Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February 23

“keep your cellphone away from your head, face and neck.”

-- Christopher Ketcham, “Lab rats with cellphones? Our wireless lifestyle is making us all unwitting test subjects,” latimes.com; image from

"Cellphones can cause car trouble"

--Headline in USA Today


60th Anniversary of U.S.-Thai Fulbright Program
- Judith A. McHale, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs – U.S. Department of State: "More than 175 years ago, the United States signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between Thailand and the United States – the very first such treaty between America and an Asian nation. Sixty years ago, our two nations marked another milestone of friendship: the inauguration of our joint Fulbright program—a program that has become one of the world’s oldest continuous Fulbright programs.

This happened because a very wise man – the late Senator J. William Fulbright -- had the far-sighted idea that differences between nations could be bridged better if their citizens understood each other through overseas study and lived in proximity to one another. So he persuaded his colleagues in Congress to establish the scholarship program which now bears his name. In his words, 'Of all the joint ventures in which we might engage, the most productive is educational exchange … [It is] probably the most important and potentially rewarding of our foreign policy activities.' And I must say those words ring true today, perhaps more than ever." Image from

'Can You Hear Us Now?' - MC Andrews, Harvard Crimson: "The aim of public diplomacy is to communicate America’s policies abroad and to engage international audiences about all things American. The problem is, we’re failing,

and that’s to the detriment of our national security as well as commercial, cultural, and education interests. ... Let’s talk about this 'policy question' for a minute. During the Cold War, it was in the interest of key European allies and the U.S. to position nuclear weapons on European soil, an act that caused much disdain among rank and file European populations. But America and our allies went ahead with these installations. We didn’t change our policies to encourage people to like us. Rather, we stood our ground in favor of our national interest and earned the respect, if not the admiration, of our tentative audiences. There are lots of lessons to be drawn from this on how to engage hostile audiences, but instead, there seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to blame policies as an easy way to explain away the more complex problem. ... America needs a new way of communicating with the world. We don’t just need new tools, although some new tools will be useful. We don’t just need to fix the bureaucratic process, which is rife with power plays between the State and Defense Departments. These are just some of the problems; the fixes are wonky, legislative, and statutory. We need a call to action—we need a nod from our president that demonstrates how important it is for America to effectively communicate with the world and to remind us that Americans traveling and living abroad are as much U.S. ambassadors as the Senate-confirmed official representatives." Image from

Calling a Spade a Spade: Security vs. Diplomacy: A False Dichotomy - NoDoubleStandards: "[W]e need to keep something firmly in view: every office in an embassy has its own overriding priorities -- and appropriately so. For Public Diplomacy, the primary objective is successful packaging of U.S. policy and promotion of programs, exchange and otherwise, that foster cross-cultural understanding. The Commercial Service focuses on assisting American businesses attempting to make in-roads into the local economy. The Political-Economic section works to move U.S. policy forward with the host government and build cooperation on issues of mutual concern. The Regional Security Office is tasked with the physical security of the mission and its staff. The Consular Section exists to assist American citizens overseas and facilitate legitimate travel by foreign visitors to the U.S. These objectives frequently coincide, and those offices work together when they do. At other times, they conflict. When they do, it is ultimately up to the Department and the Front Offices at posts to calibrate a balance between competing objectives, so that each is given appropriate consideration without mortally compromising any of them. In the case of foreign travel to the U.S.: we can completely eliminate the threat of terrorism at the hands of legal foreign visitors by banning the entry of all foreigners into the U.S. We can fully realize our goal of maximizing people-to-people programs by issuing a visa to every single individual who wants to travel to the U.S. The correct approach, of course, lies in between those two extremes."

