Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 6

"[T]he Department of Defense recently classified a memo about over-classification."

--Peter Van Buren, "Over-Classification at State," We Meant Well Blog; image from


21st Century Schoolcraft and Diplomacy 3.0 @StateDept @techATstate @eDipAtState - Gökhan Yücel @goyucel - Diplomacy 1.0 epitomizes state-to-state concerns as a rule shaped byrealpolitik, national interests, hard power, geopolitics and territorial sovereignty. Diplomacy 1.0 requires all world leaders, career diplomats and politicians to negotiate bi-lateral or multi-lateral issues strictly between sovereign states in the international system. In the eyes of many people Henry Kissinger -thanks to his seminal work ‘Diplomacy’- is the most renowned figure of Diplomacy 1.0.  Diplomacy 2.0 can be defined with the public diplomacy framework in a slightly pre-digital mode. Since the 1960s this mode of diplomacy has focused on winning ‘hearts and minds’ and acquiring ‘soft power’. It comes as no big surprise that Josesph Nye’s ‘Soft Power’ best represents the scheme of Diplomacy 2.0. The most common feature of Diplomacy 1.0 and Diplomacy 2.0 is that they both burgeoned during the course of bi-polar, control freak and ideological world order driven by national security doctrines in the Cold War.  Diplomacy 3.0 is digital diplomacy or e-diplomacy. Some experts, global companies, media outlets and advocacy groups call it twiplomacy. It transcends both Diplomacy 1.0 and Diplomacy 2.0 without necessarily annulling them. Diplomacy 3.0 fashioned new realms of diplomacy by rendering diplomacy for everyone by everyone, anywhere, anytime. You don’t have to be a diplomat with a relevant university degree to be invited to attend diplomatic meetings with your counterparts ‘in rarefied places – high-ceilinged, chandeliered rooms’. Especially Y and Z generations are growing up as the children of the digital revolution – and hence digital citizen diplomats. These youngsters like listening and but also like to be listened by others. They use all available digital means and tools to engage, connect, mobilize and influence. They are digital citizens, and if necessary they can suddenly become digital activists and digital diplomats for their own causes and issues of representation and recognition. It is also in the best interest of diplomats to ‘reciprocate’ and start listening Y and Z generations.

Diplomats have many things to learn from digital natives. ... By also ‘bringing foreign policy into the classroom’ or vice versa, two major policy areas are combined to create a new niche field by amalgamating Diplomacy 3.0 ( 21st Century Statecraft or  digital diplomacy) and education policies. I call it the 21st Century Schoolcraft: a borderless global school based on digitalized, blended and flipped models of conducting diplomacy and learning/teaching. One should learn a lot about it from the @StateDept’s two recent initiatives: MOOC Camp in partnership with Coursera and an educational video game called Trace Effects. ... Both Diplomacy 3.0 and the MOOC Camp are borderless. The latter is used to conduct the former and vice versa. The audience is global netizens, not only the citizens and passports holders of the US. The MOOC Camp Website introduces the program as follows: ‘MOOC Camp is a new initiative of the Department of State to host facilitated discussions around massive open online courses (MOOCs) at U.S. Embassies, Consulates, American Spaces, and other public spaces around the world. Facilitated discussions are led by alumni who have participated in U.S. government exchange programs, such as the Fulbright program, and U.S. Embassy staff, who are familiar with the course materials. U.S. Embassies and Consulates in more than 40 countries are currently participating, in subjects ranging from entrepreneurship and college writing to science and technology. Course content is drawn from major MOOC providers, including Coursera and EdX, as well as from multiple Open CourseWare providers’." Image from entry

PLUS Conference: Global Risks, Governance and Hypocrisy - Andrew G. Simpson, "America’s European allies are being hypocritical in their complaints about the U.S. spying on them because they all have their own surveillance programs, according to two former top officials in the Clinton Administration. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said she was surprised by the 'hypocrisy' from Germany and other allies and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen agreed, calling the Europeans’ outrage 'stunning.' ... Albright and Cohen, who served together from 1997 to 2001, participated in a wide-ranging discussion of global risks at the Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS) International Conference in Orlando. Karen Hughes, former Bush Administration communications advisor and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, now an executive with public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, served as moderator of the PLUS panel."

