Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 6

"Your propaganda is killing us, literally."

--As'ad, in The Angry Arab News Service, commenting on the headline, "A box of leaflets dropped by an RAF plane in Afghanistan landed on and killed a young girl, the Ministry of Defence said"; image from

"Zombies 1, Socialists 0"

--John, PowerLine, noting that “Michael Moore's latest film, Capitalism, opened weakly with only $1.5 million in box office receipts. For purposes of comparison, Zombieland

raked in nearly $10 million. Still, even unsuccessful propaganda can do damage. It's a safe bet that hardly any of those who went to see Zombieland actually believe in zombies, while a considerable number of those who saw Moore's film may actually believe in socialism.” Image from


Obama’s PR Team Drops One - Mark Dillen, Public Diplomacy: "After Obama’s unsuccessful trip to Copenhagen last week on behalf of Chicago’s Olympic bid, there are those who see weaknesses in his decision-making and communications.

Chances are what is missing is a more seasoned staff to vet issues and to make sure he isn’t spreading himself too thin."

Boom Box U.S.A.: Surrogate Broadcasting as a Tool of U.S. Soft Power - Jeffrey Gedmin, Foreign Affairs: "In the Obama administration, soft power is coming of age. Today, U.S. military officials and diplomats talk of a 'political surge' to match the military surge in Afghanistan. Many in the Pentagon now say that R.B.s ('relationships built') are just as important as body counts of enemy dead in achieving victory. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has called for the greater application of soft power, including more money for development and reconstruction aid and strategic communications. Any soft-power strategy should include a focus on surrogate broadcasting -- government-sponsored broadcasts that provide accurate and reliable news to countries where independent media do not exist. Surrogate broadcasting grew up during the Cold War, when the United States sought to penetrate the Iron Curtain with radio broadcasts to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. These broadcasts -- first clandestinely funded by the CIA

and then openly by Congress -- were designed to provide the people of communist nations with the domestic news and information that their own governments denied them. Today, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) broadcasts to 20 countries, from Russia and the Caucasus to Central Asia and the Middle East." Jeffrey Gedmin is President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. See extensive comments by Kim Andrew Elliott on this article and surrogate broadcasting at. Image from

Chinese students preparing documentary at old VOA Bethany transmitting site - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Ban on VOA reporting in Puntland "cannot be tolerated." - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

twitter: The Telegraph of the 21st Century - The Jeff Pulver Blog: "From the perspective of the communications industry, the growing worldwide adoption of twitter in 2009 by various segments of society in the 21st century may be as big as the invention and introduction of the telegraph in the 19th century.

At least it feels like this to me. One thing which has become clear to me during the past few months is the amount of change the worldwide adoption of twitter is having on an ever increasing number of diverse divisions of society - from Iranian Politics to Public Safety to Public Diplomacy to the Advertising, Media and Entertainment industries." Image from

Mashable’s Weekly Guide to Social Media Events - Tamar Weinberg, Mashable, the Social Media Guide: "October 27-28, 2009, Los Angeles, CA: At the 140 Characters Conference, we explore 'The State of NOW.' The State of NOW looks at the effects of the real-time Internet on business. The core focus started by looking at the effects of twitter as a platform and what that meant to: Celebrity, The Media, Advertising and Politics. Over time the scope expanded to look at the effects of twitter on topics including: Sports, Music, Education, Public Safety. Public diplomacy and more. Given the location of #140conf:LA, this event will have a special focus on the use of twitter in the Entertainment Industry."

Salam Al-Marayati: The Anti-Anti-Terrorist - Agoravox: "In today’s struggle against radical Islamists, Salam Al-Marayati, a founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and its current executive director, can fairly be described as an 'anti-anti-terrorist' - someone who rhetorically opposes Islamist terror but objects to virtually every practical measure that democracies take to defend themselves. Both Democratic and Republican administrations have long consulted MPAC and met with its leadership to discuss terror-related subjects. During the George W. Bush Administration, for example, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy

Karen Hughes provided grants to MPAC and State Department officials addressed MPAC’s national convention (see p. 15 of the testimony linked). The U.S. government’s courtship of Al-Marayati and MPAC has continued under the Obama Administration. This includes numerous softball stories at the State Department web portal http://www.america.gov/ like this, this and this. Earlier this year, the State Department published a 64-page booklet entitled Being Muslim in America, in which Al-Marayati was cited as an authority on 'the American Muslim identity.'" Hughes image from

