Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 21

"I asked Tom if countries always apologized when they had done wrong, and he says--'Yes; the little ones does.'"

--Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer Abroad; Twain image from 


Analysts: US Must Expand Its Counterterrorism Focus on Yemen‎ - Sean Maroney, Voice of America: "Former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Edmund Hull says that the United States must appease the Yemeni public's concerns in order to successfully fight al-Qaida there. 'The whole public diplomacy of counterterrorism is extremely important - how what we do is not seen purely as serving U.S. interests, but serving broader interests,' said Hull.

'You have to get that right if you're going to have long-term success. And I think those are areas for improvement and areas that we need to be working on.'" Image from article, with caption: Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh (C) attends a rally held by pro-government supporters in Sana'a, May 13, 2011

More on Web Video as Public Diplomacy Tool - Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "Looking at my Twitter feed this morning @edipatstate has retweeted a link from @usembassyta – the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to a video of Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg responding to questions from Facebook users. Aha I thought - this is the PD push to manage the fallout from Obama’s speech on Thursday. Steinberg has been in Israel the for the last couple of days and this is the second video that the Embassy has posted. But what strikes me is the lack of interest that either of these video has triggered. ... Now it might be that the Embassy is running other media related activities but we come back to the problem of how Embassies can actually generate traffic to their social media platforms."

Techlomats? Diplotechs? The Rise of Technological Diplomacy - Erica Schlaikjer, "There are several initiatives run by the State Department that are opening up a new way of improving diplomatic relations between countries. At the very least, the department has made an effort to internationalize its Twitter presence, for example, launching a Farsi-language feed just one day before a planned opposition protest was set to take place in Iran last year in support of the Egyptian revolution.

The State Department is also making strides in recruiting the next generation of tech-savvy diplomats, institutionalizing certain strategies, like training diplomats in Washington and at embassies and consulates around the world on how to use social media to create international dialogue and foster public diplomacy. There’s even an Office of eDiplomacy that runs several programs like the Virtual Student Foreign Service, which connects college students with U.S. embassies abroad to inspire them to work on the country’s foreign policy goals. For young people, there’s an out-of-the-box social network site dedicated to state diplomacy, as well, called ExchangesConnect. It’s not pretty, but it’s ambitious." Clinton image from article

Radio Farda interview reprinted (with "a few liberties") by Iran's Fars news agency - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Radio Free Europe 60th anniversary events and remembrances - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

VOL. VII NO. 10, May 06-May 19, 2011 - The Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media:

"Volatile US – Pakistan Relations Continue to Inflame The US’s recent covert mission that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan was a psychological blow to global terrorism, but it is also proving to have a negative impact on US-Pakistan relations.

From Terrorist to Martyr While Americans celebrated the death of the face of Al-Qaeda and global terrorism, the US has faced criticism in the Middle East regarding its killing of Osama Bin Laden and the top-secret operation. While some people in the region praise US actions to kill the terrorist mastermind, many have made him out to be a martyr.

New Overture? In his speech on May 19th, President Obama will attempt to create a new framework in order to repair relations with the Middle East and Muslim world in the post-Arab Spring era. In order to re-establish this vital relationship, the US President will need to address several issues that are seen as priorities in the eyes of the Arab people.

Qadhafi Losing Ground in Battle for Media Dominance As foreign actors continue to support rebel efforts against Qadhafi’s regime in Libya, the leader’s stronghold on Libyan media is weakening. His attempts to use state-run media as a propagandist machine has incited violence, outraging the international community.

Arab Media Forum Brings 'Storms of Change' to Region As the Dubai Press Club and other organizations prepare for the eagerly-awaited Arab Media Forum, they have released information about the AMF 2011 panels, sponsors, and even the opening speaker, who will be Egyptian Prime Minister Dr. Essam Sharaf.

Egypt’s Sectarian Clashes Although Egyptians have ousted the Mubarak regime, sectarian clashes continue to threaten the security and establishment of a new Egypt.

Bin Laden's Death: The End, Or Just The Beginning? As Osama Bin Laden's death provokes mixed responses both in the United States and in Muslim countries abroad, experts urge the US government to stay the course in Afghanistan, warning that early withdrawal could put the region, and possibly the world, in danger. They argue that there are still several terrorist organizations throughout the region, and that Osama Bin Laden's death could provoke further attacks.

Silence to Syrian Unrest  The Obama administration's efforts to mitigate Al-Assad's crackdown in Syria continues to receive criticism from US officials.

The Aftermath of the Arab Spring The Arab Spring may be over, but the issues brought to light by protesters in the past months are still being fought for throughout the Middle East. US foreign policy is being scrutinized as the effects of the Spring have yet to be fully realized."

Review of Report: "Voices of America: US Public Diplomacy for the 21st Century" - J.D., Public and Cultural Diplomacy B: A reflective group blog by students on the Public and Cultural Diplomacy module at London Metropolitan University: "The report I have chosen to write a brief review on is entitled Voices of America: US Public Diplomacy for the 21st Century by Kristin M. Lord.

According to Lord anti-American sentiment in the international community is hindering national interests thus it is important that America engage, persuade and attract more cooperation overseas through public diplomacy. ... I found the report to be informative and the idea of establishing a USA-World Trust is rather innovative, it might just be what America needs to improve its image and public diplomacy. It definitely puts across the increasing importance of public diplomacy today, and it’s easier and more efficient when the government, the public and private sector, civil servants etc. work closely together. Public Diplomacy needs to be better co-ordinated and structured if it is to be resourceful and successful."  Image from

Remaking foreign policy: John Baird, here’s where to start - Rana Sarkar, Globe and Mail: "Parag Khanna's How to Run the World (the title alone might have some appeal)... argues the old ways of diplomacy don't work in an era when everyone has the same information at almost the same time, business leaders and celebrities often have better access to decision makers than governments do and a profusion of non-governmental competitors have crowded the field. Today everyone's a diplomat. So countries have to spend more time and effort on public diplomacy, which means engaging with citizens globally, not just states."

Propaganda vs public diplomacy - Abhay K, Rediff: "It is worth investing in public diplomacy -- opening digital channels of communication which are not only democratic and global but also free, inviting students, scholars, media people and diplomats to visit one's country so that long lasting bonds can be built. Now contrast this with propaganda -- one way bombardment of information to shape public opinion in certain quarters of the planet. The world as a whole would be a worse place with propaganda. Public diplomacy is a two-way street, while propaganda

is one way highway. Public diplomacy has a positive impact, while propaganda has a negative impact. Public diplomacy works better with multiple channels of communication, including web 2.0. Propaganda cannot survive multiple channels and web 2.0; it works best in information starved places. ... Public diplomacy is, above all, an area of imagination. People are themselves key actors in this emerging area, alongside governments, media, think tanks, universities and the global civil society. The whole planet is their playground." See also John Brown, "Public Diplomacy and Propaganda: Their Differences," American Diplomacy (September 2008). Image from


Obummer: What was missing from Obama's Middle East speech - Alexandra Le Tellier, Americans were hoping for a doctrine and perhaps a road map for how President Obama plans to handle the Middle East. Instead, many tuned into a speech on Thursday they felt presented a half-baked plan that didn't address hot topics including the cost of war (in tax dollars and soldiers) and our dependency on foreign oil. Included is a selection of the commentary.

Obama Draws the Line - Roger Cohen, New York Times: Arabs by the tens of millions have been overcoming the paralysis of fear. It is past time for Israel to do the same. A specter — Iran, Hamas, delegitimization campaigns — can always be summoned to dismiss peace.

These threats exist. But I believe the most corrosive is Israeli dominion over another people. That’s the low road. Obama got it right. The essential trade-off is Israeli security for Palestinian sovereignty. Each side must convince the other that peace will provide it. Image from

Bibi’s White House Tantrum - Michael Tomasky, Daily Beast: One senses a big public-relations, and possibly public-opinion, shift from two years ago. Right after he took office in 2009, Obama pushed Israel too hard on settlements, thinking that he had more political capital on the issue than he had. He got slapped down, by Netanyahu and AIPAC and members of Congress from both parties. At the same time, Syria was rebuffing administration overtures, and the new president was learning the hard way that the Middle East wasn’t the staff of the Harvard Law Review, and it wouldn’t quite so pliably prostrate itself to his will and aura. But now, is it Obama who’s going to suffer the PR blow? This time, the pressure will mount more on Bibi than Barack.

Ties that bind Defense, State - Michael Clauser, Politico: It’s time for national security conservatives and soft power advocates to call a truce and stand shoulder to shoulder.

Osama Bin Lustin': Is Bin Laden's "porn" more damning than his terrorism? - William Saletan, Slate: In the two weeks since Navy SEALs killed Osama Bin Laden, U.S. officials have waged a curious campaign to belittle him. First they implied that he had used a woman as a human shield. Then they released videos suggesting that he had dyed his beard to look younger. Then they said they'd found pornography in his compound. The smear campaign seems ridiculous. Bin Laden was a mass murderer. Why bother calling him a sissy and a voyeur? Because it troubles his potential sympathizers, that's why. They're more upset by porn and hiding behind women than by suicide bombing. The porn story, like the human shields and the million-dollar mansion, is probably bogus. The 54-year-old zealot with three wives was the least likely guy in the compound to be watching erotic videos. Logically, the story makes no sense. But politically, it's perfect.

Osama's Porn, Obama's Propaganda - "The latest example of our political gullibility: few 1975 Americans would have taken seriously the news report about a stash of porn found in Osama Bin Laden's compound (what's next, pork chops and Danish cartoons?).

I assume that most of the world - with their healthy skepticism toward America's government - saw this as the weakly transparent propaganda it surely was. But I haven't heard anyone here so much as question it." Image from

Osama Bin Laden, All-American Porno-Loving Male? - John Brown, Notes and Essays: "Given the prevalence of pornography in American society -- and I will not pass moral judgement on this phenomenon -- I wonder if, by 'leaking,' in part doubtless for public diplomacy reasons, that the mastermind behind 9/11 viewed porno tapes in the comfort of his suburban Pak McMansion, the US government is, perhaps inadvertently, depicting this odious character as an 'all American' porno-addicted male?"

Art of Soviet Propaganda, Following the October Revolution,  the Bolsheviks organized a powerful informational war. In this post there is a selection of propaganda posters from that time.

Wrangel is advancing! Black robber wants to take our bread, coal and oil, workers and peasants”



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