Op-Ed: Voice of America news report sides with Putin against Greenpeace - Ted Lipien, "U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) repeats Putin regime's propaganda against Greenpeace, ignores American activists

jailed in Russia, and misleads world on how U.S. legal system deals with peaceful protesters who trespass. BBG Watch volunteer-run watch dog website reported that U.S. taxpayers' money was used by the Voice of America (VOA) to post online a slanderous attack on Greenpeace by a Russian politician. According to BBG Watch, VOA failed to seek and post a specific response from the international environmental NGO to a unsubstantiated charge from a pro-Putin Russian Duma deputy that Greenpeace staged its protest against a Russian oil rig because it is desperate for publicity-driven donations. ... While BBC and other international media have published numerous reports on individual citizens of Great Britain and of other countries who are in a Russian jail, the Voice of America, whose job it is to tell America's story to the world, has been silent on the American Greenpeace prisoners in Russia." Image from

G'Day USA 2014 Announces Multi-City Program Of Events: January Program Launches Year-Round Calendar of Events - "G'Day USA, the annual program that fosters business opportunities for Australia[n] and US companies and underscores the depth of the economic relationship with the United States, today announced its full 2014 program. For the first time since the program began in 2004, in addition to the traditional schedule of events in January, the platform will include events year-round in different cities across the United States. The G'Day USA 2014 program includes 17 events in 10 cities with more to come. G'Day USA is designed to demonstrate Australian strengths in business, innovation, tourism, culture and public policy and realize new business opportunities. Over 500 Australian companies have been showcased over the last decade, with participation by 3,000 US companies and attendance exceeding 100,000 at various events. G'Day USA is produced by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Qantas Airways, Tourism Australia and Austrade. The Hon. Kim Beazley AC, Australian Ambassador to the United States said, 'This is Australia's foremost program of public diplomacy. It provides us with our best opportunity to showcase in the United States Australian capability. It just gets better from year to year.'"

In the Wake of RT’s Rise, Skeptics and Alarmists - Caroline Holmund, "When Russia launched the English-language television station RT in December 2005, there was little doubt about the Kremlin’s motives in pouring millions into this media outlet targeting Western audiences. RT, known as Russia Today before its rebranding in 2009, was conceived as a soft-power tool to address what was perceived as pervasive anti-Russian bias in mainstream Western media. Despite its undeniable success, RT remains a divisive issue for many. One one side, its penchant for controversy and alleged bias attract numerous critics who question its independence. One the other hand, the West has its own state-financed media outlets (BBC, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, etc.), with mandates similar to that of RT. ... As a part of a wider PR offensive masterminded by former media minister and top media aid Mikhail Lesin and Vladimir Putin’s press spokesperson Aleksei Gromov, the Kremlin began pumping millions into an arsenal of new public diplomacy tools, including foundations to promote Russian language and culture, conferences to charm Western opinion-makers and even NGOs that are setting up in Western capitals to scrutinize the failings of their democracies.

The main instrument in this effort, however, is the State-owned news agency RIA Novosti. ... The [RT] station has grown into one of the most watched foreign news channels in the West. Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, France 24, Euronews, CCTV of China and the Press TV of Iran have all developed impressive foreign followings, but RT leads the pack. It is reportedly the most-watched foreign TV channel in five key U.S. urban markets, according to the Nielsen statistics." Image from

Saudi Arabia Snubs Invitation to join the First World Club - tsoaanalyst, "In late October, United Nations diplomats gathered to cast their votes for the rotating seats of the Security Council. For the first time since the organization’s inception, Saudi Arabia was invited to the table as the representative of the Asia-Pacific group. In an unexpected turn of events, the oil-rich nation announced it would not accept the awarded position as a demonstration of disapproval with the management of current affairs on the world stage. ... •Historically Saudi foreign policy has tended toward 'elite-elite secret diplomacy', focusing on low-visibility interactions with senior policymakers. This form of diplomacy directly contradicts a need for greater influence by assuring that the

Kingdom’s interests are not well represented to the greater international community. When decision making moves beyond key elite players, the results can be unfavorable to Saudi interests, as demonstrated by a lack of intervention in the Syrian conflict. • Saudi dominance in the region has recently been threatened by the series of uprisings associated with the Arab Spring. Regime change in a plethora of neighboring states has led to an increased discomfort with the existence of a well-funded absolute monarchy in the region. The youth-led uprisings in these nations also inspired unrest in Saudi Arabia, which have been temporarily pacified by 'increased spending on job training and education in order to endow youth with skills needed in the private sector and encourage employment.' Such internal strife encourages an increased need for external control. Unfortunately, without the exercise of public diplomacy, the Kingdom cannot hope to engender nations beyond its borders which are 'are suspicious if not hostile to Arabs and Islam.' " Image from entry

APHA Deals a Huge Loss to the BDS Campaign - "Last night on November 5th 2013, the American Public Health Association (APHA) dealt a huge loss to the

BDS campaign after it had extensively propagandized the committee members on Israel’s medical practices towards the Palestinians in occupied territories. For months, BDS activists had gone after members on the APHA committee to convince them to vote in favor of their prestigious organization to boycott Israel and it’s medical practices. The committee held its vote last night, and was overwhelmingly voted against boycotting Israel by 74% compared to 3% voting in favor of boycott. This loss deals a huge blow to the BDS campaign which has been desperate in searching for wins lately in the campaign to boycott Israel. The importance of going after a prestigious organization such as the APHA shows that the BDS campaign and their activists have no limit to which organization they will reach out to and no limit to the means that they will use in order to get a victory. The BDS activists were using improper information in order to sway committee members to vote in favor of boycott, for example that Israel refused to medically treat Palestinians and grant access to public health when needed. If the BDS campaign had been victorious in getting the American Public Health Association, an organization full of medical professionals in the United States to boycott Israel, the immediate effect would have been felt in the public diplomacy realm. This would have catered to altering Israel’s image in the medical field, which is something that Israel takes great pride in. Due to the efforts of various Hasbara organizations and the Jerusalem Public Affairs Committee (JCPA) by reaching out to individuals in the committee and presenting factual information on Israel’s accomplishments in the medical field, in particular to helping Palestinians and various other citizens from Muslim countries, the vote to boycott was shot down with a bold message: You can’t expect to gain any sympathy to your cause when presenting false information, especially if it’s being tested by professionals who do their research. Trying to sway college kids whose minds are being molded by their environment is one thing, but going after professionals and their respective professional organizations proves to be a much tougher challenge, one that the BDS campaign and its activists have yet to realize will take more than false propaganda." Image from

Centenary Celebration: Platform For Resuscitating Cultural Legacies (I)- Oni Femi, "'Nigeria’s contact with the western world has robbed her of great potentials both in human and material resources, but must we continue to ponder on the evils of colonialism or slavery years after independence? Does it mean that

Nigeria has not even an atom of positive socio-political achievement that it can sell to the outside world years after independence?' ... Some scholars ... conceptualised nations branding as a form of national soft power, a form of public diplomacy. Branding is a marketing strategy associated with products and services of a corporations and an organisation in an attempt to distinguish their products and services from that of other organisation and to attract more customers. Many countries have adopted this procedure to shore up the image of their country internationally, particularly in this era of globalisation when goods and service are measured in international standards, coupled with the fact that no nation want to be isolated. This has resulted to increase competition among nations on how to attract foreign investors to meet international standard in trade, tourism and investment. With the hindsight of happenings in the political landscape of the country, one begins to wonder if the country really has any positive achievements to project to the outside world since the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates. And must we go on branding rather than look for peace which will actually attract investors and create enabling environment for business to thrive?" Image from entry

Nancy Snow - Facebook: "Meet this baby olinguito, a global public diplomat. The olinguito are

ambassadors for conservation of one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, the Andean cloud forest, a lesser known ecosystem to the Amazon rainforest." Image from entry


The answer on Iran? Yes. In recent history, moments of opportunity between Iran and the U.S. have been rare. This one shouldn't go to waste -

Doyle McManus, A nuclear deal with Iran, if one can be struck, will deserve tough scrutiny. But we have to be willing to take yes for an answer. Image from

Making up with Europe: The U.S. must repair its ties to the transatlantic community - Bruce Ackerman, The central challenge is to reconstruct the foundations of the transatlantic community. These are in urgent need of repair. The National Security Agency scandal is the latest in a series, including Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, that has shattered America's moral standing in Europe. The United States has also been discrediting its economic leadership. Progress on a transatlantic agreement on surveillance and a statute on the debt ceiling would not be enough to repair the moral and economic damage of a decade. But it would help catalyze the larger breakthroughs that can sustain the transatlantic community as a powerful force for liberal democratic values in the 21st century.

The Snowden Clemency Campaign: The national security leaker wants absolution for betraying secrets - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: We don't know the full extent of the harm Mr. Snowden has done to U.S. security, but at the very least he has complicated relations with allies and handed our enemies a propaganda victory.

The damage to U.S. intelligence collection is probably much worse. If Mr. Snowden really had the courage of his convictions, he'd leave the protection of Russia's secret police and return to face the charges of a free society. Image from

Hagel: Military must play supporting role in foreign policy - Kristina Wong, The Washington Times: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel laid out his strategic vision for a smaller, more technologically advanced military force that will play a supporting role to foreign policy, in contrast to the last decade in which foreign policy was dominated by 9/11 and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Military force must always remain an option, but it should be an option of last resort. The military should always play a supporting role, not the leading role, in America’s foreign policy,” he said.

Syrian Nun Disseminating Bashar al-Assad Propaganda on U.S. Speaking Tour: Says videos of chemical weapons attack fabricated - Daniel Wiser, A Syrian nun who critics say is disseminating propaganda for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is currently on a U.S. speaking tour. Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross, a 61-year-old Lebanese-born nun, has said videos depicting hundreds of Syrians choking and dying from poison gas attacks near Damascus on Aug. 21 were fabricated ahead of time in an attempt to provoke foreign intervention.

Mother Agnes has denied that she is allied with the Syrian government and says her interests are strictly “humanitarian.” She embarked on a U.S. speaking tour last week, organized by the Syria Solidarity Movement, and will also visit Italy, the United Kingdom, and Canada later this month. Image from entry, with caption: Victims of a chemical weapon attack in Syria

Syrian suicide bombers' propaganda; Iran's phallic sculptures; and more - Story 1: Syria: We begin today in Syria, where more and more of the fighting - on the rebel side - is being done by Islamists inspired by al Qaeda. They have brought with them tactics used in Iraq and Afghanistan, notably suicide bombings. When fighters kill themselves, they need to be replaced. And the best way to recruit, apparently, is to make a promotional video. Our Observer Rami has been watching the videos - with dismay - from his home in Homs.

France: What's right, what's wrong and what's next at Disneyland Paris - Brady MacDonald, walking through Disneyland Paris made me realize just how much Disneyland is a movie set built for cinema-obsessed Americans while the French park has a level of architectural and decorative detail

that appeals to history-obsessed Europeans. In short, Hollywood tradesmen built Disneyland while European craftsmen built Disneyland Paris. Image from

Mexican Coke Is Ditching Cane Sugar For High-Fructose Corn Syrup (Update: In Mexico) - Well, this is some real bullshit. Mexican Coke is ditching its key ingredient, cane sugar, for high-fructose corn syrup. This is objectively awful. Mexican Coke—which is also widely available in the United States—has cane sugar to thank for its distinctive taste. By switching to high fructose corn syrup, it will be indistinguishable from boring old American Coke.

This is unacceptable. Executives at Coca-Cola in Latin America decided to make the switch after the Mexican government approved a tax of one peso on every liter of soda sold. To be fair, the tax is in place to help curb obesity in a country where more than 70 percent of people are overweight. But to maintain profits and avoid having to raise the price on a can of soda, Coke execs decided this devastating change was in order. Why is this such a tragedy? Well, for starters, high-fructose corn syrup is straight up bad for you—in fact, it has been proven to be one of the lynchpins of the obesity epidemic in the U.S. On top of that, its chemical structure differs greatly from cane sugar, so your body processes it differently. High-fructose corn syrup also has ingredients that aren't regulated by the USDA, like mercury and other chemical compounds, which could be very harmful. No word yet on how this could potentially change the supply chain for Coca-Cola, or how it will affect the way its sources its ingredients. But most importantly? It won't taste the same. Pour out a Mexican Coke for Mexican Coke. Image from entry


From: Water Gardens in Fort Worth, Texas; Via JMcK on Facebook

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