Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 27

"I lose sleep because I'm getting older, but not because of China's stepped up public diplomacy efforts."

--USG International Broadcasting guru Kim Andrew Elliott; image from


Battery Dance Company Toolkit Prototype v1.0: "For nearly three decades Battery Dance Company

has been empowering meaningful cultural relations through teaching and sharing dance. This is the story of what, why and how they do it." Via; image from


Pentagon, Inc.: How to Sell an Unpopular War - Nancy Snow, Huffington Post: "The American army still engages in a war far, far away [in Afghanistan] but the American citizenry isn't there. We don't engage. We don't support that far-away war, but we continue to pay for it.

It's precisely because of this disconnect between apathetic or weak public support for the Afghanistan war and a costly war raging on at a distance that leads to a full-spectrum influence strategy where public relations, public diplomacy, info ops and psy-ops -- and now Information Engagement cells -- are the soup to nuts menu for getting the purse-holders to board the train." Image from

The Biggest Losers (Middle Eastern edition) - "[T]he US government ... reacted slowly, clumsily and viscerally to the wave of [Middle East] protests, engaged in a series of quick policy shifts and contradictory pronouncements, and which has been shown to have a limited ability to predict, respond or influence events on the ground in that strategically important region even as it pontificates about its newly discovered commitment to democracy and human rights in it (it should be noted that other great powers such as China and Russia did not engage in public diplomacy about the unrest, which may be more due to their own authoritarian records rather than a respect for national sovereignty and preference for private diplomacy but which in any event does not leave them looking like hypocrites on the matter). ... But the biggest loser by far in this historic moment is the one actor that only gets mentioned by fear-mongerers: al-Qaeda and the international jihadist movement. In spite of repeated calls for the Muslim masses to join them in their struggle, after years of sacrifice of blood and treasure, international jihadists have seen few echoes of their views in the Middle Eastern uprisings."

McCain and Lieberman on Future TV: Public Diplomacy blues - "If these were indeed the talking points for the two senators, then US public diplomacy in Lebanon is truly at its weakest point in six years.

Incredible responses on LAF aid, Hariri as a hero etc…. the two mainstays of US foriegn policy looked confused and uncomfortable, bereft of their former certainties…." Image from

Russia: Internet Freedom As Cold War 2.0 - Gregory Asmolov, "On February 15, 2010 Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, shared her vision of the Internet’s role in the modern world. New remarks emphasized the definition of the cyberspace as 'the public space of the 21st century' and the U.S. commitment to promote Internet freedom. It seemed that this kind of speech would be supported by bloggers all over the world. Surprisingly, Russian bloggers and, not surprisingly, Russian media were mostly skeptical about Clinton's speech. Article titles vividly illustrate the framing of the address: 'Top-Level Trolling: U.S. Government Plans To Enlighten Russian Citizens Via Twitter' (Vzglyad [RUS]), 'Strategic Twitter Offensive: the U.S. Claims Authority Over Defending Free Internet All Over the World' ( [RUS]), 'Enemy Voices In 140 Symbols' ( [RUS].

Two elements of the speech attracted most attention. The first one is the launch of State Department Twitter account in Russian. And the second one is the decision of the U.S. to invest $25 million in the 'Internet freedom' initiatives. One may assume that the reaction of Russian bloggers could be an unexpected surprise for those who had developed the new U.S. Internet freedom strategy. Hillary Clinton, however, wasn’t the first one to approach Russian citizens online. In 2008, the undersecretary for public diplomacy James Glassman announced creation of Russian language 'Digital Outreach Team', that would engage in RuNet discussions about American politics. The initiative was badly received. There are probably a number of explanations for this type of reaction. One of them is offered [ENG] by Steven Corman and his colleagues. They suggest the U.S. communication failures in other countries are caused by the lack of understanding that 'a meaning cannot simply be transferred, like a letter mailed from point A to point B,' but it depends primarily on 'interpreting one-another’s actions and making attributions about thoughts, motivations, and intentions'." Image from article

Ideas exchanged in Warren: Ukrainians pay visit to city - Virginia Shank, Tribune Chronicle: "Although they were equipped with three interpreters, a group of Ukrainian leaders appeared well aware of the language barrier among them and local officials when they visited the city last week. ... The group, made up of Ukrainian planning and development leaders, is participating in the U.S. Agency for International Development, or US AID, community connections program. They arrived Feb. 16 in the U.S., planning to spend three weeks in Ohio examining urban planning and development practices. The Columbus International Program serves as host organization for

the delegation. ... The program is offered by The Community Connections Program, managed by the Bureau for Europe and Eurasia at US AID and administered by World Learning. It is designed to promote public diplomacy through the exchange of cultural ideas and values among participants, U.S. families and local community host organizations and to establish and strengthen links between U.S. communities and European countries including the Ukraine." Image from

What is Al Jazeera? and What's Al Hurra? - "US Propaganda US of A, countered with Al Hurraw [sic]. This is your tax-dollars at work. Quote: Alhurra is a United States-based satellite TV channel, sponsored by the U.S. government. It began broadcasting on February 14, 2004 in 22 countries across the Middle East. U.S. Government sources generally refer to the channel as Al-Hurra. Like all forms of U.S. public diplomacy, the station is forbidden from broadcasting within the U.S. itself under the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act concerning the broadcast of propaganda."

Israeli Government, Universities Support Student Delegation Sent to Fight Israel Apartheid Week - Connie Hackbarth, Alternative Information Center (AIC): "Ben Gurion University and the the Weitzmann Institute are joining forces with Israel’s Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs to support and finance a delegation going to the UK to counter Israel Apartheid Week at the end of March.

