Friday, June 26, 2009

June 26

"[A]rguably the most successful act of American public diplomacy so far in this new century was the tour of the USNS Comfort in 2007."

--Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, noting that this hospital ship's crew conducted 400,000 patient encounters and 1,700 surgeries in 12 nations; image from


Simon Anholt is an independent policy advisor, author and researcher. He specialises in national identity and reputation, public diplomacy and the "brand images" of nations, cities and regions. Anholt developed the concepts of the "nation brand" and 'place brand' in the late 1990s, and today plays a leading role in this rapidly expanding field.


Obama-Europe Honeymoon: The Thrill is Gone? - Judah Grunstein, World Politics Review: "[T]his passage from a Der Spiegel feature on the strain in U.S.-German relations: [']In pursuing its foreign policy, the new administration in Washington no longer relies solely on high-level meetings and state receptions. In fact, the populations of other countries are now being mobilized to support the goals of the United States to an unprecedented extent. Officials at the White House and the State Department have developed a completely new form of the old concept of ‘public diplomacy.’['] Obama remains pretty popular here in terms of public opinion, but I suspect that expectations and enthusiasm have been lowered a bit by his cautious approach to reversing some of the more unpopular Bush policies." See also John Brown, "After the honeymoon: Electing Barack Obama president won't be enough to improve America's standing in the world," Guardian, 26 June 2008. Image: Honeymoon suite.

Why shutting up is the best course of actionTransitionland: "[W]e might even want to be a little more quiet about constituting the aforementioned conditions [in Iran] in the future — not that US involvement in things like the Twitter maintenance delay should be denied by the administration, but rather the utmost importance of tact in this very risky area of public diplomacy. Our indirect assistance to demonstrators should be quiet and humble (and, in this case, very, very geeky)."

Soldier, soldier: has the new world of war passed you by? - Sean McClain, The National: "Ever since George Bush’s ill-fated declaration of an end to major combat operations in Iraq and the poorly conceived drawdown of forces in Afghanistan, the US and its allies have struggled to unravel their own riddle of the trenches: a Gordian knot of sectarian tensions and historic rivalries exacerbated by the presence of foreign troops and non-state actors such as al Qa’eda. To attempt to quell the violence, troops trained to kill more efficiently than their enemies were suddenly asked to perform duties more akin to police work and public diplomacy.The lack of preparedness for the insurgencies in both countries [Iran and Afghanistan], and the touting of such strategies as 'shock and awe', showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the threat environment." Image from

Three Amigos Push New Iran Legislation – Michael Goldfarb, Weekly Standard: "Lieberman, McCain, and Graham held a presser announcing new Iran legislation they intend to introduce. It will increase funding for Radio Farda and Voice of America, both of which have been critical at keeping Iranians informed of what's happening in their own country and reporting those events to the outside world as well. They also talk of funding a new Farsi-language website with live news coverage, and 'funding to foster the spread of technologies that would make it harder for the Iranian regime to crackdown' on the transmission of information over cellphones. … MCCAIN: [']So let me get to the aspects of the legislation that we’re introducing. Radio Farda -- as I mentioned, Radio Farda is part of Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty based in Prague. And what it broadcasts isn’t propaganda or even public diplomacy. Rather, its job is surrogate broadcasting, providing the Iranian people with the kind of unbiased, uncensored news and other information they would get in the event that they were living in a free society.[']”

Senate Unanimously Passes Kerry-Lugar Pakistan Aid PackageAmerican Chronicle: "A summary of the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act is below: In introducing this bill, Senators Kerry and Lugar aim to help transform the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan:

instead of a transactional, tactically-driven set of short-term exercises in crisis-management, Kerry and Lugar aim to build a deeper, broader, long-term strategic engagement with the people (and not just the leaders) of this vitally important nation. … A premise underlying the Kerry-Lugar approach is a simple thought-exercise. Following the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the United States devoted nearly $1 billion to relief efforts and reaped a greater reward in popular support than any amount of public diplomacy could generate. The sight of American servicemen and women saving the lives of Pakistani citizens was worth ten times the cost of operating the Chinook helicopters." Image from

