Friday, November 15, 2013

November 15

“I stood in line for an hour and a half to eat really bad pizza.”

--U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, a Rhodes scholar recalling his first visit to the Soviet Union in 1983; image from:  Pizza Hut Express sign in cyrillic, dated 6 July 2007


U.S. Ambassador to Japan– Caroline Kennedy  [scroll down link for item]– Diplopundit: "Here is our new ambassador to Tokyo. Japanese subtitle. 24, 553 views. According to JDP, Ambassador Kennedy is set to arrive at the Narita International Airport Friday afternoon and on Tuesday next week, she will be presenting her credentials to Emperor Akihito to formally start her envoy duties.  This will be a closely followed tenure."


APDS Conference 2013: Public Diplomacy of the Americas - "Join USC Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars tomorrow [November 15] for their annual APDS Conference: Public Diplomacy of the Americas. Hearing from experts and practitioners speaking on cultural diplomacy, the diplomacy of trade and investment, and broadcast and digital diplomacy. They hope to see you there! Via GH on Facebook"


Heatherly, Metzgar to present at next Research Colloquium - Indiana University School of Journalism:
"Learn about research on press briefings and public diplomacy at the next Research Colloquium at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 22 in the Ernie Pyle Hall lounge. ... Assistant professor Emily Metzgar will talk about 'Charting a Discipline’s Development: A Meta-Analysis of Public Diplomacy Literature,'  which looks at peer-reviewed literature that focuses on public diplomacy since 2001. 'While findings point to the unsettled nature of discussion about public diplomacy, results also suggest wide-ranging agreement about the importance of public diplomacy as an important foreign policy tool at the intersection of international relations and public affairs,' she writes in the abstract.


Exporting Education - Online courses are taking off in developing countries, but there’s a major downside - Anya Kamenetz, Slate: "Though the modern massive open online course movement (MOOCs) originated in North America, two-thirds of their users live abroad—in places like Rwanda, China, and Brazil. ... Around the world: U.S. embassies in more than 40 countries are hosting weekly discussions for students enrolled in single MOOCs in partnership with Coursera. Embassy employees and Fulbright fellows host the free 'MOOC Camp' sessions. Sites include India, China, Bolivia, and topics include English, science, technology, engineering, business, and U.S. government and politics.

All of this activity aimed at extending access to learning is encouraging, but it’s important not to be so carried away by techno-exuberance that we lose sight of some of the potential opportunity costs involved. The danger in overreliance on global MOOCs is that they don’t build local capacity for education, research or knowledge creation in the education sector. ... It’s easy to imagine a future in which the educational equivalent of reruns of Baywatch—a limited menu of glossy American fare—comes to dominate the cultural landscape in developing countries around the world, making it more difficult for cash-starved universities in those countries to pursue scholarship relevant to local contexts. This potential undermining of local education becomes especially problematic when the U.S. government takes an official role in promoting the use of MOOCs as a form of public diplomacy." Image from article, with caption: Bolivian students in 2010. Can rising computer-teaching in developing countries enhance, rather than compete with, existing education systems?

[U.S. Ambassador to Russia] Michael McFaul - Facebook: "Hosted a fantastic concert by Bill Evans

and his Soulgrass band tonight. Cultural events at Spaso House [ambassador's residence] are one of he best benefits of this job!" Image from entry

Spying allegation will not affect US-Malaysia ties: US State Dept - Bernama, "Allegations pertaining to the United States spying activities would not adversely affect Washington-Kuala Lumpur ties, said Jane Chongchit Houston, the US State Department's country coordinator for Maritime Southeast Asia, Office of Public Diplomacy. She said the US was open to any dialogue if there was disagreement, and the strong people-to-people connection between Malaysians and Americans would help overcome any issue involving the two countries. ' It is easier to solve matters if there is more human interaction between two countries. People-to-people relations between Malaysia and the US is very strong, with annually more than 100 people involved in exchange programmes at various levels, including students and professionals,' she told Bernama during a dinner with Malaysia-American Exchange Programmes Alumni organised by the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur here last night.
Houston, who is based in Washington DC, was on a two-day visit here after visiting Manila, Jakarta and Singapore. She visited Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (Unitar) to discuss opportunities for the students to undergo internship in the US and the Islamic Arts Museum. Houston said since US and Malaysia established diplomatic ties in 1957, more than 6,000 Malaysians had been sent to the US for various exchange programmes, including the International Visitor Leadership Programme, trainings, internships and student exchange programmes. ' These exchange programme alumni members have better understanding on the US and will make positive impact in bilateral ties when they become leaders in future. The alumni members are the solid foundation for a stronger US-Malaysia ties later,' she reasoned."

