Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November 15

"Maybe it’s time for a few drones over Burger King…"

--Ralph Peters, "The Independent Conservative"; image from


Culture Posts: Exploring the Cultural Underbelly of Public Diplomacy - R.S. Zaharna, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Welcome to the opening entry of Culture Posts, an interactive blog for exploring the cultural underbelly of public diplomacy. Over the next two years, I hope that you will join me, collecting and discussing your insights on the hidden, and often times not so hidden, aspects of culture in public diplomacy. ... The implicit, unspoken side of cultural assumptions and expectations tend to generate mutual misunderstanding. These hidden aspects are the ones most likely to contribute to costly, ineffective

public diplomacy initiatives that can do more harm than good. ... At the heart of collaborative public diplomacy is the ability to get people of diverse backgrounds to work productively together. Researchers are finding that cultural diversity is the greatest source of friction – and synergy – in collaboration. A public diplomat’s cultural awareness and knowledge will determine whether she is able to invoke culture’s curse or blessing." Zaharna image from

BBG will meet Friday to discuss Heritage proposal that "Congress should overhaul BBG management." Well, not really - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "The key provision of the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 was the creation of the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors to protect the journalistic independence of the USIB entities. If 'rewriting the legislation' conforms with a longstanding Heritage Foundation desire to bring USIB within a USG

'strategic communication' apparatus, the baby will be thrown out with the bathwater." Image from

Termination of the Australia Network tender creates volumes of news and commentary in Australia - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Looking Forward in Sri Lanka - Eddie Walsh, The Diplomat: "[I]n ... [an interview] conducted by Washington correspondent Eddie Walsh, Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka discusses his country’s re-emergence as a regional actor following more than two decades of civil war. [Q:] Sri Lanka is a country of abundant cultural resources. However, there has been little focus on public diplomacy and cultural exchange at the strategic level. Do you see this changing in the future? If so, where will the government first make such investments abroad? [A:] Cultural exchanges take place periodically at the regional level. You are absolutely right. Sri Lanka has a rich heritage of cultural resources. We have specific arrangements with countries in the South Asian region who are members of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation. We’ll naturally extend this to other countries.

There are cultural events from other countries including the United States held in Colombo. We will increasingly focus on public diplomacy and cultural exchanges. It also relates to smart power and soft power. [Q:] Sri Lanka remains a major force in international cricket. However, like Fiji in rugby, some experts question whether the Sri Lankan government has properly exploited the team’s brand to generate increased awareness and influence of the country abroad. Do you think this is fair criticism, and what more can be done to invest in the Sri Lankan brand through sports diplomacy? [A:] I don’t think that criticism is fair. We are well known for our cricket. We won the World Cup and our players are recognized the world over. If you look closely, in cricket playing countries our brand name is exploited to the advantage of their own promotions. What better exposure for us than this? We will continue to be focused and serious about investing in cricket and sports diplomacy." Wickramasuriya image from article

Germany, France join opposition to attack on Iran nuclear program: U.S., Turkey also do not seem to support military option against Iranian facilities; EU, U.S. want to impose sanctions, but China, Russia, some Gulf states have trading ties with Iran - Zvi Bar'el, haaretz.com: "Iran is adopting a new line of public diplomacy aimed both at Europe and the United States. On Monday Salehi [Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi] declared, 'Strengthening the ties between Europe and Iran will be very helpful to Europe, since if Turkey joins

the European Union, Iran will be a close neighbor of Europe's.' Over the weekend Ahmadinejad also said that 'The Iranians are a nation of culture and logic, and are not warmongers.' The remarks, made at an event marking the unveiling of ancient artifacts returned by Britain to Iran, received big headlines in the Iranian press." Image from

Lebanon Finally Sees It's [sic] Twitter Dawn‎ - Faisal J. Abbas, Huffington Post: "Even with the Arab Spring effect, the total number of Lebanese users on Twitter is estimated to have gone up to only 80,000. Despite the significant increase, the figure remains dwarfed by the fact that roughly one in every four Lebanese are now using Facebook in some capacity. Yet, just when it seemed there was little hope for Twitter in Lebanon, the site finally got its 'moment' earlier this week, thanks to both the current and former prime ministers of this country.

Now, it should be noted that several Lebanese politicians, most prominently current PM Najeeb Mikati (who opened his Twitter account last September and now has over 7,000+ followers) have been experimenting with the wonders of the world-wide web for a quite a while. The highlight of these experiments came recently, when Mikati and British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher had a live 'Tweebate' which sparked a lot of interest and generated a large chunk of headlines globally. Following the event, Mikati tweeted that 'social media is helping build digital diplomacy as a form of parallel public diplomacy'." Image from article, with caption: Screen-grab of a picture Lebanese PM Najib Mikati posted on Twitter of himself Tweeting

Whither Canadian Internationalism? - Daryl Copeland, Guerilla Diplomacy: "As Canada’s relative power and influence inevitably declined with the recovery of Europe and Asia and the emergence of China, India, Brazil and others, the scale of Canadian activism was down-sized. Grand, long-term goals such as eradicating poverty and bringing peace to the world gradually gave way to to smaller, 'niche' projects such as the land mine ban, conflict diamonds and the construction of innovative new doctrines such as the Responsibility to Protect. The nature of Canadian internationalism changed with the times, and public diplomacy was mobilized to advance the likes of Human Security Agenda, but a core commitment to internationalism endured. Today, little remains of that tradition, and international policy decision-making seems related mainly to the quest for future electoral advantage."

External Affairs Ministry invites films on India - ibnlive.in.com: "In a pioneering initiative to promote India's soft power, the Public Diplomacy Division of the external affairs ministry has launched a global video contest entitled 'India Is' that is open to anyone in the country and around the world. You need not be a professional filmmaker.

The only eligibility criterion is a decent camera and the passion to tell an eye-grabbing story. All you have to do is to shoot a three-minute film of riveting visuals, bringing out the soul and essence of this multifarious country that never ceases to amaze, blending timeless traditions and cutting-edge modernity." Image from

African Union and International Partners sign a Joint Financing Arrangement on support for sustaining and strengthening African Union Liaison Offices - africanews.it: "About the AU Liaison Offices: The rationale for the AU Liaison Offices draws from the increasing involvement of the AU in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. ... More specifically, the Liaison Offices contribute to [inter alia]: ... • playing an important representational and public diplomacy role on the ground to enhance the visibility of AU initiatives."

Embassy Rep to Speak on Diplomacy - News from Linfield College: "Mark Stroh, spokesman and press officer at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, will present 'Practicing Diplomacy Amid Contested Nation Building'

on Monday, Nov. 28, at 6 p.m. The location is to be determined. ... Stroh joined the Foreign Service in 2003 and has served in Kuwait City, Kuwait; Basrah and al-Hillah, Iraq; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Kabul, Afghanistan, where he served as embassy spokesman and press officer from August 2007 to July 2009. While in Kabul, Stroh created exchange programs bringing European journalists to Afghanistan and sending Afghan officials to Europe which remain key to Embassy public diplomacy programs." Image from

Psychological Strategy and National Security – November 30, 6:00-7:30pm - westminster-institute.org: "At The Westminster Institute 6731 Curran Street, McLean, VA 22101 ... After a decade of war, with many military victories to its credit, the United States continues to struggle with defining and combating ideological adversaries. It has been unable to dominate the psychological battlespace in which America’s enemies – both those practicing violence and those not presently violent – flourish.

The Department of Defense has expunged the term 'psychological' from its official weapons lexicon, replacing it with an uneasy and odd-sounding concept called Military Information Support Operations (MISO). As the name implies, MISO is purely military, with information serving only as a supporting role and in an operational, not strategic, capacity. On the civilian side, public diplomacy continues to flounder and strategic communication has become an obsolete catchphrase. Professor Waller will describe a high-impact, low-cost, national security approach that employs psychological strategy for all US officials to carry out their sworn oath to defend against 'all enemies, foreign and domestic.'” Image from

Freelance author Mark H. Massé to discuss ‘trauma journalism’ Nov. 17 - Wendy S. Loughlin, Inside SU: "Freelance author Mark H. Massé

will speak at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications on Thursday, Nov. 17 . ... The event is co-sponsored by the Department of Broadcast and Digital Journalism, the Department of Newspaper and Online Journalism, and the Public Diplomacy Program." Massé image from article

Syracuse University - aejmc.org: "Are you a Public Relations professional with a passion for teaching? The Public Relations Department at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications is seeking to fill a full-time Professor-of-Practice (PoP)

position beginning in fall 2012. The primary contribution of a PoP is teaching. We are seeking to add a practitioner with extensive professional experience in Public Relations from the agency, corporate, not-for-profit or government sectors. Teaching responsibilities will include courses at the undergraduate or graduate level, depending upon qualifications. ... The Public Relations Department at Newhouse is one of the oldest in the country and one of the few to offer PR education on all levels: undergraduate (BS, Public Relations); master’s (MS, Public Relations); Ph.D. (PR emphasis); and, since 1995, in Executive Education to mid-career executives (an interdisciplinary MS in Communications Management) in a limited residency/distance learning format. In 2006, the department created a dual master’s degree in Public Diplomacy (degrees in both PR and International Relations). The Executive Master’s Program in Communications Management was named PRWeek’s 2011 Education Program of the Year." Image from


Torture and Exceptionalism - Frank Bruni, New York Times: If we truly believe ourselves to be exceptional, a model for all the world and an example for all of history, then why would we practice torture? The rightful burden of the leadership we insist on is behavior that’s better than everybody else’s, not the same or worse. Exceptionalism doesn’t mean picking and choosing when to be big and when to be small.

Afghan propaganda wars escalate as NATO plans departure - Peter Goodspeed, nationalpost.com: Afghanistan’s propaganda wars are becoming almost as intense as the actual fighting, as all sides jockey for position ahead of an anticipated NATO withdrawal in 2014. On Sunday, the Taliban took their psychological operations to a new level when they attempted to derail a loya jirga, or national council, Hamid Karzai,

the Afghan President, has called for Wednesday. This will discuss future U.S. troop withdrawals and possible peace talks with 2,000 community and tribal leaders. In addition to the usual threats to assassinate anyone who attends the meeting, the Taliban have published what they claim are highly classified documents detailing security arrangements for the council, scheduled to be held at the Polytechnical University in western Kabul. Image from article

Taliban spokesman arrested, say Afghan officials
- indianexpress.com: Afghan forces arrested a man believed to be a prominent Taliban spokesman in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, government officials said. However, the spokesman said he was free and that the report was propaganda. The arrest was announced as the Afghan government and the Taliban exchanged conflicting claims over the militants’ alleged capture of key security plans, showing the increased importance of the propaganda side of the war.

Propaganda preaches war ... Reading between the lines - Amer Al Sabaileh, ammonnews.net: You can’t have failed to notice the massive global propaganda campaign insinuating that war against Iran is on the cards.

A scenario is presented of nuclear war as the only solution to face what being labeled the “Iranian danger and its evil will”. It is interesting to observe how broadcasted news has presented the war as an inevitable necessity. Image from article

Propaganda Revisited: Iraq, Iran, and the Rhyming of History - :Nima Shirazi, alethonews.wordpress.com: Last night’s GOP debate in South Carolina proved a few things (beyond revealing widespread Republican support for torture and the permanent military occupation of Middle Eastern countries): Republican candidates – with the notable exception of Ron Paul – are really scared of an Iranian nuclear weapons program that doesn’t exist.

In fact, some of them – not Herman Cain – would really like to see the Islamic Republic bombed by the United States or Israel or both as soon as possible. Ron Paul stated that “it isn’t worthwhile” to start a war with Iran. “I’m afraid what’s going on right now,” Paul reminded the crowd, “is similar to the war propaganda that went on against Iraq and, you know, they didn’t have weapons of mass destruction.” He’s not wrong. By taking a trip down the memory hole, it’s clear that what we’ve been hearing about Iran for the past three decades bears a striking resemblance to the lies we were told about Iraq in the years leading up to the invasion, occupation, and devastation of that country. The record demonstrates, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that fear-mongering and propagandizing about “weapons of mass destruction” was not solely a Republican pastime. Lying about evil Muslim nukes was, and continues to be, a bipartisan affair. Image from article

Warning of Challenges To Israel's Borders - JanSuzanne Krasner, American Thinker: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has issued warnings regarding "anti-Israel networks, organizations, and activists from the Middle East and around the globe who, in the very near future, intend to orchestrate 'propaganda events' challenging Israel's borders. These various groups are planning massive Islamic marches, caravans of people, into Jerusalem as early as November 25, 2011. In March 2012, Islamic gatherings, armies of people, are being called upon to breach the Israeli-Jordanian borders. There will be 'flotilla after flotilla' that will quietly sail into international waters to challenge Israel's sea blockade to the Gaza Strip, and a "fly-in" protest to Ben-Gurion International Airport planned for April 2012."

Economist Misrepresents Bedouin Resettlement as Ethnic Cleansing - camera.org: The Economist is known for its unsympathetic portrayal of Israel. But its recent article "The Bedouin under Israeli rule have begun to campaign for their rights" (Nov. 5, 2011) goes beyond the usual slant and into the realm of propaganda by portraying the Israeli government's attempt to address the problem of housing a growing population on already densely populated territory while preserving limited open land as akin to a crime.

North Africa: Unity State Rebels Refute Accusations of North Sudan Backing - allafrica.com: The rebel group claiming responsibility for recent attacks in Unity state accused South Sudan's army of "cheap propaganda" on Sunday after they were described as "mercenaries" for north Sudan's military by the southern military. On 12 November the South Sudanese army (SPLA) said rebel group the South Sudan Liberation Movement / Army (SSLM/A) were responsible for an attack on a military base in the north of Upper Nile state on 10 November, near the international border with north Sudan.

Military Halts Propaganda Leaflets to N. Korea - english.chosun.com: Military authorities have suspended the launch of propaganda leaflets toward North Korea, which was resumed as part of increased psychological warfare after North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong Island in November last year. "The psy-ops operations command has not sent leaflets toward the North for several months since its plan to float leaflets about the Arab Spring was leaked to controversy in February and March," a military source said. It seems the plan was suspended as part of government efforts to improve inter-Korean relations, the source added. The military resumed the propaganda broadcasts after the North sank the Navy corvette Cheonan in March last year. They had been suspended since 2004. It resumed the leaflet launches, suspended since 2000, after the North shelled Yeonpyeong Island in November last year.

N. Korea Joins Twitter Era - english.chosun.com: The North Korean propaganda website "Uriminzokkiri" on Monday joined the global craze for social networking sites by adding Twitter and Facebook tags. That makes it even easier for North Korean propaganda to reach South Korea unfiltered, since content can now be shared with the click of a mouse.

The "share" function is limited to posts denouncing South Korea. North Korean websites like Uriminzokkiri are blocked in South Korea but can easily be accessed overseas, and can then be shared by overseas Koreans to reach South Korean users. Ryu Dong-ryeol of the Police Science Institute, said, "The North's propaganda tactics are developing fast in line with the changing media environment." Image from

North Korea friends Facebook for propaganda - nzherald.co.nz: North Korea's main government website has begun adding icons for users to post its statements fiercely criticising the United States and South Korea on popular social networks including Facebook. Stinging postings attacking Seoul and Washington were posted on the North's official site with icons linking to Twitter, Facebook and two South Korean portals, NHN and Daum, allowing users to post the content through the social networks.

Die, Nazi Scum! Soviet TASS Propaganda Posters 1941-1945 Exhibit at Andrew Edlin Gallery, 11/17/2011-01/07/2012 - ycrop.com: Andrew Edlin Gallery is pleased to present Die, Nazi Scum!, an exhibition of Soviet anti-Nazi propaganda posters produced during the Second World War. Show dates are November 17, 2011 – January 7, 2012. The gallery will publish an accompanying catalogue featuring an essay by Xenia Vytuleva. Soon after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in July of 1941, the Okna TASS studio spontaneously formed in Moscow. Comprised of renowned artists, poets and literary figures, the new consortium would oversee production of a powerful, extreme form of visual expression to urge Soviet citizens to fight on and ultimately do the nearly impossible – change the course of the war, the course of history. Against a backdrop of horrific human loss (estimated at 20 million killed, 10 million missing), these propaganda posters

(referred to as “TASS windows”) conveyed a “point of no return.” During the 1,418 days of the war, the group produced 1,240 posters. Preferring stenciling to lithography, and working in teams, the artists established an assembly-line method of production, painting posters in sections on individual sheets of paper to enable easy handling. Horror, sadness, fear, moral shock and visual unease – these sensations were counter-balanced against the vibrant palette, evocative caricatures and rich, painterly textures of the works. Nowhere else in the lexicon of wartime imagery had suffering and horror been portrayed in such an absurdist way. Nowhere else was the face of the enemy, Hitler’s portrait in particular, composed using twenty-five garishly bright colors. Image from article


Foreign Office reveals weird requests to consulates - bbc.co.uk:

The British consulate offers welcome assistance to travellers who are in trouble abroad, but the Foreign Office is warning there are some things it just cannot help with.

In the last six months staff have been asked for a telephone number for Phil Collins and Prince Charles's shoe size.

Another request was from a man stranded at the airport by his dominatrix.

The Foreign Office says it is important people understand their priority is to help those in real difficulty.

Other bizarre appeals for help made to its network of embassies, high commissions and consulates around the world, include one from a man who rang the consulate in Sydney to ask what clothes he should pack for his holiday.

In another a Briton in Sofia, Bulgaria, wanted the consulate to sell his house for him.

The caller - to Foreign Office staff in Spain - who wanted Prince Charles' shoe size, wanted the information so he could send him shoes as a present.

Other odd requests made to consular staff include:

A man called the consulate in Florida to report that there were ants

in his holiday villa and asked for advice on what he should do

A lady complained to the embassy in Moscow about a loud buzzing noise in her apartment

A man asked a consulate in Greece for information on how to go about putting a chicken coop in his garden

A man asked consular staff in Dubai to meet his dog on arrival at customs and help it through the customs process

A caller asked staff in Malaga in mid-September where she could get a Christmas lunch as everywhere was already booked up

Staff in Greece were asked for tips on the best fishing spots and where to purchase good bait

Staff from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) handle around two million consular inquiries a year.

In 2010 they dealt with more than 19,000 cases where British citizens needed help - including arrests, deaths, hospitalisations, supporting victims of forced marriage and assisting in incidents where children had been abducted by a parent.

Earlier this year the Foreign Office set up a call centre in Malaga to help filter out the large number of non-consular inquiries received by British embassies and consulates in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Andorra.

Maria Leng, a consular official in Tenerife, said: "A lot of our time was being taken up with queries that we could not assist with, but now the Malaga call centre is making a big difference."

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