Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 27-28


"The American people are free to do exactly what they are told.”

--Ward Churchill, former professor of ethnic studies in Colorado at Boulder from 1990 till 2007; image from


Democracy is... - YouTube:  "Animation made by Johannes Strater and the Team of the Media Education Centre in January 2010. Film is in official competition of the Balkan PLUS film festival."


Travel of Under Secretary Sonenshine to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey - Media Note, Office of the Spokesperson, U.S. Department of State: "Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine will travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey November 27-December 1, 2012. In Sarajevo, Under Secretary Sonenshine will meet with LGBT community activists, discuss women’s empowerment with NGO leaders, and talk about U.S. foreign policy with media representatives. The Under Secretary will also meet with Youth Leadership Program students who recently returned from four weeks in the United States. At the U.S. Embassy, the Under Secretary will dedicate two rooms in honor of Colonel Samuel Nelson Drew and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Joseph Kruzel, both of whom perished in Bosnia in 1995 while working for peace. In Ankara, Under Secretary Sonenshine will visit a Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program product fair, discuss U.S.-Turkey partnerships in education at the Ministry of Education and English language program leaders in Turkey, and explore women’s empowerment issues with NGO leaders. At Bilkent University, she will speak with students on the topic of The Freedom to Communicate and Connect: Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century. She will also meet with her counterpart at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In Istanbul, the Under Secretary will meet students and teachers at the Tohum Autism Foundation, discuss multiculturalism in Turkey with leaders of the Anatolian Cultural Foundation, and explore the impact of U.S.-Turkey professional exchange programs with alumni. Her trip concludes with a discussion of freedom of expression with senior journalists and academics." Image from

Turkey in Turkmenistan - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I spent the evening chatting with two Turkmen girls who work for the US Embassy. Both had studied in the US (Idaho and North Carolina) under the FLEX exchange program and a college exchange program. Sadly, budget nitpickers are cutting these academic exchange programs. What I have found across the ‘Stans are so many people who work for the US embassies who had previously studied in high school or college exchange program in America. The return on investment is quite incredible. The present and future generations of FSN [Foreign Service Nationals; locally hired non-American staff] have studied and lived in the US, and are socialized to American norms and values and end up being key players in American cultural and public diplomacy outreach. This is an incredible bit of public diplomacy socialization, that is drying up over short-sighted budget cuts."

All the leaves are brown - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "In what was probably the most surreal bit of cultural diplomacy I have ever seen, while in Turkmenabad Della Mae was serenaded with the song 'California Dreamin' by the Mamas and Papas

by a troupe of Turkmen choir girls in beautiful red dresses with giant, gorgeous colored broaches and long braids down to their waists. Caleefornia dreamin, on such a vinter's day..." Image from

Andrew W.K. Cultural Ambassador Role Not Happening After All - Bradley Klapper, Huffington Post: "Andrew W.K. won't be taking his party to Bahrain after all. The American performer announced on his website that he had been named a cultural ambassador to Bahrain, where he'd promote 'partying and world peace.'

He had been tentatively invited by the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain to visit the country, but the State Department had second thoughts. Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday that the invitation to 33-year-old singer of songs including 'Party Til You Puke' had been rescinded by senior U.S. officials because they deemed him an inappropriate choice for outreach in the conservative Muslim kingdom. Andrew W.K. describes himself as a singer-songwriter and motivational speaker, among other things." W. K. image from entry

“Digital diplomacy” – digital media as a foreign policy tool [includes video] - "One of the things I hope to have the opportunity to look into during my fellowship at the University of Washington is the use of digital media in the field of diplomacy and foreign affairs. ... "Richard Boly, the Director of eDiplomacy at the State Department, kindly pointed me in the direction of a fascinating study on eDiplomacy that was published recently by Fergus Hanson from Australia’s Lowy Institute for International Policy. Through a fellowship programme with the Brookings Institution in Washington, Fergus had unprecedented access to some of the key figures who have been working on digital diplomacy in the State Department, including Alec J Ross (Hillary Clinton’s Senior Advisor for Innovation). The study by Fergus Hanson comes in two parts (the first published in February this year, the second in October): Revolution @State: the spread of eDiplomacy  Baked In and Wired: eDiplomacy@State. ... Although the USA’s digital media initiatives in the field of public diplomacy have received more public attention, I find some of the knowledge management initiatives implemented by the US State Department (for example, their internal wiki Diplopedia or their Corridor platform for in-house networking) equally impressive. The use of digital media as a tool for diplomacy and foreign policy is also catching on in Europe. ... The European External Action Service (EEAS) has established a presence on TwitterFacebook and Flickr.

