Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15

"Jeez! I’m getting a stomach-achy feeling that this 21st century statecraft/internet freedom is just full of yabadabadoooo!"

--Domani Spero, DiploPundit; image from


Public Schedule for October 15, 2012 Washington, DC - U.S. Department of State: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 2:30 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine delivers remarks at the Exchange 2.0: The Science of Impact, the Imperative of Implementation hosted by Her Majesty Queen Noor al-Hussein and the United States Institute of Peace, at the United States Institute of Peace.


Alec Ross, State Dept Bundle of Joy Visits Pakistan for Twittersation on Innovation - Domani Spero, "One of the State Dept’s media digs recently announced that Alec Ross, the State Department’s Senior Advisor on Innovation has a presentation in Islamabad on 'Developing a Culture of Innovation at Universities in Pakistan.' ... The last few weeks showed us that a large swath of the Muslim world lack a basic understanding on why we tolerate even our nutty expressions in speech, in art, in crappy videos/movies, etc. or why we protect even the ugliest speech. And here we are talking about innovation. Right. ... Go ahead and

talk about innovation, nothing to do until the next mob attacks. You never know when you get to chat up on innovation again. ... [W]ould you please whisper loudly to the somebodies upstairs to wake the foxtrot up because this looks utterly hyper-ridiculous?" Above image from entry, with note: "Alec Ross and Pakistani innovators reportedly also got together for a 'Twittersation' in Islamabad where the former answered questions about media freedom, innovation, entrepreneurship and other hot topics";

this above image from

State Department Propaganda Piece or WaPo “Journalism” Can You Tell? - "The State Department has always had a cozy relationship with its home town newspaper, the Washington Post. When times are tough, State can always count on WaPo for a puff piece, a planted Op-Ed or a killed story to make the day brighter. We talked about one, on Haiti Reconstruction, here and some here. But enough partisanship. Instead, today, we will have a blind taste test. Two articles, one from the Post and one from State’s own propaganda team. Both pieces are on 'culinary diplomacy.' I’ll put up quotes [in Mr. Van Buren's blog entry] and you see if you can tell the State-written propaganda from the Washington Post written 'journalism.'

Image from article

“The Last Three Feet: Case Studies in Public Diplomacy” Book Review Essay - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View: "As editor William P. Kiehl points out in the introduction to The Last Three Feet, despite the vast number of reports and books written about American public diplomacy since the demise of the US Information Agency in 1999 and in the aftermath of 9/11 not a single study has focused on what public diplomacy officers actually do in the field. ... This small, readable volume seeks to redress the void. The Last Three Feet is not about Washington operations – structure, function, or history. It is not about how or what academics think public diplomacy is as they construct mind-castles in the air filled with jargon no self-respecting practitioner would take the time to wade through. It is very simply how several of today’s experienced State Department officers have dealt with real world public diplomacy situations. These experiences have varied widely from country to country although certain commonalities – challenges and opportunities – can be seen through their writings to have recurred across the globe. ... Several of these case studies are controversial – or at least represent unique occurrences in atypical situations.  How often, for instance, is a US Consulate or Embassy situated in a city where a World Expo is about to take place and the Consul General finds him or, in the case of Shanghai, herself faced with an intransigent Washington bureaucracy and politicians unable to think out of an outdated Congressionally-limited

funding box constructed thirty years before?  Or how often does an Embassy place at the top of its agenda a small youth exchange program that will need to last for years on end to prove effectiveness? ... [M]ost, if not all, of these case studies discuss how Embassy public diplomacy officers have used, or attempted to use, the social media and how they have reached, or attempted to reach, beyond fortress embassy walls to communicate with local publics especially youth despite the high walls and loss of American Centers in the countries of their assignment. ... If there is one overriding conclusion that runs through this book, it is that interaction through the social media (providing, that is, social media is important to communicating with the people in a particular country) cannot be handled staff-lite. ... If you want to know what public diplomacy officers do do ...  this book is well worth reading." Image from article

