Friday, April 17, 2009

April 17

“I'm from Munich, so in Berlin I am a Bavarian; in Paris, I am a German; in the US, I am a European.”

--A German diplomat, as cited by Paul Rockower in his Levantine blog; image from

--"Never work; but if you must, start at the top."

--Advice from poet/diplomat John L. Brown to his son, the compiler of this blog; Brassai image from the JLB papers at Georgetown

EVENT: It's the BIG BAND JAM! 2009

The 2009 BIG BAND JAM! is running NOW from April 17-29, 2009. The biggest, baddest, broadest beat ever brought to Washington, D.C.! The BIG BAND JAM! of 2009 will be hosted at Blues Alley, Voice of America Stage, Millenium Stage at the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. [Courtesy MC].


Clinton to hold digital town hall - Ben Bain, FederalComputer Week: "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will hold a digital town hall meeting April 17 while traveling in the Caribbean for a summit meeting of heads of state from the Western Hemisphere. … The summit is an example of State's efforts to use social technologies to bolster its public diplomacy efforts. … Ethan Zuckerman, a research fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society … said the digital town hall isn't necessarily the best example of the administration’s expertise in social media because he suspects the questions Clinton answers will be filtered and thus will not change the rules of the road of the conversation. … Meanwhile, John Brown, a retired foreign service officer who now teaches at Georgetown University and is a senior fellow with the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy, cautioned against officials becoming overly focused on technique, adding that in his experience, nothing replaces face-to-face contact. 'I think the more the State Department experiments and uses new media the better; I’m just very cautious about hyping them,' he said." Image from

The Right Pick to Lead State's Public Diplomacy? - Nancy Scola, techPresident: "McHale's nomination for the 'R' post, as the Under Secretary's slot is known in the secret language of Foggy Bottom, is causing some public diplomacy (PD) advocates some serious agita. The tension in R's role in state is between marketing the American message abroad -- the path that could be said to have been taken by Karen Hughes, the first holder of the post -- and engaging in strategic two-way conversations with the global community, aided where appropriate by the agile use of technology. Glassman went the latter route. … [T]he buck stops with Secretary Clinton on setting the model for how tech-powered public diplomacy will fare in the Obama-era White House. There are signs that she's eager to grow State's PD 2.0 efforts. Tomorrow, in fact, Clinton will be engaging in a 'Digital Town Hall' in conjunction with HowCast -- a relationship started under Glassman's tenure." Image from

Former public diplomacy official weighs in on his successor at State - Amy Harder, National Journal: “So, what advice does he have for McHale? 'I would urge her to not simply talk to the people in the building,' Glassman said. 'She needs to understand how the office works within the State Department, but she should also get out and talk to the key players in the interagencies.' He cited the Defense Department as the most crucial agency relationship." See also.

The Future of Information Operations - Max Boot, Contentions, Commentary:

“Every administration organizes the Pentagon its own way; there is no right or wrong way to go about it. So we shouldn’t read too much into news that the Pentagon Office of Support to Public Diplomacy has been eliminated. It is nevertheless slightly dismaying. … I agree we shouldn’t engage in 'blatant propaganda.' If it’s too blatant it’s self defeating. But what’s wrong with skillful, not-so-blatant propaganda? Not only is there nothing wrong with it, it is an essential task at which we are now failing. We cannot afford unilateral disarmament in the battle of ideas.” Image from

Pentagon Closes Office Accused of Issuing Propaganda Under Bush – Bookyards, War News Updates: "My Comment: If you read between the lines, the biggest opponents to this (now former) Pentagon media office came from the State Department, the White House, and the Main Stream Media .... in short .... their competitors."

Oh dear. Looks like it's up to Fox News to catapult the propaganda - Dependable Renegade: Engaging in wild speculation daily -"Pentagon officials said the position of deputy assistant secretary of defense for support to public diplomacy had been eliminated, with the staff members reassigned and the office closed. Oh, noes! Does this mean no more plastic turkee?! I also like the 'some military officers called propaganda' line. Wouldn't want to offend now, would we."

Pentagon Propaganda Shop to Close – Wisco, Griper News: "The New York Times reports that a Pentagon propaganda shop is shutting down. … President Obama has a mixed record on distancing himself from Bush policies, so any move away from Cheney's 'dark side' is pretty welcome." Image from

Taxes: Getting What We Pay ForThe Progress Report: "Good News: The Obama administration closed the Pentagon's office for support to public diplomacy, which military and civilian critics have said disseminated 'propaganda' abroad and other information outside DOD's guidelines."

This and That....NEWS - Independent Light: "The Obama administration has abolished an office 'responsible for coordinating Defense Department information campaigns overseas.' Military and civilian critics said DOD’s office for support to public diplomacy 'overstepped its mandate during the final years of the Bush administration by trying to organize information operations that violated Pentagon guidelines for accuracy and transparency.'" Image from

White House Closing Controversial Pentagon Office - Dan Weil, "The Defense Department office for support to public diplomacy received strong criticism from people inside and outside the military for straying beyond its guidelines late in the Bush administration, violating Pentagon rules for accuracy and openness."

Pentagon propaganda office closed - Arab News: "The good news here in Washington is that the Defense Department’s 'public diplomacy' office has been closed; the bad news is that the National Security Agency has been accused of engaging in 'over collection' of domestic communications of Americans." Image from

The SRA Club’s Counter-Terrorism Panel - Steve S., OnwardState: A Word on State [Penn State]: "Every good policy maker considers a range of options when combating terrorism. There are cases where military force is very effective. There is a place for diplomacy, but sometimes not public diplomacy. -Prof. Shemanski The SRA Club’s Counter-Terrorism Panel written by: Steve S. "

Perfect pitch: An encore for the jazz ambassadors - Economist: "The State Department spent $10m on cultural diplomacy programmes in the year to September 30th 2008. But most expect funding for the initiative to increase under Barack Obama, who pledged his support for cultural diplomacy during his campaign. … There are some dissenters. Nick Cull, the director of the Public Diplomacy Programme at the University of Southern California, thinks that these diplomatic projects would be more productive if they were not administered by the same agency that oversees the country’s foreign-policy agenda." Image from

Mideast minefield: Ellison is treading carefully - Cynthia Dizikes - “Ellison [Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress and Minnesota's first African-American representative] has used his visibility as the first Muslim member of Congress to reach out to both the Muslim and Jewish world through trips abroad and speaking engagements and meetings at home. …

The Bush administration sent Karen Hughes, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, to Ellison to discuss Middle East affairs, according to Ellison's office. At the same time, the State Department repeatedly reached out to the congressman to talk about democracy and making bridges to the Muslim world.” Ellison image from

Support expanded Peace Corps - Deborah Ballard-Reisch, Deborah’s Deliberations: "I hope you share my view that the Peace Corps can be a vital component of our public diplomacy toolbox. Citizen diplomacy through programs like the Peace Corp and Fulbright initiatives have put human faces on the values and beliefs that are at the core of US culture."

The utilisation of the internet and the changing dynamic of international politics - A case study of the Zapatista and People's Global Action movements - Maarten Rikken, Soundscapes: Article cites article by Cowan, Geoffrey, and Amelia Arsenault (2008), "Moving from monologue to dialogue to collaboration. The three layers of public diplomacy." In: The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 616, 1, 10-30. Ms. Arsenault image from

“Is Public Diplomacy more than, less than, or equal to Public Relations? – Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: "Which of the below completes this sentence: Public Diplomacy… • is the same as Public Relations. (PD=PR) • involves more than the practice of Public Relations. (PD>PR) • is contained within a larger practice of Public Relations. (PD or <>) Check out the comments on my January post Public Diplomacy is not Public Relations."

The Days - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "The last two days have been characterized by large amounts of library time, filled with class. Yesterday, it was Prof. Wiseman's class on Virtual states and if California should have its own foreign policy and public diplomacy. We read a chapter of Prof. Abraham Lownenthal's book Global California, and discussed if there was a distinct 'California' identity. I argued that there was more of a distinct Texas identity than California." Mr. Rockower image from his blog.


Waking up From the Big Sleep in Latin America - Stephen Schlesinger, Huffington Post:

The Obama administration is in office in a favorable climate in which to advance a pro-Latin policy. But President Obama still has to take the hard steps toward working in a multilateral fashion and treating Latin states as partners. Image from

Summit needs a strong Obama, not an apologetic one; Economic blame, Cuba, and Chávez, challenge new US-Latin American relations - Ray Walser, Christian Science Monitor

A Cuba Policy That's Stuck On Plan A - Michael Kinsley, Washington Post: We've already been enriched by the energies of Cubans who have arrived here since Castro's revolution. So why do we continue to deny the Cubans still stuck on Castro's Island the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of capitalism as well?

A 'world turned upside down'? - U.S. now a judicial target for defending lawful commerce John Bolton, Washington Times: The Spanish Inquisition’s reawakening and the unchecked rise of piracy off Somalia may not, at first glance, seem to have much in common. In fact, however, these phenomena represent an inversion of historic Western priorities and a decline in our collective resolve and instinct for self-defense. Image from

What Barack Obama Can Learn from Pirates - Kaj Larsen, Huffington Post: Unless President Obama can chart a new course in Somalia, a host of non-state actors will continue to force the rest of the world to walk a policy plank in the region.

Roxana Saberi - Editorial, New York Times: There is nothing resembling justice in Iran’s prosecution of Roxana Saberi. Her one-day trial this week was held in secret, and state officials have not revealed any evidence against her. Iran’s government needs to release Ms. Saberi and end this dangerous farce.

Obama's back door to Iran ties: First create trust by seeking a deal on Afghanistan – it's a mess for both - Editorial Board, Christian Science Monitor

Iran is pressured because of its independent stance: Chomsky - Tehran Times: Chomsky made … remarks in an interview conducted through email by Kourosh Ziabari for the Tehran Times . … Q: Do you believe we will see a tactical or systematic revision in the approach of the U.S. mainstream media toward Iran during Barack Obama’s term in office? Will these media outlets stop their anti-Iranian propaganda? A: The media generally adhere fairly closely to the general framework of state policy, though policies are sometimes criticized on tactical grounds. A lot, therefore, depends on the stand that the Obama administration will take. Image from

Not just Cambodia on trial – Editorial, Boston Globe: The first tribunal investigating crimes from the days of Cambodia's killing fields is also trial for American policy from that era.


--From: Curious sight #2 at the Candelo Market… - glass central canberra

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