Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 22-23

“[J]ust lay off our Prophet, just lay off our Prophet. Is that too much to ask?"

--Pakistani U.N. Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon, on CBS News, saying what the U.S. should do it if wants to stop the attacks against American embassies; image from


Cheney: Invading Baghdad Would Create Quagmire (April 1994), Via PVB


BLAMING NO ONE: Blog postings on arts, letters, policy [Paperback] - Dan Whitman. From Amazon: "This collection of published blog postings from a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer offers a perspective challenging facile suppositions, and notes historic moments of interest for the general reader. This book is a series of reflections at the point of retirement from the U.S. Foreign Service.

The postings, all colored by the author's experience, include short essays on the following themes: personal anecdote, people/profiles, the Foreign Policy seen by a mid-level official, human nature, government functions, and 'other' (music, immigration, condominium rules on dog comportment...). The collection is marked by a tone of light humor and social/institutional criticism. The book should serve as an 'easy read,' in short segments. At the same time, the full text, printed in chronological order of their publication dates, will give a perspective which questions and challenges facile suppositions, and notes historic moments of interest for the general reader." Image from


The Apology Tour Continues: Obama, Clinton Say “Sorry” to Rioting Pakistanis - Helle Dale, "Yesterday, the President and Secretary of State of the United States of America went on Pakistani television to apologize. In a commercial containing clips from their Washington press conferences, subtitled in Urdu, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton said 'sorry' to the mad hordes attacking the American embassy in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad and deplored the infamous anti-Muslim14-minute YouTube video. 'We absolutely reject its content and message,' said Clinton in the advertisements, which ended with the seal of the American embassy in Pakistan. U.S. taxpayers footed the bill for this high-level official apology to the tune of $70,000. This is not public diplomacy. This is madness. First off, Clinton and Obama should actually issue another apology—this one to the personnel of the U.S. embassy in Cairo. Their apology statement, posted on the embassy’s website on September 11 while the embassy was under attack, was denounced the following day by the Secretary of State and the President and subsequently taken down. All these apologies are, however, extensions of the Obama 'apology tour,' the moral underpinning of the President’s approach to foreign policy, which holds that the U.S. must be at fault whenever international problems arise. It began soon after his inauguration and is still going strong."

Public diplomacy via TV ad: Obama, Clinton condemn anti-Islam film on Pakistan television  - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Image from entry

Buying airtime: Obama, Clinton adverts slamming film cost $70,000 - "The US State Department says they have spent $70,000 on advertisements featuring US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemning the anti-Islam film 'Innocence of Muslims'. The advertisements, which were reportedly aired on seven stations in Pakistan, contain sound bites from speeches by the two leaders. According to a transcript of the daily press briefing, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters that it was the public diplomacy team’s recommendation to buy airtime on Pakistani TV stations so that the populace can hear the American president and the secretary of state’s message.

According to the transcript, the advertisement features President Obama saying, 'Since our founding, the United States has been a nation of respect – that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.' Secretary Clinton’s message says, 'Let me state very clearly that the United States has absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its contents. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.'” Image from article, with caption: Advertisements, reportedly aired on seven stations in Pakistan, contain sound bites from speeches by the two leaders.

U.S. Squandering the PR Opportunity of the Arab Spring - Michael Holtzman, "The anti-American protests raging across the Middle East and beyond are testing much more than the security at America's diplomatic missions, or even the ability of Arab leaders—many of them in nascent democracies—to address extremism. The turmoil has exposed America's continuing inability, despite its overt political, economic, and military support for Arab democratic aspirations, to build street-level good will with the peoples of the Arab and Muslim world.

The lack of a comprehensive, post-Arab Spring 'public diplomacy' strategy by the Obama administration, and the utter failure by the Romney campaign to even call for one, suggests that what is now happening on the streets is but a sign of things to come. The fact that a mindless, hateful fourteen-minute film was the spark to a powder keg of anger directed at all of America demonstrates the fragility of U.S. standing in the region. Indeed, public-opinion polls showed no 'bounce' for America in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. ... Michael Holtzman, a public relations executive, has developed people-to-people programs in Libya, Syria, Qatar, and Morocco. He was an advisor to the Director of Policy Planning Staff in the State Department and to the U.S. Trade Ambassador. He served as Director of Public Affairs at the Council on Foreign Relations." Image from entry, with caption: Pakistani Muslim demonstrators burn a U.S. flag during a protest against an anti-Islam film in Quetta on Sept. 20.

How Romney Should Have Attacked Obama: Anatomy of a Geopolitical Crisis - William Bradley, Huffington Post: "Instead of making a ludicrously slipshod attack on Obama for supposedly failing to uphold American values -- presumably the value of idiotically attacking a religion and provoking an international crisis -- and siding with the protesters who stormed the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya and the US embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Romney could have and should have stopped and thought for a moment. Then he should have attacked on a much more obviously relevant set of points. Why was our consulate in Benghazi -- and our popular ambassador to Libya, whose popularity threatened jihadist interests -- so lightly guarded on the anniversary of 9/11? Why hasn't all of Obama's vaunted public diplomacy in the Islamic world bought America enough credit to head off wild protests against a truly preposterous little movie?"

Friday Puzzler: Why Does the US Suddenly Prefer Its Enemies Dead? - Barbara F. Walter, Comment by Greg Sanders #: "The U.S. Congress’s denying funds transferring prisoners out of

Guantanamo to the U.S. mainland has limited our the governments ability to take advantage of the more efficacious federal criminal law system against terrorists. Thus a natural strategy of dealing with that continuing public diplomacy problem is to avoid the addition of new prisoners while slowly decreasing the number of prisoners through working out secure ways to transfer them to home countries." Image from

How Chávez ‘plans to steal Venezuela’s election’ "To defend democracy in Venezuela while advancing U.S. interests and values, the Obama Administration should [inter alia]: ... Conduct systematic public diplomacy. The Administration should prepare a public diplomacy brief examining the erosion of democracy and the unfair advantages accumulated by Chávez. It should report the fact that electoral conditions are far from fair."

Digital Diplomacy - Public Diplomacy and International Communications: Thoughts and comments about public diplomacy, soft power and international communications by Gary Rawnsley: "The Economist this week (22-28 September) includes a brief discussion of what it calls 'virtual relations' and 'digital diplomacy'. The article reviews how 'Foreign ministries are getting the hang of social media.' We are told that the US State Department has 'spawned 194 Twitter accounts and 200 Facebook pages': [']About 20 British ambassadors are now on Twitter. Russia's foreign ministry is said to have more that 40 Twitter accounts. Israel has announced it will make more use of e-diplomacy. Even China, which heavily censors social media at home, is interested in using them as a diplomatic tool abroad. Barack Obama's Twitter audience] of nearly 20m followers dwarfs the one of Venezuela's autocratic Hugo Chavez (3.4m) and Russia's prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev (1.5m). ['] I remain an e-agnostic. For one thing, these statistics tell us nothing about content: in public diplomacy does size really matter? I understand the motivation for wishing to participate in an already overcrowded information landscape, and I do not agree with critics who claim social media are another 'Trojan horse' for cultural or political imperialism. This is a naive argument that gives the social media too much power. Besides, audiences will always interpret messages in ways that may surprise the source and contradict the original motivation for the communication. In soft power, the power is rarely in the hands of the source and almost always resides with the audience."

Bringing Cultural Diplomacy to Main Street America - YNN, "The U.S. Department of State announced today that Indonesian performance artists Nan Jombang will travel to communities across America as part of a groundbreaking cultural diplomacy initiative, Center StageSM, from September 21-October 14, 2012. The tour will take Nan Jombang to Washington, DC; Providence, RI; New York, NY; and Los Angeles, CA. Center StageSM brings performing artists from Haiti, Indonesia, and Pakistan to the United States to engage American audiences in 60 medium and small-sized towns and cities. For a full list of artists and performance dates, click here."

Public Diplomacy: How the West can Win - "During the Cold War, we mastered 'public diplomacy,' and I believe that it was that tactic, not our military capabilities, that defeated the Soviet Union. We tried the military intervention route in Vietnam and saw the results (hint: not good). However, our clandestine aid, promotion of our own democracy, and exportation of our still very popular pop culture led the citizens of the Soviet world to look around them and think, 'Hey, this kind of blows.' Ok, maybe a bit more sophisticated and dramatic than that, but you get the gist. The result? The internal dynamics of the U.S.S.R weakened to the point that the entire system crumbled around the Kremlin. Public diplomacy, much like public relations, involves investing in projects and businesses rather than missiles and dictators, and then making sure people know about it. Every single project should have a 'sponsored by the people of the United States of America' sign stamped all over it, since our government isn’t very popular but our country’s people sure as hell can be. We did it in Japan as we helped them reconstruct after winning the shit out of WWII, and it was extremely successful despite the fact that we were militarily occupying them and the small issue of the atomic bombs we dropped. We did it in Europe with the Marshall plan, which, while controversial, ended up also being very successful at keeping countries away from the Commies. More aid directed at obvious goals

that we already give some support such as education (schools, books, etc.) and medicine (clinics, training, supplies, vaccine drives, etc.) can help bolster economies and raise living standards for the average citizen of the developing world. Infrastructure projects (which we also desperately need in the U.S.) such as road networks, railways, and ports, would go a long way to ensuring that goods can reach the market. To make those goods we need to encourage investment in companies in these countries and the people that run them. Scholarships for foreign students are a good starting point, but on the ground training and certification programs for professionals will reach so many more people and be a concrete symbol of U.S. goodwill abroad. Our defense budget is so bloated because we fear threats from countries that we’ve pissed off; if we cut that budget and used just a fraction of it on public diplomacy, those threats will dissipate in the long run and we will find that we don’t need to spend so much protecting ourselves anymore. We might even be, dare I say it, kind of well-liked." Image from entry, with caption: Sign that reads "Berlin Emergency Program: With Marshall Plan Help."

The Decline and Fall of the U.S. Information Agency: American PD 1989-2001 - CPD Conversations in Public DiplomacyUSC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Thursday, November 1, 2012 : 12:00pm to 1:00pm University Park Campus Social Sciences Building B40 Free RSVP The USC Center on Public Diplomacy is pleased to host a conversation with Nicholas J. Cull, Director of the Master's Program in Public Diplomacy at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Professor Cull will discuss his newly released book, The Decline and Fall of the U.S. Information Agency: American Public Diplomacy 1989-2001 (Palgrave MacMillan, 2012).

It is both a sorry tale of political neglect and missed opportunities and an account of what America's public diplomats were nevertheless able to accomplish. Key methods examined include Voice of America radio, exchanges, and cultural diplomacy. Major episodes include the transition of Eastern Europe to democracy, the role of public diplomacy in the First Gulf War and Kosovo Wars, the U.S. interventions in Somalia and Haiti, and the build-up to the attacks of 9/11. (213) 821-2078" Image from entry

Newly-selected director of Radio Liberty Russian Service Masha Gessen met with Putin, denies role in mass firing of RL staffers - BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "Gessen’s comment that Putin may have not know about her anti-Putin reporting is somewhat disturbing. 'Of course, he knew, and, of course, she knows that he knew,' one Russia expert told BBG Watch. 'And Gessen knows perfectly well that Putin, an ex-KGB spy, gets most of his information not from TV but from his security and intelligence services,' another Russia expert told us. It’s a mystery why she wrote this. Our guess is that Gessen may be so blinded by her contempt for Putin that she makes him look like a fool, which he is not. If anybody was set up, it was Gessen ... and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. By asking for a meeting with Gessen, Putin scored public diplomacy points in the West trying to show a benevolent side and propaganda points to please his nationalistic supporters in Russia as well. Commenting on Gessen’s appointment, a BBG official specializing in strategic planning and research wrote in his private blog: 'OK, as long as her decisions at Radio Svoboda [Radio Liberty] to cover or not to cover stories are based on sound news judgments and not on anti-Putin sentiments.' Mission accomplished as far as public diplomacy targeting the West and even BBG executives."

Reports: RFE/RL will quit its medium wave frequency in Moscow, moving to "multimedia internet broadcasting" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

The future president of Audiovisuel extérieur de la France and her plans for French international broadcasting - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Eating In The Embassy: Guinean Embassy Brings West African Food To Washington - Rebecca Sheir, "At the Northwest D.C. residence of Blaise Chérif, the Ambassador of the Republic of Guinea, his chef, Nestor Lamah, is presenting a table arrayed with traditional Guinean dishes. 'This is cassava leaves,' Lamah says, pointing to a bowl filled with dark green chopped leaves. 'And this is Sauce d'arrachide ou Kansiyé and Konkoé here, smoked fish.'

Chérif says Guinea's cuisine varies by region: mid-Guinea, upper-Guinea, the coast and the forest. Chérif hails from the forest. Image from article, with caption: Guinean Ambassador Blaise Cherif (L) and Chef Nestor Lamah (R ) enjoy traditional Guinean foods, including rice and sauces made from cassava leaves and smoked fish. Via PR on Facebook

NE Asian islands public diplomacy wars: booklets, propaganda trucks, video screens, puppies, kittens - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

COTELCO Advances Big Data Agenda through 2013 HICSS Acceptance - "Dr. Derrick L. Cogburn, COTELCO/IDPP Executive Director and Ms. Amy Wozniak, former COTELCO Research Associate, will present their

research paper Computationally Intensive Content Analysis of Public Diplomacy Data: Understanding the Public Remarks of U.S. Secretary of State 1997-2011 at the 46th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) in Maui, Hawaii from 7-10 January 2013." Uncaptioned image from article

Email From The Embassy: After three years in Beijing, we're headed to Amman, Jordan. For family and friends who want to follow our adventures, this is it... - "The State Department has a program called the Professional Associates program. In a nutshell, when a post is understaffed, they can apply to Washington to hire a qualified spouse instead of finding another foreign service officer to fill the gap. Interested spouses have to take a business writing test, and fill out all sorts of forms, and sit through an interview or two, and if you're selected, Washington will hire you into the job and treat you like a regular FSO. It's a great gig if you can get it (there aren't a lot of them). It's probably the best paying job you can get at the Embassy, and it's a 'real' job - not typing, filing, shredding, or escorting visitors around the building. It's really, really hard for a spouse to find a real job at most Embassies, so when you get a chance, you have to jump on it. I applied, and I was selected to work in the public diplomacy section. Which, if you don't know, is sort of the public face of the Embassy. In public diplomacy, the officers talk to the press, and maintain the website, and monitor the Embassy's social media programs, and bring in guest speakers, and organize cultural events, and manage the English language programs, and translate American books into Arabic, and arrange web chats with prominent writers, and, and, and. So: the public diplomacy section sells America. Now I'm in public diplomacy."


Think globally, America: The 21st century will be neither an American century nor a Chinese century; it will be a world century - Benjamin R. Barber, Los Angeles Times: We live in an age of interdependence, and the challenges we face — climate change, immigration, pandemic illness, the drug trade, terrorism, financial stability — can't be addressed without global cooperation. The 21st century will be neither an American century nor a Chinese century; it will be a world century. It will belong to all of us or to none, and we must decide together how to shape it. This is realism, not idealism. But it is hard for politicians to talk realistically about interdependence when citizens punish them for it, calling them "European" or "socialist" or "un-American."

America's detainee problem: The Obama administration needs to make more of an effort to arrange the repatriation or resettlement of individuals no longer considered a threat - Editorial, Los Angeles Times: Although the number of prisoners at Guantanamo has dwindled, the number of detainees could rise again under legislation passed by Congress last year.

The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act purports to be a reaffirmation of the Authorization of Military Force passed by Congress to target the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. In fact, its reach is broader, authorizing military detention of individuals who belong to or support not only Al Qaeda but "associated forces." Such individuals can be put on trial or detained without trial until "the end of the hostilities." Image from article, with caption: This 2006 photo shows guard towers and triple rows of razor barbed wire perimeter for Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, where alleged enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan are being detained.

Torture and the Myth of Never Again - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: For at least six years it was the policy of the United States of America to torture

and abuse its enemies or, in some cases, simply suspected enemies. Image from article

Failed Efforts and Challenges of America’s Last Months in Iraq - Michael R. Gordon, New York Times: In the case of Iraq, the American goal has been to leave a stable and representative government, avoid a power vacuum that neighboring states and terrorists could exploit and maintain sufficient influence so that Iraq would be a partner or, at a minimum, not an opponent in the Middle East. But the Obama administration has fallen frustratingly short of some of those objectives. The attempt by Mr. Obama and his senior aides to fashion an extraordinary power-sharing arrangement between Mr. Maliki and Mr. Allawi never materialized. Neither did an agreement that would have kept a small American force in Iraq to train the Iraqi military and patrol the country’s skies. A plan to use American civilians to train the Iraqi police has been severely cut back. The result is an Iraq that is less stable domestically and less reliable internationally than the United States had envisioned.

Farce - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "After getting another Facebook 'join my cause, remove the offensive movie' I finally decided to watch the movie The Innocence of Muslims that set half the world on fire. Unbelievable. It is beyond trash. It is a ridiculous joke. I can't decide what I am more angry about, the fact that someone would make such garbage (a crime) or that people would riot and kill over such garbage (equally a crime). Yes, it is offensive, utterly so. But I can't imagine that a single person who actually went rioting watched this garbage. That anyone would think this somehow reflects on America's view towards Islam is just as imbecilic as the idiot who made this low budget trash. And guys, a farce of a movie insults Muslims as bloodthirsty savages, and the reaction is rioting and the offering blood money to kill the film's producer is equally a farce. God is big enough to fight his own battles, he doesn't need you to protect him from idiots."

Pakistan’s “Love for the Prophet Day” Ends with 15 Dead, 200+ Wounded and Property Mess - Domani Spero, DiplomPundit

Historic Baghdad Book Market Bulldozed in Late-Night Raid - Ali al-Saray, Iraqi police raided Mutanabi Street in Baghdada vital hub of cultural activity in the country, and destroyed the book-fair stalls on the street. On September 17, bulldozers guarded by armed soldiers stormed the street late at night and smashed the wooden stalls used by booksellers for displaying and selling their books.

The vendors said they did not receive a warning to evacuate the area. An eyewitness told Al-Hayat that a large bulldozer, alongside other heavy equipment, entered Mutanabi Street after the shops closed and books were returned to the stores. The Municipality of Baghdad released a statement the following day saying that “the campaign aims to remove violations from Mutanabi Street.” The statement obligated the vendors “to carry out their activities only on Fridays.” According to the Municipality of Baghdad, the crackdown “included removing the stalls, book exhibits and publications from the sidewalks.” Al-Hayat has learned that officials in the municipality are planning to turn Mutanabi Street into an animal market like Souk al-Ghazal. Booksellers would only be permitted to work on Fridays, as is the case with vendors of birds and dogs. Via PVB on Facebook. Image from article, with caption: Residents walk along Mutanabi Street in Baghdad April 5, 2011

A Greater Asia [Review of FROM THE RUINS OF EMPIRE: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia By Pankaj Mishra] - Hari Kunzru, NEw York Times: The question of what to accept, what to adapt and what to reject from “the West” remains central in contemporary Asian politics; “From the Ruins of Empire” reveals much about the ideological underpinnings of the Iranian revolution and India’s dogged pursuit of scientific and technical excellence. Mishra's book goes a long way to substantiating his claim that “the central event of the last century for the majority of the world’s population was the intellectual and political awakening of Asia.”

