"Secrecy is also an important part of public diplomacy."
--Journalist and former military analyst Joshua Foust; image from
Public Diplomacy Magazine: Current Issue Summer 2013 - The Pacific Century
The International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy in the UK: “Cultural Diplomacy throughout the Commonwealth on Nations: International Cooperation across Six Continents”(London; July 10th - 12th, 2013); image from announcement
Zbigniew Brzezinski on Syria: US is engaging in "mass propaganda" - activistpost.com
Establishment of an Academic Partnership in Business Management and Environmental Sciences with Karakoram International University in Gilgit, Pakistan - "The Public Affairs Section of the U. S. Embassy in Islamabad announces an open competition for a cooperative agreement to establish an Academic Partnership in Business Management and Environmental Sciences between a U. S. educational institution and the Karakoram International University (KIU) in Gilgit, Pakistan. ... Objectives detailed as priorities for this partnership include: curriculum development, collaborative research, professional development for faculty by U. S. counterparts, and faculty and student exchange. The duration of faculty and student exchanges can be managed according to the time required for the specific task or activity of their exchange. KIU has indicated the primary focus areas should be the environmental sciences programs and the business management programs. In addition, KIU has expressed a desire for assistance with laboratory equipment and training, involving environmental sciences students and faculty in research, and launching a program for encouraging entrepreneurial aptitude among youth and facilitating their transition to become entrepreneurs. Agency: Department of State Office: U.S. Mission to Pakistan Estimated Funding: $1,000,000"
Foreign food aid hearing provokes questions of American diplomacy - Aarian Marshall, Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.: "The pitched battle over foreign aid reform landed at the door of the House Foreign Affairs Committee today, where questions of American diplomacy took center stage.Those have been a main concern for agricultural interests, who argue that shifting toward local procurement and away from the shipping of American commodities will hurt American farmers and ranchers and leave aid recipients without an idea of where their food comes from. That would be significant in places like Afghanistan and Indonesia, where U.S. aid efforts have stemmed the tide of anti-American sentiment and proved itself a valuable national security tool. Citing increases in U.S. approval ratings in areas where food aid has been distributed, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., wondered whether aid would have the same impact if just money were shipped overseas. During times of crisis, 'where American food going to disaster victims - and everybody knows it’s
American food, there’s an American flag on the bag - we get a response that is helpful,' Sherman said. 'Are we going to see an American flag on the bag if the food inside isn’t grown in America?' Testimony by Andrew Natsios, a former administrator of USAID during the George W. Bush Administration, and Dan Glickman, secretary of agriculture under President Clinton, emphasized the reform proposed by the Obama Administration would not force USAID to go, in the words of Glickman, 'cold turkey - all cash.' Rather, 55% of all aid would have to come in the form of American commodities, leaving the remaining 45% to be flexibly distributed as commodities, food vouchers or checks. ... In his prepared testimony, Glickman noted that food aid now accounts for a half a percentage of farm income. But Natsios acknowledged that the American flag bags might be used less than they are now, which would have an affect [sic] on American diplomacy. But he said that is beside the point. 'No one would argue we should only provide aid if we get credit for it,' he said. 'We don’t kill children in order to get better public diplomacy.' The American flag bags have been an important part of the foreign aid fight. In a February letter the president, agricultural, maritime and nonprofit groups called food aid in bags 'bearing the
Admit nothing and deny everything: Barack Obama says he is ready to talk with Xi Jinping about Chinese cyber-attacks. That makes one of them - economist.com (June 7): "Xi Jinping's first meeting with President Obama as head of state on June 7th is also the first such summit to feature prominently the issue of alleged Chinese cyber-attacks on American companies and interests. It has taken a long time for the issue to take centre stage in diplomatic relations between the two countries. After years of ineffectual and perhaps overly discreet grumbling about Chinese hacking, American officials are finally forcing the issue. The prospects for effective public diplomacy on hacking appear grim. The Americans have placed some hope in 'naming and shaming' China for hacking, and in recent months there has been no shortage of that. Senior American officials, big Western news media and Mandiant, a security firm, have issued a series of detailed reports and accusations of widespread Chinese hacking: of defence industry technology, of energy companies, of blueprints for American infrastructure, and of the e-mail systems of American officials and journalists. Mandiant’s report in February traced many attacks to the area around a People’s Liberation Army facility in Shanghai."
