Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November 22-23

"I am prohibited in writing from entering any State Department facility."

--US diplomat Peter Van Buren, author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (2011), in an interview with your PDPBR compiler; Van Buren image from


Propaganda: "Food Will Win the War", 1942 [Walt Disney]


"On behalf of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, I am writing to bring to your attention our new BA and Masters Programs in Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations. We are currently accepting applications for enrollments to the Winter Semester 2012 in Berlin, and would be grateful if you could share this announcement by forwarding the information below to anyone you think may be interested in applying.

Master of Arts Program in International Relations and Cultural Diplomacy

The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, in Cooperation with Dubrovnik International University (Berlin, from February 06th, 2011)

BA in International Relations and Diplomacy: Concentration Cultural Diplomacy

The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, in Cooperation with Dubrovnik International University Diplomacy (Berlin, from February 6th, 2012) ...

If you have any further questions regarding the MA program or our institution, please do not hesitate to contact us at: ...

Mark Donfried Director and Founder Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD) ..."


The third term of George W. Bush - Dale Worley, "I'm rather disappointed at Obama's foreign policy. Of course, a president is seriously constrained by the situation that he inherits, but I would have expected faster improvement in a number of areas. We still have wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, though maybe it isn't practical to exit either of them quickly. We have/had an additional war in Libya, with the real outcome still unknown.

(Though it looks like a change from Bush, in that we've likely won that war, and quickly.) In the realm of public diplomacy, getting better communication with the rest of the world and adapting our actions to avoid stepping on toes whenever possible, I see little or no improvement, even though I thought that Obama was an expert in that. More disturbingly, our policy of arbitrary imprisonment remains."  Image from

'US-led sanctions on Iran illegal' - "Britain the United States have imposed new sanctions on Iran's banking system and energy sector after the UN nuclear agency's recent report on Tehran's nuclear program. ... [Mohammad Marandi, professor at the University of Tehran:] [T]he report itself does not contain anything new but the United States and the Europeans, in their rather irrational hostility towards Iran which has to a large degree has to do with the rapidly declining fortunes in the Middle East and beyond, they continue to pursue hostile

policies towards the Iranian people. One of the interesting things is that this is probably the worst public diplomacy move that the Americans can make because they and the Europeans are obviously trying to hurt ordinary Iranians, trying to make ordinary Iranians suffer and that of course is itself a violation of human rights. But the problem is that they have really lost their influence over the country and Iran has many alternatives. You see rising powers in Latin America, in the Far East and in the Indian sub-continent which need Iran and the more Iran trades with them, in fact, the more reliant they become upon Iran." Image from

Hindering Diplomacy - "Why does the US, land of free speech and freedom of the press, have such a hard time with public diplomacy? We spend millions of dollars on advertising products and services, and politics, but we can't engage with foreign publics through discussion and communication. Even now, with negative attitudes about the US rampant, and the US Military waging a war to win the 'hearts and minds' of people, there is still widespread doubt surrounding the use of Public Diplomacy. The United Nations is the most important forum for public diplomacy where the US can exercise it's [sic] soft power. However, there is such vehement rhetoric around leaving the United Nations and not paying our dues, including recently withdrawing funds

from UNESCO, that we are ruining our chances at using public diplomacy successfully. These actions pose great challenges to US diplomats and often have a negative effect on foreign publics who see the US as belligerent rather than diplomatic." Image from

American Public Diplomacy at Its Most Vulgar - John Brown, Notes and Essays: US Ambassador to Laos does hip-hop;

comments on the matter by DiploPundit and Pat Kushlis. Image from

A Transcendent, if Rare, American Outreach - Ian Johnson, New York Times: "As the Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed an eclectic, quirky concert showcasing American culture, one of China’s rising political stars gave her blessing, standing up to wave to the crowd between pieces. With tensions rising between the two powers, the concert was a rare moment when art really did seem to transcend politics. The event was part of the U.S.-China Forum on the Arts and Culture, which brought over such artists as Mr. Ma, the actress Meryl Streep, the director Joel Coen and the authors Amy Tan and Michael Pollan. ... 'Our intention was to be spontaneous and somewhat risk-taking,' said Orville Schell of Asia Society, who organized the festival. ... Why are there not more programs like it? Many Chinese are fascinated by the United States, and it remains a top destination for China’s young people to study. Some American programs do send musicians or speakers to China and invite Chinese opinion makers to see the United States firsthand. But the four-day U.S.-China Forum event highlighted how unusual it was for the United States to provide broad access to American culture beyond pirated Hollywood movies. ... It was not always thus. During the cold war, the United States Information Agency ran extensive cultural programs, including America Centers that were part of the fabric of many countries. ... 'Since 9/11, the U.S. has been in a very risk-averse position,' said Nicholas J. Cull, professor of public diplomacy at the University of Southern California. 'It’s gone into a shell.'

