Sunday, October 14, 2012

October 14

"[I]t may very well be that the much-lauded revolution in transparency is just a counterrevolution in disguise. For every machine that kills secrets, there are at least two that keep them alive."

--Social media skeptic 
Evgeny Morozov; Morozov image from


The CIC Public Diplomacy Workshop; Via DS on Facebook


Muslim Rappers, ‘Google Ideas’: Inside the Flawed U.S. Campaign to Fight Militant Memes - Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman, "The State Department has ... sent an Islamic rap group to various Muslim countries as goodwill ambassadors. The group, Native Deen, sometimes worries about seeming like 'puppets,' as one of its members told The New York Times. A major government collection of thinking floats 'the use of rock and roll to counter violent Salafi extremism.' (.pdf) However, the point people for many CVE [Countering Violent Extremism / Community Engagement] efforts are not rockers, rappers, or school teachers. They’re U.S. attorneys, FBI agents and homeland-security officials, who are often the highest-ranking federal officials in a given area. As part of the White House’s instructions on 'enhancing engagement,' they meet with Muslim and other leaders, listening to grievances, explaining their actions and generally putting a face to the government. The White House concedes that it’s not reinventing the wheel here: 'Our approach is tailored to take advantage of current programs,' reads a December 2011 CVE implementation plan. ... In 2007, a new public-diplomacy undersecretary at the State Department, James Glassman, [said] . ... [p]ublic diplomacy would fail if it was about branding America, since foreigners rolled their eyes when they heard Americans talking up the greatness of America. Public diplomacy, Glassman thought, should be about ripping al-Qaida’s brand apart. The problem ... was finding the 'credible voices' who could do that. Glassman had a secret weapon: a 20-something phenom named Jared Cohen, who made the quick jump to a plum job on State’s policy-planning staff. Cohen had one possible way to square the circle: a youth summit. He could bring together survivors of extremist conflicts around the world — eliding the controversial question of whether Islamic extremism was the problem — to kickstart a countermovement that placed the U.S. on the side of dynamic youth who rejected violence. 'We’re getting behind other people who are doing good things,' Glassman said a 2009 interview, rather than doing those things themselves, which had the virtue of eliding the U.S.’ thorny credibility problems. The result was an unusual confab in New York, which linked the survivors with representatives from social networks like Facebook and HowCast and got the backing of MTV. The summit, called the Alliance of Youth Movements, ...  punted on the harder questions: what exactly the government could do to kickstart one; how to judge its success; how to turn it from a boutique, gimmicky event and into a movement, with government support — but not so much that the official backing would prove counterproductive. ... [T]he biggest shortcoming in this whole CVE campaign [is that it] only tackles the way the U.S. and its extremist adversaries market themselves.

It doesn’t address what the two sides actually do. The one thing the U.S. has never considered in the 11 years after 9/11 is an overhaul of its heavily militarized policies in the Muslim world. That gets into complex geopolitical conundrums about support for dictators, torture, rendition, occupation, oil, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and more — including, now, the drone strikes ... . There is more continuity on those policies between Bush and Obama than partisans of either care to admit. But when discussing 'why they hate us,' successive U.S. officials tend to elide the actual, policy-based grievances that people in the region state over and over again. Which means CVE is even harder than it would at first appear, because it’s got to compete with American drone strikes and commando raids. If there’s a way of accomplishing that task, the U.S. hasn’t found it yet. What it has instead are Dublin conferences crashed by pop stars, faith in the healing power of hip hop, and seminars on extremist web usage that are overshadowed by the burning husk of a Benghazi consulate." Image from, with caption: Hillary and the Libyan Hood

Did Obama Snubb American Soldiers At Normandy? - "In all the years since D-Day 1945, there are only three occasions when the sitting President of the United States of America failed to go to the D-Day Monument that honors the soldiers killed during the Invasion. ... And those three were in the years of 2010, 2011 and in 2012 were D-Day memorials were not attended by the current United States President, Barack Obama. ... If Mr. Obama cannot celebrate the sacrifices of American G.I. in the hellish environment of the Normandy Invasion 65 years without diminishing it, there is little hope he will ever find anything American to be 100 percent in favor of. After visiting the Buchenwald concentration camp and Dresden (presumably for a so-called balanced perspective), Mr. Obama arrived to pay tribute to the heroes of D-Day. Without being specific, Mr. Obama did not fail to mention that mistakes were made.

Nor did he fail to make sure that all faiths and gods were included in his tribute. These are by now signature statements inserted in just about every speech the president makes beyond American shores. 'The nations that joined together to defeat Hitler’s Reich were not perfect,' he said. 'They had made their share of mistakes, had not always agreed with one another on every issue. But whatever God we prayed to, whatever our differences, we knew that the evil we faced had to be stopped. Citizens of all faiths and of no faith came to believe that we could not remain as bystanders to the savage perpetration of death and destruction. And so we joined and sent our sons to fight and often die so that men and women they never met might know what it is to be free.' The president’s penchant for apologizing for his country in speeches to a global audience has by now become almost commonplace, as if to wash his hands of the mistakes of his predecessors – or what he considers to be mistakes. On some level, the White House clearly considers this presidential approach to be the essence of U.S. public diplomacy in the Obama era, and it is compounded by the apologies issues by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well." Image from entry

U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC) Holds Third Sub-Working Group Meeting on Mass Media - Media Note, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC, October 11, 2012 - "U.S. Department of State: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine opened the third session of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC) Sub-Working Group on Mass Media today in Washington, D.C. Bureau of International Information Programs Coordinator Dawn L. McCall will co-chair the October 11-12 meeting between U.S. and Russian media professionals, along with Mr. Mikhail Gusman, First Deputy Director General of ITAR-TASS. Delegates will continue to explore the sub-working group’s three main themes: the Business of Media; the Evolving Practice and Profession of Journalism; and New Media Technologies. These themes will be encompassed in discussions on ethics, entrepreneurship and education, respectively, as well as the expanding role of social media. The U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission is the premier forum between the two countries to strengthen relations on government and society. President Obama and President Medvedev established the BPC in July 2009 to reset U.S.-Russia relations and pursue foreign policy goals of common interest to the American and Russian people. The BPC framework includes 20 working groups, including one on Education, Culture, Sports and Media (ECSM). Two previous mass media sub-working group meetings were held in Boston and Moscow in 2011."

UAE keen to further boost Chicago ties - "The UAE’s Ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, conducted a public diplomacy outreach visit to Chicago recently, with the aim to enhance the already-strong relations between Chicago and the UAE on commercial, social and cultural levels. The ambassador was received by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a luncheon hosted by World Business Chicago, or WBC, and the mayor in the ambassador’s honour.

The luncheon was attended by 14 senior executives from leading business groups in the region. During the luncheon, Al Otaiba, Emanuel and WBC vice-chairman Michael Sacks made remarks underscoring the importance of economic development through strong trade partnerships between Chicago and the UAE." Image from

Former BBG member writes that the BBG "has gone too far" in the firing of 41 RFE/RL Russian journalists - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: Elliott comment: "Was the BBG involved in the decision to sack the 41 RL journalists, as Cullum asserts, or was the BBG presented with a fait accompli? ... I don't think the ban on foreign funding of NGOs has anything to do with the layoffs at Radio Liberty."

Entry cites several negative comments on the firing issue. Image from

Reflections on Diplomacy - Aldo Matteucci, "Rare is the diplomat who is able to break out of the negotiating bound and make an offer so novel and clever that the other side is forced to follow ... . Public diplomacy follows similar rules: 'saying it loud and early' anchors the public argument. The other side will spend much time refuting the initial claim – implicitly and backhandedly giving it credence. 'No smoke without fire' – most will mutter. Inaugurating the topic of the public narrative thus is half controlling it. The narrative space, once claimed, rarely admits a competing storyline, though it might provide room for corrections, refinements, and what else."

Tools for a more resilient public diplomacy (guest post) - Ali Fisher, "Influence in Public diplomacy is not necessarily about being connected to the most people, by reaching and connecting the right people. With a collaborative approach, there is an opportunity for public diplomacy activities to gain influence or social capital by acting as boundary spanners or bridges between networks of individuals who may benefit from connection.

In doing so, the impact of the connection will continue even if shock events cause priorities to be altered. Once connected, groups of committed individuals will continue to work to face the challenges of the 21st century." Image from entry


Time to Pack Up - Editorial, New York Times: After more than a decade of having American blood spilled in Afghanistan, with nearly six years lost to President George W. Bush’s disastrous indifference, it is time for United States forces to leave Afghanistan on a schedule dictated only by the security of the troops. It should not take more than a year. The United States will not achieve even President Obama’s narrowing goals, and prolonging the war will only do more harm.

