Wednesday, October 2, 2013

September 30-October 2

Abbreviated edition

"It is the glory and misery of the artist's lot to transmit a message of which he does not possess the translation."

--André Lhote; cited in The Times Literary Supplement (September 20, 2013), p. 17; image of Lhote painting from, with caption: L'Escale, 1913, Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris


Public Diplomacy: Academic and Cultural Exchange Programs October 17, 2013 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM EDT Brookings Institution Washington, DC; via MP


14 Years of Undermining Public Diplomacy - Robert Schadler, "There have been plenty of bad days in U.S. history. But Oct. 1st should be higher on the list than most people think. On that date in 1999, President Bill Clinton formally abolished the U.S. Information Agency, spinning off its broadcasting element into an independent agency and merging most of the rest into the Department of State. The effort was the product of a curious bipartisan alliance between conservative Sen. Jesse Helms and liberal Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and its effects were far reaching – shooting U.S. public diplomacy . ... The post of Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy is currently vacant (a nominee has just been announced), as it has been for much of the past decade. Imagine fighting a war (of ideas or any other kind) lacking top leadership. But the rot goes deeper: Key lieutenants responsible for a variety of public diplomacy functions are also notably 'vacant' or 'acting.' These include, according to State's own website, the Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs (vacant), the Acting Coordinator for International Information Programs, the Acting Principal Deputy Coordinator for International Information Programs, the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Digital Strategy and the post of Director of the Office of Policy Planning and Resources (vacant). ... [T]he State Department's Office of the Inspector General issued two damning reports earlier this year. The first was a scathing indictment  of the Board of Broadcasting Governors, which oversees the government's official radio and TV public diplomacy.

The whole report is revealing, but among its key judgments were that the Board's ‘dysfunction … impeded normal management functions,’ and that it was plagued by ‘chronic vacancies and absences.’ The second IG report, of the critically important Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), is also not for the faint of heart. ‘IIP leadership failed to convey its strategic vision,’ the study found, and ‘created an atmosphere of secrecy, suspicion and uncertainty.’ ... [W]orst of all: [there is] no strategic vision about what the U.S. government should be doing to inform (and perhaps even influence) key foreign publics. After all, great energy and hard work can't replace knowing what you're trying to accomplish. The repercussions are still being felt today. Vladimir Putin's Russia, the People's Republic of China and assorted jihadi radicals are all "in the game" of effective public diplomacy – explaining what they think of the USA. Both the U.S. and the world at large deserve an effective counterweight. But that would require bipartisan leadership, and the political will to undo the harm done fourteen years ago by reconstituting an effective, independent public diplomacy agency. Sadly, neither is in evidence. Robert A. Schadler is Senior Fellow in Public Diplomacy at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC." Image from

Unison Agency President Discusses Restaurant Branding Opportunities in Afghanistan: U.S. Embassy Kabul’s Foreign Commercial Service invited Unison’s president and co-founder, Robert Fardi, to speak on the importance of brand for international franchises - "U.S. Embassy Kabul’s Foreign Commercial Service invited Unison’s president and co-founder, Robert Fardi, to speak on the importance of brand for international franchises. The sponsored franchise trade event for seven major international franchise brands and more than 100 Afghan businessmen was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Unison is a brand innovation firm, based in Washington, DC, with expertise in developing brands and digital platforms for the restaurant and hospitality industry. ... Fardi was forthright in his assessment of prospects for the region. 'We are bullish on the opportunities in Afghanistan for food franchising opportunities by U.S. brands. With 60% of the population under twenty years of age, U.S. fast-food brands, in particular, represent both employment and professional training benefits and serve as a public diplomacy tool to stay engaged with our friends in Afghanistan as military involvement winds down in 2014,' Fardi said. ... 'Job creation through trade is a key element of the U.S. government mission in Afghanistan. Franchising has proven to be an ideal market vehicle for both employment and economic growth. With the high demand for American franchise brands in Afghanistan, we are confident that this conference will lead to success for both American franchises and Afghan entrepreneurs,' said Embassy Kabul’s Senior Commercial Officer, Walter Koenig. Unison will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. In that time, it has established a formidable restaurant and hospitality practice applying its noted branding expertise to some of the best-known global food brands, including Cava Mezze Grill, Salsarita's, sweetgreen, CaliBurger, Thompson Hospitality, ThinkFoodGroup, Gourmet Gulf Company,

Snikiddy, Sushiko, Brown Bag and Artisan House LA among others." Image from

Shutdown - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Well, this [U.S. government] shutdown is turning into a depression for me, because it looks like a pd project (Hispaniola Blues) I was working on is probably going to crash on the shoals of the shutdown." See also (from Facebook): Paul Rockower Danny: you forget I am homeless 2.0 John: Funemployment Leah: days employed scheming and plotting to take over the world via propaganda (err...public diplomacy). I would consider that gainful.

