Saturday, July 28, 2012

July 28

"Americans are ... confusing 'Syria' with Siri the Apple robot voice or Suri, Tom Cruise’s child."

--American diplomat Peter Van Buren; image from


Full Transcript of web chat on the theme of People-to-People Ties: The Heart of the U.S.-India Partnership on July 19 with Ambassador Nirupama Rao and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy Tara Sonenshine, moderated by Ambassador Robert Blake, U.S. Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs -

Rao image from entry

US Embassy Thailand: Ambasssador Kenney and All Get High Marks; OIG Runs Out of Synonyms - Domani Spero, DiploPundit: "State/OIG [Office of the Inspector General] recently posted online its compliance follow-up review (CFR) of our two posts in Thailand, the US Embassy in Bangkok and USCG Chiang Mai. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney arrived in Bangkok in January 2011, while her DCM, Judith B. Cefkin, arrived at post in July 2010.

Below are the main key judgments: ... The Ambassador’s emphasis on public diplomacy, especially a trailblazing use of social media, effectively promotes the U.S. foreign policy agenda in Thailand." Image from entry, with caption: Here’s Ambassador Kenney and DCM Cefkin in their matching blue dresses during the embassy’s Fourth of July celebration.

Discussion of the Smith-Mundt domestic dissemination ban continues to elude reality - Kim Andrew Elliot reporting on International Broadcasting: Commenting on Heritage Foundation, 18 July 2012, Helle Dale, Elliott writes: "There is absolutely nothing stopping Americans from accessing access the information that U.S. government-funded entities broadcast to the rest of the world. The websites of those entities, as well as the mentioned 135 State Department websites, are accessible to Americans, but could readily be prevented from reaching US IP addresses. This doesn't happen because the domestic dissemination prohibition is not observed. Mrs. Dale is correct that one of the key arguments for the elimination (or not requiring the enforcement of) the domestic dissemination ban is that Americans, who want to know, should know what international broadcasting and public diplomacy content the United States is sending to the world."

Blogger offers "less extreme alternatives" to the China Media Reciprocity Act - Kim Andrew Elliot reporting on International Broadcasting

BBG confirms "commitment to supporting freedom and democracy for all Tibetans" - Kim Andrew Elliot reporting on International Broadcasting

China`s public diplomacy and activist - Ha Tae-won, "Strengthening public diplomacy is Beijing’s national agenda. Its strategy is to break away from its traditional diplomacy with foreign governments. China is seeking to enhance its national image and foster its soft power by approaching the people of another country to enhance their understanding of China. In short, public diplomacy is aimed at turning the people of other countries in favor of my country. Zhao Qizheng, head of the foreign affairs committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said in a lecture in Seoul early this month that his country will take the lead in seeking harmony in the world. However, many still feel China is an imperious country that is sometimes impossible to communicate with. When Chinese fishermen violated South Korean waters and killed a South Korean coast guard, Beijing told Seoul to 'enforce its law with full respect' for the Chinese people rather than offer an apology. China also occasionally pressures other countries to follow the Chinese way. China’s 113-day detention and electric torture of a South Korean human rights activist for North Korea will likely deal a severe blow to its public diplomacy efforts toward Seoul. If China considers South Korea a true friend, it should investigate the case and offer an apology."

US Media: China Was The First Soft Power - "In Beijing and Shanghai of China's public diplomacy practitioners and academics Exchange, I found them on China's public diplomacy strategy should look like, what China wants from the public diplomacy issues there was no consensus. the Chinese enthusiasm for public diplomacy is there, but no comprehensive plan. This lack of a consistent phenomenon, partly due to the Chinese have not yet accepted their is already a real superpower. I heard many people complaining about how the international media on China's unfair. I would say, is not treated fairly is a superpower must learn to live with it, but my Chinese counterparts did not seem to understand." Below image from

Bobo passenger space China Overseas Chinese - "In general, the public diplomacy include two main elements: to provide information (including information to foreign and international broadcast), the international education and international cultural exchange activities. Chinese public diplomacy after the Cold War focused on providing information and international education activities, which are the two pillars of China's public diplomacy."

