different context in order to reverse the original message. The artist’s painstaking dissection of the visual and linguistic structure of the authoritarian regime and research-based works demonstrate how state authority affects society, and transforms democracy into an illusion for those living under the persistent hegemony of the ruling network. Eugen Radescu (b. 1978) is politologist (specialized in moral relativism and political ethics), cultural manager, curator and theoretician. He writes for various magazines and newspapers. He curated, among others, Bucharest Biennale 1 with the theme “Identity Factories” and “How Innocent Is That?” at Pavilion Bucharest. He published a book “How Innocent Is That?” at REVOLVER BOOKS, Berlin, Germany. He is co-editor of PAVILION – journal for politics and culture and co-director of Bucharest Biennale (with Razvan Ion) and the chairman of the organizational board of Pavilion and Bucharest Biennale. He is associate professor at Bucharest University and Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj. Lives and works in Bucharest. The coloring book “My daddy is a policeman. What is he doing at work?” appeared as a part of the civil campaign against police violence in Belarus “Beware, police!." Image from article

Anglo-Saxon Propaganda in the Bayeux Tapestry (Studies in French Civilization) Overview - This study details the secret, subversive and sustaining Anglo-Saxon messages encoded in a work of art that purportedly celebrates the Norman French conquest of England.

Image from article


National debt nears size of U.S. economy - Richard Wolf, USA TODAY: The ever-escalating national debt will hit

and then surpass the size of the entire U.S. economy -- an ignominious distinction previously achieved by the likes of Japan, Italy and Greece. Image from


--From The New York Times

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