Friday, November 9, 2012

November 9

--Image and quotation from


Election 2012: PD Implications? - Michael Canning, Public Diplomacy Council: "When I think of the 'implications for public diplomacy' in the wake of the 2012 election, I can only come with—zero, zip, zilch.

This never-ending political phantasmagoria we have just witnessed produced zero serious discussion of any foreign policy matter. The prospect of any new or telling involvement of our national government in matters of PD is also about zero, especially because we are looking at a future where expanding resources for any kind of government action in almost any sphere is, again, around zero. (especially in foreign affairs). The fact also that the shape of our national institutions, the Executive and the Congress, are roughly status quo ante, means exactly as much interest in PD matters as in our recent past—almost zero." Image from

U.S. Elections and America's Changing Story - Seen From Inside the Polls - Joe Johnson, Public Diplomacy Council: "Yesterday's Presidential elections offered a rich vein of information and insights for public diplomacy officers around the world.

No matter your politics, the turnout and the changing demographics of the American electorate combined with the spectacle of ordinary voters having their say. The election's outcome leaves undecided how the campaign's bitterly fought policy issues may be resolved, but that leaves a playground for pundits and prognosticators at embassy presentations. If I were still a public affairs officer, I would rubbing my hands in glee at the program possibilities. ... The people in U.S. public diplomacy who are 'telling America's story' have a changing story to tell. But yesterday's peaceful and lawful closure to a long campaign is the unchanging theme." Image from entry

U.S. Pursues Global Strategy to End Trafficking in Wildlife - David Braun, "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called today for a global strategy to protect wildlife in their environments and begin to dry up the demand for trafficked wildlife goods. 'I’m calling for the creation of a global system of regional wildlife enforcement networks to take advantage of those networks that already are operating and the lessons we have learned from them. The sooner we get this off the ground, the better, and to that end, the State Department is pledging $100,000 to help get this new global system up and running,' she said at a Partnership Meeting on Wildlife Trafficking, attended by conservation groups and representatives of several countries at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. ... [Clinton:] [W]e are reaching beyond governments to enlist the support of people.

As part of this effort, Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine, our Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, is spearheading a global outreach campaign which we will launch December 4th on Wildlife Conservation Day. Our embassies will use every tool at their disposal to raise awareness about this issue, from honoring local activists, to spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter. We want to make buying goods, products from trafficked wildlife, endangered species unacceptable, socially unacceptable. We want friends to tell friends they don’t want friends who ingest, display, or otherwise use products that come from endangered species anywhere in the world.” Image from article, with caption: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks at the Partnership Meeting on Wildlife Trafficking at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., November 8, 2012. See also

Psyops 101: Psyops on the homefront - James Corbett, "The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 seeks to update the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which prohibits the State Department’s public diplomacy organs from disseminating propaganda intended for foreign audiences domestically. Smith, Thornberry, and other 'modernization' proponents argue that the bill was drafted in a pre-satellite, pre-television, pre-internet era where the public feared the State Department’s ability to influence domestic politics. In this day and age of instant online access to websites and videos from anywhere in the world, proponents of the bill argue, the idea of segregating information into 'foreign' and 'domestic' is a futile if not meaningless activity. In reality, though, it’s unclear what effect the Smith-Mundt Act

has had in limiting domestic propaganda at all. There are no clear provisions, bodies or oversights for its enforcement and even the State Department itself seems unclear what bureaus are supposed to abide by it. ... In theory, there are legal obstacles in place that prevent the US government from directly propagandizing to its own citizens. In reality, however, these regulations have been routinely flouted by the Defense Department and other federal agencies without any serious repercussion. Even a cursory breakdown of the actions of the last few Administrations show that domestic propaganda operations have been and continue to be an integral part of modern American politics. ...what will it [the American public] do to insure that the DoD, the State Department, and all the other purveyors of these psyops tactics are defunded and their power to disseminate this propaganda is permanenly removed?”  Image from

Social Media Fails in Baghdad (and London) - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well:  "One assumes that the purpose of US State Department social media is to win friends and influence enemies, build support for America, something like that. So WTF is this all about? The photo below was part of the US Embassy in Baghdad’s Twitter feed, and shows some unnamed white guy standing next to who?

