Monday, May 9, 2011

May 9

"The ultimate danger is not that we will lose Afghanistan but that we will lose America."

--President emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations Leslie Gelb; image from


US National Security Information Operations - John Stanton, "According to the Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare, September 2008, 'Information is a strategic resource vital to national security. Dominance of the information environment is a reality that extends to the armed forces of the United States at all levels. Military operations, in particular, are dependent upon many simultaneous and integrated activities that, in turn, depend upon information and information systems, which the United States must protect…With the free flow of information present in all theaters, such as TV, phone, and Internet, conflicting messages can quickly emerge to defeat the intended effects.

As a result, continuous synchronization and coordination between Information Operations, Public Affairs, Public Diplomacy, and U.S. allies is imperative. It also helps to ensure that information themes employed during operations involving neutral or friendly populations remain consistent.' In short, the media in all its forms—mass, blog, social, print, electronic, spoken word—is a physical element to be accounted for in national security operations just like the weather or inhospitable geographic terrain. ... The National Security Operation approved by US President Barak Obama that ended Osama Bin Laden’s was a gem in terms of Military Information Support Operations (though it should be renamed National Security Information Operations)." Image from

Valenzuela: Priorities for the U.S. in Latin America - Arturo Valenzuela, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, posted at Mb50's "Liquid Mud" Blog: "Under bilateral agreements like the Action Plans with Brazil and Colombia,

we provide technical assistance and expand on public diplomacy programs, like academic exchanges, to promote equality and access to opportunity. We are building on this work in 2012, leveraging host country support and inter-agency coordination to promote the strengthening of democratic institutions, economic opportunities, cultural preservation, and access to education for historically excluded groups." Valenzuela image from article

Heritage Foundation's idea of VOA Persian housecleaning: sweep credibility out the door - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "Heritage Foundation, The Foundry blog, 5 May 2011, Helle Dale: 'VOA Broadcasting to Iran: A Long-Overdue Housecleaning. At a standing-room-only meeting Wednesday, the leadership of Voice of America (VOA) announced major changes in the way the Persian News Network of VOA goes about the business of reporting the news to Iranians. It’s about time. ... According to sources, the structure will be changed from the current system of English-language executive producers paired with a Persian-language editor for each show. Instead the network will have just two executive editors, who will also double up as editors of the shows. Whether this streamlining makes sense will certainly depend on whether the individuals in charge have the right language skills and understanding of the needs of the audience they are serving. The new leadership also needs to have respect for the mission

of VOA, which includes not just broadcasting the news but also promoting democracy—a function derided and downplayed by the previous leadership.' [Elliott comment:]  Let's review the Broadcasting Board of Governors' mission for US international broadcasting: 'To promote freedom and democracy and to enhance understanding through multimedia communication of accurate, objective, and balanced news, information, and other programming about America and the world to audiences overseas.' This means providing the accurate information people need to develop and participate in democracy. It does not mean juxtaposing news and promotion. The latter would subtract from the credibility of the former. Most audiences for international broadcasting seek out international broadcasts when their state-controlled media are as bad as VOA would be if it were reformed according to the vision of Helle Dale. Those state-controlled media mix news and promotion all the time." Image from

Radio Farda Facebook page reaches "landmark" 100,000 fans -- considered large by social media standards - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

“This just in” and other tall tales - "Breaking news!

Exposed! Headlines on 'Radio Marti', a well known station aimed at Cuba (from Miami) being funded by US Govt (source is neither exposed nor breaking news, as it’s common knowledge. Or is it? To readers of PSLweb (or the author?) it apparently is news, and I quote pslweb: 'The presence of Miami journalists on the U.S. government payroll, who purported to report as 'independent' press, goes to the heart of the unjust conviction of the Five. The Five were not only victims of a politically-motivated prosecution, but a government-funded propaganda operation as well.'  and  'The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 regulating U.S. 'public diplomacy' abroad—Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio and TV Martí, etc.—prohibits the U.S. government from funding activities to influence and propagandize domestic public opinion, see 22 U.S.C. § 1461' Who cares? For one thing, this 'government funding' was no secret to begin with, and for another this is just another propaganda piece of it’s [sic] own, and an obvious one at that. There are subtle touches that make good propaganda for want of a better word, good. Good propaganda lets you come to your 'own' conclusions, and better yet gets you so darn confused you don’t know what to believe anymore. 'They, the news bringers, have become a force to reckon with and a force to be ignored, as well. Image from

Language skills unite people and nations - "Ray E. Hiebert, former dean of journalism at the University of Maryland, and former director of the Washington Journalism Center, says, 'While the military should be more culturally aware and linguistically adept and practice more public diplomacy, the DOD should not be in charge of public information and education. In the hands of the military, it is certain to turn into public propaganda, even more than it would at the State Department. The program should be conducted by an independent agency answerable only to Congress. I did a lot of work for the USIA and Voice of America (VOA) when they were independent agencies, both genuinely concerned with disseminating news and aiding diplomacy. I cut ties when these agencies were transferred to the State Department.' Hiebert studied under Edward Barrett at the Columbia Journalism School, who was Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs in the early days of the Cold War. Barrett’s book, Truth is Our Weapon, guided the work of the USIA and VOA. 'That principle, adhering to objectivity and truth, was crucial to winning the Cold War,' Hiebert says, 'and I don’t think today’s Defense Department thinks in those terms.'”

VOA stars in work by Winnipeg artist - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Image from article

Osama bin Laden y la exit strategy americana - Giovanni B. Krähe, "Un hecho es que, cuando la public diplomacy (PD, el nuevo nombre de la antigua propaganda de guerra)

decide una línea que debe ser seguida globalmente, la revista time es un buen indicio para descubrir la pauta." Image from article

The Chinese Government’s Formulation of National Security Narratives in Media and Public Diplomacy - Public Diplomacy and International Communications: Thoughts and comments about public diplomacy, soft power and international communications by Gary Rawnsley:

"There can be little doubt that China has embraced the concepts of public diplomacy and soft power with an enthusiasm rarely seen in other parts of the world." [From a March 2011 written testimony by Rawnsley to a public hearing organised by the US-China Economic and Security Commission, a Congressional advisory body in Washington DC]. Rawnsley image from his blog

One lump or two? - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Irony of irony: as I finish my report on Taiwan's public diplomacy for the the journal Issues and Studies, there is a sign in the Coffee Bean promoting its partnership with Taiwan's tea estates. Tea Diplomacy, anyone?"

The Unsold Just of The Right to Exist - Nurit Greenger, posted at Doc's Talk: "We, the Jewish People, forgot the truth and helped the Arabs and those siding with them to bury or conceal the truth! And that suited the world that hates us. Why? Because the world has lost its primary harassment and persecution victim the day the Jewish People declared their sovereign state with the right and ability to defend themselves! With the establishment of the State of Israel,

the Jews took away from the world the easiest hate target people ever had, which came about as the result of its incurable illness known as anti-Semitism. And we, the Jews, were really bad drivers; we drove our car – which is our image - into one pole after another! And with it we deformed our silhouette, our image. To solve the horrific problem of the State of Israel's 'Hasbarah'-diplomatic explanation – its public diplomacy, the Jewish People must, first, stop lying to themselves and to others. The Government of Israeli must expose and recite only the truth and do it relentlessly, day after day." Image from blog

Public Diplomacy Repertoires - Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "'Repertoire’ as used in studies of social movements and organizations indicates cultural models of action that may be reflected in organizational forms. What can we do? What is it right for us to do? The essential point is that when faced with a challenge an organization or group will normally draw on its familiar organizational repertoire rather than devise a response from scratch. The repertoire biases the organization to interpreting and dealing with problems in particular ways. Repertoire

emphasises the institutional aspect of public diplomacy. ... While we might expect PD practice to evolved in response to a changing environment a repertoires approach suggests that responses are going to be conditioned by by cultural, organizational and resource factors. Thus the repertoire may or may not fit with the policy challenges. The challenge for organizations is to ask the question what is our repertoire and how does it fit the problems that we face. The issue for organizations is that they will tend to interpret problems in ways that fit their repertoire."  Image from


With Afghanistan, a moment of opportunity for Obama: The president has gained the moral and political capital to responsibly end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - Tom Hayden,

Mission Accomplished: Al Qaeda is no longer based there and the Taliban must be beaten by Afghans themselves - Leslie Gelb, Wall Street Journal: Afghanistan is no longer a war about vital American security interests. It is about the failure of America's political elites to face two plain facts: The al Qaeda terrorist threat is no longer centered in that ancient battleground, and the battle against the Taliban is mainly for Afghans themselves. The United States simply cannot afford to squander more time and resources for a nonvital Afghanistan before the core of U.S. power and freedom—the American economy—begins an irreversible decline.  Image from

Bin Laden's Death Changes Little: It's immaterial whether the Taliban and others are currently targeting the U.S. homeland. We can't allow them to create a fundamentalist caliphate stretching from Kabul to Kashmir - Max Boot, Wall Street Journal

Whose Foreign Policy Is It? - Ross Douthat, New York Times: For those with eyes to see, the daylight between the foreign policies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama has been shrinking ever since the current president took the oath of office.

