Thursday, November 24, 2011

November 24

“The people want the fall of the coming president.”

--As said by some Egyptian activists; January 27th, 2011 image from


Making Real the Obama Iran Victories That Never Were - Vali Nasr, Bloomberg: "It wasn’t so long ago that the Obama administration was proudly proclaiming success in dealing with Iran, succeeding where the Bush administration had failed. For a time, a presumably weakened and isolated Iran was less of a worry. Today, America’s Iran policy looks to be in disarray. The administration’s claims of victory ring hollow. Far from subdued, Iran is more defiant and belligerent.

And the broad international coalition that the U.S. built against the country has splintered. ... [T]he administration is not entirely convincing internationally when it maintains that Iran is misbehaving despite containment efforts. The U.S. allegations of official Iranian involvement in the Washington assassination plot met with considerable skepticism abroad. U.S. public diplomacy has done very little to remove those doubts." Image from

Santorum discusses Middle East relations - Amanda Moenk, Monticello Express: "Making his third stop in Jones County on Nov. 15 at the Lawrence Community Center in Anamosa, GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum talked with residents about his plan to deal with the nuclear threat from Iran and how he would handle the situation should he be elected president.

He also took questions from the audience. ... He said that if he were president, his plan today would be to encourage the pro-Democracy movement and using as much public diplomacy along with engaging the rest of the world to impose sanctions. Santorum said the U.S. should assist Israel when they attack Iran, because he believes it will happen and by assisting them, it will be successful." Santorum image from article

Feasibility Study Rubber-Stamps US Broadcasting Merger‎ - Helle Dale, "Consider a new feasibility study completed on November 10 regarding a merger of three major entities of U.S. international broadcasting: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (FRE/RL), Radio Free Asia (FRA), and the Middle East Broadcasting Network (MEBN). These are three critical components of U.S. public diplomacy—in the case of RFE/RL, going back to the beginning of the Cold War, in which U.S. broadcasting was a highly successful player. The complex merger study was produced with almost dizzying speed by the management company Deloitte Consulting, LLP. ... [T]he Deloitte study would be a feat, were it not that the study appears to be a rubber stamp (a $275,000 rubber stamp at that) of already existing decisions contained in the new Strategic Plan for U.S. International Broadcasting. The Broadcasting Board of Governors’ controversial new strategic plan aims to drive the broadcasters toward greater integration, digital media venues, and potentially further separation from U.S. foreign policy priorities by privatization (also known as 'de-federalization'). Nowhere in the document, by the way, are the words 'public diplomacy' mentioned. ... [T]here are many questions that should be asked before the BBG

hands Deloitte another $1.3 million to produce a follow-up implementation plan, which will affect key parts of the U.S. government’s most important public diplomacy tool, its broadcasting complex. ... The Deloitte study is only the first step in a long process that could end in privatizing and reconstituting all U.S. international broadcasting." Image from

RFE/RL redesigns its "English" website - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Making a Difference Overseas - John Maroon, "In 2007 Cal Ripken was named a Public Diplomacy Envoy to the U.S. State Department. Essentially that makes him a goodwill ambassador representing our nation and in

that role he uses baseball as a way to connect with kids and parents in other parts of the world. ... Cal will continue in his role as a Public Diplomacy Envoy and we don’t know where we will be headed next but it is good to know that in this day and age filled with controversy and scandal there is still plenty of good being done through sports." Image from article

Religion’s Uneasy Place: Religious Engagement vs. Religious Freedom in American Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy - Brie Loskota, "[R]eligious freedom is just one part and one strength of the United States. The vibrant pluralism of American society is also an asset. Indeed it is the output and outcome of religious freedom (free exercise and the lack of establishment of state sponsored religion). It would make sense for the U.S. to trumpet religious engagement as another hallmark strength by working with religious leaders and religious institutions in public diplomacy and engagement. This would seem like a tremendous opportunity for the exercise of 'soft power,' appealing to shared values as way to attract foreign publics and even

governments to U.S. interests. ... In general, diplomats are ill prepared for public diplomacy, and even less prepared for religious engagement. They receive almost no training in public diplomacy and, I believe, that this year was the first in which foreign service officers received instruction on religion. ... Engaging with religious leaders, institutions, actors and messages ... falls into a subcategory of public diplomacy, which itself has to compete for attention, strategic prioritization, and funding against other approaches. It also requires making some religious judgments. This of course is something that the U.S. cannot and will not do. In fact, when it has done so the success has been mixed. ... [T]he United State’s public diplomacy showcasing American religious freedom, flourishing and the social equality of the Muslim community was complicated by a very public and very hostile debate about mosques in America. ... Our greatest tool that lays the groundwork for America’s religious pluralism because of state non-interference with religion, ironically makes fully engaging with religious institutions, actors and beliefs internationally very, to use a technical term, too messy to undertake with real seriousness." Laskota image from article

