Wednesday, February 10, 2010

February 10

"Storm kicking into high gear: Beleaguered region surrenders to forces of nature, shutting down governments, schools"

--Washington Post headline; image from article

“I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.”

Henry David Thoreau


Update on the U.S. Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy – Every Citizen a Diplomat: U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy Blog: The U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy (USCCD), in partnership with the U.S. State Department and in support of more than 1000 U.S. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) conducting citizen diplomacy activities, will convene a historic U.S. Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy on November 16-19, 2010 in Washington, DC.

The goal of the Summit and ten year Initiative for Global Citizen Diplomacy is to double the number of American volunteers of all ages involved in international activities at home or abroad, from an estimated 60 million today to 120 million by 2020. Image from U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy homepage


The New Public Diplomacy - Joseph S. Nye, Project Syndicate: "Public diplomacy is an important tool in the arsenal of smart power, but smart public diplomacy requires an understanding of credibility, self-criticism, and the role of civil society in generating soft power.

If it degenerates into propaganda, public diplomacy not only fails to convince, but can undercut soft power. Instead, it must remain a two-way process, because soft power depends, first and foremost, upon understanding the minds of others." Nye image from article

Iran, the US, and democracy promotion - Issandr El Amrani, The Arabist: "POMED's account of a recent Congressional hearing on what policy to pursue towards Iran, and most notably whether and how to support its opposition movement, made for some interesting reading. Several of those testifying — former Bush administration officials, regional experts, etc. — made the case of a human rights-based approach, with the US taking steps to challenge the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic's regime on human rights grounds.

The approach being suggested by, if you compile the different witnesses' testimonies to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is basically: 1.Highly targeted sanctions to hurt the elite, esp. the IRGC; 2. Open support for the Green Movement, which can decide whether it accepts that support or not; 3. More funding for democracy promotion through the National Endowment for Democracy and other vehicles (although it's not clear who would eventually receive that money); 4. A commitment to continue to side with the opposition no matter what takes place in the negotiations over the nuclear program, so that no 'betrayal' of the Green Movement takes places if the regime is willing to back down; 5. A public diplomacy campaign and commitment to internal regime change as an ultimate goal, which would also solve the nuclear issue." Image from

Clenched And Arresting US Public Diplomacy Liaisons In Tehran – Is Iran's Fist Still Clenched? Daily Updates on the Status of Iran's Fist, Mere Rhetoric: Iran detains 7 tied to US-funded radio for spying: "Iran has arrested seven people linked to a U.S.-funded Farsi-language radio station for allegedly fomenting unrest, and accused some of the suspects of working for American spy agencies, Iranian state media reported Sunday.

The official IRNA news agency and Iran's state radio both cited an Intelligence Ministry statement saying the suspects played a role in violent anti-government demonstrations in Tehran on Dec. 27. On that day, at least eight people were killed and hundreds were arrested during clashes between opposition supporters and security forces...IRNA quoted the ministry statement as saying ‘some of them have been officially hired by the U.S. intelligence agencies.’ State radio said the suspects were trained outside of Iran in sabotage, disturbing public order, spreading rumors and overthrowing a government by soft means.”

Two Pakistani Officials Fired For Promoting Indian Propaganda - Ahmed Quraishi, Pakistan Ka Khuda Hafiz: "Pakistanis already know that their government in Islamabad was basically tailored by the Americans and the Brits. … But peddling Indian propaganda? That’s going too far. Unlike the rest of us, Makhdoom Babar is lucky to own a newspaper. So he rushed to his office in the morning to write a story on this, titled ‘APP Starts Promoting Indian Govt’s Kashmir Propaganda’. Two APP journalists have been suspended and a probe is underway that might lead to some more job losses. Earlier, two journalists from the state-run PTV were suspended for visiting the US embassy without permission. … At least two senior members of the incumbent Pakistani government are former VOA employees who served in Washington, D.C. Both are directly involved in how Pakistan’s official media outlets operate."

US international broadcasters: Hide under your cubicles until this report is relegated to a closet shelf - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting:

"The State Department is gearing up to release a roadmap that will guide its future budgets and priorities. Early this month, perhaps in the next several days, the federal government's diplomatic arm could release a report on its first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). ... It is assessing the strategic framework for bilateral and multilateral engagements, and analyzing the opportunities to integrate public diplomacy, non-governmental actors, and new methods of communication to mobilize and lead collective action." Ruben Gomez, Federal News Radio, 4 February 2010. [Elliott comment:] Here's hoping that US international broadcasting is not mentioned as part of the 'collective action.'" Image from

Facebook page for VOA's Willis Conover. - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "The Facebook page is not an official VOA project, but see VOA's Willis Conover page."

What the internet, and social media, can and can't do - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "Internationally, the new emphasis on enabling the skirting of Internet censorship amounts to a shift from traditional public diplomacy to a kind of Internet democracy activism. Where the former relied on tools such as Voice of America radio broadcasts to all corners of the globe, the latter emphasizes the U.S. promoting indigenous voice in countries that curb free speech, says NYU telecommunications professor Clay Shirky, adding that enabling citizens to express themselves 'is way more threatening than Voice of America-style broadcasts, and autocratic governments will react to that.' Thus far, authoritarian governments have largely managed to control the Internet in their countries, argues Hal Roberts, a researcher with Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. 'Actually I think the story of the first 15 years of the widespread use of the Internet is that it is deeply embedded with local mechanisms of control and that governments can control the Internet pretty well,' he says. That's only likely to change if the U.S. is willing to match the new inspirational rhetoric about Internet freedom with actions that could be deemed hostile by the regimes concerned." Ken Stier, Time, 6 February 2010. [Elliott comment:] It's great that citizens are expressing themselves, but this is no substitute for the journalism (not public diplomacy) that has always been VOA's mainstay. Furthermore, when the internet, which involves landlines within the target country, is censored, VOA can drop in wirelessly via shortwave and satellite. Proposal to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the internet. AP, 2 February 2010. 'The Voice of America Twitter isn't: commitment to world peace does not rank high on the list of Twitter's objectives (for all the good reasons — they are in the business of making money, after all — leave the world peace to Bono). Don't we want to award this prize to someone who at least WANTS a more democratic and peaceful future and WORKS towards it?' Evgeny Morozov, Foreign Policy, 8 February 2010.

'[W]hile greater connectivity and the spread of Internet access can be hugely beneficial to the spread of democracy, there is also a flip side – extremist groups and authoritarian regimes will increasingly co-opt and manipulate new technology for their own end.' Luke Allnutt, editor in chief of RFE/RL's English website, Christian Science Monitor, 8 February 2010. 'I’m going to take the stand that social media sometimes just doesn’t matter, and in fact, may be just be a waste of time and effort. Just because it’s out there, doesn’t mean it’s worthwhile, and I’ll point to the Singapore Airshow as an example. ... Sure, it gives it a little buzz by having a lot of social media presence, I guess, but what benefit is it providing? ... 'CNBC Asia was broadcasting on site and had a 'lively' guest blog going.' ... Forget about the fact that the 'lively' guest blog actually just has three posts... Will all this social media drive any aircraft, engine, or part orders? Will it help suppliers establish better relationships with key decision makers? I imagine the answer is a resounding no.' Brett Snyder, BNET, 8 February 2010." Elliott image from

Guest Post: Gov 2.0 x Reality TV: Brick City - Joshua S. Fouts, The Imagination Age: "The Imagination Age is pleased to welcome a guest post from our collaborator, Josh Asen, CEO and Co-Founder of Hip Hop Diplomacy. ... About Joshua Asen, Co-Founder/CEO, Hip Hop Diplomacy. After graduating from Brown University, Joshua made the first of several trips across the Atlantic to promote Hip Hop abroad. This first crossing was on behalf of storied Hip Hop label, Rocafella Records, for whom he created the label's first international promotions campaign in Paris. Later, Joshua

ventured further south to Morocco, earning a Fulbright grant to study Hip Hop in an Arab/Muslim context. Joshua immediately expanded his project into a documentary film and became the first American to interview the leading Hip Hop groups in Morocco. Responding to their need for more performance opportunities, Joshua began developing plans for the country’s first Hip Hop festival, which he convinced the American Embassy and the Coca-Cola Company to co-sponsor. The 3-city concert tour was attended by over 36,000 young Moroccans and reached thousands more, across the globe, in screenings of the eponymous documentary film ( Joshua has since gone on to produce independent films and video content, and continues to develop the Hip Hop Diplomacy brand, encompassing a number of cultural diplomacy and youth outreach campaigns, with varied public- and private-sector partners, as well as an online journal of global Hip Hop and geopolitics," Ashen image from

Postwar, second term the mined road ahead – Dayan Jayatilleke, Daily Mirror: The Sri Lankan state must not give the impression that it denies the existence of a problem ['village level devolution'] that the world community recognizes exists, and denies the need for a political solution ('what political solution?') that the international system and world opinion have long agreed is necessary. Worst would be a confrontation between non-violent mass protests by the Tamils, (an old Federal party tradition) honed by a new generation of activists and Western 'public diplomacy' training camps, met with the heavy hand or rather, the mailed fist,

of the Sri Lankan state (an old SLFP tradition as with Major Richard Udugama and the Satyagraha of 1961)—but captured this time on cell-phone cameras and carried into homes across the world by the international media. When ordinary American citizens are lobbied by Tamil Diaspora activists into calling their Congressmen; when we have a Kashmir or an Intifada in our North and East with Tamil Nadu in sympathy next door, then we will be in danger of losing in the arena of ‘soft power’ that which we won by the resolute exercise of ‘hard power’. We shall have fallen into the trap of our external and narrowly ethnocentric enemies." Image from article

Understanding the peace talks offer - Pragmatic Euphony: "[The] Indian government has to handle its public diplomacy and strategic communication in a more professional manner. ... A stony silence from the state is not an option in today’s time and age."

MPs debate Conflict Prevention - press release, DeHavilland (by subscription). According to Google, mention of public diplomacy.

Mediation's Place: Managing Conflict - Joe Markowitz, Mediation’s Place: "[P]olitical opponents understand that they are going to remain in conflict over basic principles forever, but nevertheless recognize the occasional need to debate and compromise in some sort of civil fashion in order to get anything done at all.

They may be engaging in debate as sport for we the people to judge. So what we learn from watching political or religious or philosophical debates is that resolving these kinds of conflicts may not be the point of the debate at all. Rather, public diplomacy or debate is just the arena for managing the continuing unresolvable conflict, and helping to prevent it from erupting into violence." Image from article

The grand week that was – Paul Rockower, Levantine: “Monday began with a meeting between Prof. Starr, Cesar and me over the US-Mexico Network project. The project is a public diplomacy venture to better connect academics on both sides of the border. The website is still under work, but the project is rather interesting. ... Wednesday night, I went with Naomi to see Avatar in 3-D.

What an overload! It was brilliant display of personal public diplomacy by James Cameron. A mass media public diplomacy campaign to socialize audiences on ideas and values. Brilliant! Naomi and I geeked out over the PD implications and the brilliance of the pd analytics that the movie offered (wanna measure public diplomacy? Try in box office sales).” Image from article: Audiences watch the 3D film 'Avatar' through special glasses at a cinema in China. Foreign ticket sales make up two-thirds of the money 'Avatar' has pulled in.

Avatar: Why they hate us - The Gormogons: "[O]ne of the reasons 'they hate us' is that we tell them that we’re hateful. American movie (and to a lesser degree) TV makers—deeply invested in the intra-American status battle in which distancing oneself from and criticizing one’s own society is seen as a mark of enlightenment and therefore culture and education—routinely create images of America that are malicious caricatures. ... So, now we’ve got Avatar,

with Jimmy Cameron just happening to mention that, dude, he’s into eco-terrorism—smash the machine, man! I mean, not the machine that have made James Cameron’s movies a couple billion dollars, but, like, the bad machine. ... As those who recall the Fallacy of Foreign-Policy Egocentrism know, people mostly do things for their own reasons beyond our ability to affect. But media—like public diplomacy—is a powerful means through which we can and do affect the world. And some of our most wealthy and successful people spend their time making sure the message gets out that the country and system which made them wealthy and successful is corrupt, venal, bigoted, greedy, and xenophobic. (Project much, Hollywood?) ..." Image from article

Peace Research Update for the Week of February 8, 2010 - One World, Many Peaces: "Peace, R. 'Winning Hearts and Minds: The Debate Over U.S. Intervention in Nicaragua in the 1980s.' Peace & Change 35, no. 1 (January 1, 2010): 1-38. This essay provides a background on the history of U.S.-Nicaraguan relations, the Contra War of the 1980s, and the Reagan administration's 'public diplomacy' efforts, then examines in depth seven major themes or arguments advanced by Contra War opponents (a mix of leftist, religious, and peace groups)."

USC in the News 2/9/2010 - USC News: "National Public Radio's '13.7' ran a commentary by K.C. Cole of the USC Annenberg School about the role of science in diplomacy. 'We all know that the technology produced from scientific research can make international conflicts more deadly than ever. But can science help stop war?' Cole said. She mentioned that she recently took part in a USC Center on Public Diplomacy conference on science diplomacy and the prevention of conflict."

Legislative & Public Affairs Internship Opportunities in International Development - Dan Royal Job/Vacancies: "The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead agency for the U.S. Government providing economic development and humanitarian assistance to people around the world. By creating the conditions to help countries move from poverty to prosperity, we serve both the American public and millions of people living in countries in development and transition.

USAID’s Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs (LPA) is responsible for all of the Agency's external affairs as well as employee communications. ... LPA provides overall coordination for all aspects of legislative and public affairs matters for the Agency.In addition, LPA directs the Agency's communications strategy and policies; is responsible for positioning, messaging and branding; develops outreach and educational programs; leads the Agency's online marketing strategy and manages the external website; and produces events and promotional products to generate support for USAID's mission. Interns will be working on various projects related to the LPA mission (congressional, strategic communications, multimedia, publications, website, public liaison, public diplomacy, press; and special events and protocol). The internship is full-time with a minimum requirement of three days a week." Image from


The Internet: Powerful, Yet Fragile - James Brett, Op-Ed News:

Last week ABC News--obviously not clear on the concept--promoted the idea that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made the internet the center of U.S. foreign policy! I hope the ABC News watching public understands that "the center" and "a centerpiece" are very different concepts. But make no mistake about this, Washington believes that the internet is crucial to modern American jingoism--the promotion of American values and our form of government (corrupt and otherwise ... certainly not the model of representative democracy that the Framers had in mind ... certainly the form that best suits a nation reduced to selling guns and peon-izing its citizens) across the breadth and length of this planet. ... The democracy of the internet is not a form of government. It is the democracy of three billion voices and ears and eyes. The internet is what we make of it, and sex is what we have made of it. This may speak more to the weird notions we have about the sexual nature of our species, but it is what happened. Sex and political propaganda, then commerce. The American ideal, if you are to read ABC News straightforwardly, is that people have the god-given right to access (and even contribute to) the array of sexual content, the political propaganda, and especially to buy stuff. Image from

China sees an array of Internet threats and moves to tighten control - Sharon LaFraniere, In the view of political analysts and technology experts here and in the United States, Beijing’s attempts to tighten its grip on Internet use are driven in part by the conviction that the West—particularly the United States— is wielding communications innovations from malware to Twitter to weaken it militarily, and to stir internal dissent.

"The United States has already done it,many times," said Song Xiaojun, one of the authors of ‘‘Unhappy China,’’ a 2009 book advocating a muscular Chinese foreign policy which the party’s propaganda department is said to promote. He cited the so-called color revolutions in the Ukraine and Georgia as examples. Image from

Drafting Israeli Tourists for World Hasbara - Richard Silverstein - Tikun Olam: Ori Nir has a delightfully ironic column about Israel’s new Hasbara Ministry, yes an entire ministry devoted to Israeli propaganda. In other countries this might be called the Information Ministry, but this being Israel–let’s call a spade a spade, it’s propaganda. And guess who the new minister is? Yuli Edelstein, a settler. It figures. Why not appoint the most controversial and objectionable type of Israeli to sell Israel’s most objectionable and controversial policies abroad? And Israelis wonder why their hasbara falls flat… See also (scroll down for item)

Listen to the Iranian People- Robert Wright, New York Times:

Last week saw the release of a big report that helps explain why playing the nuclear card is such good politics. It’s an analysis by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) of several opinion polls conducted in Iran over the past year. Perhaps the best news in the PIPA report is that the Iranian public isn’t committed to getting the bomb. Given the choice between developing 1) nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, 2) nuclear energy only or 3) no nuclear technology, 55 percent of Iranians (and 57 percent of Mousavi supporters) chose door number two, while only 38 percent (and 37 percent) wanted the bomb. Image from

French accuse Tony Blair of 'Soviet-style' propaganda in run-up to Iraq war - Paul Waugh, This is London


“We have turned [our friends] into an indiscriminate mass, a kind of audience or faceless public. We address ourselves not to a circle, but to a cloud.... Friendship is devolving, in other words, from a relationship to a feeling.”

--William Deresiewicz, by far the most eloquent critic of Facebook

“Menachem Begin called me in for a conversation (before the 1977 elections I served as Likud spokesman) and said: 'We have to get the Likud hasbara headquarters going again.'

'Mr. prime minister, sir, get the central hasbara machine going again - it's in your hands,' I said to him.

'Heaven forbid. The government doesn't do hasbara - here we will not have Goebbelsism!' replied Begin, referring to the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, and said no more.”

--David Admon, "Israeli propaganda is both intelligent and necessary," Haaretz


Angry Norwegians in scuba gear chase after Google Street View car - Boing Boing

News story, auto-translated to English in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. More on Google Maps. (thanks, BB reader Kjetil Rydland in Norway!)


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