Saturday, February 28, 2009

February 28

“[I]f the president had been raised in the African-American community in the continental United States, he would never have been chosen as president. It is quite sadly simple: He would be too angry.”

--Washington Times Columnist Georgie Anne Geyer; see also Phillip Atiba Goff and Jennifer L. Eberhardt, "Race and the ape image," Los Angeles Times

“Hilary Mackie has detected in the Iliad a consistent differentiation between representations in Greek of Achaean and Trojan speech, where Achaeans repeatedly engage in public, ritualized abuse: 'Achaeans are proficient at blame, while Trojans perform praise poetry.'"

--Wikipedia, entry on "flyting, a contest of insults, often conducted in verse"


13-Year-Old Conservative Wunderkind Wows CPAC, Joe The PlumberHuffington Post


Obama gets it right on Iraq - Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: “Public diplomacy. Obama's decision to speak directly to the Iraqi people -- and not only to Iraqi leaders -- was brilliantly conceived and executed. His very clear statement that the U.S. had no aspirations on Iraqi territory or resources -- no permanent bases -- was pitch perfect. And I just really liked this frank, direct, respectful talk.”

Two Hopeful Signs – William Kiehl, My PD Blog: "In the past couple of days two hopeful harbingers of better times ahead

for public diplomacy took my eye. The first was Senator Lugar’s wonderfully lucid and much needed statement on the importance of American Cultural and Information Centers as a means to engage the world in a meaningful dialogue. … The other hopeful words were expressed by one of America’s finest diplomats, Career Ambassador Thomas J. Pickering. In a statement before a Congressional Committee, Pickering called for a doubling of funding for America’s exchange programs and with good reason—they work!” Image from

Kudos For Senator Lugar's Call To Re-Establish International American Centers - Michael Knigge, Across the Pond: "It doesn't happen often, but sometimes someone expresses an opinion one can entirely agree with. … Well, this just happened to me after reading Senator Richard Lugar's article arguing why the U.S. should reverse its long process of closing its America Centers around the world. … To be clear, the internet and other modern information tools as well as private sponsors are and should be a big part of public diplomacy. But can and should they replace a live forum, a marketplace of ideas where people in cities across the world can meet, talk and debate with Americans, not in a virtual chat room, but in a real reading room? I think not.” Image from

Democracy the antidote to jihadist radicalization, task force concludes - Michael Allen, Democracy Digest: “Annual U.S. government spending on democracy support and public diplomacy in the broader Middle East amounts to less than 1 percent of the Pentagon’s annual spending in Iraq. The Obama administration should double the resources available to the National Endowment for Democracy and the Middle East Partnership Initiative to continue their support for those ‘institutions and organizations that have a demonstrated track record in standing up to and competing with both violent and nonviolent extremists.’” Image from

VOL. V NO. 5, February 13-February 26, 2009 - The Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media

Newspaper reporting on GAO report on TV Martí observes TV Martí's report on the GAO report (updated) - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

A late Valentine’s Day letter – Ben, Silk Road Economy: “A Minnie Mouse watch … [is] a heavy-duty American cultural export. So, a word of advice to US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. I agree, there are good reasons to argue that the Chinese currency is undervalued. However, a stronger currency doesn’t mean that outsourced factories will return to the United States.

And, more importantly, a young Syrian’s girl Minnie Mouse watch might just have a positive effect on the way she thinks about America as she grows older. If so, it’s a small public diplomacy win. It’s also a lot cheaper than America’s other public diplomacy efforts in the Middle East, such as running an Arabic-language television-station like Al Hurra. In fact, so long as the Chinese manufacturer is paying royalties to the Disney company, then the Minnie Mouse watch might just make America money. I’m arguing slightly tongue-in-cheek.” Image from

Citizen Diplomacy – Rebecca, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: “I attended the first day of the Marshall Conference on Citizen Diplomacy at the State Department on Thursday. While I believe there was a lot to be learned, I also feel that, much like Public Diplomacy, nobody could give a clear answer on what their idea of Citizen Diplomacy was. … I got my chance to ask a question to the panel: ’Since there have been such successes with citizen and cultural diplomacy when they are not related directly to the government, how would the government be able to utilize these aspects of diplomacy without tainting it by the generally negative opinion abroad of the US government.’ The answer I received? In a nutshell, it was, Public Diplomacy needs to participate in more listening.” Image from

