Monday, August 31, 2009

August 31

“You can always pick it up.”

--Julia Child’s famous statement about a miss-flipped potato pancake; image from


From the Chairman: Strategic Communication: Getting Back to Basics, by Admiral Michael Mullen, Joint Forces Quarterly, issue 55, 4th quarter 2009


Peace will help keep Obama popular - Steven W. Barnes and Nadia Bilbassy, Daily Star: "Achieving gains in the [Middle East] peace process involves overcoming vast historical, diplomatic, and policy challenges, which cannot be swept aside by a PR campaign. But failing to engage in a strategic outreach initiative and conducting effective public diplomacy in the pursuit of policy interests does have consequences for peace." Article also appeared in Jakarta Globe (August 25). Image from

Home truthsThe News, Pakistan: "America seems to be going through a process of awakening, and gaining a more realistic sense of itself and how others perceive it in the process. It is difficult to comprehend the depth of hatred felt by many in Pakistan and across the world for the US. It finds its outlet in all manner of ways from flag burning to open warfare, and it is a hatred that has grown exponentially since 9/11. An early attempt to understand why America is so hated was made with the book titled ‘Why do people hate America’ (Sardar and Davies, 2001) and finds its latest exposition in an article originally written for the official military journal Joint Force Quarterly by none other than the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen. He writes that no amount of public relations exercises will repair the credibility of the US if American behaviour overseas continues to be perceived as ‘arrogant, uncaring or insulting’ — which it not infrequently is, whether it be by design or accident."

Mulling Mullen's Message: Admiral Mullen seems to believe that if America builds trust and delivers, then it will earn respect and admiration - and win its wars. But America’s wars are the problem, notes Nadia HijabMiddle East Online: "Reading about the essay by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I thought, at last! An American official who really gets it -- and the highest-ranking military officer, no less. At a time when the Obama Administration plans to invest heavily in strategic communication as part of 'winning' the war in Afghanistan, Mullen writes that what appear to be communication problems are actually 'policy and execution problems.'” Mullen image from

Top Ten Bloggables – Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: "5. Admiral Mullen’s strategic communication. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs just released a blunt three page article challenging the military’s new conventional wisdom on strategic communications. His bottom line — that words matter less than deeds — is no different from the top-line recommendations of dozens of reports on public diplomacy over the last few years. Everybody says that deeds matter more than words. But words do also matter — nothing speaks for itself, framing matters, and failure to engage in the public rhetorical battles would be disastrous. I suspect that his real target was the 'strategic communications' industry which has grown up remarkably in Pentagon circles over the last half decade. That really does need to be reined in, a I’ve written about often over the last few years and as Obama’s Pentagon and some parts of Congress have already begun to do. I’ll definitely have more to say about this!

6. The Rendon Group screening of journalists. Is anybody surprised by the revelation that the DoD was using a contractor to screen journalists for their coverage? I mean, next thing you’ll say is that they were paying to plant pro-U.S. 'good news' stories in the Iraqi press. I’d guess that this is only the tip of the iceberg. It will be interesting to see how the Obama Pentagon responds to this legacy – on his Twitter feed, the Pentagon’s new strategic communications guy Price Floyd says that screening journalists like this is 'not appropriate and doesn’t happen.' So what is appropriate, and what does happen?" Re the Mullen article, see also John Brown, Strategic Communications and the Graveyard of Empires, Huffington Post. Other related articles at (1) (2) (3) (4); Lynch image from

Iran’s War: who is Iran at war with? Bruce Clarke - "[D]id we miss an opportunity to use public diplomacy to support the recent Iranian protests against the election to create leverage?"

When No Means Yes: What Generation Y Leaders Can Learn From Michelle Kwan - Rosetta Thurman -- promoting next generation leadership for social change:

"Michelle Kwan has effectively given up a career as a figure skating champion to go to grad school and be a public servant. Here she was, a successful Generation Y leader in her field, who decided that she had to give up one passion - skating - in order to pursue her other passion for public diplomacy. She realized that she had to say ‘no’ to figure skating so that she could say ‘yes’ to a career in public service."

Independence, Peace and Economic Growth - Beijing Review: "Over the past 60 years, China's diplomacy has played an important part in upholding the country's sovereignty, security and development interests and in promoting world peace, development and cooperation. China has worked closely with other countries to address various international disputes in a responsible manner. It has vigorously conducted economic, cultural and public diplomacy and achieved fruitful results."

The fasting of a Catholic - Tropical Line/Gulf Investment, Portugal & UAE: "On 28th of August, on the SOL - Portuguese Newspaper - I saw an article with the title 'The fasting of a Catholic'. Ana do Carmo, public diplomacy advisor, started the Ramadan like a Muslim. For that, she asked help to Mr. Omar Suisse[,]teacher of Arabic Studies.

In this article she reported the first six days and all the difficulties. I want to say that I liked very much the article and I think that it is time to understand more about the Arabic culture and Muslim principles. Congratulations Ana do Carmo for your courage." Image from

Safire on Nixon, Khrushchev -- "They Were Deadly Serious..." [video] - Mark Taplin, Global Publicks: "In the second part of his comments about the Nixon-Khrushchev 'Kitchen Debate,' noted columnist and author William Safire talks about the broader context in which the showdown took place, pointing out that it is often forgotten today 'how close a race it was' between the two superpowers, since what now appears as the inevitable victory of capitalism and democracy was by no means so certain 50 years ago. Safire tells his audience at the GWU 'Face-off to Facebook' conference that the most important breakthrough of that Moscow Cold War summer was in fact in the realm of public diplomacy -- namely, that for the first time an American leader was able to speak directly, on television and radio, to the Soviet public." See also.


Lack of translators hurts U.S. war on terror - Rowan Scarborough, Washington Times: U.S. national security agencies remain woefully short of foreign-language speakers and translators nearly eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks resulted in a war on an enemy that often communicates in relatively obscure dialects, current and former officials say.

The necessary cadre of U.S. intelligence personnel capable of reading and speaking targeted regional languages such as Pashto, Dari and Urdu "remains essentially nonexistent," the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence wrote in a rare but stark warning in its 2010 budget report. Image from

Diplomacy in the Age of No Secrets: Today's quiet deal could be tomorrow's headline - L. Gordon Crovitz, Wall Street Journal: Diplomacy was once satirically defined as the patriotic art of lying for one's country. This approach is hard to sustain in a world that demands transparency. For diplomats, there's no negotiating around the fact that confidential deals today could be headlines tomorrow.


Environmental scientist Jennifer Jacquet poses they question, "Are You an Eco-Douchebag? The test is simple: read this sign ["Dear customers: Please be advised that our Bread Slicer is used for both Organic and Conventional items"] (recently photographed at my local Vancouver market, which is owned by Whole Foods) then gauge your response..." From Boing Boing.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

August 30

“What child is going to pick up ‘Moby-Dick’?”

-- Diane Ravitch, a professor of education at New York University; image from

"Syracuse University replaced its traditional Shared Reading Program with the Shared First-Year Experience, a program designed to encourage more participation among students. … [T]he reading program never achieved its intended impact. Many students simply did not read the book, said Sandra Hurd, associate provost and member of the Shared First-Year Experience Committee."

-- Syracuse University's The Daily Orange


PD 101 - Mark Dillen, Public Diplomacy, The World Affairs Blog Network: “At least one fairly breathless account claims that Secretary Clinton has begun to carry out a 'revolution'

in the way that the State Department does business. … I’m not sure that the Department needs community organizing skills so much as it needs to improve its communication skills. This means above all knowing your audience, so that government, media and publics all get messages that are consistent in terms of their content but at the same time tailored to suit their needs and understandings. … Consistent effort is required, not a revolution. Public Diplomacy 101.” Image from

Strategic Communications and the Graveyard of Empires - John Brown, Huffington Post: "So [to paraphrase Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke] 'whatever it is called' -- public diplomacy, or public affairs, or psychological warfare, propaganda or (if you really want to be blunt) strategic communications -- appears to be an essential element in the administration's 'necessary war' (as President Obama recently called it) [in Afghanistan]. Right? Not quite, if at all. Enter Admiral Mullen. In a three-page Joint Force Quarterly article that received considerable media attention this week, he made it bluntly clear that he's not fan of 'strategic communications.' 'Frankly,' he notes, 'I don't care for the term.'" See also (1) (2)

Charge of the ‘birther’ brigade - Anjum Niaz, "President Obama is sending [Robin] Raphel to co-ordinate US non-military assistance to Pakistan. Raphel and Patterson will soon be handed the ‘Strategic Implementation Plan’ (SIP) for Pakistan and Afghanistan. National Security Adviser James Jones is the author of SIP. He’s drafted it in such a manner that ‘there'll be accountability among departments and agencies, State, Defence and various parts of the intelligence community,’ an official says. … Ahead of SIP, set to unveil on September 24, arrived another Obama all-woman-A team-trooper in Islamabad. Her writ: to win over Pakistani media. According to New York Times, Judith McHale, the new under secretary of state for public diplomacy (and more) was told by a blunt journalist over a one-on-one meeting at a hotel in Islamabad, ‘You should know that we (Pakistanis) hate all Americans. From the bottom of our souls, we hate you.'" Raphel image from

The Other Side Of El Paso: Drugs, Violence And Social Media In Juarez City (Part I) – Chris Battle, Security Debrief: “We were in Mexico as part of a [State Department-sponsored] delegation brought in to meet with citizens, students, grassroots groups (NGOs, short for non-governmental organizations, to use the common bureacrateze) and Mexican government officials to talk about ways these folks could organize and make their voices heard, particularly how they might use social media tactics in their emerging public relations battle with the criminal class. … The $1.4 billion of the [USG-sponsored] Merida Initiative is largely going to training law enforcement and the military, to guns, bullets, choppers, bulletproof vests, high-tech surveillance and reinforced vehicles. … [A]n important sliver [of this money] is also going to what the folks in the State Department like to refer to as 'soft side policies' – legal reform, public diplomacy, and cultural engagement. … We were all led by Suzanne Hall, a young public diplomacy advisor from the State Department who referred to everybody as 'Dude.' Even in the plural, we were 'dudes.' In fact, when she showed up for the first round of official meetings dressed in formal attire and tossing about sparkling diplomatic tones, I momentarily freaked, certain I had wandered into the wrong State Department travelling delegation. She brought the kind of energy and cheer and insight that probably does more – day-in, day-out – for cross-national relationships than any given dozen of the plastic-grimaced formal photo-op sessions that dot the schedules of Washington assistant secretaries and far-flung embassy managers throughout the course of a year." See also. Image from

US Congressional Staffers Meet With Burma Opposition Leaders - VOA News: "Members of Burma's opposition National League for Democracy have met with staff members of a key U.S. congressional committee. The American officials arrived in Rangoon on Friday. They work for the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. … The U.S. embassy in Rangoon says the committee staffers are visiting Burma as part of a regional tour to assess U.S. public diplomacy and assistance programs."

Argument between American and Australian about the Merits of Warfare against Jihadistskelleyfranknr: “American states: C-G Kotzabasis, I'm speaking about the bosoms and heads issue.

There is a difficult nucleus of dyed-in-the-wool warlike jihadists with an sturdy Salafist ideology. They are not attending be shaken by USA public diplomacy, or by forseeable alterations in U.S.A. policy. They can simply be handled with forcibly. They must either be captured or killed, and their programmes must be disrupted.” Image from

Sister Cities: the quintessential and yet underappreciated public diplomacy program - Matt Armstrong, "Today, despite it’s [sic] impact, Sister Cities is underappreciated. Today, the over 650 US communities that partner with more than 2,000 sister cities in 135 countries do more than just student, culture, and art exchanges. The members of Sister Cities operate extensively in the areas of humanitarian assistance, economic and sustainable development, education, and technical assistance."

The 21st Century Family of Man: Photography as Public Diplomacy – Arts and Events calendar, University of Southern California: "Opening Reception Thursday, September 17, 2009 : 5:30pm … USC Annenberg celebrates the opening of a new exhibit featuring photographs by current Master of Public Diplomacy student Paul Rockower. 'The 21st Century Family of Man: Photography as Public Diplomacy' pays homage to 'The Family of Man,' an exhibition that opened at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1955. The exhibition’s world tour proved a tremendous public diplomacy success for America. On display in Rockower’s exhibit

is a 21st century interpretation of this successful instance of public diplomacy, echoing the richly textured chronicle of the human condition across the globe. The program will include remarks by Communication School Director Larry Gross; Philip Seib, director of USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy; and Director of the Master of Public Diplomacy program Nicholas Cull." Rockower image from

Obama Administration Seeks “Emergency Control” of the Internet - Tom Burghardt, Dissident Voice: "[T]he military’s newly-launched U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) is a 'subordinate unified command' overseen by STRATCOM. Would 'message force multipliers' embedded in the media or Pentagon public diplomacy specialists carrying out psychological operations (PSYOPS) here in the heimat, become the sole conduit for critical news and information during … [a] 'national emergency'”?

Kicking Bolivarian Butt in Bariloche [Argentinian city of Bariloche, site of the extraordinary meeting of the South American Nations’ Union (UNASUR] - Caracas Gringo: "After viewing the almost seven hours of redundant discussions televised from Bariloche, a few conclusions are possible: Colombian President Uribe Velez once again gave his South American colleagues a masterful lesson in public diplomacy and statesmanship. Uribe repeatedly made Chavez look like the fool he is." Image from

Art in Morocco's Embassy [in Germany] - Sonja's space: “Morocco 's Embassy and the man in charge, Embassador Rachad Bouhlal, hold by now derived the repute of running an ‘unfastened house’ and doing active public diplomacy. A span between the Mahgrib Realm and FRG is being constructed with art through regular exhibits. On Saint joseph, Embassador Bouhlal opened the exhibit, ‘Points of Position - an artistic Journeying in Morocco,’ by the artist grouping launched in 2002, ‘E6 - Emailkunst Rgen.’”


Mike Seeger: Musician, Educator, Entertainer, reservationist - Gary McDowell, Times-Dispatch: "When Mike Seeger passed away at his home in Lexington on Aug. 7, America lost more than a great singer and entertainer. The country lost one of its great cultural treasures. … I came to know Mike Seeger when I was at the University of London's Institute of United States Studies. The institute had established a very popular program on American music that had ranged from Scott Joplin to John Cage to Aaron Copeland. … An event was planned that would eventually include a conference and a concert. A cold call to Mike Seeger brought him enthusiastically to our aid. … Due to Mike's guidance, the program was such a success that the cultural office at the United States Embassy provided funding to host a follow-up concert the next year. … [T]he evening was a rousing success in terms of American cultural diplomacy -- and all due to the efforts of the inimitable Mike Seeger." Seeger image from

University overhauls first-year program - Jess Siart, SU The Daily Orange: "This fall's new Shared First-Year Experience centers on a performance by the Shen Wei Dance Arts group, a Chinese dance company that performed at the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. SU chose the group because it was an easy transition from its three-week stay on campus in the spring. … The residency was a result of cultural diplomacy students who were interested in researching the political response to Shen Wei's choreography at the Olympic performance."

Saving national treasures: Stuart Gibson rescues museums - Patricia Gay, Weston Forum: "As a senior cultural expert for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),

Mr. Gibson of Weston has traveled around the world, helping countries that are torn apart by destruction pick up the pieces. … As part of UNESCO, a politically neutral arm of the United Nations, in 2004, Mr. Gibson led a three-week workshop in Amman, Jordan. It was for the benefit of the directors and staff members of nine Iraqi museums, in an effort to help them assess their situations and develop short-, medium-, and long-term goals for their museums. … The workshop also served as an example of how cultural diplomacy and international collaboration can help countries foster a better understanding of each other, Mr. Gibson said." Image from

180 Indian folk dancers to perform at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre - Sify: "A troupe of 180 grassroot folk dancers will bring alive the traditional performing arts of India at the New Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow Sep 3. … Announcing the concert at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), director-general of ICCR Virendra Gupta said the festival was part of an initiative to promote cultural awareness and goodwill between the two nations that share historical ties. … According to Gupta, the next mega festival was the Festival of China of 2010 followed by two festivals of India in America and Canada. … ‘I will be going to China to finalise the schedule next month. The aim is to strengthen cultural diplomacy between both the countries,' Gupta [said]."

UAE, China to promote cultural heritage - Sadik Al Rumaithi, TopNews Arab Emirates: "Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by The Abu Dhabi Authority of Culture and Heritage (Adach)

and the Chinese Ministry of Culture, in connection with support to the mutual understanding and dialogues regarding their cultures and civilizations. Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman of Adach, said: 'Adach is now playing a key role in supporting creativity and promoting cultural dialogue, as well as implementing a strategy aimed at protecting the cultural heritage of Abu Dhabi.' He further mentioned that Adach aims at promoting cultural diplomacy." Image from

National Institute of Anthropology and History Says Culture, Key to Mexico's Foreign Policy - Art Daily: "Cultural heritage must be the letter of introduction of Mexico abroad: diplomacy based on this theme will boost all areas of economic interest in the country and impact employment generation.

This was pointed out by Alfonso de Maria y Campos, general director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and Javier Barros Valero, ex sub secretary of Foreign Affairs, during a debate organized to present the 85th issue of Revista Mexicana de Politica Exterior (Mexican Foreign Policy Magazine). 'In foreign policy, Mexico could use cultural diplomacy as designation of origin, since our vast and rich culture is an invaluable element that represents a comparative advantage to promote Mexico interests abroad, as cultural tourism' considered De Maria y Campos." Image from

Census: Ethnic data vital for Kenya culture - Sam Kiplagat, The Nation: "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said data on ethnicity is important as it will help market Kenya as a country of diverse cultures. The director of communication in the Ministry Prof Egara Kabaji said one of the its pillars on foreign policy framework was cultural diplomacy. 'The many ethnic communities found within our borders, each with its own language and cultural heritage is key component of this diversity,' he said."

Orchestras tripping the twilite fantastic - Franki Raden, Jakarta Post: "The Twilite Orchestra recently made its debut in the Sydney Opera House before a large audience, in what was the first performance by an Indonesian orchestra in Australia, a land whose culture is associated with Europe, where orchestral music originated.

This accomplishment by the Twilite Orchestra opened up new horizons for the acceptance of Indonesian classical musicians in the West. At the very least, the government that sponsored the event should be confident that these musicians can be both part of cultural diplomacy abroad and tools for promoting tourism, as was the case with the Twilite Orchestra." Image from article: The well-known De Concordia Symphony Orchestra performs in Batavia with their progressive conductor, Nico J. Gerharz in the middle.


Pentagon denies vetting journalists in Afghanistan - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Iraq’s Ambivalence About the American Military - Rod Nordland, New York Times: At the highest levels, despite the bluster and the perennial ill-feeling, Iraqis know they will remain dependent on the United States for a very long time, even after the internal insurgency is vanquished.

U.S. Sets Metrics to Assess War Success - Karen DeYoung, Washington Post: The administration's concern about waning public support and the war's direction has been compounded by strains in the U.S. relationship with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Facing their own public opinion problems, both appear increasingly resentful of U.S. demands for improved performance in the face of what they see as insufficient American support. Image from

The continuing debate about Europropaganda - - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

70 Year On: The Day We Declared War - Dennis Ellam; Adam Lee-Potter - DIG DEEP FOR PROPAGANDA. Propaganda was pumped out at a furious rate during the war. But the Ministry of Information appointed just one civil servant -- with a £20k budget - to the task. The first poster, to toughen resolve ahead of predicted gas attacks and bombing raids, read: "Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory." The second, "Freedom Is In Peril", followed soon after. The later, iconic message "Keep Calm And Carry On" still sells by the thousand every week, 70 years after it was commissioned.

Facebook and Twitter: Viral Propaganda Machines - Edward Mitchell, Coldstreams Business and Economy: "My daughter, a recent college grad, explained to me why she rarely used Facebook anymore - its [sic] become a 'viral propaganda machine' for spreading rumors and politics, she said. In the past day, I’d come to the same conclusion and plan to no longer make much use of Facebook (I logged in once or twice per day). I am not alone - a quick online search finds scores of long time and hard core users abandoning Facebook concluding that Facebook is mostly annoying, a waste of time, and hopelessly narcissistic. Interesting."

Facebook Exodus - Virginia Heffernan, New York Times:

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. Facebook, the online social grid, could not command loyalty forever. If you ask around, as I did, you’ll find quitters. One person shut down her account because she disliked how nosy it made her. Another thought the scene had turned desperate. A third feared stalkers. A fourth believed his privacy was compromised. A fifth disappeared without a word. Image from


Global Landscape, Explored at HomeNew York Times: The well-traveled Paul Theroux, recounting in Smithsonian his first drive across America:

"In the 3,380 miles I’d driven, in all that wonder, there wasn’t a moment when I felt I didn’t belong;

not a day when I didn’t rejoice in the knowledge that I was part of this beauty; not a moment of alienation or danger, no roadblocks, no sign of officialdom, never a second of feeling I was somewhere distant—but always the reassurance that I was home, where I belonged, in the most beautiful country I’d ever seen."
Image from article.


"If not with you, gentlemen, then against you. ... After us there is nothing, everything will be over ... Germany will be destroyed."

--The powerful head of the German Labor Front during WWII, Robert Ley, speaking to Ruhr mine-owners about getting out the coal crucial to German victory; cited in Mark Mazower, Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe (2008), p. 305

Saturday, August 29, 2009

August 29

“During one of my treks through Afghanistan, we lost our corkscrew. We were compelled to live on food and water for several days.”

--W. C. Fields; image from

"Frankly, I don’t care for the term."

--Michael G. Mullen, Admiral, U.S. Navy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, regarding “strategic communications”


1950s Cold War Propaganda: Security is Sense - with Marilyn Monroe


Adm. Mullen Elevates ‘Strategic Communications’ Debate Above a Third-Grade Level - Spencer Ackerman, Washington Independent: "For years, public diplomacy — and its uniformed cousin, ’strategic communications’ — has been discussed in Washington like a mantra: just find the most authentic ways of telling the 'story' of the United States or of particularly unpopular U.S. actions, and suddenly people will realize that they just misunderstood America and problem solved. Critics countered that the argument infantilized the people supposedly targeted by U.S. messaging, who had real problems with U.S. actions as judged through their own interests, and then tended to discount the entire enterprise as a cynical and stupid ruse.

(Some tried to recast public diplomacy as a national-security mission, but it’s not clear how the gains of that uphill bureaucratic battle have endured.) Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a surprisingly vigorous advocate of social media — he’s on Twitter a lot and is currently holding a YouTube town hall meeting — cuts through a stale debate in the new issue of Joint Forces Quarterly (PDF). His basic argument is that public diplomacy/strategic communications is both overthought and underthought at the same time: overthought in the sense of endless PowerPoints and staff lessons about how to spread an effective message and underthought in the sense of basic insights escaping those bull sessions. Mullen’s answer is to spend time and effort at building relationships — actual, interest-to-interest personal and policy relationships — with the cohorts that U.S. actions seek to influence. But that statement doesn’t imply an answer for what happens when the United States wants to influence a population cohort that doesn’t want an American presence. Image from

Adm. Mullen Weighs In On Strategic Communications In Afghanistan - Adam Serwer, Tapped: American Prospect Group Blog: "Spencer Ackerman takes a look at Admiral Mike Mullen's latest article on strategic communications in Afghanistan, and flags this quote: [']I would argue that most strategic communications problems are not communications problems at all. They are policy and execution problems. Each time we fail to live up to our values or we don’t deliver on a promise, we look more and more like the arrogant Americans the enemy claims we are … To put it simply, we need to worry less about how to communicate our actions than about what our actions communicate. ['] It's not just our actions--Mullen points out that the Taliban's ability to make good on its threats is a key part of their strategic communications, or as he put it, 'Each beheading, each bombing, and each beating sends a powerful message or, rather, is a powerful message.' I suppose it's axiomatic that terrorists are good at this kind of messaging, but worth thinking about in terms of what the U.S. is up against. For what it's worth, Richard Holbrooke's strategic communications team seems to understand this dynamic pretty well--at the briefing a few weeks ago, Holbrooke noted that the most effective message the U.S. could send would be to reduce civilian casualties caused by coalition forces."

US public diplomacy: an idiotic fetish - Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star: ”[An] example of sensible analysis and courageous honesty is this week’s article in Joint Force Quarterly by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. He sharply criticized US government efforts at 'strategic communication' with the Muslim world, noting that public relations alone will never generate the credibility the US seeks, if its foreign policy on the ground is perceived as arrogant, uncaring or insulting. 'To put it simply, we need to worry a lot less about how to communicate our actions and much more about what our actions communicate,' Mullen wrote. 'Each time we fail to live up to our values or don’t follow up on a promise, we look more and more like the arrogant Americans the enemy claims we are.' This is sensible and accurate analysis that Americans should listen to carefully, especially given its source. … The most recent example of that peculiarly American vortex where ignorance converges with pedantic arrogance and the crass distortions of special interest lobby groups was the recent creation of a bizarre new post in the US Department of State, the 'office of the special representative to Muslim communities.'” Image: Headphone fetish.See also (1)(2)(3)(4).

A question of identity: Abdel-Moeti Bayoumi tells Gihan Shahine that Muslims have to change their reality if the Muslim ummah is to regain its former worldwide esteem - Al Ahram: "Like many, [‘theologist’ Abdel-Moeti] Bayoumi believes that Obama's empathetic rhetoric has served the US by improving its image after long years of an unprecedented wave of anti-American sentiments. Former US president Bush failed to change America's image abroad despite investing millions of dollars in the establishment of the Al-Hurra TV satellite channel and programmes of public diplomacy. 'Arab regimes also benefited from Obama's clear mention of the fact that the United States will not interfere in the internal affairs of any Arab country, which means the US will no longer push Arab regimes to democratise and respect freedoms and human rights.' What Muslims gained, in Bayoumi's viewpoint, is perhaps the fact that Obama's pro-Islamic discourse, which showed unprecedented respect for Muslim culture and heritage, may help change the image of Islam in the West in the long run. Which, a sceptical Bayoumi quickly adds, 'remains to be seen'". image from article: Abdel-Moeti Bayoumi in his office; an archival photo of Al-Azhar religious classes

Why Africa Matters to U.S. Foreign Policy - Elison Elliott, Global Markets:

"I have postulated in the past that as the demographics of the nation evolves, so too will its foreign policy and international relations voice, values, priorities and objectives change. We’ve see that most recently in hos this president chooses to engage the world. Some call it 'smart power' or 'public diplomacy' as a paradigm shift. Other’s [sic] most recently have framed these changes in terms of ‘The End of Macho‘ or a decline in the underlying paradigms of Anglo-American or Eurocentric male dominance ethos in framing foreign policy issues and international relations. The sharp contrast, for instance, between George Bush – a semi-literate, go-it-alone, blue-blood, poker playing, red-meat eating, 'macho' Texan; and Barack Obama – a bi-racial, up from the bottom, community organizing, consensus building, wine-sipping, intellectually nuanced, constitutional law teaching, internationalist from the South side of Chicago, by way of Hawaii are excellent example of how demographic changes 'shift' foreign policy values and priorities. Image from article.

BBC and VOA as free news sources? - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "I'm not aware of any laws that require BBC (internationally) and VOA to distribute their content for free. BBC video archives are free for UK internet users, but unavailable to internatrional users. Note that there is generally no live stream of BBC World News. (One exception, for now, is You are supposed to watch via cable or satellite systems, for which you pay. VOA could use the same discrimination of IP addresses to make its content free for internet users outside the United States, but, because of Smith-Mundt prohibition aganst domestic dissemination, altogether unavailable to US users."

Remembering Ted Kennedy, and VOA, in 1978 USSR - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Friday round up: Boyer tapped as Europe DAS, Goldwyn in at State, Kennedy's staffers - Laura Rozen, Foreign Policy: "The Center for American Progress' Spencer Boyer starts Monday as the deputy assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian affairs, reporting to Assistant Secretary Philip Gordon. At State, Boyer will be focused on western Europe as well as public diplomacy and press relations for the whole European bureau. Before coming to CAP, where he specialized on transatlantic and European affairs and multilateralism, Boyer worked at international courts and tribunals in the Hague, Zurich and Paris." Image from

Wilson defends his low profile in Washington: `My job' is to work `aggressively' behind the scenes, ambassador says as he readies handover to Doer - Mitch Potter, Toronto Star: “[Outgoing Canadian Ambassador to Washington Michael Wilson] lavished praise on his replacement, calling [former Manitoba premier Gary] Doer 'the most active' of Canadian premiers on the U.S. file over the past decade, establishing high-level contacts that ensure he will arrive 'in a very strong position.' But however Doer shapes his role, Wilson said an essential element of the job will be leading the embassy's campaign of intensive public diplomacy to 'get that Canadian story out.' That part of Wilson's tenure didn't always make the radar, but not for lack of trying. Wilson said that while he 'felt no constraints' from Ottawa in dedicating a quarter of his time to giving speeches on bilateral issues of the day throughout the U.S., his words seldom made more than local ripples.

The Rigged Game - Caroline Glick, Bible Prophecy Today: "Israel has for years based its public diplomacy regarding Iran's nuclear weapons program on successive governments' assessments that given Iran's global reach and the threat it poses to global security, states will be more willing to act to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons than they are to acknowledge Palestinian terrorism which is employed almost exclusively against Israel. What Israeli leaders - including Netanyahu - have failed to recognize is that the antipathy of Europeans towards Israel is so great that they are willing to explain away Iran's nuclear weapons program because it is aimed first of all against Israel." Image from


The Richter Scale > Global Health B.O. = G.O.? - Stephan Richter, The Globalist: Coming to terms with a world where non-Americans are the true agents of change will take a great adjustment on the part of many. And it is fair to say that it will come as a surprise to Americans and non-Americans alike. But the odds are that, as the initial Obama fascination wears off, it will come to be the unwanted (and unexpected) hallmark of his presidency. Courtesy LB.

Karzai Using Rift With U.S. to Gain Favor With Afghans - Helene Cooper, New York Times

Nigeria: Clinton's Fall For Propaganda - Adeyemi Ishola, THISDAY: Lagos -- U.S Secretary of State, Mrs Hilary Rodham Clinton came to these shores last week. She came, she saw, but alas, she was conquered. Yes, propaganda got the better of her. And she fell. She swallowed falsehood hook, line and sinker.

What a pity. At a Town Hall Meeting held in Abuja, Mrs Clinton uttered what has turned a faux pas, an unguarded, misguided, misinformed statement, something not worthy of her position as America's number one diplomat: "The EFCC [Economic and Financial Crimes Commission], which was doing well, has kind of fallen off in the last one year; we will like to see it come back to business to be able to partner with us." Image from

Azerbaijani propaganda machinery malfunctions: NKR Nagorno Karabakh Republic] MFA -

Information-Analytic Agency Image from article

Yale's Misguided Retreat - Mona Eltahawy, Washington Post: In deciding to omit the images from a book it is publishing about the controversy sparked by Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, Yale University Press has handed a victory to extremists.

Friday, August 28, 2009

August 28

"Most post-modernist professors argue that truth is relative except when it comes time for tenure."

--Errol Morris, writing in the New York Times; image from


Message to Muslim World Gets a Critique - Thom Shanker, New York Times: "The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has written a searing critique of government efforts at 'strategic communication' with the Muslim world, saying that no amount of public relations will establish credibility if American behavior overseas is perceived as arrogant, uncaring or insulting. … 'To put it simply, we need to worry a lot less about how to communicate our actions and much more about what our actions communicate,' Admiral Mullen wrote in the critique, an essay to be published Friday by Joint Force Quarterly, an official military journal. … Admiral Mullen expressed concern over a trend to create entirely new government and military organizations to manage a broad public relations effort to counter anti-Americanism, which he said had allowed strategic communication to become a series of bureaucracies rather than a way to combat extremist ideology. … Members of Congress also have expressed concern about the government’s programs for strategic communication, public diplomacy and public affairs. Both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees have raised questions about the Pentagon’s programs for strategic communication — and about how money is spent on them." See also. Image from

Public Diplomacy And Public Drama In Pakistan - Rob Asghar, Newswire – CPD Blog & Blogroll, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "[Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith] McHale and the Obama administration as they attempt to extend the steady hand of fellowship while dodging verbal bullets … will have to bear in mind that Pakistanis’ recent expressions of disgust toward the U.S. are real but also paper-thin. Those feelings represent a sense of betrayal that will not disappear overnight, but which is not necessarily permanent. But Pakistanis also have their own challenge in moving from public drama to public diplomacy. Too much angry posturing by Pakistanis may not have the intended effect."

Rendon Group gives Public Diplomacy a Bad Name - PR Strategy and Application's [sic] Blog: "The Rendon Group is reported to have trained the members of the Iraqi National Congress on their intelligence. Many claim the Rendon Group was simply using perception management. … The downside of perception management is that is gets confused with public diplomacy. However, public diplomacy has or should have concern for the truth while perception management is about results, not truth. It is part of information warfare so everything is fair game. Public diplomacy, on the other hand, is aligning with public relations and should be based on truth—the ends should not justify the means. The actions of the Rendon Group raises ethical concerns as it gives an insight into a rather dark and disturbing application of public diplomacy and public relations." See also. Image from

US House delegation arrives in Burma - Mizzima News: "A three-member United States delegation arrived in Burma today as part of Washington's ongoing review of its public diplomacy and assistance program, according to diplomatic sources. The delegation of staff members from the House Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to visit Cyclone Nargis-affected areas as well as meet with non-governmental organizations, prior to their departure on Sunday."

VOL. V NO. 18, August 14-August 28, 2009 - The Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media

The State Department's Tech.Del: Can People Power Crush Mexico's Drug Cartels? - Nancy Scola, techPresident: "A State Department 'tech.del,' or technology delegation,

has been in Mexico this week exploring how U.S. tech companies can support people-to-people resistance against Mexico's destructive drug cartels. On the State Department's DipNote blog, public diplomacy advisor Suzanne Hall says the purpose of the trip is determine how America's technology can 'help Mexican citizens amplify their voices against narco-violence.' If that sounds crazy, it's worth remembering that (a) the U.S. hasn't found much success through the more traditional means listed above and (b) like violent thugs around the world, Mexican cartels themselves recognize the value of shaping public opinion through media, new and old alike." Image from

Troubling Signs On Foreign Student ApplicationsHeritage Foundation: "International graduate students are cooling on the United States a new study released this week by the The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) shows. … Countering this drop in foreign student interest will be important from the perspective not just of institutions of higher learning, but of U.S. public diplomacy as well — for which educational exchanges are a cornerstone."

More Calls to Artists - The Art League Gallery: "Arts in Embassies Program - Deadline: Rolling [.] Established by the United States Department of State in 1964, the Art in Embassies Program is a global museum that exhibits original works of art by US citizens in the public rooms of approximately 180 American diplomatic residences worldwide.

These exhibitions, with art loaned from galleries, museums, individual artists, and corporate and private collections, play an important role in our nation's public diplomacy. They provide international audiences with a sense of the quality, scope, and diversity of American art and culture through the accomplishments of some of our most important citizens, our artists. For more information and to submit artwork visit:" Image: "This is a glass laminated 'vase' by American artist Sidney Hutter. The [above] photo is the vase as it sits in a glass case on the piano inside Habib House, the U.S. Ambassador's house in Seoul, Korea. It is part of the 'Art in Embassies' program where U.S. Ambassadors being assigned to a country are invited to take American art with them to display in their homes."

Iraq Museum Damaged Again - Lamia al-Gailani Wehr, via the Iraqcrisis listhost, Safe Corner: "Speaking recently about the State Department's involvement in a site assessment of the ancient city of Ashur, a Public Diplomacy Officer remarked, ['] As the U.S. forces look toward our draw down out of the country, this is a great potential legacy that we can leave behind; showing that we took proper care of the ancient sites and history of the Iraqi people. When the security situation arrives at the point when there is an opportunity for wide-spread tourism, our good stewardship of these sites will pay off because we will have met the immediate needs to preserve these sites now.['] The danger is that if we do not recognize that taking proper care means worrying about security first and foremost, the legacy that we leave behind will be of a country whose heritage remains inexcusably vulnerable."

Al Jazeera statecraft: New media as public diplomacy tools - Philip Seib, Up Close Podcast

Telescopic Analysis Social reform and Human Rights: A heightened awareness of social issues, a shift in societal trends or triggered by international pressures/influence? -BPM- Asia Zone: "Qatar's National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) wants the law protecting women's rights to be reviewed. … This activity on the human rights front comes in an environment of international integration and global influence. Al Jisr project aimed at Public Diplomacy and Outreach devoted to the European Union and EU-GCC Relations notes that human rights forms an integral part of the EU’s Free Trade Area negotiations."

Naïve pan-Arabism in Washington - Michael Doran, Middle East Strategy at Harvard, posted at Roberto Scaruffi: "It’s about time we started building our strategies around the Saudis as they actually are rather than as we would wish them to be. ...

The writer served as Senior Adviser to the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the State Department." Doran image from

Video: The Joke’s On You: CNN Gulf War Propaganda -posted by sakerfa, "In the 1980s, officers from the 4th Army PSYOPS group staffed the National Security Council’s Office of Public Diplomacy (OPD), a shadowy government propaganda agency that planted stories in the U.S. media supporting the Reagan Administration’s Central America policies, according to FAIR." Below image from

Reagan Spawned Bush II Catastrophes - hungeski, Antemedius - Liberally Critical Thinking: "To muster support for invading Iraq, Bush published phony intelligence reports, like those claiming that Iraq was working with al-Qaeda. In that he followed the lead of Reagan, who, to gain support for aid to brutal regimes in Latin America, set up 'The Office of Public Diplomacy' to use CIA propaganda techniques against the American people, and who, to gain support for his military build up, edited radio transcripts to give the false picture that the Soviets willfully shot down civilian flight KAL-007."

Onion PD – Paul Rockower, Levantine: "As always, the nation's finest news source covers the best public diplomacy: Socialites Without Borders."


Joy of Jazz Cultural Exchange The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz (SBJoJ) -- which starts today in Newtown and runs until Saturday -- is introducing an American cultural exchange programme.

The programme, part of the festival’s 10th anniversary celebrations, will see the sharing of musical talent between South Africa and the US. Via. Image from

Military Prepares Profiles on Reporters Visiting War Zones - Ann Scott Tyson, Washington Post: The U.S. military in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere regularly assesses the content and tone of the work of individual reporters to prepare for trips and interviews by those reporters, according to defense and military officials. But the officials denied that the analysis has been used to exclude journalists from embedding with U.S. military units in combat zones or to bar them from interviewing military personnel. A controversy has arisen in recent days over media work performed for the U.S. military command in Afghanistan by the Rendon Group, a contractor that classifies the content of stories by reporters as positive, negative or neutral in relation to military objectives.

USA and USMC Counterinsurgency Center Blog: More Taliban Propaganda - Combined Arms Center Blog

Is the National Endowment for the Arts flirting with propaganda? - J.D. Tuccille, Given the large role the NEA plays in funding art (It has a $155 million budget this year -- a small sum in absolute terms, but one that makes it a major player in the arts scene), a successful effort to co-opt the artists it supports into propagandizing on behalf of the Obama administration's political agenda could, conceivably, be an effective way of shifting the national poliical environment. Then again, it might all be wasted effort. Totalitarian governments have long drafted writers, film directors, playwrights and musicians into pro-state efforts, ony to produce clunky tripe that left the audience both bored and more cynical than ever. People often know when somebody is trying to push their buttons. Ideology, ultimately, is no substitute for real art. Image from

National Endowment for the Arts promoting propaganda? – Barbara, Mommy Life: "I know some of you are very interested in the National Endowment for the Arts propaganda overture I reported on yesterday. This is a BIG story we are not hearing about from the Government-Controlled Media.” See also.

American-Russian Cold War Propaganda – John Foster, Accidental Mysteries: "It is quite revealing, in retrospect, to examine American-Russian Cold War propaganda. Time Puts Everything In Its Proper Perspective. In this post, I have gathered posters and other media visuals from both the former USSR and the United States, to see how each side portrayed the other. Somewhere between all of this lies a little strip of land called the truth, but it’s only through education, awareness and the questioning of authority that you will be able to find it." Image ("love the motherland!") from article.

The Four-Minute Men: American Propaganda in World War I - Martin Dula, American History: World War I saw not only the first total mobilization of whole economies, it saw the first total mobilization of national propaganda machines to control information and engender national support for the respective countries involved. Primarily in movie theaters during intermissions (it took about four minutes to change movie reels), it is estimated the Four-Minute Men, volunteer group of 75,000 speakers, made over 750,000 speeches to more than 314 million people. They also made appearances in churches, synagogues, labor union and lodge halls, diffusing various propaganda messages from the big city to the small town.


3,900 stimulus checks went to prison inmates - AP


“He [Hitler] sat down with Albert Speer on the bench under the trees outside his wooden bungalow in his Ukrainian headquarters. The tranquility was disturbed only by the Fuhrer’s low, hoarse voice as he predicted that the Wehrmacht would continue through the Caucasus into Iran and Afghanistan. ‘If in the course of the next year we manage to cover only the same distance … by the end of 1943 we will pitch our tents in Teheran, in Baghdad and on the Persian Gulf.”

--Mark Mazower, Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe (2008), pp. 205-206.

“As the Reich expanded and became an imperial power, Germany’s civil servants watched the confusion grow worse.”

--Ibid, p. 224.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

August 27

"The latest rumor is that President Obama is going to have dinner on Martha's Vineyard with Oprah Winfrey. ... That's right, ladies and gentlemen. The most powerful person in the free world is going to have dinner with President Obama."