Twitter is used mainly to share statements from Catherine Ashton, the conclusions of Councils and other official meetings. The content posted on the EEAS Facebook page is more visual and the tone more conversational. The EEAS has recently begun to use Storify as a platform to pull together content from different sources around major events, such as the United Nations General Assembly in September or the EU-Egypt Task Force in November. And many of the EU’s 140 delegations around the world are also using social media. ... So, what does the future hold? Will the USA continue to drive the use of digital media as a foreign policy tool after the end of Hillary Clinton’s term as Secretary of State? Watch the video interview below between Fergus Hanson and Alec J Ross for some insights into the likely future of digital diplomacy, both in the US and globally." Image from entry

Brookings Institution Publishes Foreign Policy Paper on eDiplomacy at State - Newsroom - Noteworthy, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Baked in and Wired: eDiplomacy @ State, part of the Brookings Institution's foreign policy paper series, is a comprehensive report documenting the history, current state, and potential future of eDiplomacy at the U.S. Department of State. Of special note is part three, which discusses the increasing importance of public diplomacy. The report is written by Fergus Hanson, non-resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution. ... To read the PDF of the full report, click here."

Culinary Diplomacy: A Taste of Thanksgiving [includes video] - Kristie, "In light of last week’s holiday (and a great example of this week’s discussion on public diplomacy), I spent a majority of November organizing an event as part of the State Department’s culinary diplomacy initiative. The 'Diplomatic Culinary Partnership' was launched in order to 'elevate the role of culinary engagement in America’s formal and public diplomacy efforts' (source: Press release). Entitled Taste of Thanksgiving, the event was filmed at the Blair House, the President’s guest house, and available for live streaming. Members of the American Chef Corps, a network of the nation’s distinguished chefs, worked with other locally renowned chefs to prepare traditional Thanksgiving meals.

An audience from over 75 countries watched the chefs cook, collected recipes, and participated in Q&A’s. Embassies abroad expressed great interest in the event, and requested translated versions of the event to broadcast later. The success of the event was heavily dependent on the social media used to promote it; State is making a big effort to integrate technology in its diplomatic efforts. ... Press release: ... [Comment by:] BlehrNovember 27, 2012 8:04 PM Kristie this is such an interesting post, thank you! I’m actually really glad you brought up this topic. The other day I read a very interesting article in one of the daily metro newspapers about chef José Andrés (one of the chefs in the State Department’s American Chef Corps) and his endeavor to bring the American Thanksgiving tradition to Spain this year. ( As a part of a cultural diplomacy effort to promote American culture and values in Spain, chef Andrés is sharing the gastronomic tradition of the Thanksgiving meal with the Spanish population. Andrés first cooked a Thanksgiving meal at the American Embassy in Madrid, and also partnered with the Spanish company Cascajares to provide a Thanksgiving meal ‘package’ to sell to the Spanish public. According to the Think Food Group’s press release about the effort, Cascajares will provide 1,000 roasted turkeys in Spain this year with the goal of continuing to increase this number each year going forward. (
It is very interesting to see, from your example of the State Department's event and from the efforts of José Andrés, that the Thanksgiving meal is being used as a tool for cultural diplomacy." Image from

Expert Views on Public Diplomacy: The Next Four Years - Mary Jeffers, On November 13,  IPDGC [Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication at George Waashington University] had the privilege of sponsoring Public Diplomacy: the Next Four Years, a terrific 'insiders' discussion featuring two former Under Secretaries of State for Public Diplomacy (James Glassman and Judith McHale), a key Senate senior committee staffer (Paul Foldi), and a former State Department Assistant Secretary / spokesperson (Philip 'PJ' Crowley).   These are all people who not only have a vision of what America’s public diplomacy can and should do, they also know a lot about what it actually does.

Panel members enthusiastically debated the role and strengths of contemporary U.S. public diplomacy. One area of complete agreement:  two-way engagement is a big priority over one-way messaging. Another consensus: information technology is a game-changer in diplomacy and foreign affairs. Key Takeaway:  Signficant [sic] discussion revolved around how diplomacy itself – not just public diplomacy – is changing.  The implication was clear that  diplomacy must change even more in this modern world of globally shared challenges and exponentially more information networks." Image from entry

My "State of Public Diplomacy" Address - Amanda, Applied Public Diplomacy Group 3 Blog: "What are the main challenges and opportunities for practitioners of public diplomacy? Here are a few of the challenges I see for PD practitioners in the field today: Definition of Public Diplomacy . ... Smith Mundt Act . ... Training and Professional Development . ... Despite these challenges, there are still a number of opportunities out there from which PD practitioners can benefit: Public-Private Partnerships . ... Social Media . ... Cultural Diplomacy."