U.S. to End Pro-Democracy Broadcasts in Russia: Radio Liberty fires large portion of its staff in wake of Russian law - Adam Kredo, "America’s broadcast voice in Russia will soon be silenced following Moscow’s ratification of a new law that will force a legendary broadcasting company to abandon the Russian airwaves. Radio Liberty (RL), a division of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe (RFE), recently fired a large portion of its staff after the passage of a Russian law prohibiting foreign-owned media outlets from broadcasting on AM frequencies.
The unexpected mass layoffs came as a shock to RL journalists and Russian human rights activists alike, and spurred accusations that the Obama administration is kowtowing to Russian President Vladimir Putin as he seeks to silence the democratic voice that helped topple communism. ... On Nov. 10, RL, known by locals as

Radio Svoboda, will cease its AM broadcasts after nearly 60 years on the airwaves. ... The station’s American overseers have announced that Radio Svoboda, which reaches an estimated 150,000 listeners daily, will turn exclusively to the Internet where it hopes to reach a younger generation of Russians. The new broadcasting law, spearheaded by Putin, orders companies that are more than 48 percent foreign-owned to leave the Russian airwaves. It comes on the heels of the ouster of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a nonprofit aid group recently banned from operating in Russia. Soon after the radio measure was approved, RL axed the majority of its veteran reporters, radio hosts, and editors—a move viewed as suspicious to many on the inside. A handful of additional RL staffers quit in protest following the firings. ... [T] he Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees RFE-RL, ... maintains that the new law forces leaders to take painful yet necessary steps that will benefit the organization in the long run. ... BBG officials argue that their critics are overreacting. ‘Some of our critics claim quite incorrectly that we are withdrawing or retrenching in Russia, [RFE/RL President Steven] Korn told BBG’s board during its monthly meeting last week. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are adapting to change conditions with a new strategy and focus.’” Radio Liberty image from

RFE/RL Russian: Same budget, fewer employees, "new equipment" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "Kim's summary: ... RFE/RL president Steven Korn  ... spoke: 'There has been a lot of inaccurate information circulating here in the US and in Russia about the future of our Russian service Radio Svoboda.' He said that the future of the service would be in the 'Digital media: internet, mobile, and social.' The closing of the medium wave transmitter was actually 'an opportunity to accelerate our plans to move to digital platforms. Truth be told, in the world in which we live today, AM radio is a bygone era.' Mr. Korn addressed the reason for the terminations: 'Sadly, the cessation of our AM signal and the switch to digital services requires news ways of working with fewer people and some people with different skill sets.'"

Diplomacy Ministry seeks to boost settlers' global image - Itamar Fleishman, Against the backdrop of the upcoming Knesset elections, the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs is set to launch a campaign aiming to boost the West Bank settlements' global image. The campaign, which will cost NIS 1 million (roughly $261,000), will be geared towards prominent bloggers and social network users both in Israel and abroad. ... [T]he project's primary goal is to 'bolster the legitimacy' of the settlements in light of the criticism leveled at Israel over its settlement activity.

The request further notes that that the settlers are misrepresented as 'a violent, conquering and destructive group,' while Israel is considered an illegitimate state controlling disputed land. Getting wind of the initiative, Peace Now Director Yariv Oppenheimer accused the government of 'wasting public funds to justify settlement policies and to improve the settlers' global image.'" See also. Image from, with caption: Israeli prime minister Netanyahu watches youngsters play on their first day of school in a West Bank settlement

Scenes! Kaitlinfso's Blog - "This weekend was a scene. One: French Embassy Party. ... [I]f you have lived in DC ever, you know that Embassies hold parties all the time. While it sounds all snobby to say, oh la te da, I am off to an Embassy party tonight, it’s not like you are actually shmoozing with diplomats. Nope. They are open to the public and you pay to get in. Embassies basically open the doors of their fancy buildings and throw various theme parties. This weekend was 'French Underground' and featured various French indie bands as well as artists and a theater to view film shorts.

It was great people watching, pretty much all Europeans and Latin Americans. Mostly my friend and I were just sad that we can’t have parties like this abroad, because if we could, we, as public diplomacy officers, would be the ones planning them. But unfortunately we can’t charge for events and we don’t usually hold events within our buildings open to the public..usually there is a guest list for security reasons. But it is a great idea, charge people for an awesome party that they would pay to go to anyway, but then the gain a greater appreciation and interest in the country, and you don’t have to spend any money." Image from


Social Media "Tactical Intelligence Collection": Spying and Propaganda using Facebook, Twitter - Julie Lévesque, A new study by the Mediterranean Council for Intelligence Studies’ (MCIS) 2012 Intelligence Studies Yearbook points to the use of social media as “the new cutting edge in open-source tactical intelligence collection."’s Joseph Fitsanakis, who co-authored the study, reports: We explain that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a host of other social networking platforms are increasingly viewed by intelligence agencies as invaluable channels of information acquisition. We base our findings on three recent case studies, which we believe highlight the intelligence function of social networking. (Joseph Fitsanakis, Research: Spies increasingly using Facebook, Twitter to gather data,, February 13, 2012) What the study fails to mention, however, is the use of social media by intelligence agencies for other purposes.

The study leads us to believe that social media is solely an intelligence gathering tool, when in fact, a number of reports have shown that it is used for propaganda including the creation of fake identities in support of covert operations. Those practices are discussed in Army of Fake Social Media Friends to Promote PropagandaSocial Media: Air Force ordered software to manage army of Fake Virtual People and Pentagon Seeks to Manipulate Social Media for Propaganda Purposes, published on Global Research in 2011.The MCIS study is partly based on the “Arab Spring” framework which allegedly “prompted the US government to begin developing guidelines for culling intelligence from social media networks”. (Ibid.) Again, this leaves out the fact that the U.S. Government provides “activist training” to foreign nationals to destabilize their country of origin. This tactic is detailed in Tony Cartalucci’s latest article, Egypt: US-funded Agitators on Trial: US “Democracy Promotion” = Foreign-funded Sedition Image from

No Shame - Editorial, New York Times: There are many unanswered questions about the vicious assault in Benghazi last month that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. And Congress has a responsibility to raise them. But Republican lawmakers leading the charge on Capitol Hill seem more interested in attacking President Obama than in formulating an effective response. It doesn’t take a partisan to draw that conclusion. The ugly truth is that the same people who are accusing the administration of not providing sufficient security for the American consulate in Benghazi have voted to cut the State Department budget, which includes financing for diplomatic security. America’s diplomats must be protected, but they cannot do their jobs and interact with the world if they operate only behind fortress walls.

How Obama bungled the Syrian revolution - Jackson Diehl, Washington Post: The president’s handling of Syria exemplifies every weakness in his foreign policy — from his excessive faith in “engaging” troublesome foreign leaders to his insistence on multilateralism as an end in itself to his self-defeating caution in asserting American power. The result is not a painful but isolated setback, but an emerging strategic disaster: a war in the heart of the Middle East that is steadily spilling over to vital U.S. allies, such as Turkey and Jordan, and to volatile neighbors, such as Iraq and Lebanon.

Romney’s distraction on Libya - Katrina vanden Heuvel, Washington Post: Whether we like it or not, U.S. policy will need to adapt to the reality that post-Arab-Spring governments will no longer be able to ignore the popular will of their people as Hosni Mubarak and Moammar Gaddafi did, and that new potentially challenging security problems will arise with the breakdown of the old regimes, which will give al-Qaeda and other extremist groups a new opportunity to spread violence and launch attacks.