The State Department runs a Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs with a budget of nearly $500 million, but most of its money goes to programs that invite foreigners to the United States to study or visit. Officials said only $16 million goes to cultural diplomacy around the world. The officials said they could not provide a precise figure for the total spent in China, but suggested that it could be as much as $2 million. ... Most striking is the lack of a United States cultural center in Beijing." See also John Brown, "America as a Shopping Mall? U.S. Cultural Diplomacy in the Age of Obama," Huffington Post (June 9, 2010). Image from

Former VOA director takes his Pentagon Papers play to China - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: Broadway World (Los Angeles), 16 Nov 2011: "'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.' [Elliott comment:]-- This is interesting for its VOA connection, but even more so for its public diplomacy potential. Will this history of a media freedom dispute cause the audiences to make comparisons?" Image from

Legal analysis of BBG merger plan pays minimal attention to political, legislative and journalistic pitfalls - BBGWatcher, "The current BBG plan to eliminate the independence of surrogate broadcasters, centralize news gathering – using centralized controls which made the Voice of America far less effective in Eastern Europe than RFE/RL until the Reagan Administration took office — and eventually to privatize the Voice of America and Radio and TV Marti was, by contrast with the earlier plan, developed by anonymous BBG bureaucrats. They are clearly the only group that will benefit from their own proposal — not BBG members, not BBG journalists, not audiences abroad, not victims of human rights abuses, and certainly not the American people. Keep in mind that these same bureaucrats proposed earlier this year to end all Voice of America radio and television broadcasts to China. Congress wisely rejected their proposal. They now want to do even greater damage to U.S. international broadcasting and public diplomacy abroad."

Immoral Occupation: MTV Founder Sets Sights On Afghan TV - "Moby Group ... is considered as the largest Media Group in Afghanistan. In reality, it is a front for the US state department and various US based media organizations such as NewsCorp (owned by Rupert Murdoch), MTV networks and others for changing the Afghan psyche. ... MTV is vigorously taking part in psychological operations of the Crusaders against the Muslims in Afghanistan. It is operating in Afghanistan behind the mask of Tolo TV which is owned by Moby Group . ... Tolo TV

was first launched in Kabul but as of November 2007, has broadcasts in 14 cities in Afghanistan on free-to-air and throughout the region by satellite. This was right after the military invasion of Afghanistan by the US and her allies. The military invasion was followed by a cultural invasion, the standard bearers being the NGOs and the so called aid agencies. Tolo TV’s initial startup costs were supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Like Kabul’s private FM station Radio Arman — this also was created ... with help from USAID. A portion of Moby’s advertising budget comes from foreign governments and N.G.O.s; recruitment ads for the Afghan Army and police are designed by Lapis, Moby’s ad agency, and paid for by the U.S. through the Afghan government. And the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) IS among Tolo’s top fifteen advertisers. Without the U.S. government’s financing for infrastructure, Moby would not exist. The US State Department has budgeted seventy-two million dollars this fiscal year for 'communications and public diplomacy' in Afghanistan – in other words, to use 'soft power' for psychological occupation of the Muslim masses of Afghanistan and to salvage whatever they can in the face of humiliating defeat at the hands of the Mujahideen." Image from article

Opportunities open for secondary school educators to study in the US - "The Office of Public Diplomacy of the US Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, is now accepting applications for a Study of the United States Institute for Secondary School Educators. This process will take place over the course of six weeks beginning in mid-June 2012.

