Thursday, March 26, 2009

March 26

"How many watched the President's news conference last night? ... He got a little testy there, you know. When he was asked why he waited three days to speak out against the AIG bonuses, President Obama said he likes to know what he's talking about before he speaks. So, yet another reversal of the Bush policies."

--Talk Show host Jay Leno, cited in US News Political Bulletin; image from


Web 2.0 Is a Mixed Bag for US Foreign Policy - Rob Salkowitz, Internet Evolution:

“In early December 2008, the newly appointed Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, James K. Glassman, laid out the strategy ... to use new media channels to promote America's vision and message to the rising generation of global digital natives, circumventing the filtering mechanisms of state-run media and propaganda. … To the extent that the U.S. is looking at Web 2.0 media as simply another way to catapult its own propaganda into foreign societies, its success will be dependent, as always, on the quality of the story it has to tell, not on the means of conveyance.” Image from

The authenticity of digital diplomacy – Ian Brown, Blogzilla: “To the Foreign and Commonwealth Office this morning for a meeting on their digital diplomacy strategy. For a government department whose principal aim is to influence and persuade, it felt a curiously clumsy event — even with the organisational assistance of global PR firm Weber Shandwick. A set of (white, balding, upper-middle class) diplomats sat on one side of a row of desks and spoke at an audience that seemed to consist largely of other FCO and Weber Shandwick staff. Comically, the frosty FCO receptionists demanded that laptops be left at the front desk. … Clearly … social media are a key new way for embassies to amplify and explain the UK governments' messages to local audiences. More pertinent to my mind is how ‘authentic’ pronouncements can ever be from what is ultimately the UK government's global PR agency.”

Blogs, truth and power at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office - Tony Curzon Price, openDemocracy: “My own take on this is that there are two views of the business of knowledge making: you are either trying to influence outcomes, or you are trying to 'speak truth to power'. In the new media, you can't afford to pretend to be doing the one when you're doing the other. The FCO cannot - just cannot - speak truth to power, because it is power. But it can transparently and authentically try to influence.”

Crickets and Cheney Chirping on the Brand America Front - Nancy Snow, Huffington Post: “The Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs is the highest profile nation image position outside the Secretary of State and President. Sh/e is tasked with carrying out U.S. efforts to understand, influence and engage with global publics. Perhaps the former dueling Democratic presidential candidates Clinton and Obama are choosing to share the Brand America load for now, but those of us who watch the news ticklers on public diplomacy are waiting and wondering who the next chief of PD will be. … We still have no Ministry of American Culture, no Public Diplomacy Chief Executive Officer, and no BBC-equivalent global broadcasting brand, only Dick Cheney to keep chirping about the 'good ole days' and how unsafe we are with a new administration.” Cricket image from

US: Iraq ‘Diplomatic Surge’ Could Set Stage for State Department in Afghanistan - Isria: "The so-called 'diplomatic surge' conducted last year in Iraq provides a possible blueprint for what could be ahead in Afghanistan. 'Just as our military ‘surged’ additional brigades into Iraq, the civilians also surged -- both in standing up of additional provincial reconstruction teams and in numbers of personnel,' said John Fleming, a public affairs and public diplomacy officer in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs."

Sudbury native helps Iraq get on its feet - Kathy Uek, Daily News Tribune: "Despite living and working under tight security in a small four-block compound in northern Iraq, public diplomacy officer Suzanne Bodoin has enjoyed her work -- helping make Iraq independent. It’s been an experience of a lifetime, the Sudbury native said while at home recently visiting her parents. 'As a state department diplomat, you never expect to be in war zone,' said Bodoin. 'But there’s a sense of really getting something done that makes a huge difference.'"

Still Lost.... - Patrick, Lost in Washington: “The Meridian International Center is a widely recognized institution dedicated to public diplomacy and international outreach. They fulfilled their duties in conjunction with these dedications yesterday, with the opening of their art exhibit ‘Metropolis Now!’ an exhibit exclusively featuring Chinese artists of all creeds and disciplines.”

NATO 60th Anniversary Summit: An Agenda for American Leadership - Sally McNamara, Backgrounder #2254, Heritage Foundation: “Denmark has … strongly supported and heavily resourced NATO's public diplomacy mission, which will be vital to better communicating the alliance's role and purpose in the future.”

Calling Michael WilsonEmbassy, Canada: “Over the past few weeks, the prime minister and members of Cabinet have been heading south to try to really gain some traction in the U.S. political and public spheres. … Apology aside, this is a prime opportunity for Mr. Wilson to practice some public diplomacy and demand an appearance on Fox to explain what Canada is really doing in Afghanistan, and why we are there—namely to help the Americans.“

Expert on Arabic media warns Canadians about Al Jazeera agenda - Atara Beck, Jewish Tribune: "Among the English language media covering the recent war in Gaza, 'they [Al Jazeera English - AJE] were the worst,' declared Ofir Gendelman, CEO of the Israeli-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce, a project of the Peres Centre for Peace that began operating in early 2009 as a foundation for trade relations between Israelis and Palestinians. … Gendelman was holding a diplomatic position at the Israeli embassy in Ottawa when he wrote an opinion piece about AJE for the Ottawa Citizen in 2007, titled How I learned to love Al-Jazeera. [In this article, says Gendelman] ‘ My goal wasn’t to make Al Jazeera look good – they don’t deserve it – but to shed positive light over the MFA’s (ministry of foreign affairs) public diplomacy campaigns vis-a-vis the Arab world and the Arab media.’” Image from

Right of Reply: Never say cry? Michael Lawrence, Jerusalem Post: ”Our hasbara task is formidable, and it begins with informing and educating ourselves. As long as we communicate our knowledge that Israel's actions rest on strong foundations in international law, and that Hamas (as a matter of policy) abuses a multitude of these laws, we should feel motivated and comfortable to allow our tears for Sderot and our regret for Gazan civilian deaths to flow across the Web pages, television screens and newspapers in the homes and offices of world leaders and citizenry.” The writer is a public diplomacy and Israel advocacy speaker and trainer based in Israel. On hasbara, see

What is the most important aspect of the new diplomacy? - Jose Luis Sosa, The New Diplomacy: The Reflective Blogs of the Students on the New Diplomacy Module at London Metropolitan University: “The main difference we can appreciate from the ‘old diplomacy’ transformation to a ‘new diplomacy’ is the way of how politics are based now, firstly no more politics behind ‘close-doors’, an open dialogue between countries, giving place to a new and dynamic ‘public diplomacy’ where politics are now more transparent and where the citizens have a greater role.”

Meeting in 10 hours… - esevin, Reaching the Public: “So, how can one improve a brand’s nation? Three important tools are public diplomacy, traditional diplomacy and international advertising campaigns of the countries. And then we have two key players: Media and Foreign elements.”

The evolution of celebrity diplomacy- Ted Johnson, Capitol News:
"There is a natural wariness that comes with celebrities getting involved in international issues — that it is merely reacting to a fashionable cause rather than making an actual commitment. Andrew F. Cooper, author of the book 'Celebrity Diplomacy' and visiting professor at USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy, points to the case of Geri Halliwell, aka Ginger Spice, whose foray as a U.N. goodwill ambassador 'did not stand the test of even a small amount of time.' After one high-profile trip to the Philippines to promote contraception and AIDS awareness, she 'fell off the radar.'” Image from; site includes review o book.

Track Two to Peace? - niallodoc, Niall O Dochartaigh's Weblog: “I have a chapter in a new book that brings together papers presented at a conference at the USC Center for Public Diplomacy in Los Angeles. The chapter examines the origins of a channel of communication between the British government and the IRA. Ó Dochartaigh, Niall (2009) ‘The Contact: understanding a communication channel between the British government and the IRA’. In Joseph J. Popiolkowski and Nicholas J. Cull (eds) Public Diplomacy, Cultural Interventions & the Peace Process in Northern Ireland: Track Two to Peace?. Los Angeles: Figueroa Press, 57-72.”

A Few Thoughts on the Tibetan Seminar – yuanyuan, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: “I attended a Tibetan seminar with 3 distinguished Tibetan scholars from China, two of whom are ethnic Tibetan (one is a Communication Professor at the China Foreign Affairs University and the other is from the China Social Science Academy, a very prestigious academic institution in China). Although this Tibetan discussion is not directly linked to Public Diplomacy, however, the story of Tibet and 2008 Olympics did highlight this issue, and greatly tarnished China’s international image.” Image (of Miss Tibet) from

Esperanto daŭr- Paul Rockower, Levantine: “Perhaps I will study Esperanto for my summer Public Diplomacy (Publika Diplomatio) Field Study. Esperanto Diplomacy (Esperanto Diplomatio!), luv it!”

In Search of Role Models: we find them among one another - Solutionaries: “After today we will miss John Hope Franklin, a legendary public servant, historian and a representative of equity and scholarship to the world. In his passing he remains one of the most admired, relevant and influential historians of our time. … In 1979 the President appointed him to the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy …”


CIA Turns to Mainstream Media for Recruiting: Spy Agency Advertising for Clandestine Service on Radio - Rich Thomaselli,

The CIA is advertising for a few good spies. It is running radio recruitment spots for its National Clandestine Service unit, and it's not the first time the covert group has turned to mainstream media to drum up interest. The CIA has in the past run a TV campaign on cable stations such as Discovery and has as a presence on the social-networking site Facebook. Image from

Obama and Philosophy 101: On national security, Obama sounds more like a precocious college student than a great leader - Mario Loyola, National Review: The fact is that Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo has solved nothing but a cosmetic problem -- just like the decision to drop the term “enemy combatants” without changing anything substantial about their legal status.

Europe's gone missing: At the G-20 summit, there will be Europeans at the table but no one speaking for a united Europe -

Timothy Garton Ash, Los Angeles Times: On most big issues on Obama's agenda -- Afghanistan, Pakistan, relations with Russia and China, nuclear proliferation -- there is no Europe. There are individual European countries. Image from

Report: Afghanistan aid program flawed - Ken Dilanian, USA Today: The U.S. aid program in Afghanistan is bureaucratic and overly dependent on private Western contractors, according to a report.

Obama overhauls US Afghan strategy: The Iraq-style troop surge is one part of a plan that hopes to bring stability through civilian know-how and a fresh Pakistan policy - Gordon Lubold, Christian Science Monitor

Deeper into Afghanistan – Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle: Elected to end one war, President Obama is ready to revive another. Obama is entering a zone where both military and social progress has proved as rocky and harsh as Afghanistan's landscape.

Pulling Karzai's Strings: Obama as Puppeteer - Ron Jacobs, -

History tells us that Washington is quite willing to look the other way when it comes to corruption as long as the crooks under their control do its bidding. Apparently, Mr. Karzai is no longer considered to be playing by those rules and attempts to unseat him are growing. Image from

The Limits of Diplomacy: Obama gives cold comfort to persecuted Iranians - Joseph Loconte, Weekly Standard

The Fierce Urgency of Peace - Roger Cohen, New York Times: Pressure on President Obama to recast the failed American approach to Israel-Palestine is building.

A Tax Break Fuels Middle East Friction - David Ignatius, Washington Post: For many years, the United States has had a policy against spending aid money to fund Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which successive administrations have regarded as an obstacle to peace. Yet private organizations in the United States continue to raise tax-exempt contributions for the very activities that the government opposes. A search of IRS records identified 28 U.S. charitable groups that made a total of $33.4 million in tax-exempt contributions to settlements and related organizations between 2004 and 2007. Image from

After Gaza: Jerusalem? - Helena Cobban, Nation: In the past, Washington has usually turned a benevolent blind eye to Israel's violations of the Geneva Conventions in Jerusalem. This time, the "blind eye" option might not be so easy.

China's grand bargain - Robert I. Rotberg, Boston Globe: As the the G20 group of nations prepares to meet next week to discuss the world economy, a grand bargain with geostrategic significance is implicitly being crafted between Washington and Beijing.

Here We Go Again in Mexico - Murray Fromson, Huffington Post: Mexico has the desire to weather the drug storm that jeopardizes its stability. But it certainly needs American help, compassion and respect and a lot less cheap politicking about immigration.

Order to the U.S.-Mexico border: Obama administration plans are a welcome first step in battling the drug war that threatens both countries – Editorial, Los Angeles Times

'Darker Shades Of Red': Atomic Testing Museum explores Soviet propaganda - Pahrump Valley Times: LAS VEGAS -- A striking collection of propaganda posters and assorted Soviet artifacts from the Cold War period in the USSR (1940s - 1991) will be on display at the Atomic Testing Museum here from April 4 through June 7. Image from

US Passport Application Problems - Ouch, Not Again? - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View


Anti-American Propaganda In Textbooks: Another video in an ongoing series


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