Friday, June 21, 2013

June 20-21

"[T]he private contractor that carried out Mr. Snowden’s reinvestigation, Falls Church, Va.-based USIS, is itself under investigation, officials said."

Shaun Waterman, "NSA leaker Snowden’s clearance had ‘problems’; firm that vetted him under probe," Washington Times; note: USIS (United States Information Service) was the designation overseas of USIA (United States Information Agency) during the Cold War; on the modern-day USIS, "[s]pecializing in technology-enabled federal security solutions for federal government clients for over a decade," see.


Pretty Gr8, Embassy London - "Embassy London produced this short video to explain, literally, the who, what, where and why of the G8. Under normal circumstances, this would be a gold-clad snoozer, a bore-fest guaranteed to fetch a dozen or so views before expiring in Google’s cloud farm gulag.

But something great happened. This video is funny, relevant and informative. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. And the usual Embassy seal capstones aside, it doesn’t look or sound like any State Department official product you’ve ever seen." Image from


How to Make the U.S. Look Unnecessarily Bad - Patricia Lee Sharpe, Whirled View: "This hasn't been a good week for U.S. public diplomacy, though I strongly suspect that savvy PD people had little input vis-à-vis the situations that turned out so badly. ... [T]his week has brought us two totally unnecessary public relations disasters involving the U.S. President: 1. The globally-projected image of President Barack Obama getting names mixed up in the U.K. Prompt: it’s George, not Jeffrey Osborne, who occupies the important position of Chancellor of the Exchequer in the current Conservative government. ... 2. The U.S. President speaking behind bulletproof glass in Berlin, hardly the most dangerous place on earth. And, no, the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens under very different circumstances in Benghazi doesn’t justify the glass barrier between Barack Obama and his audience on this very important European (!) site. Further, please note: the new Pope Francis has stopped using the glass cage known as the Popemobile. He wants to be able to reach out to people. At best the glass-wall idea is a triumph of timidity over sense, even though it is remotely possible that an essentially friendly crowd in an allied country could harbor an ill-wisher. Look at it this way: pretty soon, emulating the U.S. reliance on death-dealing drones in its war against terrorism, unmanned aerial killers will be in everyone’s arsenal.

So what’s next? Glass boxes for speakers? Or maybe no prominent speaker should be allowed out of a building. Whoops! Buildings can be targeted, too. So, how about a bunker? But there are bunker busters! Aha! A cardboard Obama, which will be only slightly less animated than the real thing! Borrow one from the photographers catering to tourists in D.C. ... When the U.S. President cowers behind bulletproof glass, the cringing posture doesn’t make him look like a world leader to be taken seriously. Adding (1) and (2), here’s the unstated message that went out to the world this week, thanks to President Obama and his advisers: the U.S. is ignorant, contemptuous and cowardly. Not a great stance for a superpower." Image from

Obama Berlin Speech Fails to Offer Significant Nuclear Policy Steps - Steve Klinger, "Despite recent press reports to the contrary (e.g. by Peter Baker and David Sanger in the New York Times), ... [the] speech by President Obama in Berlin and the accompanying White House fact sheet failed to include either any concrete steps toward nuclear disarmament or any concrete improvements in the management of the massive U.S. nuclear weapons enterprise. ... In ... [the] speech and fact sheet, the administration promises to cut deployed strategic warheads by 'up to one third,' but only if Russia—the U.S. relationship with which has deteriorated over recent months and years—does the same. Prospects for this cooperation are uncertain at best, given the deep divisions between the two countries on strategic issues, especially missile defense, and the Syrian civil war. ... In ... [the] speech Mr. Obama appears to have embarked on a kind of public diplomacy, in that everything he says he will do is contingent on the future actions of Russia."

Obama Ist Kein Berliner: Fifty years after JFK's visit, and five since his own, Obama returns to Berlin - to a much different mood : Cameron Abadi, New Republic: "When it comes to Obama, Germans have little feeling he knows or cares about their problems at all. His top Europe policy is a trans-Atlantic free trade agreement, but can anyone claim to know what he really thinks about the future of the fragile European Union . ...  In that way, the aloofness that is allegedly holding back his domestic agenda may be deteriorating his efforts at public diplomacy.

The cover of last week's Der Spiegel, depicting Obama alongside a portrait of Kennedy, spoke volumes: It bore the simple headline 'The Lost Friend.'" Image from

State Dept’s $630,000 Social Media “Buying Fans” Campaign, a Success— But Where’s the Love?  - Domani Spero, DiploPundit: "The widely anticipated, much awaited OIG report on the State Department’s  Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) is finally here.  The 50-page report, which had a snippet of it leaked to WaPo and published previouslyby Al Kamen in In The Loop only contains one redaction, the names of the inspection team members. Below is an excerpt from the OIG report reviewing the use of social media: ['] With the Department’s use of social media comes strategic questions of the role, purpose, and limitations of the medium. A consensus is emerging that developing numbers of Facebook followers and Twitter fans may not lead automatically to target audience engagement.['] ... The bureau could reduce spending and increase strategic impact by focusing its advertising not on raising overall fan numbers or general engagement statistics but on accomplishing specific PD goals."

The Chimerica Dream - Pepe Escobar, Huffington Post: "[Comment by:]Eric Ehrmann Blogs on sports and politics from Brazil[:] "China's presidents are historically figurehead leaders. John Kerry's dreams about Asia don't skew with Beijing's political culture any more than Xi's dreams skew in the Beltway. All of this is the consequence of public diplomacy conversations that are disconnected from the power curve (realpolitik)."

Turn the Page: Closing the Chapter that is American Voices - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I submitted my resignation to American Voices, where I had been the Communications Director for the last two years. It was a hard decision because I really loved the work I did: cultural diplomacy to countries in conflict, and running the flagship musical diplomacy program for the State Department.

Lotsa travel, lotsa adventure. Many, many people commented that I had the best job in the world, including a lot of Staters, who said they wanted my job. ... I am grateful for the opportunities that my work offered. I got to travel to some amazing places (Iraq, the 'Stans, Brazil), hear some incredible music and make so wonderful new friends along the way. I learned a lot over the last two years in regards to the practical application of public diplomacy. I played everything from a pd travel agent to pd roadie to pd camp counselor." Image from

Food for thought - "The work of Conflict Kitchen, a takeout restaurant in Pittsburgh, relies on the power of food as an experience that can illuminate and inform. Rotating identities every six months, it only serves food from countries that the United States is in conflict with. Having previously served the cuisine of Cuba, Venezuela and Afghanistan, the Conflict Kitchen has now adopted Iran as its current identity. In addition to the food they serve, they hope to raise awareness of the political situation in their adopted country by putting on events, performances and discussions as a way of expanding the individual’s engagement with different cultures.

Even the packaging of the food includes interviews with Iranians, so customers get a lot more than a tasty meal. As well as being an instrument of cultural education, food can be political. The act of eating or not eating makes a statement, and the refusal of Zambians to eat GM foods counters the idea of the privilege of choice being confined only to Westerners. Mary Jo A. Pham has done research into the concept of ‘gastrodiplomacy’ – the idea that food can facilitate communication in a geopolitical arena. Not only is gastrodiplomacy, as Paul Rockower suggests, ‘the act of winning hearts and minds through stomachs’, but it also allows a country to promote its national identity and encourage economic investment. When Thailand decided to use Thai restaurants around the world as informal meeting places for public diplomacy, they had a target of raising the number of Thai restaurants around the world from 5,000 to 8,000 – something they massively surpassed, there now being in the region of 20,000 Thai restaurants."

Foreign Policy: From Conception to Diplomatic Practice [Review of Foreign Policy: From Conception to Diplomatic Practice by Dr. Ernest Petric. Martinus Nihoff/Brill Publishers, 2013, ISBN-13: 978-9004245495, 318 pp., $ 171.00] - Thomas B. Robertson, American Diplomacy: "Dr. Ernest Petric’s latest book, 'Foreign Policy: From Conception to Diplomatic Practice' is the result of a long and distinguished diplomatic and legal career. He was Slovenia’s first Ambassador to the United States as a newly independent country in 1992, having successfully made the transition from the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry in Belgrade. ... As for the means of foreign policy, Petric focuses on 'propaganda' as a category of means versus 'public diplomacy,' an unfortunate and certainly outdated notion.

Propaganda' reeks of intentional misrepresentation, more appropriate to war and hostile engagement of the 20th century than to the world of the Internet. Even then, his description of US efforts during the Cold War misses the point. In fact USIA’s programs and VOA’s efforts were focused on undermining the myths perpetrated by state-controlled media in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe about the inferiority of the American system while making clear the advantages of a more open and unregulated society. And much of USIA’s efforts were through 'people-to-people' diplomacy. Ironically, the success of such public diplomacy contributed in direct measure to Gorbachev’s own reform efforts, ultimately leading to the end of the Cold War. Unfortunately I think Petric has limited the usefulness of his book by not addressing the challenges and opportunities that the social media revolution presents foreign policy professionals as they try to affect policy both at home and abroad. The uses of Twitter and Facebook during the Arab spring are but one exciting example of how instant communication can make a real difference. He does address briefly the effect instant media have on diplomatic reporting in the 21st century. But what are the advantages (and disadvantages) of ambassadors and their staffs conducting live public diplomacy with both the foreign public and the foreign policy elites through social media? And where are the lines to be drawn where every young diplomat has his or her own Facebook page and a web site to boot? Diplomacy in the 21st century must be nimble, agile, quick but disciplined." Image from

America’s Other Army - Shawn, Foreign Service Test: "Nicholas Kralev’s book American’s Other Army: The U.S. Foreign Service and 21st Century Diplomacy is a must read for anyone currently in the Foreign Service, interesting in joining, or just plain curious about what American diplomats actually do. For my readers serious about joining, I consider this an essential part of strategy for successfully passing the Foreign Service exam. ... While I heartily endorse the book, I do have a few bones to pick with it. First, and by far the most egregious to me as a management officer, is that while the other four career tracks each have an entire section dedicated to discussing the roles of political, economic, consular, and public diplomacy officers, management officers barely receive a mention apart from the fact it is one of the career tracks. Considering a good quarter of FSOs are doing management work, this is quite a slap to the face. Second, although Kralev is not critical of consular officers and their decisions, he includes many quotes from those who are. I don’t have a problem with this, but I think he could have done a better job at explaining that it is the duty of the consular officer to enforce immigration law that is set by the U.S. Congress. We aren’t cold-hearted bureaucrats immune to your sad story, we just have a duty to do. A police officer doesn’t issue you a speeding ticket because he hates people driving fast. He does it because the law exists and it is his job to enforce it. I wish Kralev had made that more clear." Image from

Is America Losing Its Voice  - David Hyatt, American Diplomacy: "Today, the organizational bureaucracy which is supposed to oversee the running of the VOA is wallowing in dysfunctional chaos amid urgent calls for action to streamline the international broadcasting bureaucracy. ... Despite current spending constraints across the federal government, there is ample evidence of VOA's continued relevance — which argues for its continued support — in a rapidly

changing media environment worldwide. ... What's needed in the U.S. is a new consensus regarding a strategic vision for broadcast public diplomacy in general. The future of VOA should be at the center of the debate. But such an initiative faces strong political headwinds, with a divided Congress, an ambivalent Administration and a dysfunctional Broadcasting Board of Governors." Image from

BBG Governor Victor Ashe: situation at RFE/RL ‘has been righted’ - BBGWatcher, "At the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) meeting on June 19, 2013 in Washington, DC and in Prague, Czech Republic, BBG Governor Victor Ashe commented on what he said were successful management reforms at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) led by acting RFE/RL president Kevin Klose. Ashe’s comments about RFE/RL were not included in the press release issued by the BBG’s International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB). Some IBB executives are being blamed for allowing the crisis at RFE/RL to develop last year. They were reportedly behind efforts to end criticism from Ashe and his calls for more transparency and accountability by getting the White House personnel office to replace him on the BBG board. That action still requires a decision from the U.S. Senate which has to confirm Ashe’s replacement, Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Until Crocker is confirmed by the Senate, Ashe will continue to serve on the BBG board."