--Talk show host Conan O'Brien; cited in U.S. News and World Report Political Bulletin; image from


While You Were Watching The Health Care Debate….Understanding Government: "…the U.S. secretary of state was changing the face of American foreign policy. That’s the takeaway from David Rothkopf’s Washington Post profile of Hillary Clinton, who has now been running the show at Foggy Bottom for nearly seven months. … Rothkopf calls Clinton’s agenda at State 'tackling the problems of the future — in particular, how America will lead the world in the century ahead.'

This kind of lofty prose won’t hurt Rothkopf’s access to top State Department staff in the years to come (though his assertion in the print version of the profile that President Obama had recently visited China might raise a few eyebrows). But the Post reporter digs deep and points out the strategic steps Clinton has taken to strengthen her position at State, and strengthen U.S. diplomacy itself, which was in dire straits during most of the Bush administration. Clinton, for example, has sounded 'the death knell for the G-8' in favor of a G-20 approach that will expand U.S. diplomatic reach; she has moved technology to the fore in traditional diplomacy (its role in public diplomacy, a focus at Understanding Government, is not addressed in the article); and she has fought to restore State’s budget and expand the role of special ambassadors-at-large on key topics like climate change and women’s issues." Image from

How to Save the U.S.-Japan Alliance - Bruce Klingner, Backgrounder #2308, Heritage Foundation: "The U.S. Should Urge Japan to [inter alia:] … .

Enhance public diplomacy efforts to explain the utility of an enhanced alliance to offset Japan's current acquiescence and timidity, which would lead to decreased influence in Asia. … Japanese policymakers have not defined a strategic vision to address the evolving world environment. Such a grand strategy must be accompanied by bold, effective leadership to mobilize public support for Japan's regional and global role."

El efecto Obama y la diplomacia publica de los EE.UU: de Bush a Obama (DT) - Marta Jimeno Viñes – real instituto elcano:
(2.1) Las estructuras de la Diplomacia Pública de EEUU
(2.1.1) Introducción
(2.1.2) Documentos de referencia
(2.1.3) Estructuras de la Diplomacia Pública a nivel nacional
( Glosario de términos
( Under secretary para la Diplomacia Pública y las Relaciones Públicas
( La Comisión Asesora de Diplomacia Pública
Funciones Composición Presupuesto Su mandato Recomendaciones de la Comisión
(2.1.4) Hoja informativa sobre Política Exterior
(2.1.5) Recursos destinados a la Diplomacia Pública
(2.2) Visiones de la Diplomacia Pública
(2.2.1) La Diplomacia Pública de EEUU
( Administración Bush
Líneas conceptuales de la Diplomacia PúblicaLos sucesivos under secretaries
( Administración Obama y Diplomacia Pública
El efecto Obama.
( Cuadro resumen de los under secretaries
(2.2.2) Diplomacia Pública en transición
La nueva under secretary de Diplomacia Pública." Report cited at

NAFSA and International Education Community Mourn Passing of Senator Edward Kennedy - NAFSA - "NAFSA: Association of International Educators is deeply saddened by the news of the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. … In 2004, NAFSA presented him with its Global Leader Award. 'Sen. Kennedy was untiring in advancing his conviction that international education is a critical tool for U.S. foreign policy, security, and public diplomacy efforts,' said NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Marlene M. Johnson." Below image from

Sen. Edward Kennedy - 'A great friend of Israel' - E.B. Solomont, Jerusalem Post: Jewish Agency Chairman and former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, imprisoned in the USSR: "Senator Kennedy was an important player both in public diplomacy and quiet diplomacy, and according to my wife, he also informed them about the steps that were being made through diplomatic back channels. I can tell you now that my wife knew some days before that I would be released, and Senator Kennedy was a crucial part of those negotiations." Image from

International china shop, Israeli bull - Colette Avital, Jerusalem Post: "The 'Swedish affair,' as everyone now calls it, is not about to dwindle and die, like the occasional weekly scandals tend to … . Last week's Aftonbladet article, which claimed that the IDF killed Palestinians and harvested their organs, was a slander piece indeed - one that none of us was willing to put up with. … Our foreign minister could, no doubt, have found a better way to deal with this issue without turning it into a political and public crusade. Voicing threats that the Swedish minister's visit might be cancelled, or that Swedish journalists will be refused entry into the country is both ridiculous and ultimately harmful. One lesson, to be learned from this story is that effective hasbara or public diplomacy should not be confused with heavy-handedness. After all, the proverbial bull in the china shop does not leave much behind him." See also. Image from

Iranian FM Mottaki invites Turkish counterpart to Iran – Yonca Poyraz Doğan, Today’s Zaman: "Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said that he invited his Turkish colleague, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, to Iran for a visit to take place in under one month. … Answering a question on whether he considers Turkey a mediator between Iran and the US, Mottaki said: 'Today, public diplomacy and different possibilities for expressing positions are there. We have very clear position towards the US. The results of the [George] Bush administration's policies in our region, whether in Iraq, Lebanon or Afghanistan, showed that the US needs some change. Now Mr. Obama says he is a man of change and that he would like to bring some changes to US foreign policy. I think everybody, in different parts of the world, wants to know what these changes are. What we are saying is, all the parties welcome changes to failed policies but the effectiveness of change depends on practical change, not a change in words.'”

Shri Vayalar Ravi addresses the Conference of Heads of Missions - Press Information Bureau, Government of India: “Shri Vayalar Ravi, the Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs asked Indian Heads of Missions to take a strategic, medium to long term view of the overseas Indian community and to take the initiative to transform the overseas community into an effective resource through sustained and consummate engagement to further India’s interests. … [Ravi:] ‘As India’s global profile grows, we need to use public diplomacy as an instrument of our active engagement with the world. The traditional areas of diplomatic engagement have to widen. We need to reach out to multiple actors and networks, and cultivate a nuanced understanding of new issues and newer contexts. In this perspective, you must recognize the overseas Indian community as a strategic resource for inclusive and effective engagement.’” Shri Vayalar Ravi image from

UN Reform: Don't Hold Your Breath - Ian Williams, Foreign Policy in Focus: "Public diplomacy has hitherto meant states influencing people. The best, and sadly faint, hope for genuine UN reform is concerned citizens influencing states, particularly the United States and other permanent members, through monitoring and lobbying."

公共外交 (public diplomacy) Public diplomacy (public diplomacy) – Duanjp, - Google translation of Japanese text mentions public diplomacy.

Vlugvoos, the Starr Report and the return of Che Pablo - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I had my Pub D Latin America class at 9am with Prof. Pam Starr. … We received an intro into the class, with Prof. Starr making it clear that the class was not a US foreign policy in Latin America course, but rather an examination of the public diplomacy of a variety of actors (state and nonstate) in the region and those with interests in the region. We would be examining the PD of the great powers like the US, middle powers like Canada, and regional powers like Mexico and Brazil, among the rest of the actors. Prof. Starr made a point that the perspective on regional heavyweights like Mexico can shift the perspective, ie Guatemala looks at Mexico in a similar fashion the Mexico looks at its bigger neighbor to the north. She also made a good point that for weaker states, PD is vital- the weaker you are, the more you need to rely on public diplomacy.

Also that the same pd tools create different outcomes in different places- this can be due in part to different cultures. She made a quote that I really liked, stating, 'culture is a consequence of shared historical perspective.' … [T]he Pew polls indicate a dramatic shift in attitudes in Latin America towards the US. What changed? President Barrack Obama and a change in American Public Diplomacy towards the region. A public diplomacy message by the US that there must be a better partnership and better communications- a message of respect and recognition that we have been arrogant in the past, but now we are going to listen and work with you on issues that are important not just to us, but to you as well." Starr image from

Masters in Public Diplomacy, Week 1Ren’s Micro Diplomacy: "…And we’re off! In PD history class we reviewed the first 9 pages of Cull’s 'The Cold War and the US Information Agency.' It’s a very succinct history of the major events in PD, and the lecture effectively explanded on the text. As for global issues class, we learned about things to consider when designing a PD plan. Here are questions to ask: What is program objective? Does everyone involved understand? What are the obstacles? Are there any cultural/political things to consider? Who are the stakeholders: within and outside the embassy? Who is the target audience? What’s the timeline? Are there any other events happening at the same time? Is the ambassador available? Are the stakeholders available? What resources are available: $ and personel? What are the indicators of a successful program?"


An Insurance Policy for the US-Russia Reset - Matthew Rojansky, Across the Aisle: "To allow stronger US-Russian affinity networks to develop, both governments must lower barriers to travel, particularly the cost, delay and uncertainty of the current visa system. Compared with visa-free travel opportunities to Western Europe and even many former Soviet states for Americans, the process for securing a Russian visa is arcane and onerous. With increased openness to travel can come more extensive educational and professional exchange programs, modeled on the successful Fulbright and Murrow exchange programs for teachers and journalists. Direct citizen diplomacy of this kind is needed to break the barrier of cynicism and distrust created by negative and distorted media coverage on both sides."

Russian delegation to visit Nevada farm Thursday - Marlys Barker, The Tribune: "A rural Nevada couple has been asked to showcase Story County and Nevada, when a delegation commemorating the 50th anniversary of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s 1959 visit to Iowa makes a return to the state.

Bill and Nancy Couser will host a visit of the 'Khrushchev In Iowa' four-day commemoration tour’s participants Thursday, Aug. 27. … According to a media release, more than 30 organizations will be involved in the commemoration event, which goes back to September of 1959, when Nikita Khrushchev came to Iowa in an effort to allow Iowans to showcase the power of agriculture, trade and citizen diplomacy, and to reach across borders and thaw Cold War tensions." See also (1) (2). Image from

Belfast Hosts Landmark Sister Cities Convention - James Brooks, Nation's Cities Weekly: "The hallmark of the sister city movement — from the original vision of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 to the present day — has been the power of citizen diplomacy to build peace and mutual understanding. That message was in full evidence as more than 400 delegates from around the world were received in the Northern Ireland Parliament Building at Stormont by the two individuals whose respective political movements were in armed conflict with one another for more than three decades. … This year’s conference marked a milestone for Sister Cities International; it was the first year since the founding that its annual convention was held outside the United States. Global themes such as sustainability and climate change represented a significant part of the program as did workshops relating to social cohesion, cultural identity and conflict resolution."

Political party defections: A perspective on Obama, Clinton African policy - John M Amoda and A. Eze Nwagbaraji, Vanguard: "Elections and the conduct of elected officials in government are now centre-piece of American African Policy, a development that highlights Nigeria’s Foreign Minister’s exposition of notions of citizen diplomacy." See also. Below image from

Nigerian Detainees in LibyaTHISDAY: "[W]e believe the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and especially the Nigerian Embassy in Tripoli should be more pro-active in matters concerning citizens’ interests in that country, especially ones that have to do with life and death. This call will only give the government’s 'Citizen Diplomacy' mantra its real utilitarian meaning. Our officials should not stand by and watch the lives of … poor fellow citizens waste in vain, no matter their offences."


Obama's "Empire Of Envoys" - Jon Ward, Washington Times: When President Obama took office eight months ago, he scoured the foreign-policy community in search of the brightest and best envoys to take personal control over such pressing challenges as the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the crisis in Darfur and the quest for peace in the Middle East. Now, however, his appointments of nearly a score of special envoys and special ambassadors have created a confusing patchwork of policy fiefdoms inside the administration that lacks clearly defined lines of command and has the potential for miscommunication on a grand scale.

A War Won Less by Force Than by Persuasion? - C.J. Chivers, New York Times:

The war is soon to enter its ninth year. The doctrine has caught up, at least on paper. Out in the field, the way forward, day by day, mission by mission, is far less clear. Image from

The War on Terror is Over: Lawyers are about to smother the war on terror - Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal

Reform in Iran: Let It Be - Patricia Lee Sharpe, Whirled View: At various times during the hard fought Iranian election campaign, defenders of the Ahmedinejad regime attempted to dismiss the reformers as tools of the U.S. or, more often, of Britain, home of the BBC, that very annoying purveyor of trustworthy news. (Would that VOA were still respected for its hard news!) … [S]igns are that the Obama administration may not be able to resist the American impulse to meddle and dominate.

USA Today reports that “the Obama administration is moving forward with plans to fund groups that support Iranian dissidents,” even as President Obama continues to insist that the “U.S. is not meddling in Iran’s affairs.” … Obama can’t have it both ways. If you are pouring money into Iran, you are meddling—and you will be tainting the reformers, especially if you aren’t operating openly, secrecy and subversion being all too comfortable bedfellows. Image from

Berkeley, Iran and Diplomacy There has been little progress in getting three UC Berkeley graduates released from detention in Iran, where they have been held since July 31. But family members are taking steps to keep the case on the front burner. The new Web site set up for the three emphasizes the accidental nature of their trespass from its name -- -- to bios of the three that detail their respect for other cultures, their human rights work and their loving families, complete with family photo galleries dating back into childhood. Courtesy JS.

The National Endowment For Propaganda – Clifford, Red Stick Rant: Here's something to keep you awake at night - Team Hopenchange is apparently trying to use The National Endowment for the Arts - a federally funded agency - to promote its political agenda. This is yet another reason why the NEA should be eliminated.

Taliban Propaganda Watch: Couple of More Sites Down - Blog

Journalism Students To Be Taught Propaganda by Kremlin Spin DoctorsAlleop's Blog:

The Kremlin backed Foundation for Effective Politics (FEP) is to run the ‘Laboratory of Public Dialogue’ at the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University, Novaya Gazeta ( reports. According to Kirill Tanayev, the FEP Director, “FEP participates in political and ideological planning and, in fact, operates as a branch of RF President Administration”. The new project is “aimed at bringing politics to the Faculty of Journalism” and vise versa – employing journalists for political campaigns. Image from

War is Boring: Russian War Documentary Fuels Propaganda Debate David Axe - World Politics Review: A widely viewed TV documentary produced by Russia's government-sponsored Channel 1 has sparked a bitter debate over Russia's manipulation of the media. "The War of 08.08.08 -- The Art of Deception" purported to dissect Georgia's propaganda tactics. But it did so with manipulated interviews and translations that themselves comprise propaganda, according to critics.


From "Frank: humans 'on display' at zoo," Boing Boing


I know most offices, including mine, use answering machines. This makes more important, not less, the need for human interface.

--Shri Vayalar Ravi, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs