Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October 3

"How many PRT [US Iraq Provincial Reconstruction Team] staff members does it take to screw in a light bulb? One to hire a contractor who fails to complete the job and two to write the press release in the dark. We [the U.S.] measured the impact of our projects [in Iraq] on us, not by their effects on the Iraqis."

--American diplomat Peter Van Buren, in his book We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (2012): image from


A Traveler In The Foreign Service: The Best Foreign Service Blogs - Dave Seminara


Remarks to the University of Southern California - Tara Sonenshine, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, As Prepared for Delivery Los Angeles, CA, October 2, 2012 - U.S. Department of State: "Public diplomacy ... must incorporate many factors into our messaging and engagement. And recent events have been a challenge as we worked to engage audiences everywhere about our belief in freedom of expression – and religious tolerance. ... Without public diplomacy, our policies will risk the prospect of flying blind – and deaf. We must also understand that PD measures results over the short term, the mid term and the long.

And the more we understand that, the more strategic our planning will be – and the less likely we will be to misread or be surprised by rapidly changing environments. ... The more we listen, talk with, and interact with people around the world, the more we can minimize the susceptibility of young people to sign up with drug cartels or religious extremists. The more that we build PD awareness and strategy into everything we do, the more effective we will be as diplomats – and the better we will serve the interests of our country." See also. Image from, with caption: Tara D. Sonenshine, under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, discusses U.S. policies at home and abroad.

In Egypt, American soccer manager Bob Bradley embodies sports diplomacy - Michael Duffin, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "The best example of sports diplomacy in recent memory is soccer manager Bob Bradley, who is in charge of the Egyptian national team. The recent unrest in the Muslim world over the crudely-made video disparaging the prophet Muhammad reminded me of his efforts to use sport to spread American goodwill abroad. The 54-year-old father of three is succeeding in a country where the State Department spends millions of dollars each year trying to engage with public diplomacy initiatives. ... In a country that questions the motives of the American government, Bradley is adored. ... His ability to gain acceptance by a skeptical foreign public requires further study by public diplomacy scholars and practitioners."

CUSIB condemns firings of journalists at Radio Liberty, welcomes Ethan Gutmann to Advisory Board - BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – has condemned the recent mass firing of Radio Liberty (Radio Svoboda) Moscow bureau journalists.

The independent and nonpartisan NGO, which advocates for expanding free flow of information from the United States to countries without free media, has also welcomed China scholar and human rights activist Ethan Gutmann as the newest member of its Advisory Board." Image from entry

Former Radio Liberty Russian Service director Mario Corti– RFE/RL management turns radio listeners and visitors to its website in Russia into anti-Americans - former Radio Liberty Russian Service director Mario Corti, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "There are millions in Russia who have satellite antennas.

You can always broadcast radio over the Internet, and even put video cameras in the studio, as an excellent byproduct. But you have to have an excellent radio program, talented hosts, and a team of journalists and broadcasters to produce it who enjoy the trust and respect of their audience." Corti image from entry

RFA covers Tibet exile meeting in India. VOA covers Tibetan exile meeting in India - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

More Than Tourism: The Challenges of Nation Branding in Asia - Keith Dinnie, "National tourism slogans abound throughout Asia, as countries in the region seek to tap into the growing pool of regional and global travellers, and some of those slogans have caught on. But in the more complex task of nation branding and the conduct of public diplomacy, Asian countries still have a long way to go . ... In developing a coherent and co-ordinated nation brand strategy, there needs to be a firm and clearly signaled commitment by the country’s political leaders regarding the need for diplomacy, tourism, export promotion and inward investment to work together. In Asia, it is probably Singapore that has come closest to achieving this. Whether such cross-sector co-ordination can also be achieved in the more complex environments of much larger nations like China, South Korea and Japan, remains to be seen."