Interface – Kevin McElligott - "My gridded interface design for the Syracuse Public Diplomacy site came to life organically, as most do. ... Public diplomacy is a rich and complex field; sadly, the website did not mirror those values. Intended to reach the vast target publics of current and prospective PD students, professional diplomacy scholars and administrators, it was my intention to deliver a professional site that allowed for above-the-fold access to critical information in five seconds or less while accommodating the increasing use of mobile devices.

I did this using large visuals, column headers, and other navigation elements in an easy-to-follow grid. The inclusion of white space was similar to the initial site, but the distinctive (and larger) typeface made it appear more streamlined and welcoming while reducing eye strain." Image from entry

Photo Essay: Children of War -- Why we need a code of conduct for images of kids in conflict zones - James Thomas Snyder, Foreign Policy: "In 2009, while I was working in public diplomacy on NATO's international staff in Brussels, I was asked to produce a promotional campaign to be posted in the Washington, D.C., Metro system for NATO's 60th-anniversary summit in Strasbourg and Kehl. In response, I asked member countries to suggest powerful images that showed Allied forces in action in Afghanistan.

I received dozens of images (including the one above, of Dutch troops transporting residents of Uruzgan province to safety after their district was flooded in 2007) and went through thousands more using a variety of online combat camera resources in an effort to demonstrate each country's contributions to NATO's most important mission since the end of the Cold War. It was harder than it sounds. James Thomas Snyder served on NATO's international staff from 2005 to 2011. He is writing a book on U.S. public diplomacy that will be published in 2013." Image part of the photo essay.

Weekend Delegation - "[M]y plan [is] to take the Foreign Service Officer exam coming up in October or January. 'My goal,' I [said], 'is to go into Public Diplomacy'."


The time for patience in Syria is over - Editorial Board, Washington Post: No one is arguing for a Libyan-style intervention into Syria at this point. But the United States and its NATO allies could begin contingency planning for a no-fly zone, now that Mr. Assad is deploying aircraft against the opposition. Instead of providing only non-lethal support, such as medical supplies and communications gear, America could help supply weapons to the outgunned opposition fighters. It could work with Turkey and other allies to set up havens for them.

Preparing for Assad's Exit - Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: It has never been more clear that the Obama administration was right to reject calls for American military intervention, and should continue to do so. Nor should the U.S. be joining the dangerous game of arming the insurgency, which seems to be getting plenty of weapons from other sources.

Instead, the U.S. should be focusing on supporting the Syrian opposition politically, mitigating the worst effects of the civil war and insurgency, pushing to bring Syrian war criminals to justice, and maintaining its pressure on Assad through sanctions and diplomatic isolation. Image from article

Syrians to US Ambassador Ford: Piss Off - Peter van Buren, We Meant Well: The US can’t contain its glee over the ongoing chaos and destruction in Syria. A massive bombing that killed senior officials, an act that would have instantly been labeled terrorism anywhere else, was delightfully lightly commented on by the White House. Atrocities are occurring on all sides (it is too complex to simply refer to the ongoing free-for-all as “both” sides, as if this was a sporting match) but the US seems to single out nasty things done by the government while downplaying those by the other side(s), including a growing who’s who of Middle East terror groups.

While more-or-less openly supporting chaos, the US still feels the need on a random summer Friday to play at the same tired rhetoric of “democracy and freedom” (“daf”) that it trots out now and then. Today’s trotter is US ambassador to Syria in exile Robert Ford. Ford is an old State Department hand, with plenty of mileage in the Iraq fiasco to his credit, and rumored in fact to be the next ambassador nominee to Iraq. Ford’s address “to the Syrian people” takes place in English and on Facebook for some reason. He is not Lincoln or Pericles. While it is barely worth the effort itself of the mouse click, the comments below it, many purportedly from Syrians, are worth your time. One writes “Our memory is LONG LONG LONG Mr. Ford, who the hell do you think you are messing with?” while another is more to the point in saying “piss off Ford.” Ford image from entry

Balkans Redux: From Bosnia to Syria - Nebojsa Malic, The Bosnia intervention was promoted by "advocacy journalists", who uncritically accepted propaganda accounts of atrocities, then inflated them for good measure. Syria has denied access to these vultures, but that hasn’t made much of a difference. Western mainstream media simply skipped the expense of sending correspondents, uncritically airing propaganda from the rebel "activists" instead. Facts are nowhere in the picture; it is all about the narrative.

