Thursday, February 28, 2013

February 28

"At a Kremlin reception, Mr. Cliburn was bearhugged by Khrushchev. 'Why are you so tall?' Khrushchev asked. 'Because I am from Texas,' Mr. Cliburn answered."

Anthony Tommasini, "Van Cliburn, Cold War Musical Envoy, Dies at 78," New York Times


From Card Catalogues to 21st Century Community Centers: New Dynamics for the American Space - Remarks, Tara Sonenshine, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Boston, MA, February 27, 2013 - U.S. Department of State: "Public diplomacy is about recognizing that, in foreign policy, people are key. We can’t address the challenges of the 21st century solely through the lens of policy. We have to do it with our physical and virtual engagement with people by deepening, expanding and leveraging our discourse with them to create the conditions for our policies to work. Otherwise our policies are flying blind. When America is absent, especially from the dangerous places, there are consequences. Extremism takes root, our interests suffer and our security at home is threatened. So that is public diplomacy in a nutshell. One place where we can practice public diplomacy is in an American Space. What is an American Space? In the days of President Eisenhower, and until pretty recently, we had American libraries abroad—traditional libraries with books and card catalogs. But in a rapidly changing world, powered by social media and instant information, those traditional libraries are evolving into dynamic community spaces. What’s the difference? People find information about the United States, sometimes through books and journals, but also on touch screens and e-readers or have global online interchanges with people in the region or the United States or visit an interactive science corner like the one we have in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, that is a full-fledged interactive science museum, complete with an astronomical observatory and a standing dinosaur model.

American Spaces are extension cords for public diplomacy, extending our reach overseas directly to people. At a time when so many of our embassies are forced by necessity to protect our diplomats, it’s critical that we can go outside our compounds so we can engage in what Edward R. Murrow called 'the last three feet – one person talking to another.' An American Space is not always physically large. In the former Soviet Union, an enterprising diplomat in 2001 set up American corners in libraries and universities, literally just a corner of American culture and history in a sea of Russian content. ... Let me share another number with you – the smallest number there is. Does anyone here know the percentage of the entire federal budget that we spend on foreign policy? It is one percent. That’s not just for our diplomatic operations around the world, it includes foreign aid. And our spending on public diplomacy is just a drop in that bucket." Image from

Islamist Militant Threats in Eurasia - Testimony, Robert O. Blake, Jr., Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Remarks as Prepared for Delivery, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats and Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade. Washington, DC. February 27, 2013, U.S. Department of State: "On the diplomatic front, the United States holds annual bilateral consultations with each of the five Central Asian countries. These consultations, which I chair with the Foreign Ministers or Deputy Foreign Ministers of each country, form the cornerstone of our bilateral relationships. Through these, we convey a consistent message that democratic reform, respect for freedom of expression and religion, and an active civil society all contribute to stability, while cracking down on dissent and driving it underground may create more favorable conditions for radicalism. Our public diplomacy and assistance programs also reinforce our objective of strengthening respect for human rights and the rule of law."

6 Ways Sequestration Will Harm Gay and Transgender Americans - Center For American Progress: "Sequestration limits U.S. capacity to protect the human rights of gay and transgender people worldwide [:]

The Department of State has taken the lead in promoting a comprehensive human-rights agenda aimed at protecting the human rights of gay and transgender people around the world. Eighty countries have laws or other legal provisions criminalizing sex between people of the same gender, and being gay is punishable by death in five countries. Sequestration will be detrimental to the public diplomacy efforts conducted by U.S. embassies to promote gay and transgender human rights and would deal a significant blow to support for global gay and transgender equality." Image from

Public Schedule for February 28, 2013 - U.S. Department of State: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 12:30 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine delivers opening remarks at the film screening of Buzkashi Boys, at the Department of State. Please click here for more information. (OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)"

Студенты из США практикуют в Казахстане публичную дипломатию - В Алматы приехали профессор Университета Эмерсон Грегори Пейн и пятеро его студентов, изучающие международные коммуникации и публичную дипломатию: [Google translation]: Students from the United States to engage in public diplomacy Kazakhstan. In Almaty arrived professor at Emerson Gregory Payne and his five students of international communication and public diplomacy]: Ayshet Andruhaeva, "The team arrived in Almaty for a week and stay until March 5. Gregory Payne taught in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan within the education grant program of the U.S. State Department. In Kazakhstan, it is the first time. Gregory Payne runs projects for public diplomacy in Mexico, Barcelona and Iceland. After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, Gregory Payne, together with his former student created a program to exchange students from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia - in order to promote mutual understanding through communication. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY Gregory Payne teaches a course on Public Diplomacy at the University of Emerson. Public diplomacy usually means of communication with the population of the country to establish a dialogue, to inform the people of this country and to act on them. If the usual diplomacy describes ways of Governments at a high level, the public diplomacy describes how the country or organization to communicate with citizens of other countries. ... Gregory Payne believes that the knowledge of Americans about Kazakhstan limited, and the information which is supplied media often distorts the picture and leads to misconceptions about the country. Professor says that the American media is often served not news, but the so-called infotainment, that is 'info-entertainment - information with entertainment content to attract a wider audience.

From degree to diplomacy - Brittany Gervais, Berkeley Beacon: "Communication studies alumna Kerry ... Velez graduated from Emerson in December with the goal of one day becoming a foreign diplomat [sic]. To gain some firsthand experience, she participated in a 10-week internship program last summer at the U.S. Embassy in Australia.Associate Professor of Communication Studies Gregory Payne said he knows how dedicated Velez is to her goals. He taught her in a seminar class in public diplomacy two years ago, and said she was a very motivated student. 'She excelled in that class,' he said. ... Payne said Velez often visits his classes to talk about her experiences interning in different countries, like Australia and Kazakhstan.

He said the discussions often motivate his students to step outside of the classroom and explore other opportunities. ... Payne said becoming a foreign diplomat requires an interest in other cultures and a sense of leadership. 'You have to be a strategic thinker, you have to be able to analyze critically, and you also have to have very good listening skills,' he said. 'If you are a leader and you want to make a difference in the way the world operates, public diplomacy is the way to go.'" Image from article, with caption: Alumna Kerry Velez (far left), Ambassador Bleich (middle), and three members of the Australian American Association at a Fourth of July party

Letter: The Value of McCoy Cartoons - John Karol, Orford, "I agree with a recent McCoy cartoon depicting the Bible bursting into flames as President Obama swears to 'preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States' during his second inauguration. How better to represent the Obama administration’s violation of rights and procedures guaranteed by our Constitution? Consider, for example [inter alia]: ... Obama authorizing our government, under the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, to disseminate 'public diplomacy' (aka propaganda) not only abroad but now within the United States."

BBC and VOA condemn Chinese jamming of their English shortwave broadcasts (update) - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Voice of America’s David Ensor to speak at WSU commencement - "David Ensor, director of Voice of America, will speak at the Washington State University commencement ceremony for graduates of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, the College of Business and the College of Education on May 4 in Beasley Coliseum. ... VOA produces about 1,500 hours of news and programming each week for an estimated global audience of 123 million people, 'to promote freedom and democracy and to enhance understanding through multimedia communication about America and the world.'”

At Berkeley screening of ’5 Broken Cameras,’ StandWithUs brings Israeli army propagandists - Maggie Sager, "To kick off Israeli Apartheid Week at UC Berkeley, Students for Justice in Palestine organized a free screening of '5 Broken Cameras,' the Oscar-nominated documentary about Palestinian resistance in the West Bank village of Bil’in. The event last Thursday night was a tremendous success, with more than 100 people packing the large lecture hall to witness Emad Burnat’s intimate portrait of Bil’in’s heroic struggle against occupation and Israel’s ongoing confiscation of the village’s land. ... More than two thirds of the audience had left by the time members of Tikvah Students for Israel entered the auditorium.

Tikvah is a right-wing Zionist group on campus whose organizing highlights include 'Israel Peace and Diversity Week' to counter Israel Apartheid Week, and 'Ethics of the IDF: The Code of the World’s Most Ethical Military'. This particular night Tikvah students were accompanied by Israeli soldiers with whom they had just concluded the Berkeley segment of a nation-wide tour, 'Israeli Soldiers Stories: Real Soldiers. Real Lives. Real People.'" Image from

US wants to victimize ordinary Iranians: Dr. Mohammad Marandi [video] - "[Mohammad] Marandi [a professor of Tehran University]: [T]he United States has blood on its hand. There is no doubt about it, and so do the Europeans. And to put pressure on ordinary Iranians in order to put pressure on the Iranian government is seen by Iranians as quite barbaric, and if you look at the Gallup polls that just came out, this is an American agency; it is an American organization; it is not Iranian and it is not sympathetic to Iranians, it shows that the overwhelming majority of Iranians blame the United States and the Europeans and the West basically for the sanctions. So it is a public diplomacy fiasco on behalf of the West. They anger Iranians. The rest of the world sees them as behaving immorally and then on the other hand, they want to speak to Iran. How can you have successful negotiations when you are trying to make ordinary people suffer? It is obvious that it simply will not work."

Serbia and Syria: There has been a failure of public diplomacy by the US, the UK, France and Germany to serve the interests of stability in either Serbia and Syria, and thus a failure to strengthen or secure both ‘western’ interests, and the interests of the poor people of these two countries - Julian Harston, "In the face of it Serbia and Syria have nothing in common at all today. They share only the memory of a proud place in the Non-Aligned movement when that meant something all those years ago. But when, a couple of weeks ago the German Ambassador in Belgrade came close to an apology for a disobliging statement he had made about Serbia, (he said he had been mis-translated. But he clearly had not ), a link between Serbia and Syria became clear. The link is the failure of Western ‘megaphone diplomacy’ to be an influence for the better in both countries. There has been a failure of public diplomacy by the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany to serve the interests of stability in either country – and thus a failure to strengthen or secure both ‘western’ interests, and the interests of the poor people of Syria or of Serbia.

Ironically it started with Kosovo and Serbia and was followed by Syria, with a brief venture into some common sense in Libya, where there was recognition that Arabs were essential to the mix if change were to be consolidated. In the case of Syria the public and loud moral outrage expressed by Western leaders at the start of the civil war did nothing to help solve the problem, however justified that outrage was, and still is. It was necessary not to be loud but to be smart." Image from

Turkey-EU Relations: A New Beginning? - Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 10 Issue: 37: "[M]any Turks have lost all hope of ever achieving EU membership. Two thirds of Turkish citizens do not think that Turkey should further pursue the European accession process (see EDM, January 30). In observing this phenomenon, Professor Dedeoglu [Political observer and Galatasaray University (Istanbul) professor Beril Dedeopglu] suggests that Turkey needs to improve its public diplomacy push to convince and revitalize the Turkish people’s hopes toward the EU process."

Metzgar article on U.S.-China relationship set for journal - "Assistant professor Emily Metzgar’s article, 'The Chinese Media Reciprocity Act, Public Diplomacy and the U.S.-China Relationship,' is set for publication in the journal Place Branding and Public Diplomacy."


Van Cliburn, Cold War Musical Envoy Dies at 78 - Anthony Tommasini, New York Times: Van Cliburn, the American pianist whose first-place award at the 1958 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow made him an overnight sensation and propelled him to a phenomenally successful and lucrative career, though a short-lived one, died on Wednesday at his home in Fort Worth. He was 78. His publicist, Mary Lou Falcone, confirmed the death, saying that Mr. Cliburn had been treated for bone cancer. Mr. Cliburn was a tall, lanky 23-year-old, hailing from Texas, when he clinched the gold medal in the inaugural year of the Tchaikovsky competition. The feat, in Moscow, was viewed as an American triumph over the Soviet Union at the height of the cold war. He became a cultural celebrity of pop-star dimensions and brought overdue attention to the musical assets of his native land.

Gridlock, Tehran-style: The U.S.-Iran relationship has seen a mix of good news and bad of late - Doyle McManus, With the United States locked in confrontation with Iran, was it good or bad for diplomacy that "Argo," a movie about U.S. spies getting the best of the Iranians, won this year's Academy Award for best picture? Depends on whom you ask. To Iran's government, "Argo" was nothing more than anti-Iranian propaganda — "an advertisement for the CIA," according to the state-run television network — not to mention that the Oscar, suspiciously enough, was awarded by Michelle Obama. But to young Iranians who have watched the movie on bootleg DVDs, "Argo" has been an opportunity to view the hostage crisis of 1979 and 1980 through American eyes for the first time.

"'Argo' has forced people in Iran to confront a very ugly episode in their past, and that's probably a good thing," says John W. Limbert, one of the 52 American hostages who didn't get smuggled out of the country by the CIA and spent more than a year imprisoned in Tehran. That strange mix of good news and bad news runs across the rest of the tangled U.S.-Iranian relationship as well. The second half of 2013 may turn out to be a promising window for diplomacy with Iran. The Iranian presidential election will be over. The U.S. presidential election is already over. Iran's action in converting enriched uranium to nonmilitary reactor fuel has reduced pressure from Israel for immediate action. At that point, the biggest danger may be political gridlock in Tehran. Image from

Why Iran says no: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sees the nuclear issue in terms of his political survival - Hussein Banai, Simply put, normalization of relations between Iran and the United States would deprive Khamenei and the deeply invested cohort of radical ideologues around him of a powerful justification for their arbitrary rule. Continued enmity with the United States has time and again proved to be a convenient excuse for silencing the reformist opposition (as in the case of the 2009 Iranian presidential election, which has simply become known as "the sedition") and managing the increasingly fragmented conservative establishment. The difficult dilemma facing the Obama administration, therefore, is not simply one concerning the rights or responsibilities of Iran under the terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It is how to address and navigate the crisis of political legitimacy haunting Khamenei and his radical base of power.

Washington’s last chance to help Syria - Editorial Board, Washington Post: If the Obama administration is to lead on Syria, it must commit itself to steps that can bring about the early collapse of the regime and its replacement by a representative and responsible alternative. Only direct political and military intervention on the side of the opposition can make that happen.

John Kerry's Syrian Second Chance: Not so long ago, the new secretary of state was among those who saw hope in reasoning with Bashar Assad - Fouad Ajami, Wall Street Journal: There is no substitute for military aid that neutralizes the Assad regime's deadly firepower.

We must be done with the alibi that we can't arm and see this rebellion to victory because the jihadists now have the upper hand in the ranks of the rebels. Image from article, with caption: Syrian President Bashar Assad and then-Sen. John Kerry in Damascus, Jan. 8, 2005

Secretary of State John Kerry on Iran: It’s an ‘elected’ government - Cheryl K. Chumley, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday made the same claim of Iran’s “elected” government that got Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in hot water with senators during last month’s confirmation hearing. Many would argue Iran’s government is far from duly elected. Mr. Kerry made the claim during Wednesday’s stop in France, as he stood beside French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, according to a report from Foreign Policy. “Iran is a country with a government that was elected and that sits in the United Nations,” he said, according to Foreign Policy. “And it is important for us to deal with nation-states in a way that acts in the best interests of all of us in the world.”

Turkey, the Unhelpful Ally - Halil M. Karaveli, New York Times: President Obama has relied heavily on Turkey in seeking to oust Mr. Assad and Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to visit the Turkish capital, Ankara, later this week. But Turkey is part of the problem. It is exacerbating Syria’s sectarian strife, rather than contributing to a peaceful and pluralistic solution. The United States must beware of doing the bidding of Sunni powers — especially Turkey — that are advancing sectarian agendas that run counter to America’s interest of promoting pluralism and tolerance. Left unchecked, rising sectarianism could lead to a dangerous regional war.

Censorship’s Many Faces - Yu Hua, New York Times: When it comes to censorship in China, the primary factors are often economic, not political. Publishing houses that were once government financed have operated as commercial enterprises for years now. To be sure, there are some limits in book publishing — the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 are taboo, for example — but fewer than in film.

Television censorship is a bit less strict. Programming directors decide what gets broadcast, but the propaganda ministry often demands changes. China Central Television, the state broadcaster, is the most carefully monitored; regional stations have more leeway. News programming undergoes the strictest censorship, while other programs — particularly sports — have more freedom. Newspaper censorship is also relatively more relaxed than film censorship, but stricter than book censorship. Image from

Screen Propaganda, Hollywood and the CIA: Selected Articles - Julie Lévesque,

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How the Government Turned Comic Books Into Propaganda - Greg Beato, Government Issue: Comics for the People, a 2011 anthology compiled by Richard Graham, an associate professor and media services librarian at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, suggests that if there was any entity that believed in the power of comic books to indoctrinate and instruct as Wertham did, it was the U.S. government. To see complete versions of more than 200 titles that the U.S. Government Printing Office, the U.S. Department of Labor, and countless other federal and state agencies have published over the years, see the online collection at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s website. Notable titles the government published include: 1. The Life of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States. Courtesy of University of Nebraska-LincolnArtist/Writer: Unknown. Date published: 1943. Government agency: Office of War Information, U.S. Government Printing Office. “It’s time for us to stop bureaucratic organizations from using public funds in such a way,” charged Congressman John Taber (R-NY) in 1943 when, in the midst of World War II, the Office of War Information issued this 16-page cartoon biography of President Franklin Roosevelt. Accurately noting the publication’s lack of information that would be useful to soldiers on a fighting front, Taber characterized the effort as “purely political propaganda…designed entirely to promote a fourth term and dictatorship.” According to him, it looked as if it were created by the artist “who gets up Tarzan for the funny papers.”

Certainly it presents Roosevelt, who in addition to being paralyzed from the waist down, was then suffering from high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and a range of other ailments, with Tarzan-like vigor. Kicking off with a panel that illustrates Roosevelt’s shooting prowess as a young lad, the comic book presents Roosevelt as a rugged and dynamic presence, playing football at Harvard, sailing the high seas, restoring American prosperity with giant public works projects, and earlier in his life, sort of licking some mysterious malady that left him unable to be depicted standing up: “Roosevelt’s determined fight amazed physicians. His recovery became almost complete…” On November 7, 1944, President Roosevelt convincingly won his fourth presidential election. 2. United States Marines #3: A Leatherneck Flamethrower. Courtesty of University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Artist: Mart Bailey, Wood Cowan, Ogden Whitney, Ray McGill. Writer: Milburn McCarty. Date published: 1944. Publisher: Government Enterprises. This commercial title, available at newsstands alongside the crime and horror comics that would cause such a national uproar during the late 1940s and early 1950s, was intermittently published by a private corporation but reviewed and cleared by the U.S. Marine Corp.

Unlike government titles charged with turning sewage treatment processes or Social Security benefits into the stuff of page-turning drama, this title featured government work in all its two-fisted, action-packed glory, with page after page of machine-gun strafing, saber disembowelings, and other vividly rendered war-time carnage. Issues like this one also featured dozens of actual black-and-white photographs of Marines in combat—hanging out in foxholes, poking enemy dead with bayonets, carrying their wounded brethren on stretchers. In Government Issue, Richard Graham notes that while many commercial newspaper comic strips featured content depicting the war, including depictions of “Nazis as Teutonic buffoons and the Japanese as blood-drooling torturers,” the Office of War Information worried that such depictions were “too simplistic and could lead to over overconfidence” because they portrayed “the enemy as lazy and posing little threat.” Perhaps that’s why on the cover of this Marine-approved comic, Prime Minister Tojo is depicted as a lively eight-legged sea-monster. Images from article

The United States Of Propaganda (What We’re Up Against) - Mickey Z, In what PR watchdog John Stauber calls “perhaps the most effective job of large-scale war propaganda which the world has ever witnessed,” the Committee on Public Information, run by veteran newspaperman George Creel with the help of others, used all available forms of media to promote the noble purpose behind World War I: To keep the world safe for democracy. The average American was notoriously wary of any hint of their country entering the bloody conflict. As a result, men like Creel and Bernays were called upon to change some minds with some good old-fashioned propaganda and persuasion. The Creel Committee (as it came to be known) was the first government agency for outright propaganda in U.S. history; it published 75 million books and pamphlets, had 250 paid employees, and mobilized 75,000 volunteer speakers known as “four minute men,” who delivered their pro-war messages in churches, theaters, and other places of civic gatherings. The idea, of course, was to give the war effort a positive spin. To do so, the nation had to be convinced that doing their part to support global military conflict on a scale never before seen was indeed a good idea. “It is not merely an army that we must train and shape for war,” President Woodrow Wilson declared at the time, “it is an entire nation.” The age of manipulated public opinion had begun in earnest. Although Wilson won reelection in 1916 on a promise of peace, it wasn’t long before he severed diplomatic relations with Germany and proposed arming U.S. merchant ships -- even without congressional authority. Upon declaring war on Germany in December 1917, the president proclaimed, “conformity will be the only virtue and any man who refuses to conform will have to pay the penalty.” In time, the masses got the message as demonstrated by these (and other) results: Fourteen states passed laws forbidding the teaching of the German language. Iowa and South Dakota outlawed the use of German in public or on the telephone. From coast to coast, German-language books were ceremonially burned. The Philadelphia Symphony and the New York Metropolitan Opera Company excluded Beethoven, Wagner, and other German composers from their programs. Irish-American newspapers were banned from the mails because Ireland opposed England -- one of America's allies -- as a matter of principle. German shepherds were renamed Alsatians.

Sauerkraut became known as “liberty cabbage.” Image from

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