How Promotion of Religious Freedom Can Help Prevent Extreme Violence [includes video] - PBS Newshour: "SUZAN JOHNSON COOK [U.S. Ambassador-at-large for Religious Freedom]: Well, we certainly don't go to impose. But there's the universal declaration of human rights. And we make sure that the standards -- that our international agreements are adhered to. So it's not about imposing United States standards, but adhering to the international standards. So, part of it is, we use all the diplomatic tools that are available to us, diplomacy, where I have visited now 26 nations of the world. We use public diplomacy, where I talk here around the country about issues of religious freedom. And we have an annual religious freedom report that comes out. And it shows the trends of all 199 countries each year."

Government funded media deemed essential - Hadas Gold, Polito: "Government funded media programs have been deemed "essential" and will continue programming during the government shutdown, the Broadcasting Board of Governors announced Tuesday. Programs like Voice of America, Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí), Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa) are considered 'foreign relations essential to national security.' In a statement to Foreign Policy, BBG spokesperson Lynne Weil pushed back on critics who say the media activities are not more essential than other offices experiencing furloughs. 'The fact that the Office of Management and Budget signed off on this indicates how high a priority our broadcasting activities are,' Weil said. 'They're deemed foreign relations essential to national security according to a legal determination. The mission of the agency is to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.'" Via TL on Facebook

Obama, Kerry Push and Pull in Rocky Year with Russia - "During the course of the year, Kerry and US President Barack Obama have addressed ... sticking points in bilateral relations with often critical comments of the Kremlin, but the two men tasked with directing US foreign policy have also consistently used the language of cooperation and Realpolitik in assessing Washington’s relationship with Moscow.

[Entry includes:] ... [A] rundown of quotes from Obama and Kerry this year illustrating this push-and-pull public diplomacy with Russia." Putin image from entry

Fair Observer: Best of the Month - "Eventually, Obama took the [Syria] deal offered by Vladimir Putin, but only after a breathtaking act of public diplomacy on the part of the Russian president, who published an article in the New York Times."

New frontiers in Twitter diplomacy: Barack Obama, the president of Iran, and Jack Dorsey - Mathew Ingram, "Summary: First the president of Iran has a back-and-forth with U.S. president Barack Obama on the occasion of their historic phone call, then he responds to a question from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey about free speech in Iran. ... On Saturday, Twitter co-founder Dorsey posted a message welcoming Rouhani to Twitter, saying it was 'inspiring' to see him using the service. Then on Tuesday morning, Dorsey asked him if the citizens of his country had the same right to use Twitter — a question that might have been spurred by comments from observers like former advisor to the Secretary of State Alec Ross, who said after the Obama-Rouhani exchange that 'Rouhani cannot justify using Twitter for public diplomacy if he denies his citizens the right to use it.'

A Call for Public Diplomacy Between the U.S. and Iran - Jon Letman, Huffington Post: "As Americans we should make the effort to reach out to Iran and show them that we want better relations as much -- no, more than -- our government. The job of repairing a three-decade tear in U.S.-Iranian relations is too important to leave to the politicians and in the end we must realize that our people are not so different after all."

Diplomatic Fallout: Multiple Crises Leave U.N. No Time to Rest on Syria Laurels - Richard Gowan, "After Rouhani’s very public diplomacy in New York, which included speeches at Manhattan think tanks as well as his set-piece address to the General Assembly, the most important discussions on Iran’s nuclear program are now likely to take place through confidential channels."

Rouhani: Iran-US civil contacts useful, while nuclear issue main obstacle for relations - S. Isayev, N. Umid, [27 September 2013]: "The contacts between people of Iran and the U.S. are useful, however resolving the nuclear issue is the main step towards repairing the Iran-US relations, Islamic Republic's president Hassan Rouhani said, Afkar news reported. ... Rouhani went on to say that the visits of U.S. citizens to Iran and Iranian visits to US could help establishing a

public diplomacy, answering a question about opening a U.S. interest section in Iran. ... Further speaking about the bans on satellite receiver antennas in Iran, Rouhani criticized the move, saying that banning is an idea that belongs to the past, adding that 'all people in the world, including those in Iran have access to satellite TV channels.'" Image from, with caption: An Iranian boy stands between the placards of Iran and United States during the opening ceremony of 29th international 'Takhti Cup' wrestling tournament in Tehran on March 12, 2009.

Israeli embassy 'makes a splash' - Dylan Byers, Politico [September 25]: "Earlier this week, Israel's U.S. embassy created a parody LinkedIn account for Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, that was meant to case doubt on Rouhani's olive-branch rhetoric. ... Today, the Israeli embassy has published its own explanation for why it decided to troll the Iranian president: 'In public diplomacy, sometimes you need to make a splash in order to open a dialogue. Some have described our LinkedIn as 'epic' and others have called it 'childish.' Whichever angle the media or Twitterverse took, the project revived a conversation that we feel was being omitted from the public discourse. In this regard, we achieved our goal. ... Since his election, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has embarked on a public diplomacy campaign to relieve sanctions while continuing to advance Iran's nuclear program. ... The true test for Rouhani must be in his regime's actions and not words.' It is rather amazing that diplomatic efforts are now being conducted via social media gags like parody LinkeIn accounts... You'd think that was just the stuff of election-year politics."

Netanyahu Sidelined on Iran By His Anti-Rouhani Speech - Mazal Mualemal, "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, known as 'Mr. Public Diplomacy,' in fact could not adequately handle the change in tone on Iran, and turned Israel

into a marginal player in the current diplomatic process." Image from article, with caption: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also seen on a television monitor, addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Oct. 1, 2013.

The Egyptian state’s insecure victory over the Brotherhood - H. A. Hellyer, "Last week, Tunisia’s president suggested Egypt’s interim authorities release Mohammad Mursi, the ousted Egyptian president, as well as all political detainees. In response, the Egyptian government recalled its ambassador from Tunis, and a furore began within Egypt over the Tunisian position. That sort of reaction is not isolated. Over the past few weeks, efforts in Europe and North America have intensified by Egypt’s new interim authorities to promote its narrative over what has happened in Egypt since July 3rd. This is not your regular, run-of-the-mill public diplomacy outreach – it is a reaction to what the interim authorities feel is the lack of fairness of the international community vis-à-vis Egypt. These efforts are not simply limited to officials within the foreign ministry – but to supporters of the interim government who are part of the broader effort. The problem is – they have a pretty hard case to sell."

SRK may become Public Diplomacy Ambassador between India and Korea -
“According to The Hindu newspaper, the government of the Republic of Korea may soon appoint Shah Rukh Khan as the ‘Public Diplomacy Ambassador’ or ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ to promote goodwill and bilateral relations between India and the Republic of Korea. Ambassador of the Republic of Korea said that

SRK has accepted the proposal from his country, ‘The popular Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan is going to be appointed as the Public Diplomacy Ambassador soon. Talks are on regarding the place and date of a ceremony to announce him as the Ambassador.’ Ambassador Lee also said that the agreement with SRK for this position will be for a period of one year initially. SRK is very popular in South Korea. Explaining SRK's popularity in South Korea, Kwanghyun Jung (president of the 14,000 member strong Korea Indian Film Association) told The Telegraph newspaper in 2012 that SRK is the biggest Bollywood icon in his country and said, ‘Most of our members are women, and they fall in love with SRK. They like his dance and acting. When he cries, almost all of us cry with him.’" Uncaptioned image from entry

Islamabad’s myopic view of New Delhi! - Haider Mehdi, "In his meeting with the US President, the Indian Prime Minister bitterly lambasted Pakistan.

Singh also told reporters, 'I look forward to the meeting with Nawaz Sharif even though the expectations have to be toned down given the terror arm which is still active in our subcontinent.' It is absolutely clear that the 'reconciliation” comments at the end of the Sharif-Singh meeting were made at the urging of the US, which has been pursuing its own geo-political and economic interests by promoting Indian’s hegemony in the region, and possibly in entire South-East Asia and beyond, as a US strategic partner in its China-Russia 'containment policy'. Also the reconciliation announcement at the end of the meeting was utterly meaningless public diplomacy rhetoric for public consumption and for the political purposes of both Pakistani Prime Minister and his counterpart in India. In addition, Pakistani political leaders’ endless focus on an 'Indian Connection' as the epicenter of its foreign policy success is also a diplomatic demand that the US and the IMF have imposed as a pre-condition to financial assistance. Because of its own domestic and political leadership weaknesses, Pakistan is being held hostage to the whims and dictates of others." Image from article

Indonesians won't tolerate coming off second best - "[I]n the Indonesian parliament and media ... Indonesia always comes out second-best in dealing with foreigners. For example, last year President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reduced Schapelle Corby's sentence by five years [see]. This was in response to representations by Australia that had been made in private and not transmitted through public diplomacy.

