Monday, February 1, 2010

February 1

"America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy."

--Author John Updike; image from


Democratization in the Muslim world? - Lena, Global Chaos: "Yesterday I was watching Marwan Bishara's latest 'episode' of Empire on Al Jazeera, where he and his guests discussed the 'War on Terror' from the Muslim perspective.Certainly, almost all of the Muslim countries are far from being genuine democracies, no matter how they are portrayed. But thanks to their energy reserves, geostrategic location, and proximity to what seems to be never-ending instability (be it Iran or Afghanistan), most of them are heavily funded and supported by the United States and some other major Western powers. Much has been written and said on the matter, but as I was watching the program, I couldn't help but think of the public diplomacy implications of this support for the largely authoritarian regimes. Since the signature characteristic of PD is its public component, what is the message the US is sending to the Muslim people in the 'Greater Near Eastern' region by supporting those that oppress and censor them, and hinder their actual development? Isn't it a blunt contradiction of the very values espoused by the West?"

Image from

Congressional bill against "terror TV" generates opposition among Arab information ministers - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Battle Against Human Trafficking - Alison M. Noll, Thoughtsofourchildren: "The United States increasingly uses public diplomacy to raise international awareness of trafficking issues. FSO's [Foreign Service officers] reach out to local business groups, religious organizations, journalists, and people in isolated communities. In rural villages in Moldavia, footage of a national anti-trafficking conference was distributed to local televisions stations (Embassy Chisisnau).

United States embassies host screenings of 'Trading Women', a documentary about trafficking of women and children in the Mekong Delta, and distribute a brochure prepared by the State Department called 'Be Smart, Be Safe...' on trafficking in women (Consulate Krakow)." Image from

Google, China and US Foreign Policy- Ernest J. Wilson, Huffington Post (blog): "The high tech companies are clearly engaging in issues of real sensitivity for all parties -- freedom of information, freedom of speech and the like are increasingly central to the international policy agenda, pressed partly by the boundary-breaking technologies of Twitter and blogs. ... We can only imagine the future contours and content of Silicon Valley's new foreign policy. But it is worth looking at how the economic information and communication powerhouses will pursue their international interests. What would their new activism mean for trade policy? Security affairs? Regional policies? Does this buttress 'public diplomacy' policies of governments, or make them less relevant? Stay tuned to find out."

Reorganizing Government: Take Out the Trash - By Achance, posted at Media, Politics, College, and More (MPCM): "There's evil afoot in our politics.

It's behind every statement from the opposition, and under every proposed law. It's concealed behind a friendly public diplomacy, a fist under thick velvet for television. Just wait until the moment it reaches power: you'll see horror and doom rain down from above. It's better not to wait: tactics must be changed TODAY!" Image from


Israeli propaganda is both intelligent and necessary - David Admon, Ha'aretz: What is hasbara? Hasbara is visiting the inhabitants of Sderot while Qassam rockets rain down on them; Hasbara is a Nobel Prize awarded to an Israeli woman; Hasbara is the celebratory Gay Pride parade in open Tel Aviv; Hasbara is also an interview with Jewish settlers evacuated from the Gaza Strip, some of whom still live under the shadow of the trauma and have not recovered.

The confusion with respect to hasbara must be solved by centralizing it. It is necessary to establish a body with authority and money, backed by large budgets and headed by a cabinet minister. This ministry will establish professional committees specializing in various areas of hasbara. An inter-ministerial committee on hasbara should also be instated to coordinate with all the government ministries. ... The "Hasbara Ministry" should also examine and update the tools that can be used. Here in fact, we can learn from terror organizations, which are intelligently using electronic media to spread their propaganda around the globe. ... It is possible to hazard many possible reasons for why Israel is so hated and it is also possible to imagine the consequences of delving into this, but precisely for that reason I repeat that it is necessary to employ hasbara professionals. It is necessary to see that a "tool box" is provided to every Israeli ambassador and "flack" suited to the task with which he has been charged. Image from

In Yemen, the truth is a casualty of war: As the government steps up its war against extremists, news releases tout the number killed. But many turn out to be alive. Or at least not proved dead. Until they're reported killed, again. Maybe - Jeffrey Fleishman and Haley Sweetland Edwards, Los Angeles Times: The terrorist who's dead is still alive.

A perverse contradiction? No, just another day in the Yemen news cycle, where rebels, separatists, extremists and government officials conjure a surreal world of spin, lies and propaganda. It makes one wonder if reality exists at all in this cruel and beautiful land. Yemen is a testament to the maxim that the first casualty of war is truth. Image from article: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Naser Abdel-Karim Wahishi is seen in an image taken from a video released in January 2009. Recently, the Yemeni government claimed to have killed Wahishi, but he later turned up alive.

British tea making tips propaganda film (1941) - Ashley, "I stumbled on this British WWII propaganda film. Were the troops complaining that the tea maids weren’t making good tea? It seems like it if they needed to teach people how to make tea en masse. But it ends with the 6 Golden Rules for Making Tea, which if more people knew today, it would be easier to find a well-brewed tea."

Dialectic Materialism--thoughts about freedom and propaganda - Zhuo, Critical Thoughts:

In the field of PR, "propaganda" belongs to the hideous, awkward past. Propaganda is the process of creating a terminology to define/identify (read: oppress) an entity (a class, for instance), but is rendered ineffective when this identification (read oppression) process gets identified itself by another oppressing agent. Thus, propaganda cannot exist by itself, but has to be in a dialectic relationship--a lexicon is not propaganda unless another competing lexicon identifies it as one. Having no ideology is the biggest ideology of all. Image from

Persuasive/Propaganda Techniques - Mrs. Bernal's Classroom Blog: PBS Kids offers some fun activities that go along with our 6th grade persuasive/propaganda techniques unit. Just click on the link and explore. Have fun!

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