Botswana’s John Churu wins APO’s Invitation to AfricaCom 2012 - "John Churu – a Botswanan new media journalist – has emerged tops in the African Press Organisation (APO) invitation to participate in AfricaCom 2012, 'the premier Pan-African communications event, taking place in Cape Town, South Africa, from 13 to 15 November 2012.' ... The African Press Organization (APO) is the leading press release wire in Africa, and the global leader in media relations related to Africa.

With headquarters in Dakar, Senegal, APO owns a media database of over 25,000 contacts and the main Africa-related news online community. APO offers a complete range of services such as press releases wire and monitoring services, online press conferences, interactive webcasts, media interactions, strategic advice, public diplomacy, government relations, and events promotion." Churu image from

Internship Opportunity - "The Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC), Embassy of Japan is seeking unpaid, part to full-time interns (12-35hrs/week) for Spring 2013. Internship start/end dates and hours are customized with the academic schedule of the chosen candidate. The JICC is a part of the Public Affairs section of the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC. Our primary role is to promote a better understanding of Japan and Japanese culture by providing a wide range of information and events to the American public, particularly in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. We strive to build bridges between the two cultures through various activities, such as film screenings, art exhibitions, lectures, an online newsletter, and school programs. The JICC is the gateway to connect the American public to Japan and the interns are an integral part of our efforts. Requirements ... Major in International Studies, Japanese Studies, Asian American Studies, Public Diplomacy, Political Science, or a related field."


Complicity in Duplicity? - Maureen Dodd, New York Times: Last time it was Condoleezza Rice helping her war-obsessed bosses spin their deceptive web, as they recklessly tried to re-engineer the Middle East. This time it was Susan Rice offering a noncredible yarn as the Obama team desperately tries to figure out the Middle East. The U.S. military is preparing to retaliate for the Libyan attack. But, even if Stevens is avenged, will the president get the credit he deserves if his acolytes have left the impression that they’re willing to rewrite the story for political advantage?

Pentagon eyed Al Qaeda early as attacker on U.S. Consulate - Rowan Scarborough - The Washington Times

War with Iran: More likely from Obama or Romney? - Jonathan Bernstein, Washington Post: Both consider an Iranian nuclear weapon unacceptable. Since both candidates claim to have a hard line against Iran (but, on the other hand, neither is willing to actually commit to war), it’s hard to see much of a difference on that score. The evidence is fairly strong that Obama has shown a strong tendelncy [sic] against

risky, open-ended military adventurism. When the Obama administration has taken military action — the Libya war, the Afghan surge, the drone war — it’s generally been relatively contained. Image from

Why Chávez Backs Obama - Mary Anastasia O'Grade, Wall Street Journal: Mr. Chávez likes Mr. Obama because Mr. Obama doesn't have a problem with Iran, China and Cuba setting up camp in Venezuela. Backing Mr. Obama as a noninterventionist American president may stir the nationalist pride of some Venezuelan voters, and that might be good for Mr. Chávez on Oct. 7 re-election bid. But it's hard to see how it will help Mr. Obama come November.

Decline in immigrant entre­pre­neur­ship threatens U.S. competitiveness­­­ - J.D. Harrison, Washington Post: Increasingly strict immigration laws are making it more difficult for those immigrants to start their enterprises in the United States, prompting a “reverse brain drain,” according to researchers.Of particular concern is the growing number of foreign-born students who earn advanced degrees at U.S. universities but after graduating are forced to return home, where some create firms that compete against American companies.

After a Year of Serious Roars and Growls, State Dept Officially Retires FSO-Non Grata Peter Van Buren – Domani Spero, DiploPundit: Last year, the State Department was up in arms with the publication of Peter Van Buren’s book, We Meant Well, because well — as its Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the Bureau of Public Affairs Dana Shell Smith (of the How to Have an Insanely Demanding Job and 2 Happy Children minor fame) told the book publisher, Macmillan, the Department has “recently concluded that two pages of the book manuscript we have seen contain unauthorized disclosures of classified information.” I counted the words; there are some 30 words that were deemed classified information according to the letter sent to the publisher, including a place called, “Mogadishu.” Five months after his book was published, the State Department moved to fire, Mr. Van Buren. He was charged with eight violations including linking in his blog

to documents on WikiLeaks (one confidential cable from 2009, and one unclas/sensitive/noforn cable also from 2009); failing to clear each blog posting with his bosses; displaying a “lack of candor” during interviews with diplomatic security officers; using “bad judgement’ by criticizing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and one time presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann on his blog. The eight charges did not include the allegation of leaking “classified” content from his book. Which is rather funny, in a twisted sort of way, yeah?  So, why … Van Buren image from

Exiting the Iraq War: A Blow-by-Blow Chronicle [Review of The Engame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, From George W. Bush to Barack Obama By Michael R. Gordon and Gen. Bernard E. Trainor] - Gideon Rose, New York Times: A worthy successor to the authors’ accounts of the gulf war and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, this new volume traces the story of American involvement from the fall of Baghdad to the final departure of United States troops at the end of 2011. It primarily presents the view from the American military command in the field. The White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, Iraqi and Iranian politicians — all come into the picture as aids or (mostly) obstacles to the long-suffering soldiers just trying to do a thankless job, getting a broken country back up and running smoothly.

The heart of the book describes the “surge,” the new United States counterinsurgency strategy that helped reverse the course of the war in 2007-8. The final section shows the Obama administration reverting to the earlier course, pocketing the gains of the surge it opposed and using them to buy a relatively quick and painless exit. Without American forces helping to keep Iraq on the straight and narrow, the authors suggest, it is likely to slip back into tyranny or civil strife or both. the book’s tight focus on operational challenges could have been usefully supplemented by more discussion of larger issues. If midwifing the birth of a new Iraq would always have been a long, costly and difficult business, should the United States have invaded in the first place? Image from article

Dazhynki Festival: Belarusian Tradition Or Lukashenka's Propaganda? - Seventy years ago, on 4 October 1942 German authorities organised Dazhynki festival in Minsk. It was the first time the festival took place in Belarus with the highest level of state support.

On 21 September 2012 Aleksandr Lukashenka was opening a Dazhynki festival in Gorki, a small town in Eastern Belarus. Dazhynki is a traditional Eastern European celebration of completion of the harvest season. The Thanksgiving Day or Harvest festivals can be regarded as Western equivalents to Belarusian Dazhynki. But today only Belarusian authorities celebrate it with such pomp. For Lukashenka, it is not just a holiday but also an important political show. Lukashenko uses Dazhynki to demonstrate how much he supports agriculture. Belarusian towns compete for the right to host the holiday, as Dazhynki remains the best opportunity to improve their wellbeing. Image from article

Unique Pre-Soviet Film Collection Heads Home To Russia -  Russian cinema lovers say it is nothing short of a miracle. A vast collection of pre-Soviet films is about to be returned to Russia after an unlikely, century-long journey home. The 350 silent films, all shot in Imperial Russia,

were formally donated to the St. Petersburg-based Lenfilm studio by an American businessman earlier this month. They are expected to be handed over to Lenfilm by the end of the year in a move that Russian film buffs hope will yield some rare cinematic gems. "This is sensational, it brings back to life a whole slice of our cinematographic history," Naum Kleiman, a film historian and the director of Moscow's Cinema Museum, says. "This is a very important event -- 300 pre-revolutionary films, it's like discovering an entire continent." Steven Krams, the president of the Florida-based cinema technology firm Magna-Tech Electronic, says the collection used to belong to a Russian emigrant named Samuel Kipnis. Image from article, with caption: A still from the film "Stenka Razin," which premiered in 1908

Pac-Man Propaganda - alex, The Pac-Man propaganda posters

by Joseph Baranowski rallies the troop to fight the Pac-Man menace. Image from entry


“When I think of God, I think of a work of art which is the ultimate paradigm of all works of art.”

--Author Anthony Burgess, cited in the Times Literary Supplement (September, 2012) by PhD candidate Ben Masters; image from


--Via LV on Facebook

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