Rewriting the Narrative: An Integrated Strategy for counterradicalization - Matthew Levitt, Counterterrorism Blog: Rewriting the Narrative: An Integrated Strategy for Counterradicalization is the final report of the Task Force on Confronting the Ideology of Radical Extremism, a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission of diplomats, legislators, strategists, scholars, and experts. … The report provides analysis and recommendations on a spectrum of discrete policy issues -- democracy promotion, political reform, public diplomacy, strategic communications, and counterradicalization -- offering an integrated approach to staunching the spread of Islamist extremism. The extensive recommendations suggest an array of policy instruments, from creating a Counterradicalization Forum that draws on ‘best practices’ of friends and partners in Europe and the Middle East, to infusing with renewed mission, urgency, and creativity U.S. international broadcasting to Arab and Muslim societies.” Image from

It is time to create a center for public diplomacy discourse and research - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner

Consul (representative) - bill, “Activities of a consulate include protecting the interests of their citizens temporarily or permanently resident in the host country, issuing passports; issuing visas to foreigners and public diplomacy.”

The Great Russian Firewall - Rebecca MacKinnon, Evgeny Morozov, Moscow Times: “Even the most cold-hearted realists would agree that the failure of communist censorship played a role in the collapse of the Iron Curtain: Voice of America, the fax machine, rock 'n' roll and the lure of Western capitalism helped to win over the people of the Soviet bloc. … Meanwhile, China is looking to Russia, which may have invented an entirely new model of controlling the Internet without recourse to censorship. Having established full control of traditional media, the Kremlin is now moving full-speed into the virtual world. The authorities' strategy is not new: establish tight control over the leading publishing platforms and fill them with propaganda and spin to shape online public opinion.” Image from

Public engagement key to better image: Spokesman
- Wang Zhuoqiong, China Daily: “For Zhao Qizheng, 2008 will be remembered as the year when China made a mark in ‘public diplomacy’. That is because, last year, the government disseminated timely and accurate information to the public on such major events as the Beijing Olympics, the destructive snowstorms and the devastating May 12 earthquake, Zhao told China Daily on Friday. This helped in boosting the government's standing among its citizens, Zhao, who used to head the State Council Information Office, said.”

Spaniards seek relations with Africa - Administrator, Namibia Economist:

“Casa África is a public consortium sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development and authorities of the Canary Islands ... . Casa África is a new instrument of public diplomacy that aims to become a central reference between Spain, Europe and Africa, which considers the African continent a place of great challenges and enormous opportunities.” Image from

Sweden - reading in February - The Wonderful Adventures of SNIFF: A travel chronicle...:

”Svenska Dagbladet visited a seminar on 100 years of Swedish public diplomacy and dealing with the press. Dagens Nyheter wrote here on the same.” [Note: Both articles are in Swedish]. Image from


Time for Iraq: President Obama's strategy aims at success. Is that a goal congressional Democrats can support? – Editorial, Washington Post: Though Obama opposed the war, his strategy recognizes what has been achieved in Iraq, even at a terrible cost, and aims at preserving it. His party would do well to follow his lead. Image from

Obama's Plan for IraqWashington Post: The Post asked foreign policy experts for their impressions of President Obama's speech at Camp Lejeune on Friday. Contributions are from Randy Scheunemann, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Qubad J. Talabani, Andrew J. Bacevich, Douglas J. Feith, Jessica Mathews and Danielle Pletka.

An End to Baghdad's 'Dark Era': Nightclubs on the City's Famous Abu Nawas Street Are Open Again and Popular -- Even With U.S. Troops - Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post: At Hassan's nightclub, the American soldier danced, arm in arm, with his new Iraqi friends.

A Clean Fight - Timothy Hsia, New York Times: In the last few years, the United States military has become a much more environmentally conscious organization. But these eco-friendly practices need to be applied every place where the military and civilian contractors operate, including Iraq.

From Bush to Obama: Seven Years of Wartime Propaganda
- Anthony DiMaggio, CounterPunch: Whether the American public will be able to effectively hold the Obama Presidency to its pre-election promise to quickly end the war in Iraq is uncertain. One thing, however, is clear. If the public doesn’t place continued pressure on this administration, the U.S. will likely remain in Iraq for many years to come. Image from

War Reporting and Propaganda in Iraq and Afghanistan: The media takes a beating for not reporting on the positive aspects of war; it is a notion that most people who have spent time in a combat theater find ridiculous - Tim King, “I believe that with the right approach, truly setting out to win the hears and minds of the people the right way, we could help Afghanistan greatly. It starts with increasing relations, and keeping American l[i]aisons in place who don't leave the country on cue every 12 months when a deployment ends, effectively terminating any progress that had been made in local relations. Indiscriminate bombing is another huge issue that has turned many of our former allies against us.”