RFE/RL Board plans to hear directly from fired Radio Liberty journalists -  posted by Ted, Blogger News Network: “Sources told BBG Watch that in an unprecedented move, the Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Board of Directors plans to ask representatives of the fired Radio Liberty journalists to raise their concerns directly with board members in a teleconference scheduled for next month between Washington and Moscow. according to sources, the invitation for the fired Radio Liberty journalists, which can only be viewed as a sign of major doubts about RFE/RL President and CEO Steven Korn’s leadership, was agreed to by key board members. The RFE/RL’s corporate board is made up of all presidentially-appointed members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). It is chaired by BBG member Dennis Mulhaupt and co-chaired by BBG member Susan McCue. ... According to sources, even BBG members who initially supported Korn’s mass firing of Radio Liberty journalists in Moscow became appalled by reports of his dismissive comments about Russian human rights leaders and their concerns, details of the brutal treatment of the fired staffers, Mr. Korn’s refusal to provide information to the BBG Strategy and Budget Committee, and sexually suggestive videos produced for RFE/RL’s programs in Kazakhstan

after half of experienced broadcasters of the RFE/RL Kazakh Service in Prague were also fired on orders of Mr. Korn. The videos, which have been removed from the RFE/RL website after numerous protests, also make fun of gays and Latinos and include swear words and obscene gestures, according to Kazakh speakers who contacted BBG Watch. The videos can still be viewed on other sites on the web. ... Link to Radio Liberty Kazakh Service sexually suggestive video. ... Numerous Russian and international media reports described actions taken by Mr. Korn as a public diplomacy disaster for the United States in Russia. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is an ex officio BBG member and is represented at BBG meetings by Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine. The BBG has also received numerous protests against the firings and statements of support for the dismissed journalists from all major anti-Putin opposition leaders in Russia, including Mikhail Gorbachev.” Image from entry

Rep Rohrabacher believes "abrupt dismissal" of Radio Free Asia Tibetan director was "for political reasons" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Cuban diplomat says "we do not censor" the (heavily jammed) TV and Radio Martí - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Strategic Communications: How NATO Shapes and Manipulates Public Opinion - "A collection of documents recently obtained and published by Public Intelligence provides a complete guide to NATO’s training process for 'strategic communications' activities, including public diplomacy, public affairs, information operations and psychological operations.

The documents, compiled for participants in a NATO training summit, describe the doctrine behind strategic communications and provide practical examples of their use in a number of recent conflicts from Libya to Afghanistan. ... NATO’s Military Concept for Strategic Communications states that 'the vision is to put Strategic Communications at the heart of all levels of military policy, planning and execution' as it is 'not an adjunct activity, but should be inherent in the planning and conduct of all military operations and activities.' Strategic communications at the political level encompasses both public diplomacy and public affairs . ... NATO’s Public Diplomacy Strategy for 2010-2011 states the primary goal of communication efforts should be conveying 'the values and principles that NATO stands for, first and foremost the principle of Allied solidarity, will feature prominently in NATO’s communication and outreach efforts, in particular towards the young generation.'” Image from

On Citizens' Day, Estonia Recognises Promoters of Public Diplomacy - Estonian Embassy in Moscow: "In honour of Citizens’ Day today, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet is recognising active promoters of public diplomacy with certificates of recognition. The recipients have demonstrated a long-term commitment to introducing Estonia and strengthening its ties with other countries. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet noted that every Estonian can help increase Estonia’s foreign political influence and good reputation abroad through public diplomacy. 'Public diplomacy is a good opportunity for small countries, and we wish

to encourage and support public diplomacy activities. Close communication among people plays a vital role in introducing Estonia and in intensifying relations with foreign countries,' stated Paet. 'We highly value the contribution of those people who have taken it upon themselves to introduce Estonia and to actively maintain Estonian culture abroad,' he added. This is the third time the Foreign Ministry is giving certificates of recognition to promoters of public diplomacy in honour of Citizens’ Day. The certificate of recognition is given to those who have voluntarily made a long-term and significant contribution to forming and maintaining Estonia’s positive image in their country of residence." Image from entry

On Russia - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Bouncing through old Sovietica, and seeing all the continued Russian cultural influences, I am marveling about the continued Russian influence on Central Asia, from music to culture to food. Fascinating. Makes the work of one Lena [Yelena Osipova] and her research on Russian public diplomacy and soft power in the former Soviet Empire all the more fascinating."