Xi met with Austrian-US relations or set the tone for the next 10 years [sic] - stockmarkettodayblog.com: "Chinese Foreign Ministry Public Diplomacy Advisory Committee Chen Mingming said the Sino-US summit in the areas of extensive, in-depth content is unprecedented. There are indications that U.S. leaders in the new situation on the substantive issues in-depth consultation mechanism will continue. US Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the Sino-US cultural exchanges and the upcoming high-level consultations, Chinese defense and foreign ministers will be invited to visit the United States …… two leaders talked about a series of concrete to strengthen dialogue and communication initiatives. ... Chinese Public Diplomacy Association vice president Ma Zhengang said that Sino-US military exchanges communicate and understand each other strategies, will help enhance mutual security and mutual trust, reduce adversarial factor. Ruan Zongze that the U.S. position reflects a new way of thinking, heralded in handling Sino-US military relations will have a new action. Chinese Defense Minister’s visit will be a good start, Sino-US military personnel exchanges at all levels will increase. Ruan Zongze that if efforts to build a new power relations are two heads of strategic consensus, then strengthen communication and dialogue at all levels to strengthen economic, trade, energy, environment, humanities, and other fields where cooperation is to this magnificent blueprint specific."
Russia's Eurasian Union Could Endanger the Neighborhood and U.S. Interest - Ariel Cohen, heritage.org - "The formation of a Eurasian Union (EAU) is the next in a series of Russian initiatives to reassert control over the former Soviet space. The Eurasian Union of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, if it follows the course that Russia will set, could threaten regional stability and undermine economic and political freedom in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The EAU will also likely influence the sovereignty, independence, and political orientation of neighboring countries. The U.S. should work with its allies and friends in Europe and Asia to balance the Russian geopolitical offensive and protect U.S. and Western interests. ... To remain geopolitically relevant in the 21st-century Eastern Hemisphere geopolitics, the Obama Administration should ... [inter alia:] ... Employ U.S. public diplomacy tools, including international broadcasting and exchanges, to communicate the pre-tested key messages to elite and mass audiences in the region." Image from entry
Russian delegates learn about democracy during La Crosse visit - Steffani Nolte, wxow.com: "Russian delegates with the Open World Leadership Center are visiting La Crosse this week. World Services of La Crosse placed the Russians with six host families in La Crosse and La Crescent. ... World Services of La Crosse, Inc., is a La Crosse-based nonprofit organization that develops and implements international partnerships designed to advance health, civil society, public administration and the environment and to promote peace and mutual understanding in countries throughout the world.
Since its founding by Congress in 1999, the Open World Program has enabled more than 14,000 current and future Eurasian leaders to experience American democracy, civil society and community life; work with their American counterparts; stay in American homes; and gain new ideas and inspiration for implementing change back home. Some 6,000 American host families and their communities in all 50 states have partnered with the U.S. Congress and Open World to make this ambitious public diplomacy effort possible." Uncaptioned image from article
A Message to American International Exchange Host Families: Thank You - Ann Stock, Dipnote: "As summer begins for families around the United States, we would like to say thank you to the volunteer American host families who generously provided a home-away-from-home for one of nearly 2,000 high school exchange students from over 50 countries that are on State Department-sponsored exchange programs this year.
We should honor host families as citizen diplomats who gave of their time, energy, homes, and support to talented young people from another country. By sharing their culture, values, and daily lives, host families build life-long relationships." Image from entry, with caption: An American Family Hosts an Exchange Student From Thailand.
Fulbright WAGs - Molly Bettie, Student Exchanges: Possibly the first study of the Fulbright Program to be conducted by someone who isn't affiliated with it in any way... - "Although the Fulbright Program has always been open to women, most of the early grantees were men. There's no indication that the selection process was biased or discriminatory--it's just that the applicant pool had more men than women in it. For every Sylvia Plath (1955-57,
More Ambassadors and FSO's Call For A Public Diplomacy Professional - Public Diplomacy Council
Fourteen Articles On Public Diplomacy Practice For The Future American Public Diplomat - James Thomas Snyder, PD Magazine, Summer 2013
Al Jazeera, Russia Today, U.S. International Broadcasting — which will be “A Voice of the Voiceless”? - BBGWatcher, usgbroadcasts.com:"U.S. International Broadcasting was at one time 'A Voice of the Voiceless,' but is has become, in the words of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 'defunct' and 'dysfunctional.' Some have blamed the decline on presidentially appointed members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, but the real culprit in our view is the permanent bureaucracy of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), the BBG’s executive and administrative division. ... Al Jazeera is a real international broadcasting player that does not confuse technology with a mission. It needs to be taken seriously. Meanwhile, IBB bureaucrats are busy destroying USIB and its reputation. ... Al Jazeera, and for that matter Russia Today, know what audience they want to target. Both are using questionable journalistic tactics (Russia Today in a far more shameless way), but they both aspire to be 'A Voice of the Voiceless.' IBB executives think that technology will take care of the mission whatever that mission is. They have no idea."