Is she famous, maybe Iraq’s version of the Gangnam guy? I don’t know much about the Middle East and all, but is it impressive to show a woman all made-up? Who are these people? And who on earth was so thrilled about this photo that he 'favorited' it? It’s Instagram paid for with taxes. Oh, I feel old and out of touch. (Note: Almost all embassies and consulates host taxpayer-paid election night parties, around the world. Sometimes local businesses are strong-armed into 'donating' food and drink. State loves these events as a chance to get all high and mighty about the wonders of democracy, even, without irony, in the many places around the world where we actively oppose local democratic movements as inconvenient to our geopolitical goals. Also, in the UK, the US Embassy in London hired an Elvis imitator for some reason.)  Next up on the US Embassy Twitter feed parade o’ photos is this one, subtitled in English 'How would you feel if your wife’s salary was higher than yours?'

I am truly at a loss about what the purpose of this one is. Is it supposed to make men feel better about women working? Support bird rights in the new Iraq? Arabic speakers, is there a secret meaning hidden in the text? The woman looks a little like the Lois character from Family Guy, so maybe it is what the young people call 'meta.' A commenter named 'WRC' wrote 'very impressive photo' underneath, but drilling down it turns out he is the CEO of a firm doing contract work for the U.S. embassy in Iraq. That may be the intended target audience of the embassy’s social media, so it would be cool then." Images from entry

Embassies are safer than ever before – Krystle Lischwe,, posted at: "Contrary to the recent criticisms, safety is a primary goal of embassies, as outlined in Article 3 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. However, budget cuts are a current reality for U.S. embassies since House Republicans cut the funding for embassy security by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012. It is clear that these cuts are straining our diplomatic officials, but is there an alternative? One potential alternative would be better use of improved methods of communication. From email to Skype, computers and the internet have revolutionized the world, and the world of diplomacy is no exception. In the golden age of social technology, embassies are able to use these new media outlets to communicate messages and access global information quicker than ever before. However, can enhanced communication solve the security funds dilemma facing American embassies today? It could, but at a cost. There’s no denying the vast benefits from new technological innovations in communication, but they do not fulfill the primary goal of effective diplomatic discourse. This was conveyed in December 2011 when U.S Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, launched a virtual embassy in Tehran in hopes of spreading public diplomacy in a region where an American embassy is not welcomed. If successful, it would be the start of a new, positive conversation with Iran while keeping diplomats safe from anti-Western attacks. Although it had good intentions, the Iranian government shut down the website within 12 minutes of its inauguration, stating that the virtual embassy went against Iranian national law. Technology, in this aspect, is limited and can be easily manipulated, a major hinderance [sic] to diplomacy, which is a continuous conversation between countries. Diplomats must take great care when fostering and maintaining relationships with other countries, a delicate process that involves both talking and listening. Although virtual embassies can be outlets for transmitting messages safely, they do not contribute to the two-way conversation of diplomacy by listening to the host country. Although tragic, the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi marks a success in diplomatic communication. On the day of the violent attacks, tens of thousands Libyans protested against the terrorist attacks and asserted that Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, 'was a friend to all Libyans.'”