New Approaches to Global Outreach, and New Voices... - Mark Taplin, Global Publicks: "The October 5 public diplomacy doubleheader at George Washington University got off to a fine start this morning thanks

to the contributions of scholars, policymakers, and hands-on practitioners alike who took part in our 'New Approaches to U.S. Global Outreach' conference." [Blog contains a succinct summation of what was said]. Taplin image from his blog

Twenty Years of FreedomTokyo Weekender: "This year Germany celebrates 20 years since the Berlin Wall was torn down and the country started on the road to reunification. Weekender’s Bill Hersey caught up with German Ambassador Hans Joachim Daerr as he prepared to return to his home country. How have your goals been during your time here? It is very important to increase scientific cooperation between Germany and Japan. I would like to see my country play a more important role in public diplomacy, and I want to make Germany more interesting and relevant to the Japanese public, particularly young people."

Gulf Air executive wins top fellowship - TradeArabia News Service: "Gulf Air executive Nooruddin Jabbar has been accepted as a Fellow by the prestigious Young Arab Leaders (YAL) organisation for the Arab American Business Fellowship (AABF) programme. . … YAL is the region's foremost development platform for business, public sector and civil society leaders, which has partnered with Business for Diplomatic Action (America's leading private sector-led public diplomacy initiative), the US Centre for Citizen Diplomacy (USCCD) and the National US Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC) to organise the AABF programme."

The perceived new status of the G-20 is expected to shift the centre of gravity of the global economy towards East Asia - P.S. Suryanarayana, hinduonnet.com: "The global dimension of issues relating to nuclear arms was the focus of the first-ever summit of the U.N. Security Council on this multilateral theme. The summit on September 24 was attended by the highest-ranking leaders of all the five veto-empowered member-states, each a nuclear-armed power. Not lost on the other 10 participant-states and the highest executives of the U.N. and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was a supreme irony. Japan, the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack, jostled with the U.S., which carried out the assault in the Second World War, as advocates of nuclear disarmament. The surprise was not that [Japanese Prime Minister Yukio] Hatoyama called for genuine nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament –

Japan’s advocacy agenda in public diplomacy predates his recent advent at the helm in Tokyo – but that Obama took the initiative for this Security Council summit, in the face of undying scepticism about the durability of any U.S. push for nuclear disarmament." Image from


America Is Now the Most Admired Country Globally - Jumping to the Top of the 2009 Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index (SM) - United States Experiences Biggest Improvement in Reputation Among 50 Countries Measured- Anholt Attributes Change to the Election of Barack Obama - PRNewswire-USNewswire: Brand America is now ranked #1 by global citizens, according to the GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media, a division of GfK Custom Research North America. Results from the 2009 Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index (SM) (NBI), which measures the global image of 50 countries, show the United States taking the top spot as the country with the best overall brand, up from seventh last year.

"What's really remarkable is that in all my years studying national reputation, I have never seen any country experience such a dramatic change in its standing as we see for the United States in 2009," explains Simon Anholt, NBI founder and an independent advisor to over a dozen national governments around the world. "Despite recent economic turmoil, the U.S. actually gained significant ground. The results suggest that the new U.S. administration has been well received abroad and the American electorate's decision to vote in President Obama has given the United States the status of the world's most admired country." See also (1) (2). Image from

Group of political scientists say US prestige declined dramatically in past decade - Barry Schweid, latimes.com: The United States' standing in the world declined in the past decade to below Cold War levels, according to a leading group of political scientists. Favorable attitudes have risen sharply under President Barack Obama with his commitment to "restore American standing," but confidence in him appears to be in conflict with unfavorable attitudes about U.S. foreign policy, the American Political Science Association said in a report released Thursday. Twenty political scientists worked on the report for more than a year. Two of them dissented from the conclusions, saying that "political bias affects perceptions" and that "the academic community, unbalanced as it is between self-identified Republicans and Democrats, is not immune to such bias."

Gates: Fight Afghan War to Deny Qaeda Propaganda Win - Adam Rawnsley, Wired: Defining al-Qaeda as both an ideology and an organization, Gates said their ability to successfully “challenge not only the United States, but NATO — 42 nations and so on” on such a symbolically important battlefield would represent “a hugely empowering message”

for an organization whose narrative has suffered much in the eight years since 9/11. That’s an elegant explanation. But with 869 American casualties since the war in Afghanistan began, it’s also a particularly hard sell. Image from

What was Obama thinking? - Frank J. Gaffney Jr., Washington Times: It is clear that in the aftermath of the IOC's decision to eliminate America's Windy City in the first round of voting and instead select Rio de Janeiro, this rejection was not only a stunning personal failure for "the One" (a title Mr. Obama's admirers seem to have embraced as much as his critics). It amounts to a repudiation of the United States, contributing - whether intentionally in this instance or not - to the sort of diminishing of our country that I have described previously as one of three elements of the Obama Doctrine. (The other two are the undermining of our allies and emboldening of our enemies.)

U.S. Push to Expand in Pakistan Meets Resistance- Jane Perlez, New York Times: ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Steps by the United States to vastly expand its aid to Pakistan, as well as the footprint of its embassy and private security contractors here, are aggravating an already volatile anti-American mood as Washington pushes for greater action by the government against the Taliban. An aid package of $1.5 billion a year for the next five years passed by Congress last week asks Pakistan to cease supporting terrorist groups on its soil and to ensure that the military does not interfere with civilian politics. President Asif Ali Zardari, whose association with the United States has added to his unpopularity, agreed to the stipulations in the aid package.

Above image: A Liberian refugee wears a t-shirt expressing anti-American sentiment at a transit centre in the town of Tabou in Ivory Coast . Many Liberians feel that the United States has not assisted their country and people enough during the last decade of savage war.

If We Lose Afghanistan: Yes, al-Qaeda would return. But that's just the beginning – Editorial, Washington Post: Whether or not al-Qaeda regains its pre-9/11 haven, a Taliban victory would be a catastrophe for the United States and its allies.

Afghanistan and Leadership: Gen. McChrystal needs more troops now precisely so Afghans can take over the war effort later - Mark Moyar, Wall Street Journal: To rescue Afghanistan's security forces through partnering and advising, the U.S. unquestionably needs the extra 30,000 or 40,000 troops that Gen. McChrystal wants. That many troops are required to put American officers—commissioned and noncommissioned—with Afghan soldiers and policemen at all levels and at all times. Below McChrystal image from

A General Within Bounds - Michael O'Hanlon, Washington Post: Figuring out how to promote a stronger Afghan government that is more accountable to its people, and better placed to defeat the resistance, is critical. But the counterterrorism option is not a viable way to help stabilize Afghanistan. Because Obama called Afghanistan "a necessary war" seven weeks ago, it would have verged on professional malpractice for McChrystal to pretend otherwise. Below image from

Out of Line on Afghanistan - Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: If history tells us anything about Afghanistan, it's that the presence of large numbers of foreign troops tends to inflame nationalist resistance. Yet carrying out McChrystal's plan will require substantially more U.S. troops -- reports say that the general wants as many as 40,000, which would make the U.S. "footprint" roughly as large as that of the Soviet military during the failed occupation of the 1980s.

Does Obama Have the Backbone? - Richard Cohen, Washington Post: This is the president we now have: He inspires lots of affection but not a lot of awe. It is the latter, though, that matters most in international affairs, where the greatest and most gut-wrenching tests await Obama.

An Olympic Ego Trip - George F. Will, Washington Post: Perhaps the premise of Obama’s otherwise inexplicable trip to Denmark to support Chicago’s Olympic bid was that there is no difficulty, foreign or domestic, that cannot be melted by the sunshine of the Obama persona.

But in the contest between the world and any president's charm, bet on the world. Image from

The president snubs the Dalai Lama to appease China – Editorial, Washington Times

Hamas’ propaganda machine: In face of Israel’s restored deterrent power, Hamas turns to sophisticated PR - Moshe Elad - ynetnews.com

Me, Noam and the Media – Daryl Copeland, Guerilla Diplomacy:

Most of the stories which receive prominent coverage, it must be added, either originate in the metropolis – or the A-world, in GD [Guerilla Diplomacy] parlance – or have some direct connection to metropolitan interests. Events in planet’s margins, whether a homeless shelter in Toronto or a barrio in Rio, will rarely receive protracted prime-time attention or main event billing. Image from

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