Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 24

"I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man's being unable to sit still in a room."

--Blaise Pascal; image from


The New Generation of Music Ambassadors - Via PR


“I’m still a dip kid” - Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training: "In this interview, she [Kathleen Turner] discusses her [US diplomat father’s] internment in China by the Japanese, her life in Cuba during the revolution (and how she prayed to Castro and got candy), her grim memories of charity work in Venezuela, and life in London, where she got the acting bug and protested the Vietnam War, all to her father’s chagrin.

She was interviewed by ADST’s Charles Stuart Kennedy on October 3, 2012 backstage at Washington, DC’s Arena Stage." Via TH. Turner image from entry


$1 million public diplomacy grant to fund Pakistani language program - "Faculty members in the Departments of English and Linguistics and Technical Communication [at UNT] will help their counterparts at the National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad upgrade the university’s graduate programs in English literature and linguistics.

Representatives from both universities signed a three-year cooperative agreement for initiatives that will be funded by a $1 million grant from the U.S. State Department’s Public Diplomacy Programs for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Pakistan university, NUML, has 19 academic departments offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in 20 different languages on its flagship Islamabad campus, including separate graduate and undergraduate Departments of English. The university also has seven regional campuses. ... Under the agreement, approximately 53 NUML faculty members and graduate students will visit UNT during the next three years for curriculum development training and research with UNT faculty members, who will act as mentors to them. The first 11 faculty members and six graduate students will be on campus in fall 2013. Twenty-four more faculty members and 12 more students scheduled to come during fall 2014 and 2015." Image from

Global Insights: Obama, Romney Minimize Differences in Foreign Policy Debate - Richard Weitz, "In general, Romney [during the presidential debate on foeign policy] sought to dispel concerns that he was a warmonger or a unilateralist by stressing how much he valued peace and partners. In addition to expressing a desire to avoid U.S. involvement in new protracted counterinsurgency campaigns, such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, Romney insisted that he would use smart power tools, including economic assistance and public diplomacy, as well as military force, while also seeking to work with allies to address global challenges."

What Schieffer Should Ask: The Internet and Foreign Policy - Sarah Lai Stirland, "The two presidential candidates aren't likely to get to this at Monday night's final presidential debate, but one revealing question CBS' Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer could ask is what role they think the Internet should play in conducting public diplomacy and in promoting freedom abroad. The State Department's public diplomacy efforts took center stage on the campaign trail in mid-September when Mitt Romney erroneously blamed the Obama administration for apologizing, through a tweet, for American values in the wake of the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo. The statement in question, issued through a press release and Twitter, was actually issued several hours before the attack by a senior U.S. public affairs officer in Cairo -- without clearance from officials in the State Department's headquarters, according to The CableForeign Policy's blog. Nevertheless, the Cairo embassy incident is actually part of  a broader global communications strategy

of direct engagement that began under President George W. Bush, thanks in large part to then-Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James K. Glassman. One of the prime goals is to shape ... citizens' perceptions of the United States and its policies rather than letting foreign governments or foreign media shape those perceptions for them. The less-than-favorable outcome of the Cairo embassy incident is one situation out of many in which the State Department has used social media to engage citizens of foreign countries. In China, the U.S. embassy constantly informs anyone paying attention just how bad the local air quality conditions are. While Glassman and Jared Cohen helped to pioneer State's foray into social media and the use of technology to engage in 21st century diplomacy, members of the Obama administration have famously expanded those efforts to become far more encompassing under the leadership of Hillary Clinton and her senior innovation advisor, Alec Ross. A report issued this March by the Lowy Institute for International Public Policy detailed the extent of those efforts. For example, it states that the State Department has 150 full-time staff working in 25 different 'ediplomacy nodes,' in its headquarters, and that State maintains 200 Twitter handles. The State Department's foray into providing dissenting citizens of foreign countries with tools to skirt censorship, as a Washington Post story recently reported, has become so successful that demand is overwhelming the bandwidth of those tools, and there's demand for more funding. We've already seen how the Obama administration has expanded upon the Bush administration's initial ideas on what role the Internet can play in international relations. It would be interesting to hear what the Romney campaign team's ideas are, and also, how much autonomy embassy officials should have in using their discretion to engage with the rest of the world online." Image from

Public Schedule for October 24, 2012 - U.S. Department of State: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 11:00 a.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine participates in a meeting of the Advisory Committee of the Secretary’s Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)"

“The Politics of Change” – Ankeknospe, "Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, Tara D. Sonenshine, speaks at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications - "On Thursday, October 18, 2012, the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Tara D. Sonenshine, paid a visit to the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University to open the 5th annual Public Diplomacy Symposium. ... Now, one may wonder why I am posting about this topic on a mainly pubic [sic] relations focused blog.

Well, during her speech about public diplomacy, several aspects came up that reminded me of PR more than just a little. Public diplomacy is all about trust, mutual understanding and relationships. Anyone thinking of PR right now? I mod certainly am. Isn’t PR constantly defined as establishment and management of symmetrical, mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and its myriad publics. This can easily be translated into building and maintaining trust and understanding with countries throughout the world. Public diplomacy is like public relations, only on a broader and more international scale." Image from entry

VOA director David Ensor will speak at Harvard: "Taking American Public Diplomacy Viral" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: Elliott comments: "VOA and other entities of the Broadcasting Board of Governors are often considered part of US public diplomacy. Some of us prefer to categorize public diplomacy and international broadcasting and separate, complementary, and occasionally adversarial activities. PD officially represents and advocates for US policies. IB is government-funded journalism which, to be credible, must be independent. (The difference between PD and IB is explained on page 3 of the 2002 Broadcasting Board of Governors annual report. See also comments by former BBG member Ted Kaufman in the USC PD Magazine, Summer 2011.) Explaining why the US government should pay for a news organization whose content it does not control, and how that is done, is slightly difficult to explain, but the Harvard audience might get it.

(I attempted my own explanations in New York Times op-eds in 2007 and 2002.) Indeed, US international broadcasting would better be accomplished -- if possible -- by the private sector. In the absence of government funding, questions about government control over content would no longer directly apply. This is why CNN's recently announced partnership in a Pakistani Urdu-language channel, and the New York Times' interest in adding language versions (Chinese and Portuguese already) are so interesting. If this pattern continues, government-funded USIB can step aside and concentrate on languages with less commercial potential. Another topic that might come up during the event is why both VOA and a Radio Free station broadcast in Russian, Persian, Mandarin, Tibetan, Burmese, Korean, etc. There is no good way to explain this, and any attempt to do so could befuddle even this group. (There might be the temptation to state that the Radio Free station transmits only news about the target country, while VOA limits itself to US and general world news, but such a description would be complicated by the fact that it is false. Besides, why force the audience to tune in two US stations to get complete news coverage?) Discussing the 'altering media consumption patterns' will also pose a challenge. In the shortwave era, VOA was one of about five stations with global transmission capability. In the internet age, VOA finds itself with hundreds or even thousands of competitors. In the social media, the 141 million mentioned above are now competitors. VOA has developed a mobile internet capability, which means its transmission capability now matches that of a typical 16-year-old. Comprehensive, reliable, credible news remains VOA's distinguishing feature. It is really the only thing that will allow VOA to rise above the noise and to go 'viral.'" Image from entry

Silenced by Washington: Mass firings have ended the distinguished history of Radio Liberty in Russia - Mario Corti and Ted Lipien, "At the October 11 meeting of the U.S. government’s Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty president Steve Korn said that 'there has been a lot of inaccurate information circulating here in the U.S. and in Russia about the future of our Russian service, Radio Svoboda [Liberty].' ... This is what happened: Out of the blue, on September 20 and 21, Radio Liberty journalists were prevented

from entering their offices in Moscow and redirected by specially hired guards to a law firm’s office, where they were told that they could either sign immediate termination agreements and receive severance pay or else try to sue RFE/RL in Russian courts and lose. They would, in any case, be prevented from even saying goodbye to their audience of many years. Korn said that the employees were treated with extreme generosity and fairness by Russian standards. ... The point is that Korn wanted to do away with radio no matter what, and the BBG and the rest of the U.S. administration didn’t care enough to tell him otherwise. The issue is not the specific medium used for program delivery but the loss of talent and associated damage to Radio Liberty’s content as well as to its reputation for integrity." Korn image from article

Union Calls For Congressional Hearings On The BBG’s Erratic Leadership - BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "The AFGE Local 1812 union

representing employees of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has called for congressional hearing on 'the BBG’s erratic leadership.'” Image from entry

Public Diplomacy in the Long Run – Joe Johnson, Public Diplomacy Council: "John Cale, a founder of the Velvet Underground and prolific musical innovator, explained in a recent interview what set his direction at age fifteen, when he was a viola student in Wales.  'There was this fella called Willis Conover,' he began.  The legendary Voice of America jazz broadcaster spun Miles Davis records that Cale struggled to understand. Conover's VOA broadcasts set Cale off on a quest that led to writing, playing and producing pop and avant-garde music right up to the present time.  He moved way beyond jazz, of course.  Nowadays, Cale draws inspiration from the likes of Snoop Dogg (at least he said so on the interview.) When I deliver instruction on strategic public diplomacy, I teach that American officers should be looking for results on all their programs month by month; it's too easy to say, 'Oh, cultural diplomacy takes years to bear fruit.'  Then I hear something like the Cale interview and I let up a little on my doctrine."

Georgia to consolidate Caucasus interests - "Parliamentary committees and Georgian fractions are discussing a state program to unite interests of Caucasus states. The new government plans to improve ties with Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey. Georgia wants to restore relations with Russia using international mechanisms.

Joining the EU and NATO are a priority of Georgian foreign policy. Contribution to international military operations is considered one of the most important components for protection of national interests. The US is considered the primary ally of the country, according to the program. The document states full-scale settlement of conflicts, strengthening of democratic institutions and activation of public diplomacy." Image from article

U.S. Ambassador to Discuss Careers in Foreign Service - "U.S. Ambassador, Julie Gianelloni Connor, current diplomat-in-residence at the University of Texas at Austin, will be on campus tomorrow to discuss Foreign Service careers with Hardin-Simmons University students.

A 31-year veteran of the Department of State, Julie Connor ... headed up the U.S. Embassy’s public diplomacy efforts in Gaza from 2000 to 2001. ... Conner has also served as acting deputy director and senior advisor for the Office of International Women’s Issues (G/IWI), and deputy director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy." Connor image from article

The Odd Case of the Disappearing "Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review" - John Brown, Notes and Essays: "Below an email, slightly edited, sent to a valued PDPBR subscriber: Dear --- , Thank you for your interest in the rather odd case of the disappearing Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review (PDPBR) blog on Google Blog Search, where until recently it was ... featured when 'public diplomacy' was used as a search term. ... Some days ago I sent a Facebook message to former St. Dept. social media guru Jared Cohen (now working for Google in a high profile capacity) re the 'disappearance' of the PDPBR. I recently received what seemed to be a response from him via Facebook, but it contained no text. ... Hoping to get the PDPBR back on Google Blog Search, what I did, as an experiment, was to make it accessible via my Notes and Essays, my second blog, by citing PDPBR link on entries

on this second blog. Lo and behold, the PDPBR did, thanks to this procedure, again appear on Google search -- but not, of course, as the PDPBR per se, but as a subject included in the Notes and Essays. ... I'm still inclined to consider the option that this minor matter of the 'eradication' of the PDPBR on Google Blog Search could be a technical glitch, although the whole episode stirs my curiosity (and slight paranoia after decades of US foreign service in communist/post-communist societies) -- as well as increases my humanistic skepticism re the Internet as an 'open communications space.' The argument against such a 'conspiratorial' view is, of course, that it seems incredible that anyone would bother 'liquidating' a non-political blog whose audience is, in terms of numbers, a limited one, if I read Google Analytics correctly." Image from


Watching U.S. Race, Other Nations See Themselves - Ellen Barry, New York Times: As the race between Mr. Romney and President Obama rounds its last curve, the world is watching — and the coverage from other countries reveals as much about how they see themselves as it does about the American political process. Commentary has poured out via blogs and social media — Brazil ranks second after the United States in users of both Facebook and Twitter — and news outlets, agitated over the fate of Big Bird, seemed relieved when the Obama campaign released ads attacking Mr. Romney for suggesting that financing for PBS could be cut.

Attack on schoolgirl fuels Pakistani conspiracy theories - Michele Langevine Leiby, Washington Post: It’s a well-known fact in Pakistan that Osama bin Laden died in 2006 and that the U.S. commando raid on his compound in May 2011 was merely a “drama” orchestrated by President Obama to help win reelection. Of course, if that were true, Obama might have waited until after the first presidential debate of the campaign season to fake the al-Qaeda leader’s killing. But no matter. Pakistanis love a good conspiracy theory. Some national newspapers and TV cable outlets routinely report that the United States is behind terrorist attacks and supports the war that the Pakistani Taliban is waging against Pakistan’s government and military. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad has to regularly churn out “Corrections for the Record” that take Pakistani media to task for carrying outrageous claims. Now, the latest conspiracy theory to gain traction is the notion that the United States was behind the Taliban attack this month on Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani student who criticized the extremist group for denying girls access to education.

Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists - Greg Miller, Washington Post: Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”

The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones. Although the matrix is a work in progress, the effort to create it reflects a reality setting in among the nation’s counterterrorism ranks: The United States’ conventional wars are winding down, but the government expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years. Image from article, with caption: Over the past few years, the Obama administration has institutionalized the use of armed drones and developed a counterterrorism infrastructure capableof sustaining a seemingly permanent war.

Torture and the Myth of Never Again: The Persecution of John Kiriakou - 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.

It has remained a U.S. policy, even under the Obama administration, to employ “extraordinary rendition” — that is, the sending of captured terror suspects to the jails of countries that are known for torture and abuse, an outsourcing of what we no longer want to do. Image from

Cuban Blackmail, 50 Years After the Missile Crisis: The past decades have shown that the Castro brothers' behavior in October 1962 was perfectly characteristic - Jeb Bush and Frank Calzon, Wall Street Journal: The lessons of October 1962 must not be forgotten. President Kennedy showed fortitude and resolve in forcing the Soviet Union to stand down. Whoever wins the Nov. 6 election ought to deal similarly with today's intimidation and deception from the Castro regime. In dealing with Cuba's regime, the Obama administration has too often sent contradictory signals of U.S. resolve.

Quit bashing Beijing — China’s rise is good for America: Blaming the rising power for our troubles is dangerous and just plain dumb: The U.S. needs a strong China - Donald Gross, Salon: It is easier for both campaigns to shift blame to foreigners than to remind voters that the global financial crisis began on Wall Street, not in Beijing. Or to point out that trade with China – America’s third-largest export market – has helped pull the United States out of the global financial crisis.

Who Threw Israel Under the Bus? - Efraim Levy, New York Times: Whenever the United States has put serious, sustained pressure on Israel’s leaders — from the 1950s on — it has come from Republican presidents, not Democratic ones. This was particularly true under Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.

North Korea's railroad to freedom - James K. Glassman, Amanda Schnetzer, Foreign Policy: Next July marks the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War. That conflict began in 1950, when the North Korean army crossed the 38th parallel to invade South Korea and entered Seoul, the capital, three days later.

With more than one million losing their lives in the war, including 41,000 Americans killed or missing in action, it's important that the record reflect the truth about the North's attack. Yet the North Korean government's propaganda machine imposes an alternate version of reality. Image from article

Historian Paul Hirsch Discusses Comic Books and Propaganda on “The Freak Power Ticket” Podcast – Listen Online NOW! - On Monday’s edition of “The Freak Power Ticket,” historian Paul Hirsch, a Ph.D. candidate at UC Santa Barbara, previewed the public talk he is giving at 7pm on Tuesday, October 23, at Unity Church (227 E. Arrellaga St.), discussing how the US government used comic books to fight the Cold War. Producer/host Ted Coe writes: “During today’s broadcast (October 22), we discussed the U.S. government’s cultural propaganda programs both at home and abroad during the 1940s and 1950s, and heard about the rationale (and methods) behind Hirsch’s doctoral research ‒ and Tuesday night’s talk, ‘Why Are These Men Smiling?: Waging the Cold War Through Comic Books.’

Furthermore, Paul contrasted such formal initiatives with the 1950s’ government crackdown on the adult themes in horror, crime, and humor titles from successful companies like E.C. Comics.” The program touched on the larger impact of the medium of comic books, from the ‘Golden Age’ of Superman, Batman, and Captain America to today’s era of “graphic novels” and the digital revolution, and celebrated the pop art medium with music and other audio clips related to the world of comics. Image from entry, with caption: Fawcett Comics’ propaganda creation “RADAR The International Policeman”


Greg Abbott, Texas Attorney General, Threatens To Arrest U.N. Elections Observers - Nick Wing, Huffington Post: Greg Abbott, the Republican Attorney General of Texasissued a stern warning this week to members of a United Nations-affiliated delegation expected to be on hand to monitor voting at polling places around the country on Election Day.

In a letter to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, a body created by U.N. charter and responsible for helping to ensure the integrity of elections, among other tasks, Abbott warned the diplomatic poll-watchers that their involvement in U.S. elections could have strong legal repercussions. Image from

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