Sunday, September 30, 2012

September 30

"It’s a world where a cheap YouTube video made by a superempowered individual can cause us more trouble than the million-dollar propaganda campaign of a superpower competitor."

--Thomas L. Friedman, "The World We’re Actually Living In," New York Times; image from


For Foreign Diplomats, Social Media’s Benefits Outweigh Its Risks - Nancy Lazarus,  " 'Social media is about taking smart risks,' observed Victoria Esser, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Digital Strategy at the U.S. State Department. Unfortunately, the recent tragedy in Libya has reminded us that being stationed overseas can be a very dangerous occupation. Esser appeared on a panel at the Social Good Summit on Saturday along with other foreign diplomats in order to provide attendees with a snapshot of their digital media experiences. The three-day conference takes place at New York’s 92nd Street Y during UN Week and concludes today. The State Department under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has embraced internal and external digital platforms as tools to interact with employees and the public. As Esser said, 'nothing replaces face-to-face diplomacy, but social media cuts away time barriers.' She noted that the State Department had recently hosted a 'Google hangout in Persian to engage in dialogue with Iran, where the U.S. doesn’t have

an on-the-ground presence.' They invited a few journalists to join in. Charles Ray, former U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe, pointed to another well-documented advantage of using social platforms. 'Social media is not a magic wand, but it’s an effective tool to have ongoing conversations with people who are hard to reach with other methods.' He was referring to those who are under 30 years old; in developing countries, members of this demographic primarily use cell phones since they have only limited access to the internet. Twitter has become to go-to digital platform for officials serving overseas. 'More foreign diplomats are comfortable now using Twitter. While it doesn’t supplant traditional diplomacy, Twitter is also good for cultural diplomacy,' said Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico’s ambassador to the U.S. Not surprisingly, diplomats must tread cautiously on Twitter. 'You can’t get every tweet approved by the foreign minister,' Sarukhan noted. 'I do my tweets in a more kosher and formal way.' Sarukhan and Ray both reported receiving occasional comments from hostile followers; Sarukhan in particular must choose his words wisely, given the tenuous nature of national security relations between Mexico and the U.S." Image from

Digital diplomacy: areas of work, risks and tools - "At a meeting of ambassadors and permanent representatives in June 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin put digital diplomacy among the most effective foreign policy tools. The President urged the diplomats to more intensively use new technologies across multiple platforms, including in the social media, to explain the positions of the state. Digital diplomacy named by Silicon Valley experts as Web 2.0 Diplomacy has appeared relatively recently. A simplified definition of this phenomenon – the use of web and information & communication technologies (ICTs) to carry out diplomatic tasks – is quite illustrative. There are several common areas where digital diplomacy is particularly effective as a foreign ministry resource. In the first place, this is public diplomacy: in establishing contacts with online audience and formation of new communication tools, digital diplomacy allows direct addressing the target audience with specific messages, which includes attracting influential opinion makers for collaboration. E-diplomacy promotes citizen to citizen and person to person dialogue formats. This dialogue can be initiated both by the civil society members themselves and by the state, which can act as a moderator in the dialogue. ... [D]igital diplomacy is mainly applicative in nature and is particularly useful in working with foreign audiences, in matters of relaying the official position and building up the image of the state. It is important to understand that it is unlikely to ever replace diplomacy in its conventional sense. Closed talks will remain closed. However, digital diplomacy is capable of explaining why a certain decision was made, what results it will give, how it will influence the foreign policy process, i.e., of opening public access to the results of conventional diplomacy. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson talked about the principles of openness in diplomacy as early as 1918. The first of Woodrow Wilson’s fourteen points of the draft peace agreement ending World War I stated: 'Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view'. Then, the principle of openness was the requirement of time – the public opinion,that was gaining more and more influence in the political life of European countries was hostile to the secrecy in which diplomatic contacts were traditionally shrouded. Amid the spread of literacy, emergence of mass periodicals and formation of an elected parliament, heads of states, ministers and diplomats were conscious of the need to publicly justify their actions in the public view."

Diplomat vows to work for bolstering Saudi-US bond - "A number of Saudi officials and members of the diplomatic community gathered Saturday at Park Hyatt to attend a welcoming reception organized by US Ambassador James B. Smith in honor of Anne Casper, the newly appointed US Consul General in Jeddah. Smith was particularly proud to introduce to the public a young lady and an experienced diplomat who began her career as a public diplomacy officer at US missions in Morocco, Syria and Jerusalem and served more recently as Public Affairs Counselor in Bangkok and Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda.

'Casper is not here because she is a woman. She is here because she is the most qualified person within the US department for this position. I needed someone who would help us build up a family and represent the American people focusing on notions of mutual trust and mutual respect. Over the past three years we have been dedicated with great success on building up relations in the trade, medical and education sectors based on these concepts. Casper will continue to nourish these relations bringing with her new energies, visions and ideas,” said Smith. Casper, accompanied in Jeddah by her husband who is a registered nurse, looked self-confident and gave proof of closeness to the Arabic culture and knowledge of local customs beginning and concluding her speech in fluent Arabic." Casper image from article

Interview: American Author Praises Iranian President's "Worthwhile Public Diplomacy" - "Lawrence Davidson, a renowned American author, political commentator and professor of history at the West Chester University

was one of those who had the opportunity to meet President Ahmadinejad in New York's Hotel Warwick. 'My impression of President Ahmadinejad was completely the opposite of …the Western designed propaganda image against him. In the meeting I attended the president showed himself to be a quiet spoken idealist - someone who is quite knowledgeable and thoughtful,' said Davidson in an interview with Fars News Agency. ... Q: President Ahmadinejad's travels to New York in the past 7 years to attend the United Nations General Assembly have always made the headlines and received remarkable attention by the Western mainstream media. He has given numerous interviews, held several meetings with students, university professors, public intellectuals, religious figures, journalists and political experts and tried to reach out to the American public and have Iran's message be heard by the international community. What do you think of his public diplomacy and his trips to New York? A: The president's public diplomacy and outreach is necessary and worthwhile, but one must accept that it will make only a limited impact. That is because the information flow in the U.S. is controlled by the enemies of the Islamic Republic. Those who influence both policy formation on the basis of economic interests, ethnic and religious interests or ideological orientation have crafted a picture of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a fanatical enemy of the Western Civilization in general and the United States in particular. The American media, which shares and promotes this picture, has encouraged an entire generation of U.S. citizens to believe this view of things. And so, most of them do believe it. Ahmadinejad's efforts to counter this view receive little press and the best he can do is promote a process whereby a different picture is spread by word of mouth. Is it worth the effort? Yes, because those he talks to will be decision makers at one level or another. And so some small counterbalance is achieved." Image, evidently of Davidson, from article

Blooming, Buzzing - Winnowing Fan: "Time too, to mourn the violent deaths of four American diplomats in Benghazi on 9/11/12. My tribal identity as a fellow American Foreign Service Officer (now safely retired) intensified my sorrow. The mad chirping of my Twitter stream carried the news and views of the experts I follow into my otherwise languid garden sanctuary. ...'In the great blooming buzzing confusion of the outer world we pick out what our culture has already defined for us and we tend to perceive that which we have picked out in the form stereotyped for us by our culture.' This patterned thinking written about by Walter Lippmann eighty years ago in his seminal work Public Opinion (1922), was sadly evident in the events of the past two weeks and the rush of commentary upon them. All the stereotypes seemed to be at play as the tragedy unfolded. The West was insulting Islam once again, Muslims were enraged once again, social media was the new speed dialing culprit once again. For the most part we do not see and then define, we define first and then see. Stereotypes, schemas, narratives or paradigm -- pick your favorite template term -- were triggered by political actors and pundits alike attempting to frame the blur of events into a coherent story line for political or ideological purpose. The first week's deforming framing contest seemed particularly egregeous [sic] to me. Mr. Romney saw an apology where there was none. The Obama administration saw an anti-American protest mob turned violent in Benghazi when there was none. Public diplomacy scholars saw global social media effects where mass media and domestic political agency offered the better explanations for the convulsions."

Public Diplomacy and International Communications: Thoughts and comments about public diplomacy, soft power and international communications by Gary Rawnsley - "So it seems that a considerable amount of American soft power was invested in

[President John F.] Kennedy, and a huge quantity of resources was devoted to American public diplomacy in the immediate aftermath of his death. But what made this soft power so successful? His relations with the Soviet Union were stormy to say the least; he was responsible for the Bay of Pigs fiasco; and he was the reason the United States became involved in Vietnam. So is the explanation simply that he was Jack Kennedy - that it is all about the man and the fact the he generated a wave of hope and optimism among supporters and critics alike? Is it, as I have long suspected, because this youngest ever President was only 46 when he was murdered during his first term in office?" Image from

Former Radio Liberty journalist comments in Index on Censorship blog on purge of Svoboda online writers and broadcasters - BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "Elena Vlasenko, a young journalist who said she resigned in protest from Radio Liberty’s (Radio Svoboda) Moscow bureau after dozens of her colleagues were fired by the American management of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), published her commentary in the Index on Censorship blog UNCUT – 'free speech on the frontline' on the recent events at the U.S. taxpayer-funded broadcaster. In her article, Vlasenko

quotes from a letter of protest sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the U.S. Congress, in which some of the most famous leaders of the human rights movement in Russia express strong disapproval of the actions of RFE/RL managers who report to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a U.S. federal agency." Vlasenko image from article. See also

In Nigeria, mobile phone users listen to VOA's 20-minute medical advice program. "No one in America would do this"  - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Image from entry

Nigeria: Curtains On Indiafrica Initiatives - "A performance from last year’s Starquest runners up, Quantum Vibes drew curtains on the Indiafrica initiative where Plloman Kumari’s idea of a solar-powered harvester clinched top spot and $10,000 during its finale at the City Hall in Lagos on September 25. Second spot in the keenly contested competition that was flagged off last April at the University of Lagos with a performance by Indian band Parakrama had Zubaidai Bai of India taking second place while the third spot was shared by Kennedy Kithake and Kola Bayole of South Africa, and Bhiraw Kumar Mandal. ... Plloman Kumari and Kennedy Kithake also earned a trip to Davos 2013 after they emerged the top ranked Indian and African winners in the competition organised by ideaworks and the public diplomacy division of the ministry of external affairs of the government of India. A youth outreach programme that seeks to bring Africans and Indians closer to each other via competition, creative exchanges and collaboration, joint secretary of the public diplomacy division of the Indian ministry of external affairs described the initiative as a success, with Nigeria having the highest number of entries from Africa."

Marjorie Coffin, Foreign Service office - Megan McDonough, Washington Post:  "Marjorie Coffin, 63, who retired in 2007 as deputy director of the State Department’s Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, died Sept. 8 at her mother’s home in Hagerstown, Md. Ms. Coffin, an Arlington County resident, joined the State Department in 1975 and worked in the embassies in Guatemala, Japan and Costa Rica. She transferred to the U.S. Information Agency in 1988 and worked in cultural affairs in Turkey and Spain, as well as at the U.S. consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico. She was the director of the Cuba, Mexico and Panama office from 1996 to 1998. Before USIA duties were folded into the State Department in 1999, Ms. Coffin served as the public-affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador.

From 2002 to 2006, she was the cultural-affairs officer for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, during which she served on the Fulbright Commission Board, which helps facilitate educational and cultural exchanges. Marjorie Coffin was born in El Paso and was a 1971 theater arts graduate of American University. She received multiple Meritorious Service Awards for her government service. She was a soprano with the Capitol Hill Chorale in the 1990s and was a volunteer at Inova Alexandria Hospital." Image from


Afghan inside attack puts U.S. troop deaths at 2,000 - U.S. military deaths in the Afghan war have reached 2,000, a cold reminder of the human cost of an 11-year-old conflict that now garners little public interest at home as the United States prepares to withdraw most of its combat forces by the end of 2014. The toll has climbed steadily in recent months with a spate of attacks by Afghan army and police — supposed allies — against American and NATO troops.

That has raised troubling questions about whether countries in the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan will achieve their aim of helping the government in Kabul and its forces stand on their own after most foreign troops depart in little more than two years. Image from

War in Iraq Wasn’t Worth the Price America Paid - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well:

A very sad legacy. Uncaptioned image from article

Boykinism: Joe McCarthy Would Understand - Andrew J. Bacevich, TomDispatch: Further reliance on armed force as the preferred instrument of U. S. policy in the Islamic world will compound the errors that produced and have defined the post-9/11 era.

The World We’re Actually Living Inc  - Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times: Foreign policy is a lot like domestic policy. The morning after the election, we will face a huge “cliff”: how to deal with Afghanistan, Iran and Syria, without guidance from the candidates or a mandate from voters. Voters will have to go with their gut about which guy has the best gut feel for navigating this world. Obama has demonstrated that he has something there. Romney has not.

Freedom House report: "threats to internet freedom are becoming more diverse" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Iran Mocks US for Much Ballyhoo, Weak Action in Persian Gulf Wargames - FNA: Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said the recent US-led wargames in the Persian Gulf were an embarrassment for the US. "They made a few moves in very limited points of the vast Persian Gulf, but they named it 'wargames', which is an embarrassment for them," Vahidi

said on Saturday. "And the few countries that accompanied the US in this political and propaganda maneuver took up some weak and passive roles," he added. Image, evidently of Vahidi, from article

Iran finds Reuters guilty of propaganda about female ninjas - A jury in Tehran has found the news agency Reuters "guilty of propagating against the Islamic Republic and disseminating false information to disturb public opinion" for running a story titled, "Thousands of female Ninjas train as Iran's assassins." The story was run in March 2012. Reuters subsequently corrected the story, after the martial arts club where the video was filmed made a complaint, and the news agency apologized for the error.

The story's headline was then corrected to read "Three thousand women Ninjas train in Iran." The video shows women clad in black from head to toe, running up walls and flipping backwards, and diving and rolling over swords held at waist heights, performing ninja skills. Image from article


"[T]he Federal Register at the end of 2011 had 82,351 rules that Americans are supposed to live by."

--George Melloan, Wall Street Journal

“It’s a very personal thing between ourselves and our commitment to our God and to our church.”

--Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has resisted calls to release more tax returns, citing a wish to keep his charitable contributions private as one reason.


Via FW on Facebook

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 29

"You know, we're willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign, but we're not willing to be murdered for it."

--Gen. John Allen, who has directed U.S. and other foreign forces in Afghanistan since mid-2011 and who will be replaced by Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., assistant commandant of the Marine Corps; image from


Robert Albro Public Policy Anthropologist


USA to Pakistan TV ads provoke criticism from Pakistan to the USA - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: Elliott comment: "For public diplomacy purposes, there is probably no better way to reach a large number of people in the target country than TV ads."

Chef Corps to Help Build Bridges through “Culinary Engagement” - Darci Vetter, Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, "Some of the nation’s top chefs have signed on to help promote American food and culinary traditions around the world through the new American Chef Corps. The corps is part of the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership Initiative, launched earlier this month by the Department of State and the James Beard Foundation.

USDA is delighted to support this initiative, which is an excellent complement to our ongoing work highlighting the quality, variety, safety and sustainability of U.S. food products to our customers around the world. As part of this new endeavor, more than 50 renowned U.S. chefs will serve as resources to the State Department, preparing meals for foreign leaders and participating in public diplomacy programs that engage foreign audiences abroad as well as those visiting the United States. This initiative builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of 'smart power' diplomacy, using a full range of diplomatic tools – in this case, food and hospitality – to enhance how formal diplomacy is conducted. Members of the American Chef Corps will use their culinary skills to cultivate cultural understanding and help strengthen bilateral relationships." Image from

Against Foodie Diplomacy - Noreen Malone, "[W]hat the White House and State Department wish to accomplish with the Chef Corps (as part of the larger 'Diplomatic Culinary Partnership') is to rebrand U.S. food culture abroad. Thanks to the many Golden Arches strewn across the globe, the rest of the world has a certain fixed idea about American cuisine, and perhaps Americans more generally: A horde of preservative-popping tramplers of local culture. Unfortunately, Foggy Bottom’s effort to show off the more diverse and human side of the Yankee kitchen seems focused primarily on the $100-a-plate foodie category of culinary life—something out of reach for most Americans, not to mention the foreigners with whom our toque-wearing ambassadors will soon be engaging." Via PR

For Foodie Diplomacy - samuelchapplesokol, Culinary Diplomacy: "Noreen Malone’s article .... takes cheap shots at a program in its infancy." Via PR

Why There are No Women in Jazz Or, “How Globalization Has Changed U.S. Music Diplomacy” - Stephanie N. Stallings: "There are many women who buck the trend and become outstanding jazz musicians. Likewise, jazz still has many adherents in the world, and from a public diplomacy perspective it still presents a heritage that offers an attractive narrative and is fully American. But to reach youth around the globe, the immediate future of music diplomacy belongs to hip hop."

