Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 30

"Individually, we are a little bit Neanderthal."

--Joshua M. Akey, a population geneticist from the University of Washington; cited in Geoffrey Mohan, "Neanderthal DNA lives on in modern humans, research shows: Some of the DNA acquired by human ancestors who mated with Neanderthals is found in some people today, including genes that control the development of skin and hair, studies find," Los Angeles Times; image from


Press Releases: Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board Elects New Vice Chair, Re-Elects Chairman for 2014 - “The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board has re-elected Tom Healy for a third term as Chairman for 2014. The Board elected Betty Castor as Vice Chair, succeeding Susan Ness. President Obama appointed Healy and Castor to the Board in 2011. The U.S. Congress established the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board in 1961 to select participants, set policies, and publish an Annual Report for The Fulbright Program, the U.S. Government's flagship international exchange program, sponsored by the Department of State. Through Fulbright grants, more than 325,000 participants in over 180 countries have studied, taught, conducted research, and found solutions to shared international challenges. Tom Healy is a writer and poet. His books include ‘Animal Spirits,’ ‘What the Right Hand Knows,’ which was a finalist for the 2009 L.A. Times Book Prize, and two forthcoming books of essays: ‘Not Untrue and Not Unkind’ and ‘The Rest of the World: Smart Power and Public Diplomacy.’"

Navy band coming to West Monroe - "'America's Navy has only recently adopted the motto, 'Being There Matters,' but it's been a part of what we do for many years - through music - and therefore Navy bands are integral to our national security,' said Capt. Brian O. Walden, the Navy Band's commanding officer.

'Today, Navy bands are still performing around the world, acting as agents of public diplomacy for the American government, improving relations with our allies and winning the hearts and minds with the universal language of music.'" Uncaptioned image from entry. See also Walter Pincus, "Vast number of military bands may not be music to Gates's ears," Washington Post: "'There are about 6,000 FSOs,' or Foreign Service officers, he told an audience in San Francisco this month. He drew laughter when he added that former secretary of state 'Condi Rice used to say, 'We have more people in military bands than they have in the Foreign Service.' She was not far wrong.'"

Bayles Releases New Book On American Image, Pop Culture - Soo Jung Rhee, "A cultural critic in numerous publications and a faculty member of the Arts and Sciences Honors Program, Martha Bayles recently published her fourth book, Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy, and America’s Image Abroad. In her book, Bayles expands her arguments about the decadent image of American pop culture and the lack of a general sense of constructive criticism against it. 'It’s about the way American popular culture is shaping the perceptions of people around the world and of life in the United States,' Bayles said. '[American popular culture] seems to have become the main influence in how people see America, and it’s good in some ways, but in other ways it’s not so good.' After travelling to 11 different countries and interviewing many experts in various fields, Bayles compiled what she learned from the process into a 340-page book in which she applied her critical lens to certain misleading images created by popular culture. 'Our pop culture flooded into the rest of the world at a time when the U.S. government was no longer really trying to communicate what’s good about the country,' she said. 'That takes you to looking at pop culture, and what does it say about America.' Although she began her writing career as a great admirer and defender of popular culture against cynical critics who would dismiss it as a mere commercial product, she started to develop her doubt about America’s reputation in the world following Sept. 11. 'I would defend what I thought was good stuff and that was my main purpose in writing about pop culture, to sort of defend it, particularly music,' she said. 'That was my starting point but then came 9/11, and it turned out that a lot of the world really doesn’t love America or naturally gravitate toward America.' While she expressed her grief over the overly optimistic and naive outlook on the cultural character of America in the world, she recognized certain aspects of it as worthwhile to be widely spread in the global popular culture market. 'I call that the American ethos, and I would describe that as a kind of hope for peoples’ ability to flourish and thrive under conditions of political liberty in a free society with democratic institutions, but combined with a kind of caution and prudence about human nature and the limits of how wonderful you can expect people to be,' she said. Using The Wolf of Wall Street as an example, she pointed out that American popular culture has become a distorted image of Americans, which exaggerates the faults in U.S. society and creates it simply as a source of entertainment and laughter. The problem, she states, is that many parts of the world may take a mere 'funhouse mirror image'

as the reality facing America and misunderstand the playful portrayal of social phenomena in America. 'I would like to see some awareness on the part of the entertainment industry of some of the messages they’re sending out there, and I would like to see more criticism of it,' she said. 'I think we need to offset those images with something that … gives them an accurate picture.' Bayles also argued that mending the U.S. image abroad could not be more appropriate in the current state of the world when savvy, authoritarian regimes still suffocate citizens with little or no political rights and nominal cultural freedom. 'I think the one thing that America should stand for in the current world is notions of people having political freedoms and rights there that the government cannot tap on,' Bayles said. 'And that’s just not true in a lot of countries. We talk about it, but then we project all these images that say ‘Well, you know, America’s really not that different from all these other countries,’ so it is extremely pertinent to today’s world. That’s why I wrote it.' Bayles image from

Helping ‘Till It Hurts [review of Aid Dependence In Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy By Sophal Ear New York: Columbia University Press, 2012] - John Wilcox, Small Wars Journal: "Using Cambodia as an example, both independent and national donors and program directors would be wise to heed the warnings in Aid Dependence in Cambodia. From a military perspective, the reliance on programs like the commander’s emergency relief program (CERP) to support military activity remains important. The danger is that poorly planned, but well-intentioned development and aid programs can lead to short-term tactical successes, but long-term strategic failures. Certainly, aid has a role in public diplomacy and international cooperation. However, aid must be applied judiciously, lest the lessons of Cambodia are lost in the well-intentioned effort by well-meaning donors to 'make a difference.'”

Politically incorrect film reviews – The long walk to freedom - Robert Henderson, "There are two films currently on release with a very high pc approbation quotient: 12 Years a Slave and Mandela: a long walk to freedom. The latter is a better film simply as a film, both because it had a male lead who imposed himself on the film and because it possesses something resembling a plot rather than a repetitive series of scenes of brutality and contempt. But being superior to 12 Years a Slave does not make it a good film let alone a great one and this Mandela biopic has serious flaws. ... [comment by:] Paul Marks (@paulvmarks) | 28 January, 2014 at 10:24 pm ...The book the film is based on, the 'Long Walk to Freedom' is not really Nelson Mandela’s autobiography (the actual work, written in prison, still exists – and one can compare 'Long Walk to Freedom' to it) it is an altered thing written by Rick Stengel (now Barack Obama’s, another man who has hidden his Communist past, undersecretary for public diplomacy)."

Ukraine gets short shrift from mismanaged Voice of America - Ted Lipien, Digital Journal: Mismanaged and underfunded Voice of America failed to highlight in English and most other languages Obama's State of the Union remark on Ukraine. Its oversight board needs to reform the taxpayer-funded media outlet and get more money from Congress. ... Failure to point out Obama's Ukraine remarks in the State of the Union speech was not an isolated incident. Due to insufficient funding, aggravated by mismanagement at senior executive level, Voice of America has been failing to report adequately on many important U.S. and international news for a long time. VOA journalists are just as helpless against the uncaring management as are outside observers who value U.S. international media outreach. The federal Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which has oversight responsibilities, must undertake immediate management reforms to solve this news reporting crisis."

