Sunday, February 24, 2013

February 24

"1 Democracy Street"

--French actor Gerard Depardieu's new permanent Russian Federation address in Saransk, a city of 300,000 about 640 kilometers (400 miles) east of Moscow; image from


Imperial Ad Men [review of  Empire of Ideas: The Origins of Public Diplomacy and the Transformation of U.S. Foreign Policy, by Justin Hart, Oxford University Press] - Noah Berlatsky, Reason: "The art of communicating with the people—public relations—is a notoriously messy business, involving a mixture of persuasion and selective editing, if not outright deception. The art of communicating with foreign publics—sometimes called public diplomacy—is even more fraught.

The inherent contradiction in promoting freedom through propaganda is at the heart of Justin Hart’s new book, Empire of Ideas: The Origins of Public Diplomacy and the Transformation of U.S. Foreign Policy." Image from


Oscars: The 'Buzkashi Boys' filmed in Afghanistan is up for an award - W. Mark Dendy, "A couple of young boys from Afghanistan will be in attendance at this year’s Oscars – something you don’t typically see at the annual Academy Awards ceremony. The Afghan lads are the young stars of the 'Buzkashi Boys,' a 29-minute film by American director Sam French that received an Oscar nomination for best-live action short film. The film, according to the Feb. 21, Wall Street Journal is the 'first movie shot in Afghanistan to receive an Oscar nomination.'

But that is not the only distinction the short film holds – the movie was made in an effort to 'combat extremism, support Afghan media and burnish the U.S. image in Afghanistan, and was funded almost entirely out of a $150 million State Department 'public-diplomacy' fund. Director French worked with Ariel Nasr, a 34-year-old Afghan-Canadian filmmaker, a small international team, and 12 Afghans to make the film about Afghanistan's polo-like national sport – buzkashi. The film's story line focuses on two poor Afghan boys who 'fantasize about becoming national heroes by playing the polo-like sport featuring riders on horseback who drag a calf carcass around a field.' In addition to shedding a better light on the U.S. in Afghanistan, the movie helped the Afghan crew gain the experience needed to pursue future work in television and film." Image from article

Music's New 'Real Ambassadors' - Lara Pellegrinelli, "Soft diplomacy is a buzz phrase these days when it comes to U.S. relations abroad. But it's a tactic that goes back at least to 1956, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent the high-spirited trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie to the Middle East. It was the first time the U.S. government had sponsored a musical tour for diplomatic purposes, and it was a hit, beginning an era of cultural exchange. For the most part, that exchange has been one-way — heavy on the export side. But the U.S. State Department is making new efforts to bring international artists here. Early on a Tuesday evening, over a thousand people have crowded into the Kennedy Center's Grand Foyer to hear the rock band noori." Image from article, with caption: The band noori was invited by the State Department to tour the U.S., as part of a program called Center Stage. Image from

Professor, five students to spend spring break in Kazakhstan studying culture - Kiera Murray, "Five Emerson students led by Gregory Payne, associate professor of communication studies, will embark on a trip to Kazakhstan at the end of the month for a study in international communications and public diplomacy. Armed with Flip Cams and a Twitter handle (which has yet to be created), the five travelers will work with other students from Kazakh universities on intercultural activities and diplomacy projects, breaking down barriers through dialogue about education systems, Kazakhstan’s view of the U.S., and cultural differences from food to leadership, according to Payne. Payne said he had originally planned a trip to Almaty, Kazakhstan to give lectures on his own specializing in crisis communication and public diplomacy.

Thinking it would be a significant opportunity for students, he said he consulted the U.S. Embassy to Kazakhstan, located in Astana, which he said was eager to assist in creating a program for Emerson and Kazakh students. The Kazakhstani Embassy in the United States could not be reached for immediate comment about the trip. ... Payne said that without large-scale international dialogue and relations, our education of a country like Kazakhstan is limited, leading to cultural misconceptions that are perpetuated by media and what Payne referred to as 'infotainment.' Payne said he hopes the students on the trip will be able to see past those misconceptions." Image from article [JB note: the image (left) contains a signed item by Edward Bernays, the father of "public relations, who famously wrote: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”Payne image from artivlr; Bernays image from

Alhurra celebrates ninth anniversary "with new initiatives to reach mobile devices" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Is Europe Iran’s new enemy? - Tarja Cronberg, It is sadly ironic that Europe is facing such formation of its enemy image among Iranians. Compared to the US, Iran‘s long-standing popular nemesis, the EU does not have a history of mutual threats and a diplomatic freeze. The EU with its roots as a peace project and an actor that favours multilateralism in international relations has a special kind of soft power. Yet it seems that sanctions have become the policy tool of choice for the EU in the absence of any other such as public diplomacy or sectoral dialogue. But can the EU rely on the sanctions as its only policy tool in the long-term? This is something that the Catherine Ashton should take into consideration as she prepares to mediate the negotiation process between Iran, the UN Security Council members and Germany in Kazakhstan."

Scholars call for EU negotiations, domestic reform: The Abant Platform called for advancing Turkey's stalled EU negotiation process, democratisation and settlement of the Kurdish issue - Menekse Tokyay, "The Abant Platform has long been a progressive force in Turkey, bringing together intellectuals to debate and outline a vision for the country's future. This year, the platform emphasised the importance of Turkey's EU membership process, which should run parallel to work on a new constitution, democratisation, rule of law, equal citizenship and resolution of the Kurdish issue. 'The latest initiative of the government toward a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish problem should be supported. This process should also include a guarantee for equal citizenship within the new constitution,' the final statement said. ...The final declaration said that rising Islamophobia in Europe, the hostile attitudes of some European leaders and deep-rooted prejudices toward the Turkish community have created negative perceptions of Turkey within the 27-member club. 'One of the main problems is that some European governments act under the pressure of populist parties that stir up and exploit anti-foreigner, anti-Muslim and in particular anti-Turkish sentiments. Both sides should be aware that they are facing the same geopolitical challenges. Steps of public diplomacy could play an important role in the improvement of mutual trust,' Austrian professor Hans Köchler, the president of the International Progress Organisation, told SETimes. 'More than ever, a stable Turkey that is not alienated from Europe is indispensable for European security,' Köchler added. Another participant at the platform, Savas Genc from Istanbul's Fatih University, agreed. 'The EU, which still takes an elitist approach in its public diplomacy, is not ready to accept Turkey as a member. It is the duty of the EU to stop interpreting Turkey from the perspective of immigration problems, Genc told SETimes." Image from

Foreign visits and the headlines: As recent European visits showed, public diplomacy is a struggle during bilateral summits - Kishan S Rana, "Be it Europe or the US, it is extremely difficult for a typical foreign leader on a bilateral visit to get space in the media; the local print media may give a short inside page report, while their electronic cousins will usually ignore the event. The exceptions are leaders of high international standing, or those facing major issues or controversies; occasionally, someone else may catch public fancy. Consider how little TV news or column space an Indian prime minister marshals in the print media in Berlin, London or Paris, barring the odd interview. Our media give similar short shrift to most international visitors. ... Where Mr Cameron scored decisively was in exposure in the Indian media. Please note that on a foreign visit, a leader’s real priority is almost always the home media — that is where the voters are. Diplomats know that when leaders go abroad, their embassies must treat home journalists with kid gloves. This time, the British PM gave much time to Indian TV channels, for example appearing on Shekhar Gupta’s popular ‘Walk the Talk’ programme that has high viewership: He also made himself available to other Indian TV interviewers, and spent much time with the BBC. Mr Cameron blended sharp communication skill, with fluid mastery over his India brief. Mr Cameron grasped the public diplomacy nettle with his visit to Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar."

Martin Vesole, Father of the Shalomist Movement, Echoes Netanyahu’s Concerns about the Root Cause of the Israeli Arab Conflict - Louisville, Kentucky (PRWEB) December 11, 2012 [:] “'We must constantly repeat that the root of the conflict is the very existence of the State of Israel, the refusal to recognize the State of Israel in any borders whatsoever.' Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated at Israel’s National Public Diplomacy Forum on Tuesday, according to Israel National News. 'Israel’s top public diplomacy mission is to clarify that the root of this conflict is not territorial. It is over our very existence in any borders whatsoever. The root of the conflict is not the settlements; it is the very existence of the State of Israel and the desire to wipe it off the face of the earth.' ”

Panama and the United States - Review by Joe B. Johnson, American Diplomacy: "Joe B. Johnson consults on government communication and technology after a career in the United States Foreign Service. He is an instructor for the National Foreign Affairs Training Center, where he teaches strategic planning for public diplomacy. ... Johnson is the author of seven articles about public diplomacy and technology in the Foreign Service Journal and has lectured at public forums in Washington and other locations.

He holds an Accreditation in Public Relations and is a member of the American Foreign Service Association, the Public Relations Society of America and the Public Diplomacy Council." Johnson image from article


How Mexico Got Back in the Game - Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times: If Secretary of State John Kerry is looking for a new agenda, he might want to focus on forging closer integration with Mexico rather than beating his head against the rocks of Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan or Syria. Better integration of Mexico’s manufacturing and innovation prowess into America’s is a win-win.

Russia Aims to Defuse Conflict Over Schneerson Collection -  Sophia Kishkovsky, New York Times: Russian President Vladimir V. Putin said on Tuesday that he blamed “unjust rulings by the judicial authorities of another country” for the tensions over a collection of books and manuscripts that is being sought by the Brooklyn-based Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic group, but offered to defuse the situation by transferring the works to a new Jewish center in Moscow. Mr. Putin did not specifically refer to American courts, but he was clearly referring to rulings made in the United States, including one last month that ordered Russia to pay $50,000 a day for failing to hand over the Schneerson Collection, more than 12,000 books and 50,000 religious papers, as ordered earlier. Mr. Putin, who stressed that the collection “belongs to the Russian state,” made his comments at a meeting of government officials held on Tuesday at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center


The U.S. ranks 31st in condom use at first sex - Ranking America: According to the Durex study “Face of Global Sex 2012,” 39.6% of Americans report having used a condom during their first sexual experience. That is enough to make the United States rank thirty-first out of thirty-seven countries ranked in that category.

Brazil ranks first, with 66.0% of Brazilians reporting having used a condom during their first sexual experience. Image from entry

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