Questions on Drones, Unanswered Still - Margaret Sullivan, New Yor Times: Americans, according to polls, have a positive view of drones, but critics say that’s because the news media have not informed them well.

The use of drones is deepening the resentment of the United States in volatile parts of the world and potentially undermining fragile democracies, said Naureen Shah, who directs the Human Rights Clinic at Columbia University’s law school.
Image from

Why Netanyahu Backed Down - Graham T. Allison Jr., Shai Feldman, New York Times: Mr. Netanyahu’s about-face resulted from a long-building revolt by Israel’s professional security establishment against the very idea of an early military attack, particularly one without the approval of the United States.

Why must Ukrainians return from abroad? - Zenon Zawada, In the case of Ukraine, an attitude still persists among those in the third wave of the diaspora (those that emigrated during World War II) that the fourth wave (emigrants after the Soviet collapse) ought to be gaining their education or economic skills in the West with the ultimate goal of returning to Ukraine. This attitude was exemplified by a column published in the Kyiv Post on Aug. 25, 2011, headlined “Those who go abroad should return home.” It was written by Bohdan Oryshkevich, co-founder of the USA/USA program that helps Ukrainian students achieve scholarships at elite American universities.

He expressed well-meaning emotions about Ukraine’s brain drain, yet lacked any argument to offer as to why any Ukrainian has a moral obligation (let alone financial incentive) to return to his native land, where his Ivy League education, valued at $100K-plus, would be rendered meaningless. Yes, Ukraine should value these folks. But it doesn’t, and the nation’s establishment shows no signs of doing so for at least the next decade, but probably longer. That hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of Ukrainians have been able to fulfill their dreams abroad after having no chance of doing so in Ukraine is a testament to the superiority of Western values and civilization and the bankruptcy of Communist society, which has now degenerated into post-Soviet society.
Image from

The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent - Chrystia Freeland, New York Times: Historically, the United States has enjoyed higher social mobility than Europe, and both left and right have identified this economic openness as an essential source of the nation’s economic vigor. But several recent studies have shown that in America today it is harder to escape the social class of your birth than it is in Europe. In the early 19th century, the United States was one of the most egalitarian societies on the planet. For Jefferson, this equality was at the heart of American exceptionalism: “Can any condition of society be more desirable than this?” In America today the gap between the very rich and everyone else is wider than at any time since the Gilded Age.

Japan, China embark on 'propaganda war' - Yutaka Ito and Toru Makinoda, ne month has passed since the government put part of the Senkaku Islands under state control in September. Japan had until recently been reluctant to internationally air its claims to sovereignty over the islands, over which it denies the existence of any territorial dispute with China.

However, the ongoing standoff over the islands has taken on aspects of a propaganda war aimed at the international community, prompting Japan to reverse its policy and appeal to world opinion regarding its claim. Meanwhile, Chinese government vessels have been appearing in waters around the islands almost every day; tensions between such vessels and the Japan Coast Guard have been steady. Beijing began a large-scale propaganda campaign to win over international opinion, especially in the United States. In response to such Chinese moves, the government is considering a strategy of lobbying for international support by dispatching the Foreign Ministry's top three parliamentary ministers, including Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and a special advisor to the prime minister, to relevant countries to explain the Senkaku Islands are an integral part of Japan's territory, both historically and under international law. Image from article, with caption: A bookstore in China sets up a special corner for books featuring the Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyu Islands in China.

The Tet Offensive and Democrats - Donald Myers, The Tet Offensive in 1968 spelled doom for the United States in Vietnam. Before the Tet offensive, the propaganda arm of the north was superb and it worked overtime to influence what occurred in the south. That propaganda also had its influence on what the United States did and how we acted in this country. The propaganda from the north stated that the southern government was despised and corrupt while military forces merely needed the opportunity to overthrow it. Much of that was true and coups had occurred. The north believed that the people would rise up and the military would turn on the American troops if given the opportunity. The story was preached constantly and the northern leadership came to believe it. Over time, the north actually believed its own propaganda and thus we had the Tet Offensive.


"According to a '60 Minutes'/Vanity Fair poll released last week, 7 percent of Americans think Lee Harvey Oswald is the guy who shot Abraham Lincoln."

--Janet Maslin, New York Times


--Loose translation: [Push for] rockets at America; via AK on Facebook

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