Voice of America not reporting on U.S. Congressman’s threat to journalist – BBC, Russia’s RT, Iran’s Press TV are -

Last call for the Australia Network? - Alex Oliver, "And now the news: the Australia Network (described in The Australian's story as the 'Asian broadcasting service') is ‘likely to be scrapped in the May budget’. ... It has been difficult for successive governments to embrace international broadcasting as a useful (and for Australia, almost its only) public diplomacy tool. International broadcasters such as the Australia Network can help win over foreign publics in ways that support the national interest.  As a tool of public diplomacy, international broadcasters can inform the public in other countries about a nation's values, political systems, people, lifestyles and businesses.

For Australia, public diplomacy helps ease the way for Australia to conduct its foreign affairs, and promotes Australia as a place to visit and invest in. Australia's public diplomacy budgets have been whittled dramatically over the last decade, to the point where the Australia Network is about the only serious exercise in public diplomacy that remains. ... To be effective, international broadcasters need to be independent. They shouldn't just 'play for the team'. As Nicholas Cull concluded in 2010, the BBC, 'through its telling of bad news – as well as good – throughout the Second World War effectively reversed the reputation for creativity with the truth that Britain had earned in the First World War'. Likewise, it was their ability to criticise the US which gained Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty standing in the eyes of Soviet bloc listeners. It is a government's ability to allow criticism of itself which gives it credibility in the world. The converse is also true. Government control of the media nullifies its credibility. There are plenty of examples of this from nations which few admire for their freedoms." Uncaptioned image from entry

ABC may lose Australia Network: Growing signs that Abbott government will strip the ABC of international broadcasting as a concession to conservative critics - Katharine Murphy, The Guardian: Another signal has emerged that the Abbott government intends to strip the ABC of its international broadcasting service – the Australia Network – in a significant concession to Rupert Murdoch and to conservative commentators critical of public broadcasting. The foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, has been preparing the public ground since opposition for the ABC to lose its Australia Network regional broadcasting service, which it was awarded by the previous Labor government after a bitterly contested process.

In January Bishop criticised the quality of the programming on the Australia Network, and argued it was not serving Australia’s regional interests as 'a tool of public diplomacy'. The Australian newspaper reported on Thursday that the service was likely to be scrapped in the May budget as a savings measure. The commission of audit established by the government will also run the ruler over other ABC services." Image from entry, with caption: Julie Bishop argues the Australia Network is not serving Australia’s regional interests. See also.

EU not ready for compromise on political prisoners - "The Belarusian authorities should release the political prisoners for establishing a dialogue with the European Union. This statement was made in Minsk on January 29 by Rodolphe Richard, the head of the Political, Press and Information Section at the EU Delegation to Belarus. ... Aleh Shloma, the Head of the EU Desk of the European Cooperation Division at the Belarusian MFA, said about the

problem of political prisoners: 'We're aware of the issue.' ... Shloma also commented on the information on behind-the-scene talks between EU diplomats and the Belarusian authorities mentioned by Lukashenka on January 21 during a meeting with heads of the Belarusian media. 'This is a common practice in the world. Many things are not discussed in public. Belarus is not an exception. There are several levels of discussions. Look at other countries that have had huge problems with the global centers of power until recently, for example, Iran. Nevertheless, we see serious progress made not only due to public diplomacy,' Shloma said. There are 11 political prisoners in Belarus. European and American politicians have repeatedly called to release them immediately." Uncaptioned image from entry

Europe’s relations with Cuba should require improvement on human rights - Martin Palous,"[H]uman rights should remain at the heart of the relationship between the European Union and Cuba and constitute an essential element of a new treaty. And all 28 member states of the European Union must agree. Several among them were trapped for decades behind the Iron Curtain before 1989 and returned to Europe after the revolutions during that annus mirabilis. They went through post-communist transitions and will use their own experience in the upcoming Cuba discussions. Whatever happens in Brussels in a few days, the negotiations that are to start on a governmental level between the European Union and Cuba will take time — it can be a couple of years — and there will be a space for public diplomacy and the participation of Cuban civil society."

The Turkish Al-Jazeera? TRT - Omar Al-Ghazzi and Marwan M. Kraidy, “'Turks and Arabs,' intoned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, one spring evening in April 2010, 'are like the fingers of a hand.

They are as close as the flesh and the nail of a finger… We belong to the same history, the same culture and above all the same civilization.'  Erdoğan was speaking in the launching ceremony of TRT-al-Turkiyya, Turkey’s Arabic-language satellite television channel . ... Clearly, TRT-al-Turkiyya’s raison d’être was to bolster Turkey’s 'zero problems with neighbors' policy with a mediated charm offensive towards the region’s 300 million Arabic speakers. However, the channel has been facing a daunting challenge: it has to compete not only with hundreds of Arab channels but also with the foreign-funded channels. The managing director of TRT-al-Turkiyya, Sefer Turan, an Egypt-educated Arabic speaker, acknowledged the challenge: 'There are 750 satellite channels in Arabic,' he said. 'We are going to be the 751st. ['] Reflecting his channel’s embroilment in larger geopolitical dynamics, he added: 'We want to show our country’s industry, politics, culture and art, and leave the decision to the audience.' Turan’s words reflect the style and tenor of Turkey’s public diplomacy: it promotes the country and its regional interests in a soft sell stylistically emblematic of Neo-Ottoman Cool." Image from entry, with caption: Erdoğan and Al-Turkiyya: From Turkey with all its love

Food for thought - Jessie Thompson, "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." Image from entry

Some Insight on the Valuation of a Non-Market Good (Wetlands) to Achieve the Social Optimum or “Greatest Good” - Jesse Backstrom, "Non-consumptive use values relate to the natural benefits that wetlands provide, and can be monetary or non-monetary. Existence values are those non-monetary and non-consumptive values that one has for simply knowing that a wetland is in existence, giving a satisfaction that a wetland is still in full health and aiding the organisms and other systems dependent on it. Bequest values, or the satisfaction one gets from preserving an ecosystem for future use, are also recognized as non-consumptive and non-monetary. Other non-consumptive and non-monetary values include landscape aesthetics, and the potential for education and research. This provides opportunities for developing knowledge on wetland functions and allows for more public diplomacy."

Diplomacy and Its Practice III - Luis Ritto, "In the past two articles of mine, I wrote about the evolution of diplomacy and how it developed from a bilateral instrument in the relations between nations to a multi-functional and multi-purpose tool of foreign relations of countries, as it is the case today. In fact, diplomacy nowadays does not only comprise the direct official relations between countries, as we come to know it for several centuries, but consists also of new forms of diplomatic actions, such as multilateral diplomacy, economic diplomacy, public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, educational and science diplomacy and so forth."

Using Diplomacy as an Effective Tool of Economic Development - Joynal Abdin, "We can classify diplomacy based on the objective and nature of tasks like peace-making, peace keeping; trade negotiating, war, partnership in economic development, cultural exchange, environment, and human rights etc. issues. From other aspect we are observing aggressors/allies to boycott aggressors, soft power diplomacy based of relationship and respect, gun board/military power diplomacy, public diplomacy and nuclear diplomacy in practice. From all the above types and forms of diplomacy ... economic diplomacy ... can be used as a tool of economic development."

5 social media tips from diplomats - "Social media is emerging as an increasingly potent tool for public diplomacy, and the methods used by institutions such as the U.S. State Department should prove useful to any looking to build their international reach, Kara Hadge writes. Knowing what platforms work best for your target audience, having a measurement plan and having a strategy for moving from online discussion to offline action are critical, Hadge writes. Full story at SmartBlog on Social Media by SmartBrief."

Sept. 24: Mapping the International Sales Landscape in the Defense & Homeland Security Markets - "Vangala S. Ram Office Director Bureau of Political-Military Affairs/Office of Region Security and Arms Transfers U.S. Department of State [:]

Mr. Ram has served in the NEA, AF, EAP, EUR and SCA bureaus with previous postings in Amman, Seoul, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Cologne, Banjul, Herat, Tunis and Riyadh in addition to Washington DC. During his nine consecutive overseas tours Mr. Ram served as Vice-Consul, First Secretary in the Management and Public Diplomacy cones, besides his assignment as Senior Civilian Representative to Regional Command (RC) West in Afghanistan and Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) in The Gambia." Ram image from entry

Oh, Lorde! Grammy Hypocrisy Exposed - Helene Imperiale, Helene Imperiale is currently a second year student in the Master of Public Diplomacy Program at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. Additionally, she is the Blog Manager at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Public Communication Division Director, Tenured - "The Public Communication Division of the School of Communication at American University is seeking applicants for the position of Division Director. High-level professional experience in strategic communication is required, along with academic experience. A PhD in Communication or a related field is preferred but not required (a master’s degree is required). All candidates should be qualified for appointment with tenure at the rank of Associate or Full Professor at American University. The ideal candidate will have worked in an academic environment and will have high-level professional experience in at least one of the following types of organizations: communication agencies; corporations; nonprofit organizations; associations; or local, state, or federal government. ... The School: The School of Communication has four Divisions: Communication Studies, Journalism, Public Communication, and Film and Media Arts. ... The Public Communication faculty has a national reputation for work in the areas of political communication, public affairs, advocacy communication, social media, and public diplomacy."


In change of tone, Afghanistan's President Karzai welcomes Obama's State of the Union - Afghan President Hamid Karzai has welcomed President Barack Obama's State of the Union remarks on his country, striking a friendlier note after weeks of anti-American rhetoric. Relations between the two nations have been strained, with Karzai refusing to sign a security agreement which would allow some American troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014. Obama said during his Tuesday speech that a small U.S. military force may remain in Afghanistan next year — but didn't say how many.
Karzai noted in a statement Wednesday that Obama had not set a timeline for signing any deal, calling that "positive." He urged an end to "negative propaganda" against Afghanistan and said he now believes the two countries can work together to help restart Afghanistan's peace process. Image from

Karzai Gambles with the Taliban: Karzai is sounding more like the Taliban in his public statements and recycling their propaganda in his criticisms of the U.S., but he’ll never make peace with the terrorist group - Bill Roggio, Daily Beast: Just when you thought Afghan President Hamid Karzai couldn’t distance himself further from the US and the West, which have propped him up for over a decade, he surprises you. The exact reasons for Karzai’s drift from the West remain murky but one thing is clear: his anti-U.S. rhetoric may sometimes echo the Taliban but it won’t put him in their good graces.

State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf responds to LWJ - Thomas Jocelyn and Bill Roggio, In her initial email, Ms. Harf accused us of "cherry pick[ing] quotes from one of my briefings to criticize me ...." We responded that we in fact used the reporter's questions, and her responses, in full. In a follow-up email, Ms. Harf outlined her criticism of our piece. Here is Ms. Harf's response: "You are correct, you pasted the whole quotes in the article - your analysis just completely misconstrued or entirely misread them. Comments highlighted below in response to your two accusations [LWJ note: Ms. Harf's comments are not highlighted but are included under the block quotes from her briefing. She begins by quoting herself from the press briefing. We included these quotes in our article.]:" MS. HARF: Okay. I'll take a look or a listen to that when I get back.
And look, this is not new rhetoric we've heard from Zawahiri. He's - core al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, besides Zawahiri, has essentially the entire leadership been decimated by the U.S. counterterrorism efforts. He's the only one left. I think he spends, at this point, probably more time worrying about his own personal security than propaganda, but still is interested in putting out this kind of propaganda to remain relevant.

A Middle Eastern Primer - Roger Cohen, New York Times: Nobody controls the new Middle East. Foreign policy is a posh term for managing contradictions.

With Iran, Israel, Kerry is master of the interim deal - David Ignatius, Washington Post: For Secretary of State John F. Kerry, diplomacy has centered on what might be called the art of the interim deal. He has tackled two of the world’s toughest issues — the Iranian nuclear program and the Israeli-Palestinian problem — and has fashioned tentative formulas outlining the shape of a final accord, even though the parties are far from such comprehensive settlements. The success of this approach requires that the interim version becomes permanent — which is still a very long bet in both cases.

Israel Needs to Learn Some Manners - Avi Shlaim, New York Times: The simple truth is that Israel wouldn’t be able to survive for very long without American support. America poses as an honest broker, but everywhere it is perceived as Israel's lawyer. America gives Israel money, arms and advice. Israel takes the money, it takes the arms, and it rudely rejects the advice. America is going nowhere in the Middle East until it makes the provision of money and arms conditional on good manners and, more importantly, on Israeli respect for its advice.

A Press Corps Full of Snowdenistas: Utterly paranoid about their own governments, strangely trusting about the aims of the Kremlin - George Lucas, Wall Street Journal: "Most of my media colleagues seem to think Edward Snowden is a saint and proto-martyr.

Their Hollywood-style story line is that the fugitive National Security Agency contractor has bravely exposed American spy agencies' tricks and mischief.  ... But the media's sensationalist and misleading interpretation of the stolen documents has weakened security relationships among Western allies; it has corroded public trust; it has undermined the West's standing in the eyes of the rest of the world; and it has paralyzed our intelligence agencies. ... Anti-Americanism in Germany and other European countries is now ablaze." Uncaptioned image from entry

Why tech companies and the NSA diverge on Snowden - Peter Swire, Washington Post: The leader of a Silicon Valley company said, regarding the whistleblower-vs.-traitor debate, that more than 90 percent of his employees would call Snowden a whistleblower. Fundamentally, the traitor-or-whistleblower debate comes down to different views of what values should be paramount in governing the Internet we all use. The Internet is where surveillance happens to keep our nation safe. It is also where we engage in e-commerce and express ourselves in infinite ways. The goal is to create one communications structure that safeguards diverse, important values.

President Karzai’s Perfidies - Editorial, New York Times: President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan seems to have decided that there is nothing lost, and maybe something to be gained, in destroying his relationship with the United States. While such behavior may serve his interests, it does not serve his long-suffering country’s. The candidates running to succeed him owe voters a vision of how they will improve governance, reduce corruption and work more productively with the United States and its allies, who have spent billions of dollars to underwrite Afghanistan’s economy and will be asked to continue the aid, at reduced levels, in the years to come.

Falling short on Afghanistan - Editorial, Washington Post: The president is communicating the wrong message to Americans with speeches proclaiming “the end of America’s longest war.” If a continued U.S. mission is to be supported by the public and funded by Congress — which just slashed this year’s Afghanistan funding — Mr. Obama must make the case why it is in the national interest for troops to remain. That he does virtually the opposite makes him complicit with Mr. Karzai in undermining a major national security interest.

Sochi, the Circassian factor - Maria Elena Murdaca, Many Circassians are calling for a boycott of the Sochi Olympics, saying the Games will take place on the same grounds where their people was ethnically cleansed by Russian troops in the XIX century. Interview with Fatima Tlisova, journalist. It is not the first time that a country with a history of conflict with the indigenous population organises the Olympic Games. It happened in Vancouver, and before that in Sydney. Canada and Australia saw in this event the opportunity for national reconciliation. Russia did not. Fatima Tlisova, among the first Russian journalists to obtain political asylum in the West in the Putin era: [Q:] For Canada and Australia, recognising the extermination of indigenous peoples was not an insurmountable problem, while Russia seems to lack the will.

It is not just a matter of will. If we speak of the masses, they are victims of propaganda. A propaganda made of dangers, threats, and enemies. It may be that, at the subconscious level, knowing all that the peoples of the North Caucasus have suffered by the Russians, they expect nothing but hatred, and so we are perceived as a threat. There has to be a part of the historical memory, of genetic memory, which blocks the recognition process. But sooner or later it will happen. Image from entry

Hong Kong Media Becomes Propaganda Battlefield for Beijing - Li Lingpu and Lin Yi, Epoch Times: Those in Hong Kong who favor increasing democracy are worried that the city’s freedom

of the press is in jeopardy, as a faction in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has increasingly been using Hong Kong’s media outlets to spread propaganda.

S. Korea holds live-fire drill despite North's warning - Kim Eun-jung, South Korea on Tuesday carried out a live-fire drill on its northwestern islands despite North Korea's warning of "grave consequences," but the closely-watched exercise ended without clashes with the communist state. South Korea has carried out live-fire exercises on the frontline islands every two or three months to improve Marine Corps' readiness. The drills have often been met by protest from Pyongyang. The routine drill was closely watched amid rising hope of thawed inter-Korean ties as the two Koreas are seeking to hold reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War in mid-February. Following Pyongyang's recent peace gestures, Seoul officials have been analyzing the intentions behind the unpredictable regime's recent move, while keeping close tabs on the North Korean military. The North Korean military has been carrying out its winter drills since early December, but it has temporarily stopped sending propaganda leaflets through the border since earlier this month, according to multiple sources.

BBC to broadcast anti-Gaddafi documentary as Green Resistance progresses - Linda Housman, The perfect time to pour in some more anti-Gaddafi propaganda and to start another round of outright lies! Thus, amid the ongoing struggle of the Green Resistance for true democracy as it were before NATO invaded the country, BBC Four's Storyville announces the documentary "Mad Dog: Gaddafi's Secret World", to be broadcast on February 3.

Top secret plan drawn up by Field Marshal Montgomery reveals how he wanted the Boy Scouts to help rehabilitate Germany from Nazism - A fascinating plan drawn up by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery to rehabilitate the German people from Nazism has emerged nearly 70 years later. Montgomery came up with a strategy to win the hearts and minds of the German people after the Allies took control of Germany following the end of World War Two.

He said: "The church is possibly one of the few bridges of confidence between the two countries that is not down. Among the first things to be suppressed by Hitler were the church's youth work and the Boy Scouts. Every encouragement will be given to chaplains to start Boy Scout Troops, clubs and classes. We want to encourage juvenile organisations for the purpose of religious, cultural, health or recreational activities." Image from entry, with caption: Field Marshal Montgomery, centre, with Colonel I.P. Gorshkov, Soviet Military Attache in London, before leaving Bassingbourne Aerodrome for Moscow, drew up detailed plans for rebuilding German society

Russia's leading state television company fires ENTIRE department after its Facebook page lauds top Nazi Joseph Goebbels as a 'great' - Russia's leading state television company fired an entire department today after its facebook page lauded Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels as a 'great' figure alongside Winston Churchill."We apologise to our readers for the unethical publication," said VGTRK media group after a public outcry. The scandal erupted after Kremlin-controlled Vesti-24 news channel on Monday published a montage of quotes about Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, to mark the 90th anniversary of the death of the Soviet Union's founder this month.

Goebbels, the Third Reich's fascist ideologue, was cited as praising Lenin for 'leading' the Russian people 'from suffering' - and to freedom. Other 'great men' on the list included British wartime leader Churchill as well as Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein. Lenin's successor Josef Stalin was also included. The inclusion of Goebbels led to a furious backlash readers of the Facebook page which is followed by 1.1 million people. By Tuesday night, the Nazi had been dropped from the list, though Stalin - a figure revered by some older Russians - remained. Image from entry, with caption: Russian TV station Vesti 24 posted this picture of Nazi Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels on its facebook page today on a list of 'great men'

The return of ‘Mein Kampf’: As e-book sales surge, we must not censor, but explain - Abraham H. Foxman, E-book sales of “Mein Kampf” have boomed, grabbing the top spot on Amazon’s propaganda and political psychology chart and entering the top 20 bestselling iTunes politics and events titles. Though the number of downloads may illicit initial shock — “Mein Kampf,”

after all, is full of the twisted thinking that would later form the basis of Nazi and National Socialist ideology and chock full of anti-Jewish themes — we should not conclude that it reflects a rise in anti-Semitism. That said, it is disturbing that so many people are downloading a book with such a sordid history. (Hitler, who notoriously used many forms of propaganda, never imagined the power of 21st-century technology.) Image from entry

Holocaust museum representatives train future teachers - The training will help pre-service teachers understand the workings of propaganda, the conditions that make genocide possible and the pedagogical strategies to promote conversation about these difficult topics in the classroom.

Image from entry, with caption: Associate professor Pam Bettis, right, explains some of the materials she received from the holocaust museum to graduate assistant Nicolas Manuel.

Obama’s State of the Union Goes PowerPoint - "What with our White House “Photo Access” Salon scheduled for February 9th, what has been on my mind these days is how much the White House communications product can be termed political propaganda and how much it’s genuinely informational and fostering constructive engagement. If nothing else, last night’s online State of the Union broadcast by the White House, combining slides and live video, opens the door to still one more way technology is modifying and expanding political communication. What you see below are The Bag’s live tweets with screen shots I took from the White House feed. Let me say up front that the tweets — with the exception of the guy in the cornfield and the Iran nuke threat — run to the cynical and the propagandistic. Still, I have to say there’s a lot to like about this new delivery. Above all, I admired the Administration’s effort when it came to information that can quickly make eyes glaze over that was suddenly enlivened." Among the images included in the entry: What with our White House 'Photo Access' Salon scheduled for February 9th, what has been on my mind these days is how much the White House communications product can be termed political propaganda and how much it’s genuinely informational and fostering constructive engagement. If nothing else, last night’s online State of the Union broadcast by the White House, combining slides and live video, opens the door to still one more way technology is modifying and expanding political communication. What you see below are The Bag’s live tweets with screen shots I took from the White House feed. Let me say up front that the tweets — with the exception of the guy in the cornfield and the Iran nuke threat — run to the cynical and the propagandistic. Still, I have to say there’s a lot to like about this new delivery. Above all, I admired the Administration’s effort when it came to information that can quickly make eyes glaze over that was suddenly enlivened.

Caption: WH feed patronizes “son of a bar keep” with this family photo. #sotu #teamrhetoric
9:35 PM - 28 Jan 2014

Caption: Remember the troops … when you can pull the heart strings that hard #SOTU #teamrhetoric

American Painter Bernard Perlin Dies at 95 - Perlin's career as an artist stretches over a period of seven decades, which he spent exploring a multitude of subjects and places. Perlin started off working for the government, creating propaganda posters to help gain support for fighting in World War II. 

Eventually, he was sent overseas as an artist and reporter for Life and Fortune magazines. After witnessing the horrors of war firsthand, Perlin returned the the United States more socially aware, finding many similarities between war-torn cities and the abandoned lots and gritty lifestyle of his native country's cities. It was around this time Perlin began painting what 
Art News calls "romantic realist" works. His most well-known piece Orthodox Boys, pictured above, was first shown at Knoedler and Company—and now it sits inside Tate Gallery in London. Perlin painting image from entry


From the exhibit, The American West In Bronze, 1850-1925, Metropolitan Museum of Art Through April 13


--Sant' Eustachio. Fountain of the Books. Via YA on Facebook

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 29


"We have become what the privacy theorist Daniel Solove calls 'digital persons.'”

--Colin Koopman, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Oregon; image from


Foreign Staid: State and USAID need an overhaul, but you won't hear it from Obama - Daniel Sewer, Foreign Policy: "Traditional diplomacy focuses on communicating with sovereign governments, while 21st-century diplomacy focuses on ensuring that governments represent their people. Today, conventional diplomatic and foreign assistance institutions in the United States have fallen short in ... area vital in a world in which states are less important and publics."

 The American Energy Renaissance: Who is to Credit and What is the Future Direction? - Kenneth B Medlock III and Keily Miller, "With the issues related to rising domestic crude oil production finally capturing national attention – highlighted by the recent release of Senator Murkowski’s white paper on US energy exports last week – the Obama administration has begun to engage in more public diplomacy around its ... energy strategy. ... The energy industry in this country is in a period of regeneration. Unconventional resource development has grown more rapidly in the US than anywhere else in the world, and it has triggered a renaissance in America’s energy and manufacturing sectors."

ABC's Asia TV network faces axe - "ABC's $223 million Australia Network Asian broadcasting service is likely to be scrapped in the May budget to save money and end the pursuit of 'soft diplomacy' in the region through television. ... The estimated $25m a year paid to the ABC from DFAT's [see] budget for 'soft diplomacy' dwarfs the $4m a year available to the department for direct public diplomacy."

Cultural diplomacy - the Jakarta Post: "A delegation from Indonesia takes part in the annual parade at the Surva XXIII International Festival of Masquarade Games in Pernik city, Bulgaria, on Sunday.

Indonesia’s delegation, which included embassy staff and students studying in Bulgaria, performed a short piece from the Mahabarata epic and played gamelan instruments during the procession, which drew enthusiastic applause from spectators. Parade participants also included representatives from Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. Image from entry, with caption: Courtesy of the Indonesian Embassy, Sofia.

Nica In the Lens - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "The New York Times In The Lens photoblog has a wonderful story and series on the sugar cane workers of Nicaragua that La Isla Foundation has been trying to help.  I wrote about this issue years ago, and did some photo documentation of my own in my exhibit at USC on public diplomacy and public health."

Netanyahu postpones ministerial forum on BDS threat over Bennett row: Government was supposed to seriously discuss boycott for first time, after Dutch pension giant decides to divest from Israel’s banks - Barak Ravid, "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had planned to convene many of his ministers Wednesday for a meeting on the growing threat of boycotts and sanctions against Israel by Western governments and companies, but canceled the discussion at the last minute due to his ongoing crisis with Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. ...Bennett says the boycott and sanctions are a real threat but that they are also grossly exaggerated. In a speech at the Institute for National Security Studies conference Tuesday, Bennett said that since its inception, Israel has faced international boycotts. According to Bennett, the solution is allotting more resources to public diplomacy. 'We need to take the budget of a flight squadron or tank brigade and divert it to the struggle against the delegitimization of Israel,' he said."


Why Kerry Is Scary - Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times: So that’s where we are: Israelis and Palestinians need to understand that Kerry’s mission is the last train to a negotiated two-state solution. The next train is the one coming at them.

Advertisements for Death - Susie Linfield, New York Times: The Syrian civil war may be the first truly postmodern conflict, at least when it comes to its images. Both sides are engaged in a perverse competition to show the world, and each other, how ruthlessly barbaric they can be. Aided by new technologies — the cellphone camera, YouTube, Instagram, social-media sites — these images of cruelty ricochet around the globe. The traditional role of war photojournalism has been turned on its head: Rather than expose atrocities, photographs now advertise them. But in other ways the Syrian images are hardly unique. They are the culmination of a long and ignoble lineage of perpetrator photographs: pitiless pictures taken by tormentors of the violence and sadism they inflict on helpless victims.

Education USA: Where do you want to study? Las Vegas! With Marilyn Monroe? - DiplPundit:
In 2008, the State Department issued 340,711 student visas (F1 visas for academic or language training program).  In 2012, the agency issued 486,900 student visas as well as 27,561 F2 visas for spouse/child of F1 visa holders. According to NAFSA, in 2012-2013 academic year, international students across the United States supported 313,000 jobs, a 6.2% increase in job support and creation. It is no surprise then that our embassies and consulates overseas are working hard to attract foreign students to come to the United States to study. And while most of the videos we’ve seen have been sorta boring, a couple of missions have recently released YouTube videos that seems to be attracting attention.

Time To Fix The State Department - Joan Wadelton, Whirled View: The current mess at the Department is due to a longstanding lack of rigorous oversight -- both external and internal. In addition, State's insistence that it can manage, audit and investigate itself with no outside oversight allows existing problems to persist. The failings of three key components of the State Department – the Human Resources Bureau, the Office of Inspector General and the Office of the Legal Advisor – have combined over a long period of time to damage the agency's logistical operations and policy implementation. The American people are paying billions of dollars for our foreign policy.They deserve better than this.

Beijing boots U.S. reporter over stories of Communist corruption - Cheryl K. Chumley, A U.S. reporter based in Beijing was given until Thursday to leave the country, an order that seems tied to his media filings about the wealth that top Communist Party officials have been able to accumulate through the years. Thursday is the day New York Times‘ reporter Austin Ramzy’s visa expires, USA Today reported. But he’s the second journalist for the newspaper in a little over a year to be forced to leave China, and media watchers say it’s due to published reports that have proven embarrassing to the Communist Party — despite foreign ministers’ attempt to argue otherwise.

‘Ping-pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the Game That Changed the World’ by Nicholas Griffin - Steven V. Roberts, Washington Post: China’s top leaders sought to deploy Ping-Pong as the “perfect instrument of Communist propaganda.”But kids in China today don’t swat Ping-Pong balls — they shoot hoops. Table tennis is now a “living fossil,” a sport “your dad plays.” Image from entry, with caption: In this 1961 photo from China's Xinhua News Agency, Zhuang Zedong, right, competes in the men's team finals of the 26th World Table Tennis Championship in Beijing.


--Image from Facebook, with caption: A Spokane Woman. Photo by Frank Laroche. 1897. Via FW on Facebook



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 28

"Someone has to get the FSO’s under control. If they don’t like it, let them resign."

--Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, regarding Foreign Service officers (December 18, 1975), specifically in the Africa Bureau (AF) at the State Department; image from entry; image from; see also John Brown, "Letter of Resignation by John H. Brown, Foreign Service Officer," Common Dreams (March 10, 2003)


Thinking About Iran By Remembering South Africa - Shervin Malekzadeh, "South Africa’s transformation and redemption during the 90s is instructive as relations between the United States and Iran improve–a thaw made possible by the surprise election of Hassan Rouhani to the presidency this past June. Rouhani and his foreign policy team, led by the indefatigable Mohammad Javad Zarif, have taken a two-track, 'high/low' approach to diplomacy, one that aims to deny US policy elites the moral high ground in the international realm, terrain ceded by Iran for most of the past decade to the Americans, while simultaneously seeking out direct dialogue with the broader American public through acts of online and public diplomacy. Planned and impromptu [sic -- see] exchanges in venues like Facebook and Twitter serve the strategic goal of improving Iran’s image abroad by helping Americans forget the Iran of Ahmadinejad and the Iran of Argo. ... More than 30 years after South Africa gave up its domestic nuclear program as a cost for being reintegrated into the world community, America will have to reconcile itself to an Iran that exists as a regional power with limited if not latent access to nuclear technology. The satisfaction of a cold peace will have to do. Power politics and the persistent violations of human rights will prevent a full reconciliation between the two countries, though these will not be significant enough to override the shared benefits of détente. The status of US-Iran relations is likely to settle somewhere between the turban and the crown, to borrow from Said Arjomand–between the animosity of the first three decades of the Islamic Republic and the close partnership of the Pahlavi regime during its final three decades of rule. That is, assuming that Americans are still paying attention. Nearly a quarter of a century after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, and less than 20 years since his election to the presidency, South Africa occupies little of the space that it once did in the public imagination of Americans. Such is the fate of 'rogue' states, current and former. Reputation and diplomacy will prove to be a mug’s game, subject to the fickle and distracted attention of an American public forever on the search for new demons and dragons to slay. In the end, Iran too will likely fade from view, relegated to the back pages of The New York Times alongside the latest, unnoticed outrage from some country in a lost corner of the world."

Indonesia as an Example of 21st Century Economic Statecraft - Anja Eifert, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "By encouraging U.S. businesses to invest in Indonesia and facilitating trade partnerships, the Obama administration has laid the groundwork for its vision of 21st century economic statecraft in Indonesia. However, the potential of added PD has yet to be fully explored. Initiatives such as the Innovation Fund for Public Diplomacy are a good start, but DoS could do more, such as: (1) create closer cooperation with the Department of Commerce in crafting, financing, and implementing sustainable economic PD that goes beyond short-term commitments and into building and sustaining communication and transportation infrastructure; (2) offer additional funding for entrepreneurs and start-ups through investment incentives for U.S. businesses; (3) implement increased grants and bilateral exchange agreements targeted at experts and professionals to work in Indonesia; and (4) create and sustain a network of public-private partnerships to finance internships and open professional training opportunities for future leaders in the U.S. and Indonesian business landscapes."

Exhibition: Art Inter[r]upted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy - "In 1946, amid a Cold War conflict that emerged between the United States and the Soviet Union after World War II, the Department of State embarked on an innovative program of cultural diplomacy. At the heart of this initiative was a project known as Advancing American Art. 'Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy' examines the development and swift demise of this ambitious but ill-fated instrument of foreign policy. The story of Advancing American Art offers important clues to a better understanding of the unsettled period in American history immediately following World War II.

The public debate the project engendered-on the value of modern art, government's role in art patronage and what constitutes a truly American art form-addressed issues that are still worthy of discussion today. The curtailed tour in 1947 prevented a full consideration of what the paintings had to say about the artists and the period in which they were created. Nearly seventy years after the paintings were first assembled, the organizers of the present exhibition—the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma and the Georgia Museum of Art—have worked together to give the artists and the original State Department organizers their due acknowledgment. From a checklist of 117 oils and watercolors sold as war surplus in 1948, 'Art Interrupted' reunites all but 10 paintings, for which there are no known locations, in an exhibition that demonstrates again the great worth in freedom and diversity." Image from entry. See also (1) (2).

Sri Lanka well ahead of the U.S. in accountability and transparency - "Does Sri Lanka's overseas diplomatic facility in Washington expect the US lobbying firms it has commissioned with a monthly payment of US$ 66,000 to highlight the presentation Sri Lanka's presidential emissary Lalith Weeratunga delivered while using the dismal record of the United States as a comparison to (1) create a political climate in the US more than conducive to enhancing Sri Lanka's long-term political economic aspirations (2) to create a platform where US decision makers receive clear and accurate information of Sri Lanka's current achievements? And, it has been reported that Sri Lanka has also separately hired a US lobbying firm (Majority Group) paying it US $ 50,000 to lobby the US Government to change 'its attitude towards Sri Lanka.' Mr. Weeratunga's presentation denote very clearly the trajectory of Sri Lanka toward transparency, accountability and truthfulness since the internal defeat of the separatist/terrorist Tamil Tigers in contrast to the track record of the United States in its 'Global War on Terror'. The question here is - do the handlers of external affairs for the Government of Sri Lanka have the competency to use more than the basics of public affairs, public diplomacy and strategic communication mechanism, understanding how the American polity works, the US strategy in its own handling of foreign affairs to engage in basic research and high-level of analyses with future projections to use Lalith Weeratunga- presentation to the UNHRC representatives in Geneva last week to enhance Sri Lanka's image globally and, most importantly, to negate the ongoing 'Global Diplomatic Insurgency' ,well oiled by the pro-separatist elements within the Tamil Diaspora, or allow that task outsourced to some Washington lobbying firms?"

Sochi Olympics To Raise Russia’s Credibility In International Arena –- Analysis - Penza News, Xu Jin, Research Fellow at Institute of World Economics and Politics of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that due to the Olympics Russia’s international image will be improved a lot in one or two years. 'Based on the experience of Beijing Olympic Games, the country will get positive international image, and it is also a good platform for the diplomacy and public diplomacy,' the Chinese analyst said.' ... Edward Lozansky, President and Founder of the American University in Moscow, shared the view that this event will positively affect the development of several areas. 'Given the huge investments in the infrastructure of the region, Sochi, under good administration, can become a unique tourist destination for both summer and winter holidays, he said, noting that PR is highly needed to compete with European resorts. ... According to him, the Olympic Games are not only grand sport event, but an indicator of the significant changes for the better, which have occurred in the country over the past two decades. 'Unfortunately, the world’s attitude toward Russia has changed little since the Soviet era. Media still uses the stereotypes of the Cold War without neglecting to stress 'omnipresent KGB' or 'Dictator Putin.' Recently, there is too much black PR, predictions of new terrorist attacks and calls for a boycott of the Olympics by anti-Russian lobby in the West. It should be noted that in pursuit of sensationalism, Russian press also adds negative information in this muddy stream,' Edward Lozansky noted. According to him, the Sochi Olympics will show the face of new Russia, freed from the communist past." See also

Vedrine and Kinkel Visit Sarajevo: The Makings of a Public Diplomacy Distaster - Charles Crawford, Diplomatic Courier: We connoisseurs of the diplomatic public speaking art are fortunate to have one example of a high-profile public speaking occasion where everything that could possibly go wrong did indeed go wrong. ... My subsequent reporting telegram to London recorded this amazing scene: 'It also is striking how diplomatically ineffective our main European partners seem here. The Védrine [France’s Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine]/Kinkel [Germany’s Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel] visit here last week seemed to sum things up, in presentational terms at least. At the large Holiday Inn reception for the visitors with a top-level turnout of Bosnian, Serb, and Croat leaders, Védrine’s tame speech was the normal Dayton platitudes.

Kinkel delivered an energetic address on the general lines of ‘We have done a lot for you! You shall be grateful! And cooperate!’ Stirring stuff, but not enough to enthuse the Bosnian audience, many of whom rudely carried on talking among themselves while it was delivered.' All in all, a grimly instructive diplomatic fiasco. ... In all public speaking, it is not what you say—it is what they hear. In war-weary Sarajevo in 1997 many of the leading personalities in post-conflict Bosnia did not hear from these two prominent European politicians an inspiring message of unity and shared purpose. They heard disjointedness, tedium, and perhaps even irrelevance. An expensive missed opportunity. Charles Crawford was British Ambassador in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Warsaw." Uncaptioned image from entry

Effective communication in the 21st Century - "Public diplomacy is increasingly challenged by the transformative power of technology and the swift pace of digital progress: an effective online communication needs a careful and creative use of social medias. The UN foundation and the Digital Diplomacy Coalition have dealt with this subject at the end of October by hosting a half-day conference attended by people from all over the world, connected through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Livestream. Eight key – pieces of advice emerged throughout the conversation: 1) Meet people where they are, using multiple platforms to reach different audiences. 2) Listen: don’t just put out your messages, involve your audience.

3) Build a network of networks: a stronger community means a better exchange. 4) Tell stories: data are important but reaching the emotional level is crucial. 5) Tell your stories visually, images make words more powerful. 6) Be authentic, be accurate: being credible is even more important then being fast. 7) Engage your leadership to be active on line, thus helping to shape a social-media–friendly organization. 8) Spur action: specific and relevant reaction means your communication has been really effective. Read more on:"  Image from entry


Far from Syria, the propaganda war rages - Edward M Spiers, Lauched in Montreux, and then moving to Geneva, the negotiations over the Syrian civil war represent the first time that members of the Syrian government have met face-to-face with Western–backed members of the rebellion. Western delegations have repeatedly touted these talks as the only means of producing a transitional government in Syria, paving the way to peace.On all sides, it seems, the Swiss talks have provided a perfect platform for expanding the propaganda battle that is being waged just as vigorously between Assad’s forces, the rebels, and their external backers as the conflict on the ground.

While this propaganda battle reverberates around Geneva, little can be expected of the talks beyond the possibility of minor agreements on prisoner exchanges and on letting humanitarian aid enter disputed areas. Image from article, with caption: Syrians holding a wounded man

Neocons Take Aim at Syrian Peace Talks - Robert Parry, Consortium News: The Washington Post’s neoconservative editorial page is still beating the drums for U.S. military intervention in Syria, but its latest demand for violent reprisals against the Syrian government dropped a key element in the previous propaganda campaign: the claim that President Bashar al-Assad had “gassed his own people.”

Harry Reid earns an assist on Iran: The Nevada senator staved off new sanctions — for now - Doyle McManus, The Senate isn't likely to vote on new sanctions any time soon. But this was just one round in the ongoing Washington battle over how to deal with Iran, and the closer the nuclear negotiations bring us to a final agreement, the more intense the debate will become.

US arrest of Iran nationals propaganda campaign: Diplomat - Tehran has slammed the apprehension of Iranian nationals in the US as part of a propaganda campaign against the Islamic Republic. “All the hype and traps against Iranian citizens abroad are merely propaganda and media speculation and no offense has been committed by Iranian citizens,” Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular, Parliamentary and Iranian Expatriates Affairs Hassan Qashqavi

told reporters on Friday. He pointed to the recent arrest of Iranian citizen Mozaffar Khazaei in the US under the pretext of circumventing the sanctions against Tehran and noted, “There have been similar cases in other countries before, and the Iranian citizens have returned to the country after acquittal.” However, the diplomat noted that no comment can be made about the incident until investigations into the arrest of the Iranian citizen are finalized. Image from entry, with caption: Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi

In Afghanistan, a war that has lost its purpose - Richard Cohen, Washington Post: Afghanistan is an arid Vietnam, a quagmire presided over by the petulant and unpredictable Hamid Karzai. For Obama, Gates wrote, “it’s all about getting out.”

Obama Flirts With Losing the 'Must Win' War: Withdrawal from Afghanistan will be a defeat for America and a victory for al Qaeda - Frederick W. Kagan, Wall Street Journal: Withdrawal from Afghanistan, whether financial or military or both, will be a defeat for the U.S. and a victory for al Qaeda. It really is that simple.

What the West Must Do for Ukraine - John E. Herbst, William Green Miller, Steven K. Pifer, William B. Taylor Jr., New York Times: Ukraine is on the verge of spinning out of control. Western influence in Ukraine is real but limited and could fade. The United States and European Union should apply it now, lest the West find itself watching Ukraine succumb to widespread violence that it cannot stop.

Why the West Must Join the Ukraine Protesters: What the Ukraine protests are really about: Western freedom vs. Putin's vision of a restored Russian empire - Mikheil Saakashvili, Wall Street Journal: In Kiev, the future is being decided. A triumph for the protesters would mark the end of Mr. Putin's dream of a restored Russian empire. In August 1991, President George H.W. Bush told Ukrainians and other Soviet Republics, in a speech quickly dubbed "Chicken Kiev,"

not to seek independence and integration with the West. Now, more than two decades later, the West must not send a similar message to people who have shown so much commitment to freedom. Too much is at stake. Let's hope Washington, Paris, Brussels, Berlin and London grasp that fact before it's too late. Image from

The Security Leadership Void - Clemens Wergin, New York Times: The United States remains an unrivaled power, with military resources and economic prowess that no other nation can match. The risk is not so much that another country might take its place; in a way, it is that no one will. The situation would be less dire if Europe showed more ambition to take over some of America’s balancing functions. But so far that seems to be a vain hope, both in practical and political terms. Further American disentanglement from the Middle East is not good for the region, or for the West as a whole.

Stability Versus Democracy in Egypt - Room for Debate, New York Times: Almost three years ago, Egyptians celebrated the end of six decades of military rule. But fury at the autocratic governance of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi, led to his ouster six months ago by the military. Now many Egyptians are supporting for the military again as its leaders authorize their commander to run for president. Is a military government actually the best recipe for stability and progress in Egypt

Propaganda and the media war in South Sudan - Media war and Propaganda is not good to be use in the South Sudan because we are one people with one objective that is peace and prosperity, propaganda is not good to be use at this particular period of time where people minds focuses still remembering the pasts like tribalism, corruption.

India movie banned in Pakistan citing "anti- Pakistan propaganda" - Malaysia Sun (ANI): An Indian movie based on the 1971 war has been reportedly banned in Pakistan following claims that it allegedly contains "anti- Pakistan propaganda." It is alleged that the movie 'The Bastard Child', depicting events of 1970-1971 in East Pakistan, shows atrocities committed by Pakistan Army personnel in East Pakistan, leading to its separation. According to The Nation, the movie attempts to show Pakistan and its security forces in a bad light and is being released at a time when the key institutions are engaged in large-scale counter-terrorism operations to end extremism and bring peace in Pakistan and across the world.

N. Korea suspends propaganda leaflets to South - Yonhap: North Korea has temporarily stopped flying propaganda leaflets to South Korea near its western border since the communist state offered a series of peace gestures earlier this month, multiple sources said Tuesday.

A Chinese Tourist in North Korea: A Firsthand Experience - [U.S. government funded] North Korea, a last bastion of Stalinism and one of the most secretive regimes in the world, is open to foreign tourism on a very limited basis. Foreigners applying to travel to North Korea are subjected to rigorous review, and once inside the country, their personal freedoms are limited and their actions closely monitored. But as an RFA Cantonese Service reporter found on a recent visit,

Chinese and non-Chinese visitors to the "Workers' Paradise" get rather different treatment: At the airport downtown, the view is in sharp contrast to the bustling and prosperous scenes one sees in other countries. There are only a few foreign visitors going through immigration, and many are tourists from China. There is just one flight a day from Beijing to Pyongyang. Passengers on the plane are offered some North Korean propaganda materials to read, or they can read the Workers' Daily, the newspaper of the North Korean central government, which is printed in monochrome across four pages. Image from entry, with caption: A North Korean staff member sells souvenirs to Chinese tourists at the monument to the Chinese People's Volunteers in Pyongyang, September, 2013.

Did North Korea Really Claim to Land a Man On the Sun? Here's the Full Story - Where the joke originated: Did North Korea really claim to put a man on the sun or do people just like making Kim
Jong-un look like a super-duper extra sillypants? Despite outlandish North Korean propaganda like

Kim Jong-il's vaunted all-time golf scoring record and the supposed discovery of a unicorn lair in Pyongyang, this one would already be sending up red flags even if it wasn't easy to track down the original source. This article originally appeared on the Waterford Whispers News, a satirical Irish site (think The Onion) that runs headlines like "Ground-Breaking WIT Study Finds Link Between Obesity and Over-Eating" and "World Leaders Renew International Lie-To-People Pact." Believing this story was genuine propaganda would require an assumption that North Koreans are either blindingly stupid or all carbon copies of Winston Smith at the end of Nineteen Eighty-Four, both of which are clearly untrue. North Koreans aren't scientifically illiterate enough to believe you can land on the sun.  Image from entry

Propaganda: “The Dominant Grand Narrative Of Our Time” - Media Lens,  Today, it is clearer than ever to a growing number of people that there is something seriously wrong with ‘the news’. The current system of planet-crushing propaganda relies on a mere façade of overall ‘balance’, ‘reasonableness’ and ‘range of views’. In the UK, BBC News is the crucial foundation stone of this propaganda system.

Hollywood, propaganda and liberal politics: What's considered propaganda depends on who's in the White House - Jonah Goldberg, Hollywood has never been opposed to propaganda. When Hollywood's self-declared auteurs and artistes denounce propaganda as the enemy of art, almost invariably what they really mean is "propaganda we don't like."

Muere actor de propaganda de Marlboro por cáncer de pulmón - El actor Eric Lawson, que interpretó al reconocido vaquero

de las propagandas de los cigarrillos Marlboro, falleció a los 72 años víctima de cáncer de pulmón. Image from entry, with caption: Eric Lawson falleció a los 72 años víctima de esta penosa enfermedad. Su esposa dijo que el ´Marlboro man´ fumaba desde los 14 años y solo dejó el vicio cuando le diagnosticaron el mal.


8 Things About Americans That Might Surprise Visitors - Among them: 1. Uber-Friendliness: Americans are, apparently, much friendlier than most people around the world.

It's not uncommon to chat up a stranger while waiting on line or traveling on public transportation. Image from entry. Via GG on Facebook

Aides Advise Obama To Avoid Any Mention Of America During State Of The Union Speech - Ahead of Tuesday night’s highly anticipated State of the Union address, top White House aides reportedly sat down with President Barack Obama and advised him to maintain a positive and optimistic tone throughout the speech by avoiding any mention of the United States of America.

“We feel it’s best to steer clear of topics that may cast the administration in an unfavorable light, so we urged the president to gently skirt the issue of America and any related subjects for the duration of his address,” said White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, adding that they hoped to deny Republican opponents of any ammunition for their rebuttal by instructing Obama to refrain from talking about the U.S., any one of the 50 states, or the American populace at all. “The country has been a really thorny issue for the president, so given the importance of this occasion and the number of people watching, we recommended that the president just stay away from using any loaded terms that might stir up negative associations with listeners, such as ‘the United States,’ ‘our nation,’ or ‘my fellow Americans.’” White House sources later confirmed that Obama’s State of the Union speech is estimated at seven minutes long and will focus largely on The Rolling Stones’ widely popular 1972 album Exile On Main St. Via AC on Facebook. Image from entry


“Street Cleaning Tomorrow — Absolutely No Parking: not even on the sidewalks.”

--Italian sign; image from


Queen down to her last million due to courtiers' overspending, report finds: Report by the Commons public accounts committee finds the Queen’s advisers are failing to control her finances while the royal palaces are “crumbling” -

Image from entry, with caption: A report by the Commons public accounts committee found that the Queen’s advisers were failing to control her finances while the royal palaces were “crumbling”