Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29

"When the French keep their mouths shut, everyone loves them! (Comme quoi, quand les [F]rançais ferment leurs gueules, tout le monde les apprécie!)"

--Belgian-born commentator regarding the fact that "'The Artist,' a silent film from France, gets 10 Oscar nominations, and actually wins both best film - a first for a French film - and best actor"; image from


(a) China's International Outreach: Soft Power and the Soft Use of Power - Gary Rawnsley

(b) Guantanamo detainees get new $750,000 soccer field, compliments of the U.S. Taxpayers

(c) "Check out The Challenge of Ideas, a curious example of Cold War propaganda produced by the United States Army Pictorial Center and the Department of Defense during the Kennedy administration ... The film features the iconic Edward R. Murrow (late of CBS News and participation in Operation Mockingbird), the head of the United States Information Agency" -


U.S. Policy and Engagement in the Americas; Wednesday, 29 February 2012, 4:15 pm Press Release: US State Department - "Remarks Wendy Sherman Under Secretary for Political Affairs Remarks to the Council of the Americas and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Washington, DC February 28, 2012 ... I appreciate the invitation and welcome the opportunity to share some impressions from my trip to Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil earlier this month.

These countries are key regional and global players, and genuine partners, and we work closely with them in virtually every area of policy. ... [In Brazil,] Pernambuco’s Governor Eduardo Campos, is spearheading investment ... in education. We signed an education MOU with Pernambuco state to strengthen cooperation in education and professional qualification, particularly in the area of English language training. This is a great example of new partnership at local and state levels that is having an immediate impact on people’s lives. This is, if I may say so, part of the modern face of our public diplomacy in the region. We are building linkages at the grass roots level that will help nurture and sustain the quickly growing ties between our societies." Image from

Afghanistan: Quran Burning and Language Training - Roxanne Bauer, Exchange, The Journal of Public Diplomacy: "Afghans and, indeed, Muslims throughout the world are protesting for a sixth day the recent and unintentional burning of Qur’an at the US’ largest base in Afghanistan. ... In a war that seemingly has no end and relies heavily on endearing positive popular opinion, this incident may prove to be pivotal. ... Eventually, the protests will stop. However, one wonders how long the Afghans will remember that foreign troops desecrated their holy book. In the battle over perceptions, the US needs to start living by the standards it professes to engender the kind of goodwill it hopes for. This could start with more serious language and culture courses for troops.

It seems obvious to say, but the whole mess could have been avoided if just one NATO troop had been able to read the words 'Qur’an' in Arabic and remove the books from the pile. ... [T]he Army’s requirement that all troops ordered to Afghanistan take a 4-6 hour training program for language and culture and the Marine’s requirement of a two-day course for troops ordered to Afghanistan are insufficient and not undertaken with the seriousness required to produce troops that fully understand the gravity and import of language and culture in the region. Sadly, this latest incident and the military’s inability to cope only prove how crucial public diplomacy is and will continue to be. Language, and all the gifts that it provides, is as crucial a tool as artillery or armor. Language skills also need to be complemented with cultural sensitivity courses that impart the thoughtfulness that US and NATO troops should exercise in their activities." Image from article

Immorality of nuclear weapons - Gabe Kish, Pacific Grove, letter to the editor, "Let's assume that Iran is aiming for the Japanese solution on nuclear weapons, that is not actually producing them but having the threshold of technology to do so if needed urgently for self-defense. After all, their supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa back in 2005 forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons as 'un-Islamic.' A regime that has built its legitimacy on Islamic values could be challenged publicly by the West to adhere to its own professed moral standards. Such a public diplomacy of words could well be more productive than escalation with economic sanctions and the not-so-Christian threat of a military attack."

Public Diplomacy Takes On Social Media: 21st Century Statecraft - "What is 21st Century Statecraft? It is a key initiative started by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to work with traditional foreign policy tools. The idea is to fully leverage the networks, technologies, and demographics of our interconnected world.

In other words, it’s the State Department acknowledging the power and usefulness of social media as a necessary part of their diplomatic toolkit. Yet the department is doing more than just talking the talk; it’s also walking the walk. ... If you want to see a complete list of all the embassies, consulates and other State Departments in social media with links to their sites, please visit the U.S. Department of State Facebook page." Image from article, with caption: Public diplomacy takes on social media

Broadcasting Board of Governors Should Show Some Humanity - Edite Lynch, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "For decades America and America’s people, her virtues, her values, her free market economy, her many freedoms provided direction, focus and a bright light to those living behind the Iron Curtain or under other intolerable dictatorships. It appealed to their humanity and VOA gave them that sense of humanity that they did not receive under their own systems of government. To stop any of these VOA programs would be similar to pulling the rug right out from under them and leaving them to die from a sense of isolation, despair that no cares about their lives, and their humanity will cease to exist for them and why would the BBG do such a thing to millions who rely on American compassion, empathy and sympathy for those less fortunate."

My Take On “Crovitz: How the U.S. Is Losing the Information War” - "The main problem at the VoA is not funding, but the lack of acceptance by it’s [sic] managers and staff that they are ... to communicate effectively ... US Public Diplomacy and are to communicate the values of this country to people around the world.

Most of the time, the news and commentary coming out of the VOA is closer to what one would hear from Al-Jazeera and MSNBC. The most notorious of the offenders is the VOA Persian Service which is more often than not sounds like the Voice of the Islamic Republic than Voice of America. VOA does not need more money, what it needs are people who are unapologetic about the values of this country and professional in the way they communicate it to the outside world." Image from

BBC says its audience in Iran "has nearly doubled," and sets global audience target of 250 million - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

The World Service at 80: The Ambivalence of International Broadcasting - Robin, Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "February 29, 2012 The BBC World Service is celebrating its 80th anniversary today. I was wondering what to say about this when I heard the Director of the Service, Peter Horrocks being interviewed on the domestic service Radio 4. In commenting on the continuing relevance of the service he pointed to the Iranian government’s jamming of the service and harassment of the families of Persian service staff ’…it’s because the Iranian government sees it as such a threat. And in a report from the Iranian government, it described it as so dangerous because it’s impartial not because it’s propagandist or oppositionist but because it tells the truth as it is.’ This is simultaneously an impeccable statement of a liberal theory of journalism and a state funded broadcaster boasting about upsetting a foreign government that he’s been pointed towards by the Foreign Office. This sums up the history of the World Service in a couple of lines. Happy Birthday! You can listen to the whole interview here."

US and undercurrents of Baloch Unrest - Momin Iftikhar, "The 8th February presentations on Balochistan, sponsored by Oversight and Investigation House Committee on Foreign Affairs at the Raymond House, Washington D.C has finally let out what had been cooking up for quite some time in the subterranean world of strategy formulating circles of State Department and the CIA. The ‘hearing’ was conducted under the chair of Congressman Donna Rohrbacher . ... The majority of speakers in the witness box were Americans rather than Balochis, some of whom are well known for their outlandish ideas, reflecting a wishful mindset in the US establishment; doggedly promoting the pernicious idea of a free Balochistan. ... The onerous responsibility of presenting the ‘Baloch cause’ was resting on the shoulders of Dr. M. Hosseinbor, a member of the bar of the District of Columbia, who had earlier authored a book Iran and Its Nationalities: The Case of Baloch nationalism. Of Iranian descent and a well known figure in the US public diplomacy circles including CNN and BBC, the presence of Dr. Bor

as a witness should be sufficient in understanding why the hearing was termed as a political stunt by Christain Fair; another member of the witness panel. T. Kumar, the Advocacy Director for International Issues for Amnesty International USA, of Sri Lankan origins, who called on the US to 'apply the Leahy Amendment without waivers to all Pakistani military units in Balochistan' is another active member of the US public diplomacy team who has been active in projecting US hidden agenda in Bosnia, Haiti, Guatemala and now in Pakistan." Image from

China-Taiwan PD Milestone Goes Unnoticed in U.S. Media - Adam Clayton Powell III, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "While the latest aircraft carrier movements and military maneuvers here are chronicled closely in U.S. media, significant public diplomacy initiatives go largely unreported. This past week provided a prime example: Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong’s

week-long visit to Taipei has been front-page news in this region, in newspapers from Korea to Singapore. For his first-ever visit, the mayor led a 500-person delegation – yes, five hundred people – including party officials, business leaders and Chinese celebrities. Guo ended his visit on Wednesday by announcing a major cultural exchange between China and Taiwan, signaling a major advance in cross-Straits relations, building on the increases in trade and tourism between China and Taiwan. If you haven’t heard about the visit, it is because it went unnoticed in U.S. media." Guo Jinlong image from

China Talk Tune in for a live webcast on China's public diplomacy on March 1, 2012 - " will host a live webcast interview on China's public diplomacy at 9:30 am, Beijing time, Thursday, March 1, 2012. Guests include Chen Mingming and Zhang Yuanyuan, former Chinese ambassadors and Director-Generals of the Dept. of Translation and Interpretation at China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs."

Young Israelis on mission to improve their country's image - Alison Healy, "A group of eight young Israeli people have come to Ireland to tell their stories in a bid to improve their country’s image. The 'Faces of Israel' group includes a Muslim policewoman, a journalist who is an Ethiopian Jew, an actor and a former soldier from a secular immigrant background. The Ireland-Israel Friendship League is supporting the group, which arrived last Friday and will travel to Belfast today. ... The tour is timed to coincide with Israeli Apartheid Week – an annual international series of events with the stated aim of educating people about the nature of what is called Israeli apartheid against the Palestinian people. ... As a member of a Haredi family, Sari Diskind comes from an ultra-Orthodox tradition. She said her life, as a divorced mother who worked outside the home, was an example of the many diverse strands that reflected the Israeli-Jewish narrative. The tour was organised by the Israeli ministry of public diplomacy and diaspora affairs. However, she said, the group was not told what to say. 'They are not telling me what to say. I can say everything I want.'” Below image from

Minister says calls to boycott cultural visit are 'absurd' - Deaglán De Bréadún, "There had been a 'slight improvement' in relations between Ireland and Israel in the past year, said Israel’s minister of public diplomacy and diaspora affairs Yuli Edelstein in Dublin yesterday. He said Israel disagreed with various countries on many issues but this should not be an obstacle to a mutually beneficial bilateral relationship."

'Putin's election to do good to Karabakh settlement' - News.Az:  "News.Az interviews member of the Russian Academy of Political Science, doctor of political science, professor Andrei Baranov. ... [Baranov:] As is known, Dmitriy Medvedev organized the tenth meeting of the heads of Azerbaijan and Armenia in January of this year. This meeting can be rated as moderate positive. In their joint statement of 23 January of this year, the heads of all the three states, voiced readiness to accelerate the agreement on main principles of the Karabakh conflict.

All participants to the negotiations admitted that an achievement has been made in coordination of these main principles. The mediation of Russia, United States and France, as the Minsk Group co-chairs was assessed positively. All the same, the political scientists and journalists of the countries involved in the conflict give skeptical assessments to the proposed measures of settlement. The potential of public diplomacy in accelerating the fair resolution of the conflict is also assessed skeptically in both Azerbaijan and Armenia. In addition, Medvedev’s term is close to completion and the reduced activeness of diplomatic efforts before inauguration of the new head of the Russian state is quite natural. Image from

Essays European Union: How have the relative policy-making influence of the European Commission, What was the initial purpose of European integration? How has the European Parliament been transformed since its original designation as an assembly custom essay - "BEWARE OF PUBLIC DIPLOMACY/BIAS OF EU website (if it’s used) and the dates of the Treaties (some might have expired)"


The Storytellers of Empire: Captivated by an image of an atom bomb falling on Japan, Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie asks American writers why, “Your soldiers will come to our lands, but your novelists won’t” - Kamila Shamsie, “I came to America as an undergraduate and realized that with a few honorable exceptions, all of America looked at America with one eye shut. I don’t mean Americans looked at America uncritically. I mean they looked at it merely in domestic terms. ... The stories of America in the World rather than the World in America stubbornly remain the domain of nonfiction.

Your soldiers will come to our lands, but your novelists won’t. The unmanned drone hovering over Pakistan, controlled by someone in Langley, is an apt metaphor for America’s imaginative engagement with my nation." Via AB on Facebook. Image from article

U.S. ‘info ops’ programs dubious, costly - Tom Vanden Brook and Ray Locker, As the Pentagon has sought to sell wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to often-hostile populations there, it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on poorly tracked marketing and propaganda campaigns that military leaders like to call “information operations,” the modern equivalent of psychological warfare. From 2005 to 2009, such spending rose from $9 million to $580 million a year mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pentagon and congressional records show. Last year, spending dropped to $202 million as the Iraq War wrapped up.