The institute will provide two multinational groups of 30 secondary educators each (classroom teachers, teacher trainers, curriculum developers, textbook writers, Ministry Of Education officials, etc) with a deeper understanding of US society, education, and culture, past and present. The programmes will be organised around a central theme or themes in US studies and will have a strong contemporary component." Image from

Apps 4 Africa Climate Challenge - Livestock-Climate CRSP: "As part of its engagement with emerging African partners in addressing the challenge of climate change, the US Department of State has announced the intention to sponsor 'Apps4Africa: Climate Challenge,' a public diplomacy program comprised of three African regional competitions to address local climate change challenges through the use of mobile technology. In coordination with software developer Appfrica International, the US Department of State committed to bring civil society, academia and private sector organizations together with African technology innovators to develop applications that address local climate change adaptation challenges. Deadlines: November 30, 2011 (West/Central Africa), December 20, 2011 for East Africa."

NCIV Network News: International Visitors and Building Partnerships With Elected Officials - "The human impact of exchange programs and the stories they generate are the best advocacy tools organizations working in public diplomacy can find. Effective advocacy depends on meaningful story telling."

Agenda Transcript for the July 2011 Public Meeting of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy - U.S. Department of State

Poor, Depressed America - Tory, IC therefore IM: Group 2's blog for SIS 640 at American University: "US domestic news has gotten me down recently, and it seems as if I’m not the only one.

A Pew Center report issued last week reports for that only 49% of Americans surveyed agreed that 'our people are not perfect but our culture is superior to others.' [See below "related items" Roger Cohen NYT article] This is down from 60% in 2002. ... Public diplomacy scholar

that I am, it makes me wonder what effect this pessimistic attitude will have on public diplomacy. Americans have a reputation of having a superiority complex, but maybe this is more perception than fact. ... We spoke in class Thursday about how a State Department official was applauded a few years ago for making self-deprecating comments about the US on foreign television. Is this a good tactic for outreach, making us seem more 'human, or is it showing a lack of confidence in our own policy? I’m really not sure what the answer is." Top image from entry, with caption: Poor Lady Liberty has an inferiority complex; below scholar image from. On public diplomacy scholars, see the lively exchange on the topic.

A Clumsy Propaganda - Joshua Foust, "CAO [Central Asia Online] is run by the Special Operations Command, the result of an attempt to operationalize many years of doctrinal studies out of the Joint Special Operations University, as a part of incorporating 'Information Operations' into strategic planning. While Central Asia Online is an unclassified program, it is sequestered within SOCOM, part of the J-39 Global Operations group. It is buried within the bureaucracy and is therefore low visibility within the community. I’d be surprised if many people outside of the PSYOP universe even knew it existed. ... Digging into the kinds of doctrinal concepts (pdf) being pushed at the military post-graduate universities in the 2006-2007 time frame reveals a genuine struggle with the 'information environment,' as they put it. Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield, a key concept in the Military Decision Making Process, requires a fluency with things like the news environment and how ideas and reactions spread into host populations. One of the TMAs, or Traditional Military Activities, is in 'shaping operations,' which are meant to prepare some abstractly defined 'mental space' in the mind of a local population for a given policy. These shaping operations often take the form of various types of propaganda — Information Operations like

Central Asia Online, more direct PSYOP programs like distributing leaflets, and so on. ... [Comment by Gulliver:] There are serious questions about the practice of internet-based IO, especially in a non-operational shaping context; the potential (or in fact inevitable) exposure of Americans to this kind of material bumps up uncomfortably against the legal prohibitions — created in a simpler time — against propagandizing domestically. There’s also the fact that what the military calls 'phase 0' or steady-state is what the rest of the world calls PEACETIME; military information efforts ought to be integrated with broader foreign policy and more specifically with the State Department’s public diplomacy campaigns. But PD and IO do have different objectives (not to mention different methods), and I don’t disagree with the concept of a combatant commander using the resources available to him (including IO/MISO assets from SOF/SOCOM) to help him satisfy his campaign plan objectives. I do, however, also think there’s a very good argument that this is an ineffective way to do that."  See also David Trilling, "Propagandastan: Why is the Pentagon spending tens of millions of U.S. tax dollars to whitewash the image of Central Asian dictatorships?," Foreign Policy. Image from

Do EU sanctions against the likes of Syria achieve anything? - Natalia Macyra and Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, "[E]conomic statecraft is rapidly gaining ground, in Brussels, after the Arab spring. The