State Dept., CIA vets wow audience for charity - Chris Daley, "John and Patricia Garon were the guest speakers at the American Association of University Women’s fundraising event on Nov. 10. ... Beginning in the mid-1960s, the Garons

spent the next several decades as Foreign Service Officers with the U.S. Department of State. ... There are about 13,000 Foreign Service officers in 250 embassies and consulates around the world, John noted. And the Foreign Service is structured much like the U.S. Navy. Its promotion path is 'either up or out and is intended to weed out the chaff; sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not,' he said. ... A large embassy will have numerous sections dealing with a myriad of issues including agriculture, commerce, security, public diplomacy, and those issues are handled by American specialists. FBI, CIA, FDA, DEA, ATF, IRS, FAA, Peace Corps personnel are common in those embassies depending upon the country and the relative significance of the specific issues. ... 'The Public Diplomacy Section is tasked with winning the hearts and minds of the people,' Patricia explained. 'We have links to local media, write Op Ed pieces and put on cultural and educational programs. State Department tours host people on trips to the U.S. I would select them, and they were generally people of some substance. I never heard of anyone who didn’t love the U.S., and the nicest things happen to these people.' The State Department organizes tours the other way as well, sending jazz bands and rock ‘n roll bands to countries all over the world. They represent 'benign propaganda, and it really does win the hearts and minds of the people,' she said." Garons image from article

Russian Stereotypes: A Flawed Analysis Resulting in Inadequate Policy Choices - Isabelle Francois and Brett Swaney, New Atlanticist: "It is time to 'retire' stereotypes as a poor explanation for the lack of progress in NATO-Russia relations, and start paying attention to explanations rooted in Russian self-perception and the pride of Russian citizens. Certainly, understanding the Russian mentality is fundamental to devising smart policies. The complexity of Russian self-perception may actually assist policy-makers in explaining and making best use

of some positive trends. Exposing the flaws of stereotypes in explaining the lack of progress in NATO-Russia relations over the past twenty years points toward the value of a different approach to engaging with Russia. It is not simply an issue of waiting for the next generation. One should also caution against expecting very much out of increased information sharing on NATO’s role and policies and additional public diplomacy efforts on NATO-Russia cooperation. It is perhaps less an issue of 'debunking myths about NATO in Russia, than an issue of reaching out to Russia by first understanding the impact of Russian self-perception." Image from article

Examining Israel’s Gay Rights Record
- Lee Walzer, To the Editor [of the New York Times]: “'Israel and ‘Pinkwashing,’ by Sarah Schulman (Op-Ed, Nov. 23), is the perfect example of critics of Israel refusing to accept any good news related to that country. The Israeli government is undoubtedly highlighting Israel’s largely progressive stance on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and thriving gay culture. That’s what’s called public diplomacy, and it’s what all countries, including the United States, do. To label this as somehow sinister must mean that the United States is engaged in 'jazzwashing' or 'techwashing' when it uses music or touts its high-tech innovators to audiences and opinion makers overseas.

Israel, like any other democracy, has its flaws. Its settlement policy is destructive, the occupation of the West Bank is untenable and its government is furthering the country’s isolation and distancing it from its original vision of being a 'light unto the nations.' It is also quite advanced on lesbian and gay rights; we can only hope to make such progress here one day. Rather than bashing Israel for promoting its lesbian and gay community (whose progress, considering the clout of religious political parties ever since the state’s founding, is all the more remarkable), Ms. Schulman ought to take off her blinders and laud such change." See also. Image from, with caption: Gay Pride Paraders in Tel Aviv

In India We Trust - Jessica Castillo, India Inside Out: "If India’s public diplomacy mission includes a mandate to communicate with its own citizens as well as foreign publics, then it must be able to cultivate trust amongst Indians."

Opposition accuses Conroy of misleading parliament over Australia Network - The Australian: "The Opposition has accused Communications Minister Stephen Conroy of misleading parliament over the scuttled $223 million Australia Network tender, already the subject of investigations by both the Australian Federal Police and Auditor-General. Senator Conroy has denied the charge. Senator Conroy yesterday referenced a report in The Australian of October 17 that the amended tender panel for the public diplomacy

service had recommended that the contract be awarded to Sky in a statement given to Senate President John Hogg. 'At the time the leaked information appeared in the media, the Government was in the process of undertaking contractual negotiations in order to confirm, in a binding fashion, the ability to deliver the services as tendered,' Senator Conroy said." Image from article, with caption: Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy has been accused of misleading parliament.

Cous-cous and cultural diplomacy - "In 'Couscous and Cultural Diplomacy,' Andrea Wenzel takes us to meet an openly gay couple who decided to start an Algerian-American restaurant in Elkader [an Iowa town of 1,500 surrounded by corn and soybean farms Iowa] after 9/11. This story charts the restauranteurs' adventures with cultural adaptation, American identity and small town politics."

