By Yang Lan. Source: Global Times Published: 2015-12-29 19:28:01
Thursday, December 31, 2015
By Yang Lan. Source: Global Times Published: 2015-12-29 19:28:01
Welcome to the new International Exchange Alumni website! Formerly known as State Alumni, we are happy to present this updated, …
International Exchange Alumni
International Exchange Alumni
Wednesday, December 30th 2015
Paul D. Shinkman, a national security reporter for U.S. News & World Report, summarized the “key points Western observers and policymakers will be considering as they monitor the terrorist network in 2016.” His article, “5 Things to Look For With ISIS in 2016,” appeared on the magazine’s website on December 28, 2015.
Shinkman wrote that the first four “key clues” will be “Retaking Territory, and Governing It,” “Expanding to Libya, a ‘Plan B,’" “Finding Unity in the War, and Choking Off the Extremists,” and “A Coordinated Attack on the U.S.” Here is his fifth key point:
Shutting the Islamic State Group’s Mouth
One of the extremist network’s greatest successes has been its use of propaganda, both to control those under its rule but even more potently to recruit disenfranchised young people from overseas, who continue to flock to its homeland.
Western security agencies remain befuddled how affluent young people see something in the slick messaging the Islamic State group puts forth, and its elusive use of social media as a way to directly connect with potential recruits.
The solution, however, cannot come from the U.S., as that would be too easily dismissed by extremist leaders who see America as the living symbol of everything they oppose. Instead, finding a solution must come from one of the other greatest holes in the anti-Islamic State group strategy, which is greater support from Muslim nations like Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
These nations have long been the recipients of U.S. military aid and support, and touted by President Barack Obama as evidence of the potency of the coalition he leads, even though the U.S. and its European partners carry out almost all of the military strikes. But questions among their top leadership of U.S. priorities, and the extent to which America is willing to go in the Middle East, has resigned them to focusing on their own internal problems, such as the refugee crisis spilling into Jordan or Saudi Arabia’s war in neighboring Yemen.
But, perhaps merely exposing the reality of life under the Islamic State group is the most potent form of counter-propaganda.
Reports have emerged from Iraq saying the Islamic State group has begun to ban access to satellite broadcasts for those under its control.
“We're starting to see a change in their behavior that may be related to some desperation,” Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition, told reporters Tuesday from his Baghdad headquarters. “They appear to be trying to hide information regarding the recent string of defeats as we continue to kill their leaders, to increase the security capacity of our regional partners and to strike them across the battlefield and all of their formation. It seems like they're beginning to feel the pressure.”
If he returned from the grave, broadcast news legend Edward R. Murrow would nod his head at government fumbling in the propaganda wars with the Islamic State group and other bad guys. It might seem all too familiar.
Well, he has returned, sort of, through a previously undisclosed Murrow memo (embedded below [see link]) in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. It makes clear his historically evocative chagrin with how the U.S. pressed its case in the battle for hearts and minds around the globe.
The needed background is as minimal as most Ben Carson campaign declarations: The Obama administration has continued a tradition of modestly financed and seemingly subpar world-wide media efforts that trace themselves to Cold War attempts to confront and rebut communism.
The Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and several other government broadcast entities are the best known of those ongoing efforts. They are overseen by a part-time broadcasting board and employ about 3,500 people, reach an estimated 206 million people worldwide each week and cost taxpayers about $750 million a year. By comparison, the Pentagon recently approved a deal with Northrop Grumman for a new Long Range Strike Bomber that will cost $564 million per plane for 100 aircraft, along with about $20 billion in development costs.
Forget planes. Compared to the billions spent by the likes of China and Russia on government media, whose daily tactics are rife with lies about the U.S., what we spend is a pittance.
U.S. operations have also suffered from a general neglect by the White House and State Department in multiple administrations. We're more inclined to use hard power (guns and ammo) than soft power (diplomacy, cultural missions, adept social media). I've previously covered our current efforts with soft power and a dubious status quo is clear, including the very uneven performance of the part-time Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees our international broadcasting.
So now I find the handiwork of Murrow, the onetime CBS News fixture who rose to international fame through intrepid and lucid World War II reporting and, later, prime time muckraking documentaries on CBS with collaborator Fred Friendly. He ended his career by crossing the professional street and overseeing what was then known as the United States Information Agency during the John F. Kennedy and (briefly after Kennedy's assassination) Lyndon Johnson administrations.
The agency had been established in 1953, though its roots were in the Office of War Information from World War II. Its primary mandate was to improve our image overseas through overt and covert programs (the latter at times done in tandem with the CIA, including counterinsurgency programs in areas that included Southeast Asia). In 1999 its broadcast functions were placed under the aegis of the then-new Broadcasting Board of Governors and the others were given to a new State Department undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs (former Time magazine managing editor Rick Stengel now holds that position).
This brings us to the newly declassified memo at the Kennedy library, written by Murrow during his government days. It was penned early in the Kennedy administration, on May 17, 1961, and was sent to David Bell, Kennedy's director of the Office of Management and Budget with a copy sent to Theodore Sorensen, JFK's top adviser.
It was a six-page exhortation to hike the modest allocation for the USIA and offered what the French might tag a tour d'horizon of various propaganda challenges facing the United States.
It touches on problems in Africa and Latin America, including Cuba, but reaches its rhetorical climax on "the deteriorating political and military situation in Southeast Asia." That situation, he believed, "calls for urgent additional steps to communicate the determination of the United States to (1) support our allies and maintain them as allies and (2) prevent neutral countries from falling to Communism."
Then, Murrow waxed dramatic.
He completed his impassioned cry for bureaucratic assistance by writing, "As never before, USIA urgently needs adequate resources to do the job which must be done; not only the funds requested herein but also substantially all of our original request."
Murrow's tenure included many successes: He convinced Kennedy that he, Murrow, should attend cabinet meetings, he oversaw the opening of new posts in Africa, he expanded broadcasting to Latin America and he in diversified the agency with the hiring of women and African-Americans.
But his successes did not include his getting any significant budget increases. That's further reason he might feel right at home today.
He quit in 1964 and died of brain cancer in 1965. The agency he ran (which back then had 12,000 employees) got smaller and smaller over the decades even as its challenges became arguably more formidable.
If he returned from the grave, maybe he'd be gratified to learn that the State Department brings 75 journalists from around the globe to the U.S. each year to study the importance of a free press in a democracy. They call it the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists.
Image from article, with caption: Artist's impression of the Renaissance Dam, under construction on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan announced Tuesday that they have reached consensus to put into practice provisions in the Declaration of Principles regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). ...
The government of Ethiopia is being transparent on the construction of GERD project to promote partnership and to build mutual trust. It is also extending invitation to the public diplomacy and the media in Sudan and Egypt to visit GERD. ...
Lahav Harkov, jpost.com
Image from article, with caption: Slain Israeli Prime Minister Rabin with former US President Bill Clinton and former PLO President Yasser Arafat after signing the Oslo Accords at the White House on September 13, 1993.
M. K. Bezalel Smotich called too cancel the Oslo Accords, while presenting legislation Wednesday that would require the government to pay landowners who lost land because of the agreement with the Palestinians.
“There is no such thing as Palestinians,” Smotrich said, sparking outrage in the opposition, whose members shouted at him.
The Bayit Yehudi MK added: “My friends in the opposition, we will annex [the West Bank], whether you want it or not. This is our Land of Israel. It was given to us by God.”
Smotrich pointed to last week’s Torah portion, the last one in the book of Genesis, and said the opposition is angry because the stories take place in Beit El and Hebron and not in Tel Aviv.
“We will cancel the Oslo Accords. You have no reason to be angry. Don’t rewrite history and the Torah. Everyone agrees; don’t waste your time,” Smotrich said.
MK Hilik Bar (Zionist Union) shouted to Smotrich that he is “doing greater damage to Israel’s public diplomacy than the extreme Left. You should be ashamed!” MK Osama Sa’adi (Joint List) asked: “If you want to cancel the Oslo Accords, why hide it? You are continuing the settlement enterprise, which is a war crime. ..."
Dahlia Scheindlin, 972mag.com
Any new partners to this endeavor, eccentrics or not, strengthen the cause.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
By The Federalist
image from article