Friday, February 12, 2010

February 12

"We are generally the better persuaded by the reasons we discover ourselves than by those given to us by others."

--Blaise Pascal (1623-1662); image from

The Willis Conover Collection - University of North Texas Libraries: Willis Conover (1920-1996), was a jazz producer and broadcaster on the Voice of America for over forty years.

A 1997 gift of the Willis Conover Jazz Preservation Foundation, Inc., the collection consists of over 22,000 recordings of all kinds, correspondence, memos, magazines, record catalogs, manuscripts, program notes, memorabilia, photographs, books, and other personal items. Image from site


Public diplomats get public thanks - Matt Armstrong, "This week, Poland honored three Americans - including friend Yale Richmond - for their years of public diplomacy work expanding the Fulbright program into Poland.

The 'state distinctions' were awarded on 8th February 2010 in Washington, DC, by the Head of the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland, Władysław Stasiak. This was noted on the official blog of the President of the Republic of Poland." Image from article

VOL. VI NO. 3, January 29-February 11, 2010 – Layalina Productions:

"Internet: A New Media for Empowerment and Democracy Internet outreach has become the most popular item among the US government’s array of public diplomacy tools, as the Department of State integrates it in empowering individuals and promoting greater freedom.

Israel in Need of Rebranding The UN Goldstone report and the allegation of war crimes perpetrated by Israel in Gaza have considerably affected the image of the Jewish state, which is now considering new PR campaigns.

Arab Media Discourse Framed by Censorship The rapidly changing state of the media in the Arab world highlights the numerous challenges presented in the region.

US Broadcasting in the Arab World: Still not Enough The efficacy of Al-Hurra, the USG-funded media outlet in the Arab world, still generates debates on whether it should exist or not, while highlighting the lack of viewers and prohibition against domestic broadcasts as particularly incapacitating.

Google Seeks to Improve Outreach in the MidEast Google aims to destroy barriers to accessing technology by creating a position for a lobbyist in the Middle East to promote network neutrality.

Al-Arabiya to Compensate Saudi Prince for Un-Aired Interview The Dubai Appeals Court has issued a verdict ordering Al-Arabiya to compensate the Saudi Prince Saif Al-Islam for failing to broadcast an interview recorded in 2008.

Lack of Adequate Arab Representation at the World Economic Forum Despite claims of Arab official under-representation, this year’s annual World Economic Forum meeting in Switzerland featured the first televised debate by an Arab network, Al-Arabiya, focusing on the most pressing political, economic and business issues, with a primary emphasis on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Kerry Lugar Legislation Ready for the 21st Century Comprehensive bi-partisan legislation was introduced by the Senate of Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and Senator Dick Lugar aimed at provided authority, policy guidance, and operative oversight to the State Department.

Arab Media Business expanding for Saudi Arabia As the media industry in the Middle East remains dynamic and independent, Saudi media company Rotana continues to expand, providing unique opportunities and challenges in the region.

Democratizing the Media Despite calls to lift heavy censorship and regulations on journalism, organizations are still battling to secure a prominent role for media development in the Middle East, particularly as some argue that smaller internet-based publications do not warrant equal treatment."

The Limits of China's Soft Power in Europe: Beijing's Public Diplomacy Puzzle – "Clingendael A 42-page Dutch paper discussing the effectiveness of China's exercise of soft power in Europe Ingrid d’Hooghe."

Re-branding Israel? If only I could... - Ron Friedman, Jerusalem Post - With most of the talks at the annual Israel Tourism Conference in Tel Aviv focusing on innovation and creativity, there was a feeling of optimism in the air, especially with the recent announcement of record numbers of incoming tourists in the beginning of 2010. Then Ido Aharoni took to the podium and put everything into proportion. Aharoni is the head of the Foreign Ministry’s brand management team and his message to the tourism professionals on Wednesday was straightforward: the world’s perception of Israel is completely dominated by the Arab-Israeli conflict, and even if people back Israel ideologically, it doesn’t translate into a positive image. ...

He said that for 60 years Israel has been presenting itself through hasbara (public diplomacy), trying to convince decision-makers and the public that Israel is in the right and backing it up with historic, legal and moral facts. That’s well and good and it might make them favor Israel in polls or on election day, said Aharoni, but what it also does is cement in people’s minds the notion of Israel as a country in conflict. These people are potential tourists, but they tire of the debate before they ever get here and see firsthand that what they hear in the news is not reflective of reality." Image from

Floundering on Terror- Kevin Drum, Mother Jones: "[Comment:] Another contestant in the Macgoober cluelessness sweepstakes? Submitted by DMonteith (not verified) on Thu Feb. 11, 2010 8:01 AM PST. Liberals were opposed to the invasion of Afghanistan? Liberals thought taking troops from Afghanistan to send to Iraq was a good idea? Liberals think assassinating US citizens is awesome? Liberals don't express reservations about the collateral damage/public diplomacy problems of drone attacks? Really?"


Obama's Eastern Front: The U.S. Russia-first policy disquiets Europe's young democracies – Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal (subscription)

Guantanamo prison: Ugly but necessary - Michael Gerson, Washington Post: The Guantanamo facility is still ugly. But ugly things, such as maximum-security prisons, can be necessary.

Afghanistan: Propaganda of the Deed - Paul Rogers, ISN: Operation Moshtarak (the word means “together” in the Dari language), even before its launch, has been the subject of a series of high-profile news stories with an almost uniformly positive “spin.”

Their consistent core is that the operation’s purpose is to curb Taliban influence over Helmand as a whole; that the province is, alongside neighbouring Kandahar, the pivot of Taliban power in Afghanistan; and, therefore, that victory would be likely to turn the whole course of the war in Afghanistan in favour of the Nato/Isaf project. For Nato’s military planners and their political overlords, it is essential to demonstrate that the war can be won; what better way than to depict Operation Moshtarak as the instrument that breaks Taliban control of a key province? Image from

The Case Grows for Striking Iran: Only decisive action can stop Tehran from acquiring nukes - John Bolton, Wall Street Journal (subscription)

Remember Iran - William Kristol, Washington Post: Regime change in Iran -- that would be an Obama administration achievement that Joe Biden, and the rest of us, could really celebrate.

Manufacturing Consent in Iran - Jacob Laksin, FrontPage Magazine: Iran – or more accurately the Iranian government – this week celebrated the 31st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution. Armed with live ammunition, knives and teargas, the security forces set upon anyone identified as opposition protestors.

When not resorting to violent repression, the government tried to thwart the opposition by disrupting internet, telephone and text messaging service inside the country. For propaganda purposes, the government also staged its own mass rally in Tehran’s Freedom Square, an occasion capped by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s defiant declaration that Iran is now a “nuclear state,” capable of producing its own weapons-grade uranium. Image from

Hard Mideast Truths - Roger Cohen, New York Times: For over a century now, Zionism and Arab nationalism have failed to find an accommodation in the Holy Land. Both movements attempted to fill the space left by collapsed empire, and it has been left to the quasi-empire, the United States, to try to coax them to peaceful coexistence. The attempt has failed.

Al Jazeera and its detractors - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Zionism Unmasked: 'Anti-Semitic' - the Label that Stops Criticism - Paul Balles, Salem-News.Com

Generation Jihad – Propaganda Message or Documentary? – Muslim Public Affairs Committee: The UNSPEAK of manufactured government created ‘war on terror' phraseology which was also used to great effect to ensure the Muslims were never given a real chance to be heard – extremists, terrorists, radicalised, hate preachers and on and on it went.

This type of propaganda helped no one; all it did was allow the Islamophobes to demonise our community, allow the Government’s brutal foreign to remain unchallenged and attempted to keep the Muslim community petrified of expressing their anger at the barbarity of Western-backed governments' role in the Muslim world. Image from

A Museum of Tolerance we don't need: The Simon Wiesenthal Center should abandon its plan to build a facility on the site of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem - Saree Makdisi, Los Angeles Times

A proper site for a Museum of Tolerance: The Wiesenthal Center's project has been approved by the government and the courts, and will be built on property that is not a cemetery but a parking lot - Marvin Hier, Los Angeles Times

Citizen Conversation With…Noam Chomsky - Matt Bieber, The Citizen: Interview conducted on December 15, 2009 at Chomsky’s MIT office by Matt Bieber, MPP ‘11. In Manufacturing Consent (1988), you use a “propaganda model” to describe the way elite media functions. Can you summarize the view? Do you think its central claims still hold? If so, how might the model help us to understand coverage of the war in Afghanistan? Well, the Propaganda Model is very simple-minded. It’s pretty close to truism, I think.

If you look at the structure of the media, what kind of institutions they are, there are some simple observations. Let’s keep to the United States; it’s slightly different than other countries. The media in the United States are major corporations…usually part of mega-corporations. Like other businesses, they sell a product to a market. Now, the market is advertisers — that is, other businesses. There are other powerful institutions that they interact with, like state power, which is very closely linked to concentrated private power in numerous ways. As for the product that’s sold — that is, audiences — that depends on which media you’re talking about. Our work is mostly on the elite media. So that audience is educated people, you know, people who are in general managerial circles — political managers, economic managers, doctrinal managers, universities, and so on.

Trojan/Roman Aeneas: the historical big picture - andreaskluth, The Hannibal Blog: Augustus imposed peace, on Rome and on its empire. What we call the Pax Romana was really the Pax Augusta. Augustus thus appeared to be the reluctant hero, the hero who wages war only to end war, who finally lets Rome reach its full, world-ruling and world-changing potential and mission.

He seemed to be the end of Roman history, its telos. What was needed was a story that would tell all of the past, starting before Rome even existed, as though everything inexorably led up to this man, this peace, by divine will. And this is the answer to the question. Virgil wanted to write that story. We today might be tempted to call it propaganda, and it was. But it was sublime propaganda, in the most moving and intimate words, with allusions to all poems that preceded it. It was epic. Image from


CrisisMaven said...

Yes, but the august Augustus also was the nail in the coffin of imperial overstretch, bringing, as today, his country ever closer to the brink of sovereign default.

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