A USA TODAY investigation, based on dozens of interviews and a series of internal military reports, shows that Pentagon officials have little proof the programs work and they won’t make public where the money goes. In Iraq alone, more than $173 million was paid to what were identified only as “miscellaneous foreign contractors.” “What we do as I.O. is almost gimmicky,” says Army Col. Paul Yingling, who served three tours in Iraq between 2003 and 2009, including as an information operations specialist. “Doing posters, fliers or radio ads. These things are unserious.” Image from

The Conservative Case for Foreign Aid: Reagan knew that diplomacy and development policy neutralize threats before they become crises - John Kerry, Wall Street Journal [subscription]

Despite the deepening crisis, the Afghan strategy is worth saving - Editorial Board, Washington Post: The only secure and honorable means of exit is to finish the work of creating an Afghan army and police force capable of defending the country from the Taliban and other extremists, with backup from U.S. special forces and air power. Achieving that goal by the end of 2014, the current NATO timetable, will be hard enough, as the events of the past week vividly show. If the Obama administration chooses to accelerate the timetable or significantly reduce the funding -- and thus the size -- of Afghan forces, it will become nearly impossible.

Afghans Don't Hate America: They also don't want a return of the Taliban, despite the recent protests over the burning of Qurans - Max Boot, Wall Street Journal [subscription]

There Be Dragons - Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times: "The Arab/Muslim awakening phase

is over. Now we are deep into the counter-revolutionary phase, as the dead hands of the past try to strangle the future. I am ready to consider any ideas of how we in the West can help the forces of democracy and decency win. But, ultimately, this is their fight. They have to own it, and I just hope it doesn’t end with extremists going all the way and the moderates just going away." Image from

Consider this: Iran, film, nukes and spin - The Post-Standard Editorial Board The Post-Standard, For a brief moment, art triumphed over politics at the 84th Academy Awards Sunday in Los Angeles — and then the propaganda machine cranked up.“A Separation,” a film made in Iran, won the Oscar for best foreign film. Director Asghar Farhadi, speaking in English, made an eloquent speech. Alas, what looked like a moment of cultural understanding between Iran and the United States became an opportunity for Iran to widen the, uh, separation between us. The hard-line Fars News Agency fabricated a reference to nuclear tensions and inserted it into Farhadi’s speech, only to remove it once English-speaking Iranians pointed it out. The Iranian government official in charge of the film industry crowed, “American judgment bowed for Iranian culture,” and boasted that Iran’s entry had beaten one from the “Zionist regime,” Israel.

This Is Not a Film: The Filmmaker Who Isn't: There's a reason for the title of Jafar Panahi's urgent new movie - Karina Longworth, Village Voice: In 2010, the internationally celebrated Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi was arrested at his home.

A neorealist who has been a vocal opponent of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime, Panahi was accused of participating "in a gathering and carrying out propaganda against the system," sentenced to six years in prison, and banned from leaving Iran, giving press interviews, and writing and directing films for 20 years. This Is Not a Film, made in March 2011 while Panahi was under house arrest awaiting the result of an appeal, is billed as "an effort by Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb." This dispatch from Panahi's life behind closed doors was shot entirely on the grounds of his Tehran apartment. Image from article, with caption: Jaar Panahi, not working on a film


Mitt Romney stay's alive with Michigan win - CBS News (6:44 AM, February 29); image from

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February 28

"'cultural diplomacy', 'public diplomacy' now there's even 'health diplomacy'. Statesmen are not social workers!!!"

--The Westphalian Post on Twitter; image of 1951 Nash Statesman Super from


‘Oscar diplomacy’? Obama ought to try it on Iran - David Ignatius, Washington Post: "So here’s an off-the-wall “red carpet” proposal: President Obama should invite the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi to the White House — not to talk politics, a subject over which the two countries are sharply divided, but to talk about what makes a good movie, which Farhadi’s award-winning film 'A Separation' surely is. ... Farhadi’s acceptance speech was moving because it was as clear and direct as his film: 'At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us, and I imagine them to be very happy.

They are happy not just because of an important award or a film or filmmaker, but because at the time when talk of war, intimidation and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture — a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.' So, Mr. President, invite this gifted filmmaker to the White House to celebrate his wonderful film — and signal to his countrymen that while the United States resolutely opposes Iranian policies and its threat to Israel, we respect the people of Iran and the country’s culture." Image from, with caption: Asghar Farhadi said that he accepts the award on behalf of fellow Iranians.

Why Won’t Obama Speak Frankly About Iran - Jeffrey Herf, New Republic: "The world is nearing the point where it is going to have to make some difficult decisions about how to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon—among them, a decision about whether to use military force. Given Iran’s deep hostility to the United States and Israel, as well as its history of sponsoring terrorism, the importance of denying Iran a nuclear weapon cannot be overstated. ... [Comment:] 02/28/2012 - 12:30am EDT | roidubouloi[:] TNR beating the war drums again. The reason why Obama's rhetoric is circumscribe is rather obvious. He is not prepared to use military force at this time, and all the things that Herf demands that Obama say would both make it that much more certain that Iran will not cooperate and make the quick use of force politically necessary. Once the saber is drawn, there is not choice but to use it. Herf wants the saber drawn. There is plenty of reason for ambiguity in public diplomacy and less there is a firm commitment to particular course of action and it is time to let friend and foe know just what it is. Herf wants to leap over the question whether we are well-served by the use of force and by the use of force at this time and simply make it inevitable. If and when the decision to use force is made, there will be time for the speech Herf longs to hear."

America's Ad Hoc Foreign Policy May Not be Enough in an Unstable World - George Friedman, "In the Middle East, there was little receptivity to Obama's public diplomacy. In practical terms, the expansion of Iranian power was substantial. Given Israeli fears over Iranian nuclear weapons, Obama found himself walking a fine line between possible conflict with Iran and allowing events to take their own course. This emerged as the foundation of U.S. foreign policy.

Where previously the United States saw itself as having an imperative to try to manage events, Obama clearly saw that as a problem. As seen in this strategy, the United States has limited resources that have been overly strained during the wars. Rather than attempting to manage foreign events, Obama is shifting U.S. strategy toward limiting intervention and allowing events to proceed on their own. ... The weakness in Obama's strategy is that the situation in many regions could suddenly and unexpectedly move in undesirable directions. Unlike the Cold War system, which tended to react too soon to problems, it is not clear that the current system won't take too long to react." Image from

American Music, Coast to Coast - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I have been out of bloggy touch this week because I have been on the road with the auditions for the American Music Abroad program. As I have previously noted, the American Music Abroad program is the flagship cultural diplomacy program of the US State Department, which my organization American Voices administers. The program is the evolution of the famous Jazz Ambassadors program. We had received nearly 300 applications for the program, a record and more than double the previous year, of which the panel of judges selected approximately 40 ensembles for live auditions. This week we held the live auditions in New York, St. Louis and San Francisco. The ensembles that were invited to the live auditions were, frankly, amazing and represent the broad spectrum of the canon of American music. Over the week we heard auditions from groups representing Jazz, Hip Hop, Bluegrass, Hawaiian, Western, Cajun, Zydeco, Blues, and even genres as diverse as Indo-Appalachian blue grass. ... It is nice to know that I have a good job that appreciates my services and will let me continue to practice PD in the field and travel long and far."

Social media and national security‎ - Fergus Hanson, Government News: "Across the foreign and security policy spectrum, Australia and the United States share a great deal in common. On one foreign policy issue there is a virtual chasm between the two: ediplomacy. For the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), launching a single Twitter feed was agonising. The US State Department by contrast has almost 200 feeds and over 600 social media accounts worldwide. Where DFAT obsesses over guidance and the supposed risk of letting highly educated adults post one sentence messages, Washington has a more laissez faire approach. At a ‘Tweetorial’ I attended at the state department, training 50 diplomats on how to use Twitter, policy guidance 5 barely rated a mention, and participants—some of whom had never used social media before—were exhorted to give it a go, ‘you can’t go wrong’. Failing to adapt DFAT’s communications and public diplomacy strategy to 21st century realities is concerning, but there is an even bigger consequence. The fixation on the risks of social media has blinded DFAT

to the wider applications of new technologies to diplomacy. While DFAT hasn’t even established a dedicated ediplomacy unit, at State it has now spread beyond the 40 person Office of eDiplomacy. ... New technologies are commonly resisted by foreign ministries but it is now ten years since State established its Office of eDiplomacy. DFAT needs ediplomacy if it is going to continue to coordinate policy across an increasingly internationalised bureaucracy." Image from

Is it time to revive RFE Hungarian? [on article that appeared in The Washington Post] - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "The authors are certainly correct about avoiding the establishment of a 'bad news' station. So how is the goal of providing independent journalism to Hungary best accomplished? In 2012, Hungarians won't huddle around their shortwave sets. They probably don't even have shortwave sets. They might, in limited numbers, listen to a medium wave frequency from a neighboring country. The radio station would also be available via satellite and the internet, but this still would not attract mass audiences. A website (with the obligatory accompanying social media outlets and mobile version) might seem more suitable for the present media environment.

Again, the audience could be limited, especially because of the thousands of competing sources of information on the internet. Many Hungarians have access to satellite dishes. A channel on one of the popular European satellites could bring audiences larger than those for radio or internet efforts, but would also cost more than the other options. If it is a commercial channel that succeeds in selling advertising, those costs could be offset. Should this be an indigenous Hungarian effort, such as Klubradio using a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy and corresponding European organizations? On the other hand, the Radio Free Europe name does have stature, even if it also has a mixed historical legacy. The fact that RFE has been revived in Hungarian would itself send a message, inside Hungary and beyond. Of course, some member of Congress, perhaps forgetting that there ever was an RFE Hungarian Service, will slip in an amendment calling for the resumption of a Voice of America Hungarian Service, with the result being we will have both VOA and RFE broadcasts in Hungarian." Image from article

Smith and Mundt go to London: BBC adopts its own version of the domestic dissemination ban, BBC Worldwide press release, 22 Feb 2012 - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "' today unveiled the latest of its new sections - Future – to offer audiences outside the UK a host of universal topics focused on future trends in the worlds of science, technology, environment and health. The new pages will be rooted in robust research to ensure they are informative yet entertaining and complement the technology, science, environment and health news pages already available on the site. At launch, Future will comprise of 12 columns, specially commissioned features from leading writers in science and technology... At launch Future will be supported by commercial partner LEXUS in America.'" [Elliott comment:] Not even Lexus spells Lexus LEXUS.

I went to to find BBC Future, but saw no link, nor any mention of this new section. So remember this URL: The press release specifies "audiences outside the UK." Will BBC Future not be domestically disseminated? NB: James Cridland informs us that this is what is visible to UK internet users: BBC Future (international version) [']We're sorry but this site is not accessible from the UK as it is part of our international service and is not funded by the licence fee. It is run commercially by BBC Worldwide, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC, the profits made from it go back to BBC programme-makers to help fund great new BBC programmes. You can find out more about BBC Worldwide and its digital activities at If you are looking for health, technology, science and environment news in the UK, please visit: Health, Technology, Science and Environment.[']" Image from

NATO's Public Diplomacy Overload - Daryl Morini, "Today’s NATO suffers from a public diplomacy overload rather than an image problem. Far from being a panacea to its democratic deficit, the dominant influence of public diplomacy strategies and their advocates on Allied decision-making is arguably part of the problem. ... But what, if anything, can the Alliance do to encourage closer identification among NATO members, and between respective national publics and the Alliance as a whole? At least three steps can help to increase public identification with NATO, none of which will be easy.

Firstly, NATO policy-makers need to review their overreliance on the public diplomacy instrument, to be sure that this Janus-faced policy enabler does not itself become a policy substitute. ... Secondly, the rhetorical balance of official NATO pronouncements between soft, values-based statements and hard power expressions of interest needs to be reexamined in favor of a blunter use of language. ... Finally, if NATO is serious about its espoused liberal-democratic values, then the Public Diplomacy Division should act concretely on these by persuading the Allied ambassadors of the North Atlantic Council to accept the introduction of regular (perhaps weekly) live sessions of Council meetings. ... Any public diplomacy initiative short of this bold display of transparency and democratic accountability is just recycling old wines in new bottles - nobody will buy it." Morini image from article

Watershed Interview on Brazil’s growing role in the world - Oliver Stuenkel, "Brazil’s natural leadership role in South America is far from uncontested, and countries such as Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia and Chile reject Brazil’s claims that it can represent South America. Attempts by Brazil to exercise regional leadership have therefore not always been received warmly.

At the same time, several countries seek to copy Brazil’s economic strategy, and a strong and stable Brazilian economy has a positive impact on the entire region. This attractiveness and economic dynamism does in fact increase Brazil’s soft power much more than any kind of public diplomacy. Yet there is also a growing uneasiness about Brazil’s economic presence in the region, and smaller neighbors are increasingly concerned about whether Brazil’s rise will be a threat to their economies, or whether they will benefit from it. On this front, Brazil probably needs to do more to assure its neighbors of its regional commitment." Stuenkel image from article

Boko Haram, CIA and Conspiracy Theories‎ - "'The Dee Cee 'Public Relations Firms' and the government 'Public Diplomacy' and the 'Think Tanks' are secretly paid with taxpayer money to repeat the cover-up narratives. The Underwear Bomber Conspiracy has now been added to the list of forbidden topics.'- Noam Chomsky (Deterring Democracy: The Underwear Bomber Conspiracy [.] Avram Noam Chomsky is not your typical rabble-rouser by any stretch of the imagination. He is also not the sort of intellectual to hides behind linguistic guile only to pass naked prejudice and premeditated slander for the truth, like some well-travelled pseudo-intellectuals have developed a habit of doing in Nigeria."

Abu Dhabi University launches new B.A in Mass Communication - - "Abu Dhabi University [UAE] announced the launch of a new program in Mass Communication, which will be offered to students on both the Abu Dhabi and Al Ain campuses. The new B.A in Mass Communication, offers students the choice between three areas of concentration which are: Print Journalism, Broadcast Journalism, and Strategic Communication. ... Commenting on the program's diverse concentrations, Dr. Radwan Al Jarrah, Dean of ADUADU's College of Arts and Sciences said: '... The concentration on Strategic Communication incorporates courses on public relations, advertising, and audience research components and will qualify graduates to work as speechwriters, media strategists, crisis communicators, public diplomacy experts, non-profit leaders, advertising executives, and public relations professionals'."

A call to fund-raising and educational action - New Jersey Jewish News: "The Jewish Federation of Monmouth County’s much anticipated Community Action Day — taking place Sunday, March 11, at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft — will provide an 'experiential community engagement' opportunity, said federation board chair Dr. Stuart Abraham. The daylong event will include a campaign phonathon, a PJ Library family performance, a security preparedness training program, and a community briefing on the threat from a potentially nuclear Iran. ... The security preparedness training session ... highlights one of the ways federation is being proactive and adding value for its partners . ... The panel will feature [among others] ... Gil Lainer, consul for public diplomacy at the Israeli consulate in New York."

News Article about the jetBook Color in Russian Schools - "We stumbled upon an article today from Progorod11 - a Russia news site in regards to eTextbooks in classrooms with a big picture of the jetBook Color being used by a student and teacher. ... A translated portion of the article is below: Schools will test electronic textbooks: Students will be engaged with eReaders. In the near future, five classes in five schools in the Komi as an experiment will go from paper to electronic textbooks.Readers and netbooks will benefit students 6-7 classes.

In each class entitled to 36 devices, with a reserve, in case of the failure. Compare the parallels. 'Readers' have come to the school through participation in a federal experiment, Komi, 'Testing of various types of interactive multimedia e-books (IMEU) in secondary schools a number of subjects of the Russian Federation.' - The purchase of units spent about three million rubles, divided into technical and humanitarian Wow high schools, school № 1 Vylgorta, Lyceum of public diplomacy, and Syktyvkar Ezhva gymnasium № 1, - said the expert of the department of information Minobraza Komi Vitaly Olshanov. - What class will use the 'reading room', to solve the educational institution. Under the terms of a parallel experiment, the class will be taught by the traditional scheme, at the end of the year to compare the results." Image from

Speaker promotes diplomatic careers - Emma McKay, "Retired senior foreign service officer Andrew Koss encouraged students to pursue a career as a foreign diplomat during a speech at the Korbel School of International Studies last Wednesday. 'I recommend a career in public diplomacy because it's the perfect combination of foreign policy and creativity,' said Koss. 'It's a chance to make a difference in the conduct of our country's diplomatic affairs.' About 40 students and faculty attended the event, which was the third part in Korbel's 2012 Public Diplomacy Series."

Kudankulam: The Empire strikes back! - "Daly [John Daly of Johns Hopkins University] it was ... who founded the journal known as The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, which all keen observers of the politics of Russia’s ‘near abroad’ would know, is a diligent flag carrier of the US’ public diplomacy on Russia and Central Asia."

Foreign waters - "Ruben van Gendren (left), a research fellow at Katholieke Universiteit Beuven in Belgium, speaks to Matthew Ery (right), an almunus, at the Water Diplomacy: A Foreign Policy Imperative event on Monday.

The conference, sponsored by the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, addressed the issue of water scarcity in Third World countries." Image from article

Coming Soon - Kaffeeklatsch of Civilizations: "To the teeming tens of readers of my little corner of the blogosphere, I apologize for the temporary posting slowdown. I have a bit of manuscript work to do, but there are 2 posts in draft, one on public diplomacy and one on Iran, and I expect to have them live by the end of the week. Thanks for checking in and thanks for reading!"


The tweets that homeland security spooks look for - Rob Beschizza, Boing Boing: Joel Johnson found that the Department of Homeland Security's list of Facebook and Twitter search terms was not in an easily-available public format, "curiously embedded as an image of text" in a PDF to prevent indexing.

Image from entry

Senate study provides insight into radicalized U.S. Islamist, recommends more coordinated response - Mark Rockwell, The Internet and social media are integral ingredients in the rapid radicalization of homegrown terrorists, said a staff study by the Senate homeland security committee that recommended a coordinated government response to counter online radical propaganda and help communities intervene in the radicalization process. The report, released on Feb. 27 by the staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, was based on the close study of the personal writings of Zachary Chesser, the Bristow, VA man now serving a 25-year sentence for threatening the writers of the South Park television show, soliciting violent jihadists to desensitize law enforcement, and attempting to provide material support to Al-Shabaab.

GAO: Overlapping government programs cost billions - Ed O'Keefe, Washington Post: The report also identifies 18 ways that the government could save money. Among them: The State Department could reconsider requests to train and equip Iraqi security forces.

Afghanistan on edge: As recent violence over the burning of Korans shows, the U.S. mission there is fragile - Obama's acknowledging the offense to Muslim sensibilities was the decent thing to do and may have prevented an even worse backlash than the one that has cost four American lives so far. Meanwhile, the U.S. is gingerly exploring the possibility of a political solution in Afghanistan while reorienting its anti-terror strategy to targeted attacks on individuals.

Someday -- sooner rather than later, we hope -- U.S. troops will be gone and there will be less of an opportunity for clashes of culture like the conflict over the burning of the Koran. Image from article: U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker is seen during his swearing ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 25, 2011

A U.S.-Led Exit Strategy for Assad: An offer of immunity from prosecution for crimes against humanity if he left Syria would save many lives and deal a blow to Iran - Jane Harman: The U.S. should work with the Friends of Syria -- some 70 countries that met in Tunis on Friday to broker an immunity deal with the Assad regime. If Assad were allowed to leave with a guarantee of safe haven, the real work of encouraging a Syrian-led transition to a democratic and pluralistic political system could finally begin.

Arm Syria’s Rebels - Roger Cohen, New York Times: Get weapons to the Free Syrian Army. Train those forces, just as the rebels were trained in Libya. At the same time, mount a big U.N.-coordinated humanitarian effort centered on enclaves for refugees in Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere, establishing, where possible, safe corridors to these havens.

Israel says it won't warn U.S. before a strike against Iran - AP, USA Today: Israeli officials said that if they eventually decide a strike is necessary, they would keep the Americans in the dark to decrease the likelihood that the U.S. would be held responsible for failing to stop Israel's potential attack.

The U.S. has been working with the Israelis for months to persuade them that an attack would be only a temporary setback to Iran's nuclear program. Image from

NK cranks up propaganda ahead of milestone date - Kim Young-jin, With just over six weeks to go before North Korea has pledged to become a “strong and prosperous state,” Pyongyang’s state-run media in recent days has been churning out reports of economic development to highlight progress ahead of the important date. The reports, which come in the run-up to the 100th anniversary of the birth of the nation’s founder Kim Il-sung on April 15th, have focused on what observers say are key symbols of the North’s efforts toward development, including its project to refurbish Pyongyang’s Mansudae district with high-rise apartments and cultural facilities. The Rodong Sinmun, the paper of the North’s ruling Worker’s Party, recently said that as of last week, workers had “mainly finished the framework of over 20 public buildings and buckled down to internal and external projects of the buildings” among a flurry of developments. Analysts say the project intends to show the people that progress is being made in quality of life.


--From DiploPundit, with comment: A Mongolian service member uses a sledgehammer to smash a concrete block off the chest of another serve member during a martial arts demonstration by Mongolian military forces at the Mongolian Day ceremony Feb. 18, at International Security Assistance Force Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. According to ISAF, Mongolia has been part of the mission since 2010, contributing more than 100 troops in Afghanistan. They are involved in the training of Afghan National Army in Kabul and providing stability and security to Afghan populations in the northern part of the country.

Monday, February 27, 2012

February 27

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

--Winston Churchill; image from


Public Diplomacy That Lasts: The Value of International Visitor Exchanges - Stuart W. Holliday, Huffington Post: "Perhaps one of the most noted facts about last week's visit by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping was his unusual personal connection to the United States. As a provincial official 27 years ago, Mr. Jinping was here as part of a Chinese delegation to Iowa to study agricultural policies. ... This ability to build bridges between the U.S. and rising global leaders is the paramount reason that the U.S. and many other countries around the world place so great a value on sustaining and expanding international visitor programs. While people are rightly pointing to the power of social media to bring people across societies together, exchanges still represent a key component of public diplomacy. Exchanges offer an in-depth experience with a foreign country, its culture, its systems, and most importantly, its people. Exchanges provide a substantive and long lasting connection. Technology and social media serve to extend and sustain that connection. The U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) has been fulfilling this important mission for more than 60 years. The program brings emerging international leaders to the United States on programs that reflect professional interests and U.S. foreign policy goals on topics such as combating trafficking and international crime, interfaith dialogue, food security, and rule of law, women's rights, entrepreneurship and others. ... As president of the

Meridian International Center in Washington, I've seen first-hand the tremendous value of intercultural exchanges. Meridian has been one of the State Department's leading partners in organizing these exchanges for more than 50 years, arranging programs for more than 64,000 such visitors to date. Of those, 157 are current or former heads of state, four are Nobel Peace Prize winners, and one is a former UN Secretary General." Image from

Life as a citizen diplomat - Jyoti Bachani, ReVisiting India: "The fellowship that brought me to India was set up by a former US senator as a way to increase people to people contact amongst the various nations and have an effort of public diplomacy with contact amongst the citizens, not just the diplomats. I like this idea. As part of this vision, we got oriented on the US foreign policy in this region before our departure from the US. And tonight, we get to dine with the US Ambassador to India. I am looking forward to this. It feels like an opportunity of a mini visit home."

The Hypocrisy of Free Speech - Peter Van Buren, "Secretary of State Clinton has made internet freedom and the rights of bloggers and journalists a cornerstone of her foreign policy, going as far as citing the free use of social media as a prime mover in the Arab Spring. ... Yet inside her own Department of State, Clinton presides over the censoring of the internet, blocking objectionable web sites that refer to Wikileaks, such as TomDispatch ... while allowing sites that play to State’s own point of view, such as, which also refer to Wikileaks. ... One web site reported that when Matt Armstrong was hired as Executive Director for the now defunct Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, a condition to his hiring was to stop blogging. The condition was set by the office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs."

Inside the mind of General Petraeus‎ - Jamie Weinstein, Daily Caller: "History will remember retired Army General David Petraeus, now director of the Central Intelligence Agency, as 'the model soldier-scholar-diplomat,' argues Paula Broadwell, author of the recently released 'All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.' ... [H]is battlefield success was matched by his intellectual achievements, she argues.

'A star-man (top 5 percent) at West Point, as well as a varsity letterman and cadet captain, top of his class in military schools and a PhD in international relations at Princeton, he later became the chief intellectual author of a counterinsurgency doctrine that helped to usher in an era of organizational change,' she explained. Petraeus was also uniquely adept at public diplomacy for a military man, Broadwell says." Petraeus image from article

Support democracy in Hungary with new Radio Free Europe broadcasts - Mark Palmer, Miklos Haraszti and Charles Gati, Washington Post: "With the fall of Hungary’s Western-style, pluralistic democracy, the time is right for the United States to reinstate Radio Free Europe’s Hungarian-language broadcasts. Hungarian would then join 28 other languages in which Radio Free Europe (RFE)

transmits its programs on radio stations in countries of the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, South Asia and the Balkans. The president of one of these countries told one of us last year that he begins every morning by listening to RFE’s summary of the news. While Hungary is a member of both NATO and the European Union, it is at risk of becoming a constitutional dictatorship and a pariah in the West. Its hastily adopted new constitution has no meaningful provisions for checks and balances. All branches of government and all independent institutions, including the judiciary, are controlled by Orban and his party for nine years with automatic renewal for many more similar terms." Image from

‘A Separation’ Oscar win heralded by Iranians - Thomas Erdbrink, Washington Post: "Iranians are heralding the country’s first Oscar win as the best public diplomacy for the Islamic Republic in many years. With news dominated by Iran’s nuclear program, sanctions and talk of war, it is rare for the world to get a peek into the lives of normal middle-class Iranians, but the success of 'A Separation' offers a different picture.

Director Asghar Farhadi, who in January also won a Golden Globe for his fifth movie, underlined the tensions in Iranian society during his acceptance speech for winning the Oscar for best foreign film on Sunday. ... President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s film czar, Javad Shamaghdari ... on Saturday had compared the Oscars to an 'unimportant film festival in some backwater town.' But on Monday, Shamaghdari lauded the Iranian Oscar win, saying that 'American judgment bowed for Iranian culture,' the semiofficial Mehr News Agency reported. ... The government’s spin notwithstanding, the movie’s success has been embraced by the country’s vast but politically silenced middle class. For them, the Oscar victory represents a rare moment of optimism in a year of increasing tensions with the West, including tighter sanctions that have driven up prices and weakened the national currency. ... 'A Separation' centers around the unraveling marriage of Nader and Simin, a couple in their 40s. It highlights the daily accommodations that people need to make in Iran to cope with suffocating laws and traditions. Their story is told against the backdrop of a quickly changing society governed by Islamic clerics, but where emigration, depression and an uncertain future have created separate realities." Farhadi image from article

Biggest anti-Israel conference evah? Americans there; UN, Europe in official attendance; *UPDATE*- J.E. Dyer, "An 'International Conference on Jerusalem' is being held 26-27 February in Doha, Qatar. The conference was scheduled by the Arab League during its meeting in Sirte, Libya in 2010. Its purpose is to combat the 'Judaization of Jerusalem.' ... [T]he English transcriptions (such as the ones at the official conference website) don’t all provide the event’s full name: 'International Conference for the Defense of Occupied Jerusalem.' Implied in this posture is a sense of momentum behind, and mainstreaming of, anti-Zionist themes. This unabashed posture is certainly bolstered by the attendance of representatives from around the globe. Thirteen of them are from the United States. One, Kenneth R. Insley, Jr., bills himself as a consultant to the US State Department. Mr. Insley’s Zoom Info profile describes him as the Director of Public Diplomacy for the Capital Communications Group, and a board member of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, Inc. The Foundation’s Links page includes a number of virulently anti-Israel groups such as the Holy Land Trust and the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem/Society. (Note: the Foundation’s website does not show Insley as a board member, but the last update is marked with a date of March 2008.)" See also.

Encountering Peace: Q and A on the future of the Middle East - Gershon Baskin, Jerusalem Post: "Meeting with American Jews and non-Jews on college campuses, synagogues and churches all across America is always a refreshing opportunity to see how much interest our small country attracts. It is also quite disturbing how divisive the issue of support for Israel has become. ... In all of my talks

I always leave a large amount of time for questions, of which there are many, and not unsurprising to me the questions asked in the United States and not unlike those asked in Israel. ... Q: With the current state of internal politics on both sides, the divided Palestinian camp and the right-wing religious coalition in Israel, is it even possible to consider that progress towards peace is possible? A: Both leaders have been negotiating over their shoulders with their own public, either in the talks in Jordan, or in public diplomacy, rather than negotiating with each other. It is clear that both sides are concerned with the viability of their ability to govern with the current political constellations on both sides. This is why there is zero chance of success in a negotiation which is public or in the public’s eyes." Image of Israel beach from

A challenging solution for Syria‎ - Ali Bulac, Today's Zaman: "The clashes in Syria are growing in intensity and scope, causing large-scale casualties. If the bloodshed cannot be stopped at once, Syria may be dragged into a more comprehensive civil war, in which Syria may be divided along sectarian lines and the clashes may spread to the entire region. A full year has passed since the start of protest, and tragically, the regional countries have failed to display the right initiative, willpower and insight. Iran and Turkey have emerged as the top two countries who have failed the test with respect to the Syrian crisis. Leaving aside the national reflexes along with the rhetoric of public diplomacy strategies and propaganda, both countries have proved that they are actually no different from each other. They put the blame on each other but they appear to be equally guilty."

Russia can provide 'serious platforms' for Azerbaijani-Armenian dialogue - "News.Az interviews Alexey Vlasov, general director of Moscow State University's Post-Soviet Research Centre. Azerbaijan is seeking recognition of the Khojaly massacre in February 1992 as genocide. [Q:] The parliaments of a number of countries (in particular, Mexico and Pakistan) have already recognized the massacre as genocide. If the conflict had been settled in the 1990s, Azerbaijanis would have been unlikely to start this campaign and would have preferred to forget the bloody event for the sake of peace. Do you think that reconciliation of two countries that have such tragedies in their history is possible in the foreseeable future?

[Vlasov:] Reconciliation will come sooner or later, but it is too soon to speak about a date. We cannot see any serious achievements towards mutual understanding and compromise. Public diplomacy and the development of contacts between young people may produce an effect, but this also requires a lot of time. Therefore, I am optimistic but it is necessary to understand that a return to the previous relations may take decades. We all need to be patient." Vlasov image from article

Al-Shabaab is now in disarray – Ethiopian official - Daniel Berhane, "In an exclusive interview with WIC, Getachew Reda, Public Diplomacy and Communications Director General at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the terrorist group is greatly weakened."

Morality Play - Eusebius McKaiser, Foreign Policy: "South Africa certainly has massive foreign-policy weaknesses: poor public diplomacy, inconsistent and unpredictable moves on the world stage, and political and technical skills deficits within the international relations department. But a dearth of morality is not one of them."

Dan Bing Diplomacy - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Dear Taiwan, Thanks for following my advice on the beef noodle soup as a centerpiece of your gastrodiplomacy. Now, I am craving some dan bing for breakfast and think that it could make a great delicacy to promote. Dan bing is the Taiwanese breakfast crepe made from cracking an egg on a griddle and covering it with a spring roll pancake, as the egg cooks into the pancake it is then rolled up and cut it into little bites to be slathered with chili sauce.

It is delicious, and would be a super popular street breakfast food. I am still waiting for you to come out with food trucks too. This would be a fun foodtruck snack worthy of gastrodiplomacy promotion. sincerely, Bao Loa. " Image from article

Book Review: I’d Rather be in Charge: A Legendary Business Leader’s Roadmap for Achieving Pride, Power, and Joy at Work by Charlotte Beers: Charlotte Beers’s new book, I’d Rather Be in Charge, offers up some important lessons for women in business - Cari Guittard, "Charlotte Beers during her tenure as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs during the Bush Administration ... has been misunderstood, distorted, and often inaccurately reported.

Her distinguished advertising career – where she shattered one glass ceiling after the other – is often minimized and diminished by the media, and male journalists in particular, as seller of Uncle Ben’s Rice and Head and Shoulders. Really. Is that the best they can do when encapsulating a lifetime of leadership, taking risks, and performance in the corporate world over decades in traditionally male dominated industries? ... If there is one word to describe Beers – ... it is 'fearless'. The White House called prior to a press conference with Beers, asking ... the Under Secretary not to say certain things and then not to wear her trademark short leather mini-skirt and form-fitting sweaters. Beers was never shy about speaking her mind – which more often than not threw many of the straight-laced career foreign service officers and political appointees off kilter. She was also never shy about being feminine and wearing exactly what she wanted to at State – a land where there is very little color, form-fitting attire, and creativity." Image from article

People: America in the world–Louis Susman - "Ambassador to London since July 2009, Chicago-born Susman was a senior partner at the St Louis based law firm of Thompson and Mitchell for 27 years.

He then joined Salomon Brothers (later Citigroup), where he was Vice Chairman of Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking. In 1998 he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, which provided oversight to the US Information Agency." Susman image from article

At long last... it's almost March?! - Giannina, A Year in the Life of G: Tales of stepping out of the comfort zone and chasing my dreams: "Late November brought another highly anticipated trip - this time to Berlin. I had visions of a hedonistic up-all-night bender in the infamous German clubs type of weekend, but instead my friend Blair and I took the healthy and informative route, and I couldn't have enjoyed it more. We spent the weekend exploring museums, monuments and memorials, taking a walking tour that encompassed the main Nazi and Cold War sights on both sides of the Wall.

It was really eye-opening and fascinating to be in a part of the world where so much important historical and political events have happened, and to put it into context with my studies on propaganda, public diplomacy, and the war of words that was the Cold War. ... I'm REALLY enjoying the subject material in my courses - focusing on public diplomacy, propaganda, globalization, information flows, cultural imperialism, transnational activism, emergence of new technologies and historical, political and global change brought about through communication. It's all so fascinating!!" Image from entry, with caption: What's left of the Wall


Violent Uproar in Afghanistan Casts Shadow on U.S. Pullout - Matthew Rosenberg and Tom Shanker, New York Times: American officials sought to reassure both Afghanistan’s government and a domestic audience on Sunday that the United States remained committed to the war after the weekend killing of two American military officers inside the Afghan Interior Ministry and days of deadly anti-American protests. But behind the public pronouncements, American officials described a growing concern, even at the highest levels of the Obama administration and Pentagon, about the challenges of pulling off a troop withdrawal in Afghanistan that hinges on the close mentoring and training of army and police forces.

Egypt trial strains relations with U.S. - Hamza Hendawi, Washington Times: Egypt went forward with a trial Sunday that has plunged relations with the U.S. into the deepest crisis in decades, prosecuting 16 Americans and 27 other employees of pro-democracy groups on charges they used foreign funds to foment unrest. Behind the scenes, U.S. and Egyptian officials were said to be in intense discussions in an attempt to resolve the case.

America's Iranian Self-Deception: Let's admit the facts about its nuclear program and then have an honest debate about what to do - Frederick W. Kagan and Maseh Zarif, Wall Street Journal: Iran is starting to race to reach a breakout point at which the international community will be unable to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, short of a massive American military strike. The evidence available supports no other conclusion. Those who oppose military action against Iran under any circumstances must say so, and must accept the consequences of that statement.

Those who advocate military action must also accept and consider the consequences—regional and possibly global conflict and all of the associated perils of war. But neither American nor Israeli nor any Western interest is served by lying to ourselves and pretending the predicament will go away. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad image from article

The genius of propaganda - Ben Kolisnyk, Asia Times: North Korea, like many autocratic regimes, uses numerous mediums to control ideas and information. This includes, but is not limited to, state run media, art (film, posters, theatre, mass games) and the educational system. As Jane Portal has pointed out, using art to persuade people to think that they live in the best possible world is not new. Augustus Caesar used art in the 5th century BC to perpetuate a new and lasting vision of Rome as the ideal world. The stylistic elements of North Korea's socialist realist propaganda art, according to Portal, have been influenced strongly by the Soviet Union. The primary characteristics of this art form are “accessibility to the masses, class consciousness, relevance to current issues and faithfulness to the Party.” Although this art is realist in its life-like depictions of subjects, it is idealistic in the content and messages it portrays. Socialist society and quality of life is hyper-inflated, and the people in it are given almost superhero qualities as a means of encouraging the masses to strive for this perfection. Leaders are portrayed as omnipresent, great soldiers, and benevolent fathers to assure the masses that they have their leaders to thank for successes and comforts, and are in capable hands. Thus, a common goal of autocratic regime propaganda is mobilizing support for the leader. The key propaganda themes of benevolent father and military man are also being played out in photographs and televised media.

And just what is it about the frequent use of horses in North Korean propaganda? The first statue ever erected of Kim Jong-il is him riding a wild steed, the first statue we are told because he was too humble to have one erected while he was alive (although a towering likeness is reportedly in the works). And as mentioned, Kim Jong-eun has frequently been pictured riding horses by state media. White horses, in particular, have a special meaning in Korean mythology in the story of Silla. In this story a white horse emerges from a bolt of lightning and bows to a shining egg from which a boy emerges. The boy then goes on to unify six warring states. While many scoff at the idea that North Korea is working towards a unified peninsula, the regime excels at linking Korean unity with racial purity, resistance to foreign intrusion, and how the Kim family lineage gives it the legitimacy to lead this charge. Image from