Ambassador McFaul Participates in a Twitter Q and A - "U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul participates in a Twitter Q and A at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia, September 26, 2012."

Image from

Pioneering collector of African music retires from Voice of America - Tara Bahrampour, Washington Post: "Long before there was ping-pong diplomacy or pere­stroika, a short, balding, Armenian American was lugging an enormous reel-to-reel from village to village, sweet-talking people into singing and playing for him.

Leo Sarkisian had the kind of career that today lives only in legend: Hired by famed broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, he was paid by the U.S. government to travel throughout Africa, visiting every country over half a century and returning with thousands of rare recordings of music that most of the world had never heard. On Friday, Sarkisian, 91, officially retired from the Voice of America, where the weekly radio show he started 47 years ago, 'Music Time in Africa,' is VOA’s longest-running English-language program." Image from article, with caption: Leo Sarkisian, left, records top musicians at Kabul Radio in Kabul, Afghanistan, in the 1950s, using gear he was given when he left a job in Hollywood.

Once Upon A Time There Was Radio Liberty - BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "[V]aluable journalists and contributors are gone or have been terminated [at RFE/RL]" Image from entry

Radio Free Europe history in the news, including a 1951 US nationwide TV fundraiser - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.  Image from entry

VOA TV programs in Chinese, Tibetan and English now available in China on Telstar 18 - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

From Ikebana to Manga And Beyond: Japan’s Cultural and Public Diplomacy Is Evolving - Kazuo Ogoura, "At the end of World War II, Japan faced the task not only of rebuilding a devastated country, but also of rebuilding its image in the world. Since then, Japan’s cultural and public diplomacy have gone through a complex evolution and adapted repeatedly to the country’s rapidly changing place in the world. ... Ikebana and tea ceremonies, post-modern features of Japan coupled with age-old traditions of Noh or Kabuki theater, intellectual exchanges based on the concept of a global agenda and innovative ideas of cultural activities for peace-building ― all these elements are mingled with each other in present-day Japanese cultural and public diplomacy. Such a mixture is a strong point of Japan’s public diplomacy but it also harbors a weak point, namely, the lack of a clear focus. This is partly related to a shortage of funds from both government sources and private non-profit organizations, but it is also related to the problem of redefining Japan’s role in the international community ― something that the Japanese themselves have not yet fully determined in today’s world, particularly at a time when East Asia’s responsibilities and interdependence have been remarkably on the rise."

Lesson 132 New Media, Diplomacy and Public Diplomacy - larrylauer, "Diplomacy is generally understood to be governments communicating with governments. It is primarily practiced through embassies and consulates around the world, and involves foreign service officers and ambassadors advancing their governments’ foreign policy objectives while collecting and researching essential political and economic information. Some governments argue they also practice 'public' diplomacy. Public diplomacy generally takes two forms: The first form is governments communicating directly with the publics of other nations. It is practiced through cultural and educational exchanges, as well as by providing local libraries, information centers, and educational programming. It is also managed for the most part through embassies and consulates. Government sponsored international broadcasts (i.e. Voice of America, and BBC World Service) and other forms of mass media can also be seen as public diplomacy.

And government sponosred public diplomacy is also usually driven mostly by foreign policy objectives. The second form of public diplomacy is direct people-to-people communication. At one time the United States had a government agency called the US Information Agency, or USIA. It was separate from the state department so many people believe that this 'independence' allowed it to practice this more direct form of people-to-people public diplomacy. But the function and funding of the USIA were significantly reduced during the Clinton administration, and then its functions were moved into the Department of State. Today this more direct form of public diplomacy is practiced mostly by nonprofit organizations such at Sister Cities International, and other similar NGO’s. A business plan for a new independent organization was recently developed during a project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, and it will be interesting so see what happens next. Its champions are currently seeking start-up funding." Image from


Afghan troops get a lesson in American cultural ignorance - Kevin Sieff and Richard Leiby, Washington Post: An 18-page pamphlet, officially titled “Cultural Understanding — A Guide to Understanding Coalition Cultures,” was introduced this month by the Afghan Defense Ministry. Written in Dari, the primary language in much of Afghanistan, it will soon be distributed to Afghan military leaders across the country. The booklet will be taught

in three one-hour sessions to all soldiers as well as new recruits. As NATO winds down its mission here, the “Cultural Understanding” guide marks the Afghan army’s most significant effort to identify long-standing points of contention and confusion between the two forces. It also seems aimed at restoring support for a foreign troop presence that has seen its popularity plummet during the course of the war. Despite widespread misgivings among the Afghan public, in the guide the coalition is depicted glowingly, often in florid language. The United States is “a little like a lovely carpet. Different colored strands combine to make a beautiful whole.” NATO’s coalition is described as a “work of art.” Image from article, with caption: Photos of everyday life in Afghanistan as coalition forces attempt to transfer responsibilities to Afghan troops.

The foreign policy debate Obama doesn’t want - David Ignatius, Washington Post: Less than six weeks before the election, the Obama campaign’s theme song might as well be the old country-music favorite “Make the World Go Away.” This may be smart politics, but it’s not good governing: The way this campaign is going, the president will have a foreign affairs mandate for . . . nothing.

Snubbed by Obama? There were political reasons for the president not getting together at the U.N. with either the Egyptian or Israeli leaders - Aaron David Miller, America's role as senior partner in the triangular relationship born in the wake of the Camp David accords is going to erode. Egypt and Israel are likely to be increasingly at odds with each other and with America over issues as diverse as the peace process and Iran.

Indeed, Israel and Egypt now say no to America without much cost or consequence. The days of America's unchallenged preeminence in this particular corner of the Middle East are coming to an end. Image from

Iran talk: What’s in a war? - William J. Fallon, Chuck Hagel, Lee Hamilton, Thomas Pickering and Anthony Zinni, Washington Post: A U.S. attack on Iran would demonstrate the country’s credibility as an ally to other nations in the region and would derail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for several years, providing space for other, potentially longer-term solutions. An attack would also make clear the United States’ full commitment to nonproliferation as other nations contemplate moves in that direction. The costs are more difficult to estimate than the benefits because of uncertainty about the scale and type of Iran’s reaction. Iran is likely to retaliate directly but also to pursue an asymmetrical response, including heightened terrorist activity and covert operations as well as using surrogates such as Hezbollah. An increase in the price of oil could keep the market unstable for weeks or months and disrupt the global economy.

Propaganda for Dummies: Netanyahu displays cartoonish bomb diagram at the UN to convince the world to turn against Iran - Jeffrey Heller, Reuters: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew his "red line" for Iran's nuclear program on Thursday - the point at which Iran has amassed nearly enough highly enriched uranium for a single atomic bomb - and voiced confidence that the United States shares his view. Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu appeared to pull back from any threat of an imminent Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, saying the Islamic Republic would be on the brink of producing an atomic weapon only next summer.

He added that he was confident the United States and Israel, which have disagreed about the urgency of military action, could devise a common strategy to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Holding up a cartoon-like drawing of a bomb with a fuse, Netanyahu literally drew a red line just below a label reading "final stage" to a bomb, in which it was 90 percent along the path of having sufficient weapons-grade material. Image from article, with caption: Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 27, 2012.

The fate of Israeli propaganda - As'ad AbuKhalil, "I have been arguing for years that Israeli propaganda is now as dumb as Ba`thist propaganda. Israeli' propaganda of the 1950s and 1960s was rather smart and effective.

People on FB and Twitter have been mocking the dumb speech and illustration by Netanyahu. Even the pro-Israeli Daily Show mocked it last night. I mean, with all the advisers and American consultants there was no one to tell him how foolish he looks with his cheap prop and stupid illustration." Image from entry

Before you pay to volunteer abroad, think of the harm you might do - Ian Birrell, Guardian: A damning report says that well-intentioned westerners do little to alleviate the lot of poverty-stricken children in developing countries. Orphanages in such countries are a booming business trading on guilt. Some are even said to be kept deliberately squalid. Westerners take pity on the children and end up creating a grotesque market that capitalises on their concerns. This is the dark side of our desire to help the developing world. Via MS on Facebook

Training for Consulate Attacks, in Case There’s a Next Time - Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times: In the aftermath of the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, the Pentagon sent two teams of elite, specially trained Marines to protect American Embassies in Libya and Yemen and would have deployed a third group to Sudan had not the government in Khartoum said no. To demonstrate what those units — called F.A.S.T. Marines, for Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team — are trained to do, the Marines put on a show this week. At a training center on the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp, a clutch of reporters observed Marines repelling faux rioters, shooting down doors and clearing a supposed American embassy occupied by militants.

Abu Dhabi Media’s Hollywood Propaganda - Daniel Greenfield, As Heritage has pointed out, The Promised Land, the troubled piece of lefty Hollywood agitprop aimed at the domestic oil industry is actually financed by the international oil industry.

A new film starring Matt Damon presents American oil and natural gas producers as money-grubbing villains purportedly poisoning rural American towns. It is therefore of particular note that it is financed in part by the royal family of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates. This isn’t the first time that the UAE have dabbled in anti-American Hollywood propaganda. While Imagenation Abu Dhabi does produce legitimate movies like Men in Black 3 (if that’s your idea of legitimate) and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (okay they’re just burying America in crap), they have been known to push propaganda before. Uncaptioned image from entry

Korean propaganda soars with balloons: Helium balloons carry millions of messages of hope and hate across Korea's heavily guarded Demilitarized Zone each year - One could say propaganda is ballooning on the Korean Peninsula. At the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) - the world's most heavily fortified border - North Korean defector Lee Ju-seong organises the launch of six large, helium-filled balloons loaded with "good-will" messages that will float back into the country he escaped from.

Millions of messages are delivered on thousands of balloons this way each year across the DMZ. The balloons soar from the South deep into the impoverished North, where they crash to the ground, dispersing what some call messages of hope, and others deem propaganda. Image from article, with caption: Activists launch six balloons loaded with leaflets from Imjingak on the Demilitarized Zone.

US Comic Book Propaganda, 1939-1945 - Among the images:

Want To Get Your Hands On Coulson’s Trading Cards? Want To Get Your Hands On Coulson’sbloody Trading Cards? - Susana Polo, "eFX is a movie collectibles company that prepared a number of really to die for items at San Diego Comic Con, including a set of Agent Coulson’s beloved Captain America trading cards, Thor’s formal helmet, and a few gorgeous reproductions of Captain America propaganda posters seen in Captain America: The First Avenger. But alas… only a tiny fraction of us can go to San Diego Comic Con, and everybody had to satisfy themselves with their Hunger Gamespropaganda poster instead. Just me? But now eFX is swinging into production on a number of Avengers items, including the cards (in both bloody and not-bloody versions), which you can see after the jump.


A) "On this morning in the isolated Virginia woods, the Marines practiced shooting down 'doors' consisting of plywood sheets hung from free-standing metal frames. The right way was to aim at a 45-degree angle for the locking mechanism to the right of the doorknob, then fire. When one knob was blown apart, an instructor brought out a piece of wood with a row of three knobs, which was then attached to the plywood door.

(The knobs were lined up so that the Marines could practice shooting down doors with knobs in one of three positions common to doors around the world.) Instructors say that the Marines go through several hundred knobs a day." Image from

--Elisabeth Bumiller, "Training for Consulate Attacks, in Case There’s a Next Time," New York Times

B) Make the World Go Away
Elvis Presley
(words and music by Hank Cochran)

"Make the world go away
Get it off my shoulder
Say the things we used to say
And make the world, make it go away
Do you remember when you loved me
Before the world took you away
Well if you do, then forgive me
And make the world, make it go away
Make the world go away

Get it off my shoulder
Say the things we used to say
And make the world, make it go away
Now I'm sorry if I hurt you
Let me make it up to you day by day
And if you will please forgive me
And make the world, make it go away
Make the world go away
Get it off my shoulder
Say the things we used to say
And make the world, make it go away"

-Image from

C) "Souder makes it clear that [Rachel] Carson had enough distractions as it was. She’d worked as a government biologist and writer from 1936 until 1952, when sales of her book allowed her to quit her job and write full time. She bought a plot of land near Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and had a summer cottage built on it. It was there that she met her neighbors, Stan and Dorothy Freeman, and began a romantic relationship with Dorothy Freeman that lasted the rest of Carson’s life.

The women’s letters were unambiguously passionate: In 1954, Carson wrote to Freeman, 'But oh darling, I want to be with you so terribly that it hurts!' While her husband napped, Freeman wrote a letter from another bedroom in her house, telling Carson that she was writing from 'the corner that belongs in my heart only to you — you know where and why.'

One Christmas they shared a hotel room in New York, and the letters leading up to that rendezvous were concerned with whether Carson should register under an alias and whether the women would be able to 'restrain themselves long enough to get up to their room,' to use Souder’s paraphrasing.

In spite of the heated language, Souder suggests that sex 'seems not to have been part of their relationship, or at least not an essential feature of it,' and that their feelings for each other 'existed in a realm above ordinary physical love and desire.' (If someone has done a study of the number of 'romantic friendships' between women that biographers assume to be platonic, as compared with similar friendships between men, I’d like to know about it. I hope such women were far less prim than their biographers assume.)"

--Amy Stewart, "Book review: William Souder’s ‘On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson’," Washington Post

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“In a republican nation whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion, and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance.”

--Thomas Jefferson


--Via ES on Facebook

Friday, September 28, 2012

September 28

"Assortativity is a useful principle in epidemiology."

--Cultural diplomacy scholar Robert Albro; image from


Current Issue Summer 2012: INNOVATIONS IN PUBLIC DIPLOMACY,  PD Magazine, University of Southern California


Public Diplomacy as Apology - Helle Dale, "Judging by President Obama’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly yesterday, U.S. public diplomacy messaging on the Middle East crisis is stuck perpetually on a setting of 'apology.' It has been this way since the much-criticized September 11 statement from the U.S. embassy in Cairo, which apologized to the threatening mob outside its gates for any hurt to Muslims’ 'religious feelings.' ... The Cairo statement could be described as an act of desperation and bore every sign thereof, even lacking punctuation. As the U.S. embassy was being threatened by a violent mob outside its walls, the embassy website hosted a denunciation not of violence but of an offensive 14-minute YouTube video. It remained the official U.S. position for nine hours before it was removed under pressure from protests at home. On September 12, it was denounced by both the President and the Secretary of State. The State Department has embraced social media with a vengeance as a public diplomacy tool, also known as Public Diplomacy 2.0.

In the first hours of the crisis on September 11, the embassy Twitter feed defended the statement against incredulous comments from other tweeters. Those tweets were later deleted. The stated policy of the U.S. government is 'Internet freedom.' Yet, when it came to the YouTube video, the White House asked Google to 'review' it, and it was subsequently taken down in several Muslim countries. There is a clear double standard at work, which countries engaging in Internet censorship will not have failed to notice. ... The after-action review of U.S. public diplomacy in the aftermath of the current crisis will be a copious exercise. Learning the lessons of what has gone wrong is the critical first step.” Image from

Social Media Uber Alles: Embassy Baghdad Gets Its Head Around Twitter - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: "Taxpayers, a robust group huzzah please! The US Embassy in Baghdad has taken a bold, innovative step towards resolving all problems in Iraq, large and small:

The Embassy is now paying someone with your tax dollars to Tweet! ... But really, this is just sad. With State Department Director of PT Barnum Affairs Alec Ross popping up worldwide to announce how innovative the State Department is, you’d think the world’s largest embassy staff could come up with something, anything better than generic propaganda Tweets and links to CNN articles. Maybe something unique to Iraq? Of interest to Iraqis? Your tax dollars at work americans!" Image from entry

Facilitating and Delegating the New Public Diplomacy - ckilbyus, "The inflexibility in the State Department’s use of twitter and blogs shows that there is an increased need for flexible engagement with foreign publics. Since it is unlikely that the State Department can achieve this on its own, there is a clear need for programs that can engage in an alternative conversation with foreign publics. This is a space where civil society can be delegated to through grants to produce programs of social media outreach in foreign languages, and pursue an alternative dialogue in regions where moderate voices are generally silent. Organizationally, a shift from direct PD programming to facilitation and delegating to civil society has a need for more standardized measurement and evaluation techniques."