EU Leaders Should Change Tone When Talking to Rest of the World - Mai’a K. Davis Crossand Jan Melissen, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Europe can still pull itself together. With its highly-active populations, assertive regions, diverse member states, activist town halls, and attractive cities, Europe remains a mosaic of collective projection capacity without equal in the world. Future public diplomacy should build on Europe’s evident strengths at the sub-national level, closer to civil society. European policy-makers must also wake up to the fact that maintaining the traditional separation of domestic and external communication spheres is completely out of touch with the reality of vast information flows that simply ignore borders. Recurring criticism of EU foreign policy chief Lady Ashton has compounded difficulties for Europe’s diplomatic service to fight Europe’s negative image in the world. It is time to start trusting EU diplomats to develop new public diplomacy traditions that are also in the interests of states. The EU External Action Service could be instrumental in moving away from the EU’s greatest shortcoming in public diplomacy: its tendency towards talking at others. Beyond such one-way ‘infopolitik’, internal image and external image are of course related. When others start talking about Europe in a more positive light, Europeans themselves may even start believing that there is some truth to what they say."

Summit “Serbian International Model NATO- SIM NATO 2013″ Held In Belgrade - "An international student summit entitled 'Serbian International Model NATO- SIM NATO 2013', during which the decision-making process in the Alliance was simulated in the previous five days, ended in Belgrade on Friday. On the final day of the summit, Slovakian Ambassador in Belgrade Jan Varso, whose state is a contact embassy between Serbia and the Alliance, underlined the importance of the exchange of information between Belgrade and Brussels. Varso placed a special emphasis on public diplomacy

and mutual visits of officials from Belgrade and Brussels as part of the efforts that the Slovakian Embassy is investing in that segment of its work. The summit, which began on November 11, brought together around one hundred young people from 50 countries. The young people could get acquainted with NATO’s specific mission, purpose and competencies by simulating decision-making procedures within the Alliance. The event was organized by the non-governmental organization 'Association for International Cooperation and Dialogue'." Image from entry

China’s soft power failure in the Philippines deepens - Heather Timmons, "China’s paltry aid to the Philippines—the government at first offered just $100,000—has been roundly criticized as a failure of humanitarianism and a blow to the country’s efforts to increase its soft power . ... Who is giving how much to the Philippines is becoming seen as more than just a matter of humanitarian aid. The situation is now being interpreted as a mounting point of dissent between China and the many nations who disagree with the country’s South China Sea push.

Some policy experts in China said the paltry aid came because Chinese officials didn’t want to upset the Chinese public, who believe China rightfully occupies islands near the Philippines, not because they didn’t understand international diplomacy. 'Nationalist sentiment' is strong in China and people are 'vindictive,' Qiao Mu, the dean of the Centre for International Communications Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the South China Morning Post. 'Public diplomacy is outweighed by domestic public opinion.' Comments by Chinese citizens dismissive of the tragedy that appeared on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, were so widely-circulated that the Foreign Ministry was forced to address them in its daily briefing on Thursday. 'For God’s sake give them nothing,' said one Sina Weibo user. 'We’ve given them enough in the past.' 'Believe me that the Chinese are a nation who have a lot of sympathy, a people who love peace, who are happy to do good deeds,' ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. 'I believe that the vast majority of the Chinese people are understanding and sympathetic towards the situation of the Philippine people.'” Image from entry, with caption: Not much need for blankets

Is Kerry aiming for an Israeli coalition crisis? - Mati Tuchfeld, "In his column, which was written while the government and the IDF Spokesperson's Unit were busy with public diplomacy efforts meant to explains Israel's position, while simultaneously battling an international incitement campaign promoted by Turkey, Shelah [MK Ofer Shelah] wrote: 'Nations that wish to remain members of the international community, and Israel must be among them to ensure its survival if nothing else, simply do not do such things. They do not sic armed soldiers on ships carrying civilians, even if they are trying to breach the sacred blockade on Gaza.'"

