Sunday, October 27, 2013

October 26-27

"The camera tells the truth, but it doesn't give you an idea of how it smelled."

--From on line film, Inside World War II; image from


The Office of Art in Embassies Announces Third Iteration of the American Artist Lecture Series With Richard Tuttle - Media Note, Office of the Spokesperson, U.S. Department of State: "The Department of State’s Office of Art in Embassies (AIE) is pleased to announce the third iteration of the AIE American Artist Lecture Series, on November 4 at Tate Modern-London. In celebration of AIE’s 50th anniversary and in collaboration with Embassy London and Tate, the three-year-long program will feature a total of six noted American artists. Richard Tuttle, the third artist to participate in the lecture series, is one of the most significant American artists working today. The artist has been the subject of hundreds of solo exhibitions since 1965, including numerous museum surveys, ranging from his first, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1975, to more recently, a two-year travelling retrospective organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2005-2007).

Tate Modern, with 45 million visitors since it was established in 2000 as part of the Tate Britain, is a catalyst for the transformation of public attitudes toward the visual arts in the United Kingdom. AIE was established by the Museum of Modern Art in 1953, and formalized as part of the Department of State by the Kennedy Administration in 1963. It is one of the United States’ premier public-private partnership arts organizations, with over 20,000 individual and institutional participants, and a presence in some 200 venues in 189 countries worldwide. AIE furthers U.S. diplomacy through the power of the visual arts by expansive, international cultural exchange initiatives." Image from


Lax Americana: The row with Europe over spying is just one of many diplomatic faux pas: The US has contrived to look feckless and vacillating, dysfunctional and duplicitous - Editorial, "When it comes to more public diplomacy, the US is also floundering. After the wars of the last decade, President Obama’s desire to keep the US out of sapping conflicts in the Middle East is understandable.

But the recent policy zigzags over Syria, Egypt and Iran have merely confused and upset Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other key allies, with no obvious gains. Separately, Brazil’s President cancelled a visit to Washington, planned for this week, out of anger at NSA snooping. So much for a new chapter in relations between the US and Latin America’s most powerful economy. The government shutdown also forced Mr Obama to skip this month’s APEC meeting in Indonesia – so much too for the vaunted 'pivot to Asia'. In the meantime, as the Snowden revelations continue, America’s diplomats must spend their time explaining away the past, instead of focusing on the future. That is no way to run a superpower." Image from

Rebuilding Pakistan-US ties - Ali Imran, "If easing tensions is taken as the first step towards erasing trust deficit between Pakistan and the United States, the outcome of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s White House meeting with President Barack Obama this week could be interpreted differently in narrow and larger perspectives. ... The closest Obama came to touching the prickly drone issue, was when he spoke about counterterrorism at the conclusion of his two-hour meeting with Nawaz Sharif: 'We agreed that we need to continue to find constructive ways to partner together in ways that respect Pakistan's sovereignty, that respect the concerns of both countries.' Analysts believe irrespective of The Washington Post revelations of the past tacit understanding on drone operations, the deadly optics of the tactic are likely to defy goodwill public diplomacy vibes on both sides until the clandestine operations cease and responsibility for civilian deaths is accepted. 'Concerns raised by international nongovernmental groups about civilians killed by drones should cause both governments to limit the program,' The New York Times noted in an editorial as Sharif traveled back. The lingering issue has already been overshadowing productive aspects of the engagement like the US support for Pakistan’s energy and education sectors."

Is the Saudis' value to the U.S. depreciating? Saudi Arabia is trapped between the blossoming relations between Obama and Rohani and the Syrian crisis - Zvi Bar'el, "[T]he Saudis are hearing new voices coming out of Teheran, seeking conciliation with the U.S. Thus, for example, this week there was a proposal by the first deputy speaker of the Iranian parliament, Mohammad Reza Bahonar, to embark on open diplomacy with the U.S. 'Formal diplomacy has limitations which public diplomacy doesn’t have', he explained, saying that football matches or parliamentary delegations can play a role in such diplomacy. Former foreign minister and head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi also declared that a decision to open a line of communications with the U.S. is a decision that supreme leader Ali Khamenei took a year and a half ago. Even an opponent of President Hassan Rohani, Daud Ahmedinejad, brother of the former president, said that 'we are abstaining from attacking the new regime following a request by Khamenei'. These declarations have not gone unrequited by the U.S. Some senators are ready to ease the sanctions or at least allow Iran access to $50 billion that are frozen in American and European banks. Washington is hinting at its intention to invite Iran to a 'Geneva 2' summit conference which will deal with the Syrian crisis. There is also a planned meeting between Iran and the group of 5+1 nations, scheduled for early November, aimed at further discussions of Iranian proposals."

Ted Lipien on Facebook: "How U.S. is losing propaganda and public diplomacy war"; image from entry

How Washington Should Manage U.S.-Russia-China Relations -" "The Heritage Foundation in a Backgrounder on September 12, 2013, published recommendations by Dean Cheng and Ariel Cohen on how to manage U.S.-Russia-China relations. ... [T]he Obama Administration should: ... Promote the rule of law and encourage transparency and good governance in all of Central Asia as well as in Russia and China. Promoting the rule of law is best achieved by promoting civil society and working with state and civil society counterparts in all of these countries. By utilizing soft power policy tools, including social media, public diplomacy, and international broadcasting, the United States can communicate key messages to the various audiences, both about the state of politics in their respective nations as well as alternative perspectives on the relative interests of the key players. Whether it is the Magnitsky list or the case of Chen Guangcheng, the United States should not shirk from supporting human rights and the rule of law, which will ultimately have both political and economic effects."

I wouldnt rule it out - haoba on Saturday, October 26th, 2013, "Venezuelas [sic] foreign minister said last week that relations between the two countries are frozen, and his government sees no possibility of improving them. That came after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuelas [sic] state oil company for doing business with Iran. The foreign minister, Nicolas Maduro, said Venezuela had been trying to establish a dialogue with U.S. officials since Barack Obama became president, but those attempts were spurned. Still, Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary for public diplomacy in the State Departments Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, told the AP that U.S. government remains open to a dialogue with Venezuela on a range of issues. She said that 'public diplomacy efforts like this weeks trip are designed to support traditional diplomacy."

Putting the “D” and “I” Back in DIME - Srett Daniel Shehadey, "Information operations are not and should not be restricted to military or intelligence operations. In fact, it should be separate but also concerted with diplomacy, military, intelligence and the rest of DIMEFIL. Public Diplomacy (PD) and strategic communications (SC) are needed on a massive scale to combat international jihadism, future non-state actors and authoritarian state information agencies and efforts challenging the US identity and influence. All of this could use an international communications strategy to coordinate it under the foreign affairs strategy."

Chinese Military Engaged in Political Warfare Against the United States: Report shows use of semi-secret front groups, influence operations aimed at ‘disintegrating enemies’ - Bill Gertz, "The activities of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) General Political Department (GPD) include funding pro-China activities abroad, recruiting intelligence sources, spreading propaganda, engaging in media activities, funding front groups that promote Chinese strategy and goals and supporting perceived 'friends' of China. ... The report is the first public study of Chinese military political warfare and was produced by the Project 2049 Institute, an Arlington, Va. think tank focused on bringing democracy to China and other Asian countries by 2049. The report states that while all governments seek to shape international opinion, China’s political warfare operations go far beyond traditional public diplomacy.

'Chinese political warfare seeks to shore up legitimacy domestically, reframe international rules of the road, and promote alternatives to widely accepted universal values,' the report said. Unlike public diplomacy, Chinese political warfare involves both intelligence and influence operations under the strategy of 'aligning with friends and disintegrating enemies,' according to the report. Operations to disintegrate enemies differentiate Chinese political warfare from other propaganda and publicity programs, the report said." Image from entry

Xi Jinping: China to further friendly relations with neighboring countries - Xinhua, "Chinese President Xi Jinping has said here that China would strive for a sound neighboring environment for its own development and seek common development with neighboring countries. ... Xi also called for public diplomacy and people-to-people exchanges between China and neighbors for the long-term development of relationships. Diplomatic relations rely on the bond between the peoples, he said.

People-to-people exchange should involve tourism, technology, education and sub-national cooperation, among others, to make many different kinds of friends." Image from entry, with caption: Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Chinese president and chairman of Central Military Commission, speaks during a conference on the diplomatic work on neighboring countries in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 25, 2013See also.

'Constructive ideas' on thorny issues needed - Zhang Yunbi and Li Xiaokun in Beijing and Cai Hong in Tokyo, Experts from China and Japan are calling for 'constructive' grass-roots dialogues to inspire the two governments to repair strained relations. They made the remarks before a cluster of public diplomatic activities following a yearlong political stagnation that developed after the Japanese government announced in September last year it would 'nationalize' China's Diaoyu Islands. ... More than 90 percent of the public in China and Japan have negative feelings toward each other, according to an earlier poll conducted by China Daily and the Japanese nonprofit organization Genron NPO. ... Observers ... suggest that public diplomacy may pave the way for deeper discussions between governments." See also (1) (2).

Chinese overseas-educated talent vital to reform - "Chinese overseas-educated talent will play an important role in reform , vice chairman of the Western Returned Scholars Association Wang Huiyao said Monday. ... 'The new expectation for the overseas-educated as China's talent pool, think tank and the vital force for public diplomacy has indicated the direction for development of the association,' Wang said."

Branding Japan: Not always onward and upward - Jeff Kingston, "Tittering [no, not twittering -- JB] aside, branding matters — and no more so than when nations seek to cultivate an image. In this respect there is always a danger that some clueless functionary will come up with a bad idea that nobody gongs. ... Not that I’m against refreshing Japan’s image by embracing fashion and comic-book characters . ... Takeshi Akahori, director of public diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained, 'The objective is to promote an understanding of Japan, a better image, or the correct image. It’s to show we’re a pretty liberal society where people can express themselves, and that’s not the clichéd idea of Japan. Japan is a free society, where people can choose what they like.' Good to know, but Japanese pop culture has gone global and buffed Japan’s image without any government help, so why ruin everything with the stifling and discrediting hand of official sponsorship? Staging the 2020 Summer Olympics is a great opportunity for Japan to burnish the national brand, but things have got off to a rocky start." See also.

Israel asks U.S. Jews, Israelis: Where do your loyalties lie? PM orders ministries to stop distributing the survey, which asks questions about dual allegiance and the Jewish lobby in America - Barak Ravid, "Two sensitive and potentially explosive issues have always clouded the relationship between the Jewish community in the United States and the State of Israel. The first relates to claims of 'dual allegiance' to both Israel and the United States; the other concerns the pro-Israel, American 'Jewish lobby.' Many of those raising such claims against American Jewry have themselves been accused of anti-Semitism. So it's strange that representatives of Israel’s immigrant absorption and foreign ministries have just distributed a questionnaire to tens of thousands of Israelis living

in the United States and Jewish Americans, which includes problematic questions on exactly these issues, and asks them to indicate where their allegiance would lie in the case of a crisis between the two countries. ... However, it is unclear what governmental level approved this move, or whether absorption or foreign ministry officials checked what type of questions would be asked. Only after several of the consulates had already distributed the survey to tens of thousands of recipients did some Israeli diplomats realize the significance, and partially halted its distribution. 'Tell her not to send it out. The questions in this survey are unbearable and not legitimate,' Gil Lainer, consul for public diplomacy at the Israeli Consulate in New York, wrote to one of his colleagues in an email." Image from article, with caption: The Israel Day Parade makes its way up New York's Fifth Ave., Sunday June 2, 2013.

Shabbat Dinner with a Side of Journalism Ethics - Richard Horgan, "The Jewish Scholastic Press Association’s first-ever convention and Shabbaton is in full swing in Los Angeles. ... The convention’s kickoff last night also included a keynote by Dana Erlich, Israeli consul for culture, media and public diplomacy in Los Angeles. That talk was held at a private home and focused on advice for journalists on future assignment in Israel."

Presidential advisor: Egypt keen on establishing balanced relations with all countries - "Presidential advisor Dr. Moustafa Hegazi said that Egypt is keen on establishing balanced relations with all the countries in the world and developing them on the basis of joint interests. In statements to the London-based newspaper 'Al-Sharq Al-Awsat' in Wednesday's 23/10/2013 edition, Hegazi stated that there is a public deplomatic delegation prepares to go to Moscow on Thursday 24/10/2013 to activate the Egyptian-Russian relations. He clarified that such relations should be based on using natural and useful channels to develop relations between the nations and governments, and the public diplomacy is one of these channels. He related the recent approach between Egypt and Russia with the coldness in relation between Egypt and the US, pointing out that 'new Egypt' does not move according to reactions, but according to its interests regardless of anything else." See also.

Clive Palmer's Next Move: Hosting World Leaders At Coolum, With Video Messages From Kofi Annan And Bill Clinton - "In what could turn out to be a delicate moment for Australia’s standing in the world, mining magnate and and potentially a member of the nation’s incoming parliament, Clive Palmer, is set to play host to more than a dozen high-powered former world leaders at his resort in Queensland in just a matter of weeks. Last December, Palmer was appointed 'Joint Secretary-General' of the newly minted World Leadership Alliance alongside the former Spanish Foreign Minister Carlos Westendorp. The Alliance itself builds upon the World Leadership Council of global business leaders of which Palmer is President, and both of which are the initiative of Club de Madrid, the largest member organisation of former democratic presidents and prime ministers. ... The Club itself has no formal advisory role with the G20. Nevertheless it has likely played a helpful role in influencing the broader public diplomacy around it as it has with similar institutions such as the World Bank and IMF, the OECD, the World Trade Organisation, ASEAN and the UN."

Former ambassador Karen Hughes speaks about women’s roles in politics at Horseshoe Bay event - "The Star Republican Women’s club hosted Karen P. Hughes, a former U.S. ambassador and a counselor to President George W. Bush, at its meeting and luncheon Oct. 22 at Quail Point Lodge in Horseshoe Bay. She spoke about women’s roles in politics and shared candid moments from her time in the Bush administration.

Hughes is a former TV news reporter and a past executive director of the Republican Party of Texas and currently serves as the global chairwoman of Burson-Marsteller, a national public relations firm." Image from entry, with caption: Karen P. Hughes, the former under secretary of state for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs for President George W. Bush, greets Mason resident Mona Lois Schmidt.

Mass. lawmaker joins AG race - "In 2011, then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed Naughton [State Rep. Harold 'Hank' Naughton] to the International Security Advisory Board.

The board, made up of 24 members, provides the department with independent insight and advice on all aspects of arms control, disarmament, international security and related aspects of public diplomacy. The board provides its recommendations directly to the secretary." Uncaptioned Image from entry


The Drone-Strike Victims Coming To Congress - Emily Greenhouse, New Yorker: North Waziristan, a hub of Taliban activity, has suffered more drone strikes than any other part of the country. A study released Tuesday by Amnesty International determined that at least nineteen civilians in North Waziristan had been killed in forty-five known drone strikes since January of 2012, when President Obama avowed that his drone program was “kept on a very tight leash” and had

not caused “a huge number of civilian casualties. At an October 29 briefing in Congress, it will be the first time that American legislators hear direct testimony from civilian victims of a drone strike. Uncaptioned image from entry of a drone victim. Via a Facebook friend

Rice Offers a More Modest Strategy for Mideast - Marc Landler, Each Saturday morning in July and August, Susan E. Rice, President Obama’s new national security adviser, gathered half a dozen aides in her corner office in the White House to plot America’s future in the Middle East. The policy review, a kind of midcourse correction, has set the United States on a new heading in the world’s most turbulent region. At the United Nations last month, Mr. Obama laid out the priorities he has adopted as a result of the review. The United States, he declared, would focus on negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran, brokering peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and mitigating the strife in Syria. Everything else would take a back seat. The president’s goal, said Ms. Rice, who discussed the review for the first time in an interview last week, is to avoid having events in the Middle East swallow his foreign policy agenda, as it had those of presidents before him. Not only does the new approach have little in common with the “freedom agenda” of George W. Bush, but it is also a scaling back of the more expansive American role that Mr. Obama himself articulated two years ago, before the Arab Spring mutated into sectarian violence, extremism and brutal repression.

Obama is failing the Middle East, and U.S. interests there - John McCain and Lindsey Graham, The United States is experiencing a serious failure of policy and loss of credibility in the Middle East. Events in the region are headed in a perilous direction, and there is little reason to feel confident that the Obama administration has a strategy to secure U.S. interests and values in this vitally important part of the world.

Iraq Tips Toward the Abyss: So far this year, some 7,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, but Americans don't seem to have noticed - Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal: Iraq has been asking the U.S. for help with counterterrorism, including the use of U.S. drones to help secure its porous border with Syria. An administration more mindful of U.S. security interests than of its campaign slogans should help the Iraqis out.

U.S. inattention to Libya breeds chaos - David Ignatius, U.S. influence in the Middle East has been declining for many reasons. Some of them, like America’s weariness after a decade of war, or the difficulty in stopping sectarian killing in Syria, don’t have a quick fix. But with Libya, it’s inexcusable to keep sitting on our hands, bickering about Benghazi, while the country goes down the drain.

Stallone exhibition attracted a full house in the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg [Google "translation"] - Ilya Grigoriev, RIA Novosti: "Exhibition of paintings by American actor, director and screenwriter Sylvester Stallone, which opened Sunday at the Engineers' Castle of the Russian Museum

in St. Petersburg, has caused an unprecedented boom in the first day of the exhibition, told RIA Novosti Deputy Director for Science Museum of Russian Yevgeny Petrov." Image from entry, with caption: Photo to the material, "Stallone gathered a sold-out show at the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg"


High school senior portraits are getting more elaborate — and expensive - Steve Hendrix, Washington Post: Portrait photographers in the region have noticed the uptick in families paying hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars for senior high school pictures. Some photographers

are devoting their whole business to seniors eager to be photographed with their dogs, their cellos, their pickups and their motorcycles. Image from article, with caption: Kayla Chernof has her senior portrait taken.


--From; via VS on Facebook


"Crisis In Underwear 70% of mens [sic] underwear is bought by Women. Empower yourself today with TOMMY JOHN. 26,332 people like"


"God is a sadist and probably doesn't know it."

--Line from Cross of Iron (1977)

No comments: