Friday, July 31, 2009

July 31

"Learning is better than propaganda."

--Natalya Solzhenitsyna, the widow of the Nobel prize winning author, rebuffing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for using the term "propaganda" in discussing her husband’s account of Soviet Gulag life; image from


Obama’s Middle East gambit and the US-Israeli rift over settlements - Matthew Bell, PRI’s The World: "Aluf Benn is an editor at the left-leaning Israeli newspaper, Haaretz; and he’s calling on the US president to get to work selling his plan for reviving Middle East peace talks to the Israeli public. … Benn isn’t the only one calling on the American president to get going with a public diplomacy campaign aimed directly at the Israeli public." Image from

Farah Pandith America’s special Muslim representative- Elham Asaad Buaras, "The US Department of State’s appointment of veteran advisor Farah Pandith as Special Representative to Muslim Communities has been welcomed by some quarters in Capitol Hill but left others wishing Secretary Hillary Clinton selected someone less seasoned by years serving the Bush Administration. … She … refuted allegations her selection was a PR stunt designed to, as one writer put it, 'convince Muslims that America is really their friend.' 'I don’t work in public diplomacy in the sense of the traditional route; this is not an exercise in selling America. We have an interest in building sustained partnerships with communities around the world,' insisted Pandith."

VOL. V NO. 16, July 17-July 30, 2009 - The Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media

The Art Of Appeasement, Part 2: Understanding the enemy - David Young, Asia Times: "Brand management is at the heart of public diplomacy, especially for a superpower. And as in the business world, it is important to discern the differences in the brand's interpretation. When president Ronald Reagan withdrew American forces from Lebanon in the wake of a 1983 car-bombing that killed 241 American marines, bin Laden claims he saw that withdrawal as a weakness, and George W Bush - at least in retrospect - saw it as appeasement. Yet even if one believes that the 1983 withdrawal from Lebanon was appeasement, our reflexive disdain for appeasement prevents us from asking the much-needed follow-up question: 'Was the appeasement worthwhile? That is, did withdrawing do more for our reputation and national interests than staying would have?' And the answer is 'yes'." Image from

From the Good Neighbor Policy to the Fundacion Amistad: A Useful Historical Reminder for Obama - GlobalPost: "Not unlike FDR, Obama has inherited an Augean stable of economic depression, dangerous international scenarios, and big questions as to how to revamp and refocus the cultural element within public diplomacy. Like FDR at the Montevideo Conference in 1933 and Lima in 1938, the new U.S. president has so far successfully projected a positive image of America to a world grown stubbornly suspicious of the U.S. and its manner of involvement in the War on Terror (or as Newt Gingrich likes to call it, World War III). FDR came to understand, after much persuasion by his foreign policy advisors, that what was needed was a government agency with a special kind of leader. He found that person in Rockefeller. I suggest we also see this position as a wartime cultural consigliere who can function effectively within the Washington political machine and simultaneously initiate cultural programming that can potentially reach the most unreachable of foreign audiences. … The outlook for the future success of U.S. cultural diplomacy appears increasingly positive with two bits of recent news: America will host a pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo in 2010. This type of soft power intervention has the potential to win over millions of Chinese moderates and intellectuals. Another example of nongovernmental cultural diplomacy is the recent activity of the Fundación Amistad, a nonprofit dedicated to the promotion of U.S.-Cuba relations, and its support of the 10th Havana Bienniel. … Cultural diplomacy takes time to work, and in the words of USIA veteran Richard Arndt, it provides no quick fixes." Image from

Valerie Jarrett & Ambassador Rice on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisabilitiesThe White House Valerie Jarrett, who currently serves as Senior Advisor to President Obama and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement:

"Today, the President, together with Secretary Clinton, once again demonstrate their commitment to people with disabilities at home and around the world, and I am pleased to announce the creation of a new, senior level disability human rights position at the State Department. This individual will be charged with developing a comprehensive strategy to promote the rights of persons with disabilities internationally; he or she will coordinate a process for the ratification of the Convention in conjunction with the other federal offices; last but not least, this leader will serve as a symbol of public diplomacy on disability issues, and work to ensure that the needs of persons with disabilities are addressed in international situations." Jarrett image from

Updated: Levin lifts hold on State Near East official, bureau makes senior appointments - Laura Rozen, Foreign Policy: "Madeleine Spirnak continues to serve as the acting DAS for public diplomacy and the Middle East Partnership Initiative."

Some Notes on the International Education/Public Diplomacy Activities of the United States in the Immediate Years Following World War II - International Higher Education Consulting Blog™A Source for News on International Education and Public Diplomacy by David Comp: “This short historical piece is in many ways a continuation of a previous IHEC Blog post from last December entitled ‘First Public Diplomacy Effort of the United States?’ You can read that blog post here.”


World Reaction to Obama and the Gates Arrest: Yawn

– Adam Clayton Powell, III, The New Atlanticist. Image from

Obama's evenhanded Mideast policy: The president's approach isn't anti-Israel; it's a balance that could tip the scales toward a two-state solution – Editorial, Los Angeles Times:

The Settlements Issue – Editorial, New York Times: President Obama, a skilled communicator, has started a constructive dialogue with the Islamic world. Now he needs to explain to Israelis why freezing settlements and reviving peace talks is clearly in their interest.

Taliban field manual: A kinder, gentler militant? - Claude Salhani, Washington Times:

The Taliban is mounting a public-relations campaign to try to win the hearts and minds of Afghans with their own version of a field manual that urges efforts to limit civilian casualties. The little book with a blue cover, Rules for Mujahedeen, directs Taliban militants on how to behave while on deployment and how to deal with enemy combatants, treat prisoners of war and interact with civilians. Image from

The Evolution of Wealth: Discerning a distinctly American style of affluence - Adrian Wooldridge, Wall Street Journal: In Larry Samuel’s “Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Wealth Culture, ”Mr. Samuel contends that the 20th century has seen the creation of a distinctly American “wealth culture” that is more democratic and more diverse than anything the world has seen before, and consequently more resilient.


"[W]e spend more money than we make."

--From the Twitter homepage

Thursday, July 30, 2009

July 30

"Government is not especially relaxed about innovation but is exceedingly comfortable with hierarchy."

--Blogger/diplomat John Matel


Europe loves Obama. Does it matter? - Bernd Debusmann, Reuters: "Obama has only been in office for six months and he has achieved more in polishing America’s image than a succession of public diplomacy czars who for years attempted to sell Bush’s foreign policies in a more attractive package, much like trying to market the same corn flakes in a new box. Or shining a car to a high polish and trying to sell it - without an engine. … [B]ut concrete results of what some call Obamamania may remain elusive in Europe, where it runs strongest, and even more in places where his charisma, brilliant speeches and brilliant smile have made less of an impression. In Turkey and Pakistan, both countries of key importance for U.S. foreign policy, negative views of America did not change with the election of Obama. If history can serve as a guide, a president’s popularity abroad has limited effect. … In the end, it will be the policies that count, not affection for a charismatic leader with a compelling only-in-America life story." Image from

Assessing the IDP crisis of Pakistan: Wendy J. Chamberlin, President of the Middle East Institute: Testimony before the Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs - Press Release, Relief Web: Chamberlin: "I believe the trust deficit is the single biggest obstacle to both our nations [U.S. and Pakistan] attaining our goal – the goal we share – of guaranteeing a stable, prosperous, democratic Pakistan. Effective public diplomacy can play a role in closing the trust gap."

Mapping US Public Diplomacy: What if Most of Us are “American”? - Scott Lucas, US Foreign Policy: "On his blog Wandren PD, our colleague Ali Fisher, who is producing breakthrough work on public diplomacy and networks, of a 'global' audience for a US Government initiative. Noting that the majority of responses came from within the US, he asks, 'What does it mean if the demographic of two-thirds of your audience is not your target demographic?'” Image from

Hierarchy & Order – John Matel, World-Wide-Matel: "I have written a lot about the new media being applied to public diplomacy because we are currently in one of those exciting transition times. Lots of people are trying lots of things and even more people are talking about, pretending to or 'going to' try lots of things. We are reaching out in many directions and in many of those directions it is becoming clear that our reach is exceeding our grasp."

Blogshop Of Pesta Blogger 2009 Started From Malang - Equalist, Equal Life: "Blogshop, part of The 2009 Blogger Party: One Spirit One Nation (Pesta Blogger 2009) to be conducted in 10 major cities in Indonesia starting from the city of Malang. …

Organizing this event is a collaboration between the American Corner at the University of Muhammadiyah Malang (UMM) and the United States Embassy in Indonesia. Meanwhile, the Public Diplomacy Officer United States Embassy in Jakarta, Tristram Perry said, the U.S. support to organize the 2009 blogger party wichs is already the second time since the first in 2008 and now in 2009." Image from

Fran Drescher to Launch Skin-Care Line for HSN - Sharon Clott, "Fran Drescher — yes, she of The Nanny — is launching a collection of organic skin-care products exclusively with HSN this fall. Named FranBrand, the nine-piece line includes a cleanser, toner gel, day lotion, eye gel, night eye cream, night face cream, body moisturizer, face serum, and lip balm … .

When she's not hocking FranBrand, Drescher's continuing to spend her time working for the State Department as a public-diplomacy envoy for women’s-health issues. 'I'm sent all over the world. I'm going to the Middle East in November, right after I launch FranBrand. Hillary is my new boss. I love her. She's great. I already spoke at the White House — Mrs. Obama invited me.' So did she give Michelle any FranBrand yet? 'No, not yet. I can't wait.'" Drescher image from article.

Lexicon – Diplomatic wordlist - Ism Khan, multipak: "Beer diplomacy can be defined as 'as aiming to cool temperature between two parties by calling them for an informal session.' However, beer diplomacy is one of the many novel ways of engaging in dialogue. Not only in U.S., but in other countries around the world too, there were some informal terms which were coined in to refer to a way of dealing with the issues. Setting aside the formal terms like public diplomacy, preventive diplomacy or coercive diplomacy, here’s an interesting list: Big stick diplomacy … Cowboy diplomacy … . Cricket diplomacy … . Dollar diplomacy ... . Gunboat diplomacy … . Mango diplomacy … . Panda diplomacy … . Ping-pong diplomacy … . Shuttle diplomacy … . Sports diplomacy … . Track-II diplomacy … . Track-III diplomacy."

CPD in Washington: A New Public Diplomacy - USC Center on Public Diplomacy: Monday, Sep 14, 2009 6:30 PM Venue: Newseum, Washington DC Knight Conference Center 6th Street Freedom Forum Entrance 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20001 The USC Center on Public Diplomacy is proud to host an evening at Newseum to consider 'A New Public Diplomacy.' The evening will begin with a panel discussion to celebrate a new book, Toward a New Public Diplomacy: Redirecting U.S. Foreign Policy, and a new book series, The Plagrave Macmillan Series in Global Public Diplomacy. … Toward a New Public Diplomacy explains public diplomacy and makes the case for why it will be the crucial element in the much-needed reinvention of American foreign policy."

Indian "Peace Corps" - Can it be an effective Public Diplomacy tool for India? - Madhurjya Kotoky, The Public Diplomacy Blog: "India, with its resources, know how and skilled personnel can definitely play a role in helping countries in the neighborhood by sending trained volunteers overseas."

Tearing Down Old Kashgar: Another Blow to the Uighurs - Ling Woo Liu, The China Blog, Time: Comment by johnsmith9876: "China's Ambassador to the UK, Fu Ying, (formerly Ambassador to Australia) thinks China needs to do more on the public diplomacy front. In a recent interview with Xinhua she said: 'No country in this world is perfect, and China also has its own problems at the current stage of development, thus through public diplomacy, we should make the outside world not only learn our achievements, but also our active attitude in facing and resolving our problems,' said Fu. But she is totally mistaken, and have an ulterior motive in trying to convince us otherwise. Everyone knows China's 'active attitude in facing and resolving' problems. Just take the riots in Tibet and Xinjiang as example. It is cover up, cover up, name calling, lying, blaming others for the trouble, arrest the innocent and promote the guilty." Fu Ying image from

Israel's Turkish-born consul-general to start office in İstanbul next month - Today's Zaman - "Ambassador Moshe Kamhi, who previously served at the Israeli Embassy in Ankara as a senior official, is expected to begin work in İstanbul in mid-August. … He said his appointment to the top Israeli state job in İstanbul would contribute to Israel's public diplomacy efforts to improve its image among Turks."

Land of a million vending machines – Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Today we went to the US Embassy [in Tokyo]. We hopped the metro down to the embassy in the absolutely sweltering heat. In the best public diplomacy move, the embassy had a box of give-away fans done up with American flags. Public diplomacy of the deed in full force. In full irony, the flag fans were made in China. We received a lecture from the Embassy staff on the various positions at the embassy, and a little about about what brought the staff to their respective positions. I asked the public diplomacy chief about the embassy's pub d outreach using new media technology and social networking." Image from

50 Years Later: The American National Exhibit in Moscow - "To mark the Sokolniki Exhibition — a milestone in U.S.-Soviet people-to-people cultural exchange — the George Washington University’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication hosted a full-day seminar titled 'Face-off to Facebook: From the Nixon-Khrushchev Kitchen Debate to Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century.'”


Tough on Israel: Why President Obama's battle against Jewish settlements could prove self-defeating – Editorial, Washington Post: The Pew Global Attitudes Project reported last week that Israel was the only country among 25 surveyed where the public's image of the United States was getting worse rather than better.

U.S. shifting drones' focus to Taliban: In Afghanistan, the military is moving away from targeting Al Qaeda in favor of stabilizing the country - Julian E. Barnes, Los Angeles Times: U.S. military leaders have concluded that their war effort in Afghanistan has been too focused on hunting Al Qaeda,

and have begun to shift Predator drone aircraft to the fight against the Taliban and other militants in order to prevent the country from slipping deeper into anarchy.Airborne attacks carry their own set of risks for the war effort. Afghan officials have repeatedly complained about civilian deaths resulting from airstrikes, and the Taliban seeks to make maximum use of such incidents' propaganda value. Image from article

Korea’s 'Peace Corps' Launched - Na Jeong-ju, Korea Times: The government launched a group of volunteers Thursday to strengthen its goodwill activities in underdeveloped or developing countries around the world in an effort to become a more responsible member of the international community.The group, named World Friends Korea, is the country's version of the Peace Corps in the United States, launched in 1961 to promote peace and friendship worldwide, officials here said.

The Power of Hospitality: When Russian circus performers were stranded by their promoter in Dallas, some welcoming Texans came to the rescue.

Don Teague reports
- CBS Evening News; image from

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July 29

"They destroyed the whole country, … So what are a few old bricks and mud walls in comparison?"

--Maytham Hamzah, the head of the Babylon museum, speaking about US forces in Iraq, and referring to the remains of King Nebuchadnezzar's guest palace in Babylon, one of the world's first great cities, which was turned into Camp Alpha, a US military base; image from

"Stratcomm includes far-forward outset engagements, née PSYOP in exigent AORs, to medium to longer-term state rebuilding or reacculturation efforts, to the most sophisticated types of cultural diplomacy and special operations in overseas markets, and it’s time to recognize it for what it is:

a vibrant and healthy continuum; a full orchestra loudly playing a cacophony from the same score, absent a conductor possessing a vision of the whole work."

--Larisa Breton, owner of FullCircle Communications, a strategic communications company, writing about “Superfriends and the Strategic Communication Continuum”; image from


Death of a Doctrine: Obama Discovers Engagement's Limits - Michael Gerson, Washington Post: "The Obama administration lacks a foreign policy ideology as a matter of ideology. … But even lacking an ideology, the administration does have a doctrine. The defining principle of President Obama's foreign policy is engagement with America's adversaries. Much of the president's public diplomacy has been designed to clear a path for such talks -- expressing respect for legitimate grievances, apologizing for past wrongs and offering dialogue without preconditions. Six months on, how fares the Obama doctrine? Concerning North Korea and Iran, the doctrine is on its deathbed." See also; Gerson image in the White House from

How Not to Reset - Jacqueline McLaren Miller, EastWest Institute: "Jacqueline McLaren Miller urges the U.S. to engage in a more concerted public diplomacy effort to offset Vice President Joe Biden’s injudicious remarks about Russia."

Building Confidence For Arab-Israeli Peace - Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Ian Millhiser and Nate Carlile, The Progress report, Huffington Post: "Having recently returned from a trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Brian Katulis wrote in his report that 'the window of opportunity for achieving a viable two-state solution is rapidly closing.' In addition to 'a tightly focused strategic communications effort directed toward building support for a two-state solution among Palestinians and the broader Arab world,' Katulis advocated better public diplomacy toward the Israeli public, writing That 'Washington needs to reassure Israel that it will continue to support its security and work to maintain a close bilateral relationship while also pushing forcefully for a two-state solution which it sees as in the best interests of the region.'" Katulis image from

Eagle's Eye: Hillary Visit – INFA, Central Chronicle: "One of the newest initiatives of Secretary Clinton during her visit [to India] was to go beyond traditional meetings with the Government officials and engage in over-arching public diplomacy. Significantly, she chose to land first in the nation's financial capital, Mumbai, and interacted with business tycoons, such as Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata."

Judith McHale and the White House Press Corps - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View:

"In what turned out to be a less than stellar encounter with the White House Press Corps on July 15, America’s new Public Diplomacy Under Secretary Judith McHale fell just short of flat on her face during the Qs and As. … It seems to me that until McHale gains a firmer grasp of the basics of her own portfolio, the White House – and the State Department for that matter – should think carefully about her engaging in a similar high stakes media rematch any time soon." Image from

Perspectives: Farah Pandith and US engagement with Muslims - Anja Manuel and Ahmed Charai, Pakistan Christian Post: "In July 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named Farah Pandith the Special Representative to Muslim Communities. It is a historic step. Pandith's experience – and the new responsibility she is taking on with this role – signals that US President Barack Obama's administration is serious about a nuanced approach to engaging Muslim communities around the world. … It is by basing American policies in the Muslim world on democratic values that Pandith is most likely to succeed in her public diplomacy mission. At present, American assistance and support often benefit autocratic regimes."

Is Anti-americanism A New Phenomenon.

Or Did The Wot Just Bring Out The Haters That Were Always There?
– MMHKD, Qatar eTrade Educational Software: "If Muslims truly believe that their long winter of decline is the fault of the United States, no campaign of public diplomacy shall deliver them from that incoherence." Image from

Public Diplomacy 2.0… - Paul Gibbins, Albany Blog: "[T]hat Twitter has been deconstructed so carefully for use by government departments suggests that it is now (finally) okay to tweet. Once the preserve of celebrities stuck in lifts, it’s now an acceptable tool of communication in the execution of ‘Public Diplomacy’; twitter has truly come of age! Although a survey on LinkedIn recently concluded that in the US, ‘advertisers believe much more highly in the importance of Twitter than the average consumer, of the 2,025 U.S. adults surveyed, 69% said they didn’t know enough about Twitter to comment on the service.’ Contrast this with Congress near obsession with it! … Whatever the results of the Government’s guidelines, it can’t be faulted for not trying at digital diplomacy. Be it a domestic or international audience, politics is about communications and all politics is local, it now happens to be 140 characters and on-line..!"

China's new Arabic TV station – Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: "Whatever the case, the rush of America's great power competitors to launch Arabic language satellite television stations is a marvel to behold. America's al-Hurra has been a hugely expensive sinkhole which has had virtually no identifiable impact on Arab public opinion. But instead of happily watching the U.S. throw its money away, all of its great power competitors have instead opted to throw their good money down the same mine shaft, thus helping to erase the relative costs of the endeavor (in relation to U.S. competitors, at least, if not with regard to other possible public diplomacy or foreign policy initiatives). Success!" Lynch image from

House resolution to establish Gandhi-King Scholarly Initiative - Indian Express: "A Congressional resolution has been introduced in the US House of Representatives to establish 'Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative' focusing on peace and non-violence in global conflict resolution. The initiative is being established in the name of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr - the two apostle of peace. The resolution introduced on July 24 by Congressman John Lewis and co-sponsored by seven others. Sent to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs for necessary action, the House Resolution No 3328, implies on the US Secretary of State to work with the appropriate Indian agency to start the 'Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative'. The initiative shall be comprised of educational, scholarly, and professional exchange programmes, including an annual public diplomacy forum for scholars from the US and India that focuses on the legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, which shall be held alternately in the two countries and include representatives from governments, non-governmental organisations, educational institutions, cultural organizations, and civic organisations."

State Dept. Program Provides Professional Development to Visiting Artists – Ben Burdik, Artsblog: "How important do you think cultural exchange is to diplomatic relations between the U.S. and other countries?"

Jack Josephson on a CPAC Historical Perspective - Cultural Property Observer: "At the IFAR [International Foundation for Art Research] Panel (see below at ), Jack A. Josephson provided a historical perspective about the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) and its role at the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Mr. Josephson … served as CPAC's Chairman from 1990-1995. He currently serves as IFAR's Chairman. Josephson provided a brief historical overview about looting and the UNESCO Convention before turning his attention to the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA). He noted … The law is very specific on the requirement that public diplomacy by the State Department must be invoked in order to prevent the dispersal of embargoed cultural property to markets in other countries, thereby simply transferring sales overseas." Image from

Public Diplomacy in every day life - Mahtab Farid, From Washington to Tehran: A New Perspective On U.S. Iran Relations: "The practice of public diplomacy should not just be used for crisis. The practice of public diplomacy should be weaved into our lives. Just like learning a new language or learning how to play a musical instrument, the learning of public diplomacy should start at the early age. Yes, public diplomacy started from my classes in High School and continues to play a role in my complicated profession of journalism."

More History On A Murrow Obsession - Alvin Snyder, Newswire – CPD Blog & Blogroll – USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Edward R. Murrow's famous remark about the importance of 'the last three feet' to bridge personal contact was not unexpectedly raised at last week's conference that I attended at George Washington University, on the 50th anniversary of the Nixon-Krushchev 'Kitchen Debate' at the 1959 U.S. Exhibition in Moscow. But few may know that Murrow raised the last few feet issue informally, and more than once, with colleagues at CBS News in New York long before he uttered them as director of the U.S. Information Agency." Murrow image from

Will Obama Make Expanded Powers of the Military Permanent?Isaac-Davy Aronson, The Faster Times: "The encroachment by the Defense Department onto the turf of the State Department and the intelligence community in the planning and execution of the Iraq War and in counter-terrorism operations is well-known. But it’s also true that the expanded role of the military in those areas - in other words, an expanded role in diplomatic and law enforcement arenas - is incredibly hard to walk back, even if the Obama administration has a mind to do so. This might give pause not just to civil libertarians but to anyone concerned with preserving oversight and institutional checks on government operations. The Washington Post’s Walter Pincus writes today that several Congressional committees are sounding alarm bells over Pentagon communications programs - 'that until recent years had been the sole province of the State Department’s public diplomacy effort' - that have ballooned from nearly $10 million to nearly a billion in the last 4 years."

Wargaming the Future Maritime Environment -, Strategic Communications: "All of the cells considered effective strategic communications – defined as the sum of all actions and messages (intentional and unintentional) influencing target audiences – as an integral part of any successful U.S. strategy. An important corollary was that the Navy had to develop and disseminate coordinated and consistent strategic communications.

Thus, to be successful, the Navy must establish the ability to design and implement a standardized process at the Navy component commander level for effectively coordinating maritime actions and messages so as to convey consistent U.S. government purposes and objectives. Very wise words, but this is an enormous topic and really is a sea change for the Navy in terms of how they manage information. If you read it carefully you will note the intent is to develop information as an extension of naval activity with the intent of linking that activity to a public diplomacy effort. I think the strategic communication model the wargame suggests is needed would drive the Navy towards the return of naval diplomacy in the information age." Image from

Our "Strategic" Communications Policy: Watch What I Say, Not What I Do - Bill Leonard, Informed Consent: Spotlight on Excessive Government Secrecy: "When I served in the Pentagon as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Security and Information Operations … we advanced a concept known as 'shaping the information environment.' Upon reflection, to think that as a nation we could 'shape the information environment' as opposed to being shaped by that environment ourselves was both arrogant and foolhardy.

It's as if we believed we could repeal the law of gravity. Unfortunately, based upon results on the ground today in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, 'strategic communications' continues to be primarily viewed by our government through the prism of 'spinning' the news in order to show U.S. goals and objectives in a favorable light and those of our adversaries in a negative manner. However, much to my frustration, both then and now, such a 'strategy' fails to recognize that the best strategic communication plan is often the simplest, i.e. 'watch what we do, not what we (or the adversary) say.'" Leonard image from

Guest Post: Superfriends and the Strategic Communication Continuum - Larisa Breton, "Americans already enjoy the gentle second-and third-order effects of an imported comic pantheon from Marvel Comics’ 'The 99', courtesy of private (or semi-private) commerce. … This development coincides with an evolution point of strategic communication (née public diplomacy) that is worth examining."

Crafting Israel’s Image - Sharon Udasin, The Jewish Week: "[I]n New York, however, the man most responsible for changing Israel’s image is David Saranga, who is completing his four-year tenure next month as consul for media and public affairs at the Israeli Consulate. As his term winds down, Saranga, a Foreign Ministry diplomat, sits down with The Jewish Week to discuss Israel’s branding progress. … [Saranga:] We were the first country to use Web 2.0 for public diplomacy. Regarding showing the normality of Israel, last fall, The New York Times dedicated three different articles to Tel Aviv as the next hotspot in culture and tourism.We brought our message to the masses via social media, sometimes bypassing the conventional media. The best example is the Twitter press conference that we conducted during the war in Gaza."

We've made huge strides, but China's influence has its limits: China needs to do more in terms of explaining its story, writes Fu Ying - "As China's relations with the world grow, the opportunities and challenges in terms of public diplomacy also increase. In recent years, Chinese leaders and diplomatic missions have made greater efforts in this area. Chinese people travelling, studying and working abroad have also played a role. Fu Ying is Chinese Ambassador to the UK." Fu Ying image from

The Guinea Pigs of G-Force: They Taste Like Chicken But in 3-D – Ruben Rodriguez, National Geographic: "For thousands of years, guinea pigs (or 'cuy') have been an important food/religious/tourist-shocking staple in Andean mountain culture. So entrenched are the critters in Peruvian history, you can find churches with artistic depictions of the Last Supper featuring Jesus and his disciples noshing on them. Sadly, Biblical archaeological evidence on the veracity of Jesus eating guinea pig is scant. But really, all things considered, who can argue as to why 'guinea is good' given the rousing endorsement by Alejandro Riveros, former head of public diplomacy for the Embassy of Peru: 'And it's tasty.'"

Jakarta-Opening Week – Steph, Indonesia: Traveling The Islands: "Arrived in Jakarta safe and sound. … We … had an interesting dialogue with the [Indonesian] Director General for Information and Public Diplomacy. He made sure we wouldn’t do drugs or have sexual relations…or what he called 'good things'. Also he wanted to make sure we understood the nature of this 'Cultural Diplomacy' and how we were to use it in our respective countries. He didn’t want us to stay in Indonesia after the program, as past awardees have done, but rather go back home and spread the Indonesian message. (So I’m still unsure of what will happen to me after this!)"

Eating Jello with Chopsticks – Paul Rockower, Levantine:

"My moment of zen came early this morning, over breakfast in a cafeteria full of Japanese students. … The aforementioned moment of zen came as I had desert, a bowl of jello squares that I ate with chopsticks. Yes, it is as hard as it sounds. Eating jello with chopsticks requires concentration and patience- necessary skills for all public diplomacy samurai." Image from


US pulls the plug on ticker in Cuba: Sign flashing human rights messages at the US interests section in Havana goes blank – Rory Carroll, Guardian: It was smuggled through the US diplomatic pouch, secretly installed across the facade of a building overlooking Havana and given a very specific mission: to annoy Fidel Castro. The scrolling electronic sign, a low-tech version of New York's Times Square ticker, escalated the US's propaganda war with Cuba's leader three years ago by flashing human rights messages in five-foot high crimson letters. But history, or more specifically Barack Obama, appears to have pulled the plug on the billboard which flitted across 25 windows of the US interests section in Havana. The screen has gone blank - the latest indication that half a century of enmity may be winding down. Via; see also (1)(2) Image from

The Obama Soft Power EffectRen’s Micro Diplomacy: Pew Global Attitudes Project recently released a new report that documents the change in global opinion towards the U.S. since President Obama has taken office. If you are feeling adventurous, check out the full 203-page report, but if you are pressed for time, the sideshow with commentary will give you the broad strokes. For me, the most compelling data show the difference between Bush and Obama in terms of how confident people are that either will make the right decisions.

"Captain Euro is tripe" and other grumbling about EU "propaganda" - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Indian government wants international channel modeled after BBC, or Al Jazeera, or CCTV... - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

How We’ll Win in Afghanistan: Gen. Petraeus knows how to defeat an insurgency. But he will need congressional support – Bing West, Wall Street Journal: A year from now, coalition forces should be able to gradually withdraw, replaced by robust support and adviser units embedded in Afghan security forces. We shouldn’t make this a NATO war, allowing the Afghans to stand back. We’re outsiders, no matter how many schools we build or cups of tea we drink. Image from

Going past Ghana: What Obama can do in Congo: The U.S. must look beyond stable, democratic Africa to the nations torn by poverty, war and corruption. In Congo, that means a special envoy, more aid and help with a deal with China
- Helen Winternitz , Los Angeles Times


Ms. [Dayana] Mendoza, who competed as Miss Venezuela, has a blog on the pageant’s Web site, and here’s what she wrote last Friday [in March 2009], after her deployment:

This week, Guantánamo!!! It was an incredible experience.

We arrived in Gitmo on Friday and stared going around the town, everybody knew Crystle and I were coming so the first thing we did was attend a big lunch and then we visited one of the bars they have in the base. We talked about Gitmo and what is was like living there. The next days we had a wonderful time, this truly was a memorable trip! We hung out with the guys from the East Coast and they showed us the boat inside and out, how they work and what they do, we took a ride around the land and it was a loooot of fun!

We also met the Military dogs, and they did a very nice demonstration of their skills. All the guys from the Army were amazing with us.

We visited the Detainees camps and we saw the jails, where they shower, how the recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting.

We took a ride with the Marines around the land to see the division of Gitmo and Cuba while they were informed us with a little bit of history.

The water in Guantánamo Bay is soooo beautiful! It was unbelievable, we were able to enjoy it for at least an hour. We went to the glass beach, and realized the name of it comes from the little pieces of broken glass from hundred of years ago.

It is pretty to see all the colors shining with the sun. That day we met a beautiful lady named Rebeca who does wonders with the glasses from the beach. She creates jewelry with it and of course I bought a necklace from her that will remind me of Guantánamo Bay :)

I didn’t want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful.

FROM: Miss Universe Visits Guantánamo Bay, New York Times (March 30, 2009); see also John Brown, "Welcome to Guantanamo’s Exercise Program!", Selves and Others

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

July 28

“I've listened to IO people talk about Strategic Communications, and no one has a clue what it actually means because it actually doesn't mean anything.”

--Jeff, The Bling Cycle; image from


Ideas Matter: Restoring the Content of Public Diplomacy- Robert R. Reilly, Special Report #64, Heritage Foundation: "U.S. public diplomacy is generally acknowledged as a failure--an especially egregious one since 9/11. By all accounts, we have been absent from the battlefield of ideas. … [T]he main reasons for failure stem from intellectual confusion regarding what it is we are defending and against whom we are defending it. … Now we are in [a] struggle … against Muslim radicals who assert a perverted standard of faith as the litmus test for life or death: Share it or die. They serve an angry god who demands human sacrifice, first from other Muslims who do not subscribe to their darkness and then from us. … It is at the level of principle that the United States must first defend itself against the new barbarians.” Image from

Obama's faltering peace drive: The US president is pressing hard to kickstart the Middle East peace process – but can he make change a reality? - Simon Tisdall, "[US envoy George] Mitchell, who has promised an inclusive peace agenda by the end of the summer, is urging them [Arab countries and Palestinians] to make … confidence-building gestures. These could include Israel-Arab overflight agreements, the opening of interest sections, visa and trade relaxations, and cultural exchanges. An unusual piece of public diplomacy published in the Washington Post recently by Bahrain's crown prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, marked one such tentative effort. 'We must stop the small-minded waiting game in which each side refuses to budge until the other side makes the first move,' he wrote. But waiting for someone else to jump first is precisely what key players Saudi Arabia and Syria are doing now, adamant that Netanyahu must give ground, politically and physically, before they move."

Obama’s YouTube Diplomacy Redux - Bruce Etling, Internet & Democracy Blog: "Ben Smith at Politico has followed up on last week’s news that Obama’s Nowruz message to the Iranian people is one of the White House’s most popular YouTube videos. … The timing of the video around Nowruz was also wise since any message directly before - and most certainly after - the election would have been cited by Iranian conservatives as meddling in Iranian politics. As Smith writes in his original post about the video’s popularity: That’s a remarkable success for public diplomacy, and an end-run around state-controlled media." Image from

A Russian Fairy Tale Of A Future Yet To Come - Get a Grip!: "Joe Biden's flap-tongue-without-brain-engaged effort at public diplomacy didn't perturb the Geek alone. Not by a long shot. The Russians were not delighted either. No surprise there. The only slight surprise comes from the dearth of criticism from the Right which seems ever poised to leap on the slightest administration mis-step--provided, apparently, that it is on the domestic front only." On Biden's statements, see below "Related Items."

Human Rights in China: Public Diplomacy - The CIA Memory Hole: "The U.S. government aims to influence the hearts and minds of progressive-minded Chinese educated elites through its public diplomacy programs. According to the Department of State, nearly half of all PRC citizens participating in educationaland cultural exchanges in the United States are engaged in activities related to democracy, human rights, and religious freedom.

Both the Fulbright Scholarship and Humphrey Fellowship exchange programs devote significant resources for rule oflaw studies. The U.S. International Visitor Leadership Program sponsors U.S.speakers to travel to China to discuss rule of law issues and brings PRC counterpartsto the United States. In 2007, 398 U.S. citizens and 552 PRC citizens participatedin U.S. government educational and cultural and exchange programs with China." Image from

The complementary deficiencies of VOA and RFE/RL - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "Audience research (and I have seen a lot of it) indicates that where audiences for international broadcasting are large, the audience is interested primarily in news about their own country, but also to a large extent in news about the rest of the world, and to a more limited extent in news about the broadcaster's country. The station that provides news in the desired ratio, with the most resources and most credibility, wins. BBC World Service is famous for the news that it provides about its target countries, but also for its global news coverage. Somehow they manage to pack both into the convenience of one station. US international broadcasting, for its budget of 668 million dollars, has an all-media weekly audience of 175 million. The BBC world services, for their budget of 416 million dollars, have an all-media weekly audience of 233 million."

More about CCTV Arabic and the "scarcity of attention" - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: If Alhurra is merely 'part of a public diplomacy campaign,' then it would be in the same category as CCTV Arabic." On CCTV, see. On Alhurra, see.

Khanfar: Obama has opened a window of opportunity - Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: "Americans should not view al-Jazeera simply as a hostile presence in the Arab political arena or or the source of its image problems. Nor should they view it only as a possible vehicle for public diplomacy and spreading American messages, though they should certainly take every opportunity to be on its programs and engage. They should also listen to it, to the raucous talk show arguments and the dominant narrative frames and the voices of the Arab public which it presents. Those arguments won't end, and that's a good thing --- and better to be in that argument rather than pretending it doesn't exist." Image from

Presenting Hip-Hop Artists From Argentina, Lebanon, The Palestinian TerritoriesNews Blaze: "The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts present hip-hop artists from Argentina, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, the Philippines, and Vietnam in a free performance on the Millennium Stage, Tuesday, July 28, 2009, at 6:00 PM. As participants in ECA's Cultural Visitors Program with the Kennedy Center, these artists are concluding a cultural exchange program that included visits to New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC."

Congressional Committees Raise Concerns Over Pentagon's Strategic Communications - Walter Pincus, Washington Post: "The Pentagon spends nearly $1 billion a year on its strategic communications, its contribution to the 'war of ideas' that until recent years had been the sole province of the State Department's public diplomacy effort. … The House Armed Services Committee said 'online strategic communications,' such as Web sites now run by the Defense Department in the Balkans and North Africa, 'are essential tools for the department to effectively counter the violent extremist groups abroad.' It described the Pentagon as 'overly cautious' in its approach, for fear of violating the law that prohibits films and articles produced by the State Department from being circulated in the United States. The committee said the Pentagon should conduct a new legal review of that law, which it said applies only to the State Department, and expand its online media operations even if they can be accessed in the United States by American audiences. Image from

House Appropriations Concerned Pentagon’s Role in Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: "[U]ntil the recent year, the leadership at the State Department was out to lunch. From the Secretary of State to the Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy (James K. Glassman excepted), very little effort was made in the areas of a) funding the diplomatic corps, b) enhancing and expanding public diplomacy, and c) embracing the modern information environment. … Only now with President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, Under Secretary McHale, Special Advisor Alec Ross, and a host of others is State getting into position to handle the roles and responsibilities required to simply participate let alone win the current and future struggle for minds and wills. But State isn’t ready, not the least of which because McHale is getting the public diplomacy house in order and while Defense has had eight years to transform into a learning organization (as John Nagl, now of CNAS argues), the State Department hasn’t even begun to adapt to modern requirements."

National Security by Spreading Democracy? - Michael S. Rozeff, "Nicholas J. Armstrong of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism has come out with an article that is highly critical of the strategy of spreading democracy as Bush operated it. …

Armstrong mentions several criticisms of others: ‘...the use of aid packages, military force, or even public diplomacy can be costly with no guarantee of long-term success – as exemplified by the $10 billion per month cost of the improving, yet still uncertain democracy promotion efforts in Iraq.’” Image from

Eight Former Sec States Make the Case for More Diplomacy - Globo Diplo: "Read this [an article which appeared on 6/25/09] –a case for more diplomacy as a useful long-term investment, including training, personnel, and public diplomacy–written by Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger, Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice."

Nixon's Ghost Could Help Obama - O'Dwyer's Blog: Covering PR, public affairs, marketing and the world of communications - "The esteemed National Journal, in a piece penned before the President unwisely plunged head first into the Gates mess (sub req'd), suggests that Obama take a cue from President Nixon. The July 25 cover story doesn’t suggest that Obama secretly invade Cambodia or wiretap the headquarters of the Republican National Committee. NJ just believes an 'injection of Nixonian realism would do the President good.' The article notes that our 37th President was 'ruthless and profane and held few illusions about the world,' while No. 44 seems to be following in the footsteps of John F. Kennedy. JFK was a smooth talker and strong on the public diplomacy front, but failed to leave much of a mark on the international front." Image from

Public Diplomacy: From the Cold War to the Current Era, Part I - Darren Krape blog: "Fifty years ago this month, on a muddy rain-soaked field in Moscow, a glittering pavilion quickly rose and a massive geodesic dome swiftly took shape. After only a few months of hectic construction the 1959 American National Exhibition opened to a curious Soviet public. The exhibit provided a unique window on American life to the millions of people who filed through the event over the next few weeks. The visitors saw examples of contemporary American life, from cars to homes to art. Young American guides, many barely out of college, led the curious Soviet public through both the general American story as well as their own deeply personal stories of life in the United States and, in many cases, how their immigrant families became American citizens." See also.

The Changing Landscape of Business - Global Guru:

"Instead of promoting cutthroat competition, countries from around the world should come together to collaborate, and to make it easier for companies to collaborate across national borders. … [T]he US [should] work on its public diplomacy with India by importing ideas and talent to promote innovation, especially with regards to energy and healthcare." Image from

China's military cautiously tries out new openness - Lucy Hornby, Reuters: "[A] rare media tour of a Beijing military base on Tuesday [was] designed to show the Chinese military's modernity and openness. The People's Liberation Army's new mantra of transparency and public diplomacy is partly meant to reassure outsiders about China's rising military strength. 'The degree of openness is an expression of national confidence,' said security expert Ma Zhengang, president of the China Institute of International Studies."

Tenaru welcomes Taiwanese youths to schoolSolomon Star, Solomon Islands Leading Daily Newspaper: "Students of Saint Joseph Tenaru yesterday welcomed the Taiwanese Youth Ambassadors to their school. The Taiwanese youths will be here for two weeks under a new exchange programme between the two countries. … [School Principal Chris Rabaua] said the youth-oriented public diplomacy programme was initiated by Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou." Image from

Koreans Lack Cultural Confidence - Kang Hyun-kyung, Korea Times: "Foreign travelers staying at five-star hotels in Seoul have fewer opportunities to taste local cuisine than they do in Tokyo with Japanese food, as only four out of 18 luxury hotels here serve Korean cuisine. … Mametkulovs Mansur, a Russian actor who appeared in the MBC drama 'Queen Seonduk,' said Korea's inactive public diplomacy is probably responsible for the obscurity of Korean cultural products in his home country."

Goldberg Returns! - roy edroso, alicublog: "Jonah Goldberg is back from a European vacation, where I imagine he made Clark Griswold look like Bernard Berenson, to bring some life to The Corner with a breathtaking series of inane posts. … Eventually he is made to focus on the current events analysis that has justly made him famous. John J. Miller comes in complaining that from what he's seen, the new G.I, Joe movie doesn't have enough American military uniforms to suit him, not to fulfill Hollywood's historic mission of 'public diplomacy of creating goodwill abroad.' (I should think they'd be grateful to us just for the loud, ugly crap to watch on dates.) You know Goldberg couldn't resist this, and gasses about the commies in Hollywood trying to make our fighting men look bad, and in so doing makes a passing comment about the Bourne movies that spurs a reader to remark that the anti-American content is present in the Bourne novels as well."

Otto Reich’s propaganda factory still churning out the goods - Machetera:

"[T]he Op-Ed that appeared in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal under Roberto Micheletti’s signature was definitely not written by him. … [I]t was written by Otto Reich. … [L]et’s cast a critical eye back to 1985, when Reich was running the Office for Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean … [when he created] the kind of 'white propaganda' that earned Reich a slap on the hand by the Comptroller General of the United States, back in 1987, for violating rules against the use of federal funds for propaganda not authorized by the U.S. Congress." Image from


No Burqa For Clinton - Anne Applebaum, Washington Post: It is largely up to Clinton, not Obama, to determine what kind of secretary of state she will be.

Excerpts: Biden on Eastern Europe:

'What worries me most is they don't understand how to establish democracy’
Wall Street Journal' See also (1)(2). Image from

Britain’s propaganda offensive on behalf of Afghan war- Chris Marsden, World Socialist Website

Pakistan Radio keen on propaganda victories, not solution of problems – ANI, LittleAbout


Robert R. Reilly on moral relativism:

Moral relativism is inimical to the idea of justice, as it removes the epistemological ground for knowing the good. As Max Planck, the founder of quantum theory, wrote, “everything that is relative presupposes the existence of something that is absolute, and is meaningful only when juxtaposed to something absolute.” What happens if the absolute is absent? If what is good is relative to something other than itself, then it is not the good but the expression of some other interest that only claims to be the good. Claims of “good” then become transparent masks for selfinterest. This is the surest path back to barbarism and the brutal doctrine of “right is the rule of the stronger.”

The regression is not accidental.

Relativism inevitably concludes in nihilism, and the ultimate expression of nihilism is the supremacy of the will. Those who promote “multiculturalism,” another form of relativism, have chosen the surest way to the destruction of diversity, the very thing they claim to celebrate. The extent to which America has changed in this way is the extent to which it has lost its moral authority, both at home and abroad. Radical Islam has not done this to us; we have done it to ourselves. This is the real, internal crisis of public diplomacy.

The impact of this crisis on public diplomacy is manifested in the remarks of the publisher of Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review, former USIA foreign service officer John Brown:

To seek to define America through certain principles (“life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”) is all well and good, but to reduce the United States to a fixed set of ideas it “fights for” simplifies the complexity and changeability of the United States. In fact, what perhaps most characterizes the U.S. is that it contains a multitude of differing and evolving ideas, rather than permanent ideas everyone agrees upon. The notion of an American “war of ideas” is, therefore, an attack on ideas in the United States, as it implicitly limits their infinite variety.
The confusion in this statement is almost amusing in its doublethink: Defending ourselves is actually attacking ourselves. It places the American Founding on its head. In other words, we stand for nothing permanent except the idea that there is nothing permanent. This is manifestly absurd because it holds the self-contradictory position that the idea that there is nothing permanent is permanent and inherently worthier than its contrary. This leaves our military in the interesting situation of fighting and dying to defend the idea that there is nothing to defend—no “fixed set of ideas it ‘fights for.’” Image from

Robert E. Brown on Twitter:

One of my earliest posts to this blog about something I called ‘twitter diplomacy’. Last winter, amid the Israeli-Hamas skirmish over Israel’s retalliation over captured soldiers, an item appeared in the New York Times about social media. It seems that Israel’s communication managers were engaging the criticism of the nation’s allegedly “disproportionate” reaction (bombs away; civilians killed) to what Israel saw as Hamas’ aggression.

The very look of tweets — “Is” for Israel and far more bizarre and unintentionally ironic or absurdist verbal truncations to describe the fog of war –struck me as a blend of Orwell and Beckett. It looked like the language of diplomacy had been taken over by adolescents engaged in a game of “Doom” on X-box.

But at the same time I could see the sense of it. After all, it wasn’t what it resembled — tweens texting. The conversation — stacatto ping-pong — may have looked lightweight, but it certainly wasn’t. The back-and-forth was about life and death issues — ancient, modern, complex and profound. But on reflection, there was nothing inherently wrong or wrong-headed about conducting a conversation about those issues in tweets than in paragraphed op eds and communiques. Image from