The 25 student strong delegation organized itself via Facebook and according to Alon Kimchi, initiator of the project, 'the time has come to stop crying about the Israeli public relations and to strengthen them in positive ways. Our goal is to act as the first filter against the lies and propaganda against Israel.'”

Chinese public diplomacy is a paper tiger funded by our trade deficit - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Empowering Women in International Relations: The €900 Atlantic Community Op-Ed Writing Competition (NATO countries) - " ... [t]o mark the 10th anniversary of this landmark UN Resolution and help realize its aims ... [is] launching the op-ed competition 'Women on Transatlantic Security,' which is sponsored by the NATO Public Diplomacy Division and the United States Mission to NATO."


Jenkins chosen for commission - The Observer: The Independent Newspaper Serving Notre Dame and St. Mary's: "University president Fr. John Jenkins

was recently appointed to a national commission that will examine the future of teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences. The Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, created by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), is co-chaired by Richard Brodhead, president of Duke University, and John Rowe, chair and chief executive officer of Exelon Corp. The commission includes prominent Americans from the humanities, social sciences, physical and life sciences, business, law, philanthropy, the arts and the media. ... The commission was spurred by a bipartisan request from U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Reps. Tom Petri (R-Wisc.) and David Price (D-N.C.). They presented the commission with the following charge: 'What are the top 10 actions that Congress, state governments, universities, foundations, educators, individual benefactors and others should take now to maintain national excellence in humanities and social scientific scholarship and education, and to achieve long-term national goals for our intellectual and economic well-being; for a stronger, more vibrant civil society; and for the success of cultural diplomacy in the 21st century?'" See also (1) (2). Jenkins image from article

Lynda Benglis & Foundation for Art & Preservation in Embassies (FAPE) Donate Art in Mumbai, India
- Press Release, PRLog: "The Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE), the leading non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the United States image abroad through American art, announced today that renowned American artist Lynda Benglis will install 14 large-scale, permanent works of art at the new U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, India this month. Benglis has donated these works to FAPE in support of the organization’s mission to use art as a tool for cultural diplomacy. Benglis donated these works to FAPE’s Site-Specific Collections, which uses art to spark cross-cultural dialogue. As part of this project, the U.S. Department of State has asked FAPE

to commission site-specific works by American artists for many U.S. embassies in construction abroad. Once an artist has been selected and has agreed to create a work, FAPE works with the embassy architects, the State Department, and the artist, to ensure that the art is sensitively integrated with its surroundings.

The artists donate all artworks while FAPE provides funds for their fabrication and installation." Top image from; below image from

Cultural diplomacy - ‎Nicole Pope, Today's Zaman: "I recently received a frustrated e-mail from the artistic co-director of the International Culture Lab, a Brooklyn-based theater group that specializes in cross-cultural artistic cooperation. For the past three years, they have been working on a joint American-Turkish theatrical project, bringing together actors and writers from both countries. ... For this project, titled 'S/HE,' two one-act plays written by American playwright Tammy Ryan and her Turkish counterpart Zeynep Kaçar will be merged into one performance that will have a two-week run at the Kitchen Theater in Ithica [sic], the home of Cornell University, in May, a four-week run at the Irondale Theater in Brooklyn in October before moving to İstanbul to greet a Turkish audience at Garajistanbul

in November. ... [W]hile the men and women behind this project found sympathetic ears in the US, they have faced major reluctance on the Turkish side. In fact, they found themselves wading in the murky waters of internal politics, since gender has become a focus of internal divisions. ... We can only hope that Turkish organizations will see that international projects like this one are an occasion to show different aspects of contemporary Turkey and will rise to the challenge." Image from

New Yorkers protest Israel Philharmonic, more protests planned in other cities - Adalah-NY, Palestine: "Seventy New Yorkers protested the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s (IPO) performance at Carnegie Hall Tuesday evening, using chants, songs and street theater to highlight the IPO’s role in whitewashing Israel’s apartheid policies against the Palestinian people. The orchestra’s performances are being met with protests in six of the seven cities on its US tour, including a protest last Sunday evening in West Palm Beach, an upcoming Wednesday protest in Newark, and further protests in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as reported by the Israeli news website YNet. ... By serving as cultural ambassadors for Israel, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is supporting the 'Brand Israel'

initiative, a campaign by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to divert attention from Israel's oppression of Palestinians and 'show Israel’s prettier face, so we [Israel] are not thought of purely in the context of war.' The IPO refrains from criticism of Israel's policies and is described by the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra as 'Israel’s finest cultural emissary.' American Friends of the IPO further notes that 'the goodwill created by [the IPO's] of enormous value to the State of Israel. As a result, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra maintains its position at the forefront of cultural diplomacy and the international music scene.' One corporate sponsor of the IPO's US tour is Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, who hosted a gala IPO fundraiser. Leviev’s companies have been shunned by UNICEF, CARE, Oxfam, the British and Norwegian governments, and Hollywood stars for building illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and for involvement in human rights abuses in the diamond industry in Southern Africa." See also.

Cultural diplomacy comes into its own
- Viet Nam News: "Cultural diplomacy is expected be taught as a subject in several major universities by the end of this year as part of a Government promotion strategy. The deployment of the strategy will be closely combined with overseas diplomatic activities. However, it will also be used internally to promote matters of national interest and importance. The Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam (IIR),

Ha Noi University of Culture (HUC), the Academy of Journalism and Communication (AJC) and several other universities will take part in the scheme. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the strategy would help speed up cultural diplomacy in the next decade to broaden the international community's understandings of Viet Nam and to consolidate ties with other nations. Image from article, with caption: Vietnamese youngsters at the World Festival of Youth and Students in South Africa last year. Cultural diplomacy can be used to promote Vietnamese culture to enhance political and trade activities."


The military/media attacks on the Hastings article - Glenn Greewald, Salon: Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings has now written another Rolling Stone article that reflects poorly on a U.S. General in Afghanistan. Military officials want to impugn Hastings, but are afraid to attach their names to their claims and thus be accountable

for them -- exactly the way these officials seek to influence the Afghanistan war debate with covert propaganda, all without any accountability. So they instruct their media servants to disseminate their message anonymously, uncritically, and without a shred of accountability, and "journalists" like O'Donnell and Barnes then snap into line and comply." See also. Image from

Military denies use of intelligence tactics on senators - Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post: When Lt. Col. Michael D. Holmes was assigned to the U.S.-led headquarters in Kabul responsible for training Afghan security forces, he assumed he would spend a year employing his skills as an information operations officer. Perhaps, he thought, he would work on ways to influence Afghans to join their army, or he would develop anti-Taliban propaganda. Officers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Holmes never was asked to use psychological operations, deception or other tactics that would be illegal when applied to fellow Americans. He simply was being asked to conduct research using publicly available material, they said. They also said Holmes never attended any of the meetings with visiting members of Congress. The Army said it has no record of training Holmes in "psychological operations." Holmes was accused of spending too much time on Facebook.

An American in Pakistan - Arthur R. Brisbane, New York Times: The Times’s disclosure on Monday that it withheld information about Raymond Davis’s connection to the Central Intelligence Agency has kicked up a powerful response,

some of it as bitterly critical as these readers’ comments. Mr. Davis was charged with murder after shooting two Pakistani men in Lahore on Jan. 27. The Times jumped on the story, but on Feb. 8, the State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, contacted the executive editor, Bill Keller, with a request. “He was asking us not to speculate, or to recycle charges in the Pakistani press,” Mr. Keller said. “His concern was that the letters C-I-A in an article in the NYT, even as speculation, would be taken as authoritative and would be a red flag in Pakistan.” Image from

Doyle McManus: Helping the Arabs help themselves: The U.S. must find a way, and funding, to promote democracy - Doyle McManus, Obama and his aides have used the uprisings in the Arab world as a reproach to the authoritarian government of Iran, which has attacked demonstrators in Tehran even as it praised them in Cairo. But the best way to promote democracy in Iran — or Syria or Saudi Arabia — is to help democracy succeed in Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia.

Unfit for Democracy? - Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times: "In Egypt and Bahrain in recent weeks, I’ve been humbled by the lionhearted men and women I’ve seen defying tear gas or bullets for freedom that we take for granted. How can we say that these people are unready for a democracy that they are prepared to die for?"

How the Arabs Turned Shame Into Liberty - Fouad Ajami, New York Times: For decades, Arabs walked and cowered in fear. Now they seem eager to take freedom’s ride. Wisely, they are paying no heed to those who wish to speak to them of liberty’s risks.

After Iraq's Day of Rage, a Crackdown on Intellectuals - Stephanie McCrummen, Washington Post: The Iraq protests were different from many of the revolts sweeping the Middle East and North Africa in that demonstrators were calling for reform, not for getting rid of the government. Their demands ranged from more electricity and jobs to ending corruption, reflecting a dissatisfaction with government that cuts across sectarian and class lines.

Yet the protests were similar to others in that they were organized, at least in part, by middle-class, secular intellectuals, many of whom started Facebook groups, wrote and gave interviews supporting the planned demonstrations. Image from

State Dept official "weighing his words carefully ... both praised and criticized Al Jazeera" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Al Jazeera English in the USA: more arguments for and against - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

China launches propaganda campaign‎ - Kathrin Hille, Patti Waldmeir, Financial Times: China muffled calls for a pro-democracy movement on Sunday with a show of force from its security apparatus and an all-out propaganda offensive. Huge numbers of uniformed and plainclothes police, combined with street-cleaning vehicles, made sure no crowds formed on Wangfujing, one of the busiest shopping streets in Beijing, where an anonymous online appeal has been calling on people to gather for weekly ‘strolls’ for democracy.

China names top media watchdog: Cai Fuchao will take over at SARFT, report directly to cabinet - China has named Cai Fuchao, deputy mayor and propaganda czar of Beijing, as head of the country's powerful media watchdog, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. Cai, 60,

replaces Wang Taihua, who oversaw rapid growth of the Chinese film and TV business in the past six years, and the appointment comes shortly before next month's annual parliament, the National People's Congress. SARFT answers directly to China's cabinet, the State Council, and effectively decides what gets on TV and into the cinemas. It is the main censor and it decides which films make it under China's quota system that allows 20 foreign movies to screen every year on a revenue-share basis. He will play a key role in many ongoing projects such as the streamlining of the broadcast sytem, greater network convergence and increasing the watchdog's remit to include online and mobile content. Fuchao image from

North Korea threatens 'firing attacks' on South over leaflets about Mideast turmoil - Chico Harlan, Washington Post: North Korea on Sunday threatened to fire cross-border shots if South Korea continues a leaflet-launching propaganda campaign, which aims in part to inform the hermetic North of anti-government revolts in the Middle East.