Romney isn’t out to make the world swoon - Fouad Ajami, Washington Post: The late Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington once sketched three visions of the United States’ place in the world: nationalist, cosmopolitan and imperial. In the nationalist view, America defends her interests in the world and marks ideological borders and differences with other nations. In the cosmopolitan view, the foreign world and globalization reshape America, erasing the differences that separate it from other countries. In the imperial vision, America remakes the world by remaking foreign lands. An imperial push can’t be sustained; the United States lacks the resources and the drive for such grand ambitions. So we are down to a more realistic distinction. Obama embodies the cosmopolitan aspiration, and Romney the nationalist idea. We have already seen Obama’s worldview at work; it probably wouldn’t change in a second term. Romney’s stewardship would dawn without trumpets and drums. It would have the sobriety of Gerald Ford’s and George H.W. Bush’s leadership. But there would be an ideological edge, illustrated in Romney’s VFW address: “Like a watchman in the night, we must remain at our post — and keep guard of the freedom that defines and ennobles us and our friends.”

Propaganda posters: J. C. Leyendecker’s Uncle Sam at bat (fit for August) - Propaganda is not a bad word.  There is bad propaganda, stuff that doesn’t work. There is propaganda for bad purposes, stuff that promotes bad policies, or evil. 

But good propaganda is stronger, long-lasting, often full of great artistic merit, and instructive. Images of Uncle Sam provide clear pictures of what Americans were thinking, from the oldest versions to today. This poster above is a World War I poster designed to convince Americans to get involved in the war effort.  J. C. Leyendecker, a noted illustrator, cast Uncle Sam as a baseball player up to bat.  The poster says simply, “Get in the game with Uncle Sam.”  Perhaps uniquely, this poster showed Sam in yellow-striped pants, instead of the more traditional red-striped.  Could an artist take such liberty today?

The infamous Hitler Olympics - Germany was awarded the Games for the first time in 1916, but World War I stopped them being held. Then the International Olympic Committee chose Germany in 1931 to hold the 1936 Games which was a full two years before Adolf Hitler came to power.

The Olympics were a giant propaganda exercise by the Germans. Soldiers were everywhere to accompany athletes, while Hitler wanted to show off the superiority of the Arian race. One man in particular spoilt Hitler's propaganda dream — Jesse Owens, a black man from the United States who won four athletic gold medals and became the darling of the Games. He would tell you later, however, that he had more liberty in Germany than in his own segregated country. Owen Image from

From the Vault: 1936: A Nazi demonstration - "With the London Olympics now up and open for business, here's an interesting little tidbit from one of the more memorable Olympic Games - Berlin, 1936. The editors of the Peoria Journal and Transcript weighed in at the close of those Olympics in August, 1936 - after otherwise ignoring the Games - with this piece under the above headline: "Germany won the goose-stepping championship at the Olympics, partly because the Germans are experts at it, and partly because there were no other entrants. It was the first time in history that a military review was made part of the games. It was an impressive spectacle, not only for Nazi enthusiasts, but for others who saw more in it than a parade. Twenty-five hundred helmeted soldiers, sailors and military aviators goose-stepped down the field. Eighty thousand arms were raised in the Nazi salute, and the 'Heils' rang out in deafening volume as Hitler himself stood at rigid attention. The Nazi flag, bearing the iron cross and the swastika, flew above the scoreboard. Massed bands played all though the procession, finishing with the German war hymn as the throngs stood at salute with bared heads. The marchers were men of about the same age as the athletes who have been holding world attention in recent weeks with their skills in many sports. Germans have always excelled in drill and gymnastics. Perhaps the goose-stepping was intended merely as a demonstration of this particular skill, for the purpose of honoring and giving pleasure to the spectators. Or it may have been Nazi propaganda." From the vantage of 76 years later, this page's vote goes to "Nazi propaganda." 1936 would be the last Olympics in a while, of course, with the Games of 1940 and 1944 canceled as the world was plunged into war by the very Adolf Hitler who was signaling his military intentions even then.


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Ryan Lochte's post-race grill shines with stars and stripes -  USA Today

1 comment:

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