Tiny Azerbaijan unleashes pop-power against Iran’s mullahs - Joby Warrick, Washington Post: The latest weapon in this country’s ideological war with Iran arrived late last month in an armada of jets from California, accompanied by a private security force, dazzling pyrotechnics and a wardrobe that consisted of sequins and not much else. A crowd of nearly 30,000 gathered to watch as the leader of this mini-invasion pranced onto a stage built on the edge of the Caspian Sea. With a shout of “Hello, lovers!” Jennifer Lopez wiggled out of her skirt and launched into a throbbing disco anthem, delighting her Azerbaijani fans and — it was hoped — infuriating the turbaned ayatollahs who live just across the water. “You could almost feel the Iranians seething,” said an Azerbaijani official who attended the U.S. pop star’s first concert in this predominantly Shiite Muslim country of 9 million. “This stuff makes them crazy.”The effect on Iran’s leaders is real enough, and it is at least partly by design. Azerbaijan, Iran’s neighbor and longtime rival, is coming to relish its role as the region’s anti-Iran, a secular, Western-leaning country that is working mightily to become everything that Iran is not.

The visit to Baku by the pop star known as J-Lo was only one in a string of events marking the cultural coming out of a newly assertive Azerbaijan. Concert promoters have lured a steady stream of A-list Western entertainers to the country in recent weeks, including fellow pop icon Rihanna, who arrived in this Caspian seaport two weeks after Lopez’s Baku premiere on Sept. 23. Rihanna was followed by blond songstress Shakira, the closer in a triumvirate of female performers known for skimpy costumes and sexually provocative dance moves. Image from article, with caption: Azerbaijan relishes its anti-Iran role:  The secular, Western-leaning country is socially and religiously tolerant, offering itself as a model of a nonsectarian Muslim-majority society.

Obama's Record in the Americas: Friendly countries have been stiff-armed while those who would do the U.S. harm have been given a pass, and sometimes even encouraged - Mary Anastasia O'Grady Wall Street Journal: Democrats on the far left, led by the likes of former Sen. Chris Dodd, spent the Cold War arguing that U.S. efforts to keep the Soviets from setting up camp in the region amounted to vulgar imperialism.

The Soviets are gone, but the Latin left has gained a new best friend in the current U.S. president. Image from article, with caption: Barack Obama greets Hugo Chávez at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port-of-Spain, April 17, 2009.

The Retreat of Globalization: Banks are retrenching, trade is slowing. What if the world is becoming more fragmented as policy makers focus on short-term urgencies? - Warsh Davis, Wall Street Journal: American leaders must find their voices in championing free markets, free people and free trade. Unless we reaffirm these first principles for economic growth in a globally connected economy—and act on our own prescriptions—the gains from globalization will be lost.

Diaoyu Talks Set Amid “Propaganda War” - A senior member of China’s Foreign Ministry met with his counterpart in Tokyo on Thursday and the two sides have agreed to hold vice-ministerial talks to end the ongoing dispute over the Diaoyu / Senkaku Islands. Both sides have also now accused the other of waging a propaganda war, Japan in the Daily Yomiuri on Saturday and China in the Global Times on Monday.

China propaganda czar lauds Mo Yan on Nobel: media - The Chinese Communist Party's top propaganda official congratulated author Mo Yan on Friday for winning the Nobel literature prize, calling it a reflection of China's growing power, state media said.

What is propaganda? - The Truth Denied Breaking News: Propaganda is “The spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person” OR “ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause; also a public action having such an effect.” (From the Merriam Webster Dictionary) Propaganda has been perpetrated by those in power for centuries. In order to get the masses of people to agree with one’s agenda, these three things are important: Just use some emotionally-charging propaganda, Publicize through the media, And repeat several times!


"Two elderly Americans meet in Moscow, traveling in different tour groups, and start comparing notes over breakfast in their hotel:
-- We went to that big ballet in the center of town last night, and it was really good!
-- Ah, Bolshoi!
-- No-no, it really *was* good."

--Via MT on facebook; Bolshoi image from


"And didja hear the one about the Norwegian bailout of the European Union? It's called the Nobel Peace Prize!"

--James Tarantano, Wall Street Journal; image from


--Via RB on Facebook

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