Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 14-20

"The best history books do one of two things: they change one's mind or they tell a terrific story."

--Theodore K. Rabb, Times Literary Supplement (November 30, 2012), p. 12; image from


The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs [State Department]


French Minority Groups and US Foreign Policy - Walter Quintanilla, "Socially, France has been changing. Since the end of World War II and the independence of former colonies, immigration has increased rapidly. The more diverse social make-up has caused questions of national identity, namely 'what makes a French person French?' The case for France is different because its constitution is based on the idea of secularism. Nonetheless, recent success of far-right nationalist groups and laws that affect hyper-minorities bring into question the difference between secular and predatory policy. The United States’ place in this capacity is not to change or influence French policy, but to understand the changing French social composition to better fulfill public diplomacy goals. Consumption does not equal affinity. Just because the French eat McDonalds and listen to Kanye West does not mean that the French public will necessarily agree with American foreign policy, commercial interest, and political views. It is clear that France, and the rest of Europe, is quickly becoming more heterogeneous. Diversity is something we share with France.

Thus, public diplomacy needs to take a stronger grasp of our diversity to link our citizens to their citizens. But, public diplomacy is not an easy task. The money available for public diplomacy initiatives is fickle, variable, and more often than not, inaccessible. Recent economic cuts have affected posts across the board. Also, it cannot be sure that public diplomacy initiatives directly with French minority groups will not seem like a usurpation of power from the national government. Often what sounds good in theory falls short in practice which can discourage change in public diplomacy implementation. Though France is the U.S.’s oldest mission, the diplomatic relationship with the new French social composition will be one more complicated than before." Image from entry

RT Girls! Program Launch at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology - "Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine and Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller will co-launch the 'RT Girls! Program' at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology on Wednesday, December 19 at 2:00 p.m. The “RT Girls! Program” is designed to encourage girls to pursue studies and careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) and international security fields, public diplomacy, and other sectors with technology applications. The program will have subsequent outreach activities in high schools around the DC metro area with the eventual goals of expanding internationally."

Cultural Diplomacy at its finest - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "'We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.' The words said by one British bulldog Winston Churchill never seemed so apt. Over the last 6 weeks, across South and Central Asia, Della Mae gave a lifetime's worth of love, compassion and bluegrass.

Across the 'Stans, the Dellas played, performed and taught about that uniquely American art form that is bluegrass. Along the way, they touched the lives of so many, be it at music schools, lavish performance halls or orphanages and refugee centers. The Dellas had the longest American Musica Abroad tour, to the most countries, and they handled it with true grace and aplomb. A heartfelt welcome home to the cultural diplomatesses of Della Mae. Welcome home, Della Mae! Welcome home." Image from entry. See also.

Pentagon Abandons Strategic Communication? - Brian Carlson, Public Diplomacy Council: "[T]here is no question that many public diplomacy professionals think the military’s involvement in strategic communication – and other information arts that closely resemble public diplomacy – has gone too far. ... At the National War College and throughout the DOD schoolhouse, promotable majors, captains and lieutenant colonels are the strongest proponents of strategic communication. Their Iraq and Afghanistan experiences have taught them – over and over again – that we do not succeed in these environments unless we engage with empathy, work to understand the host nation society, and focus our attention on the 'information end state' we intend to leave behind when it’s all over. ... The effort across the U.S. Government to synchronize our words and our deeds, to improve our ability to communicate consistently through our actions as well as our declarations, will not end. The military can’t see themselves doing 'public diplomacy' – that’s for diplomats. Public affairs is too passive and reactive for what the warfighter has in mind. Information operations (IO) might be closer to the mark, and Military Information Support Operations (MISO) is a defined subset of IO. What many senior military officers are asking for is a national communication strategy, combined with Administration leadership, which results in broad, consistent and coherent interagency coordination of America’s engagement with foreign audiences." Via

Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication - American Security Project: "Public diplomacy is a vital aspect of our national security strategy and must also inform the policy making process.

Paraphrasing Edward R. Murrow, President Kennedy’s Director of the United States Information Agency (USIA), public diplomacy must be in on the take-offs of policy and not just the crash landings. In the 20 years since the end of the Cold War, the United States has yet to establish a defining role for public diplomacy in the context of its foreign relations. ... American public diplomacy also has to acknowledge 21st Century standards of communication, properly identify the target audience, and accurately and effectively convey the ideas and policies of the United States to foreign publics. The past several years have demonstrated the desire for private citizens around the world to have their voices heard. Tapping the power of new-media, individuals and other non-state actors now have access to many of the same tools as governments, and are often more effective in getting their messages across. Yet the United States cannot merely rely on Twitter, Facebook, and other web-based mediums for communication as a substitute for the content of its strategic messages. As an important aspect of effective strategic communication, America must also genuinely strive to listen to and understand foreign publics. This vital component in crafting messages which resonate with target audiences has often gone unheeded or been misunderstood." Image from entry

Flirting is far better than "strategic communication" ... - John Brown, Notes and Essays: "As the generals flirt by email/have extramarital affairs, DOD torments itself by speculating on strategic communication. Thank God the generals are engaged in less solemn forms of human intercourse.

If I may quote that blogger extraordinaire, Paul Rockower, 'flirting is the best form of public diplomacy.'" Image from

BBG Hosts US Youth Observer To The United Nations - "T]he Broadcasting Board of Governors hosted a visit from Brooke Loughrin, the first-ever US Youth Observer to the United Nations. Loughrin toured the Voice of America, and did an interview in English with the BBG Office of Policy as well as an interview in Farsi with the VOA Persian service.

Loughrin has previously traveled to Iran and is a strong proponent of public diplomacy. 'I would like to facilitate people-to-people interaction between Americans and Iranians,' she said. The Youth Observer position is a part of the U.S. effort to increase youth interest and participation in international relations." Image from entry, with caption: Brooke Loughrin, right, is interviewed by Joan DeLuca, of BBG's Office of Policy.

CUSIB Executive Director Ann Noonan Speaks at BBG Meeting, Demands Reinstatement of Fired Radio Liberty Journalists - BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "In addressing the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) open board meeting in Washington on Friday, the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – Executive Director Ann Noonan called for the reinstatement of fired Radio Liberty journalists."

What future holds for RFE/RL President Korn and his team and for Radio Liberty?  BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "It’s hard to imagine that Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) President and CEO Steven Korn can hold on to his job much longer, considering all the damage he has done to RFE/RL, not only in Russia but also in Kazakhstan and in other countries, as well as to America’s image and to U.S. public diplomacy in the region.

After Freedom House President David Kramer said during a panel discussion in Washington on Thursday that what Korn had done to Radio Liberty is what Putin never could have done, his fate was definitely sealed. Kramer simply repeated what Alexeeva, Gorbachev and other Russian human rights and democratic political leaders had said before, but the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) members could not ignore his comments and pretend that nothing happened." Image from entry, with caption: RFE/RL president St[e]ven Korn with his deputy Julia Ragona looking at Radio Liberty in Exile protesters in Moscow."

Content from the VOA newsroom is blocked in China, but Chinese can watch the US TV series "The Newsroom"- Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

"Do as we say, not as we do." Xinhua uses Twitter, blocked in China, to transmit its content abroad - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Image from entry

Winning Without Fighting: Chinese Public Opinion Warfare and the Need for a Robust American Response - Dean Cheng, "In hopes of being able to alter the strategic context of any future U.S.-PRC confrontation, the PRC is improving its ability to influence both global and Chinese public opinion. If the United States does not counter Chinese political warfare efforts, it may well find that its access to the Western Pacific is endangered by a lack of regional support—long before American forces even begin moving toward the area. In order to avoid being outmaneuvered by a PRC intent on winning without firing a shot, the U.S. must strengthen its strategic communications, public diplomacy, and media outreach capabilities. ... Consequently, the PRC considers many seemingly unrelated activities essential to Chinese security. China's space capabilities, for example, contribute to Chinese comprehensive national power, not only by placing Chinese satellites and astronauts into space to obvious military and political effect, but also by fostering scientific and technical expertise and enhancing China's economy. Space capabilities also serve as evidence of China's growing technological prowess and scientific, industrial, and military capability and are therefore considered an important element of public diplomacy. ... Chinese writings suggest that Beijing has accorded ever greater importance to public opinion since the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, when NATO's aerial bombardment and public diplomacy combined to undermine Slobodan Milosevic—a combination that was equally as effective during the 2003 Iraq war. Indeed, the ability of coalition forces to undermine popular support for the Milosevic and Saddam Hussein regimes, influence global views, and preserve domestic support are seen by the PRC as key factors in the outcome of each conflict."

Citizen Diplomacy and Poetry - Mahtab Farid, U.S. Public Diplomacy in Afghanistan: "Most of us read, write, or simply admire poetry. Some of us even memorize some poems and use it in our daily conversations. In countries like Afghanistan and Iran where freedom of expression is a taboo, poetry becomes a way of communication. In Afghanistan, most of the officials start their speech with some prayers followed by a poetry to portray the compassion behind the words."

Citizen Ambassadors of Nigeria (Book) - Zacheaus Somorin, "The goal of the author of Citizen Ambassadors of Nigeria is to bring to the forefront a theory called track two diplomacy by which non-officials like businessmen, academics, retired civil and military officials, public figures, and social activists engage in ambassadorial works targeted at improving the image of a country.

The focus of the writer, Paul Ohia is on Nigeria. ... The author’s central argument was that the president of the United States from 1953 to 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower saw America’s image going down due to incessant wars and he founded the People to People movement aimed at improving the international perception of the country." Image from article

Internet Security and Public Diplomacy - USC Center on: Public Diplomacy "01/31/2013 University Park Campus Social Sciences Building B40 Free RSVP The USC Center on Public Diplomacy is pleased to welcome Fadi Chehad, President and CEO of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Chehad will explain his strategic priorities at ICANN and the role of public diplomacy in protecting an open and sustainable internet. This involves getting closer to stakeholders particularly in the developing world. He will talk about his work to bring new people into the ICANN community, so their voices can be heard about the internet?s future. (213) 821-5556"

Archived historical films: Holland Carries On (post WWII) - "One of the coolest things I have come across on the internet lately is the Prelinger Collection at (thanks to my daughter for pointing it out). On this site, you can browse hundreds of thousands of video, imagery and sound files that have been preserved – many for historical reasons – and all in the public domain. ... One of the videos you can see on this site is a Dutch post-WWII propaganda film called 'Holland Carries On.' Now, I’m sure many people would prefer to call this a 'public diplomacy' film, in the sense that it’s positive, truthful, not subversive – i.e. it 'informs' rather than 'persuades' – but it most definitely does attempt to persuade. For me, this makes the line between 'public diplomacy' and 'propaganda' rather thin. ... The Netherlands Information Service, or Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst, was established in 1941, by the Dutch government that had gone into exile in London. The Service set up shop in New York, and spent the next few years producing films, pamphlets, and other products designed to garner American sympathy for the plight of the Dutch. After the war, their purpose shifted, presenting arguments in support of retaining their significant holdings in Indonesia. The Netherlands Information Service is a fascinating example of public diplomacy efforts mobilized in support of national interests, and many of their archives are preserved to this day in places like Holland, Michigan."


Turning trash into musical instruments for Paraguay's children - Marcia Adair, Los Angeles times: In the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion, there is a village called Cateura built practically on top of the city's main landfill. Families eke out a living sorting through the trash and selling whatever valuables they can find.

Like many high poverty areas, drugs and gangs are rampant and children grow up with little hope of ever doing much more than sorting trash. A trailer for a new documentary about Favio Chavez, a local ecologist and musician who is teaching the children of Cateura to play music on recycled instruments, has been circulating online at a rather feverish pace. The joy of the boy playing Bach on an oil-drum cello is difficult not to share. Image from article

Some Answers on Benghazi - Editorial, New York Times: An independent inquiry into the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, has finally provided some real facts and expert assessments about that tragic night. It offers this country a better chance of understanding what went wrong and what correctives are needed than the reckless Republican mudslinging that for weeks dominated public discourse in the aftermath of the calamity. If Congressional Republicans are truly interested in protecting American diplomats abroad they should support increased financing for improved security, without forcing the State Department to divert money from an underfinanced budget that has been earmarked for other uses.

Benghazi report is important first step on accountability - Editorial, Washington Post: The reality is that stronger tools than criminal investigations and diplomacy will almost certainly be needed to neutralize the Benghazi attackers and the networks behind them. The longer the delay, the greater the danger they will strike again.

Benghazi Deaths: Gosh Darn, No One Really at Fault - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: As could have been predicted, the report finds no one at State to blame really, at least not in an actionable way, and requests more money for the State Department.

Who rules the Internet? The U.N. agency that oversees phone, radio and satellite communications last week stopped short of fragmenting the Internet into national fiefdoms - Editorial, The efforts of the International Telecommunication Union, the little-known but influential United Nations agency that oversees phone, radio and satellite communications to update a 24-year-old global telecommunications treaty exposed a sharp rift between the developed countries that were the earliest adopters of the Internet and the developing world, particularly Russia, China and other authoritarian regimes. The former, backed by Internet advocates worldwide, rightly argue that the Web's technical challenges are capably met by industry groups that set voluntary standards. Many countries in the latter category, however, believe that the Internet is already controlled to some degree by one government — the United States — and thus its benefits aren't properly distributed. Some want greater control over online content and users, which they see as threats to their regimes; others have legitimate problems with access, spam and other issues that they don't think are getting enough attention from Internet authorities. At the agency's meeting last week in Dubai, opposition from across the Internet helped persuade Russia and its allies to withdraw a proposal that critics said would have authorized countries to monitor users and censor content internationally while controlling Internet addresses and domain names within their borders. Such an approach could have Balkanized the Internet, with different countries giving different sites identical domain names.

America's First Big Digital Defeat - A majority of the 193 U.N. member countries have approved a treaty giving governments new powers to close off access to the Internet in their countries - L. Gordon Crovitz, Wall Street Journal: At the just-concluded conference of the International Telecommunications Union in Dubai, the U.S. and its allies got outmaneuvered. The ITU conference was highly technical, which may be why the media outside of tech blogs paid little attention, but the result is noteworthy: A majority of the 193 United Nations member countries approved a treaty giving governments new powers to close off access to the Internet in their countries. The treaty document extends control over Internet companies, not just telecoms.

It declares: "All governments should have an equal role and responsibility for international Internet governance." This is a complete reversal of the privately managed Internet. Authoritarian governments will invoke U.N. authority to take control over access to the Internet, making it harder for their citizens to get around national firewalls. They now have the U.N.'s blessing to censor, monitor traffic, and prosecute troublemakers. The majority of authoritarian governments in a one-country, one-vote system will keep chipping away at the open Internet. The best way to stop them is to abolish the ITU. Image from

Open web 'propaganda' protects corporate interests - Bernabe - The US invoked the principle of freedom of speech at the ITU meeting in Dubai as a cover to protect companies like Facebook and Google from attempts to co-ordinate internet regulation, Telecom Italia chairman and GSMA president Franco Bernabe told the Financial Times. Free web proponents fear that broad clauses about security and national sovereignty could be used for purposes of censorship, blocking websites and monitoring communications. Europe's ETNO operator's association, which Bernabe chairs, backed proposals to help operators charge internet companies for access to their networks. This proposal was blocked by Western countries favouring a hands-off approach to regulation of the internet. Bernabe accused the US of waging "propaganda warfare" in associating a large portion of the industry with oppressive regimes. He added that US internet companies have been able to flourish thanks to a relaxed regulatory regime there while European counterparts were hampered by the complexities of the obligations of European privacy laws. He argues for more regulation in the US and much less in Europe to establish a level playing field.

North Korea's dangerous ambition: A nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the West Coast of the United States may be available to it in the near future - Jane Harman and James Person, Los Angeles Times: With the combination of North Korea's nuclear bombs and Iran's technology, a nuclear-tipped missile could be capable of striking the West Coast of the United States in the near future.

We can no longer afford to ignore North Korea. The U.S. should talk about reengagement and what it would take for North Korea to be welcomed as a part of a vibrant Asian region. Image from article, with caption: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a ceremony in Pyongyang on Monday

Forget ‘Gangnam Style’, North Korean ‘Propaganda’ is the real viral hit of 2012 - Kieran Turner-Dave, The last week has seen Korea dominate the global spotlight on the internet. Zany South Korean pop video Gangnam Style became the most liked and watched video on YouTube, and days later North Korea held a mass rally to celebrate the launch of their first satellite. Yet despite the online attention that has surrounded the two divided nations, the most intriguing Korean export of the year has gone largely unnoticed. Propaganda 2012 is a 95-minute video that presents itself as a North Korean educational video intending to inform the citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea about the dangers of Western propaganda. The video’s uploader, known as ‘Sabine’, reiterates a statement she gave to the Federal Police regarding the movie’s origins. She explains how the film was given to her by people claiming to be North Korean defectors whilst she was visiting Seoul. However, ‘Sabine’ goes on to state that she believes the suppliers were in fact working for the DPRK, and that the video was created with the intention to be viewed by Western audiences.

Given the film’s broad choice of targets; its reluctance to outwardly lie about life in the West; and its documentary, rather than Socialist Realist, style – it should also be considered that the video’s creator may in fact be an sock puppet anti-capitalist based in the Western world. Although the origins of Propaganda 2012 are contentious, its power lies in the fact that much of its content attempts to avoid invented history. Considering the media buzzwords associated with the alleged country of origin, Propaganda 2012 turns a mirror onto the Western world and seeks to criticise its entire history and culture – from the genocide and imperialism of its past, to the interventionism and consumerism of the modern era. Image from article, with caption: Korean rap star Psy performing 'Gangnam Style'

Inside North Korea's propaganda apartments - Pyongyang has reportedly set up 'propaganda apartments' to show off North Korea's wealth to the world. Visitors such as journalists and photographers are shown these apartments so that they can portray the hermit kingdom in a more flattering light.

Image from article, with caption: The toilet comes complete with water heaters and bath tub.

Parlamentarium: a 'shrine to EU propaganda' - Justin Stares, On display in the Parlamentarium, the European Parliament visitors' centre, is a press release from 1950. It seeks to persuade early Eurosceptics that European integration will not lead to the creation of a "cartel."

Cartels seek to maintain the status quo, the release's authors point out, whereas the forthcoming European Coal and Steel Community – the forerunner of today's European Union – will "boost economic growth." There are predictably few references of this sort, in the 3,000-square-metre exhibition, to the criticism that has accompanied the 60-year-old process of pooling European sovereignty. It is a €21m-plus shrine to EU propaganda, but do not let that put you off going. Image from article

Karine Achemyan: A whole generation subjected to propaganda terror in Azerbaijan - “It is inadmissible when policy of xenophobia is carried out on the level of country’s leader, when hatred is inflamed on the ethnic ground. Under the circumstances, it is impossible to talk about progress in Karabakh settlement,” Republican MP Karine Achemyan

told President Serzh Sargsyan also commented on Azerbaijan’s policy of xenophobia in his speech during the CSTO session in Moscow on Wednesday. A whole generation is subjected to propaganda terror in Azerbaijan, and under the circumstances, it is impossible to talk about establishment of an atmosphere of confidence between the two peoples, according to Achemyan. Uncaptioned image from article

Video Games: The Government’s New Propaganda Tool - Jeff_Berwick, How about this FREE game (recruiting tool) that has cost tax payers well over $50 million dollars to develop and that will ensure your kids become more likely to want to enter the army? America's Army is what is called a 3rd person shooter that will teach you about real military strategies, weapons, equipment and more, prepping your kids for the future. In order to even get to play the game you will first register all your personal information and go through up to an hour of “boot camp” where you are forced to watch video interviews with American “heroes” that have been to war, talking about how great it is.

Once you actually get to play it you will notice the lack of blood, gore and other atrocities making sure not to scare away future recruits. Not only are government-developed games spreading propaganda. Game developers are now accepting the norms set by the government like in Scribblenaughts where the game set's a puzzle for you to solve by conjuring items. In one puzzle you get a mission called "Peacefully break up the Rioters!" What would a sane person try first? Well, I tried "Diplomat" and "Peacekeeper". Neither had any effect. So I tried “Tear Gas” and had the crowd crying and disbursing in seconds, immediately earning a gold star just as you would in school when you have done something right! You can watch the video here of me playing the mission. Image from entry

Christmas Commercials and Propaganda - Tamara Cox, Eliterate Librarian: My experiences as a wannabe edtech geek and middle school librarian: "This week I've been teaching my 6th graders about propaganda using Christmas commercials. This is a lesson I've done for the past two years. Each year I tweak it a little and every year it is a big hit with the students. We start the lesson with a fun, engaging warm up. I used the Retail Alphabet Game as inspiration to create an alphabet using letters from different brands, restaurants and stores. I put all the letters on one slide and ask the students to write the alphabet down the side of a piece of paper and write down as many brands as they can identify. After a few minutes we go through each one and find out which student had the most correct.

I especially enjoy seeing students that are not necessarily the most "academic" show off their memory skills. I explain that we used this game to illustrate how advertising influences us and gets into our brain. This is why it is so important to understand the techniques advertisers use to influence your life. We quickly review the five types of propaganda that they learned in class. The five techniques are Name calling, Fear, Testimonial, Bandwagon and Plain Folks. Up next is an informal assessment. We watch commercials that I found on Youtube and they have to identify which technique(s) were used in each one. I try to find Christmas commercials when possible, but for some techniques that is difficult. These are the playlists I have compiled for this year. Name Calling Plain Folks Fear Testimonial Bandwagon" Cox image from her blog


People Of Walmart (Sexy And I Know It - LMFAO). Via SL


Via FW on Facebook

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