IMF Surveillance -- Making Truth Telling More Meaningful - Martin S. Edwards: "Every year, the International Monetary Fund issues its review of a country’s economy. Fresh off its recent review of the United Kingdom, IMF staffers recently met with Treasury Department officials to conclude their review of the United States. Public statements from Fund staff include a recommendation to slow the pace of spending cuts in order to strengthen the economic recovery. The Fund argues that spending cuts will reduce growth in the US this year by a percentage point and a half, reducing growth by about a third. In light of our debates about spending versus austerity, one might think that the Fund’s ‘report card’ would attract a great deal of attention, but one would be hard pressed to find any evidence in prior years that this actually took place. For IMF surveillance to become more influential, it needs to be a more public process.
The Fund cannot shape debates about fiscal policy without making its findings more accessible to the public. Prioritizing public diplomacy will make IMF surveillance more meaningful." Image 

China and US Can Build Strategic Trust on Specific Issues - Qiu Chaobing, "Trust, by definition, is a deep-seated belief by the one side in the sincerity, fairness, friendliness and a number of fine attributes of the other side. Building trust involves highly intricate social and psychological processes. Since the Chinese Communist Party successfully set up its political power, the history of China-US relations has been ridden with unpleasant experiences. Bringing about a regime change in China or altering its social and economic systems is what the US has longed for. The public diplomacy functions carried out by the US towards China, including operations of American NGOs in China, have invariably smacked of such an intention. It is highly unlikely that the US will fundamentally change course with respect to human rights, Taiwan, Tibet and other issues. It will not give up condemning China in its annual human rights report. It will not end arms sales to Taiwan. And it will not stop playing petty tricks on the issue of Tibet. All this is determined by the international stature of the US, by its domestic politics and by its ideological biases. Needless to say, the methodology and timing of handling these issues may change in light of shifting China-US relations. Yet systemic and ideological differences have put a limit on the scope of their mutual acceptance. This explains why it is so exceedingly difficult for China and the US to build a comprehensive and genuine trust between them. Though China has for more than a decade reaffirmed its intention to go for peaceful development, many in the US have continued to entertain deep doubts for China's path of modernization. Distrust has always been able to find sympathetic ears in the two countries. Noices against stronger China-US mutual trust have been heard time and again. While it is fairly hard to build and accumulate trust, it is mightily easy to create and spread distrust."

US 'rebalancing' in the Hindu Kush - M K Bhadrakumar, "Moscow's emphasis is ostensibly on the US 'walking away' from Afghanistan leaving the unfinished business of the war. In extensive comments earlier in the week during an interview with the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: ['] I would like to specify that it is not about full withdrawal of US armed forces from Afghanistan in 2014. The USA and its allies plan to keep more than 10,000 troops in IRA [Afghanistan]. The USA intends to leave nine big military bases in Afghanistan. The final decision on this issue has not been made yet Washington is negotiating with Kabul over that. Unfortunately, the current situation in IRA is far from stability and has aggravation trends. At the same time, we keep having an impression that the Americans and their allies want to leave fast and hand over security responsibility for the Afghan forces without considering the situation in the areas of this process. Phasing out ISAF [the International Security Assistance Force] forces in IRA should be coupled with strengthening Afghan security forces despite the decline in their numbers to avoid security collapse to achieve that they are eventually able to control security in their state, to effectively counteract extremist groupings and drug criminals. We do not see any noticeable advancement in this line. You are right that the today's processes in Afghanistan seriously affect the entire situation in the region. There is a threat of its destabilization.

Even more so that ethnic Uzbek and Tajik extremist and terrorist groupings in the north of IRA are already working on the plans to penetrate territories of Central Asian countries.['] But this is public diplomacy on Lavrov's part. Evidently, what is on the Russian mind is the US's propensity, historically speaking, to use the extremist Islamist forces to advance its geopolitical agenda. Old habits die hard, and the US has not been averse to such habits although the Cold War has ended. Theaters such as Bosnia, Libya and, arguably, even Syria testify to that." Image from

Ivan Safranchuk: “Russia expects the USA to make “homework”” - Interview by Daria Melikhova, Vestnik Kavkaza: "Deputy Director of the Institute of Contemporary International Studies of the Diplomatic Academy Ivan Safranchuk described his vision of the possible options for the development of relations between Russia and Georgia. ... [Safranchuk:]

It is important, I think, to give Russia and Georgia, both at the official level and at the non-state level, i. e. at the level of civil society organizations, public diplomacy, a period of calm relations without any provocation, external interference, so that the two states and two peoples could talk quietly and normalize relations. Because if now again some topics sensitive for bilateral relations, such as Georgia's membership in NATO, some forced variation of this membership, are discussed, I think that the slow progress that has already started might just fade down. ... As time goes by it becomes more and more obvious that a romantic view on Syria, which used to be typical for Western capitals – Paris, London, Washington, and Berlin in less extent – fails. Realizing that the longer the conflict lasts, the more significant these radical forces become is gradually coming to minds of Western politicians, including those in Washington. It seems they begin to think about an opportunity for peaceful negotiations between the government and the healthy opposition in Syria. Obviously, such negotiations can be successful only if all foreign players, first of all Russia, the USA, major regional players, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, support the negotiations. As the region has many American allies – Turkey, Saudi Arabia – it seems the USA should do some 'homework' for supporting the political settlement. Russia is waiting for the USA to do the 'homework'; but unfortunately, time is passing quickly. Safranchuk image from interview

Silent or public diplomacy in Azerbaijan? - Anar Mammadli, "Previously, Azerbaijan has followed Russia's example in restricting political rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly. Events in Turkey now give the Azeri authorities added reason to continue doing what they have done over the decade of Aliev's rule – to use truncheons, water cannon and rubber bullets against demonstrators. This is all the more reason for EU leaders to raise the issue of human rights when they meet the president of Azerbaijan this week."

A message to the world – an interview with Michael Dickson, Israel Director of StandWithUs - Noga Gur-Arieh, "StandWithUs, an international non-profit organization, is dedicated to informing the population of the world about Israel, and to help fight the hate and anti-Semitism. The members of the organizations come from the U.S, Israel, UK and France.  They use print materials, speakers, conferences, missions to Israel and campaigns, both face to face and online to follow their mission. StandWithUs conducts various projects and activities throughout the world, such as the Once In a Lifetime project and the Israeli Soldiers Stories program. On my quest of searching better ways to show the world the truth about Israel, I sat to a one-on-one conversation with Michael Dickson,  Israel Director for StandWithUs. ... [Dickson:]

We've brought prominent bloggers to Israel, we're working with the entourage of the Under 21 Football Teams in Europe, we brought prominent journalists to Israel, we brought International Law students for a conference, we brought top Medical Students for a conference on Humanitarian Medicine. These are people who are connecting with Israel not through the news, not because they care particularly about Israel, but through their own interests. We find those connection points and we build these relationships and we hook them up with Israelis with whom they can build a personal relationship, and that's public diplomacy. In this day and age, people don't trust governments of any kind. People don’t trust official lines coming from official spokespeople, but they do believe in people and they do respond to people, particularly through social media. We leverage all of that to really change people's perceptions about Israel and build long-lasting relationships with Israelis, which is the most important thing that we can be doing."

Measuring The Rowhani Effect: An Iranian president who is widely considered moderate and pragmatic poses new opportunities —and challenges — for Israel - Joshua Mitnick, The unexpected electoral victory in Iran of moderate presidential candidate Hassan Rowhani has reawakened an ongoing debate in Israel about how to craft public diplomacy toward Tehran. Though President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad spooked Israelis with talk of wiping the Jewish state off the map, the ascendance of Rowhani, a worldly politician and former nuclear negotiator, may pose a more complicated challenge for Israel, say analysts. The results of the vote have the potential to recast Israel rather than Iran as the hardliner, and stoke up new tension over a timetable for potential military action. Some Israeli experts said they believe that the election results could delay the U.S. timetable for an attack by a year as officials size up Rowhani’s influence. In the first days after the vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cautioned Israelis and the world against 'wishful thinking' that the elections would herald change, and called on the international community not to ease up on economic sanctions or the threat of military force against Iran. ... However, Israeli critics of the prime minister’s handling of Iran said he had made a mistake by being so quick to dismiss the shift in Iran, comments that put Israel’s response seemingly at odds with those of its Western allies."

Iranian Elections: Netanyahu, Neoconservatives Are the Big Losers - Mitchell Plitnick, "Outside of Iran, there is no doubt that the biggest losers in Iran’s election this past weekend were the Likud government in Israel and its supporters, especially neoconservatives, in the United States. The response of Israel’s Prime Minister to the election of centrist candidate Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s next President was almost comical in its sharp reversal from the rhetoric of the past eight years. As was widely reported, Benjamin Netanyahu said that it was Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and not the president who set nuclear policy. That is, of course, true, and it is precisely what opponents of an attack on Iran have been saying for the past eight years. Netanyahu and his neocon allies, on the other hand, were repeatedly pointing to outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the fearsome specter, the man who wanted to 'wipe Israel off the map' and must be prevented from acquiring the means to do so. With Ahmadinejad gone, and, much to the surprise of many observers, not replaced by someone from the arch-conservative (or, in Iranian political terms, principlist) camp, the hawks have lost their best tool for frightening people and getting them behind the idea of attacking Iran. ... The Iranian President is not like the Israeli one or the British monarchy; that is, it is not a merely ceremonial role. As we have seen repeatedly, the President of Iran handles quite a bit of the public diplomacy of the Islamic Republic, and he has considerable influence over domestic issues, appointments and other facets of government. When the Iranian people made their choice, it was far from a meaningless one."

With a moderate as Iran's new face, Netanyahu will struggle to draw up support for an attack: Israel would be wise to keep a low profile in the upcoming weeks, but should still make it clear to Obama that Iran's nuclear program must be stopped regardless of the election results [subscription] - By Amos Harel [subscription]: "Today Israel bids a sad farewell to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that unexpected asset to Israeli public diplomacy, who served it so well during his eight years as president of Iran."

European Journalists Get an Inside Look at the ‘Real Shomron’ - Arutz Sheva News: "Nine journalists from various European countries got a first-hand experience of the complexity of Israel and the Middle East this week during a three-day press trip organized by the Europe Israel Press Association (EIPA). The journalists, from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Italy, and Spain had the unique opportunity to visit the Barkan Industrial Park in Samaria Thursday. Some 6,000 Jews and Arabs are employed at Barkan, and the journalists were able to meet and speak to workers from both groups, as they attempted to dig up the 'real story' on Jewish-Arab cooperation in Samaria. ... On the visit to Barkan and the Shomron Regional Council, the group was accompanied by Shay Atias, Director of the Israel Public Diplomacy group in disputed areas."

The re-‘birth’ of hope? - David N. Myers: "Molad ... [is] a newly formed think tank that rests atop the popular Burgers Bar restaurant on Emek Refaim Street in Jerusalem. Molad, which means 'birth' in Hebrew, describes itself as the Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy. ... One of the latest examples to emerge from the Molad shop is the study undertaken by researcher Shivi Greenfield regarding the efficacy of Israel’s hasbara, or public relations, efforts. The conventional view in the Israel advocacy community, as we hear on occasion on the pages of the Jewish Journal, is that Israel is losing the battle on the public diplomacy front. The argument goes that Israel’s hasbara operation is far less sophisticated than that of pro-Palestinian forces, including but not limited to advocates of BDS — Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. The result is a deep erosion of Israel’s standing in the international community. The Molad report examines the various claims and arrives at three important conclusions. First, there was a marked improvement in Israeli public diplomacy following a scathing report condemning previous efforts by Israel’s State Comptroller in 2007. More centralized control of various government public diplomacy outlets has yielded a more coherent and effective voice. The report utilizes seven criteria (e.g., coordination, crisis management and branding) to challenge 'the common perception that the Israel hasbara apparatus is ineffective.' On the contrary, it concludes, 'Israel has an elaborate, professional and sophisticated hasbara apparatus.' The report then moves on to a second conclusion that flies in the face of what we often hear in Jewish communal conversation: that supporters of the Palestinian side belong to a well-oiled, sophisticated and amply funded PR machine. Using the same seven criteria discussed in the case of Israel, the report points to the absence of a single centralized anti-Israel hasbara operation — not in Iran, not by Hamas, not by the Palestinian Authority nor by the advocates of BDS. Its various organs are poorly coordinated, often excessively shrill in tone, and diffuse in their use of media and branding. The lack of coherence reveals a measure of organizational chaos that helps explain why 'Israel earns widespread sympathy in the United States, much more so than Palestinians in general and anti-Israel organizations in particular.' As a general matter, the report asserts, the anti-Israeli 'public diplomacy network can be said to be significantly inferior to Israel’s.' This leads to a final, powerful, though barely articulated conclusion. To the extent that Israel is the target of international criticism and has a negative image, it is manifestly not the result of failed public diplomacy. It is about Israel’s 46-year occupation of the West Bank, in the absence of which the country’s international standing would not be faltering nor would there be calls for boycott.

Molad’s mission in investigating the claims about Israeli public diplomacy is not to give Israel a bad name, but to do the hard work of distinguishing between ikar and tafel, between what is central and what is peripheral. The organization’s youthful leaders want to save Israel’s body and soul by declaring with Carvillean bluntness: 'It’s the occupation, stupid!' Seeing their rare combination of piercing intellect, political realism and future-oriented vision can, at least for a fleeting moment, cure one of a fatalistic certainty regarding the end of the two-state era. Whether they ultimately turn out to be right, it would be foolhardy not to place a bet on this group of supremely talented and committed young Israelis." Image from, with caption: Screenshot of Ha’aretz illustration of Molad hasbara study. The dog-whistle message is arguably that Israel is real big when it comes to controlling information.

Peres Birthday Bash Strikes Wrong Chord With Some Israelis - Mazal Mualem, Al-Monitor: President  Shimon Peres has come a long way from being a denigrated politician, an 'inveterate schemer' as the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin called him, and a 'loser' as he was dubbed by his own partisan members — until emerging into a popular and beloved Israeli icon. For more than a decade, Peres has been the poster boy of the 'beautiful and sane Israel' around the world, mainly during times of ostracizing and boycott. ... It is hard to recall any other event that was so out of touch with reality of the Israeli experience as Peres' 90th birthday party. A year in the making, it was orchestrated by a well-oiled public relations and money machine. A lot of money. Those who live here found it hard to dodge the saccharine pageant, which was aired simultaneously on Israel's four nationwide channels, and was a far cry from our daily reality here. ... Even the learned explanations provided by Peres' associates and public relations people, who tell us from every stage that we need to thank Peres for bringing the international pageant of celebrities at a time when nobody wants to hear about us — cannot change the picture.

They only sharpen the feeling of disconnection and total obliviousness. I heard some of them tell us that it is only thanks to Peres that the nations of the world don't ignore us, and that Peres is a one-man public diplomacy operation, and that the whole cost of the event, 11 million shekels [around $3 million], was raised by them through donations. That's true. Peres is a beloved statesman the world over, rendering excellent public relation services for Israel. But Peres is not a president who carries a country around his neck." Image from article, with caption: Rwanda President Paul Kagame (2nd L) and his wife Jeannette (L), singer-actress Barbra Streisand (3rd L), former US President Bill Clinton (4th L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd R) and his wife Sarah (R) attend celebrations marking Israeli President Shimon Peres' (3rd R) 90th birthday in Jerusalem, June 18, 2013.

Media Comment: The media and their icons - Yisrael Medad, "[The]inability of too many of Israel’s media outlets to deal with topics not immediately connected to their own private world is not new. Much criticism has been voiced in studies and at conferences over what is perceived to be the blindness of the media to anything happening outside of Tel Aviv – and some even draw the line from Shenkin Street in north Tel Aviv to Yehudah HaYammit Street, where the Galatz station resides, in the south. ... The problem is even more serious when some of the media stations are publicly funded as state-sponsored broadcasters who, by law, are obligated to faithfully represent the pluralism of Israel’s society. They should be providing programming that reflects Israel’s heritage, which does include religion. In this connection, we are happy to learn that Galatz has made steps to change built-in prejudice. Galatz’s chief, Yaron Dekel, speaking at the Yesha Council Conference on Public Diplomacy this week, announced that his instruction to alter the test on cultural recognition led to significant change in the social makeup of the incoming cadets. Of 30 recruits to the station, nine, that is, almost one-third, are from the religious sector of the population."

Turkey and the unicorn - "A Turkish customs official allowed this young British girl, Emily Harris, into Turkey by stamping her unicorn’s passport. *** If I was Recep Tayyip Erdogan — and I’m not, and unlikely yo be any time soon — I might want to give that man a medal for providing the one news item this week favorable to the Turkish tourist trade — at a time when images of tear gassings in hotels and water cannonades in parks can hardly be helping the country’s image as an attractive place to visit.

Seriously — Public Diplomacy, one child’s passport at a time. And while you’re at it, quit gassing hotels with children in them, will you? It’s barbaric." Image from entry

Scottish independence: The 200 bodies 'needed post-independence' - "The UK government has published this list of 200 organisations it claims may need to be replicated in an independent Scotland. ... [among them:] Wilton Park (WP) - Wilton Park's principal objective is to support the delivery of the FCO's foreign policy priorities. It works to analyse, understand, and advance the UK's international agenda, fulfil UK public diplomacy strategies, and to inform the policy-making of HMG and the international community. Wilton Park arranges and runs conferences on international affairs for politicians, officials, academics and others from around the world. It also runs a limited number of conferences for private sector customers. ... British Council (BC) - To create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. The British Council receives FCO Grant in Aid funding (£171m in 2012/13 and £162m in 2013/14) representing around 20% of its total turnover (the remainder is generated through the Council's full cost recovery work). The British Council currently operates in 110 countries and territories. The British Council uses the English language, the arts, education and society to build trust in the people of the UK around the world. It has offices in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester. It serves the whole of the UK."

Talks establish fishery hotline - Wu Jiao and Zhang Yunbi, China Daily: "Agricultural authorities from Beijing and Hanoi agreed on Wednesday to establish a fishery emergency hotline, as the leaders of the two countries vowed to prevent disputes from derailing ties. ... On his first official trip to China, Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang and President Xi Jinping also witnessed the signing of another nine agreements in areas including defense, economy and public diplomacy."

Sub-Saharan Africa 2013: Striving to Be a More Perfect Continent - Robin Renée Sanders, Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders, BlogIt-rrs: The Africa Post (TAP): "The old public diplomacy tool about building 'mutual understanding' (which is a not a do-as-I-say-discussion, but a real dialogue) between and among disparate groups about contentious issues needs to come back in vogue. There are a few issues that still hover over the region such a few more nations still need to embrace the range of democracy pillars (transparency, good governance, respect for human rights, access to good education and health care, poverty reduction, etc.), and adding to these is the specter of what is being called 'Jihadism' which has taken hold in several Sahel countries.

But even this "catch phrase" is imperfect and does not taken [sic] into account the home-grown issues and clash of world view aspects of the various groups and subgroups across the Sahel. Again, the issues are multi-dimensional, and solutions may need to be as well. We hear a lot about a regional approach, but may what we need are country-specific approaches in a regional context." Sanders image from entry

Liberia: Foreign Service Students Complete Study Tour - "Over 25 diplomat trainees at the Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute have concluded a three-day study tour to Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, finding out about development initiatives and challenges. They met and talked with local officials, community residents, authorities at the Bassa Community College and community radio operators. ... At the two community radio stations, Radio Gbezohn and Radio Magic, the diplomat trainees based on their study of public diplomacy, wanted to know how the two electronic media groups are projecting the aims and aspirations of the county and its people; and how they approach and handle damage control issues. The Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute offers courses ranging from introduction to diplomacy and diplomatic practices, elements of international relations, public diplomacy, comparative foreign policy and economic and development diplomacy. The Institute, named after one of Liberia's former foreign ministers, was established in 1951 as a professional training and research unit of the Foreign Ministry. It has the mandate to create programs conducive for the exchange of ideas on the political understanding of global economic relations, cultural diversities, integration and issues of conflicts."

Football Diplomacy - Nick Jarman, "Since qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Australia has been exposed to the extent of football as a global brand. Its reach brings people together from all corners, and provides a mutual grounding for groups that might otherwise have few common interests. So when Australia was accepted into the Asian Football Confederation in the same year, it presented Australia with an opportunity to further assimilate itself in the region, with football as the base currency of interactions. This is what’s known as ‘football diplomacy,’ and put simply is the use of a common interest in football to create networks. These networks take on a variety of guises, but predominantly aim at promoting political, business and community engagement with Asia. Football diplomacy could be anything from organising a function at a match between an Australian and Asian team that brings together business people with a common interest in the game, to holding social and community festivals, and to social media interaction. In 2015, Australia plays host to the Asian Cup ... a great opportunity for Australia to promote its image, national branding and networks in the region."

“Engagement” is More Convenient than Helpful: Dissecting a Public Diplomacy Term - Craig Hayden, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "While I readily acknowledge that measurement and evaluation imperatives can ultimately distort the practice of public diplomacy or even conceal the less democratic forms of communication involved in public diplomacy outreach, I think it’s also important to acknowledge that the ambiguity of a term like 'engagement' makes it potentially about everything – all the touch-points, communications, and connections that are involved in public diplomacy. I don’t think this helps practitioners, policy-makers, or commentators. Instead, it perpetuates jargon, and elides more persistent questions about both the purpose and the operative theories that underscore efforts to reach foreign publics."

An exchange on “The Future of Public Diplomacy in Brazil” (March, 2013) - American Diplomacy: "Sent: Sunday, May 26, 2013 10:34 PM Subject: Blair Rapalyea's Article in 'American Diplomacy' Bill, I just read your student Blair Rapalyea's article 'The Future of U.S. Public Diplomacy in Braziland found it both interesting and well researched. My interest was piqued by the fact that in 'Communicating with the World' I included a case study, 'Practicing Public Diplomacy in Brazil.' What a difference 40 years make in that practice!! Congratulations to Blair, and regards to you, Tom (Hans Tuch, Career Minister (ret), Ed) Sent :May 27, 2013 9:48:41 AM EDT Dear Tom, Thanks for your note. I will send it on to Blair. She will be very pleased because your book was on my required reading list so she knows your name well. Your book is a classic. After all these years, it still holds up as the best single source on public diplomacy and especially on field operations. I depend on it in my teaching. For my students I focus what PD practitioners do at embassies and there is no single book that captures that better than yours. I am sure it will have many more years despite the changes that are taking place in the practice of public diplomacy. Best regards, Bill (Ambassador William Rugh (ret), Ed)"

ISA 2013 Thoughts -  Craig Hayden, Intermap: "I realize it’s been a few months since this year’s ISA in San Francisco. We’ve all been busy; I just wanted to share my thoughts before I forget about them. At ISA this year, I was struck by two new developments. First, ISA has attracted a lot of new and important voices on public diplomacy. I was very pleased to spend time with Emily MetzgarSarah Ellen Graham and James Pamment – three scholars who are doing great work on issues related to public diplomacy and I’m glad they are getting more exposure at ISA. I was also happy to participate in a panel pairing more established public diplomacy scholars with doctoral students on the front lines of public diplomacy research questions. It was very encouraging. Second, it struck me that we’re reached a turning point in the “field” of public diplomacy studies. For years, PD scholarship has been characterized in part by a need to articulate its importance and the (at times) frustrating exercise of definitional debate. Basically, PD scholars have been trying to ‘get the word out’ and to cultivate interest across the ISA divisions. I think the PD community at ISA is starting to move past this. At a two-part panel on the new edited volume edited by RS Zaharna, Ali Fisher, and Amelia Arsenault Relational, Networking, and Collaborative Approaches to Public Diplomacy: The Connective Mindshift I noticed differing positions being articulated, on the question of strategy, ethics, and indeed, theory. In other words, it was a sign of real debate. I found this very encouraging for the field as well. Disagreement is a good thing, because it forces us to articulate reasoned arguments. Where to go from here? Based on many discussions, here are a few thoughts. The PD field needs to make a better case for how its interdisciplinary subject-matter is relevant to other fields represented at ISA. There are clearly gains to be made in social scientific empirical work (especially theory-testing that can inform questions of measurement and impact). I also think that it is time for more critical attention to public diplomacy, including but not limited to perspectives that draw from gender, political, sociological, aesthetics, media, and critical/cultural theory. It’s a good time for the field, and I look forward to exciting new projects and papers at ISAs to come."

Calls for Papers: Diaspora in India’s Foreign Policy and National Security: A Comparative Perspective, 6–7 November 2013, New Delhi - "Call for papers: Diaspora in India’s Foreign Policy and National Security: A Comparative Perspective, 6–7 November 2013, New Delhi [.] The Organisation for Diaspora Initiatives (ODI), New Delhi, in cooperation with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the India International Centre (IIC) are inviting paper proposals for the international academic conference on ‘Diaspora in India’s Foreign Policy and National Security: A Comparative Perspective’, to be held on 6–7 November 2013 in New Delhi. ... This conference is part of a series on ‘Diasporas, States and the Role of Policies—Locating Migration and Diaspora Studies in International Relations’ that brings together international scholarship and practitioners to further our understanding of migrants and diaspora communities in international relations. The conferences encourage dialogue between a wide range of academic traditions in the area of diaspora studies, migration research, foreign policy, public diplomacy, political transnationalism, ethnic interest groups, global and regional migration governance, post-colonial theory, and democracy theory."

A Firsthand Novel of Surreal Afghanistan - Every once in a while, a book comes along that makes you want to wrest even your own work from readers’ hands and command that they instead read this. Masha Hamilton’s What Changes Everything is that kind of amazing. Hamilton has experience as a war correspondent, spouse and mother, and it is in part the juxtaposition of these roles that makes this, her fifth novel, so powerful. She knows the surreal world that is present-day Afghanistan firsthand, and she delivers the grief and love that world spills into

our own with pace, grace and—perhaps most surprisingly—humor. ... Hamilton is the director of communications and public diplomacy at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, and the author of four prior novels, including 31 Hours, which the Washington Post called one of the best novels of 2009, and The Camel Bookmobile. She founded two world literacy projects, The Camel Book Drive and the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, which encourages and mentors Afghan women in the hopes that having their stories heard will begin to affect change in their lives, and is a recipient of the Women’s National Book Association Award. Image from entry

Building Bridges –- Guest Blog - Global conversations:

Artemis Papakostouli, Athens, Greece - Public Diplomacy Officer, British Embassy Athens, blogging on Embassy's communication activities and digital media. Papakostouli image from her blog

European MOOCs in Global Context Workshop (19-20 June 2013 @ UW-Madison) - "The European MOOCs [Massive Open Online Courses] in Global Context Workshop, a free and open access (i.e. no RSVP) event will be held in the Wisconsin Idea Room, Education Building, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 19-20 June 2013, This workshop is designed to engender discussion and debate about the MOOCs phenomenon from a European perspective, as well as about the implications of the MOOCs juggernaut for European universities and students.  ...  [Participants include:] Mark S. Johnson is Assistant Professor of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and was previously associate professor of history and education at Colorado College. His research and teaching interests focus on education in Russia and Central Eurasia, especially post-Soviet higher education; and comparative studies of soft power and public diplomacy programs. He has worked as a consultant and evaluator for organizations including the U.S. Department of State, the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Bureau of Asian Research, the Open Society Institute, the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Civilian Research and Development Foundation, the World Bank, the National Research University HigherSchool of Economics in Russia, and Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan.

Faculty, student research set for AEJMC conference - School of Journalism, Indiana University: "Faculty and students plan to attend the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s annual conference Aug. 8-11 in Washington, D.C., and several will present their work or serve as panelists. ... Associate professor Sung-Un Yang will present and participate in several sessions ... [including] a panel presentation, 'Public Diplomacy Research in Journalism and Mass Communication: What We Can Contribute?' in the International Communication Division, co-sponsored by the Public Relations Division."


Turkey overreacts - Editorial, Recep Tayyip Erdogan should move quickly to de-escalate the Gezi Park confrontation before it hurts the nation both domestically and internationally. Last year a task force on U.S.-Turkey relations co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former national security advisor Stephen Hadley urged that the new establishment in Turkey "reassure secular-minded Turks that their way of life has a place in Turkish society, even if secularists failed to do the same for observant Muslims during their long period of ascendancy." It will be easier for Erdogan to restore order if he makes that message his own.

Egyptian activists express outrage over US ambassador's criticism of protests - Egyptian activists express outrage over US ambassador's criticism of protests: Egyptian anti-government activists denounced the U.S. ambassador in Cairo Friday for a statement in which she criticized street protests as the opposition gears up for mass rallies to demand the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi. The outrage mounted after Ambassador Anne Patterson said in a speech earlier this week that she is "deeply skeptical" that protests will be fruitful and defended U.S. relations with Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood as necessary because the group is part of the democratically elected Egyptian government. "Some say that street action will produce better results than elections. To be honest, my government and I are deeply skeptical," she said Tuesday during a seminar organized by a Cairo research center. "Egypt needs stability to get its economic house in order, and more violence on the streets will do little more than add new names to the lists of martyrs." Meanwhile, privately owned TV network ONTV aired footage of what it said was Patterson's convoy of black SUVs in a visit to Khairat el-Shater, a powerful figure in the Muslim Brotherhood who is widely suspected to exercise vast influence over Morsi. The visit also drew criticism from the opposition. The U.S. Embassy declined comment. "Is this democracy that she visits a man who holds no post in the Egyptian state," Harb commented.

Samantha Power America is The Evil Empire - Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. , Samantha Power’s alarming transnationalism is expressed in her enthusiasm for the U.S. to redistribute its wealth to less developed nations, as envisioned in the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. Power’s reflexive willingness to run down her country as a cheapskate when it comes to foreign assistance ignores our generous underwriting of the United Nations and the unmatched magnanimousness of the American people through private charity.

Particularly illuminating is her insistence that we must aid – and although unsaid here, for that matter, intervene militarily on behalf of – countries as long as we have no interest in them: “I think the United States must change its relationship to the Millennium Development Goals. It would make an enormous difference practically and in terms of public diplomacy if we were not second-to-last among rich countries in giving aid away; if we were giving money away, investing in societies that actually don’t have anything to do with our national security. The instances where we make sacrifices strictly in order to benefit other people are so few and far between. Even our democracy rhetoric is so rooted in a story about security and how non-democracies become threats and so on.” (Interview with the one-worlder organization Citizens for Global Solutions. Image from entry

Egypt and Ethiopia agree to tone down propaganda war over water crisis - Egypt and Ethiopia have reached an agreement to halt their propaganda campaign and to dedicate themselves to political discussions toward resolving the crisis of the Renaissance Dam. Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said that discussions with his Ethiopian counterpart regarding the dam were constructive. The two parties have also agreed to go down a political path to resolving the outstanding issues. Following meetings which took place on Monday, Amr said that they were in line with political efforts being exerted by his ministry to protect Egyptian water security. An Egyptian diplomatic source said that the delegations agreed to tone down public opinion on the streets of both countries. They agreed, the source said, to go forward with the technical discussions conducted by experts.

The source also said the Ethiopian side asserted that the project aims at dealing with poverty and development problems in the country. The Ethiopian side has previously shown flexibility, the diplomatic source noted, regarding the triplex Ethiopian, Egyptian and Sudanese committee and agreed to accept its recommendation. However, the source affirmed that Ethiopia is going ahead with the project. Image from entry, with caption: Earlier this month, Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile to facilitate the building of the Renaissance Dam

Chinese Film Projectionists, Once Propaganda Stalwarts, Say They’re Through With Party -  Shannon Liao, Epoch Times: After a buildup of frustration at a lack of pensions and dissatisfying petition results, an unknown number of film projectionists, who worked for decades to assist in the screening of pro-Party propaganda films, have said they plan to renounce their membership in the Chinese Communist Party. Over 8,000 film projectionists, many of them Party members, live in rural parts of Hunan Province, where Mao Zedong plotted his revolutionary guerrilla activities before taking the helm of the Party.

About thirty years ago, these villagers used to travel through the towns in the area to set up screenings of Communist Party propaganda films. “We have all worked for the Communist Party for more than 30 years; a tenth of us have passed away,” said a senior film projectionist, speaking to Epoch Times. “These people had dedicated their youth to the Communist Party, but they couldn’t die in peace. Many people have said they will quit the Party.” He added that about 5,000 of the projectionists have come to a collective agreement to quit the CCP publicly, and go to Beijing to seek redress for their mistreatment. As times changed, the projectionists were outpaced by technology which made their jobs obsolete. Forced to return to their villages, they took up the jobs of their parents’ generation as impoverished farmers, but received no state benefits for their decades of service. Image from entry, with caption: Canadian Falun Gong practitioners participate in a parade to celebrate people who have quit the Chinese Communist Party, such as the 5,000 film projectionists.

Battlefields trip is propaganda - Image from
entry, with caption: PROPOGANDA [sic] David Cameron wants two children from every state secondary school to travel to the First World War battlefields. But letter writer Richard Murphy disagrees with the idea.


(a) NSA leaker Snowden’s clearance had ‘problems’; firm that vetted him under probe - Shaun Waterman, The Washington Times: Nearly 5 million Americans have security clearances at the “Secret” level, just more than a million of them contractors, according to January figures from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Of the 1.4 million who have higher “Top Secret” clearances, more than a third or just under half a million work for contractors.

(b) BHA and BHT: Waxy preservatives linked to cancer and tumors. Found in: Cereal, nut mixes, gum, butter, meat, dehydrated potatoes. Why it’s dangerous: Used to keep food from becoming rancid, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are known to cause cancer in rats. And we’re next! Where it’s banned: England, Japan, and many other European countries. For more information on BHA and BHT, visit Berkley Wellness’ “Two Preservatives To Avoid?”

--From Ashley Perez, "8 Foods We Eat In The U.S. That Are Banned In Other Countries: This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase 'food poisoning.' Original list found in Dr. Jayson Calton and certified nutritionist Mira Calton’s new book, Rich Food, Poor Food"

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