BBG Holds Digital Innovation Expo - radioworld.com: "[A]t the Capitol Visitor Center, the Broadcasting Board of Governors took the focus off of its struggling board and held a Digital Innovation Expo that showcased what else it does in the world, with demonstrations on the various news and information initiatives it offers to audiences worldwide who would otherwise not have access to a free press. These include the Internet anti-censorship tools employed in China and Iran, social media links with audiences in Cuba, how people in Mali can listen to Voice of America with a local phone call and a collaborative blog with personalized accounts on the plight of Syrians. Participants included employees of the BBG’s Offices of Digital Design and Innovation and Technology, Services and Innovation, as well as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. Some of the latest innovations on display included paper USBs, translation tools and mobile crisis intervention projects. Focal topics included use of social media, mobile phones and innovative tools for exchanging content with audiences, and tools for getting information into press-restrictive societies such as Cuba, Syria and China. The crowd was at capacity, according to the BBG, and included scholars, Congressional staff and members of the public diplomacy community."
Dangers and Delights of Digital Diplomacy - AFP, Naharnet: "The introduction of tools such as Twitter and Instagram has ensured that news and information zooms instantly around the globe in a click, to be viewed by millions of people within seconds.
This leaves no time to check facts, and could be cause for red faces or even potential disaster and lasting damage if a tweet is wrong, or misinterpreted. ... 'If you're John Kerry you have a very different online personality than if you're Jon Stewart,' said Evan Kraus, executive director for digital strategy at communications consultants APCO. 'There's obviously a great desire to be funny, and interesting and clever on social media. But if you're not doing in an authentic way then it falls flat, and it doesn't work.' ... [T]he millennial generation ... [is] not content with being a passive bystander." Image from entry
The Sinocism China Newsletter 06.12.13 - sinocism.com "Livetweets from a China Conference on the Obama–Xi Summit (with image, tweets) · gwbstr · Storify Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt of the International Crisis Group in Beijing offered some good tweet-notes from a conference hosted by the China Institute of International Studies and China Public Diplomacy Association. //Probably would have been less candid had they realized a foreigner was in the audience and live-tweeting?"
Constructive conflict engagement - Haider Mehdi, nation.com.pk: "Political management experts and foreign policy managers all over the world are in unanimous agreement that sheer public diplomacy rhetoric, seductively charged hope and selectively tall statements by a political leadership do not resolve the serious foreign policy problems of a nation. In reality, determined actions, explicitly laid out policies and a realistic appreciation of political realities of what is possible and what is not probable in the contemporary global political system, are the factors that determine the foreign policy discourse of a nation. Reportedly, 'PM Nawaz Sharif has categorically said that the dual policy on drones will not be pursued anymore and the US will have to respect the sovereignty of Pakistan'; it is indeed, a commendable view of a fresh foreign policy initiative by the new Sharif regime. But the fundamental question remains: is Islamabad well prepared and fully equipped with explicit policy directions and plans to put the PM’s initiative into a formidable set of political actions to achieve its objectives?"
Where is ASEAN cultural diplomacy? - Verdinand Robertua, Jakarta Post: "With a population of over 500 million people, Southeast Asia is blessed with diverse ethnicities, languages, food and music. Unfortunately, this richness in culture and art has never been explored in order to introduce and promote ASEAN integration as leaders of the region have opted to focus on security, political and economic issues. Cultural activities and cooperation among ASEAN members are integral parts of the ASEAN road map, but few events have been organized to realize this cultural diplomacy. ... Lack of understanding and respect for cultural diversity can often lead to conflict. ASEAN needs to facilitate this need through festivals, concerts and student exchanges."
Unity in Diversity - Andrew Carpenter, Carpen-Diem: "My first week in Indonesia was tiring in the best way. While fighting through jet lag, I spent a week living in a Jakarta hotel with 60-odd other participants from 43 countries. 'The Committee' the body from Ministry of Foreign Affairs who has put this together) had us going nonstop from the beginning. To start, we were thrown together into a six hour Indonesian language orientation on our first day. I had arrived early that morning, so I was really on my game for speaking a foreign language. On the second day, the different arts centers presented the programs they offer for the scholarship in order for us to choose our location for the next three months (spoiler: I have ended up in Surabaya, East Java). Also, my apologies for the lack of pictures. Most of the time it wasn't possible to use my camera. Official pictures are pending, by our wonderful press corps. The scholarship’s official opening ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs happened on the third day (Friday, 7 June). The Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as Director General for Public Diplomacy presided, and we all wore our national costumes. Most other countries’ outfits were beautiful and colorful. The United States, however, doesn’t have anything traditional. Instead, our national dress is a business suit.
I almost felt foolish among so many other people who were so proud of their national traditions and, as my brother pointed out when he saw the below picture, I looked like I’d shown up to sell insurance. People from other countries taunted me (lightheartedly) that of course the United States shows up in a business suit. It really is our national dress. It seems that our image abroad is one of political fanaticism and obsessive moneymaking. Thinking about it from outside the country, it really does seem that way. Despite a rich, well preserved history, we don’t seem to have a lot of folk heritage for Americans to participate in and take pride in. ... Splitting the 70ish participants was actually a fairly painful process. In this week we had become very tight-knit despite being so large and so diverse. 'Unity in Diversity' is actually a very relevant motto to this scholarship group. We make up a ten year range in age, come from dozens of countries and pursue dozens of career fields. These differences helped us bond, because we are actually learning from each other and growing as people by exploring and celebrating what makes us unique as cultures and as people. Reflecting Indonesia’s own need to embrace its diversity to stay together, the group’s differences make it rich and cohesive instead of fragmented, making the scholarship’s goal to increase relations among the participating nations a wild success." Image from entry
What's between the JNF and pro-Israel graffiti in Hebron? - ammonnews.net: "Yossi Sarid’s revelation (in Haaretz, May 31) that the Jewish National Fund was planning to spend $500,000 for a talk by Bill Clinton for a gala evening at the Peres Academic Center in Rehovot − the JNF subsequently dropped out following a media outcry, leaving the center to pick up the check − has raised an interesting question. Where exactly does the money that’s put into the blue box go, and how does the most famous Zionist organization of them all conduct its affairs? ... Here’s another small example: the JNF’s support for a small orginazation called Artists 4 Israel. It’s a U.S.-based organization of right-wing activists who come to Israel every few months and
spray-paint graffiti in various places, as can be seen in clips on the group’s website. ... Artists 4 Israel explains on its website that because donations to the organization are not tax deductible, donations should be made to the JNF offices in New York, which will transfer the funds to the organization. The JNF and Artists 4 Israel also work together in the United States to promote public diplomacy for Israel. ... Afterward, it turned out that the page on the Artists 4 Israel website explaining how to transfer funds to it through the JNF had been removed." Image from entry, with caption: "May the temple be built soon in our time" this painting proclaims in Hebrew in H2, the legal wasteland inside Hebron.
Israeli diplomats fight against their declining status - globalpost.com: "Underpaid and increasingly deprived of power and influence over the Jewish state's foreign policy, Israeli diplomats are desperately trying to make their voices heard. About 200 foreign ministry staff demonstrated on Tuesday in Jerusalem, demanding a rise in salaries which have been frozen for years. ... Netanyahu plans to create a 'National Directorate of Communication' -- a public diplomacy agency tasked with explaining and justifying Israel's policies, particularly abroad. 'Most of these missions should be the responsibility of professional diplomats. We have been reduced to the bare minimum,' said [a] diplomat, speaking of 'a sense of humiliation' among his colleagues."
7 Ways Netanyahu Is Destroying Israeli Diplomacy - Matthew Kalman, Daily Beast: "
The sanctions are a last-ditch protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wholesale destruction of the Foreign Ministry, which is being carved up salami-style in a bizarre strategy that is in danger of wrecking what little is left of Israel’s tattered international diplomacy. Here’s how Netanyahu, himself a former deputy foreign minister, is picking the ministry to pieces. ... 2. Pretend foreign minister #1: the Public Diplomacy Ministry [:] In 2009, Netanyahu re-styled the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs as the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs under Likud Party loyalist Yuli Edelstein, thus stripping the Foreign Ministry of its lead role in Israel’s foreign information strategy—usually known by the Hebrew word hasbara ('explanation'). Israel’shasbara has always been dreadful, but under Edelstein—whose gentlemanly manner masks a right-wing religious-messianic fanaticism forged under brutal Soviet oppression—it reached a new, uncoordinated nadir. The new ministry took over the Government Press Office, which handles the registration of resident and visiting journalists, re-locating it from its ramshackle but accessible central Jerusalem building to an unmarked and impossible-to-find suite of rooms above a girls’ college near the Malcha Shopping Mall miles from the center. The ministry’s lowest point was its release of the hallucinatory Gaza Hasbara Rape video in which Israel was depicted as a sexually abused young woman in a bizarre encounter with a male therapist." Image from article, with comment: "Don't get me started."
Israeli Foreign Ministry Pushed To Sidelines on Policymaking - Mazal Mualemal, monitor.com: "'Israel’s foreign policy is passive, not proactive,” says Knesset Member Ronen Hoffman of the Yesh Atid party. 'It’s not derived from any strategy, and this is something we must change.' Hoffman chairs the Knesset’s Foreign and Defense Affairs’ Subcommittee on Public Diplomacy, the realization of a professional dream. Hoffman has a Ph.D. in international relations from King’s College, London, and has been researching and dealing in issues of diplomacy for most of his adult life. ... Hoffman contends that
High-ranking Indonesian delegation secretly visits Israel - israelhayom.com: "A high-ranking Indonesian delegation visited Israel in secret last week. Indonesia -- the world's most populous Muslim nation -- has no diplomatic relations with Israel. An Australian Jewish pro-Zionist organization facilitated the delegation's trip to Israel. The Australian Jewish group has maintained friendly relations with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) since he was the public diplomacy and Diaspora affairs minister in the last government. Members of the Indonesian delegation, which was led by parliamentarian Tantowi Yahya, met with Edelstein in his office and had their picture taken with the Knesset speaker.
Michael Freund, the organization’s founder who has turned his vision into a life’s mission. ... Freund’s journey to the lost communities began in 1996, when he immigrated to Israel from New York and found work in the public diplomacy office during the first Netanyahu administration. Freund was the deputy director, and mostly dealt with communications with foreign journalists. Freund image from entry
'People should not have Judaism forced on them' - Israel Hayom, Yehuda Shlezinger: "Yoaz Hendel ... was Netanyahu’s director of communications and public diplomacy."
The Only Win-Win for Erdogan and Turkey - Cengiz Çandar, Al-Monitor: "It was extremely offensive to hear CNN International speak of [Turkish PM Recep Tayyip] Erdogan in such terms as 'Europe has a new Hitler.' The same night, Erdogan’s senior adviser for public diplomacy, Ibrahim Kalin, surely suffered when CNN’s famous name, Christiane Amanpour, declared, 'Show is over.' Until a month ago, Erdogan was a politician being mentioned as a possible candidate for a Nobel Peace Prize as a leader heading toward resolution of the Kurdish issue. Now he is being criticized in the harshest terms in the Western world, and his credibility in the Arab world has been badly shaken."
Turkey a model country for public diplomacy is on fire - uspublicdiplomacy.blogspot.com: "I have always thought of Turkey as a wonderful example of how Turkish culture is always more telling than it’s [sic] politics or politicians. ... Turkey has had a history of twelve thousand years, and for most of that period has been the land where east and west have met. For decades now, Turkey has been a model of how Islam can live with institutions of a modern democratic state. Unlike most of Muslim countries in the region,Turkey has managed to create a place where both civilizations can exist in one country and make a perfect model for public diplomacy. ... But there are a lot of changes in the politics of Turkey and not all for the better.
The current prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has some how managed to disturb the balance of piety versus secularism in this country which used to be a model for the whole region. ... More journalists are currently in jail in Turkey than in China. ... The combinations of ... of assaults on the free press and people’s basic freedoms is why people are on the street." Image from entry
Mr. Cameron’s ease and humility on answering questions on a range of topics like Syria, the role G8 in Afghanistan, aid and poverty reduction was simply amazing. It's difficult to get a prime minister of a major country to be rallying questions even at a press conference, let alone a TV show." Cameron image from entry
Disrupting Design: ‘Living’ Greenhouses That Are Uprooting Conventional Spaces - knstrct.com: "Casa Mediterráneo Headquarters - Manuel Ocaña Arquitecto [:] Casa Mediterráneo has teamed up with Manuel Ocaña Arquitecto to breathe new life into an old railway station in Benalúa, Alicante.
The archaic exoskeleton of the former station remains, while new life springs forth under the Klein-blue translucent roof ... all supporting Casa Mediterráneo's pillar of supporting public diplomacy." Image from entry
No wonder diplomats are on strike: The foreign service needs fixing - Colin Robertson, theglobeandmail.com: "Today, there is a perception that, after seven years, the Prime Minister and the international portfolio ministers have no confidence in their foreign service even if they trust individual officers. If so, then now is the time to reform the foreign service rather than continuing to rubbish it. The last serious look at the foreign service was a Royal Commission conducted by Pamela McDougall between 1979-80. Prime Minister Harper has had success with task forces, such as that on
Canada ramps up its Iranian experiment - Campbell Clark, theglobeandmail.com: "[F]rom its inception, the Global Dialogue on the Future of Iran, funded by the Foreign Affairs department and organized by the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs has been an unusual experiment. It’s not just that it’s public diplomacy, or uses a digital portal and social media instead of diplomats. It’s that it’s not aimed at improving relations with a foreign government, but rather at sidestepping that government entirely to speak to the people. And at bottom, the Canadian government is trying to create tools to foster a movement for change in another country. ... The idea, according to Canadian officials, is to use a time when Iranians are thinking more than usual about their political system to get them into a discussion about democracy, and the issues facing Iran. They also want to help the splintered groups of Iranian dissidents inside and outside the country to connect to each other. It is definitely an innovation. Whether a portal sponsored by a foreign government will be seen as more than propaganda remains an open question."
“Everyone is going to Yerevan”: Mission is possible -Ulia Hakobyan, ArmeniaNow.com: "Yerevan is welcoming summer’s most significant and large-scale cultural event this week, which brought over 600 guests from five countries together to Armenia’s capital for cultural exchange. Within the framework of the Public Diplomacy Mission 'Everyone is going to Yerevan', over 40 cultural events are being held in Yerevan and regions started June 12, including concerts, exhibitions, theater plays by artists from the former Soviet republics. ... People’s diplomacy mission is a civil initiative, which is being implemented through private donations.
Besides, the foreign ministries of Armenia and Estonia, as well as municipality of Tallinn and Yerevan, as well as a few governmental agencies provide assistance. ... 'The public diplomacy mission is a cultural exchange between four countries - Armenia, Estonia, Ukraine and Russia. This is the relationship between our peoples, which is independent of politics and all of us are ready to pay visits and share views and cultural events,' says Valery Khite, a well known writer and TV man from Odessa." Image from entry
GroundTruth In Burma - Charles M. Sennott, huffingtonpost.com: "[Y]oung reporters -- nine from the United States and 11 from here in Myanmar, also known as Burma -- [were] brought together through a unique partnership between the New York-based Open Hands Initiative and GlobalPost for a reporting fellowship. Throughout the month of June, we will be dedicating the GroundTruth blog to chronicle their journey through Myanmar, also known as Burma. Open Hands Initiative ... [is] a non-profit organization that supports unique projects around the world that promote what its founder and chairman Jay Snyder calls 'people to people diplomacy.' Snyder, a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist, is a passionate practitioner and generous supporter of public diplomacy who will join us later in the journey. The idea of 'people-to-people' diplomacy might sound a bit idealistic in its approach particularly for an old-school foreign correspondent like myself who has reported for nearly three decades in the field and fought off the creeping cynicism and the depressing culture of decline that has set in for too many traditional news organizations. Well, it is idealistic, but most importantly I have learned that it is effective in producing top quality journalism."
$10m to revamp CBD - geelongadvertiser.com.au: "The Central Geelong Task Force has ambitious plans for the city centre, hoping for a result mirroring the more than $300 million in private and government investment that was spent to remodel the waterfront. ... Committee for Geelong had lobbied hard to get a seat on the taskforce committee, but missed out as the council decided to limit it to representatives from the council, Deakin University, the state and external urban planners. Despite its public diplomacy, the group is unhappy about being excluded."
Australia backs surfing initiative - fijisun.com: "A ... grant of $6190, from the High Commission’s Public Diplomacy fund, will be used by Fiji Surfing to help it strengthen the lead it has taken in efforts to establish the Fiji Water Safety Council (FWSC). The objective is to have the FWSC work
on a plan of action and set in place an educational program aimed at cutting down on the number of drowning deaths in Fiji." Image from entry, with caption: From left: Australian High Commission acting Head of Mission Glenn Miles, Fiji Surfing Association official Ed Lovell, Australian Youth Ambassador Andy Eames, who is attached to the Fiji Surfing Association, and John Davidson, Minister-Counsellor for AusAID.
Ethiopia: The ERCA Gets New Boss - Elleni Araya, allafrica.com: "After the disruption caused by numerous high profile arrests, there is the hope it will soon be business as usual Beker Shale, director general of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA). ... Beker's appointment by the Prime Minister's Office has filled the month-long vacancy created by the arrest of Melaku Fenta. ... Melaku, educated in economics, business administration and customs & revenue, as well as public diplomacy, and now in custody and facing corruption charges, has overseen the introduction of many changes at the ERCA."
High Tech Sector Pushing U.S. Public Diplomacy FWD - Naomi Leight, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "The realm of social media and the power of the Internet lies [sic] in the hands of the people. ... Immigration reform is an issue that spans the domestic, foreign, economic and diplomatic arenas, while directly impacting the tech industry. Silicon Valley has a special interest in expanding the H1B visas for skilled workers in order to improve their corporate bottom lines. And while many tech giants may not be interested in the public diplomacy implications of jumping into the immigration debate, they cannot be ignored."
Public Diplomacy and the Hidden Hand: Part 3 - Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "The thought that struck me we need to think about the ‘covert’ and ‘overt’ in a more complex way. From an analytical perspective rather than thinking about a dichotomy it’s probably better to think of a continuum between the completely overt ie ‘this message comes to you courtesy of the government of x’ in big neon letters through all types of variants of the ‘discrete but not secret’ through differing levels of covertness."
The Private War - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I have long been curious of the intersection of the private sector into the public domain, I am tremendously concerned at the rise of private intelligence gathering services: What has received less attention is the fact that most intelligence work today is not carried out by government agencies but by private intelligence firms and that much of that work involves another common aspect of intelligence work: deception. That is, it is involved not just with the concealment of reality, but with the manufacture of it.[see]Private eyes in public places, I do not like it. This also all weighs heavily on me as I consider my own future on the private side of public diplomacy, and I try to figure how to do independent public diplomacy."
The Undiscovered Country: Managing and Analyzing Pivots - Efe Sevin, cgcsblog.asc.upenn.edu: "Efe Sevin is a Doctoral Candidate at the School of International Service at American University and is a Research Fellow at the Research on Collaboratories and Technology Enhanced Learning Communities (COTELCO). His research interests include strategic communication, non-traditional diplomacy, global governance, and research methodologies. Mr. Sevin’s doctoral dissertation focuses on the role of public diplomacy as a foreign policy instrument. Email: esevin[@]american.edu"
Bad Idea, Mr. President - Ramzy Mardini, New York Times: Mr. Obama would have been wise to make a forceful diplomatic push first before succumbing to the naïveté of
his pro-intervention critics. Syria is like Iraq, except worse. Image from article, with caption: A rebel fighter from the Grandsons of the Prophet Brigade at Deir Al Gharbi, a front line close to Syrian Army positions, May 30.
After Arming the Rebels, Then What? - Editorial, New York Times: Like most Americans, we are deeply uneasy about getting pulled into yet another war in the Middle East. Those urging stronger action seemed to have learned nothing from the past decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, which has sapped the United States and has produced results that are ambiguous at best.
Syria: Crossing the Red Line - Peter Van Buren, wemeantwell.com: Let’s try another handy quiz: The U.S. is intervening in Syria’s civil war because Assad used poison gas. The poison gas killed 100-150 people. Close to 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war to date. The U.S. is thus going to war again in the Middle East because 0.001 percent of the deaths were caused by gas instead of artillery, aerial bombs, machine guns, tanks, rockets, grenades, car bombs, mines, bad food, or sticks and stones.
The U.S. should help Mideast moderates - David Ignatius, Washington Post: The administration’s specific rationale for arming the rebels is that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons. But crusades against weapons of mass destruction have a bad history in the Middle East, as we remember from Iraq. President Obama’s broader goal should be to support moderate forces — meaning those that are committed to pluralism, freedom of expression and the rule of law. Those were the core themes of his famous June 2009 speech in Cairo, but there’s been too little follow-through.
U.S. intervention in Syria must be robust - Editorial, Washington Post: Only if the balance of the war shifts decisively to the side of the rebels will an acceptable political settlement be possible. That, in turn, will almost certainly require a more robust U.S. intervention. The war in Syria threatens vital U.S. interests — from the fight against al-Qaeda to the security of Israel.
Dabbling in Syria: Obama arms the rebels, but not enough to defeat Assad and his patrons - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: Mr. Obama still doesn't appreciate the strategic stakes in the Syrian civil war. Russia, Iran and Syria want to create an arc of influence from Iran to the Mediterranean while demonstrating to America's regional allies that the U.S. is a retreating power that lacks the will to support its friends. They are playing to win, while even after this week Mr. Obama appears to be playing not to lose.
Russia Outmaneuvers Obama Over Syria: America is playing catch-up with Putin in the Middle East. The G8 meeting starting Monday should be interesting - John Bolton, Wall Street Journal: Since Syria's civil war began, Mr. Obama has insisted, contrary to fact, that the U.S. and Russia have a common interest in resolving the crisis and stabilizing the Middle East. Secretary of State John Kerry's recent efforts to secure Russian co-sponsorship of a peace conference, at which Washington will push for Assad's ouster, reflect Mr. Obama's illusion.
A smarter way to deal with China: The right U.S. strategy includes 'power with,' not just 'power over'
- Joseph S. Nye Jr: In meeting many of the new transnational challenges, the U.S. has to get away from thinking just about power over others and think about power with others. We do not want to become so fearful that we are not able to find ways to cooperate with China. It makes no more sense to see the world through a purely realist lens — that focuses only on the top chessboard and predicts conflict with China — than it does to see through a liberal lens that looks primarily at a single board and predicts only cooperation. In a tri-level game, a player who focuses on only one board is bound to lose in the long run. Fortunately, China and the United States have more to gain from the cooperation dimension of their relationship than from the conflict one. Both just need to recognize that.
‘Cool War: The Future of Global Competition’ by Noah Feldman - Book Review, Marcus Brauchli, Washington Post: Today, the big-power rivalry, to the extent that there is one, appears to pit the United States against another nominally communist power, China. Feldman does us a favor at the outset by knocking down the false choice that too often undergirds the conversation on China. It is not a matter of either standing up to Beijing autocrats on principle and bracing for war, as one side would have it, or surrendering our values and accommodating the new economic hegemon, as the other might. Rather, Feldman writes, “a classic struggle for power is unfolding at the same time as economic cooperation is becoming deeper and more fundamental.”
Russia will deport foreigners for homosexual propaganda; Duma passes bill 436-0 - lifesitenews.com: June 11, 2013: The Russian parliament today voted 436 to 0 to pass a total ban on homosexual propagandizing by foreign or domestic activists. The law will impose stiff fines or prison terms for spreading “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” It will effectively outlaw “gay pride” festivals and stop attempts by foreign homosexualist activist groups to normalize their lifestyles or campaign for same-sex legal recognition. The same day, the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, passed another bill providing jail terms and fines for anyone convicted of insulting religious feelings, the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to some reports, the new law will allow for jail terms of up to three years and fines of up to 500,000 roubles (US $15,400) for organizations “spreading information aimed at forming non-traditional sexual behavior among children, suggesting this behavior is attractive, and making a false statement about the socially equal nature of traditional and non-traditional relationships." Individuals using the Internet to spread homosexualist propaganda can be fined up to 5,000 roubles (US $155); officials can be fined up to 10 times that amount. The maximum fine is one million roubles (US $30,800). Foreigners found in violation of the law can be arrested and held for up to 15 days before being deported. Image from
LGBT community takes legal steps against main sponsor of ‘sex propaganda bill’ - Russia Today: Russian LGBT activists have addressed the Prosecutor General’s office claiming MP Elena Mizulina and the recently approved bill on ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors’ promote hatred towards gays. The news was announced by Nikolay Alekseyev, one of the leaders of Russian LGBT community, in an interview with the popular daily Izvestia. Alekseyev gave no details on who submitted the complaint or when it was done. The State Duma last week passed the bill, introducing heavy fines for propaganda of non-traditional sex relations to minors. Initially the bill banned gay propaganda, but the formula was changed before the final reading after gay activists and human rights campaigners repeatedly noted that direct mentioning of gays was discriminatory. However, the current draft stretches the definition of propaganda as far as “promoting the distorted understanding of social equality of traditional and non-traditional sex relations.” Some Russian mass media and public figures have already noted that this can only be understood as a ban on tolerance. The bill is yet to be approved by the Upper House and signed by the president to come into force.
Washington’s weak responses to Putin’s crackdowns set a bad example - Hannah Thoburn, Washington Post: Anything Russia can do, you can do, too. That is the message Washington is sending to repressive, power-hungry governments around the world. With each step that President Vladimir Putin takes to restrict the freedoms of the Russian people, like-minded leaders watch U.S.(and European) reactions and, seeing weak responses, are emboldened to abuse human rights in a similar manner.
Obama appoints big money fundraisers to diplomatic posts - Dave Boyer, The Washington Times: Three fundraisers who helped to raise millions for President Obama's reelection were appointed to coveted diplomatic posts by the president Friday. Rufus Gifford, who was Mr. Obama's chief fundraiser in 2012 and was the campaign's liaison to the gay community, was appointed ambassador to Denmark. John B. Emerson, who was cochair of the Democratic National Committe's southern California finance committee, was nominated by Mr. Obama to become ambassador to Germany, the White House said in a statement. And HBO executive James Costos was nominated to become U.S. ambassador to Spain.
Très Brooklyn - Paul Rockower, Levantine: The food truck as American gastrodiplomacy to France: In France, there is still a widespread belief that the daily diet in the United States consists of grossly large servings of fast food. But in Paris, American food is suddenly being seen as more than just restauration rapide. Among young Parisians, there is currently no greater praise for cuisine than 'très Brooklyn,' a term that signifies a particularly cool combination of informality, creativity and quality.All three of those traits come together in the American food trucks that have just opened here, including Cantine California, which sells tacos stuffed with organic meat (still a rarity in France), and a hugely popular burger truck called Le Camion Qui Fume (The Smoking Truck), owned by Kristin Frederick, a California native who graduated from culinary school here."
We Want You: Propaganda posters - Stephanie Ogrodnik, philly.com: This new exhibit presents 33 posters that journey through decades of military history from the 1800’s colonization of Africa, to the Chinese government’s support for the African independence movements of the 1960s.
In studying these posters, revealing such twisted realities, one cannot help but reflect on the nature of propaganda itself. Altogether, Black Bodies in Propaganda offers an elaborate glance into history, and the nature of communication within these different time periods in a way that is concise and easily absorbed. Image from entry
ONE MORE QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"You know, you’re not going to want artists to take care of your livestock.”
--James Turrell, who inhabits, part time, a crater in Arizona; image from article, with caption: Stairs that lead from the East Portal to the crater's exterior.