Monday, April 20, 2009

April 20

“The Iranian people like clever satire and the Disney style is known and liked here, therefore the combination of the two would provide a very strong media for putting across our message."

--From a confidential cable of the American Embassy in Teheran dated Jan. 18, 1950; image from "Mickey Mouse Propaganda in Iran," Pierre's Middle East Issues Blog:"Welcome! That's what the sign says in Niasar, a desert city of east-central Iran, though its enthusiasm for Mickey has clearly faded."


For the next few weeks, coverage by the Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review will be largely limited to items most directly connected with PD, a diminution of content due to the involvement of its compiler in several projects, including the preparation of a lecture, intended for visiting Russian grantees under the “Open World” program, tentatively entitled “What Keeps the United States United?” The talk is meant in part to be a response to the contention of Professor Igor Panarin, a former KGB analyst from Moscow, that the USA will disintegrate in the near future. Thoughts from the valued readers of the PDPBR regarding this topic are welcome; please send them to Panarin image from

Shake hands with Chavez but hold smiles, analyst saysCNN: "President Obama's friendly interactions with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has set off a wave of controversy, but analysts said the leaders' next steps will show if relations have truly improved or if Obama was overstepping boundaries. … Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, told CNN on Sunday it was 'irresponsible' for Obama to have been seen 'laughing and joking' with Chavez. This is a person who is one of the most anti-American leaders in the entire world,' Ensign said on 'State of the Union.' … Republican Newt Gingrich joined the criticism Monday, saying enemies of the United States will use Obama's friendly encounter with Chavez as propaganda. … Obama said Sunday he didn't know how the images from this weekend would play politically, and he indicated he really didn't care." See also, including Sparkle Princess Pony's Photoblog; image pertaining to the "anti-imperialist" book Chavez gave Obama from

People-to-People-Based Foreign Policy - Kenneth Wollack, Huffington Post: "The new Administration has already underscored the central role of reaching out beyond government-to-government relations to forge people-to-people connections based on mutual respect and trust. And a modern and revitalized public diplomacy program, led by Ms. McHale, can be a centerpiece of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's doctrine of 'smart power.'"

1 boo for Obama's pick for Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy – McCaffray, Understanding The Middle East And Islam: History, Culture, Language, Religion, And Politics - "What Might Work In The The Middle East And What We Can And Can't Do As Foreigners: So as not to ruin So as not to ruin any potential possible future career with the State Dept. I am going to lightly skirt around this issue. I was not thrilled with Obama's pick for Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy. (I am also agreeing with Marc Lynch - he has nothing against Judith McHale, as he states, but thinks Obama could have done better and has some good reasons.) I am sure Judith McHale is a great person and is clearly accomplished. (CEO of Discovery communications, major microfinancing projects in Africa, etc). But despite the past 8 years, diplomacy is actually a field, it is an art, it is a skill, it is crucial; I don't know whether her CV is perfect for this position. (Lynch laid out some great public diplomacy priorities last month.) I know, who am I to criticize, but I am just so nervous after the Karen Hughes DEBACLE."

More Embassy Thoughts (or, “Even London Gets the Fortress Treatment”) – mp, Solyaris: Thoughts on geopolitics and intelligence - with occasional diversions: "I would have thought that if we were to have at least one embassy that stood as a symbol of our culture rather than a symptom of our poor geopolitical state it could surely be the one in London’s Grosvenor Square - but sadly not. … So, [it] came as a shock to me, since it was the first I heard that even that embassy, symbol of the 'special relationship,' was to be replaced with some gray fort on the other side of the Thames." Embassy image from article

Yemen Anti-Corruption Skills Improved by USAID contractor - Vance Jochim, Corruption In Iraq & World: "In 2006 … the leadership of the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) halted funding to Yemen because they failed to meet anti-corruption progress benchmarks.

So USAID hired the firm ARD, Inc. to develop a program to assist Yemen in getting 'back on track' to qualify for the MCC funds. … Some of the major recommendations included … Assist CSOs [Civil Society Organizations] to develop their own 'public diplomacy' strategies as a way to counter government and/or ruling discourses. This could take the form of not just training but technical assistance to develop a 'rapid response' unit in the coalition to respond to specific charges as they appear in media organs." Image from

Six questions for Rashid Khalidi - Comment by reader St James: "Dr. Marc Lynch has blogged extensively over at Foreign Policy about the need for greater US public diplomacy in the Middle East. I couldn't agree more. But here [is] … the million dollar question. … How do we go about public diplomacy in the United States, in order to facilitate a more honest discussion of the Israeli-Arab-Palestinian conflict?" Image from

Helping out the US-Palestinian Partnership - Craig Newmark, Huffington Post: "Hey, the folks in the Israeli, Palestinian, and US governments encourage us all to help out small businessmen in places like Ramallah and Nablus. It's related to the US-Palestinian Partnership. I figure I know something about computer centers, so I figured I'd contribute something to buy 'em a bunch of okay Internet-capable desktops to help out. … Special thanks to folks at State Dept Public Diplomacy and the Aspen Institute Middle East Study Group."

Thomas Ricks and West Point – Starbuck, Wings Over Iraq: "Thomas Ricks, author of "Fiasco" and "The Gamble" has penned an op-ed in the Washington Post indicating his desire to close the service academies and to close the advanced military studies courses, advocating a preference for ROTC programs for junior officers and civil schooling for senior officers in an attempt to improve public diplomacy in the military. … Should we support greater opportunities for public diplomacy for military officers? Abso[lu]tely. Should we go about it by closing the service schools? Eh, you decide..." Image from

More on the PD-PR comparison - cb3blog: “[I]t is noteworthy that placing some form of firewall or hierarchy between the two practices can be counterproductive - there are many lessons to be learned in both PD and PR which may enhance the performance of both. And although PR often gets a bad press (especially in the US*), there are many PR practitioners who would be able to serve the needs of PD very well, certainly in the operational and tactical areas. So, in apiration and ethos at least, PD=PR.”

The More They Know the Less They Like - Steven R. Corman, COMOPS Journal: "I just ran across this interesting release from Gallup. It cross-analyzes data from Gallup’s Communications Index 'which measures the extent to which respondents are connected via electronic communications' and approval of U.S. leadership. The results are not too encouraging. Basically, the more wired the respondents are, the less inclined they are to approve of U.S. leadership and vice versa." Image from

Day of the sun: propaganda time - North Korean Economy Watch: News and analysis of the North Korean economy – “April 15 is the biggest holiday in North Korea–it is Kim Il sung’s birthday. I thought this would be a good opportunity to post some good old fashioned communist propaganda which I found on the Korean Friendship Association web page.

The film is called Always Together, and it is in Russian, which gives it that socialist je ne sais qu[oi]. Another important thing to note is that although the film appears to be about Kim Il sung it is really about Kim Jong il and how is is the legitimate successor to his father. Those interested in North Korean propaganda will be surprised to see how many classic propaganda images are taken from this video." Image from


Caption: A Secret Service agent stands guard as President Obama reads a book to a group of children during the annual White House Easter Egg Roll; texts in image: "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"; "Where the Wild Things Are"; image and caption from BagnewsNotes

Photo: abandoned rocket test platform, San Jose, California; from

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