Sunday, November 20, 2011

November 20

“There is more respect to be won in the opinion of this world by a resolute and courageous liquidation of unsound positions than by the most stubborn pursuit of extravagant or unpromising objectives.”

--George F. Kennan; image from

Image from


Nazi Animation Propaganda


After the East Asia buzz, what's next?‎ - Walaya Jariyadham, The Nation: "The US is back in Asia and here to stay, another analysis screamed. Optimists were jubilant about the new era of engagement and predicted that a new regional order was in the making with East Asia at the centre. Critics and cynics, meanwhile, dismissed the charm offensives as a kid glove that heralded the start of a containment policy towards China - a new chapter of US-China

rivalry using Asia as theatre of confrontation. Indeed, over the last couple of weeks, the focus was really back on Asia. Soft power and public diplomacy activities were rammed up ahead of the East Asian Summit (EAS) in Bali to lay the engagement groundwork. ... Much less talked about, however, is how long this attention and courtship will last. ... When the Asia buzz is over or when the new POTUS comes in, will US foreign policy become business-as-usual - with the natural preoccupation with high-conflict, high-interest regions like the Middle East and North Asia? Now may be the time for East Asian nations to weigh in and influence shifts in US policy to smooth out past discomfort or increase their leverage. Ultimately, it is East Asia itself, through collective groupings that need to be strengthened further, that holds the key to making this re-engagement meaningful, lasting and truly beneficial for their peoples." Image from article

The Israel Project has plans for Alhurra - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Sofia Conference and Exhibition on Radio Free Europe -  Richard H. Cummings - Cold War Radios: "There was a conference in Sofia, Bulgaria on Friday, 11 November 2011, as part of the celebration of Radio Free Europe's first Bulgarian language news program broadcast from Munich, which took place on 17 October 1951. Some ex-RFE Bulgarian Service staffers gave short presentations about their experiences at RFE.
Additionally, an exhibition 'The Ether War'

opened the same day at the Museum of the Ministry of Interior and contains a wealth of information and photographs and documents not only of the Bulgarian Service of Radio Free Europe but also showing some of the other services affected by the 'Ether War.' Included also were photos and information about the Free Europe Press balloon/leaflet programs, espionage cases and propaganda attacks affecting RFE, and the bomb attack in February 1981. The exhibition runs to the end of the year. ... The conference and exhibition were organized by Bulgaria’s State Archive Agency, the Secret Files Commission, the Ministry of Interior Affairs, Sofia University, the Cold War Research Group Bulgaria, and the National Polytechnic Museum." Via


VIDEO: US AMBASSADORIAL CULTURAL DIPLOMACY IN ACTION (also posted at Nov 18-19 Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review):  Vientiane: US Ambassador Stewart Raps at StreetWave05; via LB by email/DiploPundit

Another Stewart video, "Ambassador Stewart's Gotta Feeling," at. Image from. Note: Ambassador Stewart studied astronomy.

US band makes people dance‎ - "This 5 members’ band has all the ingredients to entertain any person. It has the break dance like of the king of pop Michael Jackson, the rap music of Will Smith, the voice of great oldies Boney M and ABBA, and last but certainly not least the oratory skills of Thomas Jefferson. This is ... called a performing band with the title ‘FEW Collective’ that is a potpourri full of art and entertainment stuff. As a part of its cultural diplomacy programme, the US embassy brought the FEW Collective, a hip-hop troupe from Chicago to Islamabad, where they danced, rapped and recited poetry to a Westernised, educated elite audience of young Pakistanis. ... The ‘FEW Collective’ is on a 10-day tour of Pakistan that aims to use the worldwide popularity of American music to show that there’s more to the US than military interventions and unpopular foreign policy positions. And it seems to be working.

In a non-stop performance that lasted over 2 hours, the members of band presented almost every element of performing art including dances of all genre, singing English, Urdu, Arabic songs, and sharing English and Urdu poetry. The fusion of Eastern and Western music was the main feature of when a Pakistani tabla player Ustad Muhammad Ajmal joined the party and sung Sufi songs like ‘Chap Tilak’ and ended the night with ‘Jhooly Lal’ while the two break dancers continued to hit the floor while enthralling audience. ... According to a member of ‘Few Collective’, Alsarah the lead vocalist, their purpose in Pakistan is not only representing the United States, but empowering young Pakistanis to find their own voices. ... According to a US embassy official, the United States is trying to use break dancing to break down stereotypes around the world by partnering with ‘FEW Collective’. 'Its latest stop is Islamabad,' she said."  Uncaptioned image from article. See also (1) (2) (3)

LATW tours China with Top Secret: The Battle The Pentagon Papers - "L.A. Theatre Works has been invited to bring Geoffrey Cowan and Leroy Aarons' riveting historical drama, Top Secret: The Battle for The Pentagon Papers, to China for two weeks of performances, November 22 through December 4. ... In conjunction with scheduled performances in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing, L.A. Theatre Works, accompanied by author and former Voice of America Director Geoffrey Cowan, will offer workshops, and lead panel

discussions with participation from China's leading law and journalism schools, as well as with the general public. Top Secret: The Battle for The Pentagon Papers is an inside look at The Washington Post's decision to publish a study labeled "top secret" that documented the history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The subsequent trial tested the parameters of American democracy, pitting the public's right to know against the government's need for secrecy. The epic legal battle between the government and the press went to the nation's highest court - arguably the most important Supreme Court case ever on freedom of the press. ... L.A. Theatre Works' China Tour is produced and managed by Ping Pong Productions, whose mission is to promote cultural diplomacy through the performing arts. For more information, visit" Uncaptioned image from article

Artists of 'Water Is Rising' sing and dance against climate change - Laura Bleiberg‎, The Boston Globe [subscription]. According to Google, mention of artists going abroad to carry out cultural diplomacy.

On Water is Rising, see. Image from Water is Rising homepage

CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards Honor the Next Big Designers - Robin Givhan, Daily Beast: "To help prepare ... fledgling designers for the global market, Vogue editor Anna Wintour announced a new initiative called the China Design Program.

It will be a kind of cultural exchange that sends American designers to China to learn about manufacturing, marketing, and other aspects of the fashion business there—and a Chinese designer spends time in the U.S. It is, Wintour said, a version of cultural diplomacy that will also help American designers expand their customer base." Wintour image from

K-pop: Soft Power for the Global Cool - Linda Constant, Huffington Post: "From the unapologetic fanaticism that is often connected with hallyu (the recent spread of Korean culture around the globe), it is almost as if the K-pop factor just fell onto the South Korean government's lap, eagerly waiting to be used as an instrument for expanding soft power and cultural engagement with the world. For a small country with humble beginnings, South Korea is now under the global spotlight in myriad ways.

Just this week Google revealed its latest mission to set up a YouTube channel exclusively for K-pop. Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google, visited Seoul to meet with President Lee Myung-bak as well as a slew of top executives at several major IT organizations in order to gain support for this project. The K-pop sensation burst onto the already-existing Asian pop music scene years ago, but its carefully organized system of matching good looking young singers (now often bilingual in English, Japanese, or Chinese -- and chosen in order to enter those respective markets) with globally-attractive dance beats and ballads has clearly been adopted as the au courant choice of dance/pop style not only within Asian borders but in the Western sphere as well. ... South Korea, though historically conservative, has ultimately embraced this flashy and creative culture. The progressive utilization of this kind of soft power by a small and usually traditional government will also be a fast track pass to engage with masses of young people all over the world based upon what they are truly interested in. Governmental cultural diplomacy can sometimes come off as forced or out-of-touch, but K-pop is an authentic reflection and spectacle of youth culture that is impressively close to the pulse of the 'global cool.'" Image from

Looking East: Anime's impact on personality and the world - Takamasa Sakurai, The Daily Yomiuri: "Almost four years have passed since I began cultural diplomacy through anime. Since then, I have visited 81 cities in 20 countries, giving lectures at universities and appearing as a guest at Japanese pop events. I have noticed the government's policy toward such overseas events seems to have changed slowly but steadily. Except several notables like Japan Expo in Paris and Anime Festival in New York, the environment surrounding international events as a whole remains the same, i.e. few Japanese are spotted at events boasting tens of thousands of visitors. But, Japanese embassies and consulates overseas have begun setting up booths to actively promote Japan. It is obvious they participate in the events on a tight budget. But the fact the government gets involved in subcultural events with booths will always be seen rather positively by both organizers and participants, as the effort will help build a sense of familiarity with Japan. It's not good enough to simply throw money around. Music or anime

videos shown in high-definition never excite visitors who are used to watching them at home. What they really want at the event is direct interaction with Japanese people. ... Any art a person interacts with at an impressionable age has a great impact on their personality. For me, it was Hollywood movies and American music. The same can be said about Japanese anime for young people overseas." Image from

Japan art group tours Pacific‎ - Fiji Times, "The Japanese Embassy and the Japan Foundation are organising a two-night cultural presentation in Suva by the Ryuku-Okinawa traditional performing arts tour of the South Pacific. The group will perform at the Suva Civic Auditorium on November 18 and 19. Okinawa is a group of small islands at the southern-west end of the Japanese archipelago. They used to be an independent kingdom called the Ryukyu a long time ago. A statement said the cultural value of Ryukyu's performing arts was used as 'cultural diplomacy' by the Ryukyu Kingdom. It said the spirit of the arts cultivated then is still very much alive today in Okinawa's traditional performing arts."

Soft power of culture helping to transform attitudes towards Ireland‎ - Derek Scally, Irish Times: "Early on in Hugo Hamilton’s autobiographical play The Speckled People, his German mother remarks: 'It’s a shame Ireland and Germany are so far apart.' Budget airlines, weekend breaks and holiday homes have closed the gap between Ireland and many points on the Continent, but Germany seems as stubbornly distant as ever. This cultural gap ... has come home to roost in the euro zone crisis. It has never been more important to understand and relate to this vast country now helping to keep Ireland’s lights on. The crisis has churned up the generally positive vibe in Germany towards Ireland, with some flashes of annoyance visible in the media when the financial consequences of the bailout for Germany became clear. Rather than back away, the Department of Foreign Affairs launched a campaign of political visits and media interviews, resulting in coverage that neutralised and even turned around the negative spin. Now the mantra in Germany, thanks in part to the efforts of Iveagh House, is: 'Ireland is not Greece.' ... The tough times have seen Irish business rediscover Germany as an important trade partner. But just as every decent supermarket here stocks Kerrygold butter, every well-run German bookshop offers its customers translated John Banville and Colm Tóibín. It is a given here to have access to and interest in Irish culture, thus cultural diplomacy can have a great reach. ... Irish artists pop up in Germany in the most unlikely places: the striking images of painter

Sean Scully are used regularly to accompany essays in the influential Frankfurter Allgemeine daily. ... The curiosity is increasingly mutual. With its Beckett productions, the Gate Theatre has been a cornerstone of the 'Imagine Ireland campaign in the US. For artistic director Michael Colgan, Beckett’s huge popularity in Germany is a draw. ... So, will anyone be asking, or has Imagine Ireland exhausted the cultural budget? Culture Ireland chief executive Eugene Downes says a cultural push in Germany would make sense if it was part of a longer-term commitment by Ireland’s artistic community to the region. ... As Ireland’s cultural chief, he sees a need to give Germans a sense of Ireland’s contemporary cultural landscape, particularly as the debate over the future of Europe draws us closer together." Image from article, with caption: The images of painter Sean Scully are used regularly to accompany essays in the Frankfurter Allgemeine

Representative of Youth Alliance-The Gambia To Participate In The Global Youth Summit - Abubacarr Saidykhan, Foroyaa online: "Youth Alliance-The Gambia (YAG)

is a collection of youths of all field of study working together to help improve the quality of life and advocate for issues that have to do with Social and Climate Justice in the Gambia. This Alliance is borne out of humanitarian obligation and sacrifice to support young people and empower them to be future leaders. Compelled by humanitarian fortitude, the group is empowered by the principles of natural love and care for humanity. They groom and nurture the youths with facilities to develop and grow to be self-sufficient and involve in capacity building with a view to meeting the challenges of modern times and to enhancing their competitive advantage. They offer hands of fellowship and partnership to the community for self-reliance and self-development. YAG has been organizing and facilitating several training programs on youth and conflict, cultural diplomacy, peace education, community development, climate change and environment for young people in different parts of the country. ... A member of the group, Mariama Dumbuya, is representing the Youth Alliance and Gambian youths at the Global Youth Summit (Global Change Makers) in London from 13-19 November, 2011. Mariama Dumbuya was lucky to be selected from almost 2000 young people from all over the world to be part of the sixty selected participants that will spend a week sharing best practices in the areas of human right, climate change, poverty reduction, education, Hiv/Aids and social entrepreneurship. ... The Global Youth Summit is part of the British Council’s Global Change maker’s initiative. Global Change makers is a global network of a select group of young who have a significant track record as social entrepreneurs, social activists and volunteers (aged 16-25). They meet to share ideas and best practices and work individually and together on projects that directly impact the lives of those in their local communities. In addition, each year, a select group of Global change makers is chosen to participate in high –level political and economic events, to act as advocates and to raise decision-makers." Image from

Tharoor to write book on India’s role in new world - "After a hiatus of two years, politician-writer Shashi Tharoor is back to writing a book. And this time, it’s about India’s place in the new balanced world. Addressing a discourse ‘The New Superpowers’ chaired by Anita Anand of BBC at the Alchemist Hay Festival in Kerala, Tharoor said the book would look at India’s place in the world, not just

in terms of foreign policy, but how India would function in the future. ... Drawing parallels between India and China, Tharoor said 'India was not China, it cannot do what China did' in terms of economy and development. 'But unlike China, India has not broken necks' in its pursuit of speedy progress. He said there was potential for greater cultural diplomacy between India and China. Tharoor, who has authored 12 books, published his last book 'Shadows Across The Playing Field in 2009." Thahoor image from article

Lessons from Lebanon - Marc Sabbagh, Baker Institute Blog: "Before I left for my summer study program at the American University of Beirut (AUB), my American friends had a lot of questions for me: 'Are you worried?' 'Isn’t it dangerous?' 'Where exactly is Lebanon? ... My American friends were surprised by the absence of strife despite the historical upheavals in the region. Most Lebanese seemed accustomed to their politics and the unpredictability that comes with it.

They were also resilient. The possibility of sectarian violence and tumultuous politics did not seem to prevent them from going out, visiting others, and carrying on with their daily lives. What I realized was that cultural diplomacy was a two-way street. I had a foot in two worlds, places I perceived to be on opposite sides of the spectrum, and I was able through my experience to teach people on both sides who were definitely knowledgeable and informed but still had limited first-hand encounters with the other side. I had the understanding of two cultures, both of which had differences, similarities and their own individual flaws. By the end of the summer, I decided that Lebanon was a beautiful mess — a conclusion reached not from studying, but just from experiencing life abroad. Image from article: Rice University student Marc Sabbagh, second from left, with some of the friends he made while attending classes at the American University of Beirut.

Occupy Wall Street Turns a Corner - Michael Greenberg, New York Review of Books: "On Tuesday’s march from Canal Street down to Zuccotti Square, some protesters appealed to the police as fellow members of the 99 percent, while others cursed them as mercenaries employed by a criminal army.

'We know that you are on our side,' said a young woman to a line of stone-faced officers, who seemed as exhausted as she was. She told me that she was a senior at NYU, majoring in 'cultural diplomacy. If people can express themselves with their voices, they won’t become violent with their bodies,' she explained." Image from article, with caption: Occupy Wall Street protesters gather in Zuccotti Park after marching around Wall Street in New York, November 17, 2011


Negative propaganda can be countered with Faiz’s help - Necessary arrangements to set up the ‘Faiz International Forum’ – aimed at helping dissipate negative propaganda against Muslims and Pakistan in the world – have

been started, said foreign delegates attending the Faiz Centenary Celebrations 2011 on Saturday. Uncaptioned image from article. On Faiz, see.

US-led propaganda campaign against Iran must end - Durrani‎, The Nation, Pakistan: Former information minister Muhammad Ali Durrani has said that US-led propaganda campaign against Iran must come to an end.

The Senator of Pakistan Muslim League-Q told IRNA in an interview that peaceful nuclear technology is Iran’s democratic right and there is no justification to express concerns in this regards. He added that western moves to isolate Iran will fail. Uncaptioned image from article

Still weird and poor - Andrei Lankov, Sales of the ``Korea” magazine ― the major propaganda mouthpiece of Pyongyang ― in the 1970s, the Soviet Union must have been huge, so the North Korean embassy must have reported to the Pyongyang headquarters about the dramatic success of their propaganda efforts. However, these proud reports were completely unfounded. It is true that many Soviet citizens subscribed to the ``Korea” monthly. But most of them did it because they saw it as objects of ridicule where one could get a cheap laugh. In short, the North has a very bad image in the Soviet Union, and its own propaganda played the major role in this public relations disaster. Few in the USSR would ever have come to know about North Korea and its peculiar type of national Stalinism had not the North Korean authorities flooded the USSR with a tidal wave of heavily subsidized propaganda.

A dose for utopian extremists ‎- Pratik Kanjilal, The Asian Age: By manipulating the record to the point of obscurity, Mao Zedong had escaped being paraded in the rogues’ gallery of 20th century autocrats. Unlike Stalin, Pol Pot and Hitler, he wasn’t a mass murderer, was he? But in this landmark work [Mao's Great Famine], Frank Dikötter argues that he was, in the famine years of 1958-62. And he has the evidence to back his claim. In a way, this is Mao’s political biography, running sores and all. Dikötter draws aside the veil of propaganda to expose the man we could not know earlier. It’s not an edifying sight — Mao is revealed to be an autocrat with primitive ideas, a fragile ego and a callous disregard for human suffering.

Gathering at the Wake for Western Dominance [Review of Civilization: The West and the Rest By Niall Ferguson] - Michiko Kakutani, New York Times: In his 2003 book, “Empire,” which was published here in the immediate wake of the United States-led invasion of Iraq, the popular British historian Niall Ferguson argued that the United States was “an empire in denial” and was “capable of playing an imperial role” in the world today, much the way Britain once did, in the 19th century. Only eight years later Mr. Ferguson has written a tendentious new book, “Civilization,” which asserts, with similar certainty, that we are now living through “the end of 500 years of Western predominance,” that while China is on the rise, the question is not whether East and West will clash, but whether “the weaker” — that is, the United States and Europe — “will tip over from weakness to outright collapse.”

He suggests that the collapses of great civilizations tend to come quickly. Rome, he writes, imploded “within the span of a single generation”; “the dramatic transition from Confucian equipoise to anarchy” in Ming-era China “took little more than a decade”; and the Soviet Union “fell off a cliff — rather than gently declining.” Civilizations, he concludes, “are highly complex systems, made up of a very large number of interacting components that are asymmetrically organized, so that their construction more closely resembles a Namibian termite mound than an Egyptian pyramid.” Image from

Propaganda map - Marshall Upshaw, Marshall's Marvelous Maps: This is a Nazi propaganda map

from pre-WWII that shows how Europe 'ganged up' on Germany after WWI.

Propaganda Posters Designed In WWII Style - "Propaganda posters are so much fun, especially when they are designed like they are from the WWII era. That old-timey feel paired with what’s current is always an interesting combination worth checking out. Just this past summer, I wrote about some Twitter, Facebook and Google+ propaganda posters created by Aaron Wood, a designer living in Massachusetts. Those posters were great, and people really seemed to enjoy them. This time around, Aaron has completed a collection specifically targeted at the tech industry. He spews his propaganda about Angry Birds, Android, Foursquare, Apple, YouTube and even zombies.

I have no idea what zombies have to do with the tech industry, but since zombies seem to be squirming their way into everything these days, I’ll leave that one alone." Image from article


--Proposal for the Lincoln Memorial by John Russell Pope, 1912

--Lenin Mausoleum image from

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