EU is increasingly reversing its strategies of long-term engagement, which culminated in the end for the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. In fact, there is very little that dissuades European leaders out of using sanctions as panaceas – they are relatively easy and costless to impose, while the satisfaction of domestic constituencies at home is immediate. On the other hand - economic integration, coalition-building, cultural and public diplomacy demand mandates as well as priorities and patience. These are all, increasingly, rarities in a crisis-struck Europe." Image from

Turkey-Israel: Rethinking‎ - Kadri Gürsel, Hurriyet Daily News: "If Turkey had properly presented to the world the strong elements that were in its favor in the United Nations Investigation Panel report on the Mavi Marmara incident, it could have put Israel at a quite inconvenient position. In the report, strong evidence was set out that Israeli soldiers intentionally killed and injured the Turkish activists on the ship and that Israel had not submitted a satisfactory explanation. However, our Foreign Ministry’s lack of experience and skill in using public diplomacy was felt once more in this matter. On top of this, when President Gül’s unfortunate statement of 'This report is null for us' came, the U.N. document was considered domestically and internationally as 'Turkey’s defeat.' On the other hand, this report actually could not have been published."

Debate rages over who should be responsible for cultural diplomacy‎ - Shin Hae-in, The Korea Herald: "As controversy grows over which government ministry should manage the promotion of Korean culture overseas, scholars have come together to seek a solution to the issue. During a policy debate session this week, experts agreed that the job should not fall on just one ministry or government agency, but a network of organizations with different functions. 'The role should not fall on one ministry, but the whole government,' professor Lee Joon-hyung of Hanyang University said

during the 'International Cultural Exchange: Issues and Directions' forum held Tuesday. ... Cultural diplomacy, public diplomacy and soft power diplomacy have become oft-repeated terms as countries become more aware of the importance of non-diplomatic activities by diplomats, activists and individuals in promoting a positive national image. The heated discussions here come as two separate bills were submitted to the parliament earlier this year over which ministry should specialize in overseas cultural promotion. With Korean pop culture gaining popularity overseas, the government has been recognizing the influence culture has in promoting and enhancing national image. ... The Culture Ministry claims it has the capacity to deal with the increasing number of overseas-related affairs as it currently operates information centers in 20 different countries with affiliated agencies the Korea Tourism Organization and the Korea Culture and Contents Agency also operating independent overseas offices." Image from

Korean Tacos come to Korea - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Korean tacos have officially gone full circle, and are now popping up in Seoul. Fascinating bit of a cultural diplomacy boomerang."

Hallyu: A New Book Published - "Title of the Book: 'Hallyu: Influence of Korean Popular Culture in Asia and Beyond' Editors: Dr. Do Kyun Kim (U of Louisiana, & Dr. Min-Sun Kim (U of Hawaii, ... This book introduces one remarkable media trend related to the influence of Korean media products
in Asian countries and Western countries. Since the early 1990s, the popularity of Korean media products, including television dramas, songs, and movies has skyrocketed in Asian countries and beyond. The enormous wave of popularity of Korean pop culture is referred to as Hallyu, the Korean Wave. ... (Table of Contents) ... [chapter] 5 The Nexus between Hallyu and Soft Power: Cultural Public Diplomacy in the Era of Sociological Globalism / Jeong-Nam Kim and Lan Ni." Image from

SA forks out for 'peace' forays‎ - Loyiso Langeni, Business Day: "SA has learnt the hard way that playing a prominent role in global affairs does not come cheap — it was revealed yesterday that in the first six months of this year, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation

spent R10m as an 'unforeseeable and unavoidable expenditure' for conflict resolution initiatives in Libya, Sudan and Burundi. Two units in the department, public diplomacy and protocol, were granted R80m more for 'higher personnel remuneration increases than the main budget provided for', the Treasury said.  The department’s spokesman, Clayson Monyela, said yesterday that 'public diplomacy and protocol have been elevated to full- fledged branches with additional staff, hence the rise in costs during this financial year'." Image from article, with caption: SA has plans to build missions in 54 of Africa’s countries

Mexico Seeking a Public Diplomacy Strategy - Philip Seib, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Mexico has excellent academic institutions, think tanks, and other organizations that could help the government craft an ambitious, comprehensive public diplomacy strategy. If this happens, Mexico’s status as a major power is certain to be more widely recognized."

Times are grim yet the two Eds still can't land a blow - Matthew d'Ancona, "I'm all for paying mobile wealth creators whatever it takes to keep them in Britain. The best business leadership is expensive. But modern capitalism needs better public diplomacy than was provided by Dr Heather McGregor of the executive search firm Taylor Bennett, who said on Radio 4's Today programme yesterday:

'If they all want to work in workers' co-operatives, everyone can move to Cuba.' Really?" Image from

Catching up with the founder of Craigslist - James Temple, "The founder of the for-profit - but certainly not for-maximum-profit - Craigslist [Craig Newmark] launched a full-fledged philanthropic venture, Craigconnects. The goal is to leverage the power of the Internet to identify, connect and empower sustainable nonprofits. ... The nonprofit ... focuses on open government, technology for good causes, public diplomacy, consumer protection and back-to-

Social Network Diplomacy - Z’leste, IC therefore IM: Group 2's blog for SIS 640 at American University: "[There is a] need for public diplomacy conversations to include more of the actors that are increasingly involved in its processes."

Fifth Annual Nation Branding and Public Diplomacy Panel - The George Washington University School of Business: "The Marketing Department, in conjunction with the January Study Abroad Program, will host a panel discussion featuring foreign officials who work with branding, media and communications issues.

Representatives from the embassies of Canada (recently ranked at the world’s #1 country brand), Hungary, Switzerland, Norway, the UAE and Turkey are expected to attend." Image from blog entry

British Embassy Internship Programme, Communications Team within the Political, Economics and Communications Group (PECG), British Embassy, Washington, DC - Job and internship information for the public relations majors and faculty at Georgia State - The Communications Team within the Political, Economics and Communications Group (PECG) is seeking two Spring Interns. PECG responsible in the Embassy for a wide range of issues, including media relations, public diplomacy, fostering the exchange of best practice in domestic policy, and analysis and reporting of US politics and economics. Students studying public diplomacy, economics, media relations or PR, journalism, or international affairs can gain valuable real-world experience in their fields through an internship with the Communications Team."

Research/Public Affairs Officer: Australian Embassy, "The Australian Embassy, Harare,

is seeking applications from persons interested in employment in the Political Section. ... The position requires an enthusiastic individual with a meticulous eye for detail, excellent writing skills and a willingness to learn. The position will report to the Deputy Head of Mission. The tasks for the position are [inter alia] as follows: ... Assist the Deputy Head of Mission and Head of Mission to carry out post’s public diplomacy program, including by regularly updating the Australian Embassy website, drafting media releases about recent activities and organizing interviews with editors/journalists and other media representatives." Image from


Decline and Fall - Roger Cohen, New York Times: In France, according to a Pew Research Center survey, only 27 percent of the population now believes that “our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior.” Here in the United States, according to the same survey, 60 percent of Americans over 50 believe “our culture is superior.” Obama’s communication with the American people on the economy reminds me of one those off-key e-mail exchanges where each party gets more irritable, misunderstandings multiply, and you end up longing for someone to pick up the phone and clear things up with a declaratory sentence of the unambiguous “It’s morning again in America” variety. Let’s shake off some of the gloom. America’s powers of

reinvention are not exhausted. Image from

Can the American empire fight back? The problem today — amid fears of U.S. decline — is that we are so concerned about losing global dominance that we've lost sight of the maverick qualities that made us preeminent in the first place - Gregory Rodriguez, So maybe America is in decline. But fretting about it won't help a lick.

Image from

The GOP's Foreign Policy Debate: A Cheat Sheet The notion that the 21st century must be an American one isn't a cliché, especially when the alternative is China - Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal: Let's dispense with President Obama's dumb distinction between nation-building at home and nation-building abroad. Our prosperity depends on a powerful Navy that keeps the sea lanes secured from the Strait of Hormuz to the Strait of Malacca to the Strait of Gibraltar. It depends on checking the ambitions of would-be regional hegemons, from China to Russia to Iran, who would like to control the flow and price of commodities. And it depends on our embattled allies, from Taiwan to Georgia to Israel, knowing that we have both the will and the wherewithal to stand for their defense.

Ron Paul: 'War Propaganda' Hurting Economy - Mitt Romney said that cutting defense spending would be a “doomsday scenario,” but Ron Paul believes it is the answer to our economic woes. First he said the American people need to see through the "propaganda" that is attempting to control public opinion on foreign policy.

