Friday, July 29, 2011

July 29

"Older Americans do not intend to ruin America, but as a group, that’s what they’re about."

--Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelsonimage from


The Middle East is the Graveyard of Public Diplomacy…and Always has Been - Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "In the past week there’s been a certain amount of commentary that the attitudes to the US in the Middle East have got worse despite President Obama’s efforts (examples here and here). Predictably this has led to criticisms of Obama’s actions and policies or the lack thereof. But because I’ve been reading history let me ask a different question. The Middle East has always been a problem in Western (UK, France, US) public diplomacy. Why? In the 1930s and the 1940s the British were worried about Italian and German influence. Rising nationalism was directed against the British and French presence. In the 1940s and after the struggle with nationalism is reinforced by the creation of Israel and the Cold War. In the 1950s We have the Algerian War and the Suez Crisis. From the late 1960s we see the rise of armed Palestinian groups [.] After 1979 we get the Iranian revolution and the emergence of other militant Islamic groups. Is there another area of the world that has been the object of such persistent PD efforts over such a long time with so little apparent effect?

How can we explain this? Note that the perceived challenges predate the rise of radical Islam and that different issues that have produced similar types of conflicts. This suggests structural factors that persist regardless of changing policies and changing political movements in the region. It might be argued that the way that Western powers have dealt with the region have been driven by geopolitical factors such as: 1.Proximity to the Soviet Union: this worked both ways the Middle East was vulnerable to Soviet influence but in the 1940s and 1950s offered a base for striking the USSR in case of war 2.Proximity to Europe 3.The Suez Canal – particularly in the period between the 1930s-1960s 4.Oil These mean that Western powers have tended to deal with local and regional developments through the lens of their own interests at the cost of damaged relations with local actors. This is hardly surprising but it means that public diplomacy difficulties are not about PD actions, or even policy decisions but in deeper structural factors." Image from

International Education Critical to Restoring Health of American Economy - Craig Berger, "This whole debt ceiling mess, critical in its own right, is also obscuring fights for other priorities as the budget fight for FY12 heats up. One such priority is international education. NAFSA CEO and Executive Director Marlene M. Johnson last week sent letters to influential members of Congress reminding them of the importance of global learning and engagement as a part of the national recovery from the recession. Here is a summary of the messages sent to various subcommittees on behalf of NAFSA and the students and educators it represents ... [including:] •Subcommittee: State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: NAFSA urged the subcommittee to make a strong investment in educational exchange programs such as Fulbright by approving funding at the President’s FY12 budget request of $637.1 million. NAFSA also highlighted the need for robust funding for the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, urging funding at the President’s budget request of $7.6 billion. NAFSA made note of the importance of the Peace Corps, urging support for this innovative and critical public diplomacy program at the President’s request of $439.6 million."

Jon Huntsman says he's pro-green, pro-Boehner - 'Conservation is conservative,' Huntsman [Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman] said.

'I'm not ashamed to be a conservationist. I also believe that science should be driving our discussion on climate change. I came to find that our national and state parks are a powerful weapon for growth, public diplomacy and economic development.'" Image from

Partial Victory Declared in Fight Over Censorship at Voice of America - "Press freedom advocates and Ethiopian Americans are declaring a partial victory in their fight with the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a U.S. government agency, over the censorship of the Voice of America radio programs to Ethiopia. They credit massive protests and a demonstration held Monday in front of the BBG and VOA headquarters in Washington, DC with getting a senior Voice of America official to tell the journalists working for the Horn of Africa VOA Service 'to continue their work without any restrictions or self-censorship,' the Ethiopian American news website Addis Voice reported. ... [Free Media Online president Ted Lipien,

who once served as VOA’s acting associate director] pointed out that independent journalists in Russia, human rights defenders in China and Ethiopia, and Ethiopian Americans do not want to see the Voice of America turn into a third-rate cable channel with stories about UFOs and aliens while BBG members travel around the world at U.S. taxpayers’ expense making deals with dictatorial regimes to allow such programs to air locally because they don’t offend anyone and therefore may result in higher audience ratings. This is exactly what an independent journalist in Russia said about the VOA Russian Service website, as reported in an internal Broadcasting Board of Governors program evaluation which was ignored by BBG and VOA executives." Image from article

The Palestinian Statehood Strategy - Ali Younes, The Palestinian strategy at the UN will start by submitting an application to the UN Security Council (UNSC) sometime in the next few weeks. The Security Council, then, will conduct a procedural vote to whether approve the application and refer it to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) for a full vote by member states or the application will be vetoed down by one of the permanent 5 members’ states. ... At the SC the Palestinians can only guarantee 6 countries that will vote for them, India, Lebanon, South Africa and Brazil, as well as China and Russia of the P5 group. ... Germany and the other EU country Portugal who are current members of the SC, are a tossup and their vote, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported last month, will depend on the Israeli public diplomacy and Netanyahu’s ability to convince Chancellor Angela Merkel of his intentions about peace talks with the Palestinians."