Playing With Fire in Pakistan – Editorial, New York Times: Pakistan must get serious about tackling its problems, including the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Pakistanis need to understand that this is their fight, not just America’s.

The war we gave Mexico: The drugs, guns and culture that fuel the violence all are linked to the U.S. - Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times: If Americans really are concerned about the horrific toll inflicted by Mexico's narco-gangsters, we need to ask some tough questions about our own cultural and political delusions. Image from

Preaching vs. pragmatism - Georgie Anne Geyer, Washington Times: It seems clear that the nation's top diplomat has already thrown away her husband's ideological stances about speaking constantly and largely ineffectively about human rights, and is enthusiastically and effectively adopting President Obama's pragmatic approach to foreign policy.

Welcome to the Toughest Job in Town - David Ignatius, Washington Post: In the end, a National Security Adviser's success depends on his relationship with the person down the hall in the Oval Office. Though Jones and Obama are of different ages and backgrounds, they both seem to like a low-key, deliberative process, and they share a passion for policy reviews. Image from

Obama's Intelligence Blunder - Jon Chait, Washington Post: Obama has made one major mistake that has attracted little public attention: his appointment of Charles Freeman as chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman was attacked by pro-Israel activists, but the contretemps over Freeman's view of Israel misses the broader problem, which is that he's an ideological fanatic.

Oh propaganda, How we adore theeeeeeee!Immorality:

Article about how we misquote to demonize from the most simple contexts from Ahmedinejad. Image from

The DMZ - Where is Cat?? Adventures of Cat the Lawyer... Meow!: Propaganda Town in North Korea. This is hilarious: until 2004, North Korea broadcasted propaganda from this town to the South for six to twelve hours everyday! It is a ghost town as lights turn on and turn off at the same time.

Online propaganda of a generation - Cassie Hepler, Philadelphia Sex & Relationships Examiner: “I'm quite convinced that the Internet will bring more people together but alas; it is shuffling through the bullcrap that is the ultimate downfall.”

PHOTO: Homeless and in love. Photos/wardrobe by S. Jenx. Make up by Krysi King. Models: Cassie Hepler and Scott Staab.

Friday, February 27, 2009

February 27

“'Katyń' re-creates one of the everyday terrors of living under totalitarianism: no one in power ever tells you the truth, and you live on rumor and hope."

--The New Yorker’s David Denby, reviewing Andrzei Waida’s film

"'[Orwell’s statement that] all art is to some extent propaganda' looks striking, but is greatly weakened by the 'to some extent,' and what, finally, does it mean? Only that all art is 'about' something, even if it is only about itself. 'Art for art's sake'—a concept Orwell would abhor—is just 'propaganda' for art itself, which the movement was well aware of."

--Julian Barnes, “Such, Such Was Eric Blair,” New York Review of Books; image from


Use this Financial Times graphic to find the twittering hot spots around the US and UK and to identify the most closely followed tweeting politicians.


To win hearts and minds, get back in the game – Richard Lugar, Foreign Policy: “As part of a broader overhaul of its public diplomacy effort, the United States should reinvigorate the old American Centers concept-putting, when possible, new ones that are safe but accessible in vibrant downtown areas-support active cultural programming, and resume the teaching of English by American or U.S.-trained teachers hired directly by embassies.

That would help draw people to the centers and ensure that students got some American perspective along with their grammar. America's best players in public diplomacy have always been its people and its ideas. The United States should get them back into the game instead of standing on the sidelines.” Richard G. Lugar is a U.S. senator representing Indiana. VIA MC

Wake Up Call for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - Jameson, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: “We don't have that many embassy compounds within which to barricade all of these American Corners ... instead, we've partnered with local institutions to bring America to each locality in the way that matches the people, the time, and the place. Sens. Lugar and Kerry, you still haven't had enough? … You're going to need an abacus to count all of the American Corner locations on this spreadsheet that comes to you care of one of the four American Corner locations in Hungary alone. On top of the spreadsheet, the same American Corner in Eger, Hungary brings you a full agenda for 2008-2009 which includes a lecture series on American culture, a chance to talk with an economist about the economic crisis, a competition on knowledge of the U.S. for secondary students, workshops on studying in the U.S., a lecture series on the 1960s U.S. talking about the movements and people that shaped the decade, 'America through Hungarian Eyes' - an amateur photo competition for Hungarians, and a 'My America, or that's how I see the U.S.' multimedia art competition for primary and secondary school students.” Image from

Sen. Kit Bond Makes Powerful Statement in Support of Peace Corps on Senate Floor - Peace Corps Polyglot: The blog of the National Peace Corps Association: “Today, U.S. Senator Kit Bond of Missouri made statements on the Senate floor urging his colleagues to support expansion of Peace Corps and smart power initiatives. … Text of the Statement: … I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting an expansion of the Peace Corps and all of our nation’s Smart Power assets. Smart Power initiatives are our non-military diplomatic efforts, including educational exchanges, free trade, public diplomacy, economic and agricultural development, humanitarian assistance, and English language teaching just to name a few. All of these Smart Power initiatives contribute not only to a better life for so many in need, but also help create the conditions for a more stable, and peaceful world.” SEE ALSO; image from

Colin Powell, USGLC Leadership Applaud Obama FY10 Budget's 'Smart Power' Funding - Impact Wire: “The U.S. Global Leadership Campaign today applauded President Barack Obama's FY2010 International Affairs Budget request for $51.7 billion, an increase of 9.5% from FY2009's $47.2 billion, and called on Congress to fully fund the request. … The International Affairs Budget funds the State Department's diplomatic programs, global health initiatives on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and other development and humanitarian assistance programs to help stabilize fragile states, reduce global poverty and assist refugees. It also covers U.S. food aid and democracy, human rights and public diplomacy efforts critical to restoring America's image abroad.” Image from

Getting Beat in the War of Ideas - Steven Corman, COMOPS Journal: “al Qaeda talking points are being agreed-to by large numbers of Muslims in diverse areas of the world selected by random sampling. We are getting beat–nay, getting our asses handed to us–in the War of Ideas. Thinking about how to turn things around is a very tough problem. Jim Glassman, immediate past Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, decided to attack the al Qaeda 'brand' because he concluded (correctly) that America wasn’t selling. Though that was a reasonable course of action for his short term in office, in the long run it doesn’t really fix things. … A general guideline would be to take actions that disprove the above beliefs.“ Image from

MobilityWorld-Wide-Matel: “The new media is more fluid, fragmented, decentralized and personalized than more traditional media. This creates challenges and opportunities for public diplomacy as well as for the traditional way we deliver messages at State Department. … Through all the changes in technologies, Edward R. Murrow’s famous observation remains true, 'The really crucial link in the international communication chain is the last three feet, which is bridged by personal contact, one person talking to another.'” Image from

Facebook Diplomacy: How Governments are Exploiting the Internet - Internet&democracy: “Th[e] mobilization of ordinary citizens to push government propaganda may be the most successful tactic for governments on the Internet, instead of public relations campaigns like the Bush administration’s failed efforts to ‘rebrand’ the US in the Middle East, or the Kremin hiring of a web-savvy PR firm to promote its agenda.”

The People-to-People People - Mark Dillen, Public Diplomacy: The World Affairs Blog Network, American Foreign Policy Association:

The World Affairs Blog Network, Foreign Policy Association: “Now is the time for all good men — and women — to come to the aid of public diplomacy. I have in mind citizen travel to countries that, until recently, were off-limits to Americans, like Iran, Libya or Syria.” Image from

A New Public Diplomacy Strategy for the United States - ThinktankWatch: “Now, as the Obama Presidency is generating a new positive wave, it seems America lives in a timely moment to change the mind of the world. Rand Corporation international relations scholars think that there are new opportunities. They argue that ‘U.S. strategic communication and public diplomacy have been the targets of scathing criticism and proposals for overhaul since shortly after September 11, 2001. Proposals and recommendations abound, but many reform efforts have stumbled or have been plagued by false starts.’”

Commission of Trend Communicator of Japanese Pop Culture in the Field of FashionMinistry of Foreign Affairs Japan: “With a view to promoting understanding of and confidence in Japan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now planning to make more active use of Japan’s pop culture, which has been enjoying very high popularity among young people around the world, in addition to the traditional culture and arts that the ministry has so far used for that purpose.

1. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has therefore decided to give a few young leaders who are conspicuously active in the field of fashion the title 'Trend Communicator of Japanese Pop Culture,' commissioning them to conduct PR and other activities, and asking them to extend as much cooperation as possible for cultural projects to be carried out by Japanese embassies abroad and the Japan Foundation. 2. ... [T]he Director-General, Public Diplomacy Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will hand over a letter to ... persons selected from, in particular, the fashion field out of pop culture." Image from

Can Israel make peace with Syria without leaving Golan? - Aluf Benn, Haaretz: “The common denominator of all the failed [ peace] attempts was that both sides hesitated to take the final step that would burst through the psychological barriers, but also put them in great political danger. Israel refused to withdraw to the line that the Syrians demanded, which would have given them control of the northeastern shore of Lake Kinneret. Damascus refused normalization measures and public diplomacy, which might have softened Israeli opposition to a withdrawal.” Image from


Cross-Cultural Awareness in the U.S. Military - International Higher Education Consulting Blog™: A Source for News On International Education And Public Diplomacy by David Comp

The Obamaist Manifesto - Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post:
The president wants to transform America into Europe. Image from

Anger Grows in India over U.S. Visa Rules: It's protectionism, say Indian critics, that Congress has banned companies receiving bailout money from hiring foreigners on H-1B visas - Mehul Srivastava, Business Week

Why We Detain the Innocent
- Aziz Huq, Nation: Last week, a federal court of appeals in DC said, in astriking ruling, that the seventeen ethnic Uighurs detained at Guantánamo Bay, notwithstanding the fact they posed no threat to the U.S., can be detained indefinitely without hope of judicial remedy.

The New Reality In Iraq: Why a timeline for troop withdrawal is no longer only Washington's decision - Michael Wahid Hanna, New Republic: Iraqi public opinion now matters, whether we like it or not, and behaving as if the question of troop redeployments is a question to be answered solely in Washington will further strain U.S. relations with Iraq and the Arab world. Image from

A War Fought in Ignorance - William Pfaff, Truthdig: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and India should be asked to a conference on regional stability, in which the U.S. puts on the table an offer of complete non-interference in the internal affairs, including the religious affairs, of these countries, unless there is further attack on the United States by any of them.

Lessons in Democracy From Bangladesh - Jalal Alamgir, Nation: Instead of allowing the local democratic process to choose winners and losers, the United States and its allies are quick to cry foul and interfere whenever an Islamist party threatens to win elections. In Muslim countries around the world, the United States really needs to let democracy take its own course. Image from

The $43 Billion Dollar Propaganda Film
- Coyote Blog: Dispatches from a Small Business: “I think everyone was blown away by the Olympic opening ceremony last year in Beijing. I usually yawn at such events, but this one was spectacular. I enjoyed it, even though I knew in my heart I was watching the modern version of ‘Triumph of the Will.’”


Twitter 'fail whale' tattoo brings Internet notoriety, Baltimore Sun

Ryan Goff, a social marketing specialist at MGH advertising, shows off his tattoo of Twitter's iconic "fail whale," the symbol that appears when the social media site sputters out of service. He agreed to get the tattoo if the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association's Twitter profile surpassed 3,000 followers. He and friend Tom Rowe live-streamed video of the tattooing, attracting viewers from all over the world.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

February 26

“Ask yourself, who leads the United States Foreign Service?”

--E. Wayne Merry, a career Foreign Service Officer and now a senior associate at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, D.C.; image from

"When Danish wrestlers meet Iranian colleagues, I’m sure that this will help strengthen the relationship between Denmark and Iran.”

--Ambassador of Public Diplomacy in the Foreign Ministry of Denmark Klaus A. Holm

"To his credit, Wurzelbacher is hip to the audacity of hype."

--Paul Farhi, The Washington Post, about "Joe the Plumber's" book promotion, attended by 11 people in a downtown DC Border's bookstore; phrase cited in Princess Sparkle Pony Photoblog; image from


Democracy in the Middle East - Kevin Drum, Mother Jones: “Improved public diplomacy from Obama — including his still unscheduled big speech in a Muslim capital — will be valuable, but only if it's accompanied by policy changes as well. Getting out of Iraq will help. Seriously engaging in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process will help. And supporting democracy more consistently will help. But … it's going to be a long, hard slog.

There's a helluva lot of ground to be made up.” Image from

Study: Terror fight must include battle of ideas - Lolita C. Baldor, AP: “A task force of Middle East experts is urging the Obama administration to work within Muslim communities in the United States to counter extremism and prevent Islamic militant groups from gathering new recruits. In a study due out later this week, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy argues that the U.S. must not only defeat terrorists, but also mute the influence of radical groups that spread extremist ideologies and can eventually lead to violence. … The study, obtained by The Associated Press, suggests that instead of using goodwill ambassadors and other public relations campaigns to bolster opinions of the U.S. in Muslim countries, officials should build support for mainstream Muslim groups or activists to use their own voices to discount extremist discussions.”

Diplomacy and communication key to solving world conflicts: Former ambassador to numerous nations spoke on diplomatic relations - Tony Gorder, SDSUC “Diplomatic resources are currently lacking, making diplomacy abroad more and more difficult to achieve, according to William Caldwell Harrop, former United States ambassador to Guinea, Seychelles, Kenya, Congo and Israel … . [Among the functions of diplomacy], said Harrod, … is public diplomacy, which is the face of the U.S. It is when the U.S. explains what it is doing and why. ‘Public diplomacy is a big issue,’ said Harrop. ‘Public diplomacy staff is way down, budgets are down, and this is certainly attributed to the international policies of the Bush administration.’”

Traveling to Cuba is like going back in time - Peter Coyote, San Francisco Chronicle: “Mafiosi of Miami … receive millions in make-work grants for the totally ineffectual Radio Marti, our government's propaganda radio station that is jammed by the Cuban government so no one hears it.”

Dod Considers Way Ahead on Named Info Ops to Combat Terrorism - InsideDefense (subscription only, not affordable to the PDPBR compiler) -

‎From Google entry: “They tap the Internet; radio programs; military information support teams that travel to US embassies supporting public diplomacy efforts; and training to ...” Image from

Building a 21st Century Workforce raises new questions - Molly Lewis in Briefing: “Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, hosted a hearing this morning to address State and USAID personnel reform. Former Ambassadors Thomas Pickering and Prudence Bushnell testified, as well as former USAID officer James Kunder. … Thomas Pickering ... called for an improvement in public diplomacy initiatives, including American Cultural Centers. When pressed for a price tag, Pickering estimated $3.286 billion on top of the baseline. Read his full testimony here.” Photo: Thomas Pickering

Someone Tell Congress That Charity Begins At Home – JohnQPublic, Smoke Break:You want some brie with that whine?: “Congress is now hard at work on the Omnibus Spending Bill. A $410 billion dollar lump of lard to be tossed onto that pork pile affectionately referred to as bullshit. Errr…the stimulus bill.

… But the big kicker, included here in its entirety for your reading pleasure, is the section that includes the monies we send to other countries. … Educational and Cultural Exchanges: $538 million, $37 million above 2008, to fund educational, cultural and professional exchange programs worldwide. Broadcasting: $709 million, $40 million above 2008, for radio programs critical to the nation’s overall public diplomacy efforts. Peace Corps: $340 million, $9 million above 2008, for the program which has over 7,800 volunteers in 70 posts serving 76 countries. Democracy Fund: $116 million to the Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and to the USAID, Office of Democracy and Governance to promote democracy, including support for human rights, media, and the rule of law.” Image from

Facebook Diplomacy: Washington wants to use the Web 2.0 to win hearts and minds. Trouble is, the tyrants got there first - Evgeny Morozov, Newsweek: “Clinton is right to be enthusiastic about Web 2.0 tools. They offer the promise of promoting democracy in countries that currently give the United States big geopolitical headaches—particularly Iran, China and Russia. But it's not going to be easy. Tehran, Beijing and Moscow already have a presence on the Internet and in recent months have stepped up their campaigns to manipulate public opinion at home.” Right image from

Diplo-Blogosphere: Ranking the French, Germans and Brits - Steve Clemons blog: “On the British front, I have been very impressed with David Miliband's commitment to blogging and to using the net as a way to engage in high quality public diplomacy.”

The Semantics of Terror – Andrew, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: “To think that the success or failure of U.S. public diplomacy can sometimes hinge on something as little--and as much--as a word is not a comforting thought. But it is the reality of the U.S. message in the modern Middle East. …

Although the U.S. may readily reject the notion that using ‘terrorist’ as an adjective for at least the violent armed wings of popularly-elected political parties like Hamas and Hezbollah is tantamount to propaganda, recognizing that the message is oft received in this way in the Arab world may be the first step towards bridging the linguistically-loaded divide.” Image from

Do Ethics Trump Foreign Policy Goals in Public Diplomacy? - Craig Hayden, Intermap: “The double-bind of being ethical in PD means trying to cultivate credibility with communication that many feel is a priori a cynical attempt at perception management.”

Host a Foreign Exchange Student From the U. S. Department of State - Sher Christian, Academic Coordinator, Cultural Homestay International - County Writers’ Guide Update: “Secondary School Student exchange programs have been part of U. S. public diplomacy efforts since 1949. These programs promote mutual understanding by providing foreign students the opportunity to study in American high schools while living with an American host family.

Not only are the students themselves transformed by these experiences, so, too, are their families, friends, and teachers back home. Americans, such as the host families, students, and sponsor representatives whose lives intersect with these students benefit as well. The long-term success of the current model is based on the relationship between the participant and the host family, the success of which is the result of an act of generosity and citizenship.” Image: Host family profile from

RAND Report: Whither Strategic Communication - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: “RAND’s Chris Paul just published must read report on strategic communication and public diplomacy, Whither Strategic Communication? A Survey of Current Proposals and Recommendations. There is a lot to cite in this report, but I’ll just copy from the summary: ‘U.S. strategic communication and public diplomacy have been the targets of scathing criticism and proposals for overhaul since shortly after September 11, 2001. Proposals and recommendations abound, but many reform efforts have stumbled or have been plagued by false starts. Further contributing to this problem are the differences in terminology and approaches between the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Defense, the two agencies with primary responsibility in this area. With the need for reform persisting and interest in this area continuing to grow, RAND elected to conduct a survey of existing reform and improvement proposals. The subsequent literature review and interviews with subject-matter experts exposed four core themes in these recommendations: a call for 'leadership,' demand for increased resources for strategic communication and public diplomacy, a call for a clear definition of an overall strategy, and the need for better coordination and organizational changes (or additions). The survey also includes a detailed discussion of several frequently appearing recommendations, including revised legislation, leveraging the private sector, the adoption of enterprise-level or whole-of-government solutions, better use of research, a greater focus on measurement, increased use of technology, training and education improvements, a quadrennial review of strategic communication and public diplomacy, and a review of international broadcasting.’

Food Security Cooperation Among D-8 Members ImportantBernama: “Kuala Lumpur -- Institutional development, capacity building, marketing and public diplomacy for food security cooperation are important for the Developing Eight (D-8) Organisation for Economic Cooperation member countries.”

Wrestling diplomacy - Copenhagen Post: "International relations with Iran and Egypt are expected to improve by using head locks, slams and a lot of sweat: The national wrestling team is touring Iran and Egypt in an effort to strengthen ties in the wrestling world in the run up to the World Championships, to be held in Denmark later this year. In a similar move to the American wrestling team’s visit to Iran 11 years ago, the Danes are hoping the trip will promote better understanding of their different cultures. The Ambassador of Public Diplomacy in the Foreign Ministry Klaus A. Holm, said that the trip was first and foremost be about wrestling, but that the visiting Danes could also act as informal ambassadors.” Image from

Remember the House Bank — James Glassman, The American, A Magazine of Ideas: “James K. Glassman was editor of Roll Call from 1988 to 1993. The former

under secretary of State for public diplomacy and public affairs, he is now president of the World Growth Institute.”

A historical nit-pic in today's account - E-Mail from Fred A. Coffey, Jr. FSO - Ret., no link: “COLD BOT WORLD [see, cited in PDPBR February 25]. It wasn't Carter who first kept CIA from entering USIA ranks. It was Edward R. Murrow circa 1962. The expose of a CIA officer in the USIS activity in Burma didn't help USIA. CIA approached me as BPAO in Surabaya and asked me to accept one of their people as an 'Asst. Motion Picture Officer.' The PAO in Jakarta passed it on to Washington. Back came a strong reply by Murrow. 'There will be no CIA people in USIS-Indonesia nor in Washington. Any USI officer abridging this order will be dismissed' an order with which I fully agreed. Best Fred." Image from

In failing economy, Foreign Service test attracts record numbers - Scott Olster, Columbia News Service: “Forget about a career in investment banking. Hedge funds, schmedge funds. For many these days, diplomacy is where it’s at. Late last month, the State Department announced that the February administration of its Foreign Service officer test had reached the agency’s 'worldwide scheduling limit,' reflecting a surge in applicants from previous years. … 'People are getting more excited about foreign policy,' said Erica Tun, a 24-year old public relations specialist from Fort Wayne, Ind., who is registered to take the exam in February. 'There is a president who is interested in making the nation more global.' Tun, who has applied for a position in the public diplomacy track, which focuses on defining America’s image abroad, first considered the Foreign Service just a few months ago when she found an online job posting as the presidential election reached a fever pitch. “It piqued my curiosity,” she said. 'I always had the interest, but didn’t have a way to focus my energy.'”


On The White House: Diplomatic Windfall as Goodwill for Obama Lingers - Helene Cooper, New York Times:

The honeymoon period between President Obama and Congress may be running its course in Washington. But on the world stage, the romantic flame is still flickering. But the question of how much of the early good will translates into real policy changes remains. Image from

Europe's off-again, on-again crush on Obama: Europe wants a strong US lead – as long as it's in the 'right' direction - Elizabeth Pond, Christian Science Monitor

Clinton's missed opportunity in China - Merle Goldman, Boston Globe:

The Obama administration should give more attention to human rights issues in China and support those who advocate peaceful political reforms. Clinton's trip to China was a missed opportunity.

At Last, Accepting Some Clues From Across the Pond - Joe Conason, Truthdig: At the brink of global ruin, many Americans suddenly seem willing to consider sensible ideas that were always deemed unthinkable, and to reject foolish notions that were once deemed brilliant. Soon we may be mature enough to observe how other developed countries address problems that have baffled us for generations.

Gates OKs war dead photos, with conditions, at baseUSA Today

Viewpoint: Obama finds his inner Bush - Jonah Goldberg, Baltimore Sun: Recall that during the primaries, Mr. Obama was probably second only to Dennis Kucinich as an anti-Iraq war and anti-Bush candidate. But he has kept George W. Bush's defense secretary and appointed a secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who voted for the war. His vice president, Joe Biden, also voted for the war. Mr. Obama himself seems to be in less of a hurry to leave Iraq than we might have expected from listening to him over the last couple of years. Image from

Why No More 9/11s? Part 2 Is al-Qaida too preoccupied with Pakistan and Afghanistan to attack the United States?- Timothy Noah, Slate

Al-Marri Indictment Today? – Jane Mayer, New Yorker: Human-rights groups and civil-liberties lawyers are watching whether the Obama Adminstration will support the Bush Administration’s aggressive claims to executive detention powers in the war on terror.

Warning to the US: Beware Treating Afghanistan like Iraq: It's a mistake to think that 'failed states' won't put up strong resistance - Patrick Cockburn, Independent/UK/ Common Dreams

A Strategy for Afghanistan - Henry A. Kissinger, Washington Post:

The truism that the war is, in effect, a battle for the hearts and minds of the Afghan population is valid enough in concept. In the end, the fundamental issue is not so much how the war will be conducted but how it will be ended. Image from

"For This I Blame America": Afghanistan: Chaos Central - Chris Sands, CounterPunch: After all these years, there are no firm ideas about the way forward.

Iraq’s Year of Living Dangerously - Michael E. O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack – New York Times: American interests argue strongly for using all the leverage we have gained among Iraqis during six years of intense partnership to help Iraq through its “year of transitions” -- then we can bring our troops home quickly, but responsibly.

The New Reality In Iraq: Why a timeline for troop withdrawal is no longer only Washington's decision - Michael Wahid Hanna, New Republic

On Iran, an Apostle of Patience - David Ignatius, Washington Post: “If you ask White House officials whom President Obama listens to about Iran, they mention an interesting name -- Lee Hamilton, the former congressman from Indiana who co-chaired the 2006 Iraq Study Group that urged engagement with the Iranian regime.”

On the road to Damascus - Matthew Brodsky, Washington Times: If the Obama administration is interested in truly bringing the world's last Ba'athist state back into the fold, it will need an approach that ties the loosening of international penalties to concrete Syrian actions - rather than one that simply rewards its ruler in hopes that he will come to the negotiating table.

Some advice for Ambassador Rice - Richard Grenell, Washington Times:

The reality of how the U.N. works is not what some people on the right and the left would have you believe. As Susan Rice begins her tenure representing America at the U.N., she will find an institution in great need of change. Iamge from

Africa’s ‘Obama’ School - Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times: The Obama administration is undertaking a review of the policy on Darfur, and it’s being conducted by Samantha Power, among others. She is a White House aide whose superb book, “A Problem From Hell,” catalogs all the ways that American politicians have found excuses to avoid confronting past genocides. Photo: Samantha Power

Foreign Service leadership gap? - E. Wayne Merry, Washington Times: In most developed countries, the diplomatic service enjoys a stature sorely lacking here. In part this is because the Foreign Service does not engage the American public, press and Congress.

Chas Freeman for NIC: Lots at Stake - Robert Dreyfuss, Nation: A thunderous, coordinated assault against one of President Obama's intelligence picks is now underway. It started in a few right-wing blogs, migrated to semi-official mouthpieces like the Jewish Telegraph Agency, and today it reached the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, in the form of the scurrilous piece by Gabriel Schoenfeld, a resident scholar at some outfit called "the Witherspoon Institute." The target is Charles ("Chas") Freeman, the former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, former top Defense Department official during the Reagan administration, and president of the Middle East Policy Council, whose wide-ranging experience stretches from the Middle East to China. Freeman is slated to become chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC),

Gideon Levy's view on Waltz With BashirPalestine Think Tank : “That Waltz With Bashir is propaganda (slick, financed by Israel, used for didactic purposes with a million dollar investment in a Viewer's Guide) was no secret… When the Director was brought here to promote it, during the heat of the Gaza War, he had not a word to say about that war. It was shocking coming from someone who claimed to be making a statement.”

McDonald's Plans to Open 40 New Stores in 2009
- Courtney Weaver, Moscow Times:

McDonald's will invest $120 million to open 40 new Russian restaurants this year, Khamzat Khasbulatov, the company's president for Russia and Eastern Europe, said Thursday.