Saturday, October 8, 2011

October 7-8

"Occupy Wall Street, not Afghanistan."

--A valued PDPBR subscriber, in a communication to its compiler; image from


American Center Moscow (calendar)

Image: One of the events on the calendar: European Day of Languages Festival (October 9)


BISF Debates: Do political assas[s]inations undermine the constitution? - Graham West and Matt Carey, The Rice Thresher: "As someone who aspires to promote peaceful interactions between the U.S. and the Middle East, I would be outraged over the killing of Yemeni-American radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki on Sept. 30, 2011 via drone strike. However, I feel quite the opposite; I am proud of our intelligence community for taking decisive action to neutralize a significant international threat. Al-Awlaki was an American citizen, but he was also a self-professed member of al- Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). ... Underscoring the uniqueness of AQAP is Inspire, an English-language magazine produced online which features material by al-Awlaki. With articles such as 'Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,' this propaganda piece spreads the al-Qaeda narrative to audiences around the world. If you don't think this is conceptually a concern, consider how damaging it is to U.S. public diplomacy that we don't have enough Arabic language speakers

explaining and defining our policy throughout the region, and then recognize that those opposing our message have effectively already figured this out. ... Graham West is a Sid Richardson College senior." Image from

NPR Program Accuses J Visa Program of Exploiting Foreign Students – Brian Carlson, Public Diplomacy Council: “National Public Radio aired a particularly tough expose on the J-1 visa program on the evening of October 6 in the PRI ‘The World’ program. You can listen to the piece or read the text here on PRI's website. Basically, the radio program argues that a laudable public diplomacy activity, originally designed by people like Senator J. William Fulbright

to ‘increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange,’ has deteriorated in the hands of the Department of State. … Time has gone by, and perhaps some abuses have crept into the J-1 system. As one might expect, ‘The World’ says the State Department has ‘announced a review’ – saying it will check in more regularly with employers and sponsors. The radio piece does not quote anyone from ECA [Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs at the State Department]. But it seems clear that … what started out as a positive diplomatic tool needs some attention, if we don't want it to harm the image of America abroad. After all, don't you wonder what … these work-study participants tell their friends when they finally go home?" Carlson image from article

New Visa Regime Between Russia and the USA… - "In early October, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Ann Stock, said

that U.S. officials hope that an agreement on visas with Russia, will come into force soon." Image from article

Romney in Charleston: We’ll make America safer: He hints at willingness to stay in Afghanistan in Citadel speech - Adam Beam, "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney promised Friday to bolster the U.S. Navy and strengthen ties with Mexico, and hinted at a willingness to reverse U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan in his first major foreign policy speech of the 2012 campaign. With gray-clad cadets from The Citadel surrounding him beneath a 'Believe in America' banner, the

former Massachusetts governor said, 'God did not proclaim this country to be a nation of followers' and laid out a series of eight steps he would take during his first 100 days in office that he said would 'place America – and the world – on safer footing.' ... [Among the steps he proposed was:] • Launch a 'robust public diplomacy and trade promotion campaign' in Latin America." Image from article

New Media and ‘the War of Ideas’ – On looking in your own backyard - Roy Revie, "The communication apparatus of the US state (call it whatever you want: propaganda, pubic diplomacy [sic],

PR, etc.) is tremendously powerful and has, over the years, perfected a gentle (and not so gentle) influence over public debate – illustrated, for example, by the subtle censorship of the embed system – so attempts to carry this influence onto new media platforms are a natural progrssion. Engagement with social media by the US government and military takes many forms. At the State Department, as well as the obligatory tweeting diplomats and foreign language social media, we find 'internet freedom' policies driving the nurturing of relationships with foreign civil society groups through endeavours like, the funding of anti-censorship tools, and the organisation of various ‘Tech Camps’. While at the Pentagon we find a diffuse array of new ideas and practices, from the conceptualisation of social media as a COIN-esque tool for ‘living amongst the people’, to the use of new ICTs to entice foreign publics through ‘friendly conquest’ (the soft power ‘pull’ of Web 2.0,

which Iran has been ridiculed for recognising). While the impact of new approaches remains to be seen, proposals such as ‘cyber herding’ militants into compromised chatrooms, or infiltrating Second Life with Arab-looking avatars, suggest no stone is being left unturned. All the evidence suggests a widespread realisation that new media engagement will be crucial in the ‘war of ideas’, and a modification of policy and strategy is necessary to achieve success. In terms of the integrity of communication on social media; the proliferation of users and data leads to suspicion of the potential clandestine involvement of state actors (we need only to look at the accusations of state-backing made in comment threads on contentious issues), yet effective manipulation at this level has proven to be incredibly difficult. ... US strategic communication rhetoric talks about showing the ‘true face’ of America, but it means no such thing, and the sanitized image of America is increasingly untenable in the age of emergent media, user generated content, and socially curated news. The realisation of the importance of reality and rhetoric cohering – and the difficulty of effective information control – may mean, ironically, that the relationship between conflict and its representation comes full circle. ... For what its worth I think we’ll see an increasingly sophisticated mix of censorship; underhand state intervention in online debate; and, a boom in official ‘user generated content’ flooding new media – while we surprise ourselves with just how much hypocrisy we can stomach. Rather, I want to stress – and draw attention to – the potentially revolutionary impact of new technologies on ‘our’ own side, in the countries to which those emerging from the Arab Spring are supposed to aspire." Top image from; Web 2.0 image from

Secrecy: Making America Dumber and Less Democratic? - Scott Horton, "[F]oreign-service officer Peter Van Buren ... found himself subjected to intense interrogation by federal agents after writing a blog post that linked to a site where State Department cables released by WikiLeaks had been published. It was a new extension of the U.S. government’s wacky policy of denying its employees the right to see and read documents that everyone else in the world can see and read (including the enemies from whom the papers were apparently to be kept secret). The strategy represents a perfect inversion of the purpose of secrecy policies: now only U.S. government officials — the very people who might be called upon to explain or defend sensitive documents — are forbidden to read them. The idea that being uninformed better arms diplomats for public diplomacy is truly novel."

re: Zuhdi Jasser’s Counter-Jihad
- Senator Jon Kyl, National Review Online: "Dr. Zuhdi Jasser ... is one of my constituents and a patriot, and one of the most responsible voices in our cause to fight radical Islamist terrorists. I have appreciated his views and counsel on many topics in the past. It’s telling that this story has not attracted greater attention, and especially sad that 'mainstream' media sources, which expressed outrage when someone of the Islamic faith was not elected to a position on a

local Republican party’s executive committee, are silent and ignore what clearly is the Obama administration’s refusal to utilize an intelligent American who is committed to the cause of fighting radical Islamic terrorists. At a crucial moment in the history of the Middle East and the Arab world, and when our country needs effective advocates of democracy and liberalism, the Obama administration has chosen to sideline Dr. Jasser. Our public diplomacy effort will be weaker for it." Image from

Interview on State Department Live - Thomas Nides, Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources, U.S. Department of State: "MODERATOR: Our next question is a two-part question from the U.S. Advisory Commission on public diplomacy: State is arguably the leading organization formally responsible for preserving and strengthening the credibility of and public trust in the United States. So the first part is: How is the importance of this role being explained to budget decision makers in Congress? But also, what steps have been taken to develop a better understanding regarding how credibility and trust are developed? DEPUTY SECRETARY NIDES: Well, first of all, it’s a very good question. The most important thing is for people to understand, with just 1 percent of the budget, 1 percent of the federal budget, we pay for everything we do at the State Department and USAID, for all of our diplomats, for all of our foreign assistance, for all of our global health programs, for everything we do on climate change, so what we do to help women and girls. The activities of this Department and the men and women, the Foreign Service officers, civil service officers, the locally engaged employees, are operating – and in my view, on as – on 1 percent of the federal budget in which I should say, as a former businessperson, it’s a pretty good return on our investment. So I constantly, as Secretary Clinton is doing, is reminding the members of the Congress of the importance of

our budget, but most importantly, to understand the value they’re getting from what we’re doing. And I think you just need to spend a few minutes in this building or, quite frankly, with the men and women in Afghanistan or Iraq or Pakistan or – and in Asia and in Europe, and spend time with our diplomats, and you’ll quickly realize that the investment that you’re receiving for 1 percent of the budget is significant. So that’s the message we’re telling people. It’s getting through. We have bipartisan support for what we do here. I mean, there are friends of ours, it’s like a Lindsey Graham and Richard Lugar and people who are both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. They understand the importance of supporting the State Department and USAID, but most importantly, understand the value proposition." Image from

"The Enemy is Inside the Wire" - [Audio:] "The president of the Institute for World Politics, John Lenczowski, brings to light the failure of the State Department in properly engaging in the use of soft power and public diplomacy. The Broadcasting Board of Governors has decided to eliminate the Voice of America in Mandarin, Cantonese, Russian, Portuguese, Hindi and Arabic. This means that it will not be engaging the citizens of China, Russia, Brazil, India or Iraq because the State Department instead, wants to use that money for internet outreach. Mr. Lenczowski articulates the ramifications of such a move and goes on to use the Cold War as a prime example of the benefits of such a program. A prime reason America won the Cold War, was because the Soviet people were on America’s side and stood up to their oppressive government. We must engage the populous of other nations in order to garner support from their governments."

From recent surveys in Egypt, Al Arabiya says it's top rated news channel, Alhurra notes doubling of its audience - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Alhurra acquires "N2K," featuring "the most talked about stories from across the web (and) Twittersphere" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

VOA Widget Takes Online Polling A Step Further - "The Voice of America has unveiled a widget that allows for greater interactivity, and a stronger, more nuanced presentation of results from online polling… As part of its special coverage of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, VOA tested a new online polling widget

designed to allow for more interactivity and a more interesting presentation of the resulting data." Image from

Israel sacks envoy ‘to bully diplomats’ - "Israeli foreign ministry workers are irked by the suspension of Tel Aviv’s deputy ambassador to Washington, saying the dismissal is yet another act of intimidation against the ministry.

Dan Arbel was relieved of his duties by the Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General Rafael Barak on Tuesday for allegedly leaking sensitive information to a Ha’aretz reporter back in 2009. ... Knesset (Israeli parliament) member Nachman Shai also condemned Arbel’s suspension as 'a clear process of silencing and intimidating on the Foreign Ministry workers.' 'The foreign minister and secretary general need to realize that in the world of public diplomacy, where Israel fails again and again, we need to draw the media and its representatives closer to the ministry and its workers, and not push them away,' he said in a statement on Wednesday." Arbel image from article

The diplomacy of empathy: Israeli diplomacy should adopt a new tone: thoughtful, candid, and capable of self-criticism - Yoav Karny, "A longstanding complaint of Israeli about Arab leaders is that they speak with a forked tongue; that they speak one language to their subjects, and another to the outside world. One of the most important tasks of public diplomacy attaches at Israeli missions abroad has been to distribute translations of the Arabic press; to show, for example, what Yasser Arafat said for Palestinian ears only about his goals and methods. ... Israel is defending itself.

It is always defending itself, even when it attacks. It defends itself aggressively, sometimes very aggressively, because it has only the tiniest margin of error. That has to be clear to anyone who looks at the map without bias. Whatever their opinion may be about Zionism and the character of Israel, they must concede that Israel's borders do not permit it to retreat to a second line of defense. It cannot afford to sustain a first blow." Image from: "Czech EU presidency: Israel is defending itself"

Arrivals: A model mover and shaker: Jeremy Dery gets things done. He took on Drew University when it challenged his decision to study in Israel, is involved in numerous projects and has devoted his time to Jewish affairs - Gloria Deutsch, Jerusalem Post: "With his fluent English and French, strong Zionist education and traditional Jewish background, his experience of fighting the authorities in the US on

Israel’s behalf and, last but not least, his film-star good looks, Jeremy Dery is the sort of person it’s good to have in Israel’s corner. About to begin studying at Tel Aviv University for a master’s degree in conflict resolution, he’s been living in Israel since summer of last year, filling in the time until starting his degree course with some very interesting and non-routine activities. ... He’s also been involved with the activities of many Israeli advocacy groups and feels he has qualities that could be helpful in Israel’s hasbara (public diplomacy) battle. Dery image from article

Demonizing Israel's Internet Defenders‎ - Matthew Ackerman, Commentary: "Jon Ronson, the British reporter probably

best known in the United States for his work on extremism, is currently posting a video series about attempts to 'control' the Internet on The Guardian’s website. In his choice of subject matter and the manner of his coverage, he reveals the strange depths of conspiratorial thinking about Israel popular among a certain set. ... Ronson’s travels take him to the bomb shelter that serves as the studio for Latma and the home of Caroline Glick, solid evidence he can’t see despite it being directly in front of him that those who make the most unapologetic defenses of Israel don’t often have much access to money or power. He strangely interrogates an official of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Public Diplomacy office that is trying (shockingly!) to help enlist the country’s citizens to counter efforts to demonize the Jewish state abroad. The greatest moment of unintended comedy though comes in the first video on Israel when Ronson interviews Orit Arfa of The Jerusalem Post who provides him with the imminently sensible analysis that the Israeli government likely has nothing to do with the video." Image from, with statement "Of course, if we really wanted to demonize Jane, we would just use that one up above."

Blessing Israel on the Day of Atonement - The Good News Corner, posted at "Israel’s Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry is promoting an initiative to turn the national anthem – 'Hatikva' – into one of the most popular videos on YouTube on Israel’s 63rd Independence Day. The clip is being promoted under the heading 'Together Let’s Put Hatikvah on YouTube'; the public is being called on to watch the clip and send it to friends in order to increase the number of viewers and advance it onto YouTube’s daily list of the most popular clips."

No Arab Spring, says US intelligence analyst - "The Arab Spring did not happen, according to George Friedman, the head of global intelligence firm STRATFOR Institute, because there has been no regime change in the Middle East. Turkey is the leader of the Islamic world but it is still not a mature power, said the author of 'The Next 100 years,' in which he predicted that Turkey will rise to be a great power.

'Turkey is still very cautious and it is testing its strength,' he told the Daily News during a recent interview in Istanbul. ... Q: You don’t foresee a conflict between Turkey and Israel? A: I don’t think it is possible. Turkey does not have the military to project force against Israel. It does not want to be in Syria, let alone engage Israel. And Israel does not want to engage Turkey. You are not in a situation of divorce or hostility. You are in a situation which certain relationships continue, but in which public diplomacy shifts to where Turkey can take advantage of other relationships." Image from

Turkey to provide Egyptians poll techniques, says official ‎- İpek Yezdani, Hurriyet Daily: "The director of the Turkish Prime Ministry’s Office of Public Diplomacy and senior advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said in terms of election techniques, Egypt would like to benefit from the democratization experience in Turkey. ... Prominent intellectuals from Europe, the United States, the Arab world and Turkey gathered yesterday in Istanbul for a conference focusing on the future of the Arab Spring. The conference, 'Transitioning Dictatorship to Democracy: Workshops in Best Practices and Insight Sharing,' was organized by the Prime Ministry’s Public Diplomacy Office and the Washington, D.C.,-based Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, or ACMCU."

How to make Turks your friends, or enemies‎ - Hurriyet Daily News - "The cardinal rule of Turkish foreign policy is straightforward: Turks love countries that help them against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and despise those perceived as aiding it. It is that simple, really: Turks judge the world through the 'PKK prism.' ... The U.S. needs to make its assistance to Turkey against the PKK,

including thus far unreported aspects of such aid, the bedrock of its public diplomacy outreach to the Turks." Image from

Express yourself accurately!
- Nuray Saglam, "Turkish Government founded public diplomacy department last year for the first time, which reports directly to the prime ministry. What we can say, this is the first time that Turkey began to take the public diplomacy seriously. The only way to deliver its messages for Turkey was advertising until 2 years ago. This one way communication was telling other nationals that 'Turkey is beautiful and come and spend money here' like other developing tourists countries imply. They used to have only five main target cities around the World and placed the ads of Turkey by media buying agencies. Even the creative agency was Turkey based and still it is. ... What about Turkey, do we have any movie that talks about our assets and values? There is not any movie internationally distributed. On the other hand, soap operas that are produced by Turkish TV channels are very popular around in Arabs, Balkans, and other Turkish countries. It may surprise many people, but these soap operas are also very popular in Greece. Outcome of the Turkish TV success, practice Turkish language has been improved and number of visitors to Turkey rather increased recently. Just I was completing my content regards to the Turkish soap operas, I read an article that the President of Azerbaijan Aliyev supposedly asked his people to ban the Turkish soap operas as he did not want Azerbeijani women to see Turkish women also wear headscarf like Arab women. I have not read any denial yet about this claim since the article was published on a Turkish newspaper. How is it possible to make other nations or countries to like Turkey if everyone in Turkey has been brought up with the thought of false perception assumptions such as ‘Turkish are barbarian’ (!), ‘nobody likes Turks’ , Maybe it is true, may be not. But, this assumption makes people pessimistic about the communication management, they do not believe in it. There may be tens of movies like Midnight Express

to prove that others do not like us and they would always be prejudgemental. ... Consequently, Turkey has a long journey to work on public diplomacy as this country has its own personality, history, political roles in its region and young population to meet the needs. My perspective to the PD work for Turkey that should be structured perfectly around the World. I mean the structure of the department and well responsive personal is the most vital element of the department. I assume that if Turkey keeps the level of misperception at the bottom level; will provide success to complete tasks." Image from

Somaliland, time for some people's diplomacy‎ - Khaalid Hassan, Horseed Media: "Even though Somalia no longer exists as a state, still diplomacy towards Somalia is much needed. Traditional diplomacy, the interaction between governments, would be ineffective as the TFG mandate doesn’t have a lot of support in Somalia and its mandate is ending by next year. So this would not have the added value needed in this case. But Somaliland could achieve its goals by using Public Diplomacy rather than traditional diplomacy. In international relations public diplomacy or people’s diplomacy, broadly speaking, is the communication with foreign public to establish a dialogue designed to inform and influence public attitudes and perception. It is practiced through a variety of instruments and methods ranging from personal contact and media interviews to the Internet and educational exchanges. Somaliland should use Public diplomacy by effectively communicating with Somali publics around the globe through the use of mass media and through dealings with a wide range of nongovernmental entities(educational institutions, religious organizations, clan and ethnic groups) and influential individuals (business people, singers, writers) for the purpose of influencing

the Somali public perceptions towards Somaliland. Even through sports and other social/cultural activities like music events and youth exchanges could be used to promote understanding of Somaliland’s case. ... One of the most successful initiatives which embody the principles of effective public diplomacy is the creation of the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg after the second World War. ... Public diplomacy is seen as one of the most crucial tools in the practice of diplomacy today. And by using some people diplomacy Somaliland could strengthen its case and at the same time create better understanding, peace and cooperation among the Somali people in the Horn of Africa." Hassan image from article

Nearly a fifth of FCO budget spent on conflict prevention‎ - Jason Lower, ePolitix: "The Foreign Office spent £2.6bn in 2010-11, with £0.51bn devoted to conflict prevention, a report by the National Audit Office has revealed. Spread over 270 overseas posts, the department has approximately 15,000 staff, with 5,000 UK-based civil servants. Public diplomacy is conducted through bodies such as the British Council and the BBC World Service. £0.27bn is spent annually on the international broadcaster, which from 2014 will come out of the BBC's domestic budget."

Call for Proposals for Artists: Danish Culture Fund - "The Danish Embassy frequently receives requests for assistance from Kenyan and Danish (performing) artists in the field of development of art and music and exhibitions in museums and the like. The Embassy feels the need to work with local (Kenyan) and Danish performing artists and cultural organisations to promote cultural exchange between the individuals, arts groups and/or cultural organizations and through this also strengthen the public diplomacy and communication efforts of the Embassy which are very important as per the latest strategy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

As part of the projected milestones, the project intends to help individuals, art groups or organizations in the area of culture; engage both Kenyan and Danish people in cultural exchange; to create public diplomacy and communication through cultural activities. The implementation period of the project should not exceed 1 ½ years. Find out more and download the application form on Sarakasi Trust’s website." Image from


Strike Up the Brand: In an ever more competitive world, nations strive for the perfect slogan - Richard Conniff, Smithsonian Magazine: You know the sense of decorum and probity that marketing consultants have brought to our political campaigns? Now they’re doing the same thing for whole countries. It’s called “nation branding,” a new, improved way to jostle for attention in the global marketplace. A key part of the mission is to sum up a nation in a single dazzling phrase. But a lot of countries don’t have much of an identity, as far as the outside world is concerned. Via

In G.O.P. Race, Foreign Policy Is a Footnote - Helene Cooper and Ashley Parker, New York Times: At a time when Mr. Obama can point to the killing of Osama bin Laden and other members of Al Qaeda’s senior leadership, the Republican field is constrained in suggesting that Mr. Obama does not have the experience

or fortitude to keep the nation safe. So the candidates are shifting to an argument that Mr. Obama has been too quick to apologize for the United States and unwilling to promote American exceptionalism. Image from

U.S. Envoy Puts Match to Bridges With Iraq Tell-All - Steven Lee Myers, New York Times: Peter Van Buren, an American diplomat who speaks Japanese, Mandarin and “some Korean,” though no Arabic, did a very undiplomatic thing when the State Department sent him to Iraq for a year. He wrote a book.

The result is one diplomat’s darkly humorous and ultimately scathing assault on just about everything the military and the State Department have done — or tried to do — since the invasion of Iraq. The title says it all: “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People” (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company). He is certainly not the first diplomat to harbor doubts about the efficacy of American diplomacy, but in the cautious culture of the State Department, where every public statement is carefully “cleared,” often all the way back in Washington, airing them so starkly is simply not done. “If you feel that strongly about policies you feel are misguided and harmful, you do the honorable thing and resign before tearing your colleagues apart in public,” said a diplomat who served in Iraq, speaking, as is more typically the case, on the condition of anonymity. Image from

State Department readies Iraq operation, its biggest since Marshall Plan - Mary Beth Sheridan and Dan Zak, New York Times: The State Department is racing against an end-of-year deadline to take over Iraq operations from the U.S. military, throwing up buildings and marshalling contractors in its biggest overseas operation since the effort to rebuild Europe after World War II. While attention in Washington and Baghdad has centered on the number of U.S. troops that may remain in Iraq, they will be dwarfed by an estimated 16,000 civilians under the American ambassador — the size of an Army division.

The scale of the operation has raised concerns among lawmakers and government watchdogs, who fear the State Department will be overwhelmed by overseeing so many people, about 80 percent of them contractors. There is a risk, they say, of millions of dollars in waste and limited supervision of bodyguards. Image from

Ten Years In, Afghan Myths Live On - Benjmain D. Hopkins and Magnus Mardsen: Ten years after invading Afghanistan, on Oct. 7, 2001, the obvious question is whether or not the United States has won the war. Osama bin Laden’s death suggests the defeat of Al Qaeda. But even after the planned withdrawal of 30,000 American troops by late 2012, nearly 70,000 will remain on the ground. Despite all the talk about counterterrorism, the war has never been so narrowly conceived or fought.

The United States and its allies have consistently pursued a mission of state-building. The current American strategy of handing over “ownership” of the war rests on obtaining local “buy in” — both to the counterinsurgency as well as the larger state-building project — by winning Afghan “hearts and minds.” But this approach has been tried, and failed, in the past. Indeed, the British Empire followed the same flawed strategy more than a century ago. Image from

With Afghan drawdown looming, U.S. scales back ambitions - Greg Jaffe and Joshua Partlow, Washington Post: The war in Afghanistan began as the good war. Today it is the good-enough war. In Kabul and Washington, the push is on to wind down a fight that

on Friday will mark its 10th anniversary. U.S. officials, who are facing a future of fewer troops and less money for reconstruction, are narrowing their goals for the country. The constrained ambitions come amid pressure from the Obama administration to scale back the U.S. commitment at a time of flagging public support. Image from article

Afghanistan war: A 10-year history lesson
- As the U.S.-led Afghanistan war marks its 10th year, Americans are learning a history lesson: Getting into Afghanistan is much easier than getting out. Announcing the start of the military onslaught against Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, President George W. Bush warned Americans that their patience would be tested “in the months ahead.” Ten years on, there are more than 10 times as many U.S. troops there as when the war began. And a majority of Americans now say the war is not worth fighting.

Robert Ford, making a difference in Syria - David Ignatius, New York Times: If you’re wondering what diplomats can do in an era of pulverizing military force and instantaneous communications, consider the case of Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria. He has been meeting with the Syrian opposition around the country, risking his neck — and in the process infuriating the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Ford is an example of the free-form diplomacy the United States will need as it pulls back its troops from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s projecting American power quietly — through counseling the protesters and networking — rather than trying to wrap the opposition in the American flag, which would be the kiss of death for them.

US monitoring effect of Awlaki's death on Qaeda branch - Tabassum Zakaria, Philip Barbara - Reuters India: The United States is monioring how the death of Anwar al- Awlaki, an American-born cleric linked to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, will affect the Yemen-based offshoot that remains dangerous, a top U.S. counterterrorism official said on Thursday. U.S. officials say Awlaki, killed last week by a CIA drone strike, was linked to failed plots to blow up a U.S.-bound passenger plane in 2009 and cargo planes headed for the United States in 2010. Awlaki "played a lead role in planning and directing efforts to kill innocent Americans," Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said in prepared testimony for a House of Representatives intelligence committee hearing. His death was a "significant milestone" in the broader U.S. effort to fight al Qaeda and its affiliates, he said. But al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) remains "dangerous." "We are monitoring how the loss of Awlaki will affect AQAP's activities and propaganda machine in the near term and beyond," Olsen said.

'Beheaded teen' turns up in TV interview - Ian Black, Matthew Weaver, Syria has sought to score a propaganda coup with the mysterious TV appearance of a young woman who had been reported to have been beheaded and mutilated by state security agents. The macabre story was revived on Tuesday

when the main state TV channel screened a brief interview with a woman claiming to be Zainab al-Hosni, who international human rights groups and Syrian opposition activists said had been killed after being detained in July. Ms Hosni's family confirmed that it was her in the film, but they could not say whether she was alive or had been killed after the interview. Image from article, with caption: Mystery ... the woman who claimed to be the missing teenager. Image from article

Chinese propaganda in The Post - Letter to the Editor, Washington Post: "‎It’s distressing to see The Post become a channel for state propaganda from the People’s Republic of China. Yet that’s what’s happening with the lengthy advertorials from the China Daily that are distributed with your newspaper. ... -- Julian Baum, Richmond The writer is a freelance journalist who formerly worked for the Christian Science Monitor and the Far East Economic Review."

N.Korea Warns Over Anti-Pyongyang Leaflets - North Korea's military has threatened retaliation against "provocative" acts from the South, including the scattering of anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets across the border. A statement released by Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency said "the reckless actions of the confrontational elements to slander the headquarters of our revolution and the socialist system have reached an intolerable phase." Leaflet launches by the South's military ended in 2000 when ties improved but were restarted after the North shelled a border island last November and killed four South Koreans.

Ketchup banned in French school cafeterias - Pravda.Ru: Ketchup has been

banned in student cafeterias in France. Cafeterias may now serve ketchup only with French fries and only once a week. Image from article

Vintage STD Propaganda Posters (50 pics) - The posters appealed to patriotism, family, morality, manly pride and outright fear

to get enlisted men to take steps to avoid venereal disease. Some of the facts were very dubious, but who cared about it, when Uncle Sam needed healthy soldiers without Syphilis and Gonorrhea. Image from article


Statement of Islamic Emirate marking the 10th year of American occupation of Afghanistan - Taliban Propaganda Watch, 081120UTC Oct 11

"Saturday, 08 October 2011 02:34

Exactly ten years from today on the 7th of October 2001, the arrogant American colonialists once again stepped on all Human Right conventions and norms, threw behind all respected principles for human freedoms and state sovereignty and attacked the independent soil of Afghanistan with full inhumanity.

Afghanistan has now reached its 10th year of occupation. A lot of the realities which were cloaked with propaganda of the western media ten years ago have now been exposed. America, with its criminal and colonial policies, proved in the last ten years of its occupation that its slogans under the names of democracy, assistance, peace keeping and fighting terrorism in order to meddle in the affairs of sovereign nations are nothing more than means for furthering their exploitative and colonial agendas. American invaders who see themselves as international standard bearers of peace have demonstrated through their ten years of occupation that in reality, they are the most self-absorbed, oppressive and cruel people towards the entire humanity who will not withhold from committing any crime and oppression to further their colonial agendas.

One the one hand, America has deprived Afghanistan of a legal Islamic government for the past ten years while on the other hand, it has also stripped the nation from the blessings of peace, security and safety. The nation has been damaged and suppressed from physical, spiritual, moral, ideological, educational and economical side also. The self-interested invaders have put all the gun-wielding, immoral, corrupt and hireling intelligence officials who were rejected and exiled by the people, as rulers over the honored Afghan nation.

With the occupation of Afghanistan by the Americans, the Afghan people under the leadership of Islamic Emirate simultaneously showed zeal for their obligatory Jihad against the invaders and practically presented themselves for the struggle. The past ten years have also been edifying in terms of Jihadi achievements, enemy losses, divine victory and Mujahideen accomplishments.

All praise is due to Allah, Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate, with strong determination and reliance on Allah kept alive their Jihadic struggle against the enemy even with scarce weapons and equipment, steadily increased their Jihadi operations, used different tactics against the enemy and gave innumerable sacrifices which in the end forced the occupiers, who intended to stay forever to rethink their position and contemplate turning back and leaving this soil.

Now that ten years have passed since the invasion of the arrogant Americans, fundamental changes have occurred in state of affairs, military tactics, stratagems and public opinion. And on international level, nations and people who take into account realities believe that the prolongation of presence of American troops in Afghanistan will add nothing to the end result except more expenditure, failures and humiliation.

With the passing of the ten year proud Jihad by the Afghan people against the invaders, we must remind it that divine victory is with us alike the previous ten years. If we hold tightly onto the rope of Allah, avoid insincerity, dissention, hypocrisy an other illnesses than with the aid of Allah, our enemy will be forced to completely leave our country, if God willing.

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan"


Essays on the trap of US student debt - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing: Reclamations, a journal published by University of California students, has published a special, timely pamphlet called "Generation of Debt," on the trap of student debt in America. Young people in America are bombarded with the message that they won't find meaningful employment without a degree (and sometimes a graduate degree). Meanwhile, universities have increased their fees to astronomical levels, far ahead of inflation, and lenders (including the universities themselves)

offer easy credit to students as a means of paying these sums (for all the money they're charging, universities are also slashing wages for their staff, mostly by sticking grad students and desperate "adjuncts" into positions that used to pay professorial wages; naturally, the austerity doesn't extend to the CEO-class administrators, who draw CEO-grade pay). "Generation of Debt" consists of five essays on the trap of student debt, analyzing the causes of the problem, marking out the beneficiaries of this bubble, and suggesting ways to break free of it. Image from


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