Saturday, September 12, 2015

From a 9/12/2015 email by recent Public Council President Don Bishop

Bishop image from

Here are more "quotables" I posted on the Public Diplomacy Council website during the summer.  Don

The aim of the Kremlin’s messaging, as one expert put it, is “not to persuade (as in classic public diplomacy) or earn credibility but to sow confusion via conspiracy theories and proliferate falsehoods.” These outlets echo Kremlin narratives, while using conspiracy theories and anti-Western rhetoric to appeal to segments of their audience that are skeptical of official narratives, notably the far left and the far right.

We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. . . . . We are misled in a second way, by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature.
Quotable: Graeme Wilson on "What ISIS Really Wants"

The imperialist states have created a tremendous propaganda machine for this purpose. Take, for instance, the widely ramified United States Information Agency and the "Voice of America," the British Thompson Fund and the British Broadcasting Corporation, and the Friedrich Ebert Fund of Western Germany. The scale of the propaganda services maintained by the Western powers is increasing with every year. It would be quite right to say that imperialism has launched an ideological offensive against the developing countries.

With hindsight, however, a harsh reality has become clear: The democratic West won the Cold War but in the process lost its political imagination.

In much of our thinking within this country concerning cultural exchange, emphasis is placed on what we can contribute to the other American republics.  Generosity seemingly prevails over self-interest.  It is complacently and perhaps all too easily assumed that the United States is equipped to pour out knowledge and enlightenment on the peoples of the south.  There is much talk of the contributions which may be made to the other American republics by our teachers, writers, and technical experts, but little consideration of what gifts of value we may receive from their creative thinkers and artists.

Our international commitments and interests are now so large that it is no longer prudent to ignore any instrument whereby those commitments can be discharged and those interests safeguarded. The time has passed when it is possible for us to conduct our foreign relations expeditiously and successfully by traditional diplomatic, economic, and military means. The challenges of other powers to our international action, by propaganda, politics, economic pressure, or violence have forced us to specify our foreign interests in more comprehensiveness and detail than ever before, and to examine our resources for securing them.
The great misconception in this information battle is that ISIL’s sophisticated use of social media is somehow luring young men who would otherwise remain at home with their families, playing video games. Is it ISIL’s stylized violence and calls to purity that motivate potential recruits, or is it frustration, chronic unemployment, lack of education and a life with few outlets for free expression? Let’s be clear: ISIL is cynically exploiting a vast, existing market, not creating a new one
Quotable: Richard Stengel on "Hashtag Jihadis"

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