Internet Freedom: Beyond Circumvention - zucker, infomate:

"To figure out how to promote internet freedom, I believe we need to start addressing the question: 'How do we think the Internet changes closed societies?' In other words, do we have a 'theory of change' behind our desire to ensure people in Iran, Burma, China, etc. can access the internet? Why do we believe this is a priority for the State Department or for public diplomacy as a whole?" Image from

An Ounce of Prevention - Laura McGinnis, manIC: "I had the pleasure this evening of listening to John Trattner (of the Council for Excellence in Government) speak about public diplomacy. He raised many interesting points, two of which I'll highlight here.The first regarded the relationship between journalism and PD. Like Philip Seib, Trattner argues that successful public diplomacy and successful journalism rely on many of the same characteristics, including clarity, consistency, credibility, accuracy, fairness, knowledgability and integrity. His second point focused on the relationship between PD and policy formation. Communicators, he said, think differently than their colleagues. They have greater awareness of how policy announcements are likely to be received by the public. And for this reason, they ought to be included in the policy process from the beginning, and not treated like a haz mat crew whenever toxic reactions catch policymakers off guard.The fact of the matter is, diplomats (both public and traditional) are likely to have a better understanding of attitudes within a country than politicians who have never visited it and whose attention is divided between multiple competing interests. By weighing in at the front end, they could provide valuable insight into probable responses to foreign policy announcements before they're made."

Jazzing-up Diplomacy - attianasar's posterous: "Cultural diplomacy interests me as a means of soft power. I do believe that exposing one to another’s culture through music, art, sports and etc., can have an impact on the perception of that country.

But I am not sure how this can be measured to understand the extent of its impact. In the chapter on Arts Diplomacy by John Brown, from the 'Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy', he argues that 'arts diplomacy is certainly far better for the American image-and certainly cheaper-than bombing Baghdad.' He further states that art can create 'powerful impressions that can last a lifetime.'" Image from blog

Trumpet player Arturo Sandoval remembers Willis Conover - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Rockowerewitz, On Peace – Paul Rockower, Levantine: "The thought I had while listening to Dr. Richard Arndt discuss cultural diplomacy today: If, as Clausewitz

said, war is the extension of politics by other means, then is (public) diplomacy the extension of peace by other means?" Clausewitz image from

Think Now: Chick-lit in the Middle East - thinknow: "I do not have too many clear ideas what people from Saudi Arabia are able to read, excepting the literature accepted by the religious authorities. When it is not always possible to travel directly in all the countries I would like to, being so deprived with a direct contact with places and people, I am always looking for alternative ways of 'reading' these countries. Internet is a good medium, as there are a couple of blogs from the Middle East I could have some second hand understanding. Or movies. Or some translated books. In the case of Banat al-Ryadh, I found not only a book about Saudi Arabia, but also one wrote by a woman. About the life of four young girls from Ryadh. As I predicted from the very beginning, a bit of public diplomacy and PR is present, but not as an obvious propaganda. For example, the fact that young people from Saudi Arabia are often travelling, are familiar with the Western/American culture parts of the worlds they are working or going often for schools. They are fluent in English and even marry Christian women (but a Muslim woman cannot marry a Christian man). In this case, no reason to consider them terrorists or wrongdoers."

Tyler's AP American Blog: LAD # 31 Wilson's Fourteen Points:

"Wilson’s Fourteen Points calls for peace and an international policy of openness. 'The day of conquest and aggrandizement is gone by; so is also the day of secret covenants entered into in the interest of particular governments and likely at some unlooked-for moment to upset the peace of the world.' He also calls for a sense of national unity when he says that 'all the peoples of the world are in effect partners in this interest'. 1. calls for public diplomacy." [13 other points follow]. Image: President Wilson's draft of the Fourteen Points (in shorthand)

NATO expert group gives positive opinion of Armenia-NATO partnership program - Information-Analytic Agency NEWS.am: "A NATO expert group, which was on a visit to Yerevan on February 15-19, made gave its opinion on the Armenia-NATO individual partnership program. The press service of the RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs told NEWS.am that the NATO experts gave their opinion on the following aspects: political issues, relations with neighbors, judicial reforms, democratic control over the armed forces, formation of democratic institutions, human rights protection, struggle against international terrorism, crisis management reforms, public diplomacy, and science for peace." Below image from article

International Competition Aliante 2010 Begins - Daily Georgian Times: "Aliante is the most successful international competition about NATO and international affairs issues. The participants of the competition are youngsters from 15-19 years of all public schools and higher educational institutions. The competition gives the students opportunity to improve their knowledge in the defense and NATO related issues. The winners will travel in different NATO member countries, visit military bases and meet with peers. `Aliante 2010` is being implemented with the support of the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, the Ministry of Defense of Georgia, State Ministry of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration as well as Tbilisi City Hall, the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Poland and the department of NATO Public Diplomacy."

Israel relies on a deadly specialty - Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times: "'Confronting a hostile region, Israel sees targeted killings as an essential tool in decapitating militant groups or putting them on the defensive, experts say.'They seem to be extremely focused on this kind of tactic,' said Aaron David Miller, former U.S. negotiator in the Middle East and now scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. 'This is the price of living in the neighborhood,' he added. 'It's a symptom of the ongoing confrontation and their perceptions about the long war. Both sides perceive that acting, even with the negative consequences to image and public diplomacy, is still effective and it's going to continue.'"

Dubai hit exposes Hamas' weaknesses - Mel Frykberg, Asia Times Online - "Hamas has closed ranks and is licking its wounds following the January 20 assassination in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, of one of its top operatives, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. ...

Israeli public diplomacy minister Yuli Edelstein insisted he did not know who carried out the assassination. Speaking to a meeting of the Henry Jackson Society think-tank at the British parliament, he said: 'Even if it will turn out that the worst secret service of the worst country in the world had managed to get to that guy, I will still not call it murder.'" Image from

From Israel, a plan to win friends and influence people by working on its image: The government of Israel is launching a citizens' campaign to change their image, including 70 workshops for Israelis on how to hold a civil discussion when they travel abroad - Ilene Prusher, Christian Science Monitor: "The government is launching a media campaign to get Israelis to 'change the picture' of how they are portrayed through the global media, and dozens of workshops on how to conduct one-on-one discussions with people they meet when they travel abroad. Depending on one's perspective, the timing could be seen as either ideal or poor. ... The project, called 'Masbirim Yisrael' – Explaining Israel – began this past week with a series of prime-time television commercials here that show an almost comical, exaggerated version of how Israel is portrayed in the media. ... Other videos featured on the new website, http://www.csmonitor.com/www.masbirim.co.il, include a French-language clip of an announcer describing an Israel in which bombs are exploding in the streets of every city."

War Propaganda: Western Media, Not Israeli Hasbara - politicaltheatrics: "With the dreadful threat of yet another Israeli war in the Middle East looming, Israeli propaganda machine is likely to go into full gear. ... A growing reference that is once again floating among political and media analysts is that Israel has greater mastery than the Arabs over fighting media wars.

Often cited, for example, is the National Information Directorate, an Israeli propaganda center that was established a few months prior to the devastating war on Gaza last year. Ironically, the center was established after recommendations made by an Israeli inquiry into the equally bloody Israeli war against Lebanon in 2006 – ironically because independent war inquiries often chastise the army for violation of human rights, as opposed to recommending the establishment of a 'hasbara' – more like propaganda – body to justify the crimes committed against civilians. Still, even such 'hasbara' should have had little impact on the Western media’s depiction of Israeli crimes and hostilities toward its neighbors." Image from

Israel's smiling PR drive: Israeli citizens are being recruited to boost the country's image abroad – but the campaign amounts to papering over cracks - Seth Freedman, The Guardian: "[T]he officials behind the latest PR drive are one side of the hasbara coin, trying to make light of Israel's image problem and implying that winning over their opponents is only a matter of patient, good-natured explanation. The other, darker side of Israeli hasbara is the relentless pursuit of anyone deemed a danger to the state, whether domestic dissidents or external critics. ... It is no surprise that Israel's leaders want to improve the country's image without having to take concrete measures in the form of concessions to the Palestinians. Likewise, it is not unusual that the same politicians seek to blame others for 'misunderstanding' the situation rather than admitting that their own policies are highly questionable and unethical. However, to rope ordinary Israelis in by repeatedly telling them that anti-Israel sentiment abroad is irrational and baseless is both a futile and dishonest path to tread. Israel's image problem will only disappear when the core crimes committed in the name of the state cease, and the Palestinians are dealt with equitably." Below image from

Israel's smiling PR drive — War in Context - Paul Woodward, War in Context: "In order to enhance the efforts of its citizen diplomats, maybe Israel’s ministry of public diplomacy should set up a website where Israelis heading overseas can first validate the integrity of their passport information — provide that extra bit of reassurance for anyone who’s nervous about being mistaken as a Mossad operative. It could be tricky though. How does one government agency plausibly provide such a guarantee when it appears that two other government agencies have already been involved in identity theft?"

Israel News: Booklet explains how to explain Israel - News Service: "This initiative, which is obviously necessary, has been greeted with some derision and protest by Israeli media. In addition to political objections, we must note that not everyone is going to be good at getting the message across, no matter how much training they get. Qualities like personal magnetism, the ability to stay calm and to project sincerity and a talent for thinking on your feet are all essential to good advocacy. It seems we are doomed to live with the use of 'PR' to mean advocacy, and the proliferation of announcements about 'PR initiatives' that have little follow up."

Latin American Jewish Leaders to Meet in Jerusalem - Arutz Sheva: "Latin American Jewish community leaders will meet Wednesday and Thursday at the Jerusalem International Convention Center to discuss various issues on their communities' agendas, including relations with Israel, efforts to delegitimize Israel, anti-Semitism and the growing Iranian influence in Latin America.

The meetings were called at the initiative of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, who said, 'Iran is strengthening its diplomatic and economic presence in Latin America, while exporting the Islamic revolution and disseminating radical Shi'ite Islam among its residents,' a move he described as 'both strategic and tactical'." Image: Historical Textbook and Atlas of Biblical Geography (1854) by Coleman

A Nature Peace Park Won't Work Without Syrian-Israeli Peace First Says Israeli Prof - Green Prophet: "We’d reported last month on the Peace Parks conference hosted by Tel Aviv University. The idea is to create a nature reserve out of the occupied Golan Heights now under Israel sovereignty, and to return the land to Syria, of which one third would be a peace park and nature reserve open to both Syrians and Israelis. Could a Peace Park use nature and our natural environment to broker peace between Syria and Israel? Tel Aviv University’s Syrian expert Prof. Eyal Zisser doesn’t think so. Here’s a Q&A from the AFTAU website on what Prof. Eyal Zisser, head Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, thinks about the concept . ... Q: So after 10 years of discussion, why is there is a renewed interest in a Peace Park now? A: Researchers, non-governmental organizations, and those involved in the peace talks — including some Americans — think that a peace park would be a confidence-building measure among the Israeli public, a simple way make peace with Syria by giving back some acreage. I think that’s naive. If there were the possibility of real public diplomacy between Israel and Syria, we wouldn’t need this park to cement our relationship."

Analysis Of Al Qaeda In The Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) - Eurasia Review: "The U.S. government conducts several initiatives

aimed at countering violent extremism in the region. In 2002, the Department of State launched the Pan-Sahel Initiative (PSI) to increase border security, and military and counterterrorism capacities of Chad, Niger, Mali, and Mauritania. PSI programs focused solely on building security sector capacity. In 2005, the Bush Administration announced a 'follow-on' program known as the Trans Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP). An inter-agency, multi-faceted effort, TSCTP integrates counterterrorism and military training with development assistance and public diplomacy. It aims to 'improve individual country and regional capabilities …, disrupt efforts to recruit and train new terrorist fighters, particularly from the young and rural poor, and counter efforts to establish safe havens for domestic and outside extremist groups.' TSCTP is led by the State Department, but other agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of Defense (DOD), implement components of the program, including DOD’s Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans-Sahara (OEF-TS). Under OEF-TS, U.S. military forces work with African counterparts to improve intelligence, command and control, logistics, and border control, and to execute joint operations against terrorist groups." Image from

Romania - 130th anniversary of diplomatic relations with the French Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - ISRIA: "To mark this anniversary, the Romanian Foreign Ministry and the Embassies of France, Germany and the United Kingdom in Bucharest and the National Archives of Romania will stage a series of events in the coming period. A joint exhibition of documents will open at the end of March 2010, mirroring the highlights in the evolution of Romania’s diplomatic relations with the three European countries. Romania’s diplomatic missions will run public diplomacy actions in the three countries to mark this anniversary."

