Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October 7

"[T]he real founder of American postwar public diplomacy was Josef Stalin."

--Scholar Nicholas J. Cull, adding that "[t]he scale of the international propaganda effort from [Stalin's] Kremlin forced even the most isolationist American officials to accept that something had to be done to give America a voice to respond"; from Cull's "How We Got There," in Toward A New Public Diplomacy: Redirecting U.S. Foreign Policy (2009), p. 27; image from


Remarks With Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on American Power and Persuasion: Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State George Washington University Washington, DC October 5, 2009U.S. Department of State: SECRETARY CLINTON: "A battlefield conflict zone requires the military to respond to rumors, attacks. They have to have a strategic communications effort, but it must be part of a broader national public diplomacy outreach effort. …

I think that new media is the reality. And part of what we’re trying to do is to bring that into public diplomacy and make it one of those tools in the toolbox, to try to not just have government-to-government contacts and official sorts of communication, but really try to reach out to the people in countries to have a better idea of who we are, what we stand for." Image from

Our Real Problem in Pakistan: They Don’t Like Us - Patricia Lee Sharpe, Whirled View: "Now, if you were designing a public diplomacy program in Pakistan, a country whose cooperation may determine the outcome of the American struggle in Afghanistan, where would your emphasis be? Would you insert yourself gratuitously into Muslim politics in order to smear a bunch of backward-looking violent Islamists who have discredited themselves by their vicious intolerant rule in the Swat valley and by their tendency to kill civilians with suicide bombs throughout Pakistan? English speakers have a few clichés for such efforts. Like: hauling coals to New Castle. Or: gilding the lily. In short, the U.S. doesn’t need to do what’s been accomplished, gruesomely, by the Taliban themselves! … Mr. Special Envoy [Richard Holbrooke], the public diplomacy issue you really must address is the U.S. image in Pakistan. It's all too accurate, unfortunately."

Army top brass to scrutinise US aid bill: The Kerry-Lugar bill is expected to consume a fair share of the corps commanders’ time when they meet in Rawalpindi on WednesdayDawn: "[The bill’s] stated objectives are supporting democratic institutions; assisting efforts for expanding the rule of law and promotion of human rights; aiding economic freedom and development; investing in people, particularly women and children; and strengthening US public diplomacy."

Senior military officials confirmed that they were concerned about certain elements of the bill and saw it as interference in the country’s internal affairs. Image from article: Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani presides over a meeting of the Corps Commanders at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Afghanistan tests U.S.-Dutch relations - Roxana Tiron, The Hill: "The Netherlands and the United States this fall celebrated 400 years of strong relations, but the alliance is about to be tested on the battlegrounds of Afghanistan. … 'When you are in Afghanistan, it is clear that the relationship with the United States is going to be affected by how the allies respond to the decision that President Obama makes,' said Evelyn Farkas, a senior fellow at the American Security Project who just returned from Afghanistan, where she served in a delegation as a trans-Atlantic opinion maker as part of NATO’s public diplomacy division. … The 400-year celebration turned into one of the Netherlands’ biggest campaigns; the country does very little to publicly tout its contributions to the United States. The Dutch Embassy in Washington has appointed a congressional liaison, but otherwise does not have any firms lobbying on its behalf. 'Perhaps it’s not very Dutch to boast,' said Floris Van Hövell, the embassy’s counselor for public diplomacy. 'We do the best we can do in Washington. We make sure that the people who need to know do know about it.'

Child's play: Explaining why we're in Afghanistan Words, images and ideas as tools of first resort. A blog by J Michael Waller: "Some of our key allies are losing heart in Afghanistan. A sizable chunk of the American public is wondering why we're still there. Even some of our troops deploying there don't know exactly what their mission means for the nation.

Somebody in Washington should explain why the US and its allies are in Afghanistan. Fortunately, someone is. It isn't the president. And it certainly isn't the public diplomacy shop at the State Department. No, nothing like that. That someone is KidsPost, the children's section of the Washington Post. KidsPost frames the issue nicely in a headline: 'Why the US Fights in Afghanistan.' The subtitle: 'The President Must Decide If More Troops Should Be Sent to Country Where 9/11 Terrorists Trained.' Image from article

VOL. V NO. 20, September 11-September 24, 2009 - The Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media

Repairing American public diplomacy - William A. Rugh, Arab Media & Society:

"The election of Barack Obama, which has generated a generally positive reaction around the world, will not by itself burnish America’s tarnished image abroad. His new policies may help, but misunderstandings of the United States will continue, out of ignorance or deliberate distortion. Public diplomacy programs can help present an accurate picture of America to foreign audiences, a task more important than ever in this age of 24/7 information proliferation." Image from

Obama’s America Conquers The World - Nicholas J. Cull, Newswire – CPD Blog & Blogroll, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "The US can not live off the reputation of its President alone. To stay at the top the USA needs to both invest in and to reform its public diplomacy, to address the prominence of the military in the delivery of the 'brand America' experience and create a workable inter-agency mechanism. Whether she speaks for the 'top nation' or not , Under Secretary Judith McHale still has a massive challenge ahead." See also

Why the US will still be No. 1 in 2039 — Tommy Koh, Law Student Forum: "The election of Barack Obama, as the 44th president of the United States, has done more to restore the world's faith in American values and ideals than any amount of public diplomacy could have.