The President, however, faced loud criticism from members of the Indonesian parliament whose members are strongly opposed to illegal drug use. The Indonesian foreign ministry, in an unprecedented move, last week released minutes of previously confidential discussions with Foreign Minister Bishop. That can be read in only one way. Their government was managing domestic opinion, which wants to know their leaders aren't caving in to intrusions on Indonesian sovereignty, especially by a brash new bunch of Aussie politicians." Image: An Indonesian boatload of asylum seekers. See also

Diplomat-NGO hackathon tackles freedom of speech and sustainability - Liat Clark, "How many diplomats does it take to solve a crisis? It turns out the answer to that question might be one diplomat, one NGO, and a whole lot of developers. At least that was the premise being debated and played out at Diplohack this week at the Hub in Westminster. 'We wanted to do something innovative, using open data and technology,' Jon Pelling, head of communications for the

Swedish Embassy in London, told 'We're interested in using technology in diplomacy in general and have strong networks ourselves, with NGOs etc.' The idea of Diplohack however, was to open up those networks and that knowledge to each other, and to the public, using technology to pave the way and help solve community problems. Pelling and his Dutch counterpart Weijer Vermeer, press and public diplomacy attaché at the Dutch Embassy in London, discussed the idea of a diplomat/NGO/developer hack day a year ago. And just four weeks ago they sat down to make it happen." Image from entry

leahrousseau - "I am a Master of Public Diplomacy!"

Rousseau image from Facebook


Israel's Failing Strategy: The Jewish state cannot rely on the United States for its security - Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal: Israelis need to adapt to a global reality in which the Americans are willing to do less, and consequently count for less. What Mr. Netanyahu has been doing instead is granting Mr. Obama a degree of leverage and a presumption of authority over the Jewish state to which he is not entitled and has done little to deserve. That needs to stop.

Rouhani Won't Decide on Nuclear Iran: Tehran's efforts to evade U.N. sanctions are at odds with the new president's diplomatic overtures - Don Coughlin, Wall Street Journal: After the clever public-relations offensive that Mr. Rouhani mounted at last week's U.N. gathering in New York, which culminated in a phone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama, expectations have inevitably been raised that Iran is serious about taking a more constructive approach to negotiations over the future of its nuclear program. Yet at the same time that Mr. Rouhani was undertaking his Manhattan charm offensive, back home in Tehran, his government's approach told a very different story.

To protect Syria's antiquities — don't buy them: Looting has flourished during the conflict there, putting archaeological sites at risk of crude excavations - Erin Thompson, As the international community wrestles

with what action it must take to end the death and destruction in Syria, every one of us can help simply by not acting — that is, by not buying Syrian antiquities, beautiful as they are. For the sake of Syria's heritage, and the world's, remember: No market means no looting. Image from article, with caption: A Syrian man walks among rubble of destroyed residential buildings minutes after an airstrike hit Habit village, in the Syrian central province of Hama, on Wednesday.

State Dept Declares Inspector General Office “Non-Essential”, Furloughs All Staffers Except a Handful (Corrected) - Domani Spero, DiploPundit: That’s right. The office entrusted with ensuring that waste, fraud, and abuse does not occur within the Department was deemed “non-essential” and sent home without pay.

If It Happened There ... the Government Shutdown - Joshua Keating, The current rebellion has been led by Sen. Ted Cruz, a young fundamentalist lawmaker from the restive Texas region, known in the past as a hotbed of separatist activity. Activity in the legislature ground to a halt last week for a full day as Cruz insisted on performing a time-honored American demonstration of stamina and self-denial, which involved speaking for 21 hours, quoting liberally from science fiction films and children’s books.

The gesture drew wide media attention, though its political purpose was unclear to outsiders. This is the first installment of “If It Happened There,” a regular feature in which American events are described using the tropes and tone normally employed by the American media to describe events in other countries. Image from article, with caption: WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 30: The sun sets on an uneasy capital.


--By Valentin Tkach, of (presumably) a "New Russian" (well now evidently not so new); via FW on Facebook

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