Princeton: China will be Chad Goerner’s classroom - "Township Mayor Chad Goerner, 36, is going to be learning a few things about China in the next couple of weeks. Congressman Rush Holt and Assemblyman Dan Benson nominated

Mayor Goerner, 36, as a delegate for a Washington, DC, -based American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL.) As a result, he was chosen to be part of a nine-member, bipartisan delegation to China, leaving on Nov. 30 for 14 days. ... The delegates will examine China’s politics, policymaking, governance, culture and international affairs. Through having interactions with Chinese government officials, business and community leaders, advocacy experts, scholars, and diplomats, the young leaders will gain a better understanding of China as well as enhance their leadership and public diplomacy skills." Goerner image from

The Rise and Rise of Xmas Card Diplomacy - James Pamment, "Over at the USC Center o[n] Public Diplomacy blog they've mentioned quite a few different forms of public diplomacy over the years. A search back over the last few months brings up gastro diplomacy, backpack diplomacy, water diplomacy, food diplomacy, and cricket diplomacy

to name but a few. Now, thanks to one of the most pointless Freedom of Information requests ever made, the Guardian has its hands on a data set that enables us to establish a new form of public diplomacy: Christmas card diplomacy. What is xmas card diplomacy, I hear you say? Well, I'm going to coin a definition for it here and now. Christmas card diplomacy refers to the sending of xmas cards over national borders, ostensibly in support of political or strategic objectives." Image from article

Hollywood – Weapon of Mass Attraction or Weapon of Mass Destruction for the US - "The full name of the book is 'American Idol after Iraq' which is published by Blackwell – Wiley in 2009. ... [T]he authors explain and mainly discuss the public diplomacy and Hollywood role in shaping it, mainly in the new era after 9/11 terrorist attacks. The foreword is by Joe Nye, Harvard Professor which is mostly well-known with his notion of 'soft power'. Once again, Nye asserts the importance of the soft power - Weapon of Mass Attraction - and recalls that not missiles and bomb but the American soft power was the key in collapse of Berlin Wall and consequently Soviet Union, the Evil Empire as Reagan called it. ... The authors assert that as Harry Warner, one of the founders of Hollywood believed 'the movies should educate as well as entertain people'.

The author puts forward due to the change in challenges that the world and America are facing, the media and Hollywood strategy should be changed to meet the problems of the new era. Some recommendations are given on close cooperation of public diplomacy and mass culture. Some of them include the matter of sensibility which should be considered in media and Hollywood to promote the empathetic understanding of other civilizations and ways of life. It is insane to try to impose the American way of life and the liberal model of 'good life' to the world. ... Among the recommendations is the breaking the American public narrow mindedness by promoting more cultural cooperation with other cultures, promotion of the exposure of the worthy American cultural products, elevating the level of exchange in students and journalists and cultural figures as well and creating a joint committee by Washington and Hollywood on cultural relations. They believe it may work to restore the American dream and stance in the new era again. Image from

Lowongan Kerja Water and Sanitation Experts - Indll
- "The water and sanitation experts will be required to plan, manage monitor, assess, and report on the implementation of water and sanitation grant program. The reporting activities will include the preparation of communication and public information documents and coordination of public diplomacy events such as talk shows and public meetings."


Iran and US: The Excuse and the Main Concern - Abolqasem Qasemzadeh, Political analysts usually enumerate three main problems between Iran and the United States: the nuclear energy program, terrorism, and human rights.

All Western media propaganda against Iran revolves around one of these three axes. Image from article

How to judge a candidate on foreign policy - Lionel Beehner, USA Today: Foreign policy is usually invoked as a way to one-up their opponents: Virtually every candidate promises to get tough on China, panders to Israel, or pledges to make America strong, whatever that means. But no candidate has fully fleshed out what the role of the United States in the international system should be. Important is a candidate's willingness to eschew his or her party's talking points and demonstrate an intellectual curiosity about the world. On this, the Republican challengers fail in spades.

Be thankful — sensible solutions do exist for U.S. problems - Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post: The post-industrial, information economy is dominated by the United States. The industries of the future, from biotechnology to nanotechnology, are dominated by the United States.

The best research centers, universities and companies remain American. We also have the most dynamic society in the developed world. The United States has problems. But unlike many other countries, it also has solutions. Image from

The decadence of the West - Matt Miller, Washington Post: The Chinese long believed that, however suspect we American capitalists might be, we certainly knew how to run a productive economy. Now, while they still admire much about our innovative energy and dynamism, they’ve become convinced since the 2008 meltdown that we plainly don’t know how to run a sound financial or banking system. And now it appears we can’t manage a budget, either. China’s leaders, for all their flaws, are out to reclaim a great civilization’s place as a cultural and economic pacesetter.

US protests anti-gay bill in Russia -  AFP: The United States denounced Wednesday a Russian bill imposing fines for the promotion of gay "propaganda"

among young people in the city of Saint Petersburg. "Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights," the State Department said, repeating a declaration by top US diplomat Hillary Clinton. "We have called on Russian officials to safeguard these freedoms, and to foster an environment which promotes respect for the rights of all citizens." Image from

Are We Getting Nicer? - Nicholas Kristoff, New York Times: War is declining, and humanity is becoming less violent, less racist and less sexist — and this moral progress has accelerated in recent decades. To put it bluntly, we humans seem to be getting nicer. That’s the central theme of an astonishingly good book just published by Steven Pinker, a psychology professor at Harvard. It’s called “The Better Angels of Our Nature.”

Iraq War Creates Iraq Whores - Peter Van Buren, And who says the invasion of Iraq did not accomplish anything? A report released by the London-based non-governmental group Social Change for Education in the Middle East (SCEME) hopes to change that. Entitled Karamatuna, or Our Dignity, the study highlights the plight of girls as young as 10 who have been trafficked from post-war Iraq into countries including Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia for sexual exploitation.

While sexual exploitation existed in Iraq, as anywhere, long before the war began in 2003, “the invasion and instability that followed led to an environment where young women and girls became much more vulnerable to trafficking,” the report says. Image from article

Don't be fooled by MFN and Maldives - Pakistan's propaganda offensive against India on terrorism has, however, left New Delhi confused and defensive. Pakistan is now getting away with the propaganda that

what happened in Mumbai is no different from the deaths caused by “Hindu terrorists” in the “Samjhauta Express." Image from article, with caption: Faced with international isolation after Osama bin Laden, Pakistan is merely buying time with a propaganda offensive.

Turkey ratchets up Cyprus tension with EU snipe - ‎Mike Doyle, Famagusta Gazette: Cyprus has called on Turkey to halt their campaign of government propaganda aiming to blame the Greek Cypriots for the stalemate in the UN sponsored peace talks.

Image from article, with caption: Earlier today the Turkish President Abdulla Gul inflamed tensions with Nicosia in a carefully staged put-down of the upcoming EU Presidency.

Advertisers fleeing 'All-American Muslim' 'propaganda': Sears, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, others drop support for program - Bob Unruh, WroldNetDaily: All-American Muslim," a new program on The Learning Channel that is being touted as a "powerful series" that carries viewers "inside the rarely seen world of American Muslims," is being dropped by advertisers. Critics say the program is nothing more than video jihad propaganda, and the Florida Family Association says it is contacting companies whose advertising appears on the show to ask them to quit. So far, 18 of 20 companies contacted

have done so, the group said. The Florida group said it sent out an email alert to constituents only a week ago, who then contacted the sponsors. "The Learning Channel's new show 'All-American Muslim' is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Shariah law," the organization's report on its work said. "The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish."  Image from article, with caption: Nawal and Nader Aoude, some of the stars of the new Muslim television show

Shepard Fairey's OWS Poster: The Rise And Fall of Hope - Shepard Fairey, known for his "Andre The Giant Has A Posse" propaganda and his iconic Obama "HOPE" poster created during the 2008 presidential campaign, is finding out that creating pointed political rhetoric is more complicated than it used to be. Fairey initially designed a poster that re-imagined his famous "HOPE" image as an homage to the Wall Street occupier. The artist replaced the image of President Obama with a presumed member of the group "Anonymous," sporting a Guy Fawkes mask. The piece bore the message, "Mister President, We HOPE You're On Our Side."

The famed street artist-turned-muralist also altered the small Obama logo and inserted a "99%" to coincide with the Occupy Movement's cause. Despite his efforts and good intentions, Fairey experienced a wave of criticism after he released the image on his blog. The main critique that was echoed by several people believed to be associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement is that it did not coincide with their "Statement of Autonomy," claiming that the poster gave off the impression of hopeful partisanship. Image from article


George Washington thanked God for America - Brian W. Walsh, USA Today: It used to be common knowledge that America's first national Thanksgiving Day was established by President George Washington in 1789. While a few modern critics might be rankled by, as Washington's proclamation

puts it, an official "day of public thanksgiving and prayer," for most Americans the holiday stands as an enduring reminder of Washington's wise vision for American religious freedom. Both chambers of Congress requested that Washington establish an official day to thank "Almighty God" for allowing the American people to create a republican "form of government for their safety and happiness." The vast majority of Americans still believe that was a good decision. Image from


"I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land."

--Jon Stewart


Gexton said...

a Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the "Open World Leadership Center Trust Fund" program, he lectures/has lectured to its participants on the topics of "Re-Inventing Oneself in America" and "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United.
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