Saturday, November 24, 2012

November 24


“Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m'effraie."

--Blaise Pascal; image from; on bells that break the silence, see.


Football Diplomacy: Australia's Engagement with Asia, No -


Tara Sonenshine ‏@TSonenshine - Twitter: "@StateDept's Virtual Embassy Tehran almost to 1st anniversary, with 2 million visits. #PublicDiplomacy means helping people stay connected." [Tara Sonnenshine is US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.]

US cultural diplomacy put back on the map - Curtis S. Chin, Christopher Merrill, F. William Smullen III and Charles H. Webb, Jr., "Somewhat lost in the ongoing media coverage of the deaths of US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three American colleagues killed in Benghazi, Libya, on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is the reason why the top diplomat was in that city that night. According to an account by President Obama, Stevens was there in part reviewing plans to establish a new cultural center. Such centers can provide people with greater access to American culture, literature and information, particularly important at a time when the US remains a country that many around the world can only dream of visiting. ... Just over seven years ago, in September 2005, an eight-person bipartisan Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy, on which we served, issued a report to the then-US Secretary of State underscoring the importance of strengthening US engagement internationally as positive perceptions of the US fell, particularly in the Arab and Muslim world. With the original 9/11 terrorist attacks and their immediate aftermath still fresh in people’s minds — not to mention the Bali bombings of 10 years ago — the US Congress authorized the establishment of our committee in 2004, drawing from both Republicans and Democrats in the world of academia, culture, business and government. In our report, 'Cultural Diplomacy: The Linchpin of Public Diplomacy', we urged the Secretary of State to consider a number of recommendations that would serve to add to America’s 'soft power' in the ongoing battle of ideas, and create a cultural diplomacy infrastructure and policy for the 21st century. While the mandate and work of our committee has long finished, we believe many of our recommendations are worth revisiting today. ... Back in 2005, we wrote that 'cultural diplomacy can enhance our national security in subtle, wide-ranging, and sustainable ways,' but such diplomacy efforts require a generational commitment of funds, expertise, courage and time. That’s as true today as it was then. Let’s not let the tragic deaths of four Americans in Benghazi prevent the US and US diplomats from continuing to engage and reach out, when working to win the hearts and minds of reasonable people everywhere. Perhaps more than ever, it is time for the US to double down on diplomacy — cultural, commercial and educational. This will be as important in Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia, as it is all around the world." See also: John Brown, "Ambassador Stevens as a Public Diplomacy Envoy - Updated," Notes and Essays.

Ambassadors of art: State Dept. office celebrates 50 years - Mark Jenkins, Washington Post:  "For 50 years, the State Department’s Office of Art in Embassies has selected and displayed American art, mostly behind locked doors in highly secure buildings. The pieces AIE purchases for embassies, and borrows for ambassadors’ residences, are usually seen only by official guests. 'It may not be something specifically that the American citizen can experience,' said Art in Embassies Director Beth Dozoretz. Yet 'pretty much anyone from the State Department who goes to our embassies comes back to us and says the exhibitions on loan are a very, very important tool for outreach.' This week, that outreach comes to Washington, with a series of events that allow the public a glimpse at what AIE does. Most conspicuously, from Wednesday to Friday the video screens outside Verizon Center will display 161 photographs from 'Serving Abroad ... Through Their Eyes,'

(Benjamin Altenes/ U.S. Department of State ) - ”A Mother's Embrace“ is featured in “Serving Abroad . . . Through their Eyes,” an AIE-sponsored show of photographs made by active-duty military and Foreign Service personnel.

an AIE-sponsored show of photographs made by active-duty military and Foreign Service personnel. More than 3,200 images were submitted for the exhibition, which will be shown at the Pentagon, the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. ... In addition to marking AIE’s 50th anniversary, the events illustrate the program’s evolving role and philosophy. As the United States builds a new generation of highly fortified embassies, AIE is making its contribution a little more public. Structures from Beijing to Bucharest have been designed with art visible from the street. The office provides art, mostly contemporary, to about 200 buildings in 189 countries. It curates about 60 temporary exhibitions per year and since 2003 has installed 58 permanent collections in diplomatic facilities. The art is purchased with federal money, although some events — including those for the anniversary — draw on private funding. Among AIE’s cultural exchange programs are lectures and demonstrations by American artists overseas. But the program also mixes American art with indigenous works and encourages U.S. artists to engage local cultures." Image from article. Via ACP III in Facebook. 

Former editor Lyudmila Telen pained by catastrophic audience drop for Radio Liberty’s Russian website - BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "Ludmila Telen (Телень, Людмила Олеговна – Russian Wikipedia), an award-winning Russian journalist who was fired in September from Radio Liberty, said in an interview for that Radio Liberty’s daily audience has declined from 100,000 to 40,000 and continues to fall.

She attributed the drop in site visits to the mass dismissals of experienced web editors and journalists, the hiring of staff lacking multimedia and news reporting background, and new management policies which de-emphasize critical news coverage." Telen image from entry

More BBG Twitter accounts than some of them have followers - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

RT (Russia Today) claims larger UK audience than Al Jazeera English and Fox News - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

The consummate public diplomat - David M. Weinberg, "Many Israelis think that hasbara (public diplomacy) is a good speech in flawless English by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by colorful audiovisual aids, at the United Nations. They’re right, but that’s only a small part of this country’s ramped-up effort at presenting its case to the world. What truly shined over the past week of warfare with Hamas in Gaza was Israel’s human infrastructure in public diplomacy. Everyday citizens of Israel and supporters of Israel around the world, especially young people, took to the airwaves and Internet bandwidth to defend Israel. Through new media and social media and from any and every home-based computer station, Israel’s case was well-broadcasted and backed-up. Colorful, easy-to-comprehend graphics and snappy videos were produced quickly and shared on Facebook, Twitter and other web-based platforms in the millions. ... A good deal of the credit for this new and welcome phenomena goes to Minister for Public Diplomacy Yuli Edelstein, who early-on understood the growing importance of non-official publics in public diplomacy and equipped Israel accordingly. What we saw this past week is partially the result of 3 1/2 years of quiet preparation and training under his leadership. ... Yuli Edelstein’s hasbara leadership is one of Israel’s secret weapons."

The ‘Kids’ Behind IDF’s Media: Young Israeli soldiers have pushed older commanders into adopting a more aggressive social media strategy - Allison Hoffman, "The world is by now well aware of the power of social media to help foment and spread popular movements everywhere from Lower Manhattan to the streets of Cairo. But Operation Pillar of Defense may be the first war to feature direct trash-talking between enemies. 'We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead,' came a tweet from the official @IDFspokesperson account last Wednesday. '@IDFspokesperson Our blessed hands will reach your leaders wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves),' came the reply from @AlQassamBrigade. It’s not clear who’s running the Qassam Brigade’s twitter feed, but in Israel, the IDF’s social media operation is run by a 26-year-old immigrant from Belgium named Sacha Dratwa. ... For Israel, taking the war to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest is a natural outgrowth of the Israeli government’s public diplomacy initiatives, from helping organize seminars to train Israelis to advocate on the country’s behalf over social media networks to underwriting a campaign to improve the image of settlers among bloggers. ... It’s not immediately clear what concrete impact the IDF’s Twitter battles are having on the course of public opinion. Foreign journalists have been allowed to enter Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defense—a change from Israeli policy during Operation Cast Lead, when foreign journalists were barred from Gaza—resulting in a steady stream of gripping footage and images from the territory.

But the IDF boasts 185,150 Twitter followers viewing its stream of videos, photos, and updates, which includes information from the front and frequent reminders of Israel’s ongoing provision of food and medical services to Gazan civilians. 'There’s an idea of playing to your base,' said Garth Jowett, a professor specializing in propaganda and media at the University of Houston. 'But it’s very hard to change people’s minds with propaganda.' ... The IDF’s new media presence was originally the brainchild of Aliza Landes (the American-born daughter of the historian Richard Landes), who was herself only 25 when, as an officer on the IDF’s North American press desk, she piloted the IDF’s first forays into virtual warfare during Operation Cast Lead in the winter of 2008-2009. ... [W]hile the IDF’s social media campaign has drawn criticism from those who feel it trivializes war and its consequences, it’s unlikely to be the last of its kind." Image from article, with caption: Former Sgt. Talia Wissner-Levy of the New Media desk.

Worth More than Gold: Public diplomacy is the 4th front - "The value of Internet opinion polls is psychological rather than academic because they are self-selecting. SO SELF-SELECT AND VOTE IN THIS ONE! We are falling behind.

Action item [:] Vote in GlobalPost poll Is Israel justified in attacking Gaza? [;] Read and share PM to Public Diplomacy Activists: Your Help Worth More Than Gold Arutz 7 20 Nov 2012 [;] Contact The Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs and offer your services[.]” Image from entry

Dancers from Japan to set city stage on fire - "BHUBANESWAR: The capital city is set to host Art Connection 2012, a cultural exchange between artistes [sic] of Odisha and Japan, from November 25. The eight-day festival will feature dance performances, workshops and exhibitions on traditional and contemporary art. Performing arts professionals as well as photographers and film makers will take part in it. 'The festival will be a prelude to the upcoming Odisha Biennale festival in 2013, which will be a global convocation of visual and performing artistes. Our programmes promote exchange of art and ideas through workshops, stage performances, and exhibitions of global and local works, resulting in cross-cultural exchanges with a commitment to the community and Odisha's cultural heritage,' said Masako Ono, an Odissi and contemporary dancer, who has been staying in India for the last 16 years."

Deputy Head Public Diplomacy, Press and Culture (schaal 9) - "(no translation of this vacancy announcement will be provided because the position has a Dutch language requirement): "Bij de PPC-afdeling van ambassade Washington is een vacature ontstaan voor een 'Deputy Head Public Diplomacy, Press and Culture' ter tijdelijke vervanging van een medewerker.

Deze functie is ingedeeld in loonschaal 9 (zie tevens bijgevoegd functieprofiel). De functie zal worden aangeboden voor de periode vanaf 1 januari 2013 tot ongeveer medio april 2013 met een proeftijd van maximaal 2 maanden." Image from


Russian students visit Purdue, Purdue Research Park to spark entrepreneurial learning – purdueresearchpark: A group of Russian undergraduate students are spending most of this month at Purdue University to expand their understanding of how to take a creative idea and turn it into a viable business venture. Ten students from the Yegor Gaidar Summer Leadership Program will tour Purdue's research facilities, technology transfer offices and business incubators. Meetings are planned to discuss potential collaborations with researchers in Discovery Park and elsewhere on campus, as well as graduate students, faculty members and entrepreneurs at Purdue Research Park. The students also will work in teams on a business case to commercialize a new or enhanced product. Teams will determine the best way to establish a startup by developing a business plan, building a management team, identifying capital needs and creating a marketing strategy. The Yegor Gaidar Summer Leadership Program is a joint project between the Yegor Gaidar Foundation and U.S. Russian Foundation, designed to assist Russian undergraduate students with the knowledge, skills and practical experience in the area of economic and business development, with a focus on economics and entrepreneurship. The U.S. Russia Foundation is working to support the long-term economic development of Russia's economy, working closely with the Russian government and leading Russian institutions. In this way, the foundation seeks to build strong ties between the United States and Russia. In addition to this program, the U.S. Russia Foundation is funding the Enhancing University Research and Entrepreneurial Capacity, or EURECA, program. In addition to Purdue, that collaboration includes the universities of California-Los Angeles, Maryland and Washington, and a consortium of program operators. Via MMcF on Facebook. On Purdue as an example of where US education is going, see (via SP on Facebook).

Spirit in the Night - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: Much like the way Vietnam destroyed the army, Iraq and Afghanistan gravely wounded your State Department. Why does America still maintain its largest embassy in a place like Baghdad? That massive hollow structure sucks money and, more importantly, personnel, from your limited diplomatic establishment. Scale it back to the mid-size level the situation there really requires, and move those personnel resources to places America badly needs diplomacy. As a bonus, you’ll remove a scab. That big embassy is seen throughout the Middle East as a symbol of hubris, a monument to folly. Show them better — repurpose most of it into a new university or an international conference center and signal a new beginning.

America’s regular chest-thumping military action in the Middle East has created an unstoppable desire for Iran to arm itself. Demilitarize foreign policy. Redeploy your diplomats from being political hostages in Baghdad and Kabul and put them to work all over the Middle East. Next is drones. Like Gitmo, every thug killed creates more, radicalizes more, gives the bad guys another propaganda lede. Image from

Why U.S. troops must stay in Afghanistan - Kimberly Kagan and Frederick W. Kagan, Washington Post: The United States can stabilize Afghanistan if it maintains around 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan into 2014, dropping to over 30,000 thereafter (about what we have in Korea). The idea that the war is inevitably lost is a convenient mask behind which decision-makers hide to deflect responsibility for pulling out troops who are making a real difference. We have argued that the current defeatism about Afghanistan is overdrawn and unfounded. But it is more important for Americans to internalize a simple fact: We must either stabilize Afghanistan at this minimum level or abandon the fight against al-Qaeda and its allies in South Asia. Any alternative “light footprint” strategy is a dangerous mirage.

Syrian rebels at cross purposes - David Ignatius, Washington Post: The Syrian opposition took a big step forward this month by forming a broad political coalition that includes local activists who started the revolution. But the opposition’s military command is still a mess, and until it’s fixed, jihadist extremists will keep getting more powerful.

U.S. and Syrian sources agree that to create military unity, the CIA will have to push friendly intelligence services to pool funding and other support behind a unified command. U.S. officials hope that process will happen over the next month, but rebel leaders fear that this could be too late. Image from

Syria is central to holding together the Mideast - Condoleezza Rice, Washington Post: In recent days, France, Britain and Turkey have stepped into the diplomatic vacuum to recognize a newly formed opposition that is broadly representative of all Syrians. The United States should follow their lead and then vet and arm the unified group with defensive weapons on the condition that it pursues an inclusive post-Assad framework. The United States and its allies should also consider establishing a no-fly zone to protect the innocent. America’s weight and influence are needed.

U.S., Mexico should build on their economic ties - Enrique Peña Nieto, Washington Post: The 2012 elections mark the beginning of a new era for the United States and Mexico. This is a great time to join efforts and capitalize on that momentum. We must build a more prosperous North America, on the basis of an alliance for a further competitive and productive integration of our economies. Enrique Peña Nieto is president-elect of Mexico.

Thanksgiving Day 2012: Foreign Service Roundup - Domani Spero, DiploPundit. Among the images

the below, with caption: Photo from US Embassy Seoul/FB

Can’t find a job? Move overseas - Emily Matchar, Washington Post: According to State Department estimates, 6.3 million Americans are studying or working abroad, the highest number ever recorded. What’s more, the percentage of Americans ages 25 to 34 who are planning to move overseas has quintupled in two years, from less than 1 percent to 5.1 percent. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, 40 percent are interested in moving abroad, up from 12 percent in 2007.

Palestine in Israeli School Books, AIC - PNN: Nurit Peled-Elhanan is the author "Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education." In her book she clarifies how the textbooks used in the Israeli school system promote the idea of Judaization of both Israel and Palestine presented as one unit- the Land of Israel. And that they play a part in priming Israeli children for military service. She analyzes the presentation of images, maps, layouts and use of language in History, Geography and Civic Studies textbooks, and reveals how the books marginalize or rather exclude Palestinians from the life-world of the region, legitimize Israeli military action and reinforce Jewish-Israeli territorial identity, all of which seem to correspond to all categories of racist verbal and visual discourse.

Nine popular pics from the Israel Gaza propaganda war - Sunny Hundal, Iraeli authorities have taken to warning citizens not to post locations of rocket attacks or air raid sirens on social media. They are worried that geo-tagging of posts on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram could offer others sensitive information. Nevertheless, tens of thousands of users of those three social media networks have been sharing pictures as part of the propaganda war. Among them:

Russian Court Throws Out Suit Against Madonna: Anti-gay groups had sought $10.5 million for 'moral damage' - A Russian judge yesterday dismissed a lawsuit against Madonna by a group of anti-gay activists who sought $10.5 million for "moral damage" they said the pop star caused with her support of the city's LGBT community during an August concert there. St. Petersburg passed a law earlier this year that forbids promoting homosexuality to minors.

Madonna protested the measure during a performance August 9th, when she handed out pink bracelets to attendees and revealed the words "No Fear" written on her back. One plaintiffs' group, the Union of Russian Citizens, said it plans to appeal. Image from article, with caption: Madonna performs during the "MDNA" tour at Madison Square Garden on November 12th, 2012 in New York City.

Russian teens to be banned from attending Lady Gaga shows - Pravda.Ru: Anton Belyakov, a deputy from St. Petersburg, put forward a suggestion to ban underage individuals from attending Lady Gaga concerts in Russia in December. According to Belyakov, he has sent adequate requests to the Prosecutor General, the Prosecutor's Office in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The official has also sent letters to the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, the governor of St. Petersburg Georgy Poltavchenko, Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky and to organizers of the tour. The deputy claimed that the singer's show hurts people's religious feelings. In addition, he said, Gaga's show does not fall under 12+ category, determined by organizers. Image from article. Via NI on Facebook

Sichuan Quake to Haunt New Propaganda Chief Liu Qibao - New Tang Dynasty Television: A businessman-turned advocate says he does not trust China’s new Propaganda chief. Liu Qibao was appointed the new Minister of Propaganda this week, with his credentials as the Party chief of Sichuan province providing the necessary boost to get the promotion. Wang Xiaodong says, after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake Liu helped to cover up shoddy school construction that resulted in building collapses which took the lives of thousands of children.

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