Cautious to a Fault: Solidarity with Reformers in Poland and Iran - Reagan’s Response in 1981 Markedly Different from Obama’s in 2009 - Ted Lipien, Free Media Online Blog: "Public diplomacy mistakes by the Bush Administration are too numerous to list, but U.S. international broadcasting initiatives during the last eight years serve as a good example. … President Obama is right in offering a new style of public diplomacy in the Middle East and throughout the world. He did not go to Alhurra to give his first interview targeted for the Middle East but chose an Arab TV network instead. Unfortunately, he still does not have around him enough good advisors who could help shape all of his public statements on human rights and freedom of expression issues, especially in times of crisis, so that he and his Administration do not appear at times as being intimidated by dictators of Mr. Ahmadinejad's kind or appear naive and impulsive like President Bush." Image from

VOA Persian News Network gets media attention - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

U.S. taps envoy for Muslim outreach without fanfare - Reuters, Washington Post: "The U.S. State Department has picked an official to help carry out President Barack Obama's strategy of reaching out to Muslims around the world -- but chose not to formally announce the fact. The choice of Farah Pandith to serve as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 'special representative to Muslim communities' was disclosed in an internal memo to State Department employees dated on Tuesday. … Former President George W. Bush named one of his closest aides, Karen Hughes, to be the State Department's top public diplomacy official with a mission to engage Muslims and to combat negative views of the United States abroad." Pandith image from

7 British Teachers Seek To Learn From Md. Visit - Tom Lansworth, Washington Post: "Seven British teachers visited Montgomery County schools last month as part of the British Council's Teachers International Professional Development program. The program places British teachers in schools around the world, where they work with local educators to exchange information and experiences on best practices related to a particular educational theme or issue."

Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: the Quest to Boost Russia’s Image - Introduced by Vladimir Frolov, Russia Profile: [Frolov:] "Moscow apparently has learned that meticulous policy planning and execution is a much more cost-effective way to boost Russia’s image than throwing money at Western PR consultants or TV channels that broadcast into nowhere. The move to concentrate image-boosting functions in the Kremlin is also a right one, since the Foreign Ministry, which ran the old commission, clearly lacked bureaucratic clout to ensure effective policy coordination. ... What does this move by the Kremlin really mean? Is it simply an exercise in boosting the efficiency of Moscow’s public diplomacy operations, or is it a sign of a serious rift within the Russian leadership on the basic approach to foreign policy? ... Ethan S. Burger, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC: Russia does not need to establish a commission to determine how best to enhance its international image through more effective public diplomacy—it merely needs to change its behavior. ... Edward Lozansky, President, American University in Moscow: ... So, what options does Russia have?

Hiring western PR consultants will make little difference, even if the Kremlin is prepared to outspend America on its public diplomacy job. ... The best Russia can do now is to try to convince the Western public opinion that it is not hostile toward America or Europe ... . At the same time, Russia should do what America and other countries do to deliver their goodwill message and clearly explain the context of their policy. The methods are pretty straightforward: radio and TV broadcasts, Internet sites and the blogosphere, people-to-people exchanges, roundtables, cultural events that build personal relationships, scholarships for international scholars, meetings with Western parliamentarians and government officials, engaging the Russian Diaspora, and last but not least, adding public diplomacy educational programs to the university curriculum." Image: A banner by the United Russia party on Manezh Square, near the Kremlin, says “Moscow is voting for Putin!” (November 2007)

Public Diplomacy, Policy Research and Outreach: European Union and EU-Canada Relations - UBC Faculty of Applied Science: "The European Commission is pleased to announce a new Call for Proposals entitled 'Public Diplomacy, Policy Research and Outreach: European Union and EU-Canada Relations'."

Brand India – Madhur, Soft Power: "The Public Diplomacy office will have to come up with really unique initiatives consistently to convince the world that India indeed is a rising power capable of tackling world problems rather than getting bogged down by it’s [sic] own." Image from

FC Expert Blog: Advancing Ethical Business Leadership - Alice Korngold, Fast Company: "The Carnegie Council achieves its mission through Workshops for Ethics in Business, publications, online videos and podcasts, and the Carnegie New Leaders Program to develop the next generation of outstanding individuals committed to ethics and international affairs. Follow Carnegie Council’s blog on 'Fairer Globalization' for thoughtful and unique perspectives in their postings on President Obama’s public diplomacy with Iran, US trade policy with China and Japan, green mapping in Harlem, and advertising in the age of the recessionista."

UN: New Permanent Representative of Australia Presents Credentials – Daily Update, ISRIA: "The new Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations, Gary Quinlan, today presented his credentials to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Quinlan was Senior Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security from December 2007 to March 2008, having served in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as First Assistant Secretary in the Consular, Public Diplomacy and Parliamentary Affairs Division in 2007." Quinlan image from

Picking pictures, Bluegrass and Dead Batteries – Paul Rockower, Levantine: "The State of Franklin seceded from North Carolina and tried to enter the union as its own state. Some fascinating history, I recommend following that previous link. Maybe I can drum up some public diplomacy work as the Ambassador for the State of Franklin, State of Jefferson and Republic of the Rio Grande. Public diplomacy as recognition for fledgling states and republics."


No Choice but Democracy - Michael Gerson, Washington Post: Democracy promotion is difficult and reversible. It is also not new -- or optional.

Obama, the Neocons and Iran: The president's new foreign policy

will be judged on this crisis
– Robert McFarlane, Wall Street Journal: President Barack Obama has made clear his wish to engage Iran's government. But he ignores a fundamental question. What, beyond conversation, does engagement mean? Image from

The prescience of protest: The West should listen to the dissidents in Iran craving freedom -- they can feel the future - Natan Sharansky, Los Angeles Times

The mullahs must go: Obama is making the same mistake as other presidents -- the only answer is regime change - John R. Bolton, Los Angeles Times: It is Obama's policy errors, not his rhetorical ones, that should be opposed. Rhetoric itself is not policy but only the adjunct of policy, albeit often an important one. The Iranian people will continue their opposition no matter how inconvenient it is for Obama's hoped-for negotiations. We should support them, and not just by rhetoric.

Advice to the Prince - David Bromwich, New York Review of Books:

Obama’s speech broke no ground, some people have said, because it did not specify. But simply by being spoken, and by addressing the Arab world without condescension, Obama's words placed the United States on a different footing. Image from

Not this Time - Joseph Ashbyan, American Thinker: The speeches across Europe, in Latin America, and most recently in Cairo, have told us one thing: Obama believes, on some significant level, the propaganda promoted by America's enemies that the United States is the main instigator and perpetrator of international unrest. So shockingly, amazingly, unbelievably, Obama is saying that Iran may very well use America as a propaganda tool, but at least this time they won't be right.

BBC Persian: "careful about not becoming opposition TV" (updated)- Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Twitter is a Propaganda Platform - Jared, MentalPolyphonics: Since professional journalists have been unable to report from Iran, Twitter has been the medium of choice for citizen-journalists. The problem is that Twitter is not good at filtering out noise. So much of the news is apparently distorted, either for entertainment purposes or outright psychological warfare.

How to run a protest without Twitter: Iranians can learn from leaders of protests — from Berlin to Beijing — before modern telecommunications - GlobalPost. Via

Taliban Launch Propaganda Attack Against Poles Marcin Górka, Gazeta Wyborcza: The taliban boast on the Web that they killed nine Polish troops and wounded a further forty in May alone. Last Wednesday as many as fifteen Poles are supposed to have been killed!

Art or Propaganda? - Charles Wiebe, "Turner Classic Movies, TCM, recently compiled a list of the 15 most influential films. I agree with the first two choices, D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation 1915 and Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin 1925; but inexplicably missing from this list is a film that is generally considered the most influential documentary ever made. I speak of Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will) 1935. ... Triumph has always been criticized for its adulation of Hitler, who was still consolidating his power in 1934. The film opens with Hitler descending god-like from the skies in his Junkers tri-motor. He is framed larger-than-life against the massed crowds, to chilling effect."

Two for Tuesday: Soviet Propaganda Postcard - Chris Overstreet, Wild Postcards: This ...poster from 1947 reminds the proletariat that, hey, you can work at night, too! Of course, we’ll have to put you on the waiting list for tractor headlights; you should have them in about two years.

1 comment:

Policy Innovations said...

Thanks for a link to our Fairer Globalization blog. We appreciate it.