London 2012: Everyone’s a winner - John Worne, PD News – CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Perhaps it's time to recognise that English, education, and culture - along with a sustained commitment to international development - are some of the UK's biggest and best contributions to the world in the 21st century. Here in the UK we should learn to talk about that more, with due humility and just a little national pride, because everyone is a winner when we share."

Shalom Achshav: Israel Should Welcome UN Vote on Palestinian Initiative - Lara Friedman, "'...the correct line of public diplomacy for Israel is to warmly embrace the idea of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel and welcoming the UN vote. The Palestinian bid should be seen as an Israeli achievement because affirmation of its contents would be a de facto historic recognition of the borders of Israel and negation of the historic Palestinian aspiration to wipe Israel off the map.' So wrote APN's sister organization Shalom Achshav -- the Israeli Peace Now Movement -- in a letter it sent today to Israel's Foreign Minister and Minister of Information. Shalom Achshav also sent suggested talking points for Israeli government officials to use in their efforts around the UN initiative.

200 Russian Speaking Young Leaders from Europe Trained in New Media - EJP, "Young Russian speaking Jewish leaders were trained to fight the de-legitimization of Israel during a conference held this weekend in Maastricht, Holland, organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry. During the conference, leaders from 12 countries across Europe were trained in public diplomacy skills in the age of new media.

The educational conference was intended to help develop a young Russian speaking Jewish leadership across Europe. The conference, which concluded today, was attended by over 200 Russian speaking young Jewish leaders between the ages of 20 and 30 who have been involved in Jewish Agency programs in recent years. The Jewish Agency estimates that hundreds of thousands of Russian speaking are currently living in central Europe and most are not involved in traditional community organizations or activities. This conference was intended to strengthen their connection to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. During the conference, the participants developed technical skills for working with online and social media through lectures and practical sessions. The training was conducted in English, German and Russian by leading experts in public diplomacy and new media." Image from article


The Pace of Leaving Afghanistan - Editorial, New York Times: There is no reason to delay the troops’ return home by another year.

Shaping the 'new Egypt': The United States should present Egyptian leaders with a set of choices - Vin Weber and Gregory B. Craig, While it is a mistake to believe the United States can persuade or compel the Islamists governing Egypt to give up their deeply held ideology, it is not wrong to base policy on the idea that American leverage can affect Egyptian behavior. We call this a policy of "engagement without illusions." Specifically, we recommend that President Obama agree to certify to Congress that Egypt must fulfill two well-defined sets of commitments — on regional peace and on bilateral strategic cooperation — as a condition of continued U.S. aid and political backing for international loans. In addition, through private conversation and public messaging, the president and congressional leaders should explain to Egyptians an informal condition: The United States can maintain a close and mutually beneficial relationship only with a government that is moving forward on constitutional democracy and not engaged in substantial violations of human rights or measures against women and religious minorities. Finally, the administration should use a portion of Egypt's military aid — at least $100 million to start, and increasing over time — as incentive for more aggressive efforts to combat terrorism in the Sinai, given the urgency of this issue to U.S. interests. We urge the administration to engage with the broadest possible spectrum of political actors in Egypt. Image from, with caption: Egyptian protesters hold a banner depicting President Mohamed Morsi as a pharaoh during a demonstration over his presidential decrees

An untidy compromise in Egypt: President Mohamed Morsi backs down somewhat in his battle with the judiciary - Editorial, The U.S. State Department, which had profusely praised Morsi for his role in achieving a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas just a couple of days earlier, reminded him publicly that "one of the aspirations of the revolution was to ensure that power would not be overly concentrated in the hands of any one person or institution." (Private comments were presumably more vociferous.) Morsi and his allies need to induce disaffected members of the body to rejoin the deliberations to ensure that the constitution that results protects the rights of women, Christians and secularists. If that isn't the result, Morsi might face intervention from a powerful institution that has been quiescent in the most recent controversies — the Egyptian military.

Egypt's 'moderate' despot: The West has been in denial about President Mohamed Morsi, who has deftly built the apparatus of despotism to consolidate power - Jonah Goldberg, Ever since the Muslim Brotherhood broke its promise to stay out of Egypt's presidential election in the aftermath of the revolution, many Western observers have been in denial about what has been going on. In less than half a year, Mohamed Morsi has deftly built the apparatus of despotism.