The Lands Autocracy Won’t Quit - Clifford J. Levy, New York Times: Let the Middle East and North Africa be buffeted by populist discontent over repressive governments. Here in Lenin’s former territory, across the expanse of the old Soviet Union, rulers with iron fists still have the upper hand.

The Next Impasse [Review of The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan by Bing West] - Dexter Filkins, New York Times: The new religion is counterinsurgency, or in the military’s jargon, COIN. Why hasn’t the new faith in Afghanistan delivered the success it promises? In his remarkable book, “The Wrong War,” Bing West goes a long way to answering that question. “The Wrong War” amounts to a crushing and seemingly irrefutable critique of the American plan in Afghanistan.

Nine years of training and investment have created an Afghan Army fraught with the same corruption and lack of cohesion as the rest of the country. As it is, the Americans are now pouring more resources into the Afghan security forces than ever before. At best, the Afghans are years away from taking over the bulk of the fighting. And even that is a very fragile hope. Until then, what? As “The Wrong War” shows so well, the Americans will spend more money and more lives trying to transform Afghanistan, and their soldiers will sacrifice themselves trying to succeed. But nothing short of a miracle will give them much in return. Image from article, with caption: A security checkpoint at the edge of Marja, Afghanistan, May 2010.

How social media helps the revolution[s] - Martijn Stegink: There is lots of debate about the role of social media in social change, while

there is a disagreement about what the role exactly is, there is no denying there is one. Image from

Mosh Pit Diplomacy [Review of How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance By Parag Khanna] - Stéphanie Giry, New York Times: “How to Run the World” seems to be about the beginning of the end of the state, about the inescapable erosion of state power relative to that of supranational, subnational and private actors. Khanna’s answers to real problems tend to be vague or wishful.

Book review: 'Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage': Douglas Waller has written a splendid biography of the larger-than-life man who ran the legendary forerunner of the CIA - Tim Rutten, When war arrived, Donovan became a fervent supporter of aid to London and an opponent of U.S. isolationism. Encouraged by Churchill and the British espionage operative William Stephenson, he also became convinced that America required a professional intelligence agency like Britain's MI6, staffed with "men calculatingly reckless with disciplined daring."

Donovan proposed such a group to Roosevelt, and, in 1941, the president named the New York lawyer "coordinator of information." Thus was the legendary Office of Strategic Services, or OSS, born: Its agents — both men and women — generally lived up to Donovan's description throughout the war. Much of Waller's narrative is given over to those years, and rightly so, since they were replete with heroism of all sorts. There were stunningly daring, meticulously prepared operations as well as many — like the plan to drop bats with bombs strapped to their bodies over Germany — that simply were harebrained. Others were problematic, like a generalized collapse of OSS operations in Italy that were saved and put on a productive footing by Donovan, who repeatedly and recklessly exposed himself to enemy fire. His administrative overreaching and lack of even normally protective political instincts earned Donovan the distrust of many, as well as the undying enmity of J. Edgar Hoover. When the former spy chief died, in 1959, from complications of senile dementia, the FBI director spread a rumor that the real cause of death was syphilis.


"Men and women in the prime of their professional lives, who may have been responsible for the lives of scores or hundreds of troops, or millions of dollars in assistance, or engaging or reconciling warring tribes, may find themselves in a cube all day

re-formatting PowerPoint slides."

--Defense Secretary Robert Gates; image from

Saturday, February 26, 2011

February 25-26

"The freedom of thought and speech, arising from, and privileged by our constitution, gives a force and poignancy to the expressions of our common people, not to be found under arbitrary government, where the ebullitions of vulgar wit are checked by the fear of the bastinado, or of a lodging during pleasure in some goal or castle."

--Francis Grose, author of A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785); cited in The Times Literary Supplement (February 4, 2011), p. 12; image from


US steps up pressure on Gaddafi - Raw Story: "The United States Thursday called on the UN Human Rights Council to dump Libya and consulted key allies on imposing sanctions, accelerating the international drive to halt Moamer Kadhafi's brutal protest crackdown. ... After

being accused of reacting too slowly to the onslaught of violence against civilians and opposition demonstrators in Libya, the administration cranked up the pace of its public diplomacy. 'We support expelling Libya from the Human Rights Council,' State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters. The world's top human rights body has called an unprecedented special session against one of its own members on Friday. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will join a ministerial meeting at the council on Monday in Geneva." Image from article

West's disgraceful handling of Libya": Marwan Al Kabalan writes: The US and Europe blissfully ignored Gaddafi's bizarre personality and reckless policies because western companies had access to oil resources - "[S]ince Gaddafi agreed to let western oil companies back into his country in 2003, ... Libya's human rights record has since gotten worse and corruption has increased; but that did not matter much to the West. Western leaders started praising Gaddafi in every possible way. All the key European leaders visited Libya thereafter, including ... former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. This dramatic shift in public diplomacy reflected a long-standing tendency in western political discourse, concealed political and economic interests and culminated in the dramatic rapprochement with Libya."

Babylon & Beyond: Observations from Iraq, Iran, Israel, the Arab world and beyond - Carol J. Williams, "Posted by: Tim [:] Libya, Egypt and Tunisia

all host US students studying abroad, who are developing critical language and cultural skills that we need for effective national security and public diplomacy programs. Some are contributing to the American economy through business or oil ventures; a few are missionaries or aid workers." Image from

Libyan Opposition Leaders Slam U.S. Business Lobby's Deals With Gaddafi - Marcus Baram, Huffington Post: "To help polish its image, Libya also hired New York public relations firm Brown Lloyd James, which helped Gaddafi place op-ed articles in the Boston Globe and the Washington Times. The firm, which opened an office in Tripoli, was founded by Peter Brown, a friend of Peter Mandelson, a close aide to former British prime minister Tony Blair, whose government's negotiations with Libya paved the way for America's rapprochement with Gaddafi. The firm used to tout its work for the country on the 'Public Diplomacy' section of its website, but those references have since been removed."

