Wednesday, January 2, 2013

December 31-January 2

"To be an ideal guest, stay at home."

--American novelist E. W. Howe; image from


US Embassy Bangkok’s Irrestibly Charming Happy 2013 Greeting - Domani Spero, Diplopundit


Broadcasting Board of Governors accepts resignation of RFE/RL president Steven Korn - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting. See also (via LJB)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist responds to RFE/RL president Steven Korn’s resignation letter - BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch

Korn image from entry

Business class plane travel and housing allowances for Korn’s favorites at RFE/RL raise questions - BBGWatcher,

Radio Free Asia reports stepped up North Korean jamming of foreign broadcasts - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

With VOA Korean and RFA Korean busy competing with each other, "US officials" want BBC to start a Korean service - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: Elliott comments: "If the 'US officials' really want to help 'open up' North Korea, they should call for the consolidation of VOA and RFA. Yes, on paper, the two US stations have separate 'missions.' In truth -- if the truth is of any importance in the discussion of US international broadcasting -- North Koreans want to hear about what is happening in North Korea, so both VOA and RFA broadcast news about North Korea. The result is duplication, a significant form of waste in federal spending.

And because US international broadcasting insists on straddling the fence, by attempting to be both a news organization and one that 'presents US policies' (see previous post), it's no wonder that 'US officials' want the 'BBC’s reputation for impartiality' to come to the rescue. This story illustrates why the Broadcasting Board of Governors must reform the present ridiculous structure of US international broadcasting. Instead, the BBG perpetuates its 'many brands' strategy. Such a strategy serves only to maximize job opportunities for senior-level bureaucrats. It will take more than a boondoggle with an ambiguous 'mission' to 'open up' North Korea." Image from

RT (Russia Today) and its sledgehammer approach to international broadcasting - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

China to boost public diplomacy, exchanges - Zhang Yunbi, China Daily: Public diplomacy is a major direction for China to explore in the future, and tangible efforts will be made to boost public diplomacy and cultural exchanges, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in Beijing on Monday. Yang made the remarks at the unveiling ceremony of the China Public Diplomacy Association at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. 'Under the new circumstances, boosting public diplomacy and cultural exchanges will foster mutual understanding between China and the world, deepen the ties in between and strengthen efforts to achieve positive interactions and common development,' Yang said. The foreign minister highlighted the spirit of inclusiveness and mutual learning, and he also endorsed the role of enhancing dialogue and communication.

The CPDA is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing professional consultation and coordination services to advance the development of China's public diplomacy." Image from article, with caption: The unveiling ceremony of the China Public Diplomacy Association is held at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Monday with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (center right) and the association's first president Li Zhaoxing (center left). The association is a non-profit organization aimed at boosting China's public diplomacy.

ASEAN Leader to Push Consensus on South China Sea Disputes - "Carl Thayer is professor of politics at the Australian Defense Force Academy. He says a period of quiet diplomacy between ASEAN and China is most likely and most needed. ... Thayer says China should be reassured by the less public diplomacy style of its neighbor, which should compliment this year's ASEAN chair - the Sultan of Brunei."

Kim Jong Un New Year's Address: North Korea Leader Urges Peace With South Korea - Jack Kim, Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, said, 'Kim Jong-un's New Year's message was different in format but not in content.' It offered further evidence the young leader is following in the footsteps of his grandfather, rather

than his father, he said. While the younger Kim's public diplomacy resonates well with the North Korean public, 'the new North Korean leader's impact on the outside world is undermined by North Korea's continued provocations and bombastic rhetoric,' Klingner said." Image from article, with caption: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivers a New Year address in Pyongyang in this picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency on January 1, 2013