Renew the Mideast peace process? Not now: The last thing anyone needs is another failed U.S. effort to bring Israel and the Palestinians together - Chuck Freilich, It is standard diplomatic practice to view crises as an opportunity to seek fundamental change in the situation.

Well before Operation Pillar of Defense started, strategists and pundits were calling on President Obama to devote his second term to a renewed effort to promote the long-moribund peace process. They are wrong. The last thing the Middle East needs today — especially Israelis and Palestinians — and the last thing the U.S. needs is another failed American-led peace process. And it would fail. Image from

My Secretary of State - Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times: Since the end of the cold war our secretaries of state have racked up more miles than they’ve made history. Before 1995, the job involved ending or avoiding superpower conflicts and signing big arms control treaties. Those were the stuff of heroic diplomacy. Fortunately, today there are fewer big wars to end, and the big treaties now focus more on trade and the environment than nukes — and they’re very hard to achieve.

Georgia’s government takes a wrong turn - Editorial Board, Washington Post: Within weeks of taking office, the new regime, headed by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, has brought criminal charges against more than 20 senior officials of the previous administration, including the former ministers of defense and interior and the armed forces chief of staff.

The magnate-turned-prime minister said last week that his first official visit to the United States had been postponed, which is a good thing. As long as he is imprisoning opposition leaders and seeking to monopolize power, Georgia’s new leader should not be welcome in Washington. Image from

The Middle East Propaganda War - Scott Baker, We live in the age of the televised war.  War as shock and shame has given way to war as entertainment and opining.  Most of the media gets high ratings for relatively little risk. Although journalists do still die in "theater," gone are the days when the only way to get the story was to accompany soldiers for days on end in the muddy field, though these excursions were often more honest, less censored, and ultimately, more influential. However, journalists ensconced in media towers are no longer necessarily safe. Israel is now targeting journalists there too, with high-speed planes firing more-or-less precision missiles, blowing up media headquarters, occupied or not . Leila Fadel, NPR's Cairo bureau chief states: The Israeli bombardment of Gaza continued today by sea and air. According to local sources, one strike left a family of at least 10 - mostly women and children - dead. Another struck a media building and injured six journalists, raising concerns that journalists in Hamas-run area are now targets."

Israel Has Turned Propaganda Into a Game, And It’s Pretty Gross - Luke Plunkett, To help spin the good spin in its current stoush with Hamas, the Israeli Defence Force has launched a program called IDF Ranks. Which is, essentially, a game about being a mouthpiece for the Israeli Defence Force.

It's aimed at young internet users, both inside Israel but especially internationally, who are told that by signing up they'll be joining "the ultimate virtual army", and be rewarded with promotions and medals for jumping on social media and spreading the good word about... well, war. Enlisting the common man to do your propaganda work is a trick as old as war itself, but this kind of candy-coloured "gamification" is certainly new. Image from entry

Saudi 'Propaganda Center' Opens in Vienna - Gatestone Institute: Saudi Arabia has officially opened the doors of a controversial new "interreligious and intercultural dialogue center" in the Austrian capital, Vienna. The King Abdullah International Center for Inter-Religious and Inter-Cultural Dialogue was inaugurated during an elaborate ceremony at the Hofburg Palace in downtown Vienna on November 26. More than 650 high-profile guests from around the world attended the event, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and the foreign ministers of the center's three founding states, Austria, Spain and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis say the purpose of the multi-million-dollar institution -- which will be headquartered at the Palais Sturany in the heart of Vienna and will have the status of an international organization -- is to "foster dialogue" between the world's major religions in order to "prevent conflict." Critics, however, say the center is an attempt by Saudi Arabia to establish a permanent "propaganda center" in central Europe from which to spread the conservative Wahhabi sect of Islam.

Photos of Modern, North Korean Apartments Used as Propaganda - In this series of photos, the Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, visits a family of young factory workers. However, despite how it looks, this is not the average standard of living for most North Koreans. In fact, these photos are a form of propaganda aimed at the rest of the world and offer a distorted perception of reality. Among the photos:


a)  Wealth rises in USA's heartland: Small-town America is better off: Inflation-adjusted income is up 3.8% per person since 2007 - Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY: Small-town America is better off than before: Inflation-adjusted income is up 3.8% per person since 2007 for the 51 million in small cities, towns and rural areas. The energy boom and strong farm prices have reversed, at least temporarily, a long-term trend of money flowing to cities. Last year, small places saw a 3% growth in income per person vs. 1.8% in urban areas.


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