Moral Relativism and Public Diplomacy - Ryan J. Suto: "In light of recent events, are the rights that the Tunisians, Egyptians, and others fought for objectively morally good? Can one say that deploring despotic rule is merely a subjective preference, based on little more than culturally arbitrary preferences? One’s answer to these questions is vital to one’s view of public diplomacy. If the answer is that there is no objective truth on such moral questions, then why should the American people try to influence other cultures with portraying our values of democracy and human rights?

If public diplomacy is only to serve our subjectivity to the ends of our national trade or diplomacy interests, should it be valued as a legitimate field, or simply method of propaganda? I view public diplomacy more expansively. I ask not (and promote not) what values best serves my country or my people in the economic and diplomatic sphere, I ask (and promote) what values I feel are objectively aligned with the promotion of human well-being. Anything less would relegate the validation of public diplomacy to a role morality." Image from

Were the G-Men Going to Use Us as Guinea Pigs in an Evil Experiment?! - Second Thoughts: "There are hordes of government folk in SL [Second Life]. A lot of them are up to completely anodyne and politically correct crap. You know, there is a real preserver and disseminator of horrid political correctness -- and that's our government, if you ever actually watched them in action. There are also some useful programs, public diplomacy programs, for example, that are open to the public, such as some that were interacting and engaging with Egyptians more than a year ago, way, way before it was the cool thing to do for anybody, 'hacktivists' included."

US Public Diplomacy: What Problem? Part 2 - Robin, Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "Following up on the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK’s attribution of the upheavals in the Middle East to US PD2.0[.] Given the amount of time that the PD blogosphere spends agonizing about the state of US PD and soft power it might be worth adding that the US is number 1 in the Nation Brands Index,

it’s number 4 in the Country Brand Index. In the Pew Global Attitudes responses are up around the world…Maybe the scale of the problems isn’t that big." Image from

PD in Kolkata: The Maharani and Her Scion - Patricia Lee Sharpe, Whirled View: "USIA, I’m told, has become a dirty word at the American Consulate in Kolkata, and respect for local staffers is also a quaint custom of the past. ... It used to be said that effective PD work was impossible without the loyalty and cooperation of well-connected, loyal local staffers. While I was in Kolkata, these good, normally discrete people described, in despair, how a superb institution has been systematically destroyed by arrogant USIA-haters, who actually know nothing about public diplomacy. ... The Americans in charge of public diplomacy in Kolkata aggressively celebrate (as all communicators must) the era of social networking, cell phone revolution photos and texting under fire without realizing that they, too, are more than ever visible to the outside world. If you want to see what's happening to PD under the current dispensation, take a look at Kolkata. The picture, unfortunately, isn’t pretty."

Liberia Decreases Corruption, Increases Transparency...U.S. Official Observes - Timothy T. Seaklon - "The head of the United States Trade delegation currently visiting Liberia, Ambassador Demetrios Marantis says under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberians have decreased corruption, increased transparency and bolstered the rule of law. Ambassador Marantis said, 'Under the leadership of President Johnson Sirleaf you have set the course for reform and renewal.'

Speaking yesterday at a forum that brought together Liberian Businessmen and women at the United States Embassy's Public Diplomacy Section, Ambassador Marantis, who, is also the US Trade Representative responsible for Trade negotiations and enforcement in Asia and Africa said, 'Liberia remains open for foreign investment and has taken steps to improve the business environment.'” See also. Marantis image from article

Psy-ops and Afghanistan: Stop Spinning the American Public - Will Keola Thomas, Afghanistan Study Group: "Public acquiescence and congressional support for military escalation in Afghanistan has long been facilitated by the Pentagon[']s manipulation of information flowing back to the United States from the battlefield. From facilitating high-level access for sympathetic pundits to paying retired military officers to act as mouthpieces for the Defense Department while presenting themselves as impartial 'experts', the Pentagons attempts to secure support for the war has blurred the line between 'public diplomacy' and propaganda to the point where it is indistinguishable. But the use of a psychological operations unit to manipulate elected representatives into escalating military involvement in Afghanistan is completely beyond the pale. The Pentagon must stop spinning the American public."

Rock Me, State Department, Laura McGinnis - manIC: "I do think that strategic, national integration cannot be the ONLY element of public diplomacy, if for no other reason than that the U.S. government has been known, from time to time, to have some credibility issues with certain audiences. Shocking, I know, but true. So, by all means, coordinate.

But leave some space for non-government PD initiatives from NGOs, private sector reps and citizens for those cases where attitudes toward the USG are suspicious enough to compromise communication." Image from

Just a little... Chaos! - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "Chris Dufour (a.k.a. Du4) was at our Public Diplomacy class today, for an AWESOME discussion on public diplomacy, strategic communication, and strategic coordination, or rather, lack thereof. After all the recent arguments and discussions on the subject of 'social media revolutions', the absence of such, and the implications for U.S. foreign policy and public diplomacy, it was refreshing to hear Du4's perspective. I guess I would categorize him as a 'cyber realist', who did spell it out in one sentence: 'There is no such thing as a 'Twitter Revolution'; there is a revolution that uses Twitter as a tool.' ... [W]ith many in the world now getting the 'public diplomacy' (traditional style) fever, completely discarding the notion of a coherent public diplomacy strategy (please note, I am not referring to the tools, here), might prove disastrous for U.S. interests, especially in the mid-to-long-run."

'Internet Freedom', the new war - Massimo Micucci, The Front Page: [Google translation] "After 2.0 Public Diplomacy and the launch of the Digital Outreach Team to talk directly with citizens of Arabic, Christopher Painter former director of the Cyber Security at the National Security Office has become a cyber-affairs chief of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ci sono risorse e uomini a disposizione per garantire il dialogo e la sopravvivenza delle avanguardie attive che tengono aperte le vie di comunicazione. There are resources and people available to ensure dialogue and the survival of the vanguard that keep open lines of communication. L'invito è rivolto a tutti gli altri Stati e alle organizzazioni non governative. The invitation is addressed to all other States and NGOs." Image from

VOA Persian Parazit devotes program to fan who was killed during Iranian protests - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Unveiled diplomatic papers indicate that Japan paid to move the old VOA Okinawa relay station - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Video looks back at the history of Voice of America and its Bethany, Ohio, transmitting station - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

House bill calls for support for RFE/RL, VOA, and Belsat broadcasts to Belarus - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Image from

[RFE/RL]Radio Azadi SMS service has 100,000 subscribers - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

China to give a fillip to international relations - "Following a year marked by a number of diplomatic strains with its neighbours, China will look to boost its public diplomacy initiatives in coming months to address concerns about its rise, officials said this week. These would include sending out a number of non-government delegations to have 'less official and more lively' engagement with foreign countries, as well as boosting investment in state-run television and radio channels to push their broadcasts overseas. China's new public diplomacy programme is expected to figure as a key area of discussion when the government's two most important political bodies — the National People's Congress (NPC), which is the top legislative organisation, and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), an advisory body — begin their annual session next week. While China's Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011-15) would likely be the focus for this year's 'two sessions', public diplomacy, urbanisation and education were other key issues that have been proposed for discussion, Zhao Qizheng, who chairs the CPPCC's Foreign Affairs Committee and is also the body's spokesperson, told reporters this week. Mr. Zhao hinted that China would look to follow the United States' lead in being more effective in spreading both the country's message and its values overseas. 'To exert influence on the foreign public is the main part of public diplomacy,' he said, referring to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent speech on Internet freedom, which he described as an attempt to push 'American values'. He also pointed to the influence wielded by U.S. government-funded media outlets, such as the Voice of America. 'VOA and other organisations help spread American values,' he said, adding: 'It is up to other countries themselves to decide whether or not they want to accept these values.' While China would boost investment in its television and radio broadcasts overseas,

its content 'would not criticise or interfere with other countries', he said. Mr. Zhao cited the recent expansion of China Radio International — the country's official and biggest radio station — as part of the recent public diplomacy initiative. The government spent a reported $8.7 billion last year on external publicity. Much of it went to CRI and two other state-run organisations — China Central Television (CCTV) and Xinhua news agency. Last year, Xinhua launched a global 24-hour news channel in English, looking to emulate the success of Qatar's Al Jazeera, and to provide 'a better view of China to its international audience'. CRI has expanded its programming, operating broadcasts in 61 languages. Mr. Zhao said it would also look to expand its presence overseas, purchasing slots on local AM and FM channels. Last month, CRI's Urdu channel began FM broadcasts in Pakistan, and is planning to expand its presence in Sri Lanka. CRI also has Hindi, Tamil and Bengali channels, and has been looking to buy frequencies in India. Beyond media, Mr. Zhao said the CPPCC, which is a political advisory body, would broaden its contact with political parties overseas to allow for 'less official and more lively discussions' than usually seen in official interactions." Image from

The Lost Bladesman 2011 (關雲長) – Official Trailer [Youtube] - "More Chinese public diplomacy through cultural capital in media representation. – This time, one of the most classic Chinese heroes – the ‘Saint’ of Force, Guan Yu who is revered interestingly in Hong Kong by both sides of the law – the police and the triads comes to the fore. They pray and worship the same God that is Guan Yun-Chang.Loosely, if Captain America is used as a diagrammatic opposite committed to one’s nation beyond reason, Guan Yu would be the Chinese version – all about brotherhood and loyalty to that brotherhood to the death, beyond reason."

Edelstein defends new campaign to win hearts of N. American students‎ - Raphael Ahren, Ha'aretz: "Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein this week defended his project to send a group of young Israelis from different sectors of society to speak at North American campuses in a bid to improve Israel's image. Next week, 17 participants of the campaign - called 'Faces of Israel' -

will embark on a tour across Canada and the U.S.'s East Coast in an effort to counterbalance Israel Apartheid Week, a series of worldwide events critical of Israel, which starts March 7. Just like Edelstein's previous Israel advocacy - or hasbara - campaigns, several experts in the field expressed skepticism as to the effectiveness of his approach. ... 'It is valuable, but the reality remains that all such 'Israel beyond the conflict' exercises have limited impact so long as the conflict exists,' said Mitchell Bard, the director of American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, which seeks to strengthen the pro-Israel camp at American colleges. 'The best public diplomacy for Israel is always to have a peace plan and project the image - which is also truthful - that it is the party most interested in peace.'" Image from

Birthright “the most successful project in the Jewish world…” ? - David A.M. Wilensky, "That’s right, folks. You heard it here first. (Well, actually, you heard it at JTA first.) Birthright Israel said it has received a record-breaking number of North American applicants for its free, 10-day trips to Israel. The organization, which provides all-expense-paid trips to Israel for Diaspora Jews aged 18 to 26, received 40,108 applicants during the seven-day registration period ending Tuesday Israel’s Minister For Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, Yuli Edelstein, called it 'the most successful project in the Jewish world.' [Emphasis mine, obviously.] JTA’s full story is here. That’s quite a claim. I dunno how the actual founding of the state doesn’t take top honors there, but I’ll leave it to the bloviation specialists at Birthright and in the Israeli government to duke it out over that." See also.

RAI Internazionale in Israele - "Dal primo febbraio Rai Internazionale

è approdata in Israele. Rai World ha infatti raggiunto un accordo per la distribuzione del canale Rai per gli italiani all'estero con Yes DBS, l'operatore della tv satellitare a pagamento leader in Israele. Il Ministro Frattini ha partecipato alla presentazione dell’accordo, ieri in Rai, insieme con i vertici dell’azienda e l'Ambasciatore israeliano in Italia, Gideon Meir. 'La Rai diventa uno strumento potente di public-diplomacy', ha osservato Frattini." Image from

Karabakh peace mission for Tony Blair's right-hand-man - News.Az: "News.Az interviews Jonathan Powell, chief of staff to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair from 1994 to 2007. ... What role can public diplomacy play between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? The problem with most conflicts is that there is a sort of zero sum politics that dominates. ...

Both sides need to come away feeling they have won, and both sides have to think about how any agreement is seen by the constituency of the other side, not just their own. Powell image from article

A narrow approach to self-determination would not have worked‎ - News.Az: "News.Az interviews Dr Sean Farren, a prominent Northern Irish politician. ... What kind of role can the public diplomacy play between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?

"The task is not over when the negotiations end and an agreement is signed. I wish those who working for peace and reconciliation in your own country every success." Farren image from article

2011 Conference: Public Diplomacy, Place Brands and Soft Power - Ren's Micro Diplomacy: Join us next Friday for the Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars’ 2011 conference: Public Diplomacy, Place Brands and Soft Power.

Image from article

Economics Brown Bag with Dr. Stephan Thurman - Annie Kawamoto, "Stephan S. Thurman’s present position is as lead International Macroeconomist for the Economic Policy and Public Diplomacy office of the Economic, Energy and Business Bureau of the U.S. Department of State."


Obama seeks a new approach on Mideast: President Obama has asked his aides to formulate a Mideast foreign policy that emphasizes democratic reforms without alienating longtime allies - Peter Nicholas and Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times, President Obama is challenging his administration to formulate a new Middle East policy that emphasizes political and economic reforms to bolster U.S. allies now threatened by the protest movements sweeping the region. Administration officials say Obama is urging beleaguered governments to enact reforms that would satisfy the popular craving for change while preserving valuable partnerships on crucial U.S. interests,

from oil security to counter-terrorism and containing Iran. With those allied governments under pressure from their citizens, the U.S. is confronting the likelihood of having diminished influence over whatever political order emerges. The White House also has told diplomats to expand their outreach to the allies' opposition leaders, rising political figures and others who operate outside official government circles. Though some outreach already exists, the administration failed to anticipate the scale of the unrest. Democracies have been less responsive to U.S. priorities. Turkey, for example, is nominally friendly to the West but declined to allow U.S. ground forces to move through its territory before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Image from article, with caption: A youth waves a flag at an abandoned military camp in Agedabya, Libya.

Outflanked by France: On Libya, Obama is missing in action - Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal: For the Administration to stand by and propose sanctions that will have little impact while the regime murders hundreds or thousands of civilians will not endear Libyans to the U.S. when Mr. Obama offers his outstretched hand to the next government in Tripoli. Mr. Obama's first instincts in these crises invariably is to declare that the "international community," whatever that is, must "speak with one voice." What the world really needs is for an American President to lead.

No help for Libya from President Obama - Editorial, Washington Post: The reality is that as long as the president of the United States remains passive, the help Libyans are begging for will not come.

Why Didn't the U.S. Foresee the Arab Revolts? - New York Times

In one of final addresses to Army, Gates describes vision for military's future - Greg Jaffe, Washington Post: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates,

in one of his last addresses to the Army, said Friday that he envisages a future ground force that will be smaller, pack less heavy firepower and will not engage in large-scale counter-insurgency wars like those in Iraq or Afghanistan. Image from

True to the Peace Corps: The corps' celebrity and size may have diminished, but its longevity is a testament to its importance
- Stanley Meisler, The Peace Corps, despite its loss of celebrity and size, has improved a great deal during its 50 years. It probably does a better job at one of its main goals: providing skilled manpower to poor countries in need. The volunteers are better trained than in the early years, arriving at their posts speaking not only the official language of the host countries but the local tribal language as well.Fifty years on,

what has the Peace Corps accomplished? It's possible to cite the pounds of fish sold or the pounds of honey produced under volunteer projects. But how do you measure the influence of an inspiring teacher? Or the effect on an impoverished teenage boy such as Alejandro Toledo, who, with volunteers' help, goes on to college and becomes the president of Peru? But there is no difficulty measuring the impact of the Peace Corps on the United States. Half a century after Kennedy's call, the Peace Corps' greatest achievement may be the volunteers themselves. Image from article, with caption: One of the Corps' 12,000 volunteers teaches children in a village in the Peruvian Andes to make tapestries from their own ideas, to sell to tourists. (Associated Press / March 7, 1966). See also.

America Is Not an Empire - Zbigniew Mazurak, American Thinker: A number of liberal and libertarian politicians and columnists, led by Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan, have been falsely claiming for years that America is (or possesses) an empire. This propaganda is actually worrisome, because its spreaders are using it to justify isolationism and dramatic defense cuts.

Psy-Ops Reax - The reaction online to Michael Hastings' new and disturbing expose of the use of "psychological operations" against US senators has been mixed.

The Pentagon Propaganda Machine Rears Its Head - Malou Innocent, Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings has written another investigative article on U.S. operations in Afghanistan, centered again on a general in the theatre. The revelations are perhaps more shocking than those that resulted in General Stanley McChrystal’s dismissal last summer. His newest bombshell alleges that the U.S Army illegally engaged in “psychological operations” with the aim of manipulating various high-level U.S. government officials into believing that the war was progressing in order to gain their continued support. The Pentagon is using its massive propaganda budget to blur the line between informing the public and spinning it to death. In fact, several years ago the Associated Press found that the Pentagon had spent $4.7 billion on public relations in 2009 alone, and employs 27,000 people for recruitment, advertising and public relations, nearly as many as the 30,000-person State Department.

Psy-Ops: Military Experts Say It's Not 'Brainwashing' - Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience: Rolling Stone magazine caused turmoil in the U.S. military this week with a report that a commander in Afghanistan ordered a "psychological operations" team to help him manipulate visiting U.S. senators into providing additional funds and soldiers to the war effort. Lt. Gen. William Caldwell may well have broken the law, which prohibits psychological operations from being used against U.S. citizens. But shelve those "Manchurian Candidate" fantasies: those familiar with psy-ops (PSYOP in military parlance) and propaganda say the field is a closer cousin to public relations than its intimidating moniker would suggest. (In the movie "Manchurian Candidate," a former prisoner of the Korean War gets brainwashed by Communists.) "There's no brainwashing," Sgt. Maj. Herb Friedman, an army veteran and psy-ops expert, told LiveScience. "PSYOP gets blamed for a whole host of things that has nothing to do with them whatsoever."

For the most part psy-ops is about telling the truth, Friedman said. That truth might be spun, he said, but outright lies tend to backfire by destroying credibility. Friedman compared psy-ops with advertising or public relations. "We're asking them to surrender and you're saying, 'Go out and buy a Ford,'" he said. "There's not a whole lot of difference there." Image from article, with caption: An American soldier station in Japan loads a "leaflet bomb" used to spread psy-ops material to Korean citizens during the Korean War.

Propaganda Wars: South Korea Tries 'Balloon Diplomacy' With Northern Neighbors - Michele Travierso, Time: As part of its ongoing campaign to win over North Koreans, South Korea has once again turned to "balloon diplomacy," sending gas-filled balloons skyward with messages and goodies in tow. Although the exact content of the messages is not known, they are believed to reference recent anti-government protests in Egypt and Libya.

The Art of Persuasion - Wall Street Journal: Human beings have long used art to try to influence one another. The new book "Propaganda Prints: A History of Art in the Service of Social and Political Change" by Colin Moore (A&C Black/Bloomsbury Academic & Professional) surveys the field, from ancient Sumeria to the present. The Roman emperor Augustus issued coins emblazoned with messages like "Peace and Victory." And Benjamin Franklin created his famous "Join or Die" woodcut of a severed snake in 1754 to plead for colonial unity. Propaganda from the 20th century spans a wide range of world-changing events, from China's Cultural Revolution to the Cold War.

Image from article, with caption: "Keep Your Teeth Clean", Federal Art Project, artist unknown

Check This Out: Five Vintage Propaganda Posters for 'Sucker Punch' - Ethan Anderton, We've already seen a two kick-ass trailers, an awesome TV spot and recently, a pseudo music video for Zack Snyder's action-packed genre mash-up Sucker Punch.

In addition there's been a pretty sweet collection of character posters, a huge banner, and a sexy theatrical poster. Now the marketing machine has transported us back to the setting of the film for some 50's inspired vintage propaganda posters featuring the badass babes of Sucker Punch. Though they look like they've been scanned in and they're not quite as awesome as those retro Kick-Ass posters from last year, they're still pretty damn cool. Image from article


"In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as General MacArthur so delicately put it."

--Outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates


“There’s a feeling of inevitability in writing about McDonald’s latest offering, their 'bowl full of wholesome' — also known as oatmeal. The leading fast-food multinational, with sales over $16.5 billion a year (just under the G.D.P. of Afghanistan), represents a great deal of what is wrong with American food today. From a marketing perspective, they can do almost nothing wrong; from a nutritional perspective, they can do almost nothing right, as the oatmeal fiasco demonstrates. ... [I]n typical McDonald’s fashion, the company is doing everything it can to turn oatmeal into yet another bad choice. (Not only that, they’ve made it more expensive than a double-cheeseburger: $2.38 per serving in New York.) ‘Cream’ (which contains seven ingredients, two of them actual dairy) is automatically added; brown sugar is ostensibly optional, but it’s also added routinely unless a customer specifically requests otherwise.

There are also diced apples, dried cranberries and raisins, the least processed of the ingredients (even the oatmeal contains seven ingredients, including ‘natural flavor’). A more accurate description than ‘100 percent natural whole-grain oats,’ ‘plump raisins,’ ‘sweet cranberries’ and ‘crisp fresh apples’ would be ‘oats, sugar, sweetened dried fruit, cream and 11 weird ingredients

you would never keep in your kitchen.’”

--Mark Bittman, "How to Make Oatmeal . . . Wrong," New York Times; via; above image from; below image from