But last week made it official: When the story of America’s post-9/11 wars is written, historians will be obliged to assess the two administrations together, and pass judgment on the Bush-Obama era. America’s overseas footprint keeps expanding, and nobody has been willing to explain to the public that the global war on terror isn’t a free lunch. Image from

Taliban embrace information age with Twitter, English websites - Susan Sachs, Globe and Mail: In the propaganda war of words and images, the Afghan Taliban are getting more sophisticated. These days, they not only make their fighters available for phone interviews, quickly e-mail their version of news events, produce slick self-glorifying videos and faithfully update their multi-language website. They even tweet. “In media operations, the psychological war, they are very good,” admitted Lutfullah Mashal, a spokesman for the Afghan government’s intelligence service. “They are better than us.”

The Taliban public-relations machine has diversified since it put up its first website, written in rudimentary Arabic understood by few Afghans or Western journalists, four years ago. Now it has two sites, with statements available in English, Arabic, Urdu and the two main languages of Afghanistan. They offer streamed Taliban radio programming, a news ticker at the top of its web page and a selection of videos – some conveniently supplied with English subtitles or narration for non-Afghan viewers. Image from article

EU to Britain: Fly Our Flag or Else - Craig Millar, Britain has been ordered by the European Union to fly the blue and yellow EU flag all of this week in celebration of the EU’s “Europe Day” on Monday. All government bodies that administer any EU funds are required to hoist the alien flag from May 9 on pain of severe fines should they refuse. The EU has also sent British schools propaganda material on how to celebrate Europe Day, with recommendations such as the holding of special EU-themed assemblies,

accepting only euro notes in the tuckshop (cafeteria), singing other EU countries’ national anthems and writing short stories praising Europe. Europe Day was created by decree in 1985 to establish an annual celebration of EU “achievements,” including, for instance, that it—rather than nato and the United States—has kept the peace in Europe since World War ii. Image from

Losing Superman: If the Man of Steel renounces his U.S. citizenship, he'll gain new arch-enemies - Ariel Dorfman, Superman decided that in an increasingly global world, it was counterproductive for him to be branded as an instrument of U.S. policy. He came from another planet, after all, which gave him a "larger picture." It is difficult to exaggerate the indignation that this risky act of renunciation of citizenship caused among the U.S. public, which saw it as a slap in the face.

Classic Hollywood: The motion picture academy during wartime: The War Film Library consists of classic shorts, newsreels and combat films - Susan King, Los Angeles Times: As World War II was raging in 1942 in Europe, North Africa and Japan, Hollywood movie studios asked to have access to British and Canadian war documentaries, newsreels and combat films. So the then executive secretary of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences organized a conference attended by a representative of the British Ministry of Information as well as representatives from the studios. By the end of the meeting, the academy's War Film Library was born. "It is the oldest film collection housed at the academy," said the organization's film archivist Heather Linville.

"They began to collect war shorts that had been made in all the allied countries and the studios. The collection ended up with approximately 500 titles." During the global conflict, the movie studios would borrow the shorts for feature-film ideas, said Linville. "The studios were also making many of the propaganda shorts and documentaries on behalf of the U.S. government. So the collection also represents one of the most unique collaborations between the government and the studios." Throughout the month to honor Memorial Day, the academy's website will be highlighting examples of the restored documentary shorts, propaganda films and public-service announcements. The Web series began last week with "Hollywood Helps," which featured actors in propaganda shorts and public service announcements for war bonds. To watch the Web series go to or it can also be accessed from the site's main page, Image from article, with caption: A scene from "Resisting Enemy Interrogation," 1945. Pictured are Lloyd Nolan, seated, second from left, Craig Stevens, standing, Arthur Kennedy to Stevens' right, George O'Hanlon standing, background.


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