His eloquence, his humble tone and inclusive attitude, his appeal to the Islamic ummah and his willingness to adopt fresh diplomatic approaches to seemingly intractable problems, have greatly strengthened the appeal of American soft power." Image from

Third Assignment – The Rise of Collaborative Journalism- jenalysis, Jen’s Analysis: "I believe these new trends [‘the downfall of newspapers and the subsequent rise of participatory citizen journalism’] have positive and negative ramifications for PD, particularly for a country like the one I worked for that is often stereotyped against by people who know little about it. On the positive side the government can enlist citizens from its own country to tell stories on the web that could counter typical stereotypes, which would give credence to messages the government is trying to spread. On the negative side, however, people with little knowledge, can now have big soapboxes and they can circulate and recirculate biased information to much greater audiences."

140 Conf – Twitterific! - Misty Belardo, Bit Rebels: "NYC: October 21 MeetupLos Angeles: October 27/28 London: November 17 The original scope of #140conf was to explore 'the effects of twitter on: Celebrity, 'The Media', Advertising and (maybe) Politics.'

Over time the scope expanded to look at the effects of twitter on topics ranging from public safety to public diplomacy. The first #140conf in New York City brought together people with many diverse backgrounds but the one thing which everyone had in common was twitter." Image from

The Week Ahead of Us - Dr. Segev, The Diplomatic Panther: "During the last three classes, we looked into the role of culture and high arts in public diplomacy and concluded that while culture diplomacy is indeed important, it can not play solo in the target country. We tried to look into the specific case of the U.S. and answered the question why, the U.S. has traditionally neglected culture diplomacy."


Most Would Use Force to Stop Iranian Nukes - Support for Talks and Sanctions, Skepticism They Will Work - Survey Reports, The Pew Research Center: "There is broad willingness across the political spectrum to use military force to prevent Iran from going nuclear. Seven-in-ten Republicans (71%) and two-thirds of independents (66%) say it is more important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons even if it means taking military action.

Fewer Democrats (51%) express this view; still, only about three-in-ten Democrats (31%) say it is more important to avoid a military conflict with Iran, if it means Tehran may develop nuclear weapons." Image from

Obama Rules Out Large Reduction in Afghan Force - Peter Baker and Jeff Zeleny, Wall Street Journal: President Obama told Congressional leaders on Tuesday that he would not substantially reduce American forces in Afghanistan or shift the mission to just hunting terrorists there, but he indicated that he remained undecided about the major troop buildup proposed by his commanding general.

Beijing’s Afghan Gamble - Robert D. Kaplan, New York Times:

As much as we hone our counterinsurgency skills and develop assets for the “long war,” history would suggest that over time we can more easily preserve our standing in the world by using naval and air power from a distance when intervening abroad. Afghanistan should be the very last place where we are a land-based meddler, caught up in internal Islamic conflict, helping the strategic ambitions of the Chinese and others. Image from

'Why Did Benazir Die?' Add the Pakistani government to those dismayed by the Obama administration's wavering on Afghanistan – Editorial, Washington Post

Obama and the General: The White House finds a four-star scapegoat for its Afghan jitters – Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal:

Democrats have found someone worth fighting in Afghanistan. His name is Stan McChrystal. No commander in uniform should ask his soldiers to die for a strategy he doesn't think is winnable—or for a President who lets his advisers and party blame a general for their own lack of political nerve. Image from

McChrystal goes rogue - Monica Crowley, Washington Times: The president has been busy chasing nationalized health care, an Olympic dream and his Titleist golf balls. Gen. McChrystal had no choice but to go public to get him focused on the realities of the battlefield and the dangerous world in which he, his soldiers and the rest of us live.

How the Taliban Might Respond to McChrystal's New War Plan - David Wood, Politics Daily: Under the McChrystal campaign plan,

some regions of Afghanistan would be left sparsely defended if at all, opening new opportunities for Taliban propaganda victories. Image from

Hamas, Fatah: Hamas and Qassam Rockets - Michael Brull: Immoderate demonising of governments and their defenders: In July this year, even the NYT reported that Hamas had stopped firing rockets and was focussing on public diplomacy. Of course, Hamas is completely inept at this, but that’s another story.

Russian Anti-Americanism - Vladimir Shlapentokh, New York Times: The roots of anti-Americanism in Russia do not go very deep. Most ordinary Russians are rather receptive to Americans, their lifestyle and their political and economic system. These positive feelings would be quickly revealed if the Kremlin changed its policy toward the United States. Courtesy YR; below image from

Russia's War on Words - K. Anthony Appiah, Washington Post: Westerners were inclined to think during the Cold War that a democratic Russia would be better for Russians and for us. Yet 20 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, hopes for genuine democracy in Russia remain unrealized. A major reason is the parlous condition of the Russian media.

Art exhibit reveals nation's propaganda - Jennifer Hadley, The Spartan Daily: The World War II Revisited exhibit located on the fifth floor of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library in the Special Collections and Archives department it will run until Jan. 10, according to the San Jose Library Web site. The primary representation of the war is in the form of posters, but uniforms, books, draft cards, documents, and art work are also represented, said Danelle Moon, the Special Collections and Archives director."It's very relevant to our understanding of how war impacts society today, given what we're certainly facing internationally," Moon said.


Image: President Obama is having another meeting with his national security team on Wednesday, in the super-secure White House situation room, to try to figure out what to do about Afghanistan. Judging from the team photo from last week's meeting, it doesn't promise to be much fun.

No comments: