Sunday, March 29, 2009

March 29

“Aren't we allowed to call it propaganda anymore?

Or schmoozing?”

--Journalist Sheila Toomey, Anchorage Daily News, regarding "a field called public diplomacy"; image from


Still Blacklisting Countries - Karin Esposito, Religion and Politics The World Affairs Blog Network, Foreign Policy Association: "The State Department has released the blacklist of religious freedom violators established by the Bush administration. … The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom pushed the State Department to get the list published and claims that listing a country will help U.S. public diplomacy efforts to improve the human rights records of violators. I thought after eight years the rhetoric of blacklisting was shown to be ineffective. In either case, the fact that the State Department is still blacklisting exactly the same countries shows just how little policy has actually changed."

Calling Doktor “Haus” - Mark Dillen, Public Diplomacy -- The World Affairs Blog Network, Foreign Policy Association: “The Amerika Haus in Berlin, a symbol of U.S.-government public diplomacy throughout the Cold War, has been quietly resurrected by a German-American not-for-profit to serve as a venue for America-related events in the German capital. … [T]he State Department during the 1990s abandoned nearly all cultural centers, libraries and high visibility cultural events as forms of cultural or public diplomacy. Motives and rationales ranged from security concerns to austerity budgets to a conviction that new Internet media should be the focus of government-funded outreach to foreign publics. The merits of such a wholesale abandonment of the most 'public' part of public diplomacy have been discussed (and properly criticized) elsewhere. Other governments (e.g., Germany’s) have also cut back their own foreign cultural work, so this is not just an American phenomenon. But the success — at long odds — of NGO efforts to fill part of the void in American overseas cultural programming should cause policy makers to re-examine certain assumptions. Foreign TV broadcasters and cinemas may be avid consumers of commercial U.S. cultural products, but they are no substitute for the positive impact that directed cultural programs can have.”

Before she douses any flames, she should douse any misinformation about US international broadcasting - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: Re the presentation of Foreign Service officer Dana Shell Smith on public diplomacy at the University of Delaware: “I hope that Shell Smith has been sufficiently briefed to know that Radio Sawa and Alhurra are not State Department public diplomacy ‘tools,’ but autonomous news organizations under a separate entity, the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The Secretary of State has one seat on the BBG, but is not its CEO.”

The audacity of VOA to report the news - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy:
“VOA is not chartered to help America's image, but to provide news to places where that news is, domestically, deficient.” Image from

VOA reaches North Korea via new South Korean medium wave rebroadcast - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Salah ad-Din Medical Press Conference - Video by Senior Airman Lucas Morrow, Joint Combat Camera Center IraqTikrit, IQ: “B-roll of Public Diplomacy for the Salah ad-Din Provincial Reconstruction Team holding a press conference over past, present, and future Iraqi medical issues and solutions on Mar. 17, 2009 at Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq. … The first speaker is Brett Bruen, Provincial Reconstruction Team, Public Diplomacy Team Lead for Salah ad-Din.”

Contrary to Popular Belief, I Am Not Dead… - dtearl, Softer Power:

“Anyway, I’ve been spending the last few days pondering Softer Power, and there are a few posts due in the pipeline. I’ve got some things to share RE: social media, public diplomacy (including the imminent nomination of Judith McHale and the delay in nominating her), and the possible end of newspapers.” Image from

Cart-Horse, Chicken-Egg, ? – Jameson, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: "Who are the publics U.S. PD needs to address? What are the means of addressing the public(s) effectively? … According to Internet usage statistics compiled by some likewise reputable institutions, you can take a different slant on Internet penetration. … [B]logs matter, and revisit the point of the short paragraph above, anything that anyone can do with a computer matters.”

The most important aspect of New Diplomacy following the seminars 5 & 7. – Celda, The New Diplomacy: The Reflective Blogs of the Students on the New Diplomacy Module at London Metropolitan University: “In my opinion the most important aspects of the new diplomacy is multilateral diplomacy, where more than two states are involved in negotiations, and the public diplomacy-soft power the citizens as well as the media play a greater role.”

