Sunday, March 31, 2013

March 30-31

"Art and mass entertainment and propaganda, they can all be plotted on the same graph, but there is a difference."

--Dramatist David Mamet; image from


The BBG's globalnewsdashboard; via


Establishment of a University Partnership in Textile Design with National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan - "The Public Affairs Section of the U. S. Embassy in Islamabad and U.S Consulate General in Lahore announces [sic] an open competition for a cooperative agreement to establish a University Partnership between a four-year college or university in the U. S. and the National College of Arts in Textile Design. Accredited U. S. four-year colleges and universities meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c)(3) may submit proposals to pursue institutional or departmental objectives in partnership with the National College of Arts.

Objectives detailed as priorities for this partnership include: collaborative research, curriculum development, faculty exchange, long distance teaching via internet/DVC and sharing of manuals and literature. The means of achieving these objectives is purposefully left broad to encourage the submission of innovative proposals tailored to the international education and research goals of both institutions. ... The project implementation period should be 36 months. Agency: Department of State Office: Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Estimated Funding: $1,000,000." Image from

A Letter to Michael Kaiser About Cultural Diplomacy - "Dear Mr. Kaiser, I read with interest your open letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, in which you propose a new form of cultural diplomacy: to send arts administrators abroad to teach fundraising skills to their counterparts at cultural institutions, which in the current fiscal climate can no longer depend on government funding. The model of cultural diplomacy followed by most developed nations, the exchange of information and ideas, you dismiss as a waste of money: touring artists is expensive, you argue, and appeals only to elites. But this is a misreading of American cultural diplomacy, which consists of a variety of artistic and educational programs often geared toward reaching underserved populations. Sending artists to teach and perform in places of strategic interest is in fact a cost-efficient means for the State Department to articulate our ideals to foreign audiences, build bridges between friends and foes alike, create sustaining networks. ... In the course of my travels I have met on every continent artists and writers expert in securing funds for their projects, and I cannot imagine telling them how to raise money in their own back yard. But I can share with them my thinking about the music and meaning of Whitman's 'Song of Myself' or Frost's 'Directive.'"

The psychological, communication and political skill that was marshaled to give the speech its maxim - fema maps: "The effectiveness of Obama's careful political and psychological preparation for these unprecedented statements with his Israeli audience was demonstrated by the sustained, and otherwise unimaginable, applause he received for almost all these remarks.

He clearly went a long way in assuaging Israeli skepticism. Palestinians will be harder to win over, as they require more than words given the onerous conditions of the occupation and their repeated disappointment with successive American governments, and in particular with Obama's first term... Diplomacy without sufficient outreach may have proven to be a failure in Obama's ... first term. But this kind of bravura performance of public diplomacy will have to be backed up with significant real diplomacy or it may be remembered as yet another inspiring Obama Middle East speech that ultimately produces more disappointment than tangible achievement." Image from, with caption: U.S. President Barack Obama and Israel's President Shimon Peres (L) pose for a photo with Israeli children during a welcoming ceremony at Peres' residence in Jerusalem March 20, 2013.

A Tale of Two Pipelines Part II - "Global media now consists of mutual partisanships where objective journalism is becoming increasingly more scarce. Simon Tisdall of the Guardian, it's [sic] 'World Correspondent' never seems to break out of repeating Western government 'Public Diplomacy ['] as opposed to working out what the contending sides [sic] interests are in global conflicts. ... The TAPI Pipeline was termed 'The New Silk Route' by Hilary [sic] Clinton. It is a prime war objective in Afghanistan that is routinely omitted from Western media discussion, including The Guardian. As it seems to undermine the 'Public Diplomacy' that the war is about 'humanitarian intervention'."

Virtual Embassies: Better Than Nothing or Bad PD? - Matthew Wallin, "The advent of internet communications has given a rise to the concept of virtual public diplomacy engagement—that is communication with foreign publics without actually having a ground presence to do so. Some call it e-diplomacy. While this sounds like a revolutionary concept, functionally, it is not.

The ability to get information into a country without being on the ground there has existed for many years in the form of various types of electronic communication. Despite this, the announcement of Virtual Embassy Tehran by the U.S. State Department in 2011 has been viewed as a revolutionary occurrence. ... Ultimately, if the best use of the internet as a medium through which public diplomacy can be conducted is as a component of real-world in-person engagement, then do virtual embassies stand out as bad PD, simply 'better than nothing,' or actually effective? Without proper metrics, we won’t really know. It will take people on the ground in these countries to really find out." Image from

The Prodigal State: India’s New Nuclear Clothes - Ibn-al-Dunya, "In November 2004, America followed India into the election booth. Bush’s reelection was celebrated more in India than the United States, indicating the positive mood in public diplomacy between the two countries. According to a poll conducted by the BBC soon after the elections, the American President’s popularity stood at 62% in India, higher even than in the United States and second only to the Philippines at 63%."

The Interagency Working Group on Active Measures - Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence:  "If you know what the Interagency working Group on Active Measures was you either read The Cold War and the United States Information Agency very carefully or you’re old enough to have been paying attention during the 1980s. This was a group based in the State Department that worked to unmask Soviet use of forged documents and front organizations One of topics that they spent a lot of time on was origins and circulation of a rumour that the AIDS virus was an American biological warfare programme. The high point of their fame came in October 1987 when Mikhail Gorbachev waved a copy of one of their reports at George Shultz and complained that publishing such information undermined relations between their countries. ... Many people in the State Department were unhappy with the whole enterprise.

Their unmasking of what the Soviets termed ‘active measures’ had the potential to further strain relations with the USSR and to embarrass allies who appeared to be the target of these actions. Although Shultz conceded nothing to Gorbachev after their meeting there were stories that he returned to Washington and ordered that future reports from the group should be published by the USIA and not State. ... Interestingly a few days after his meeting with Shultz Gorbachev told Charles Wick of the USIA that disinformation activities had to stop. If you’re interested in how organizational imperatives shape public diplomacy or the interaction between public diplomacy and diplomacy this study is well worth a read. Schoen, F., Lamb, C.J., (2012) Deception, Disinformation, and Strategic Communications: How One Interagency Group Made a Major Difference, National Defense University Press, Washington DC." Image from

VOA and BBC World Service announce reductions to their shortwave schedules - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Russia calls for 'maximum restraint' around N.Korea - AFP, "The Interfax news agency quoted a diplomatic source as praising South Korea and the United States' positions in the stand-off with North Korea. 'The situation is, of course, very tense and dangerous but still there are some encouraging moments: the reaction from the United States and South Korea is measured and calm to a certain degree,' the source was quoted as saying. 'It is not the time to breathe fire,' the source added. 'The time has come for active, non-public diplomacy aimed at searching for a political settlement within the framework of international law including the decisions of the UN Security Council which are binding in nature.'"

NATO Cultivates Bellicose Yuppie Elites For 21st Century Wars - "North Atlantic Treaty Organization Alied Command Transformation March 27, 20[1]3 Young Professionals Bring Fresh, New Perspectives to NATO at YP Day Written by ACT PAO[:] ... During the day-long event, young professionals analysed challenges and opportunities inherent in four potential future scenarios for the Alliance.

They were then assembled in four working groups, guided by mentors from ACT and other organisations, to formulate their own ideas for taking on these challenges. Ultimately, the discussion generated by these young people will help shape the future of the Alliance and ensure that NATO remains a capable and adaptable military force." Image from article, with caption: Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at NATO Ambassador Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović

Statement on Salafranca Report – EUSR on human rights - Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, Europa Press Release Rapid: "I am looking for somebody with an established track record and international experience in human rights, as well a strong understanding of EU policy. The Member States have put forward some excellent candidates, and I look forward to a swift appointment.

It is clear that the EUSR will be an important interlocutor for the Parliament too. You have my full commitment that he or she will be able to brief the EP regularly, in line with existing arrangements. The EUSR will add considerable value to our existing work. This may take the form of leading human rights dialogues and consultations, where the EUSR should be a natural interlocutor for our partners. Communications and public diplomacy will also be key. The EUSR should help us to be more visible and to promote human rights across the whole range of the EU's external policies."

Is Canada serious about the Americas? - Robert Muggah, "After decades of non-engagement, Canada launched an Americas Strategy in 2007, announcing that it would step up its diplomatic, defence and development engagement in some of the most insecure countries on the planet. This was never going to be easy: six of the top 10 most violent countries in the world are in the Western Hemisphere and for some, the situation is worsening. ... As Canada reconfigures its foreign affairs and aid agencies in 2013, it would do well to initiate an open debate on the intended objectives and outcomes of the Americas Strategy. Instead of focusing inwardly on government institutions alone, Canadians of Latin American and Caribbean descent could be enlisted into public diplomacy efforts. What is more, Canada could usefully refocus its investments in a selection of strategic partners and promote triangular and south-south partnerships in thematic and geographic areas where Canada has demonstrated value-added."

Backed by Qatar's billions, Sarkozy's brokerage and Beckham's glamour, Paris St Germain are forging the new French Revolution - "James Dorsey, Senior Fellow at Singapore's Nanyang Technical University and an expert on football in the Middle East [:] 'The Gulf states such as Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates use sport for all the same reasons as others do - projection, image building, leveraging of business opportunities ... But what sets them apart is that sport is a key element of their defence and security policy. It doesn't matter how many weapons you buy, and how sophisticated they are, you're not going to be able to defend yourself. You want to embed yourself into the international community, so that if and when there's trouble you may be able to rely on the international community to bail you out. You're building relationships on levels which you would not do in normal diplomacy or defence and security policy. It's soft power, cultural diplomacy and public diplomacy. But what sets Qatar apart is that sport has been a key element in what they're trying to build as a national identity.'"

First lady’s radiance delights world and boosts soft power - Jason Lee, "Peng Liyuan’s debut on the international stage as China’s first lady has put her into the international limelight. Along with her husband, Chinese President Xi Jinping, she has just paid a highly successful state visit to Russia. Xi’s visit to Russia has been very rewarding by promoting Sino-Russian relations to a new height.

Both countries deemed their bilateral ties as among the most crucial in their external relations. In particular, Beijing and Moscow are committed to supporting each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is significant in boosting global stability. Peng’s accompanying her husband made this visit even more perfect. Her graceful presence on various occasions has brought China and Chinese people closer to Russia and Russians. China needs a high-profile staging of its new top leader and his family to be presented to the world, to empower its state and public diplomacy." Image from entry

Past as military propaganda singer complicates first lady’s emergence as icon of softer China - "A photo of China’s new first lady Peng Liyuan in younger days, singing to martial-law troops following the 1989 bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, flickered across Chinese cyberspace this week. It was swiftly scrubbed from China’s Internet before it could generate discussion online. But the image — seen and shared by outside observers — revived a memory the leadership prefers to suppress and shows one of the challenges in presenting Peng on the world stage as the softer side of China. The country has no recent precedent for the role of first lady and faces a tricky balance at home. The leadership wants Peng to show the human side of the new No. 1 leader, Xi Jinping, while not exposing too many perks of the elite. And it must balance popular support for the first couple with an acute wariness of personality cults that could skew the consensus rule among the Chinese Communist Party’s top leaders.

The image of Peng, wearing a green military uniform, her windswept hair tied back in a ponytail as she sings to helmeted and rifle-bearing troops seated in rows on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, contrasts with her appearances this week in trendy suits and coiffed hair while touring Russia and Africa with Xi, waving to her enthusiastic hosts. Image from article

invited Chen Mingming - "Chen Mingming Editor’s Note: Public diplomacy has been the norm in the US and European countries for a long time, but in China this concept has yet to be understood and accepted widely."

Consular officials told to improve services to public - Tarra Quismundo, Philippine Daily Inquirer: "Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has asked consular officers at the Department of Foreign Affairs to 'strive harder' in providing services to the public even as he noted improvements in the agency’s passport processing and authentication systems. At a recent meeting with consular officers at the DFA, Del Rosario called on his frontliners to step up efforts to enhance consular services, saying 'there is still room for improvement' in areas that have garnered mixed reviews from the public. ... Officials also discussed issues like passport fraud and irregularities in document authentication, human trafficking, assistance to nationals and public diplomacy, among others."

Public Diplomacy - danbird19, Diplomacy Old and New 2012a: A group blog by students at London Metropolitan University: "Public Diplomacy is a form of diplomacy that has become increasingly important across the past 50 years. Public Diplomacy is essentially a state using a public event such as a Olympic Games to show the rest of the world what their state is like and to promote their state to other nations.

There are many examples of public diplomacy that have happened in recent years but the one I’m writing about today is how India used the Indian Premier League Twenty20 Cricket tournament to show the world how they were capable of hosting major events and how far they’d come as a nation since gaining independence from the British in the 20th Century." Uncaptioned image from article

Defining an era through the prism of sci-fi films - "Nicholas Cull, professor and director of the Master of Public Diplomacy program at USC, argues in his latest book that futuristic science fiction movies relate the story of their time in a way that is often more telling than political discourse. Using historical documents located in U.S. and British archives, Projecting Tomorrow: Science Fiction and Popular Cinema analyzes the making of Star Wars, Forbidden Planet and 2001: A Space Odyssey, among other iconic films.

'The book uses the most successful films of a particular era as a way to understand that time,' Cull said. 'We look at War of the Worlds to understand the 1950s, Planet of the Apes to think about the ’60s and Avatar as a window on our own time. A great way of understanding who we are is to look at the stories we tell ourselves about an unlimited subject like the future.'” Image from entry, with caption: Projecting Tomorrow: Science Fiction and Popular Cinema offers a peek into the production of well-known movies.

Student Spotlight: Chris Johnson, MPA ’13 - Graduate Admissions Blog, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs: "As part of our weekly Student Spotlight series, we sat down with current student Chris Johnson and asked five questions about his life prior, during, and after attending the Woodrow Wilson School. ... What did you do before studying at WWS? I was studying at NYU majoring in International Relations and Latin American Studies immediately before matriculating at Princeton. I was awarded the Department of State’s Pickering Foreign Affairs fellowship in 2009.

As part of the program, I interned with the Department of State in D.C. working in public diplomacy and at Embassy Bangkok on the Economics desk. ... What are your plans for after you graduate and how has WWS prepared you for those plans? As a Pickering Fellow, I will start as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) in September, focusing on public diplomacy. ... The WWS has prepared me for work as an FSO through developing my analytical skills (especially in economics and concise writing)." Image from entry, with caption: Chris dressed as the city of Chicago at the U.S. Mission to Bangkok’s Fourth of July Celebration in 2012.

Junior Embarks on Internship to Northern Ireland for U.S. Consulate General - "High Point University junior Johnathan Grimmel is taking on an international experience of a lifetime this spring as the political section intern for the United States Consulate General in Belfast. Grimmel, who is majoring in political science with minors in women’s and gender studies and nonprofit management, is spending his time working with sections of the consulate general, including public diplomacy, politics/economics, management and consular affairs.

He’ll complete the internship in late May. The internship is providing Grimmel with a wide variety of important responsibilities, including working on specific political and economic issues, such as sectarian tensions, budget cuts and the economic recession; collaborating with the public affairs section in the preparation of events involving alumni of U.S. programs; updating the consulate general’s database of contacts; and maintaining biographical information for local politicians or civic business leaders." Uncaptioned image from entry

San Diego Diplomacy Council appoints new executive director [scroll down for item] - "Jill M. Secard was appointed executive director of the San Diego Diplomacy Council, a North Park-based nonprofit working with the public and private sector to bring world leaders to the region for several professional and cultural exchanges. Announced Wednesday, March 27, Secard brings more than 10 years experience in nonprofit management, fundraising and development, public relations, and special events production. 'I am very happy to be serving as the San Diego Diplomacy Council’s executive director,' Secard said in the announcement. 'I had been searching for an organization that would be the right match for my passion of international business and public diplomacy.' Secard said she heard of the global impact of the Diplomacy Council through hosting a youth leader from Egypt in 2012."

Calls for Papers – Public Relations Inquiry - "Public Relations Inquiry – a Sage journal Special Issue Public relations, propaganda and terrorism [:] This issue is intended to explore connections between public relations, propaganda and terrorism through conceptual and empirical analyses that embrace sociological, philosophical, socio-psychological, political, anthropological, historical perspectives including humanistic perspectives such as language and literature. Central concerns include: definitional challenges; ideological framing and composition; processes of identification and justification; the taboo nature of propaganda in particular contexts; the way in which public communication and rhetoric are employed to position some sources and communications as propaganda; psychological operations and counter-terrorism, and counter-terrorism.

Articles and essays may take a variety of forms including philosophical analysis, case studies and social scientific empirical work, histories, textual analyses, social theory, shorter polemics, up to around 3,000 words will be considered and made available for ‘Reply to’ responses – please contact the Editors. Submissions focused on communications around the following themes are welcomed: ... • Public diplomacy, nation-building and nationalism." Image from


Our policy toward North Korea isn’t working - Mike Chinoy, Washington Post: Every time Pyongyang has faced pressure, sanctions and coercion — as opposed to a U.S. willingness to engage — it has responded in precisely the same way: by doing the opposite of whatever the heightened pressure was designed to achieve. Only face-to-face discussions with Kim Jong Un will enable the United States to judge whether there is any hope of dialogue and revived diplomacy. Obama should send a high-level envoy to Pyongyang.

The war danger in Korea: Pentagon’s false propaganda conceals truth about crisis - Brian Becker, The American war propaganda machine does a thorough job in misleading the public about the high-stakes struggle the Pentagon is waging against North Korea. On March 28, the Obama administration ordered and the Pentagon executed a mock bombing attack on North Korea by U.S. B-2 stealth bombers equipped to drop nuclear bombs—the most advanced nuclear-capable plane in the U.S. Air Force.

In recent months, the U.S. has also used nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to simulate the bombing of North Korea.The work of the war propaganda machine is designed to make sure that the American people do not join together to demand an end to the dangerous and threatening actions of the Pentagon on the Korean Peninsula. The propaganda campaign is in full swing now as the Pentagon climbs the escalation ladder in the most militarized part of the planet. North Korea is depicted as the provocateur and aggressor whenever they assert that they have the right and capability to defend their country. Even as the Pentagon simulates the nuclear destruction of a country that it had already tried to bomb into the stone-age, the corporate-owned media characterizes this extremely provocative act as a sign of “resolve” and a measure of “self-defense.” As the Pentagon climbs the escalation ladder, North Korea will climb too. That is often how wars start. Image from article

Kim Jong Un's soft side comes out in propaganda - AP, USA Today: The outside world focuses on the messages of doom and gloom from North Korea: bombastic threats of nuclear war, fantasy videos of U.S. cities in flames, digitally altered photos of leader Kim Jong Un guiding military drills. But back home, North Koreans get a decidedly softer dose of propaganda: Kim portrayed as a young, energetic leader, a people person and family man. Mixed in with the images showing Kim aboard a speeding boat on a tour of front-line islands, or handing out commemorative rifles to smartly saluting soldiers, are those of

Kim and his wife clapping at a dolphin show or linking arms with weeping North Korean children. North Korea takes pains to select and sometimes alter photos so its leaders appear in the best light possible, said Seo Jeong-nam, a North Korean propaganda expert at Keimyung University in South Korea. Image from article

Drone Warfare is Neither Cheap, Nor Surgical, Nor Decisive: The Ever-Destructive Dreams of Air Power Enthusiasts - William J. Astore, The recent marriage of precision guided munitions to drones, hailed as the newest “perfect weapon” in the air arsenal, has once again led to the usual fantasies about the arrival -- finally, almost 100 years late -- of clean, precise, and decisive war. Using drones, a military need not risk even a pilot’s life in its attacks. Yet the nature of war -- its horrors, its unpredictability, its tendency to outlive its original causes -- remains fundamentally unaltered by “precision” drone strikes. War’s inherent fog and friction persist. In the case of drones, that fog is often generated by faulty intelligence, the friction by malfunctioning weaponry or innocent civilians appearing just as the Hellfire missiles are unleashed. Rather than clean wars of decision, drone strikes decide nothing. Instead, they produce their share of “collateral damage” that only spawns new enemies seeking revenge.

Drawing down, but still projecting power - David Ignatius, Washington Post: Adm. William McRaven’s plan to create a “global SOF network” was endorsed in February by the Pentagon, which gave McRaven direct control over special operations forces around the world. The idea of filling the power gap with special forces is appealing, but the world is wary of forward-deployed U.S. commandos, no matter how important the mission. A decade ago, a Pentagon plan to spread special forces abroad as “military liaison elements” created a firestorm of protest. McRaven may promise that his network won’t act anywhere without the approval of the U.S. ambassador, but the State Department will still have the jitters, not to mention foreign governments. A global SOF network will be a powerful tool, but it can’t fill the vacuum by itself. SOF power and soft power aren’t the same thing.

The fun-filled ocean resort at Guantánamo Bay: A growing hunger strike among detainees is mocked by gullible journalists spouting familiar Potemkin Village propaganda - Glenn Greenwald, Guardian: If you're looking for a fun activity-filled resort to take your family for a summer vacation, you simply cannot do better than Club GTMO, according to a new glossy travel guide just published by Robert Johnson, the Military and Defense Editor of Business Insider, under the guise of a news article. Scrumptious meals. Video games galore for the kids. Outdoor sports.

Newspapers from your hometown delivered by smiling bellhops to the front door of your villa. Picturesque Caribbean vistas. All that and more can be yours - provided that you're "compliant". What more could vacationers - or prisoners kept in a cage for more than a decade with no charges thousands of miles away from their family - possibly want? They are, proclaims Johnson, treated "absurdly well". Not just well: absurdly well. They are, he actually writes, lavished with "resort treatment". The context for Johnson's glowing thumbs-up is an intensifying hunger strike among (totally ungrateful) prisoners at the camp. Lawyers for the detainees say the hunger strike was triggered "as a protest of the men's indefinite confinement without charge and because of what they said was a return to harsh treatment from past years, including more intrusive searches and confiscation of personal items such as mail from their families." Image from article, with caption: Guantánamo inmates kneel at prayers.

Obama’s ‘nuclear zero’ rhetoric is dangerous - By Douglas J. Feith, Frank J. Gaffney, James A. Lyons and R. James Woolsey, Washington Post: In the name of opposing nuclear proliferation, promoting international cooperation and championing peace, the Obama administration has embraced “nuclear zero” and a set of nuclear policies that risk spurring proliferation, harming U.S. alliances and increasing the danger that nuclear war someday will occur.

America the Innovative? - Eamonn Fingleton, New York Times: Throughout history, rich nations have gotten to the future first. Their companies can afford to equip their tinkerers and visionaries with the most advanced materials, instruments and knowledge. This raises an epochal question: as China becomes richer, is it destined to pass the United States as the world’s most inventive nation?

What's Missing from the Iraq Debate - Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: The outpouring of commentary surrounding the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war can feel like déjà vu all over again. The political battle lines have changed very little over the past decade: Mostly, those who opposed the war decry the invasion, and its supporters defend it. There have been plenty of (often very good) diagnoses of what went wrong, but the parallel push for intervention in Syria and war with Iran suggests that few lessons will actually be learned from the war.

But here's one surprising detail about the flood of retrospectives: They have almost exclusively been written by Americans, talking about Americans, for Americans. Want to understand what went wrong in Iraq in all its complexity and chaos? The Internet is full of Iraqi academics, journalists, NGO leaders, and political activists with interesting perspectives on the invasion. It might also be useful to hear from the refugees, the displaced, and the families who lost everything. They will disagree with each other, have little patience for the pieties of American political debate, and refuse to fit comfortably into analytical boxes. On the 10th anniversary of the invasion, we should be hearing a lot more from them -- and a lot less from the former American officials and pundits who got it wrong the first time. Image from article


A 'gray divorce' boom: The Beatles sang 'Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?' When it comes to marriage, many baby boomers are saying 'no' - Susan L. Brown, Until recently, it would have been fair to say that older people simply did not get divorced. Fewer than 10% of those who got divorced in 1990 were ages 50 or older.

Today, 1 in 4 people getting divorced is in this age group. Image from

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