Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 22

"The Denisonians"

--Cousins to Neanderthals who lived in Asia from roughly 400,000 to 50,000 years ago and interbred with the ancestors of today’s inhabitants of New Guinea; image from


An Independent Commentary on the QDDR - "We -- former and retired career officials from State and USAID -- are pleased to offer an independent commentary on selected issues in the just-released Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). ... VI. U.S. public diplomacy must be enhanced, with State as the leader. The QDDR calls for integrating public diplomacy as a 'core diplomatic mission' and providing personnel with 'communication tools for 21st century engagement.' We support these steps, along with the plan to 'revise the current risk management posture' so that host country publics can be engaged more effectively. At many U.S. embassies and consulates security measures hamstring public diplomacy activities. They must engage where the people are as well as virtually. We look forward to implementation of QDDR enhancements, such as expanding regional media hubs, employing new networking and communications technologies, and expanding American Centers and Corners. Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy Judith McHale has set forth a sensible strategic framework for public diplomacy, a part of the QDDR. A unified public diplomacy effort requires strong coordination among strategic communications leaders at State, Defense, and the White House to ensure unity of message and operational speed and flexibility in getting the message out. Upgrading the position of Coordinator for International Information Programs (IIP) to Assistant Secretary would facilitate this. Chiefs of Mission and Public Affairs Officers must play key, interagency roles in creating short- and long-term strategies for engaging foreign publics. A 'made in Washington' approach will not succeed. Field officers must play defining roles in developing strategies, setting priorities, and evaluating programs. Educational and cultural exchange programs are more valuable than ever but pressures to cut funding will increase.

We recommend that: 1) Further efforts be made to strengthen Congressional and other stakeholder support for educational and cultural exchange programs, 2) Risk management 7 practices facilitate expanded engagement of public audiences overseas, 3) Chiefs of Mission and PAOs lead interagency public diplomacy strategy and evaluation at post, 4) State collaborate more with the private sector to research, test, and prove new approaches, 5) The position of Coordinator for IIP be upgraded to an Assistant Secretary, and 6) Career officers be considered for the most senior leadership positions in public diplomacy." Via LB. Image from

U.S. Helps Journalists During a Time of Crisis in Pakistan - PD-Wali: "An inside look at Public Diplomacy work in Pakistan: Almost immediately after the onset of the worst floods in Pakistan’s history last summer, the U.S. government’s response effort leaped into action. In the four months since the floods hit, the United States has contributed $500 million to relief and early recovery efforts. In addition, the U.S. military — in partnership with their Pakistani counterparts — flew helicopter relief missions that rescued more than 40,000 people and delivered more than 26 million pounds of relief supplies.

What is less well known is the U.S. military’s efforts to help journalists in Pakistan provide quality coverage of the impact of the floods and ongoing relief operations. Working with the Public Affairs Office at the American Embassy in Islamabad, the U.S. military took 194 international and Pakistani journalists by helicopter to flood-affected areas." Image from article, with caption: Pakistani journalists interviews flood affected people after taking a flight on a U.S. military helicopter to Kohistan, Kyber-Paktunkhwa.

The Over-Reaction to WikiLeaks - "1. Public Diplomacy In general, Americans would like the world to view America as an ethical entity. Our foreign policy generally supports governments we feel are controlled by The People and the democratic peace theory is often a core assumption of our foreign policy. Recently the Obama Administration praised Google for standing up to China by refusing to censor search results. Several years ago the Bush administration condemned China’s treatment of political dissidents. After all, the President of the United States is the ‘Leader of the Free World’. Despite this, America’s collective national knee-jerk reaction to WikiLeaks was to yell ‘terrorist!’ and to have the site shut down, as evidenced by reactions of Amazon, PayPal, MasterCard, etc. In terms of maintaining trusting relationships, honesty and staying true to one’s values are best practices. This goes for personal relationships and inter-governmental relationships alike. How America’s public and private sectors react to journalists show the world what America values. We as a people can’t condemn China for silencing whistleblowers and dissidents when our own corporations and politicians are trying to stamp them out as well. We must realize that if we wish the world to value openness in governance, we too must value it. ... Ryan J. Suto I have been doing martial arts since I was about 6 years old, and now I hold black belts in both Tae Kwon Do and Judo. I did my undergrad at Penn State (so I love Penn State football), where I got a BA in political science and a BA in philosophy. Now I'm at Syracuse University, where I'm pursuing an MA in international relations, an MS in public relations, and a JD in law. I enjoy food a lot."

Richard Holbrooke's Public Diplomacy: The Case of the US Cultural Center in Belgrade
- John Brown, Huffington Post: "Richard Holbrooke has died. At a time when many are grieving the loss of a temperamental but dedicated diplomat, one episode of his work in the Balkans -- that explosive and often forgotten corner of Europe -- is worth bringing to light.

Here is this Footnote to history (it deserves to be capitalized): Thanks to an unwritten agreement between Holbrooke and Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, the American Cultural Center in Belgrade, closed by order of the US government through its now-defunct United States Information Agency in the mid-1990s, was reopened not long after the 1995 Dayton Peace accord -- with Milosevic footing the bill!" Image from

Moving Ahead of the Pack - Alvin Snyder, Newswire – CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors, the federal agency that oversees U.S. government non-military international broadcast and Internet services, probably knows more than it's letting on.

The good news is that it has released another in its series of expertly researched documents on viewing and listening habits related to its many language services abroad. But little detailed background is disclosed regarding its competition abroad from other counties." Snyder image from his blog

Two RFE journalists beaten in unrest following Belarus election
- Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

To Lead or Not to Lead - Nels Abrams HIST 4501 Professor Bischoff Spring 2009, Rodney Dangerfield and Me: "Early in his term Obama has demonstrated that his approach to foreign policy will rely heavily on the public diplomacy that was lacking during the past administration. He has begun discussions on the removal of the ignominious Guantanamo prison in Cuba, and he has assured the world that unilateral aggression is over by beginning a dialogue with Iran. International citizens expressed their approval of the new president with massive crowds of supporters during his trip overseas. By not being afraid to compromise and participate in global politics, Obama has regained international political leadership for America. At home, a diverse population of Americans shares the global enthusiasm for the United States’ new direction."

Indian Diplomacy - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Great piece in the Washington Post about India's recent high level diplomatic engagement. Britain, the US, France, China and Russia all came calling to pay respects to a burgeoning India. With all the trade deals inked,

I hope there is also some considerable public diplomacy efforts to follow between Bharat and Security Counsel that visited. Both Indian diplomacy and public diplomacy will need to be increased to work to bring India (and Brazil) its rightful spot on that body. But this is definitely positive." Image from

Iran's supreme power struggle: ‎History is on the side of Ayatollah Khamenei, but don't expect the tussle to ever truly abate - Mehdi Khalaji, TODAYonline: "Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has never been happy about the status of the Iranian presidency - neither during his own tenure, from 1981 to 1989, nor during the terms of his three successors. ... The Ayatollah does rely on Mr Ahmadinejad to lead Iran's public diplomacy.

The President travels widely, speaks frequently, and mobilises political support with his anti-American and anti-Western rhetoric. But public diplomacy is not diplomacy itself. It is clear that no one in Mr Ahmadinejad's inner circle - certainly not the President himself - has gained the Supreme Leader's confidence. The nuclear portfolio, for example, remains exclusively under the Ayatollah's control. ... The history of the Islamic Republic indicates that the power struggle between the Supreme Leader and the President never abates. It also suggests that the Supreme Leader will prove to be stronger." Image from article

MKs vote to retain tax breaks for foreign journalists - Rebecca Anna Stoil, Jerusalem Post: "Weeks after The Jerusalem Post first reported on a Finance Ministry attempt to fully tax resident foreign journalists, MKs from both the coalition and opposition shot down the Treasury’s demand during marathon voting on the Economic Arrangements Bill Tuesday. 'Due to pressure from MKs, the Treasury was forced to give up on its intent to fully tax foreign journalists,' said MK Nahman Shai (Kadima), who spearheaded the effort against the proposed change to the current tax structure. ... Opponents of the clause complained that the legislation would have needlessly damaged Israel’s efforts at public diplomacy by sending a message to journalists that they were not wanted."

In Bali, officials air experiences of democracy - Thomas Kean, "Representatives, including Myanmar’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs U Maung Myint at the third annual Bali Democracy Forum on December 9 are 'determined' to implement the final steps of the road map to democracy, a senior official told the Bali Democracy Forum earlier this month, as representatives from several nations welcomed the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. ... The December 9-10 forum brought together officials from more than 70 countries – both democratic and non-democratic – to discuss various aspects of democracy. US representative Ms Judith McHale said the 'important' forum provided the opportunity for

countries at 'different points in their democratic evolution to share experiences and learn from one another'. While conceding that 'change will not come easily' here, Ms McHale said the forum could be 'instrumental in encouraging democratic reform in places like [Myanmar]'. She said the US 'welcomed' the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. 'We hope that our direct bilateral dialogue with [Myanmar] authorities, [Myanmar’s] desire for the removal of sanctions, and the engagement of [Myanmar’s] neighbours through this forum will encourage [Myanmar] to create a more peaceful, prosperous, democratic future,' said Ms McHale, the US undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs." Image from article, with caption: Representatives, including Myanmar’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs U Maung Myint (back row, fourth from left), at the third annual Bali Democracy Forum on December 9.

Kansas to Cairo: vanishing cultural differences, or rather avoiding stereotypes? - "If there is one thing which seems to be perfectly suited for collaboration and research in a world such as Second Life, it seems to be architecture. If such a project also involves geographically dispersed teams, education, and different cultures, it really becomes a fascinating challenge. ... [P]eople leave their identities behind when they enter Second Life. It’s a bit like leaving your country and becoming a citizen of another country, in this case a virtual one. Of course, one of the questions here is whether Second Life in itself is reflecting certain values, or whether it is value-neutral – being a place for very different cultures – or is precisely that diversity such an ‘American’ value? It should come as no surprise that public diplomacy experts are interested – to put it bluntly, it provides a way to make American and foreign students work together and to spread certain values, while avoiding discussions about real world immigration issues."

Wile E. McConnell - p m carpenter's commentary: "Mitch McConnell is maneuvering through a rollout of open diplomacy: his notorious 'one-term' remark and now the chortled quip, 'If [Democrats] think it’s bad now, wait 'til next year.' Yet McConnell, a professional faker, must know what Julian Assange amateurishly doesn't: that open, which is to say public, diplomacy is only a tactic to obscure private means."

Facebook's COO on Getting More Women to the Top - Mabsuta Bideshi, Happy Foreigner? Bangladeshi-American. Feminist. Fashionista. Celtics fan. "Wanderer: My Foreign Service Timeline Serving my country and being at the frontlines of US foreign policy, hmm let's see, I think that's been a dream since I was born :) But for those interested, here's my 'Courting the State Department Foreign Service' timeline: - October 2009: Registered for the FSOT/FSWE (Foreign Service Officer Test/Foreign Service Written Exam) in the Public Diplomacy (PD) cone - March 1, 2010: Take the FSOT at the US Embassy in Cairo - late March 2010: Notified that I passed and must now submit my Personal Narrative Questions (PNQs) - early April 2010: Submit my PNQs and take the Egyptian Arabic oral test (and pass!) - early June 2010: Notified that I made it to FSOA (Foreign Service Oral Assessment) - the final stage! - July 29, 2010: Pass FSOA (5.6 + .5 (Arabic) = 6.1 woo!) - September 10, 2010: Security Interview - October 21, 2010: Medical Clearance - ???: Security Clearance Oh elusive A-100, when will we unite?"

End of the Semester Wrap-Up - Ren's Micro Diplomacy: "Will be studying the politics of the Middle East and trade as PD in Latin America. Two notoriously rigorous

courses, but I’m up for a challenge." Image from


South Korea furious at North Korean Twitter and its followers: Data war has no DMZ - Andrea Petrou, The South Korean government wants to put further internet restrictions in place to stop any websites in favour of its troubled neighbour in the North. The country's Justice Minister has said 2011's plans will include trying to "block North Korea's propaganda activity through social-networking services, such as Twitter."

Websites judged to be sympathetic to Pyongyang, usually from organisations based in China and Japan with affiliations to North Korea, have been blocked by the South Korean government for several years. According to CIO, South Korean internet users attempting to access the sites are redirected to a National Police Agency page indicating that the site is forbidden in South Korea. Uncaptioned image from article

Skorea: New Propaganda War -, Atlanta Georgia: For the first time in 7 years, a church has illuminated a huge steel Christmas tree atop a South Korean peak that overlooks North Korean border towns. It's a tradition condemned in Pyongyang as propaganda. The North has warned the tree could trigger bloodshed.

Venezuela Approves Changes In Media Laws; Ch├ívez Critics Worry About Free Speech - The Venezuelan congress approved two controversial measures late Monday night that put new regulations on the country’s internet and telecommunications systems. One part of the legislation, article 28, is meant to prohibit television, radio or internet messages that “incite, promote or justify crime,

the equivalent of war propaganda, fomenting anxiety among the citizenry or that alter the public order,” according to a statement released by the Venezuelan government. Internet sites that run afoul of the law could be fined up to $3,023 and service providers who fail to respond to government inquiries will be fined up to 4 percent of annual income. Image from article

Medvedev Rekindles Russia’s Cold War Bollywood Affair - Wall Street Journal: It was the height of the Cold War and Hollywood films were still off limits in Russia. Stalin had just passed away and the newly-appointed Nikita Khruschev was looking for ways to allow Russians more than Communist propaganda. The answer, part of a cultural period known as “Khruschev’s Thaw” — which began following Stalin’s death in 1953 — was to let in Bollywood films. Then-Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was tilting to Moscow and, although India was still officially non-aligned, films from Mumbai were preferable for Soviet authorities to cultural imports from the U.S. In homage to this unexpected cultural exchange, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will today visit Yash Raj Studios in Mumbai, a major Bollywood film enterprise set up in 2007 by impressario Yash Chopra.

Image from article, with caption: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev may be meeting Priyanka Chopra and a bevy of Bollywood stars at the Yash Raj Studios. Image from article

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