Comment: Did Israel really poison Yasser Arafat? - Ran Edelist, Sof Hashavua, Jerusalem Post:
"Speculation on whether or not former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat was poisoned or not, and by whom, has been rampant in the media in recent days, after the Swiss team of experts commissioned to investigate his death released their findings last week. ...  The head of the team from Lausanne University Hospital's Institute of Radiation Physics, Professor Patrick Mangim, told Channel 10 that 'it can be surmised that Arafat died as a

result of radioactive polonium being inserted into his food or drinking water.' ... For the most part, the Israeli reaction to the Swiss report was all-out denial of the assassination. ... Former minister and intel officer Rafi Eitan, who claims that assassinations are a legitimate tool against security threats, estimated that 'the possibility cannot be ruled out that Abu Mazen (PA President Mahmoud Abbas) and [former PA security chief Mohammed] Dahlan are behind the assassination.' ... There are scientific explanations as well. Dr, Ehud Ne'eman, a radiation specialist at the Environmental Protection Ministry believes that 'in no laboratory, as sophisticated as it may be, is it possible to discover that any amount was allegedly put in food.' Radiation expert Dr. Dario Vertnik also joined the scientific public diplomacy attack, claiming that 'getting polonium is not a can go to a mine, give a few bucks, buy the mineral and extract from it polonium...' From here on out Dr, Vertnik became Sherlock Holmes: 'In the eight years since Arafat died, it was possible to add the polonium to his belongings.'" Image from article, with caption: Former Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat surrounded by doctors from Tunis, Egypt and Jordan

Marking International Education Week in Montana - Abraham Kim, "According to the Institute of International Education, the U.S. is still viewed as the land of educational opportunities and attracts more than 819,000 university students from all over the world. These thriving foreign students are contributing in numerous ways to their host communities. Economically, foreign students injected more than $24 billion to the U.S. economy in 2012. In addition to economic benefits, incoming foreign students have filled the increasing need in this country for more students in the science and technology fields. Furthermore, international students have connected the world to our U.S. classrooms and diversified our communities across the country.

These foreign students are often the most promising young people in their respective countries and are anticipated to return back to their home nations to become the next generation of political, business and academic leaders. In the U.S. academies, these emerging leaders are building relationships with their American peers and forming a deeper understanding of the United States. This people-to-people engagement in our schools may be one of the most effective forms of public diplomacy in reinforcing U.S. foreign relations in the long-term. Despite these clear benefits, the state of Montana collectively is only attracting approximately 1,600 foreign college students each year. Even with these comparatively small numbers, incoming students have been a boost to our state economy by contributing more than $42 million in 2012. With the natural beauty of Montana, our world class universities, and being one of the most livable places in the U.S., there is much potential for growth. Looking ahead, the state and its universities may need to make a better effort in marketing to attract foreign students, in actively building relationships abroad with academic institutions in key markets like China and South Korea, and in aggressively expanding exchange programs to draw students and professionals to Montana." Image from

Kalamazoo Russian Festival Returns To WMU Nov. 15-16 - Casey Watts, "The annual Kalamazoo Russian Festival is returning to Western Michigan University to celebrate its 18th year. The Russian Festival is an all day event featuring Russian cuisine, Russian tea service and souvenir shopping. The festival will also hold a combination of programs featuring musicians, dancing and a variety of lectures. According to Judith Rypma, the vice president of the Kalamazoo Russian Culture Association (KRCA)

and an English professor at WMU, the festival was initially organized during the early days after the breakup of the Soviet Union, when the need for closer ties between the United States and the new Russian Federation seemed more important than ever. 'Now, in a time of fresh disagreements between the governments of the two nations, it remains critical that our peoples share each other’s cultures and friendship,' Rypma said. Rypma said that the festival began as an all-volunteer event and a non-profit venture, with the added goal of raising money for needy causes in Kalamazoo’s partnership city: Pushkin, Russia." Image from entry, with caption: Kate Koppy and Judith Rypma wearing folkloric costumes at a previous Russian Festival. Photo courtesy of Judith Rypma. Via SS on Facebook

Glory Days: Four Washingtonians reminisce about private high school in the ’50s and ’60s - Christina Ianzito, "James K. Glassman Sidwell Friends School, Class of 1965 - Glassman is founding executive director of the George W. Bush Institute, a public-policy center in Dallas. He has spent time as a business writer, magazine publisher, TV news-show host, and undersecretary of State for public diplomacy. He lives in Bethesda. A lot of students were the children of teachers and government bureaucrats. There was one place to go in Washington if you wanted cachet, and that was St. Albans and National Cathedral.

The one big negative was that we were the last segregated class at Sidwell Friends. I don’t know if black kids were specifically excluded, but there weren’t any. After school, we would go to the Hot Shoppes drive-in restaurants. You’d walk around and see who was there and drive around. That was major entertainment. When JFK was killed, I was a junior. I remember very clearly that I was in biology class. The big question was whether we would have a party or not on Saturday night and we did. I feel embarrassed about that, but we did. People in my generation remember the Cuban missile crisis because we thought we were all going to die in a nuclear war. There was this feeling of helplessness. I had a friend whose family drove to Canada." Image from entry

The Substance of Style - Robert Reilly, " Robert Reilly has taught at the National Defense University and has written for The Wall Street Journal, National Review, Claremont Review of Books, and The Washington Post.

He has served in the White House as Special Assistant to the President (1983-85) and was Senior Advisor for Information Strategy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (2002-06). He is a former Director of the Voice of America." Uncaptioned image from article

Susan C. Hovanec, public affairs officer, dies at 72 - "Susan C. Hovanec, a public affairs officer with the U.S. Information Agency and a senior adviser at the State Department’s Office of International Women’s Issues, died Oct. 10 at her home in Oxford, Md. She was 72. ... Mrs. Hovanec worked for USIA from 1976 until its merger with the State Department in 1999. Her early public affairs postings took her from Africa to Central America to Europe. She was a public affairs adviser in Belgrade during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s and spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Zagreb, Croatia, in the early to mid-1990s. She was deputy director of public diplomacy in the Bureau of South Asian Affairs from 2001 to 2003. She was then a senior adviser for press and public diplomacy in the Office of Women’s Issues until her retirement in 2006. She was a contractor for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration before leaving in 2007."


16 American cities foreign governments warn their citizens about - Reid Wilson, Washington Post: Planning a trip abroad? It’s probably best to check out the State Department’s list of travel warnings for countries with unsafe political situations.

At the moment, the State Department has issued travel warnings for 34 countries, from the Central African Republic and El Salvador to Iraq and North Korea. Well, just as State warns Americans about dangerous places to travel, so too do foreign ministries in other countries — and some countries warn their citizens to avoid heading to certain cities in the U.S. France, in particular, warns travelers to be careful in a large number of specific cities. Image from article

Sweden and Switzerland launch joint campaign to help Chinese tourists tell them apart - Sweden and Switzerland have launched a joint campaign to help Chinesetourists tell the two countries apart. While the mix-up isn't solely a problem for the Chinese, it has become a particular issue for those from the Asian nation because both countries' names are written similarly in Mandarin — Ruidian (Sweden) and Ruishi (Switzerland) — and begin with the same symbol. In a bid to clear up the confusion, the Swedish and Swiss consulates in Shanghai have launched a competition on the Swedish consulate website that asks the Chinese to come up with funny ways to help people keep the two countries separate. Via PR

Showtime for Psy-Ops! Why “Homeland” Is The Most Insidious Propaganda On American Television - Rob Williams, "True confessions. I enjoy 'Homeland.' Like six million other weekly TV viewers, including President Obama, I tune in every week to Showtime’s wildly successful Emmy Award winning spy show, conceived by '24' creators Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon, and based on Israeli writer Gideon Raff’s series 'Hatufim' ('Prisoners Of War'). Where else on TV will you find a fictionalized dive into (in no particular order) C.I.A. intrigue, PTSD’s impact on war veterans, sexting and teenage angst, drone warfare, Beltway family jockeying, Middle Eastern money laundering, and the spinning of super-secret spy and counter spy scenarios? Not to mention great sex, and the chance, in this new third season, to vicariously voyage to Venezuela. Let’s also acknowledge that 'Homeland' serves up some of the most insidious propaganda on American television. Hear me out.

We probably can all agree that few viewers ever expect TV shows to tell them the truth. Most of watch to be entertained and amused, rather than enlightened (and when we are laughing, by the way, we are not thinking). Let’s also acknowledge that the Beltway crowd has a long history of using mass media to massage American hearts and minds, winning over popular support for controversial U.S. policies where we might least expect: at our movie theaters, in our living rooms, and (now) on our iPads. In perhaps the baldest statement ever made by a spook, C.I.A. director William Colby once observed that his agency 'played the media like a mighty Wurlitzer.' Indeed, 'PsyOps' – psychological operations – have been a C[.]I.A. strategic staple for decades. If in doubt, just read Tricia Jenkins’ excellent new book The C.I.A. In Hollywood: How The Agency Shapes Film And Television. With such a rich legacy, the C.I.A. is now using 'Homeland' as a weekly pop culture-as-propaganda syringe, injecting powerful pro-U.S. ideas into the body politic." Image from entry


From: Adam Ellis, "Here’s What Happens When You Ask People To Draw A Map Of The USA From Memory,"


"In the middle of a second Age of Anxiety they decided to make Americans more anxious."

--Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan on the Obama administration and Obamacare; image from

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