Freedom of expression [video] - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Obama and Clinton conducting a lil PD to explain American freedom of expression in the wake of the Innocence of Muslims incident. TY TS."

"A new and more dynamic Svoboda" (RFERL Russian) thanks 40 employees, and lets them go - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Image from entry

'Public diplomacy may help fix China-Japan crisis' - "China and Japan should give public diplomacy a chance rather than rely only on the official channels to help resolve their conflict over the ownership of Diaoyu Islands, Chinese scholars say. 'In the face of the damage wrought by radical Japanese politicians, we can only resort to the power of friendship to eliminate difficulties,' Feng Zhaokui, a Japanese studies expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said. 'Even in this bleak situation, goodwill can make a difference,' China Daily Friday quoted him as saying. This year should have been a great opportunity to deepen links, said Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

On Sunday, Jia met with the heads of major Japan-China friendship groups and Japanese politicians who want to improve ties. The meeting was seen as a positive gesture to improve sharply deteriorating ties. China has meanwhile informed Japan it will delay a reception scheduled next Thursday to mark the 40th anniversary of normalized ties. Japan's 'nationalization' of part of the islands, regardless of China's repeated representations, have 'pushed China-Japan ties to the grim situation', Jia said. 'Japan should fully recognize the seriousness of the situation, face up to the problems over the islands and correct their errors as soon as possible to avoid causing greater damage to relations,' he added.'" Image from

Urbanizing China-EU Relations? - Michele Acuto, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "[The] tentative urbanization of EU-China relations holds some interesting promises for city leadership which, after all, might be a key component in producing truly innovative transnational responses to global challenges."

Fools: Netanyahu’s ‘Red Line’ Cardboard Mocked on Twitter - "TYahoo News Reports: 'Okay, it’s official,' The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg wrote. 'Netanyahu has no idea what he’s doing. He has just turned a serious issue into a joke. Goldberg continued: 'Netanyahu’s bomb cartoon is the Middle East equivalent of Clint Eastwood’s chair.' 'Apparently Netanyahu took a chart-making course from Paul Ryan,' the comedian Rob Delaney tweeted. 'I didn’t realize nuclear bombs looked like the bombs from Super Mario,' Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski quipped. 'Netanyahu has reduced nuclear war diplomacy to cartoons and markers,' Sam Stein tweeted. Many Twitter users questioned the wisdom of bringing clip art to the U.N., while some referenced a Roadrunner comparison.

'Excuse me, Prime Minister Netanyahu?' Rex Huppke wrote. 'Wile E. Coyote called. He wants his bomb back.' [Comment by] Raphael Judas Kaufmann • 2 hours ago − That's the state of Israeli public diplomacy... not even ready to invest in a serious infographic.

M***F*** Morsi and Abbas took off the gloves and we show a 1$ cartoon..." Above Iimage from entry; below image from

Let them call me crazy - "Mudar Zahran, a lecturer, publicist and Palestinian blogger attends international seminar on new media and public diplomacy given by the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry at Ariel University Center in Samaria, speaks to Israel Hayom about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Image from article, with caption: Mudar Zahran, Palestinian lecturer, publicist and blogger spoke with Israel Hayom about the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Hedley Bullshit - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "How the English School has fallen! What began whimsically over kimchi quesadillas and tikka tacos is turning into a real field of study. Yes, gastrodiplomacy is going legit. I found out that a piece I authored on gastrodiplomacy is being published in the academic journal Public Diplomacy and Place Branding. Meanwhile, my culinary diplomacy colleague Sam Chapple-Sokol is having his own work on culinary diplomacy published in the Hague Journal of Diplomacy. Yes, I am the father of a school of public diplomacy practice. As the Muse once told me, if you can find what you are searching for in this world, make it up."

Mahogany Jones, Sandy Koufax, Applied PD and Me - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I had to be on my horse because I was slated to give a lecture at Prof Craig Hayden’s class on Applied PD on just that. I spoke for about 40 minutes or so about pushing boundaries of public diplomacy, about the Bernays-Barnum School of Public Diplomacy (PD Bread and Circus to make an oblique yet tangible connection), American Voices’ Guerrilla Cultural Diplomacy and Gastrodiplomacy. After I was done, we had a nice period of talking PD shop. The irony was rich in this case as well. Just a year prior, I was at High Holiday services staring across the street at AU thinking I might be attending as a PhD student. Well, things didn’t work out as planned but a year later I was busy lecturing on PD in the same environs. I then had to duck out and walk across the street to go atone for my propaganda sins."

Cultural Mediation - Molly Sisson, Public Diplomacy and Student Exchanges: "If you can understand Disneyland, you're on your way to understanding American culture."

The Hard and Soft of Cultural Diplomacy: Networks and Stories in Global Affairs - Robert Albro, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "More attention has been given to identifying people, their behavior, their connections, and network nodes than has been given to how information is distributed across networks or what these symbols, values or stories mean to network participants."

Panelists discuss role of the Olympics in diplomacy - Kyron Richard, Daily Trojan: "USC Olympians, stakeholders and experts reflected on the London Olympic Games’ impact on participants and diplomacy during the panel discussion 'Sports Diplomacy and the 2012 London Olympics' Thursday afternoon. The event was hosted by the USC Center on Public Diplomacy and the British Consulate-General in Los Angeles at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism."


Calling U.S. Drone Strikes 'Surgical' Is Orwellian Propaganda - Conor Friedersdorf, Drone strikes aren't like surgery at all. The phrase "surgical drone strike" is handy for naming U.S. actions without calling

up images of dead, limb-torn innocents with flesh scorched from the missile that destroyed the home where they slept or burned up the car in which they rode. Image from article

Abderrahim Foukara, Al Jazeera's U.S. translator - Patt Morrison Asks, [Q:] Is it frustrating for the foreign press corps that U.S. foreign policy plays such a small role in U.S. elections? [A:] The U.S. is seen as a superpower. It controls land, it controls sea, it controls space; it has so many military bases around the world, particularly in the Mideast. People in the Middle East and North Africa think of foreign policy constantly, of U.S. foreign policy, and they find it baffling that the people who actually wield that influence are not so interested in foreign policy. American insularity is partly a function of geography — size and isolation. The United States is absolutely

huge, and I can understand how some Americans can live all their lives without thinking of going overseas. Moving from one state to another is in some ways like moving from one country to another. Isolation was part of the security this country had; 9/11 shattered that. The Middle East has for thousands of years been the crossroads of empires and powers and civilizations. There's obviously a much more heightened sense of history and geography; it's been one empire after another. Partly because of geography, people in the Middle East they feel they're almost constantly under attack, and have almost never had a fair shake at determining their own fates — there's always [something] coming from the outside; whether you agree with that, that's how they feel. Image from

Iran Propaganda Outlet Bases News Story on Onion Article - Lee Smith, Still basking in the glory of his latest appearance at the U.N., Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad now heads back to Tehran with his head held high after winning yet more American hearts and minds. As the Islamic Republic's official news agency, Fars, reports this morning, according to a new Gallup poll released Monday "the overwhelming majority of rural white Americans said they would rather vote for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than US President Barack Obama." "I like him better," said West Virginia resident Dale Swiderski, who, along with 77 percent of rural Caucasian voters, confirmed he would much rather go to a baseball game or have a drink with Ahmadinejad than spend time with Obama. "He takes national defense seriously, and he'd never let some gay protesters tell him how to run his country like Obama does." According to the same Gallup poll, 60 percent of rural whites said they at least respected that Ahmadinejad doesn't try to hide the fact that he's Muslim. Unfortunately for Ahmadinejad, and perhaps worse for the Fars employee who republished the item, it's a gag. The story was originally posted earlier this week in The Onion. It seems unlikely that the Iranian president will enjoy the joke at his expense. Instead, expect to see the satirical website included on the IRI's next blacklist of American media organizations, policymakers and think-tanks involved in a high-level conspiracy against the regime.

Exhibit shows how some Romanian artists resisted being used as communist propaganda tool - Alison Mutler, "One painting shows a peasant crucified above a hole in the shape of Romania. Another of a man holding a book is painted in the style of Pablo Picasso. Neither work would have been displayed in public during the communist era, when censorship was rife and art was used as a propaganda tool to glorify late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

A new exhibit of some 650 paintings that opened this week at the National Library seeks to show how some artists subverted the regime, creating works that criticized communism or painting in styles like cubism that were out of favor. Image from article, with caption: A picture taken Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012, shows a woman visiting an exhibition of visual art created by Romanian artists during the Communist period, between 1950 and 1990, in Bucharest, Romania

Power of propaganda, from Nazi era to now - Ryan Torok, “One man’s propaganda is another man’s fact,” writer Eli Attie told an audience of approximately 100 students and other guests gathered at the University of Southern California’s Doheny Memorial Library. They were gathered for the panel discussion “Mind Over Media: Politics, Propaganda and the Digital Age,” on Sept. 20. Organized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the panel explored how propaganda can be used as a force for political gain, taking the example of Nazi-ruled Germany, but continuing through the current United States presidential elections. The panel was an outgrowth of “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda,” an exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

Early writings, love letters of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels fail to sell in Conn. - A Connecticut auction house says the love letters and other pre-war writings of Adolf Hitler propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels

have failed to sell. Alexander Historical Auctions says it offered the letters, school papers and dramatic works of Goebbels on Thursday. The collection spans the period from Goebbels' childhood to shortly before he joined the Nazi party in 1924. Auction officials had hoped it would sell for more than $200,000. Auction house president Bill Panagopulos says an overseas phone bidder made an offer that was too low and he's disappointed. He says the collection will remain for sale, possibly at a lower price once he talks to the owner. The thousands of pages include Goebbels' college dissertation, report cards, poems, school essays and letters from relatives, friends and girlfriends. Image from Google search


"At a press conference Thursday, LAPD Commander Andrew Smith said that 'nobody else was in the house.' but a dead cat was found in the house."

--USA Today (with its punctuation), article by Ann Oldenburg, "Sons of Anarchy' actor, 28, found dead in Los Angeles"; image from

Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 26-27

"Many medical schools tell their students that half of what they've taught will be wrong within five years -- the teachers just don't know which half."

--Scientific American (October 2012), p. 91; image from


Keynote Speech at Partnership for a Secure America - Tara Sonenshine, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Washington, DC, posed at "We find ourselves immersed in a swirl of rage and violence directed at American Embassies over a video that we had nothing to do with. We see voices of suspicion and mistrust that seek to divide countries and cultures from one another. So we must think about the message that we want to convey to the world. We must convey that – as Americans – we stand for certain inalienable freedoms. That we stand in defense of freedom of speech as we reserve our right to reject the content of speech which we find despicable. That we also stand for religious tolerance, and we are the home to people of all religions – including millions of Muslims. So we defend the right of that video to be made, just as we reject its denigration of religion.

We also stand for the unfiltered freedom of the Internet: It should be the forum for all opinions and perspectives – as well as a place from which to report atrocities and outrages, or to report on natural disasters, or share best practices. This is not the place to dig deeper into that debate. But my point is this: The importance of getting this and other messages right is absolutely crucial. To people around the world, it also sends a powerful message: we are Americans with shared purpose, values, visions, and solidarity. That’s a core principle of public diplomacy. Our position in the world becomes stronger and more secure when we support democratic representation, human rights, and inclusive economic institutions. When we enhance prosperity abroad, we create opportunities for U.S. investment, and for trade. That creates jobs for our people." Sonenshine image from

Putting 21st Century Statecraft Into Action - Tara Sonenshine, DipNote: "A robust team at State is making use of every tool in the proverbial toolbox to communicate U.S. foreign policy and American values while identifying new and innovative ways to engage audiences. ... Social media and new technologies also allow us to connect to more people than ever before in history. ... We also reach people through what we used to call 'soft power,' but what is really 'smart power.' Music, sports, food. ... In short, public diplomacy goes on, despite all the vicissitudes of global events. We are communicating and engaging every second of every day. And we are working, as journalist and public diplomacy practitioner Edward R. Murrow once said, to close that crucial link:

the last three feet." Image from

Allen West’s Vision Of Public Diplomacy Derived From Biker Tattoo - Noah Rothman, "Florida Republican Rep. Allen West has been a reliable and vocal critic of President Barack Obama’s administration, particularly on matters of international security and foreign relations. He took issue with President Barack Obama’s address to the United Nations on Tuesday, suggesting that it was an expression of weakness and equivocation in the face of clear threats. I share his frustration with the president’s pandering address to representatives of the global community. However, Rep. West’s statement today suggests that his impression of what a statesmanlike projection of

strength looks like is a cartoonish, juvenile and amateurish vision of how an American president conducts public diplomacy.  On Tuesday, West slammed Obama for being too soft on the global community – and on Iran, in particular. In a post on his Facebook account, West claimed that he would have made it clear he intends to wreck 'havoc and destruction' on anyone who would attack U.S.interests. ['] My statement to the United Nations would have been, ‘The future does not belong to those who attack our Embassies and Consulates and kill our Ambassadors. The Angel of Death in the form of an American Bald Eagle will visit you and wreak havoc and destruction upon your existence.' ['] The image above was almost certainly derived from a post-9/11 tattoo design; the bald eagle with an Old Glory neckerchief swooping down on Osama bin Laden with a cluster of JDAMs in both talons." Image from article

I am not Seeing Capitulation - Steven L. Taylor, "I started to weigh in in the comments section of Doug Mataconis’ post about the president’s speech to the UN in which he addressed The Innocence of Muslims (among other issues), but several specific thoughts occurred, so I thought I would go full post on the subject (and because the issue goes beyond Doug’s post, as I have seen these issues discussion elsewhere as well). As I noted in the comment threads of another of Doug’s posts on this subject over the weekend, I am not getting the outrage over attempts at public diplomacy on this issue.  ... My basic objections are rooted in word choices and the starkness of claims.  Over the weekend, I wondered about the words 'timidity' and 'kowtowing' and I wonder today about 'capitulation' (the title of the post was 'President Obama Capitulates On Freedom Of Speech Before The United Nations'). I was vexed over the weekend as to where the US had 'kowtowed' to anyone and I further confused as to what the 'capitulation' was today."

"Anti-US protests and the challenges of '21st century statecraft': In a speech on Tuesday, President Obama touched on the realities of information-sharing technologies playing a wide role in world affairs - Lizzy Tomei, "Philip Seib, a professor of journalism and public diplomacy at the University of Southern California and the author of 'Real-Time Diplomacy: Politics and Power in the Social Media Era," cautioned that social media as a tool of diplomacy, despite its rise, will always face limitations. 'I think the '21st century statecraft' efforts have been successful but not transformative. In many parts of the world, reaching the desired audiences must rely on 20th century methods because of slower technological development,' he wrote in an e-mail to GlobalPost.

Social media use is one among several diplomatic tools that needs to be carefully wielded in response to recent protests and the strong feelings that have accompanied them, he said. 'Social media can be helpful in the aftermath of this upheaval, but only as part of larger engagement strategies. Experienced diplomats know that they must not neglect face-to-face contacts as well as electronic ones.' 'Diplomats must know when to try to slow the pace of their work rather than always trying to respond to events instantly,' he added. Nonetheless, Seib pointed out that social media has provided new eyes and ears on the ground for dimplomats [sic]. 'Social media provide the ultimate open source intelligence for policymakers,' with benefits that include 'the enriched information flow that enhances decision making at many levels of the policy process,' he wrote. 'Many US diplomats are putting considerable energy and creativity into their electronic engagement projects and connecting with the public to an unprecedented degree,' he added." Image from article, with caption: A burnt pick-up truck is seen during clashes between Egyptian protesters and riot police near the US embassy in Cairo on Sept. 13, 2012.

Department of Babel - James Jay Carafano, The National Interest: "Say what you will about the controversial Cairo statement released by the U.S. embassy in Egypt only hours before the tsunami of anti-American protests that have swept the Islamic world. But the 'Long Telegram' it was not. The statement was so bad—even lacking appropriate punctuation at one point—that it produced a rare moment of true bipartisanship. Neither presidential candidate thought much of it. Romney attacked it. Obama withdrew it. But while the declaration mostly will be remembered for its place in the squabbling over the race to the White House, there is a more important question: Does Obama’s State Department know how to talk to the world? If you click on the link to the statement from the U.S. embassy in Cairo, you get an error message: 'HTTP 404 Not Found.' That’s because the page was pulled from the embassy’s website. And don’t go looking for it in some future volume of the State Department’s Foreign Relations of the United States, the compilations of key historical documents. This is one statement that Foggy Bottom hopes the world will forget. It’s understandable that the administration would want to put this page in the past.

Nor should we be too unforgiving if the Cairo embassy panicked and put out an ill-considered statement to try to stem a story that was spinning out of control. But it’s a mistake to bury this history too quickly and not reflect about what was fundamentally wrong with what was written. The State Department’s job is to explain to the world what America is all about, not just express convenient sentiments. The Cairo statement condemned defaming religion. Fair enough. But Americans also reject mindless violence against innocents. Americans believe in legitimate freedom of speech—no matter how personally offensive. These is an essential element of what makes the United States an exceptional nation, a country constructed for the purpose of pursuing liberty. In failing to articulate who we are, the Cairo statement is a perfect example of a failure of public diplomacy." Image from

Foreign policy and the Internet do not cause global warming - "Since we continue to support regimes like Pakistan where human rights are scarce, the

country’s public diplomacy policies must include more intelligible interactions instead of putting up a facade of stubborn democracy." Image from

Cameron Munter urges long-term ties with Islamabad - Faisal Farooq, "Underscoring the enhancement of people-to-people contact, former US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter

has urged for a broader approach to fostering long-term ties between Pakistan and the United States. ... He also proposed a much greater US emphasis on forging people-to-people contacts, business and educational ties, and public diplomacy." Munter image from article

Pakistani and Indian athletes building bridges through football  "The United States State Department has an Sports Exchange program called 'Sports United' under the umbrella of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This program hosts athlete delegations from various countries and sends US athletes to other countries to learn about culture and philanthropy through sport. Sports United encompasses fair play principles to build bridges and empower youth.

From September 11-22, 2012 it hosted 18 young women and two coaches from India and Pakistan. The ten-day program offered opportunities for the athletes and coaches to speak with sports management and offers conflict-resolution workshops. These young women gained access to young athletes, nutritionists and sports professionals during this exchange. They were provided with a tour of ESPN studios in WashingtonDC for a tutorial in Sports Media. They met with State Dept Rep James Moore (Deputy Assistant for Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of South and Central Asia)  to discuss their challenges, obstacles and share ideas and provide encouragement for one another." Image from entry, with caption: Footballers training onsite

LaRocco replies to reader's question about State Department sponsorship of European trip - Dan Popkey, "Yesterday, I wrote about former Idaho Democratic Congressman Larry LaRocco's new business, a joint speaking gig with former Rep. Scott Klug, R-Wisc. A reader, 'erico49,' questioned why the U.S. State Department would use tax dollars to pay the pair to speak in the Czech and Slovak republics next month on the upcoming presidential election. I asked LaRocco to respond. He replied that the government sends speakers to 'talk about our democratic institutions and election process. It makes perfect sense to promote discussions abroad about our free and fair elections.' The State Department pays travel expenses and a $200 per day honorarium, LaRocco said. ... Bottom line: Former Members are often used in our public diplomacy mission abroad and we often volunteers."

How Is Social Media Changing Diplomacy? - Alex Fitzpatrick, "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton advocates for what she calls 'twenty-first century statecraft,' the use of technology and social media by ambassadors and their staff to connect and engage with their local communities. But can Facebook and Twitter really change the art of diplomacy? That was one question posed to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs for Digital Strategy at the State Department Victoria Esser, Indonesian Ambassador to the United States Dr. Dino Patti Djalal, Mexican Ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan Casamitjana and American Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray during a panel at the 2012 Social Good Summit. ... Esser, subtly acknowledging the situation at the American Embassy in Cairo wherein a staffer sent tweets later reported to have gone without authorization, also said that Washington largely gives individual missions free reign to tweet as they will. ... Ambassador Ray shared a unique story of using Facebook to circumvent a local government’s obstructionism. 'When the government discovered our face-to-face meetings with young people were having an effect … they started disrupted meetings. They hated it with a passion. So we came up with alternative, which was a wild suggestion at the time: A live Facebook chat, along with SMS, Twitter, and YouTube. In the first one, 200 people enrolled and we had 250 comments in the first 30 minutes. Facebook didn’t replace face-to-face diplomacy, but it filled a gap, it became a tool we could use to do face-to-face diplomacy when that wasn’t available.' For Ambassador Djalal, Twitter especially has become a crucial mechanism for interacting with Indonesians at home and in the United States."

Using #SMEM Lessons Learned for Public Diplomacy - Monica, "The diplomatic and pundit community ought to take note of the crisis communications insights the Social Media for Emergency Management (SMEM) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) crowd on Twitter has developed and tested the last few years. Many of these insights could be useful in the U.S. Department of State’s transition to 21st century diplomacy and the

debates it faces over whether diplomats should keep on tweeting and whether the public—which can be nondiplomatic and unstrategic as well as culturally unaware—can be trusted to help address misperceptions about the United States abroad. A key point to remember in those debates is that the public is going to engage in conversations across borders whether diplomats and pundits like it or not.  You can join with citizen diplomats (and minimize the risk of having the public’s actions force the hands of governments on foreign policy issues in an undesirable way). But you cannot stop global conversations… at least without resorting to draconian measures, such as cutting off the Internet." Image from article

Public engagement essentials - Robin Low, "With social media, public diplomacy is not just sending official diplomats to a country to build relationships. On social media, people can organize, influence and engage better than the official government channels."

Re-thinking Audience and Purpose - mflash16, "As the U.S. attempts to re-define itself not as the only alternative to communism but as the 'beacon for freedom and democracy' public diplomatists will have to work to define freedom and democracy for individuals at all levels of society. Whether it is defining freedom in the form of music and culture or democracy in terms of supporting a new Libyan government, targeted audiences shift as goals shift and practices must shift as well."

Commentary: The independence experience of the OECS and prospects for the future - Part 3 - Comment by a reader: "Here is what the Heritage Foundation is recommending to the US government [:] Cancel or suspend all beneficial commercial arrangements with ALBA countries. These would include, among others, waivers of the type granted to Nicaragua and all trade preferences in whatever form. Oppose grants and concessionary loans to ALBA countries from the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. Fund, where possible, nonpartisan pro-democracy groups in ALBA countries. Push back with public diplomacy in response to particularly egregious statements from ALBA presidents to point out the many failings, inane statements, and erratic behavior of these very leaders."

Human rights leaders in Russia condemn mass firing of Radio Liberty journalists - BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "Reports in Russian media say that a letter of protest sent to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the U.S. Congress, which was signed by Russia’s most famous human rights leaders, condemns the management of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) for engineering a mass firing of Radio Liberty journalists in Moscow. The signatories of the letter include such giants of the Russian human rights movement as

Lyudmila Alexeeva, Chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group; Sergei Kovalyov, Chairman of the Russian human rights group 'Memorial'; writer Vladimir Bukovsky, a former political prisoner in the Soviet Union; and Tatiana Yankelevich, daughter of Elena Bonner who was the wife of Andrei Sakharov." Image from entry, with caption: Lyudmila Alexeyeva

Nasrallah’s Public Diplomacy - Tammy Mehdi, "A few days ago, tens of thousands of people gathered in Beirut, Lebanon, for a rare public appearance by Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, who has made a conscious effort to stay out of the limelight since the Israel-Hezbollah War in 2006. Clad in green and yellow, the colors of Hezbollah, supporters cheered as Nasrallah called for the continued protests against the Youtube film, Innocence of Muslims, '[for] as long as there’s blood in us, we will not remain silent over insults against our prophet.' Nasrallah has been one of the leading forces behind an anti-American movement in the Middle East. He is using this video [Innocence of Muslims] to continue to spread his message. It has fueled his fire, and he will continue to inspire people to react for as long as people are willing to listen.

Nasrallah is smart. People who don’t believe in Hezbollah’s ideology are now looking at him with admiration for fighting for Islam, all the while respecting other religions (he had planned the protests days after the Pope visited Lebanon.) No matter the content of his speeches, audiences listen when Nasrallah talks. Many believe what he says, and they act on it. His influence spreads far and wide beyond the borders of Lebanon, even if people don’t agree with everything Hezbollah stands for. I would argue that public diplomacy practitioners could learn from Nasrallah’s tactics. We are so quick to dismiss his 'terrorist propaganda,' yet I wish the US could get the attention Nasrallah gets when he rises to the podium, and I wish the US could get a message across as effectively as he does. Let us study him. What makes him so popular? Why do people respect him, and therefore listen to him? All the efforts the US has made to curb anti-Americanism in the region became irrelevant the moment Innocence of Muslims went viral – so what can the US do to convey to the Muslim people that the video is not a representation of the American viewpoint? And how do we fix this situation?" Nasrallah image from article

Netanyahu's Public Diplomacy: Counter- Productive and Desperate? -  Umbridge,  "As far as Netanyahu is concerned talks are nothing more than a waste of time. Just as happened before, the P5+1 will put forward their proposals, Iran will prevaricate, stall some more, and eventually forward their own, unacceptable, plans. All the while, the centrifuges spin and Tehran nears its ultimate goal. Perhaps this explains Netanyahu’s recent, public call for red lines. His attempt to pressure the Obama administration was clumsy and could well prove counter-productive. Indeed, he either completely misjudged the situation, or he acted out of desperation." 

Indo-China public diplomacy: Need for changed mindsets - Ambuj Thaku, "Public diplomacy has always been an important tool in galvanising opinion among the masses about important matters affecting the state of the nation directly, or even indirectly. The cornerstone of a good neighbourly policy lies in educating the people, through various media, about the history, geography, language, culture and society of other countries in the vicinity. Once this is achieved with reasonable success, one can then proceed towards the establishment of people-to-people contacts through multiple programmes, both at the official and non-official levels. The youth form the most dynamic and impressionable element of a country’s population. Harnessed judiciously, this significant volume of raw, but unadulterated, energy can contribute towards national prosperity in a very big way. An extension of this could be the promotion of regional well-being through the inter-linking of such power among the various states in the international arena. After two millennia of contact through the strenuous efforts of pilgrims, philosophers, merchants, ambassadors and admirals, China and India find themselves at an important crossroads today. ... But it must also be acknowledged that there exists a huge information vacuum about each other. In order to reduce this trust deficit, a youth exchange programme was taken up by both countries as one of the measures. The decision to exchange 100-member youth delegations between China and India had been taken during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in 2005. It was agreed to extend the period of such exchanges for another five years during Chinese President Hu Jintao’s India visit in 2006. The first Indian youth delegates had their tryst with the land of Confucius and Mao in 2006. On the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations in 2010, Premier Wen visited India in December that year. On his personal initiative, the number of delegates, from either side, for the year 2011-12 was increased to 500. ... Unless we realise the values of mutual benefit, mutual accommodation and peaceful-coexistence ... it will be very difficult for India to develop to its full potential. Mindsets have to change. For public diplomacy to succeed, a pro-active role has to be played by the state to encourage its youth to break taboos and learn more about others. ... Youth exchanges should continue. Language programmes for teaching Chinese in India should be encouraged as also the provision of greater scholarships to study in China. Are we ready then?"

Japan says sovereignty of disputed islands not in doubt - AFP, Japan hopes to resolve a territorial dispute with China and Taiwan over a remote island chain peacefully, but regards its sovereignty there as indisputable, officials said Tuesday, September 25. 'We do not believe that

there is a dispute to be resolved,' said Naoko Saiki, deputy director general for press and public diplomacy at the Japanese foreign ministry, as officials briefed reporters in New York." Image from article, with caption: East China Sea Islands known as Diaoyu by Beijing and Senkaku by Tokyo. Photo courtesy of Japan Security Watch, New Pacific Institute

Tackling the big questions of Chinese investment into Australia - "In his keynote speech Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband Malcolm Turnbull urged China to reflect on the state of its public diplomacy and corporate communications in Australia and more generally. 'I imagine there are many more excellent speakers of English in China than there are Australians. But why is it that we so rarely see a Chinese official or business leader explaining their policies or strategies in our media?

A lot of the concerns about Chinese investment come about through the uncertainty which is a consequence of a lack of transparency. So much of the concern about Chinese investment - the political or public concerns, if you like - would be allayed if their representatives were more publicly transparent,' Mr Turnbull said. 'And so I would strongly encourage - and I have made this remarks in Beijing at the International Department of the Communist Party and other places - that I think a more overt public explanation of China's strategy, its ambitions, its rationale would be enormously helpful. Enormously helpful for China and would help inform the debate.'" Image from article, with caption: In his address, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said the state was well-placed to build on its strong trade and investment partnership with China.

Oz Fest to script new Australia-India culture exchange - Calcutta News.Net, posted at "Australia and India will open a new chapter in public diplomacy and cultural exchange with the ‘Oz Fest’, Australian high commissioner to India Peter Varghese said in the capital Tuesday. The festival is a five-month cultural bouquet of indigenous cricket, music, performance arts, movies and food. It will be held Oct 16, 2012-Feb 5, 2013 with 100 events in 18 cities."

Bratislava will welcome NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning - "On October 2nd and 3rd, Bratislava will host the international leaders in security issues. At the conference, organized by the Centre for European and North Atlantic Affairs (CENAA) under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic and the NATO Public Diplomacy Division. The participants will try to answer questions related to the future of the Alliance, the extension of new partnerships and also to the effective defence during the financial crisis."

A thought on diplomacy - John Daly, "One of the important global trends has been towards democracy and away from autocracy. It occurs to me that that trend should require a change in diplomatic practice. In dealing with an autocratic government, 'realist' approaches might work well -- bargaining to advance important interests. In dealing with democracies, the feelings of the people count more. Public diplomacy that advances mutual understanding between peoples should play a larger role. Indeed, the people in a democracy tend to dislike it when their government bargains with foreign dictators, making deals that strengthen their dictatorial powers.

In dealing with anocracies -- weak states with competing (often armed) internal forces -- public diplomacy might also be important. While the world is probably a safer place, given that it seems that democratic nations seldom if ever go to war against each other, it should not be assumed that democratic peoples will always have good feelings for each other. There remain cultural and religious differences among peoples that create barriers to understanding, and conflicting economic interests among nations. While public diplomacy by a national government can achieve much, there will be increasing need for diplomacy in multilateral agencies; the United Nations, the IMF, the World Trade Organization and other intergovernmental organizations can serve as neutral brokers and as safe forums for international discussion." Image from entry

Karen Hughes, Jerry Jones set for 2012 Murphy Center Leadership Luncheon in Dallas - Ambassador Karen Hughes, who

also is global vice chair of Burson-Marsteller, will be the keynote speaker at the 2012 UNT Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship Leadership Luncheon in Dallas, where Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones will receive the Murphy Award for Lifetime Achievement in Entrepreneurship. The Leadership Luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 9 (Friday) at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. This year marks the event's 11th anniversary. Before joining Burson-Marsteller in 2008, Hughes was responsible for reaching out to audiences across the world on behalf of the United States as U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs from 2005 – 2007. Hughes image from article


At U.N., Obama urges Muslim world to support free speech: President Obama condemns an anti-Islam video made in the U.S. but urges Muslims to end anti-America violence and embrace free speech - Paul Richter and Kathleen Hennessey, Obama used his 30-minute speech to the U.N. General Assembly in the heat of a U.S. presidential campaign to offer an impassioned embrace of freedom of expression and a poignant appeal to end the anti-American riots that have erupted around the globe, killing dozens of people, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. Below Obama image from

Mr. Obama’s refreshing defense of free speech - Editorial Board, Washington Post: It is important for the president and his administration to try to make clear to the majority of Muslims — who do not participate in demonstrations but follow the controversy — that the United States does not sponsor or endorse religious slander. That fact, while obvious to Americans, is not widely understood in the Middle East. But it is just as important to send the message that American free speech will not be curbed to suit religious sensibilities and that violence will not be tolerated.

Defusing Israel's 'detonator' strategy: The country needs to trade militarism for negotiation and compromise - Patrick Tyler, Over six decades and through as many wars, the U.S. has escalated its commitment to Israel's security, but it has neglected a corresponding insistence that Israel develop the institutions of diplomacy, negotiation and compromise necessary to fully engage the Arabs during a crucial period of Arab awakening. Every president since Eisenhower has pressed Israel to make the kind of concessions that are necessary for peace.

The Message Obama Should Have Sent: Forget about a 'red line.' Try a warning to Iran in black-and-white - Alan Dershowitz, Wall Street Journal: Being ready for war with Iran, after all, might be the only way to deter that country from going nuclear. Were Mr. Obama to affirm America's dedication to blocking Iran's nuclear ambitions through military force if necessary, he would maintain his flexibility to act while putting pressure on Iran's mullahs.


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