Afghanistan bans Pakistani newspapers, cites propaganda - Afghanistan has banned all Pakistani newspapers over what security officials say is anti-government propaganda aimed at Kabul, the Ministry of Interior said on Saturday, in a move likely to worsen already tense cross-border ties. The deputy interior minister in Afghanistan is ordering the Zone One border police commander to stop all the Pakistani newspapers coming from Pakistan through Torkham borders.

The statement says the Pakistani newspapers are an easy source for the Taliban to convey their message, which can change the minds of Afghans. Image from article, with caption: Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, right, meets Mahmood Khan Achakzai, a Pakistani politician and leader of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, at the presidential palace in Kabul on Saturday. Afghanistan has set in motion plans to ban the entry of all newspapers from Pakistan.

Behind North Korea’s propaganda star, a darker story - Chico Harlan, Washington Post: This summer, a 66-year-old woman surfaced at a news conference in North Korea to tell of her jubilant homecoming after six years in the “miserable” South. As a private citizen and a defector, the woman, Pak Jong Suk, made for an unlikely national symbol. But she also had the pitch-perfect tale for an authoritarian North Korea straining for new ways to make its people love their leader and stay within the country’s borders. Pak appeared at an 80-minute news conference at a palace in Pyongyang and was later featured in a six-part series carried by the state-run news agency. At times weepy, at times ecstatic, Pak — one of the only cases on record of a defector returning to the North, according to South Korean government officials — described her hardships in the “corrupt” money-crazed South and apologized for having left.

She credited the North’s young supreme leader, Kim Jong Eun, for his “tenderhearted” forgiveness of her traitorous crimes. But those who knew Pak in South Korea, as well as South Korean government officials, say there’s a dark side to Pak’s rise to propaganda stardom. Her story, they say, is largely false and probably state-fed, and it exposes North Korea’s willingness to manipulate a citizen who returned not because she yearned for her homeland but because she feared for the safety of the son she left behind. Image from article, with caption: North Korean Pak Jong Suk, center, sings a Korean song titled “My Unforgettable Path” with her son and daughter-in-law while standing under portraits of former North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung, left, and Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang, North Korea, on June 28, 2012.

Sifting through the propaganda while touring Israel/Palestine: Tour companies operating in Israel often have a very specific political agenda and a deep impact on the perspectives of their participants. A critical approach is necessary to resist the propaganda that so often accompanies such tours - Gary Spedding, People who take politicized trips to Israel commonly encounter a specific agenda. Exposure to propaganda dressed up as fact, though occasionally qualified with such additives as “opinion” and “experiences,” often goes unnoticed in the moment, but can have a profound influence on how the visitor views, experiences and talks about Israel.

A Violin Once Owned by Goebbels Keeps Its Secrets - Carla Shapreau, New York Times: Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, wrote in his diary: “I am offering the Japanese violinist Suwa a Stradivarius violin. [Japan’s ambassador to Germany, Hiroshi] Oshima, who attends the reception of this young girl who makes an extremely likable impression, is delighted about this gift.”

In 1951 Suwa went to America to perform in a benefit concert at the Hollywood Bowl. On Goebbels’s violin, before an American audience, Ms. Suwa played a piece she had performed in Toyko when she was just 10, the Concerto in E minor by Mendelssohn, a composer whose works had been banned by the Nazis. Image from article, with caption: The Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, presenting a violin, said to be a Stradivarius, to Nejiko Suwa in 1943.


--Via LR on Facebook

--Via WK on Facebook

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