Nigeria - New Lessons in Democracy And Nation-Building - Magnus Onyibe, ‎AllAfrica.com: "After being constantly and consistently portrayed as a government driven by a cabinet that did not seem to understand its vision and mission, assuming there was one; a system that was unfamiliar with the concept of public diplomacy and therefore never bothered to conduct an audit of its image[;] and

a system that as a matter of policy maintains grave-yard silence that was characterised by weak or few rebuttals of the lies against it, the tendency for the reading public to believe what they hear or see in the media as gospel truth is very high and since the officials of the various international missions here in Nigeria, who send dispatches to their home countries form their opinion from feelers from the media arena which is dominated by views from the opposition, it was only natural for the global community to join in the call for a transmission of letter by President Yar'Adua to the National Assembly, NASS to close the so called leadership vacuum.” Image from

Prominent Iranian Revolution Activist Delivering Lecture At Wagner Today - NYU Local: "This [lecture] will be the debut talk in the Spring 2010 Middle East and United States Strategy Lecture Series organized by Michael Doran, a visiting professor at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University and an historian of U.S. policy toward the Middle East. Doran directed a Pentagon office of support for public diplomacy in the administration of George W. Bush and later served in the State Department."

The Excitement of Chaos - sflasch, Forward Variance:

"When I first discovered the FS [Foreign Service]I was immediately interested. After further research, I realized the public diplomacy cone was something my interests and studies would allow me to pursue further." Image from


Battle for Marja not only militarily significant - Greg Jaffe and Craig Whitlock, Washington Post: In purely military terms, sending 11,000 U.S. and Afghan troops to defeat a few hundred Taliban fighters in Marja won't change much in Afghanistan. The greater significance of the battle is in how it is perceived in the rest of Afghanistan and in America. The campaign's goals are to convince Americans that a new era has arrived in the eight-year-long war and to show Afghans that U.S. forces and the Afghan government can protect them from the Taliban. It allows Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander, who months earlier described conditions in the country as "grave and deteriorating," to make a clean break from past failures.

McChrystal says bombing civilians no way to win hearts and minds - Laurie Essig, True/Slant: The absurdity of the current US government propaganda push for the “good war” in Afghanistan would be funny if it were in a movie. We’d laugh at the stupid, overly macho, “hero” General who believes that bombing a country into oblivion is a way to “win” hearts and minds (even as he knows deep down that the real goal of winning the hearts and minds is getting to the natural resources).

If only we lived inside the movie “Avatar”- with McCrystal as the robo-jerk marine. But this isn’t a movie. It’s the real world and “accidentally” killing civilians may be unintentional, but it is also unavoidable. Image from

Prepare for war with Iran -- in case Israel strikes - Anne Applebaum, Washington Post: Because Americans often assume that everyone else perceives the world the way we do, it is worth repeating the obvious here: Many Israelis regard the Iranian nuclear program as a matter of life and death.

Iran and the crazy factor - Richard Cohen, Washington Post: Iran seems intent on getting nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. Nothing the United States and its allies have done has dissuaded Ahmadinejad (or the mullahs or the Revolutionary Guard Corps) from his goal.

Europe's Crisis of Ideas : Europeans' worship of the state and corresponding suspicion of free markets doom their countries to economic stagnation – Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal (subscription)

Industry urges govt to end propaganda projecting India as major producer of spurious drugs - Ramesh Shankar, pharmabiz.com:

Concerned over the propaganda being orchestrated by the vested interests that around 20-25 per cent of drugs produced in India are spurious drugs, the pharma industry in the country has asked the government to come out strongly with the real picture in this regard to set the record straight once for all. Image from

North Korea-funded schools in Japan have an image problem: They've tried to tamp down the accusations of propaganda by removing pictures of Kim Jong Il and broadening the curriculum. But life as an ethnic Korean in Japan can be tough - Ju-min Park, Los Angeles Times

Passport Propaganda - Jan Baughman, Swans: "I had to renew my passport recently for an upcoming trip to South Korea. The US State Department Web site indicates that it's currently taking 4-6 weeks to process such requests.

So as to not be caught short, I paid an extra $130 for an expedited processing, which is supposed to take 2 to 3 weeks, yet it only took ten days -- perhaps a money-making ploy for the deficit-burdened government -- and in true government-efficiency form, I received my new passport in one envelope, and my expired one in another. Upon receipt, I was shocked by the design, introduced in 2007, that consists of a series of propaganda scenes, approved by the discerning art critic Colin Powell, to remind us while we undergo airport body scans and strip searches of all the freedoms and ideals on which the country was founded. The redesigned passport is also now electronic, containing a small integrated circuit that allows for 'greater border protection and security.'" Image from


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