Korea's Iconic Tune, "Arirang," in Danger - "The song 'Arirang' has been accompanying the Korean nation through its trials and jubilations. ... In June, China announced its 3rd list of intangible cultural assets which included the Korean folk tune 'Arirang.'

China has been seeking to register 'Arirang' on the list since 8 years ago. The decision to include the song 'Arirang' on the list finally came to pass this year. ... [Interview: Park In-hwi, Professor of Intl. Studies Ewha Womans University] 'The song 'Arirang' symbolizes the Korean spirit. If it is recognized as a cultural property of the minority group of ethnic   in China, and not as a resource for Korean public diplomacy, it could cause serious problems in cultural diplomacy. As countries become increasingly interconnected, such problems will continue to arise.' This is not the first time China has registered Korean cultural assets as its own. China registered the 60th birthday rituals, the Korean traditional wedding and the hanbok in 2008 as its own. The farmer's dance was registered in 2009 and now, Arirang has been added to the list." Image from

We’re not in China anymore, Toto - sunscreenandchacos: "We met with the folks of the Carnegie - Tsinghua Global Policy Foundation – a think tank for which I now want to work. The talk really came full circle and addressed many of the topics we’ve covered the past four weeks.

Here are the greatest hits: ... 7.China is also struggling with its own ideology like, What does it mean to be China? What is Chinese public diplomacy? We asked the publishers about communism and they all had different definitions. Would our definitions of American republican democracy be the similar to one another’s or very different?" Image from article

The negative impact of Berlusconi's image in promoting Italian public diplomacy - stefano, Public and Cultural Diplomacy E: A reflective group blog by students on the Public and Cultural Diplomacy module at London Metropolitan University

Google executive says social networking was vital in Egyptian revolt - Josseline Beya, Public and Cultural Diplomacy D: A reflective group blog by students on the Public and Cultural Diplomacy module at London Metropolitan University: "What the world is going through is certainly the age of social networking. This interconnectedness that social networks bring to the world shows how public and cultural diplomacy has a place in world politics. What started as a small campaign on Facebook spread not only in Egypt but across North Africa and elsewhere."

Back to School - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Yesterday I made the trek up near Baltimore to visit Goucher College. I went up there to discuss teaching a course on public diplomacy."

Alum Receives Prestigious Fulbright Fellowship - Blog Post Update: "[The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs] graduate Caitlin Loehr had applied for a Fulbright fellowship to study in Senegal for the 2011-2012 school year, but was waiting on approval

from the government She was just notified that her application was approved - congrats Caitlin! She will be leaving in September to study for nine months as an extension of work she performed during her undergraduate years at SMPA." Image from

#PublicDiplomacy Jobs 7/28/11 - Ren's Micro Diplomacy


Canadian surveillance planes join propaganda war; urge Gadhafi forces to go home - Murray Brewster, Canada has joined an air war of a different kind in the skies over Libya, one where persuasion and sometimes insults are the weapons. Canadian CP-140 Aurora surveillance planes recently started broadcasting propaganda messages aimed at forces loyal to Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi. It’s a psychological warfare operation, or PSYOPS, initially started by the Americans but now overseen by NATO — the kind of mission western militaries are reluctant to talk about openly. The Canadian broadcasts are relatively benign in comparison to some of the harsher messages NATO has aimed at Gadhafi’s troops, in which women’s voices are telling them to stop “killing the children.”

Holding Pakistan to Account - Editorial, New York Times: President Obama has offered Pakistan a broad relationship and its best chance to chart a new path. Rather than seize this opportunity, Pakistan’s leaders have stoked intolerance, anti-Americanism and an exaggerated fear of India. Perhaps most delusionally, they continue to see the fight against extremists as a favor to Washington. They are running out of time to salvage Pakistan’s future. Mr. Obama needs to keep working with Islamabad. But he is right to show that the days of unconditional American support are over.

The Budget Crisis and American Power: We can afford the big stick we need if we're more careful about using it - George Melloan, Wall Street Journal: The political trick is to maintain a strong military, with a continuing emphasis on developing advanced weapons and techniques, while at the same time applying greater discretion in its use. It is not easy to keep a powerful force in readiness while at the same time keeping it to clearly defined and limited goals. But if the U.S. is to survive the coming budget crisis without severe damage to its political influence in the world, it will need a smarter foreign policy.

Israeli Foreign Ministry video replicates settler propaganda word for word - Look familiar? This video was made by the YESHA Council, an Israeli settler umbrella group, in May. Gal Beckerman has a post over at the Forward about how the same filmmaker, Shlomo Blass, made an almost identical video for the Israeli Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Bass is also responsible for Caroline Glick's racist We Con the World anti-flotilla video). It's not just the style he copied, but also the content, almost word for word. Beckerman concludes, "Should we not be concerned when the foreign ministry of Israel is using the same propaganda as the settlers? Or should we just assume that their interests are one?"

New York Times Caught Publishing CIA Propaganda On Norway Attacks - Pakalert:

Alexander Higgin uncovers how news outlets continued to demonize Muslims hours after a Christian extremist was arrested. Image from article, with caption: UK’s The Sun knew it was al-Qaeda before anyone else!

James Zogby and Saudi propaganda - The Angry Arab News Service: A source on politics, war, the Middle East, Arabic poetry, and Art: "James Zogby has been peddling (and trading in) UAE propaganda for years now. I was reading his latest survey and the questions were all phrased in a way that serves Saudi propaganda in the region. Notice that he did not dwell on the the fact that 95% of Egyptians viewed the US unfavorably: he was busy reporting the good news about perceptions of Iran to his Saudi/UAE masters. Also, I noticed that he reported the obvious: Arabs indeed (and rightly so) view Iran's role in Iraq very unfavorably. As it should be. Yet, Zogby did not seem to ask Arabs about Iran's role toward the Palestinian question: was he afraid that the responses would embarrass his UAE oil shayks?"

There’s a ton of easy money in praising the party - China Film Makers Blog: There are two ways to make a box-office smash. One is to take an exciting script, hire famous actors, shoot a rollercoaster of a film, distribute it widely and market it deftly. This is the Hollywood way, and it worked pretty well for Harry Potter. The Beijing way shares some features with the Hollywood way, such as hiring lots of stars and distributing the film widely. But the magic ingredient behind China’s latest blockbuster was one unavailable to the mightiest Tinseltown mogul. It was the power of the party. “The Beginning of the Great Revival”, a celebration of the founding of the Communist Party, opened at every cineplex in China on June 15th, in time for the party’s 90th birthday. Competing films with a shred of drawing power were blocked, even the awful “Transformers 3”. Many state-owned firms ordered their staff to attend. Schools organised trips so that pupils could watch and learn from the exploits of a youthful Mao Zedong. Government departments deployed waves of bureaucratic bottoms to fill seats. Online reviews alleging that the masterpiece was rather dull were censored. Success was assured. The film was not, as you might imagine, a piece of government-produced propaganda. It was a piece of for-profit propaganda, produced by the country’s biggest film company, the China Film Group (CFG). Along with a smaller firm in which it holds a 12% stake, CFG controls more than half of all domestic film distribution in China. The two firms also distribute the 20 foreign films that China allows in each year. CFG spins tales of love, disaster, war and kung fu, of course. But the easy money is in patriotic pap. In recent years, the firm has produced “Nanking! Nanking!” (about heroic Chinese resistance to Japan during the second world war) and “The Founding of a Republic” (about the Communist takeover in 1949). Such films are profitable partly because their stars do not expect to be paid much, if anything.

How Communist propaganda works - Churchmouse Campanologist: Ringing the bells for Christian traditions and getting our story out there If we don't, who will?:

Just as Lenin in the early 20th century embraced the emerging film industry, today’s Kremlin elite attempt to use the Internet (, and others) and You Tube to spread their propaganda.

Propaganda and the War on Truth: Independent media strikes back - Already we see mainstream media indiscriminately putting its spin of choice on this tragic event and, not surprising, buzzwords being tossed around casually without regard for truth

or fact include everything from "Muslim terrorists" to the omnipresent propagandistic "war on terror." Image from article

‘Captain America’ comes off as propaganda, not good filmmaking - Amanda, Captain America is a character that will have a hard time being anything other than propaganda. The hero is virginal, white-bread, corn-fed American values — a good-hearted boy from Brooklyn who doesn’t like bullies. That’s not inherently a bad thing. Just like Superman will always be a near-invincible alien and Spiderman a conduit for teenage issues, a man with a stars and stripes shield will always be, at the very least, patriotic. The downside for the new movie

is that there is a time and place for hardcore nationalism, and I’m not sure that the silver screen in 2011 is that time and place. It isn’t that we’re less patriotic now than we were in the 1940s (when the movie is set), though I’m sure the case can be made. It’s simply a matter of creating interesting story lines. Propaganda films are not known for deep characters or intricate plot lines. Captain America is a comic whose first issue featured the title character socking Hitler in the jaw. Subtlety and character development have no place in Hitler-punching — just ask Eli Roth’s “Bear Jew” in “Inglourious Basterds.” But that’s OK for Captain America. His character isn’t about nuance or depth. It’s about Nazi beating and the good ol’ U S of A. Good filmmaking, however, isn’t necessarily. Amanda image from article

You Know You Love Us: Art as Propaganda - Princess Kate, "In 2007, the German Historical Museum in Berlin opened an exhibit titled, 'Art and Propaganda: The Clash of Nations 1930-1945' (curated by Dr. Hans-Jörg Czech and Dr. Nikola Doll). As you can no doubt tell from the time period under observation, the show displayed artwork from Italy’s Fascist regime, German National Socialism (Nazism), and Soviet Communism. There was also an extremely controversial fourth nation represented: the United States. American New Deal-era artworks were displayed alongside those glorifying Mussolini, Stalin, and Hitler. Unsurprisingly, American viewers protested their inclusion alongside such unsavory company – virulently anti-Semitic posters showing Jewish people as bloated rats, Futuristic sculptures of Mussolini’s (il Duce’s) continuous profile, and ridiculously toady-ing portraits of an insanely idealized Joseph Stalin.

This intensely negative reaction is unsurprising, given the continuous American fascination with WWII, and our heroic place in it. Early twentieth-century Germany and Italy are colored black in our heads, although Russia was nominally on the Allied side, the degeneration into Cold War politics that followed the war knocks them into the same monstrous camp of forced deportations and genocide. To place American artworks – posters, paintings, sculptures, and other materials, alongside those of the three fiends of the twentieth century – the horror! ... Although kings, queens, pharaohs, and emperors are some of the most obvious users (and abusers) of art as visual propaganda, I chose to dedicate much of my artistic education to considering the artistic propaganda of perhaps the largest and most powerful institution of the last two millennia of Western civilization: the Catholic Church. For Christianity’s first 1500 years or so, what became the 'Catholic Church' was simply the Church, the only game in town. ... Some of the best-known artworks in the Western world are blatant Christian propaganda. The Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s frescoes in the Vatican Stanze, Michelangelo’s David – all out to convince their viewers that Catholicism is the way. The fact that these works are propaganda in no way decreases their value as art; in fact, it emphasizes the very power of images and establishes that art is an extremely powerful force that can be utilized for good and evil. Therefore, America’s inclusion in the Berlin exhibit wasn’t an inherently negative comment on Rooseveltian politics – just a nod to our obvious knowledge of the propagandistic power of images." Image from

More World War II Anti-Japanese Propaganda - Gwen Sharp, In Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq, John Dower discusses how the U.S. responded to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Militarily, it pushed the U.S. into officially entering World War II, but Dower is just as interested in cultural responses, particularly efforts to stigmatize all U.S. residents of Japanese descent as unpatriotic or even traitorous. A prime example of this is the film December 7th, created by John Ford, legendary director of classics such as Stagecoach and The Grapes of Wrath. The first version of the film was 82 minutes long. In it, an idealistic figure representing the U.S. talks with “C,” a figure meant to represent his conscience. Uncle Sam naively believes the racial and ethnic diversity of Hawaii isn’t a problem, but C helps him see that the large Japanese American population is a threat, even when they appear to be loyal, patriotic, assimilated Americans. Japanese-language telephone books and newspapers are ominously shown as evidence of their lack of true American-ness. You can find the entire film on Youtube, but the most relevant segment is at the end; the widespread bombing of (noticeably resident-free) Japanese cities is presented as key to a glorious victory by the U.S..

Architecture of Modern Propaganda: Behavior Control - Zahur Ebrahim, "I use the term ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’ as a metaphor

to pluralistically refer to the same message-machine, i.e., the intelligence apparatus for manufacturing consent and controlling dissent, and its concomitant conscious manipulation of peoples’ thoughts, feelings, actions and in-actions, in order to serve the primacy interests of the ruling-elite." Image from


"Je vais à la chasse aux papillons."

--George Brassens

1 comment:

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