“It is all war propaganda to get the people's emotions going up to accept the next war going on,” said Paul. “Enough is enough, we don’t need any more of these wars, besides we can't afford them anymore. What we need is a healthy dose of truth so we can have a better foreign policy." Image from

Seymour Hersh: Pre-War Propaganda Mounting on Iran - While the United States, Britain and Canada are planning to announce a coordinated set of sanctions against Iran's oil and petrochemical industry, longtime investigative journalist Seymour Hersh

questions the growing consensus on Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. Hersh image from article

Iran denounces US sanctions as 'propaganda and psychological warfare' - Omar Karmi, Iran yesterday dismissed a new set of US sanctions as "propaganda", as reports suggested the EU was also keen to increase pressure on the country over its contested nuclear programme.

Ramin Mehmanparast, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, said the US measures, coordinated with Britain and Canada and announced on Monday in Washington, would have no effect. Mehmanparast image from article

How to Topple the Ayatollahs: Western strikes should target Tehran's military and paramilitary forces, crippling the regime's machinery of domestic repression - Jamsheed K. Choksy, Wall Street Journal: The real goal of air strikes should be not only to target Iran's nuclear facilities but to cripple the ayatollahs' ability to protect themselves from popular overthrow.

More half-measures from Obama administration on Iran - Editorial, Washington Post: By now it should be obvious that only regime change will stop the Iranian nuclear program. That means, at a minimum, the departure of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has repeatedly blocked efforts by other

Iranian leaders to talk to the West. Sanctions that stop Iran from exporting oil and importing gasoline could deal a decisive blow to his dictatorship, which already faced an Arab Spring-like popular revolt two years ago. By holding back on such measures, the Obama administration merely makes it more likely that drastic action, such as a military attack, eventually will be taken by Israel, or forced on the United States. Image from

An Afghan Economic Reprieve? - Anne Jolis, Wall Street Journal: Roughly 2,000 tribal elders from across Afghanistan gave their approval on Saturday for President Hamid Karzai to negotiate a long-term security pact with the U.S., which could keep American forces in the country beyond 2014. The resolution following the grand council, or "loya jirga," in Pashtun foresees a 10-year partnership with the possibility to extend it further. The jirga's non-binding declaration comes with a series of conditions that could yet scupper any deal -- for instance, the demand that U.S.-led forces cease their night raids and home searches. Even so, the resolution's immediate upside for Afghans is that the prospect of another decade of Western involvement could calm fears of a massive Afghan recession when U.S. troops withdraw. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has estimated that 97% of Afghan GDP is linked to spending by foreign militaries, diplomats, donors and other war-time visitors.

Defining Victory in Afghanistan: Look to Colombia, where the U.S. helped the government in Bogota achieve success short of complete victory - Michael O'Hanlon and Paul Wolfowitz, Wall Street Journal: Our current exit strategy of reducing American troops to 68,000 by the end of next summer and transferring full security responsibility to Afghan forces by 2014 is working. In a war where the U.S. has demonstrated remarkable strategic patience, we need to stay patient and resolute.

Denying Pakistan: Afghanistan deserves to chart its future without cross-border meddling - Sarah Chayes, The talks the U.S. government should be facilitating are between two sovereign nations, Afghanistan and Pakistan. If the government of Pakistan has concerns or aspirations regarding its neighbor, it should address them directly, through facilitated negotiations.

It should spell out its concerns through this process, and the U.S. should help guarantee that the legitimate ones are properly addressed in a binding treaty. But turning your neighbor into a client state is not a legitimate aspiration and should not be facilitated. Image from

Sherry Rehman, liberal lawmaker, is Pakistan’s new U.S. envoy - Pakistan named a liberal female lawmaker as its new ambassador to the United States on Wednesday, swiftly filling a crucial diplomatic vacancy created amid a scandal that highlighted civil-military tensions.

The appointment of Sherry Rehman, a prominent former journalist known for her human rights work, surprised observers who expected a choice with a more obvious stamp of approval from the powerful military. Rehman image from article

Israel and ‘Pinkwashing’ - Sarah Shulman, New York Times: In 2005, with help from American marketing executives, the Israeli government began a marketing campaign, “Brand Israel,” aimed at men ages 18 to 34. The campaign, as reported by The Jewish Daily Forward, sought to depict Israel as “relevant and modern.” The government later expanded the marketing plan by harnessing the gay community to reposition its global image. Last year, the Israeli news site Ynet reported that the Tel Aviv tourism board had begun a campaign of around $90 million to brand the city as “an international gay vacation destination.” The promotion, which received support from the Tourism Ministry and Israel’s overseas consulates, includes depictions of young same-sex couples and financing for pro-Israeli movie screenings at lesbian and gay film festivals in the United States. (The government isn’t alone; an Israeli pornography producer even shot a film, “Men of Israel,” on the site of a former Palestinian village.)

The growing global gay movement against the Israeli occupation has named these tactics “pinkwashing”: a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life. Aeyal Gross, a professor of law at Tel Aviv University, argues that “gay rights have essentially become a public-relations tool,” even though “conservative and especially religious politicians remain fiercely homophobic.” Image from

Anti-Israeli activists to initiate propaganda events to challenge Israel - Jim Kouri, Despite the failure of the last Free Gaza flotilla to reach the Gaza Strip, anti-Israeli organizations and activists intend to continue challenging Israel with "awareness-raising" events, including flotillas, convoys and fly-ins, according to analysts at the Meir Amit Information Center, a counterterrorism think-tank. In some instances, the behind-the-scenes presence of international networks promoting the delegitimization of Israel can be felt, while in other instances local activists organize on their own to conduct ad hoc events. There is nothing new in the tactics they plan to use, however, in some of the events the organizers are planning to apply the lessons they learned from previous failures.

A slip of the tongue betrays Israel's hardline propaganda - Tony Karon, It's no wonder that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly ordered his defence minister to shut up. Ehud Barak, after all, has a well-established habit of telling inconvenient truths - while running for prime minister in 1999, he was asked what he would do if he had been born Palestinian.

He answered: "I would join a terror organisation." That willingness to put himself at odds with Israel's PR line was once again on display last week when Mr Barak was interviewed by the US TV talkshow host Charlie Rose. "If you were Iran, wouldn't you want a nuclear weapon?" Rose asked his guest. "Probably, probably," Mr Barak replied. "I don't delude myself that they are doing it just because of Israel. They have their history of 4,000 years. They look around and they see the Indians are nuclear. The Chinese are nuclear, Pakistan in nuclear as well as [North] Korea, not to mention the Russians." The problem that Mr Barak's remarks present for the Israeli narrative is obvious: Iran's rulers, we are typically told by Israeli officials, are fanatical religious extremists determined to destroy Israel at any cost, even if that meant national suicide. Barak image from

Iran's version of the UK's Marine Offence Act of 1967: no advertising on "foreign satellite TV networks" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Al Jazeera Balkans, now on the air, will find out if "people from one part of the Balkans are still interested in the others" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Reflections on the Thirty Years War and the Origins of Propaganda - Sarah Ellen Graham, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: Pope Gregory XV's establishment of a college to train Catholic propagandists in 1622 occurred

at a time when sophisticated war propaganda formats had already been adopted by the European powers. The mobilization in a range of propaganda formats of the emerging principles of ‘reason of state’—the doctrine the interests of government must be executed with utmost pragmatism and transcend the confines of morality—and their extensive use by other actors during the Thirty Years War show the rich history of propaganda in the period. Pope Gregory XV image from


"Eating weird is the new normal."

--Shawn LaPean, executive director of Cal Dining at the University of California-Berkeley, which serves students 30,000 times daily; cited in Bruce Horovitz, "Marketers adapt menus to eat-what-I-want-when-I-want trend,"

USA Today"; image from


Survival Shop Reports Jump In Sales To People Preparing For “Possible Collapse” - Kevin Killeen, A chain of three stores that sells survival food and gear reports a jump in sales

to people who are getting prepared for the “possible collapse” of society. “We had to order fifty cases of the meals ready to eat to keep up with the demand in the past three months,” said manager Steve Dorsey at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters Inc. in Webster Groves. “That’s not normal. Usually we sell 20 to 30 cases in a whole year.” Image from article. Via MC on facebook.


"The problem today ... is that we're the imperial power wearing the red coats."

--Columnist Gregory Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times. Image from

"A Parenthesis (to be avoided as much as possible) is used to include some Sentence in another."

--John Ash, in his "Grammatical Institutes" (1763)

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