Push to sell French cultureStraight Times: “France … launched a drive to sell its culture abroad with a new French Institute modeled after Germany's Goethe Institute or the British Council. The 'Institut Francais' will showcase French cultural products and promote the French language in cities worldwide, replacing the myriad of cultural centres that have mushroomed over the years. The Alliance Francaise, which offers language courses, will remain, but Culture France, which promotes cultural events, will be scrapped. The new institute will have a budget of S$81 million (40 million euros) and a study group is to present a report in the coming months detailing its mission.” Image from

Le pari culturel de la diplomatie française: Bernard Kouchner présente mercredi une réforme de l'action culturelle extérieure dont les moyens seront regroupés au sein d'un seul organisme - Alain Barluet, Figaro (3/25): «Tous les intervenants de la diplomatie culturelle bénéficieront en effet d'une appellation unique, celle de la nouvelle agence baptisée Institut français , souligne Olivier Poivre d'Arvor, un des principaux artisans du projet d'Institut français. Les 220 Alliances françaises dans le monde, organismes de droit local, n'en feront pas partie. De même que l'Agence de l'enseignement français à l'étranger (AEFE) qui gère les lycées français. À Paris néanmoins, tous les de la diplomatie culturelle seront installés en un même lieu, qui reste à trouver. … [L]a France, pionnière pour 'exporter' sa culture, est désormais soumise à rude concurrence. … L'influence, la (diplomatie de l'intelligence), est devenue l'un des nerfs vitaux des Affaires étrangères. À la tête du département d'État américain, Hillary Clinton l'a érigée d'emblée en priorité. Dès lors, il devient nécessaire, pour Paris, de rester dans la course. … Les lignes qui seront présentées aujourd'hui par Bernard Kouchner sont susceptibles de bouger. Car d'importantes zones de flou demeurent sur l'avenir de notre diplomatie culturelle, résultantes de résistances de fond et de rivalités de personnes.» Image from; caption of image: Washington: President Kennedy chats with French Minister of Culture André Malraux as they pose with their wives for photographers prior to a dinner in honor of Malraux at the White House tonight.

Shen Wei in Syracuse: Olympic choreographer's residency will be a template - Nancy Keefe Rhodes, “[Shen Wei’s] September Landmark performances will be accompanied by an event related to cultural diplomacy, in collaboration with SU’s Maxwell School. "

Rebirth of Cultural Diplomacy: Vietnam pushes forward with Cultural Diplomacy Renaissance - Jeremy Faulkner, Cultural Diplomacy News: “Vietnam has begun a renaissance in cultural diplomacy events, guided by the Vietnamese government’s proclamation of 2009 as 'The Year of Cultural Diplomacy.' Vietnam has a calendar filled with cultural diplomacy events, and lots of energy has been devoted to examining what cultural diplomacy is. Vietnam does not wield the powerful cultural-promotion machines that France and the United States do, but Vietnam is surely taking note of these examples and is trying to promote its own cultural resources abroad.”

Theatre for all - Alejandro R. Roces, The Philippine Star: “We are pleased that Tourism, Education and Social Welfare concerns with cultural diplomacy have been synergized by the NCCA [National Commission for Culture and the Arts] under the leadership of its Chairman Dr. Vilma Labrador and Executive Director Cecile Guidote-Alvarez in pursuing the President’s directive to harness culture in an agenda for employment enhancement, human rights education and moral reform. It is also laudable that World Theatre Day in March now serves as an appropriate occasion in giving recognition to culture-friendly local government officials, media organizations as well as outstanding artists who have exemplified golden years of service to the nation through their art manifesting compassion and concern for the advancement of the welfare of the cultural community.” Iamge from

Painter pays tribute to years in Paris - Viet Nam News: “HA NOI — An exhibition entitled Paris – Athens, by the well-known Greek artist Pavlos Samios, has opened at the French Cultural Centre, L’Espace, on Trang Tien Street in Ha Noi to mark Greek National Day in the year of Cultural Diplomacy 2009.”

On the Move - Sheila Toomey, Anchorage Daily News: “Bernholz and Graham, a well-known local PR agency, is being bought by Jennifer Thompson, who currently handles the firm's day-to-day operations for Mike Porcaro, who bought it in 2001 from co-founder Robbie Graham. The sale is effective April 1. Graham is going to stick around a while, says a press release, but has already moved into a field called ‘public diplomacy,’ which appears to be soft-sell international messaging. (Aren't we allowed to call it propaganda anymore? Or schmoozing?).” Image from


World Reactions to Obama Plan for Afghanistan - Juan Cole, Informed Comment Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion. Image from

Obama Will Face a Defiant World on Foreign Visit - Helene Cooper, New York Times: Despite his immense popularity around the world, Mr. Obama will confront resentment over American-style capitalism and resistance to his economic prescriptions when he lands in London on Tuesday for the Group of 20 summit meeting of industrial and emerging market nations plus the European Union.

Obama's uphill climb at the G-20 summit: The president was once Europe's darling. Now he'll find that the global economic crisis has changed everything - Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

No Givens As Obama Steps Onto World Stage - Michael D. Shear, Washington Post: After 69 days in which international issues have taken a back seat to attempts to rescue the economy at home, President Obama takes the world stage this week as a wildly popular figure among the people of Europe, but one who faces a difficult task in selling his plans to the continent's leaders.

America's Way on Trial - Jim Hoagland, Washington Post: Today's global economic collapse is convincing European and Asian nations that management of the dollar is too important to be left to the Americans.

Spanish Court Weighs Inquiry on Torture for 6 Bush-Era Officials - Marlise Simons, New York Times: A Spanish court has taken the first steps toward opening a criminal investigation into allegations that six former high-level Bush administration officials violated international law by providing the legal framework to justify the torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an official close to the case said.

Exorcising the torture demon – Editorial, Boston Globe: The use of torture authorized by President Bush left a stain on America's reputation, produced dubious intelligence, and may have played into the hands of Osama bin Laden and like-minded fanatics. The purpose of an inquiry into these issues should not be to criminally indict CIA officers or mid-level government officials; they were acting under authority granted them by a commander in chief. The purpose should be to demonstrate that American democracy is capable of correcting its worst errors. Image from

The Big Idea: Want to Fight Terrorists? Try Mocking Them - Carlos Lozada, Washington Post: Make al-Qaeda boring

A new season in Iran relations - Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh and Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, Boston Globe: With the right mix of policies by both sides, the spell of hostility can be broken.

Syria Calling: The Obama Administration’s chance to engage in a Middle East peace - Seymour M. Hersh, New Yorker: American and foreign government officials, intelligence officers, diplomats, and politicians said in interviews that renewed Israeli-Syrian negotiations over the Golan Heights are now highly likely. Those talks would depend largely on America’s willingness to act as the mediator, a role that could offer Barack Obama his first—and perhaps best—chance for engagement in the Middle East peace process. Image from

War comes closer to home: Security issues to our south more pressing than Afghanistan - Georgie Anne Geyer, Washington Times: We remain painfully and wholly unnecessarily committed in Iraq and even Afghanistan, which should have been a police/intelligence action instead of an all-out war against a shadowy and imprecise enemy. Right on our border, we are in a war that is no longer either shadowy or imprecise.

The Southern Colony [Review of In The Shadow of a Giant: The Americanization Of Modern Mexico by Joseph Contreras] - Manuel Roig-Franzia, Washington Post

Look to Beijing - Zachary Karabell, Washington Post: Continued prosperity requires the United States to share the global stage with China.

Olympius Inferno: Movie on war in South Ossetia hits Russian screen Russia Today: The ‘Olympius Inferno’ movie tells a story of a young scientist searching for a unique butterfly he hopes to film. Instead, he ends up shooting pictures of a very different kind – the first scenes of Georgia’s military action against South Ossetia. Even before hitting the big screen, ‘Olympius Inferno’ has been criticised and labeled as propaganda. But the movie's director is untroubled.

Religion News: Former North Korean Propaganda Officer Now Spreads Message of Christ - Kim Sung Min, a former propaganda officer for the North Korean Army, is now fighting for the freedom and faith of his home country.

The Voice of the Martyrs invites you to attend a special conference in Mississauga, Ontario on March 28 and Edmonton, Alberta on April 4 to hear Mr. Kim's harrowing story of escape from North Korea. Image from

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