Rising softly, with intent - Libin, "Over the years, I have suggested a number of doable and pragmatic measures for India to enhance its soft power through commitment of a little more financial and human resources. We could seed our nati­ve version of the Ame­ri­c­an Peace Corps that wins appreciation for India’s acumen in fields like mathematics and science. We could cr­eate an international medical force that ships off talented Indian doctors to war zones, natural disaster spots and post-conflict societies the way Cuba has done. We could form a cartel of manual labour exporting countries to bargain for better living conditions for international migrant workers. We could launch our own 24-hour world news television channel in Eng­lish, à la China’s CCTV and Russia’s RT. We could have Indian newspapers publishing regio­nal editions in Africa, Latin America and the rest of Asia, just as the China Daily which has recently laun­c­hed a dedicated Africa editi­on. We could deploy Gand­hian peacemaking organisations fr­­om our vibrant civil so­ciety in helping war-to­rn countries rebuild th­eir torn inter-ethnic or inter-communal fabrics. The benefits of intentional strategies like these transcend routine advantages of organising Indian film festivals, culinary exhibitions or art workshops across the world. Cult­u­ral dipl­o­macy and public diplomacy are components of nat­i­on-branding and image-burnishing, but India must invent social diplomacy that connects problem-solving powers of our people with people in distant parts of the world who might accept Indian solidarity as op­p­o­sed to suspect charity of former colonial Westerners. The In­dian state has to act as a fa­c­i­litator rather than an obstructionist in this inter-societal ex­change that is non-commercial and non-military in nat­ure."

Reclaiming Israel’s left - Andre Oboler, "Israel’s Hasbarah has improved and it is having an impact . ... The world may not be pro-Israel, but at least part of the Israeli narrative was starting to filter through. That is a public diplomacy success. During the last 3 months of 2012 I was managing an online public diplomacy campaign. The campaign, Joe’s Israel, was designed to strengthen the connection between Jewish college students in the US and Israel. Operation Pillar of Defence occurred in the middle of the campaign. With the infrastructure in place, we used it to share Israel’s story: the success of Iron Dome, the fear of the children under missile attack, and Israel’s need to put an end to this threat. ... This is the public diplomacy challenge we still face: action

which would be entirely unacceptable against any other country or people on the planet are somehow acceptable when the targets are Jews or Israel. When that happens, Israel’s hasbara effort is nothing less than a fight for universal human rights. I'm proud of the strong personal hasbara effort I saw online from Jewish friends, politically active on the left, from Israel, Australia, the US and the UK. The public diplomacy challenge remains, why was it only the Jews who stood up for Israel? ... Those who aren’t Zionists may not all wish for Israel’s destruction, but neither will they risk the political backlash of standing with Israel, even against injustice, even in the face of rocks raining down on school children. That is Israel’s public diplomacy challenge; a starting position so far back that simply achieving a fair hearing in the court of public opinion is a major victory. ... Dr Andre Oboler is an expert in social media and online public diplomacy." Image from

Edelstein: Peres Comments Hurt Public Diplomacy Efforts: "We spit blood trying to counter the Palestinian propaganda, and Peres takes our efforts backwards," says Minister Yuli Edelstein - Elad Benari, "President Shimon Peres's comments that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is a partner for peace hurt Israel's public diplomacy efforts, Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said on Monday. Edelstein told Arutz Sheva that it is now clear that the Oslo Accords were a nightmare, adding that the focus of the storm around Peres's comments should not be whether the presidentshould express a personal opinion during an election period but rather how his remarks affect Israel's public diplomacy. ... He described a possible scenario

in which a public diplomacy official tries to explain Israel's position regarding the right to peace while maintaining Israel's security to a minister from abroad, and the minister asks him whether he should believe the minister in charge of public diplomacy efforts or the president. ... In a speech he gave Sunday, Peres said that Israel had “no choice” but to pursue the 'two state solution with Abbas, because he is the only Palestinian leader who agrees with many of the basic things Israel seeks in a settlement.'” Edelstein image from article

Matter of time - Oscar Davies, Jerusalem, Letter to the Editor, Jerusalem Post: "Sir, – Gideon Sa’ar ('Sa’ar: Israel no less connected to Ariel than British are to Falklands,' December 30) may have inadvertently given Israel’s enemies a gratuitous piece of propaganda fodder. To compare Britain’s not-yet- 200-year occupation of the Falkland Islands to the Jews’ 3,000 years of continuous claim to Judea and Samaria is hardly the brightest example of effective hasbara (public diplomacy)."

Studying Marijuana and Its Loftier Purpose - Isabel Kershner, New York Times: "Israel’s largest and most established medical marijuana farm — and now a thriving commercial enterprise — is imbued with a higher sense of purpose, reflected by the aura of Safed, an age-old center

of Jewish mysticism, as well as by its name, Tikkun Olam, a reference to the Jewish concept of repairing or healing the world. ... In the United States, medical marijuana programs exist in 18 states but remain illegal under federal law. In Israel, the law defines marijuana as an illegal and dangerous drug, and there is still no legislation regulating its use for medicinal purposes. ... 'I hope we will overcome the legal obstacles for Tikkun Olam and other companies,' Yuli Edelstein, the minister of public diplomacy and diaspora affairs, told journalists during a recent government-sponsored tour of the farm, part of Israel’s effort to brand itself as something beyond a conflict zone. In addition to helping the sick, he said, the effort 'could be helpful for explaining what we are about in this country.'” Image from article, with caption: Tikkun Olam, a medical marijuana farm in Israel, blends the high-tech and the spiritual.

Love thy neighbor, unless that neighbor is a Muslim - Sheila Musaji, "The constant demonization of Muslims doing anything at all outside of the Muslim community, or of non-Muslims who accept Muslims as equal citizens and participants in American society extends to just about any situation: Here is what can be expected for standing up against bigotry directed at Muslims: ... Karen Hughes, the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy was attacked for attending an ISNA conference."

The year that was - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "As usual, I jetset like no other. I summered in Iraq (120 degrees F) and wintered in Kazakhstan (-15 degrees C). International man of PD mystery."


Kerry's climate change credentials: As secretary of State, he may be able to redirect the debate on this vital issue - Editorial, Los Angeles Times: Sen. John Kerry, President Obama's nominee for secretary of State, may not be able to bring peace to the Middle East, end enduring trade and currency disputes with China or mend fences with all the anti-American leaders in Latin America. But he may be capable of redirecting the debate over an issue of equal or greater importance: climate change. Kerry is among the most forward-thinking members of the U.S. Senate when it comes to understanding both the threats of and the practical responses to global warming.

Syria’s chaos isn’t America’s fault - Aaron David Miller, Washington Post: The tragedy of Syria is that too much blood has flowed to imagine a negotiated settlement between the regime and the opposition — yet the horrors have not been enough to force a divided, preoccupied and self-interested international community to intervene.

We will never know about the “what ifs” had the United States intervened in a more aggressive way. But to blame the arc of this crisis on Washington or to suggest that the Obama administration made it worse fails to understand the cruel nature of the Syrian tragedy and the limits of U.S. power and our national priorities. The United States is coming out of the two longest wars in its history, in which the standard for victory was never “can we win?” but “when can we leave?” Image from

Renditions continue under Obama, despite due-process concerns - Craig Whitlock, Washington Post: The Obama administration has embraced rendition — the practice of holding and interrogating terrorism suspects in other countries without due process — despite widespread condemnation of the tactic in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Russian children: Pawns in Putin’s power play - David J. Kramer and Arch Puddington, Washington Post: The adoption law is part and parcel of Putin’s strategy for preserving power no matter the cost to the Russian population. In a display of callousness unusual even by Vladimir Putin’s standards, Russia eliminated the possibility of a better life for thousands of orphans last week when Putin signed into law a ban on adoptions by Americans. The adoption law is part and parcel of Putin’s strategy for preserving power no matter the cost to the Russian population. Putin’s strategy also exploits anti-Americanism. Ever since Russians went into the streets in December 2011 to protest pervasive election fraud, Putin has blamed the United States for his and, by extension, Russia’s problems.


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