Winning the Long Game – Public Diplomacy, Public Opinion and the U.S. Elections - James Thomas Snyder, "In many respect, public opinion is public diplomacy, or to be more precise, the entire point of public diplomacy: we engage with the public to change minds and mold opinion. We ask and check and monitor opinion through public opinion polling and surveys, both public and private, in order both to know what people think but also to determine how to change what they think. It is impossible to think about public diplomacy without understanding and caring about public opinion, polling data and methodology in great detail. ... But if public diplomacy is about affecting public opinion, then two ready questions come immediately to mind.  Why aren’t those in charge of public diplomacy held to account for the global public esteem of the United States? And, if they are, then why isn’t the public diplomacy apparatus organized and equipped better to change global public opinion? I found these unanswered questions – or rather, the questions disconnected from solutions – during my time at NATO.  We were interested in public opinion but lacked the resources and tools to understand it in greater depth. We didn’t really know what we wanted people to know or think about us, other than generally to understand and support us.  And we had no real way to gauge how to resource that mission in any event.  I suspect the State Department is in a similar position. It’s important to note there are imperfect comparisons between public diplomacy and an election campaign. There is no “vote” in public diplomacy, only a continuing series of referenda on U.S. foreign policy and our leaders. And there is little compromising on matters of national interest and prerogative and certainly none when it comes to those whom our people choose as our leaders. If we told the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy that her job performance was contingent on public opinion ratings, that would certainly tighten her job description and focus her resources. (There are, for example, about 1,000 qualified public diplomacy officers in the State Department. The Pentagon has probably 10 times that number.)  It certainly argues for an organization within the State Department such as the U.S. Information Agency, whose dedicated mission is entirely focused on foreign publics. Unfortunately, it might also lead to the elimination of some of the more popular (and necessary) programs in the State Department, such as the Fulbright fellowships, that have long-term benefits for the United States but less immediate impact.  It might also lead to the accusation of propaganda, if not its outright activity.  Just as with the 'air game' during an election at home, the obsession with public opinion may lead us to find an 'easy way' to influence foreign 'voters'.  An undue focus on public opinion could force our diplomats could succumb to these temptations, like studying to the test. Perhaps we need to return to the recent election for another model for public diplomacy. It is becoming clear that the Obama campaign won the election through a gritty application of the ground game – a serious, methodical application of organization that found committed supporters and got them to the polls. There is something to be learned from that example. The ground game is also the best public diplomacy: building rapport, strengthening the organization, mobilizing allies, reaching out to the undecided. In the long game, it’s what wins."

America Votes -- As the World Listens, Watches and Blogs - Alan Heil, Public Diplomacy Council: "It has been a week of stunning contrasts: the world’s largest democracy, the United States, re-elects a president and other key leaders on Tuesday in which 118 million citizens, including earlier absentee voters, cast their ballots. Less than 48 hours later, the world’s largest authoritarian government, the Peoples Republic of China, convenes a communist party congress in Beijing.

That forum in a few days will announce new top leadership pre-selected behind closed doors by a tiny fraction of its 1.2 billion citizens, installing a new party chairman, Xi Jinping, and a powerful politburo standing committee whose members have not yet been made public. By all accounts, that contrast should be a Western public diplomacy practitioner’s dream. ... As international broadcasting scholar Kim Andrew Elliott reported in his daily blog on the eve of the U.S. election, the China Digital Times quoted a China Propaganda Department instruction to Chinese media: 'Use only Xinhua coverage of the U.S. presidential election. This must be strictly enforced; even China News Service copy must not be used. Do not produce in-house reports or commentary.' Despite this bald attempt at a news blackout, the Voice of America --- by reporting the news accurately and objectively --- has aided citizen discourse in China and in other countries where leaders wanted to censor information about free elections. VOA’s correspondent in Beijing, Bill Ide, told a worldwide Voice audience on Election Night that Chinese netizens are 'yearning for the kind of free debate in their own country that attended the U.S. presidential election.' He added that those he had spoken with on the eve of Tuesday’s election believed that 'neither President Obama or Governor Romney would harm Sino-American relations if elected.' "Heil image from entry

OMG! Meiyu Host Jessica Beinecke Wins AIB Founders’ Award - "Jessica Beinecke, host and creator of VOA's online English-Chinese teaching program, OMG! Meiyu, is the 2012 winner of the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) Founders' Award.

In addition, Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) services Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) all had nominations that were recognized as 'highly commended' by the AIB. Beinecke's award was presented in London Wednesday night at the AIB Global Media Excellence Awards gala, which attracted broadcast journalists from around the world." Beinecke image from entry

Broadcasting Board of Governors – agency in charge of U.S. international broadcasting in a state of general failure
- Quo Vadis, USG Broadcasts, BBG Watch: "The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey this year has again demonstrated for all to see why the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) is one of the very worst places to work in the federal government. Once again, it looks as if the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the IBB, are poised to receive the dubious 'honor' of languishing at the very bottom of the barrel among all Agencies in the federal government."

NATO Comprehensive Operations Planning Directive - "3-54. Plan StratCom. a. Review Requirements for StratCom. StratCom must be an integral component of planning based on the mission-specific StratCom strategy adopted by the NAC. NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy (ASG PDD) oversees the formulation of the StratCom strategy through the SCPB, which includes representation from SecGen’s Private Office, PDD, NATO Spokesman, IMS StratCom, both StratCom and JFCs (as needed).

Therefore, it is critically important that the SOPG be proactive in providing the necessary planning support in line with the strategic concept and in coordination with the supported JFC. Planning for StratCom, supported by the SCWG should include the following: ... (4) Establish responsibilities and arrangements for military support to Public Diplomacy, PA, Info Ops and PSYOPS."

MEA ties up with YouTube for a global short film contest - Team: "The Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India and video-sharing website YouTube have launched a short film contest titled 'India Is...a visual Journey', celebrating India and its diversity. The contest will be open to users across the globe for a period of three months, with the last day of submission on 9 February, 2013. All the entries will be featured on the channel The company says it has 33 million users in India."

be tolerant to diversity - "China’s mutual benefit and win-win strategy of opening up, China with all countries in the world the people’s unity and cooperation,mercurial vapor, common development of this sincerity, to tell the people of the world,adizero f50 pas cher, to prevent them from being misled by some of the media in this regard,abercrombie pas cher, various departments have done a lot of work and I think a lot of people now travel around or visit,air jordan pas cher, or our delegations go out. fact, broadly speaking,moncler, are a part of the public diplomacy from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is concerned,moncler, the past few years, we perfected our public diplomacy mechanism with institutional construction of course we need to make further efforts.

now we set up a special public open day of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,abercrombie, so that everyone, fellow citizens to experience the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its significance, we have set up 'Blue Room Forum We welcome the various experts,adizero f50, national experts and scholars to take advantage of this forum to exchange views on major international and regional issues, or the development of bilateral relations,doudoune moncler, the reason why we named the 'Blue Hall Forum, the way to add that this Foreign Ministry news conference hall,moncler outlet. because we think that the blue represents the ocean, be tolerant to diversity, a symbol of peace,air jordan femme, inclusiveness and openness,lancel pas cher.” Image from

Nation Branding and Public Diplomacy: Related, not Twins - Marc Hedman, fourtherecordpd: "There are certainly some big similarities between nation branding and public diplomacy, but the differences outweigh the similarities. Both were born from different disciplines and hope to accomplish different objectives. Sometimes these objectives overlap, but the practice of each relies on different methods of communication and deployment."

Buy 1 Country, Get 27 Free! - Amanda, Applied Public Diplomacy Group 3 Blog: Multiple perspectives on public diplomacy implementation: “'Nation branding,' a relatively new tool in the soft power toolkit, has emerged as a complement to traditional public diplomacy. It’s a way for a country to boost its public image through advertising techniques in the hopes of creating more favorable conditions for foreign investment, tourism, trade, or even better diplomatic relations with other countries. ... For any supranational structure, constructing a community around a shared identity is vital to its branding."


Drone Strikes in Pakistan Kill One Terrorist for Every 50 Deaths - Danielle Gram, Just weeks before the general election, a new study has drawn into question the “surgical” drone strikes Obama administration officials have touted as “precise and effective” weapons in the war on terror. Released on Wednesday by researchers at Stanford and New York University law schools,the study recommends the U.S. conduct “a fundamental re-evaluation of current targeted killing practices,” which has led to 49 civilian deaths for every one known terrorist killed. In a region where the U.S. should be trying to win over supporters from al Qaeda and Taliban influence, drones are traumatizing and alienating Pakistanis.

 Despite the Obama administration’s public statements that the strikes have contributed to either “no” or “single digit” civilian casualties, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, drone strikes killed between 2,562 and 3,325 people in Pakistan, including 176 children. For complete text of the Stanford/NYU report titled “Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan,” and multimedia about life in drone-affected Pakistan visit: . Via MS on Facebook. Image from article, with caption:  Drone Strikes in Pakistan Kill One Terrorist for Every 50 Deaths

Iran, Saying Aircraft Trespassed, Confirms Drone Shooting Episode - Thomas Erdbrink and Rick Gladstone, New York Times: Iran’s defense minister on Friday confirmed that Iranian warplanes had fired shots at an American drone last week but said they had taken the action after the unmanned aircraft had entered Iranian airspace. The assertions by the defense minister, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, were the first acknowledgment from Iran that the episode had happened.

Drone Propaganda Site Pops Up Just In Time For Obama's Second Term - Geoffrey Ingersoll, Drones (and their corresponding strikes) don't have the best public face, especially since the wars are winding down and they've starting coming home to roost. It's not just Obama who's expanding (and will continue to expand) their deployment. Law enforcement agencies, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security and even journalists are all seeking to use, and potentially abuse, unmanned robotic vehicles.

So with timing that couldn't be any more perfect, Talking Points Memo reports that a new website dedicated to telling positive drone stories popped up in the days leading up to Obama's re-election. Not that the two are somehow directly related, but it's worth noting that the man who simultaneously quadrupled flying robot use abroad also authorized and encouraged their use domestically. Now Americans don't seem to mind drones in foreign countries, in fact they love the idea, but that love quickly goes south when drones cross into domestic territory. Image from

When War Comes Home - Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times: President George W. Bush’s worst mistake was the Iraq war, and President Obama’s was roughly tripling the number of troops in Afghanistan. Let’s hope that future presidents remember that the cost of dispatching ground troops on foreign battlefields isn’t measured only in lives and limbs lost but also in the invisible mental health toll on warriors and those around them.

The future of Afghan women - Afghani Barakzai, Washington Post: Development programs such as those run by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the United Nations Development Program could focus on recruiting aid from Afghans abroad. Such measures could help provide the skills and capacity that Afghanistan desperately needs, while speaking to women’s rights — and human rights — with a compelling Afghan voice.

Europe to Obama: Congratulations, Now Get to Work - Anne Jolis, Wall Street Journal: European leaders wasted little time this week issuing polite congratulations to President Obama. They then promptly invited him to turn his attention to some of the more major issues that have taken a back seat throughout his first term/re-election campaign. First up: the rest of the world. While Mr. Obama maintains legions of fans in Europe, his first term was marked by a perceived snub to European leaders when he skipped an annual EU-U.S. summit in May 2010.

Liberal Exceptionalism: How long can the laws of fiscal—and political—gravity be suspended? - Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal: Fortunately, the truth about American exceptionalism isn't that we're the best at everything. It's that we're a nation founded on a belief in human liberty, which contains within it both the power to do and undo.

Timothy Garton Ash on China - John Brown, Notes and Essays:  "Op-Ed, "China's next hurdle: You think the United States has problems? Take a closer look at China -- While serving as a US diplomat in the Cold War and immediate post-Cold War era, I had the privilege of speaking on several occasions with the brilliant Timothy Garton Ash, whose articles I have always read with admiration. In the modest opinion of this total non-expert about a country I have never visited and whose languages I do not speak -- but, based on my experience during the last decades of the 20th-century in communist and post-communist countries: Czechoslovakia, Poland, Estonia, Ukraine, Serbia, Russia -- Garton Ash's latest piece on China seems absolutely spot-on.

Google confirms traffic drop-off in China - Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy: Just in time for its once-a-decade leadership handover, the Chinese government appears to have blocked all access to Google and its services, including Gmail, inside China.

According to Google's own online transparency reporting, which provides realtime traffic data for Google sites around the world, a precipitous drop-off of traffic to Google sites began at exactly 12 p.m. China time Nov. 9, and is still ongoing. Uncaptioned image from entry

Communist party rule 'suits China's national reality': The Communist party will begin its once-in-a-decade change of leaders today by insisting that its iron grip on power "suits China's national reality" on the eve of its 18th national congress - Malcolm Moore, The leading position of the Communist party in China is a decision made by history and the people," said Cai Mingzhao, one of the Party's most senior propaganda officials.

Mr Cai had been asked, on the eve of the 18th Party Congress, whether the elite conclave that anoints China's leaders might one day choose to give more power to the people. Earlier in the day on Wednesday, news of the American election and images of jubilant crowds had been broadcast on Chinese television. But Mr Cai was quick to rule out any such scenario in China. "China has scored world renowned achievements and it speaks fully to the leadership of the Communist party," he said. "The political system suits China's national reality. We have to unswervingly stick to the right path blazed by the Party." Image from article, with caption: Mr Cai was adamant that the 2,268 Communist party members chosen to come to Beijing for the Congress were able to represent the views of 1.3 billion Chinese.

China struggles to impress its young with TV propaganda - Himalayan Times: A growing number of young people are unimpressed by patriotic period pieces known as "red" dramas that swamp the airwaves at times of major political events. But with the 18th Party Congress now under way in Beijing, the shows - which glorify the army, the party and ordinary villagers living hardscrabble lives during the early days of the communism - are unavoidable.

The Art Of Chinese Propaganda - wfit: The Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center lies buried in an unmarked apartment building off the tree-lined streets of the city's former French Concession. There are no signs. You have to wend your way through apartment blocks, down a staircase and into a basement to discover one of Shanghai's most obscure and remarkable museums.
The private collection features about 300 brightly colored, Mao-era propaganda posters

stretching from the founding of Communist China in 1949 to 1990, which includes some of China's darkest political days. The museum, which has been open for a number of years but finally received an official government license last spring, is a labor of love. Image from article, with caption: A 1967 poster declares, "Beloved Chairman Mao, we are loyal to you forever."

German World War 2 Propaganda Posters - diactus: Among them, with caption: KDF-Wagen sales brochure, from 1938 The Beetle, or KDF-Wagen as it was initially known, can trace its ancestry prior to WW2, when this catalogue was printed. The idea was to offer the German populace a chance to own their own set of wheels, via a stamps saving scheme. A huge factory was built at what would become the town of Wolfsburg, and production commenced of the new “Volkswagens” (literally translated as “people’s-cars”).

The war interrupted civilian production somewhat, but resumed afterwards thanks to the efforts of the British Army to get production back on track. During the war, militarised versions, the Kübelwagen and the Schwimmwagen, were produced for the German military. Image from entry


Five myths about the electoral college - George C. Edwards III, Washington Post: "1. The framers created the electoral college to protect small states. Remember what the country looked like in 1787: The important division was between states that relied on slavery and those that didn’t, not between large and small states.

A direct election for president did not sit well with most delegates from the slave states, which had large populations but far fewer eligible voters. They gravitated toward the electoral college as a compromise because it was based on population. The convention had agreed to count each slave as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of calculating each state’s allotment of seats in Congress. For Virginia, which had the largest population among the original 13 states, that meant more clout in choosing the president." Image from

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