"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, mediabistro.com: " '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
an on-the-ground presence.' They invited a few journalists to join in. Charles Ray, former U.S. Ambassador to
'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" - english.farsnews.com: "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.
Nigeria: Curtains On Indiafrica Initiatives - asia.afragenesis.net: "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 - usatoday.com: 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 - digitaljournal.com: 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.
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