Friday, March 29, 2013

March 28-29

“He will never forgive you for supporting him.”

--Boris Nemtsov, Russia’s deputy prime minister during Yeltsin’s second Presidency, warning recently self(?)-hanged Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky that Putin would not accept a kingmaker by his side; Putin image from


Vladimir Putin es James Bond! -

Under Secretary Sonenshine: Public Diplomacy and Countering Violent Extremism -


Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites #64 Written by editor on March 26, 2013 by Bruce Gregory -


For Obama, Peace Looks Like a Low Priority [March 27] - Michele Dunne, "'Expressing optimism when you don’t even have negotiations would be foolhardy,' said Secretary of State John Kerry on March 24, joining in the systematic lowering of expectations that has characterized public diplomacy around the first foreign trip of President Obama’s second term. In fact it would not have been advisable for Obama to launch a peace initiative on this trip, as it was first necessary to climb out of the ditch into which his relations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Israel more broadly, had fallen since a failed attempt four years ago to force Israel to freeze West Bank settlement construction. For U.S. diplomacy to have a chance, something would have to change, for better or worse, to create urgency. Obama has now restored his ability to exert some influence in Israel, which he put to good use in brokering an Israel-Turkey reconciliation that will be useful to the United States in dealing with Iran and Syria. But while Obama spoke eloquently of the need for Israeli-Palestinian peace during the trip, he distanced himself from any real commitment to act on that score."

Public Show Over, Obama Turns to Private Diplomacy in Middle East [March 26] - George E. Gordon, Jr.: "President Obama’s highly visible trip to the Middle East was seen as a timely and badly needed shot of public diplomacy in the world’s most volatile region.

But what happens behind the scenes and out of public view now that the president is back in the United States may be even more critical to the decades-old American quest to forge stable peace between Israel and her neighbors. ... Keeping the talks under wraps is important for two reasons. First, public opinion now actually matters in the Middle East. The days when autocratic leaders could reach agreements and impose them on their citizenry are gone in a region reshaped by the Arab Spring. And, second, the public on both sides of the divide has grown distrustful of a peace process that has failed them so often." Image from article, with caption: President Obama walks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

Israelis Experience Obama’s Charm Offensive - Kobi Gidenon, "Obama’s tour de force in public diplomacy cannot mask the nagging feeling that it may be mostly rhetoric. Arab audiences in Cairo were just as enthused by Obama four years ago when, at the beginning of his first term, he placed relations with the Arab world at the center of his foreign policy agenda. The President then dropped the ball on follow-through, dashing hopes and crushing expectations. This time, Obama’s reception among Palestinians was much less positive than among Israelis, as Palestinian demonstrations erupted and pictures of Obama were burned."

Obama Trip Renews Debate over Israeli-Palestinian Solution Posted about 3 days ago | VOA - "U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have re-ignited the prospect of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, after meeting with officials on both sides in the region. During his trip to the Middle East last week, Obama urged Israel and the Palestinians to begin direct talks on the core issues of a peace agreement. But some analysts say neither side may be ready for full-fledged talks in the near future. Natan Sachs, a foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, said the president’s trip was a resounding success in terms of public diplomacy. But he told VOA’s Encounter program Israel and the Palestinians are reluctant right now to take the 'bold steps' that could lead to change."

Analysis: President's diplomacy leaves behind hope, skepticism [March 23] - Scott Wilson: "A deeply suspicious Israeli public, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, appeared to receive Obama warmly throughout much of his visit, a tribute to his skills in public diplomacy. But Obama's overall message reflected a shift in his thinking about the best way to pursue a final resolution to the issues of borders, Palestinian refugee claims and the division of Jerusalem, which both peoples view as their capital.

His first effort, initially more focussed on pressuring Israel, ended unsuccessfully, even becoming a 2012 campaign issue. As he begins his second term, Obama has adopted an approach that one school of past U.S. diplomats who have managed this agonizing portfolio have long advocated. The policy calls for 'hugging' Jewish Israelis, through acknowledgment of their ancient history and threatened security, before demanding politically costly sacrifices from its leaders." Image from article, with caption: U.S. President Barack Obama tours the Treasury in the ancient city of Petra, Jordan, Saturday, March 23, 2013.

Sonenshine: Public diplomacy has to look beyond drone strikes, news cycle - Zach Rausnitz, "Efforts at public diplomacy can still succeed in countries where drone strikes have led to outrage against the United States, said Tara Sonenshine, the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, in a talk at the University of Maryland on March 27. Sonenshine recalled a recent trip to Pakistan where she held a question-and-answer session with students, who immediately asked how public diplomacy could persist there amid drone strikes and after the United States had entered Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden without notice or permission. But after the forum, the undersecretary spoke one-on-one with many of the students, and she said that despite their sharp criticisms in public, they wanted to know how they could join an exchange program to study in the United States.

You have to be willing to accept that you might not be popular on a given day,' Sonenshine said at the event, hosted by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. 'You've got to be willing to ride it out' and to tune out the news cycle in order to address long-term issues such as education, employment and health, she said. 'How are we possibly going to know if we're moving the meter?' Sonenshine asked. 'Terrorists are not exactly willing to participate in surveys.' Indicators of success have to be unconventional, she said. When al Qaeda leaders complain about the presence of State Department officials on their online forums and urge visitors to ignore them, that's a sign of success, she said. When foreign governments and citizens set out to replicate the State Department's digital outreach to counter violent extremism, that's taken as a positive sign as well. Opinion studies also indicate that the State Department's messaging is effective, or at least 'make me believe it's worth a try,' Sonenshine said." Image fromsee also.

Global counter-terrorism strategy - Yemen, the drones and extremism - Yemen Post: "Speaking in Maryland, Tara Sonenshine, U.S Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs stressed on the importance of public diplomacy in offsetting terrorism and eradicating extremism. 'Positive work can offset negative environments. Yes, construction requires hard work, patience, resources, and time. Building capacity, forging partnerships, providing resources, engaging actors in positive ways, wiring up communities so there is connectivity -- the list is endless.

But it is worth the effort to build positive environments. To work with nations, citizens, and other partners to support their efforts to build peaceful, prosperous, and tolerant societies.' She explained that through 'the U.S Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, Washington is coordinating closely with its counterterrorism office and other agencies, including the military, and with missions abroad to address the upstream factors of radicalization.' For the most part Under-Secretary Sonenshine described America covert drone warfare in Yemen as one element of Washington counter-terrorism strategy, a necessary evil against the destructive power of al-Qaeda, brushing off criticism. But whether the Obama administration is ready or willing to own up to the devastating effects drone strikes are having on local communities across Yemen, an ethical debate has already begun, one which is fast gaining momentum." Uncaptioned image from article

Dear President Obama: Let’s Help Yemen instead of Droning It - "This is a [pdf] letter to President Obama pleading for a substantial rethink of Yemen policy in his second term, which I among other Middle East experts signed. It was worked up by the Yemen Policy Initiative of the Atlantic Council and the Project on Middle East Democracy. Yemen gets little news coverage in the US but it is a vitally important nation at the mouth of the strategic Red Sea and deserves a more thoughtful Washington policy than just droning its radicals. ... [Letter:] ['] With the development of a new national security team, your administration is well positioned to make the following changes in US policy: ... [including:] Implement a more robust public diplomacy strategy to demonstrate that US interests in Yemen are not limited to counterterrorism and security issues . Although the State Department and USAID are engaging President Hadi’s government on economic, political, and humanitarian issues, most Yemenis are unaware of such initiatives and feel only the negative aspects of US counterterrorism policy. A visit by Secretary of State John Kerry would send a strong signal of support for Yemen’s transition and i ts democratic aspirations. Additionally, other high – level civilian officials — who are not connected to defense or security issues — should make public statements and speeches conveying a sustained US commitment to ensuring Yemen’s economic well – being and democratic development through the transition process. [']"

US sparring directly with Al-Qaeda fans online - AFP: "The United States is deliberately sparring with Al-Qaeda supporters and militants online aiming to shoot down extremist messages and win over hearts and minds, a US official said Wednesday. Seeking out the virtual spaces where 'Al-Qaeda and its supporters lurk' is part of America's strategy to combat violent extremism, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine told students at the University of Maryland. 'We robustly engage with them in chat forums in Arabic, Somali, Punjabi and Urdu,' she explained. 'By targeting the hardliners, we are really trying to reach the middle grounders, the fence sitters, the sympathizers and passive supporters.' Last year, staff at the new Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, which reports directly to Sonenshine, wrote some 7,000 posts on different online forums."

Alhurra Interviews Under Secretary Of State Tara Sonenshine On Countering Extremism - "Alhurra’s State Department correspondent, Michel Ghandour interviewed Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine about public diplomacy and countering violent extremism in the Middle East.

On the role of public diplomacy in fighting violent extremism, Under Secretary Sonenshine said that public diplomacy is a very useful tool when you are countering violent extremism because you are providing an alternative scenario to violence. By opening up engagement with people online and offline, you respond to negative impressions and wrong information, and offer alternative futures in terms of economics, employment, education, and civil society. She went on to say 'It is always a balancing act, but I think most of what social science and political science teaches us is that once somebody has a job, a family, an education, a prospect, some peace, some prosperity and some security, chances are that they will take that over the alternative,' she added." Image from article, with caption: Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Tara Sonenshine speaks with Alhurra

Video Game is Latest US Diplomacy Tool [video] - Carla Babb, VOA: "The U.S. State Department is using a new kind of public diplomacy to counter extremism. And it's not what you'd expect. Trace Effects is an online game geared toward children and young teens far from U.S. shores. It takes the main character on a virtual adventure across the United States, from the Grand Canyon to New York City and beyond. But what is the State Department doing with a video game? 'We want to go where young people are, more and more young people are online,' said Tara Sonenshine, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplimacy [sic]."

Public Schedule for March 29, 2013 - U.S. Department of State: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 1:00 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine attends a luncheon hosted by Assistant Secretary Carson on the occasion of the visit of the Four Democratic Partners, led by President Banda of Malawi, Prime Minister Neves of Cape Verde, Foreign Minister Ndiaye of Senegal, and Foreign Minister Kamara of Sierra Leone, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE) 2:45 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine addresses the 171st A-100 class of Foreign Service Officers, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)"

Shocking and Awing [March 27] - Harlan Ullman, "Today ... the West faces religious and ideological fanaticism that is suicidal in nature as Sept. 11th and hundreds of car and other bombings testify. Conventional wisdom argues, wrongly in our view, that suicidal behavior can neither be deterred nor prevented. So far, the strategy has been to kill or capture this enemy, not to change its behavior. That strategy alone cannot work. Focus must be placed on delegitimatizing and defaming these fanatics to destroy any and all credibility.

Second, the grounds for deprivation and helplessness that too often force volunteers to join these ranks because no better options exist must be reduced. Regarding the first, U.S. politics excel at demonization. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts earned in Vietnam could be 'swift-boated.' Former Senator Chuck Hagel, also a decorated veteran of that war, was demeaned in his confirmation hearings. Why aren't these same skills used to attack these religious extremists? Sadly, the United States hasn't developed a message to win this battle of competing ideologies or to neutralize the fanaticism that is central to these terror organizations. Creating a compelling campaign of public diplomacy and strategic communications and using it to discredit and destroy this message of terror are crucial first steps." Image from

The Young Generation–Thinking Too Much? - "David Brooks writing in the New York Times (3.29.13) reflects on the attitudes of the new crop of seniors graduating from college; and finds that they have lost the idealism that has characterized other generations of young people in the past. ... Young people, say Brooks and his young student, have withdrawn from this tarnished and ineffectual idealistic posturing to a much more mechanistic and empirical approach to the world. This approach, however, without any guiding moral or philosophical beacon, can easily be reduced to relativism and scatter-shot policies. While the State Department may never arrive at a Unified Field Theory of public diplomacy, it should at least be guided by principle; and if young, smart, and talented Yale graduates are retreating from global affairs, and are abandoning their traditional position as visionaries, we are in trouble."

What is Information Operations - To Inform is to Influence: IO, SC, PD, what's in a name?: "Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication(s) are ongoing, as are foreign adviser programs, defense attache activities, military exchanges, military presence, foreign equipment and military sales (the list goes on, I’m just getting tired of typing). The United States does not have a master plan for influencing other countries to do what we want, to not stand in the way or to otherwise remain neutral. We have diplomacy. We have military programs and we have economic programs.

We do not have an information program (remember the I in DIME?) but almost all our Cabinet Departments do, under the label of outreach, public diplomacy, international relations or so on. Those of us who deal with the information environment, and that, quite honestly, is all of us, usually do not feel as if we are contributing to a bigger, broader unified program of promoting our respective country or at least to increase the understanding by others of the way we think, act, work and harmonize. If you don’t think you are part of the information environment, stop reading now." Image from

Gallaudet University forms collaborations with university, advocacy organization in Panama - "At the Gallaudet-UDELAS Memorandum of Agreement signing ceremony March 19 in Panama City, Panama. ... A ceremony was held on March 21 at the Miramar Intercontinental Hotel in Panama City and was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Panama Jonathan Farrar, National Secretary for Disabilities in Panama Ramon Aleman, as well as other dignitaries. The idea for the establishment of the agreement resulted from a 2009 visit by Director Luzcando to Gallaudet’s Washington, D.C. campus. ... Also at the ceremony, Ambassador Farrar announced the U.S. Embassy in Panama successfully applied for and was awarded a grant from the State Department Public Diplomacy Innovation Fund as part of President Obama’s program '100,000 Strong in the Americas.'

The Gallaudet-UDELAS collaboration will receive the $100,000 grant. 'I am extremely happy to announce that we are committed to this initiative that will directly support the President’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas project, and that’s why we will support this great cause with $100,000,' said Ambassador Farrar." Image from entry, with caption: At the Gallaudet-IFARHU Memorandum of Agreement signing Ceremony March 21 in Panama City, Panama. Gallaudet University is pleased to announce it has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with The Republic of Panama’s Instituto para la Formación y Aprovechamiento de Recursos Humanos (IFARHU) in Panama City to facilitate the opportunity for Panamanian professionals to pursue graduate studies at Gallaudet.

Cultural Diplomacy Idol; En route on the Oregon Trail - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "It has been a crazy but wonderful week. I have been running auditions for the next class of American Music Abroad ensembles. American Idol meets cultural diplomacy."

Cultural Exchange and the Politics of Suspicion - Robert Albro, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Skepticism about the value of cultural exchange programs is not uncommon, particularly among critics in and out of government looking to trim the budgetary fat. Partly, this is because 'cultural exchange' – as a concept—understood to be vague—can encompass a lot of different activities, while also resisting the technocrat’s need for oversight and metrics. The experience and effects are not best understood as quantifiable and so become illegible in such numbers games. Distance-learning is no substitute."

On Cultural Exchange [comment to above article by Professor Albro] - John Brown, Notes and Essays: "In my view, what is particularly hard for congressional decision makers to accept is that cultural exchanges -- in and of themselves -- are worthwhile. Cultural exchanges are all too often seen by those in elected positions of influence as merely a 'tool' for another, more 'important' purpose, e.g., fight terrorism, convert the world to American 'values,' etc. In other words, policy makers, concerned that the public could accuse them of wasting hard-earned tax dollars, are unwilling to 'take the risk' that cultural exchanges, per se, are worth taking a risk on, so these exchanges have to be 'justified' politically by invoking a purpose other than themselves (see my piece at). As Frank Ninkovich, U.S. Information and Cultural Diplomacy (1996) p. 58, puts it: '[C]ultural or informational programs cannot effectively promote narrow national interests (of which the United States has many). That sort of thing must be left to the traditional instruments of foreign policy.

The programs themselves, like internationalism more generally, are based at bottom on an act of faith.' 'Act of faith' are the key words here, in my opinion; indeed, studying the liberal arts (and taking them seriously because what, in themselves, they have to offer) is 'an act of faith.' (Of course, for all his good intentions, Ninkovich himself could be accused of seeing cultural diplomacy as a 'vehicle' for promoting an agenda beyond cultural diplomacy -- laudatory 'internationalism'). Still, his heart is in the right place, in my view -- that, as he puts it (pp. 58-59) 'an open and human world can be constructed through dialogue. Without that assumption, there would be no need for such programs except as outright propaganda. But in that case Washington would be left with power as the only reliable medium for promoting U.S. national interests.'" Image from

AU Peace Corps Symposium Offers Many Perspectives on the Purpose of Peace Corps Service - ryandalton2013: "Peace Corps and its 7,000 active Volunteers receive an annual budget of no more than one-fourth of what the country spends on defense in a single day. It reminds me of the Richard T. Arndt (24-year vet of the USIA) article, 'The Hush-Hush Debate' from Public Diplomacy Magazine. The U.S. isn’t doing enough cultural diplomacy. We aren’t sending enough Americans abroad for long enough to build relationships, forge bonds, make friends. It’s something I hope for and care about very deeply."

US Invite to Cm Narender Modi: Jolly - "Senior US Congressman visiting India and State of Gujarat today met Chief Minister Narendra Modi at his residence at Gandhi Nagar . US Congressman Mr Aaron Schock Leader of Delegation from State of Illinois along with Mrs. Cathy McMorris Rodgers from State of Washington and Mrs. Cynthia M. Lumis from the State of Wyoming along with a 7 member US business leaders delegation led by Chicago Punjabi NRI Mr Shalabh Kumar and BJP Overseas Affairs leader Mr Vijay Jolly attended the two and half hours long meeting. The US Congressman extended an invitation to Gujarat Chief Minister Mr Narendra Modi to visit United States of America soon.

The C.M accepted their invite promptly and smilingly. The issue of visa was never discussed in the meeting. It is important to state that in recent years, this is the highest point of contact between the US elected Officials and the Chief Minister of Gujarat stated OFBJP leader Mr Jolly. To promote people to people contacts & diplomacy and under Global Community Over reach program, the US based NIAPPI led by its Chairman Mr Shalabh Kumar and India based Delhi Study Group led by BJP Convenor Overseas Affairs Mr Vijay Jolly joined hands to make this program a grand success. People in India and US worked hard for more than 14 to 15 hours a day for this global connectivity to happen and public diplomacy to succeed stated OFBJP leader Mr Vijay Jolly at Gandhinagar, Gujarat." Image from article

$70,000 Funding Available for Public Diplomacy Grant Program - Varalakshmi Pulugurtha, "The U.S. Department of State's Mission to India has announced that it expects to award a maximum of 10 discretionary grants to meet Indian and U.S. technical and legal require[ments]."

Funding Games: Sad Plight of the East-West Center - Lou Cannon, "At a time when the Obama administration seeks to emphasize U.S-Asia relations after years of focusing on Iraq and Afghanistan, the East-West Center (EWC) in Honolulu ought to be flourishing. Created by Congress in 1960 to promote understanding between the United States and the nations and peoples of Asia, the center is a valuable resource. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton visited the EWC three times and made her most significant policy statements on Asia there. She lauded the center for bringing together educators, students, journalists, and political leaders and contributing to a “sea change” in the region. Located in a state where many people have Asian-Pacific ancestors, the EWC is a nonprofit organization with considerable expertise, a lean organizational structure, 750 partner groups and 57,000 alumni worldwide. It organizes many public diplomacy and educational programs, including exchanges between U.S. and Asian journalists, support for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and educational outreach for Okinawa. ... Yet despite these contributions, the East-West Center now faces massive budget reductions that have already resulted in cancellation of some scholarships and now threaten staff layoffs and the elimination of many useful programs. ... Kerry seems typecast for the role of secretary of state, but has been preoccupied since taking over with various firestorms in the Middle East. Asia has been on the back burner, although that could change if Kerry travels in April to China, as expected. In the meantime, the East-West Center flounders without a champion in Washington. That’s sad."

A Reporter’s View of Public Diplomacy in the Clinton State Department - Philip Seib, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "The Secretary, by BBC correspondent Kim Ghattas, is a remarkable book. Not only does it provide an insightful record of life on the road with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but also it treats public diplomacy seriously. ... It is nice

to see public diplomacy treated seriously in a non-academic book." Image from

Kazakh political prisoner is unhappy with Radio Liberty programs - BBGWatcher, In a letter sent from prison in Kazakhstan, dissident, scholar, poet and writer Aron Atabek expressed his unhappiness with American taxpayer-supported Kazakh language news programs of Radio Liberty, while a group of other Kazakh democratic opposition

and human rights leaders sent a protest letter to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) new acting president Kevin Klose, asking him to look into their complaints. Atabek has authored more than ten books and is considered one of the world’s best experts on Central Asian languages and culture." Atabek image from entry

This Week From NATO - "In cooperation with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division hosted a group of Serbian members of parliament on 5 March. The visit is part of efforts to strengthen NATO’s relations with Serbian key decision-makers and to broaden the public debate about Serbia’s partnership and cooperation with the Alliance."

Next year in Jerusalem - and the Diaspora, too: We all came out of Egypt. We just happened to end up in different places. But the future of Israel depends on engaging the attention and commitment of Jews around the world, and not pushing away a younger and more critical generation - Yoav Schaefer and Brian Schaefer, "This year, in Jerusalem, hundreds of young North American Jewish students currently living in Israel – from gap-year and study-abroad programs, yeshivas and rabbinical schools, and Jewish organizations from across the political spectrum – gathered at the third annual Avi Schaefer Symposium to discuss the challenges of maintaining the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel. A.B. Yehoshua, Anat Hoffman, Dr. Yoram Hazony and Rabbi Shai Held, among other speakers, confronted complex questions about Israel’s status as a Jewish and democratic state, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and Israel’s state monopoly of religion, in an event held in honor of the memory of Avi Schaefer, an Israel Defense Forces veteran and Brown University student killed by a drunk driver in Providence, Rhode Island in 2010. While these questions may be familiar to Israelis, they are increasingly difficult for North American Jews to digest.

They demand serious engagement and rigorous intellectual debate in the open marketplace of ideas. Ignoring these important issues, or trying to massage them away with one-dimensional hasbara (public diplomacy) or the honeymoon experience of a 10-day Birthright trip, are no longer sufficient to help young Jews from the Diaspora wrestle with the difficult and multifaceted reality in Israel today. No amount of reciting facts about Israel's high-tech success or gay-rights record will inspire Jewish students who are concerned about Israeli policy to support a state that some feel is becoming morally indefensible. Nor will it prepare them to participate in the difficult and heated debates over Israel taking place on many college campuses today, which, in recent years, have become hotbeds of anti-Israel scholarship and organizing. Indeed, this new generation is distancing itself from Israel. Its disengagement is real and significant, while the reasons for why it’s happening are complex and multifaceted." Image from article, with caption: Participants of the Avi Schaefer Symposium engage in discussions about the future of Israel. Jerusalem, February 17, 2013.

Bar Refaeli Controversy: Supermodel Accused Of Dodging Israeli Draft - "Bar Refaeli has a controversy on her hands after her home nation of Israel picked her for to be the focus of a public relations campaign, renewing cries that she actually dodged the draft there.

Refaeli was picked this week by Israel’s foreign ministry to lead a public relations campaign about the nation’s emerging technologies. The ministry was banking on the appeal of the international supermodel, but instead put Bar Refaeli into a controversy. The Israeli army immediately attacked the idea of the 27-year-old Sports Illustrated cover girl serving as a representative to Israel, saying instead that she’s a bad example to Israeli youth." Refaeli image from article. See also: Travis, "Bar Refaeli Might Cause A Civil War In Israel."

BRICS summit delivers tangible results, forum pledges to promote partnership with Africa - "The leaders of five major emerging economies on Wednesday wrapped up their latest round of summit in the South African city of Durban to promote their partnership for development, integration and industrialization. It is the first time for the BRICS nations, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, to hold their leaders' meeting on the continent of Africa. ... At the summit, the five BRICS members have achieved a number of tangible results, and agreed to expand their future cooperation to more sectors, according to a statement issued after the meeting. ... They would also consider to expand their cooperation to ... sectors including public diplomacy, anti-corruption, drug control, youth exchanges, tourism, energy and sports."

丽媛风 (Liyuan feng) - "Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping, has drawn extensive attention from people both at home and abroad for her charisma and grace. Accompanying her husband on his first overseas trip after becoming president, Peng Liyuan exhibited graceful demeanor, a pleasant personality and well-chosen dress, prompting people to coin the term 'Liyuan style' (Liyuan feng). Peng Liyuan, as one of China's best-known singers, was popular among Chinese people long before her husband became the president. Loved by her fans, she has been in touch with the people for years. 'Liyuan style' is not only representative of a fashion icon, but also transcends cultural and diplomatic barriers.

The beautiful handbags Peng has carried, and the plain but elegant and delicate dresses she has worn have become popular. Her choice of clothing, made-in-China instead of luxurious foreign brands, shows her belief in domestic dress designs, and augurs well for the domestic clothing and fashion industry. But 'Liyuan style' is not only about clothing and a woman's paraphernalia. It is also about diplomacy and promoting China's soft power. In Moscow, Peng visited a boarding school for orphans and children estranged from their parents, encouraging them to strive for a better life, which brought out the maternal side of her character. In Tanzania, she donated sewing machines and school bags to women and children. And as a World Health Organization ambassador in the fight against AIDS, Peng is devoted to many public causes, including those relating to charity and healthcare. Some observers have already started saying that Peng's activities have become part of public diplomacy in China." Image from

Public Diplomacy Adds Soft Touch for China - "Chinese President Xi Jinping's wife has received increasing attention for not only her attire, but also her good-will activities during the presidential visit to four nations, a soft-toned diplomatic gesture to boost China's image. Upon arrival in Moscow last week, Peng Liyuan, in an elegant overcoat, descended the plane arm in arm with President Xi. A photo of her appearance has been widely circulated on the Internet and published in major newspapers. The picture gives the world a more tender impression of China, a country that has often been viewed as rigid and, sometimes, 'threatening.' Women are usually tender in nature and are easier to connect with than men. As for the wives of state leaders, women are in a better position to promote public diplomacy during their visits abroad. ... With more Chinese cultural centers, TV series and people-to-people exchange activities, China is using multiple methods to connect to other societies and promote its culture. ... On the last day of 2012, the China Public Diplomacy Association was founded in Beijing. Chairman of the association Li Zhaoxing, also former foreign minister, said it will boost China's soft power by mobilizing, coordinating and organizing social resources and the public in an inclusive way. Peng's activities might provide another channel for Chinese public diplomacy."

Do you think the image of first lady will improve the nation’s image? - "Overall, the women’s influence is not big on the top of Chinese politics, the current political bureau of the CPC central committee that consists of 25 members ... only has liu yandong and Sun Chunlan two women. peng liyuan’s high-profile appearance seems to show that her husband, xi jinping’s confidence in both China’s internal and international affairs."

The New, Very Beautiful First Lady of China - "It could be that Ms. Peng's star power will push the diplomats into the background. Although Mr. Xi may not like the comparison, some see her as a figure akin to Raisa Gorbachev, the wife of Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who helped humanize the Soviet leader as the Soviet Union fell apart.

Mr. Xi has singled out Mr. Gorbachev as a man who let down the cause of Communism. Others see her as roughly equivalent to Michelle Obama: modern, outgoing, intrigued by fashion. They await the moment when Ms. Peng and Mrs. Obama stand with their husbands at a state visit, either in Washington or Beijing, a lineup that is likely to happen in the next four years." Image from, with caption Peng Liyuan vs. Michelle Obama

Book Excerpt: 'China Goes Global' by David Shambaugh - "Over the course of the next year (2010), which has become known as China's 'year of assertiveness,' the Chinese government took a number of disconcerting diplomatic actions toward its Asian neighbors, the United States, Australia, and the European Union. Collectively, as I opined in a newspaper op-ed at the time, the 'Chinese tiger was showing its claws.' In the wake of these actions, during 2011–12, China recoiled and recalibrated its diplomacy somewhat. It undertook a campaign of diplomatic reassurance toward these countries and launched a multifaceted soft-power and public-diplomacy drive aimed at improving China's image worldwide. Yet, embedded in these events and personal vignettes lie the complexities of China's rise."

Nation seeks 'pragmatic' ICAO participation - "Taiwan's efforts to seek international support for its participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are not in conflict with its pursuit of engagement with China, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday. Taiwan is looking to participate in the ICAO pragmatically, with the aim of protecting travelers' safety, in light of the large number of flights in and out of the country, said Calvin Ho, deputy director-general of the ministry's Public Diplomacy Coordination Council."

The Politics of Blame - Max Hänska, "Max Hänska says: March 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm The German evening news (Heute Journal) had an interesting piece on anti-German sentiments. A TV reporter offered an account of the mood in Cyprus and recounted the difficulties of getting interviews with people on the street. 'People we approached often declined to speak with us saying they want nothing to do with Germans' he explained. But not only on the streets, also among Finance ministers are tensions said to be rising. Reportedly Luxembourg’s foreign minister said about Germany: 'you accuse Cyprus of having an inflated banking sector, we don’t accuse you of having an inflated arms industry.' These are not good sign. After all, the Eurozone has a long way to go yet. Rising resentment make public diplomacy and working together to reach good decisions ever harder."

Turkish Public Diplomacy Faces Challenge in Yemen [March 27] - Pinar Tremblay "Turkey's involvement in several countries has gone beyond the calculations of the Turkish state, and coordination efforts have fallen behind the passionate activities of the NGOs, businessmen and even newly created government agencies. Turkish public diplomacy has a lot of catching up to do to generate a positive image of Turkey among Yemenis. ... Turkish public diplomacy ... exists, but its effectiveness is questionable to say the least."

The PKK’s military capacity and the withdrawal process - "Öcalan declared the first step of the negotiations a ceasefire to be followed by the withdrawal of armed militants from Turkey. ... The withdrawal process is multifaceted. It has military, legal, diplomatic, political and public diplomacy dimensions. Here I will focus on the military dimension. According to open sources, the number of PKK militants in Turkey is around 2,700-3,200."

Pope Francis and Public Diplomacy - Elizabeth Howley, From a public diplomacy perspective, the church would do well to embrace

the concept of strategic two-way communication to enhance the relationship with its current members and to establish relationships with other publics. Image from entry

Forum of Azerbaijani students starts in Rome - AzerNews: "ASAIF (Azerbaijani Students and Alumni International Forum) forum has begun in Italy's capital, Rome, ASAIF's press service reported on Thursday. The purpose of the forum is to ensure the effective promotion of Azerbaijan abroad through uniting youth studying or educated abroad, support young people in information exchange and online promotion, create appropriate conditions for the rapid solution of problems of young people, provide a dialogue between the youth and official representatives of the state, create a common platform for the exchange of experiences, and increase the activity of the youth for the development of effective relationships with the Italian-Azerbaijani youth organization. ... The forum will include presentations on the real situation around the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and the prospects for negotiations, promote Azerbaijan's stance through the media and public diplomacy, the themes 'Human Capital: Values Return' and 'Azerbaijan 2020: a look into the future' and others."

DFA intensifies fight vs passport fraud, human trafficking - "The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) recently held its 2013 Regional Consular Offices Consultation Meeting (RCOCM) to improve its services to the public and its coordination with concerned government agencies. The meeting, which was attended by the heads of the DFA’s 22 regional offices and National Capital Region extension offices, 'discussed various important issues aimed at improving consular services' DFA said in a statement. The issues discussed focused on 'strengthening and developing awareness against passport fraud and authentication irregularities, aiding concerned government agencies in the fight against human trafficking, efficient handling of assistance-to-nationals cases in the regions, public diplomacy, and enhancing internal control systems,' it said."

Campbellsville University to host U.S. Department of State spokesperson for Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs - Joan C. McKinney, "Snipe has worked for the U.S. Department of State since March 2003. He is working with the Near East desk and was instrumental in preparing President Barack Obama's recent trip to the region.

Snipe's most recent Foreign Service assignments include two tours in Iraq where he served as the public diplomacy officer and spokesperson for the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Muthanna Providence from 2008 to 2009 and as the deputy spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad where he coordinated the U.S. Government's civilian media and messaging efforts in Iraq from 2010 to 2011. Prior to his Iraq service, Snipe worked in the State Department's Office of Iranian Affairs where he worked with the Department's Press Office, as well as with Western and foreign media organizations, to coordinate U.S. Government policy messaging on Iran." Snipe image from article

An Inside Look At NYU Florence’s Art Program Controversy - Ava Kiai, An  NYU press release from June 1st, 2004 announcing [Ellyn] Toscano's appointment as Director of NYU Florence, detailed some of her experience up to that date: 'She is well-versed in government policies with regard to public diplomacy, educational exchanges, and cultural diplomacy; moreover, she has had significant expertise in fundraising and program planning… Since 1990, Ms. Toscano – who speaks Italian — has served as chief of staff and counsel to Congressman José Serrano, an association that has spanned some 20 years overall. From 1988 to 1991, she had a private law practice, specializing in arts, entertainment, and publishing. Prior to that, she had served as counsel to the New York State Assembly Committee on Education for nine years, during which time she also worked with Mr. Serrano.'”

Full-time Media Affairs Specialist at US Embassy - "Location: Melbourne ... DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES ... Researches and procures specialized information and media services (e.g. photographers and other outside contractors) as necessary for Public Diplomacy programs."

Embassy of the United States Embassy. Open Recruitment Human Resources Assistant (Trainning), Consular Clerk, Clerk (Exhibition Support), Shipment Assistant, Administrative Assistant (- 4 May 2556) [Google Translation] - "The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok is Seeking an individual for the position of Consular Clerk, located at U.S. Consulate General, three hundred and eighty-seven Witchayanon Road, Chiang Mai. BASIC FUNCTION OF POSITION:. Perform Required for Nonimmigrant Visa (NIV) and routine American Citizen Services (ACS) processing, including applicant intake; Application review and screening; Data Entry, Photo Capture, and Fingerprint Collection; printing and quality Control; and preparing. printed products and information packets for return to applicants. Maintain consular section records in accordance with Department instructions. Assist with Public Diplomacy and Public Information duties, including managing Post's Relationship with Summer Work Travel (SWT) Program recruiting agencies."


What really happened in Jerusalem - Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post: When an American president so sympathetic to the Palestinian cause tells Mahmoud Abbas to stop obstructing peace with that phony settlement excuse, something important has happened. Abbas, unmasked and unhappy, knows this better than anyone. Below image from

McManus: Inching toward Syria: There are plenty of arguments against U.S. intervention on the side of the Syrian rebels. But they're outweighed by the much-worse alternatives - Doyle McManus, Military intervention in the Muslim world seems to bring the United States nothing but grief. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya: None looks much like a success story now. Yet the Obama administration is edging reluctantly into a civil war in Syria, aiding rebels who are fighting to overthrow the brutal regime of Bashar Assad. And it should: The longer this war goes on, the worse it will be for the U.S. and the Syrians. U.S. restraint hasn't succeeded in stopping the war; it's merely made it more difficult to organize the opposition.

U.S. must decide about troops in Afghanistan - Ronald E. Neumann, The United States has problems in Afghanistan, with the Taliban, Pakistan and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The Obama administration is making them worse by dilatory decision-making about how many U.S. troops will remain there after 2014. To gamble our remaining chance of success in Afghanistan on the difference of a few thousand troops is shortsighted or displays a lack of support for the men and women whose lives are at risk in carrying out the policy.

Hamid Karzai, confused by the U.S. - Stephen Biddle and Michael O’Hanlon, Washington Post: America shares some of the blame for the public divisions between Washington and Kabul. Our inconsistencies and reversals have interacted with Karzai’s various shortcomings to create an ever more difficult relationship.

China’s Glass Ceiling: Sure, the Middle Kingdom is becoming a superpower, but it's always going to be No. 2 - Geoff Dyer, Foreign Policy: Rather than usher in a new era of Chinese influence, Beijing's missteps have shown why it is unlikely to become the world's leading power.

Even if it overtakes the United States to have the biggest economy in the world, which many economists believe could happen over the next decade, China will not dislodge Washington from its central position in global affairs for decades to come. Via MC; image from article

17 cultural reasons why this European never wants to live in America - Fluent in 3 months: Unconventional Language Hacking Tips from Benny the Irish Polyglot: 1. Americans are way too sensitive 2. Everything is “awesome”! 3. Smiles mean NOTHING 4. Tipping 5. False prices on everything 6. Cheesy in-your-face marketing 7. Wasteful consumerism 8. Idiotic American stereotypes of other countries 9. Heritage 10. ID checks and stupid drinking laws 11. Religious Americans 12. Corporations win all the time, not small businesses 13. A country designed for cars, not humans 14. Always in a hurry 15. Obsession with money 16. Unhealthy portions 17. Thinking America is the best [not numbered:] What I love about Americans.

North Korea's public relations man is a Spaniard with a tough job: Meet Alejandro Cao de Benós, the only non-Korean employee of North Korea’s foreign ministry. The Spaniard is taking the PR message of North Korea's greatness across Europe - Zach Campbell, Christian Science Monitor: Image from article, with caption: Alejandro Cao de Benós, a representative from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, listens to a question after a speech he gave on North Korea in Bilbao, Spain.

Mr. Cao de Benós has been embarking on a series of appearances in Europe to boost support for the North Korean regime. Via ACP III on Facebook

Condi Book Deal Creates Instant Condi 2016 Rumors - Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog: Condiproduct alert! Here's some great new: Henry Holt just gave Dr. Ferragamo a wheelbarrow full of money to write a new book!

It'll be about democracy 'n' such, "at home and abroad," as the press release says, so... sounds boring? Yes, it sounds very boring. People want biography from Condi, not political science. Image from entry; see also John Brown, "10 Percent Intellectual": The Mind of Condoleezza Rice," (2008)


From Max Read, "The Unbelievable Photos Taken by the Crazy Russians Who Illegally Climbed Egypt’s Great Pyramid," Via PR on Facebook


From: "Советская эротическая азбука 1931 года" ("Soviet Erotic Alphabet, 1931"); via PC on Facebook

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