Monday, December 19, 2011

December 16-19

“[T]he ability to communicate with people."

--What it takes, according to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, to be a KGB agent

"How NATO communicates."

--Remarks by Dr. Stephanie Babst, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy; image from


DepFM Ayalon discusses Iranian threat with Under Secy Sherman - Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs: "On Sunday, December 18, 2011, Deputy Foreign Minister

Danny Ayalon met with Wendy Sherman, US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs [sic], who is currently in Israel for a series of meetings with foreign ministry and defense officials on the Iranian threat." Image from article

Israeli delegation meets Jews in Baltimore, New York - Jordana Horn, "An 18-member delegation of Knesset and ministerial advisers, government officials and Israeli journalists stopped in New York Thursday on a tour designed to foster greater understanding of North American Jewish communities and American governance. The tour, which took participants from Washington to Baltimore and New York, is modeled after a similar mission last year and is being jointly hosted by the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA)

and Israel’s Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs. Participants include ... Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein . ... Dani Wasserman, communications for JFNA’s Israel arm, said that in the wake of the commotion created by recently pulled ads inviting expatriate Israelis to return home, the mission’s goals were to create greater understanding between Israelis and Americans – an understanding that is apparently sorely needed. 'The overarching goal is to try to and expose the Israeli population to North American Jewry,' Wasserman said. 'There is a certain gap, cultural and language, between the two groups that was perfectly illustrated by the to-do over the ad campaign.'” Image from

Only words - Susan Hattis Rolef, "Last Wednesday evening Dana Weiss from Channel 2 interviewed Prof. Alan Dershowitz, asking him whether it was becoming more difficult to publicly defend Israel in the US. Dershowitz chose to attack Israeli critics of Israel, who according to him are the main cause for making the task difficult. 'Statements regarding the death of the Israeli democracy serve the enemies of Israel,' he said. Among other things, he blamed those who are actively fighting against the spreading phenomenon of women being excluded from the public domain for the statement by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a closed session of the Saban Forum to the effect that such phenomena are more suited to Iran than to Israel. ... Dershowitz

added that Israeli democracy is not about to disappear, and he is right, at least for the time being. However, he is wrong if he believes that there is no real problem, or that if only those of us who are growing increasingly worried about the future would shut up, there would be no hasbara (public diplomacy) problem." Image from

Is.Real TV goes live - Avigayil Kadesh, "Meet Savannah Zwi-Navon, a singer-songwriter born in Sydney, Australia; Yair Tayar, a Capoeira instructor raised in the Samaria (West Bank) settlement of Beit Horon; Israel National Basketball Team member Shay Doron; and Ayman Daw, an Arab-Israeli clothing salesman at a Tel Aviv mall. These four 20-something Israelis agreed to be followed around on camera this summer, not as part of a reality show but for Is.Real, a video project launched in early August by 23 Tel Aviv University students. 'Through this project, we intend to show millions of our peers around the world

Israel's true, beautiful face as never seen before,' says project coordinator Or Shahar, 27. 'We gave four young Israelis 90 minutes to tell their stories.' Each stars in five short episodes released through YouTube, the Is.Real website and Facebook. ... The fellows got together every two weeks during the school year for lectures and field trips. The video project was voluntary and the students had to raise the funds to see it through. The Israeli Student Union offered advice on logistics. 'We discovered a huge potential for improving Israel's public diplomacy efforts around the world through this creative and groundbreaking project,' said Maayan Friedland, a Student Union spokesperson." Savannah Zwi-Navon image from article

Alhurra in the news includes an "entirely normal, modern and healthy" conversation about politics - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Burma agrees to air VOA programs -- sent in advance -- on state-run radio stations - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Cracking IRI's Curtain: Interview with VOA Persian's Ramin Asgard - Ari Siletz, Asgard: "The VOA is part of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which is an independent U.S. government agency responsible for all non-military United States Government (USG) international broadcasting. The law governing VOA mandates that we maintain a 'firewall' between VOA and the rest of the US government, to preserve VOA's editorial independence from such policy influences as you mention. In practice, outside pressures from within the U.S. government are very rare. The pressures, however, on VOA-PNN [Persian News Network]from the broader 'Iran policy community' are ever present. ... To attempt to assess our audience numbers, we do polling from outside Iran among travelers, as well as phone interviews of Iranians inside Iran. As with any polling in a closed society, the results are subject to considerable distortions due to fear of reprisals and suspicion regarding the sources of the polling. Nonetheless, we know we are having an impact through many anecdotal contacts directly from Iran via social media and other channels. ... The Iranian government’s illegal jamming of our broadcasts is part of an overall effort by the IRI to isolate Iranians from each other and from contact with the outside world. In addition to satellite jamming, the IRI

blocks the web, persecutes online activists, engages in aggressive cyberwar activity, and restricts in many other ways Iranians’ freedom of expression. ... During my [US Foreign Service] career, I have served as Persian-speaking consular officer, Iran desk officer, Iran political and economic reporting officer, and later as an Iran Public Affairs/Public Diplomacy Officer, and as you mentioned, as Director of the Iran RPO in Dubai and as Political Advisor to the CENTCOM Commander. During these tours I interacted with thousands of Iranians in multiple countries, studied Iran and its rich culture, history, literature, and political and economic environments intensively, and worked on the entire range of the policy issues involving Iran within the U.S. government. ... In particular, I recognized the complex interaction between U.S. foreign policy and U.S. public diplomacy; the difficulties inherent in working on a closed society, the complex domestic political factors which influenced foreign policy, and the profound challenge of achieving communication or policy outcomes in the absence of reliable, secure access to the people of the other country." Asgard image from article

Russia firm signs up to develop Iran field - "Iran has plans to make up for any ban on its oil exports, including processing more of its crude into products, Iran oil officials were quoted as saying over the week-end. Iran is sounding a louder note in its public diplomacy as stifling sanctions are being considered in Europe and the US over its controversial nuclear programme."

Changes at Deutsche Welle’s Chinese Department: JR turns to Science - "There had been discussions about the Welle’s self-conception in the past. There were (and are, I’m sure) observers who saw the station as just another broadcaster, where journalists basically did the same job as those at domestic broadcasters, with a journalistic approach. There were others who suggested that the Welle was part of Germany’s public diplomacy, or otherwise involved in foreign policy, in its wider or narrower sense. When the Voice of America (VoA) was technically refurbished, and ideologically rearranged by the Reagan administration in the first half of the 1980s, the Financial Times, as quoted by Der Spiegel, found that the 'VoA Editorial', then newly introduced in the Voice’s programs, should scare diplomats who thought highly of themselves (my German-to-English translation; the FT’s original wording might be different). And

Roy Medvedev, a dissident historian at the time, and also quoted by Der Spiegel, observed that VoA broadcasts had become quite blistering – which would annoy most Russian listeners, as it 'insulted their patriotism'. Before, the American Voice had been more contained, but also more effective." Image from

Remixing Public Diplomacy: American "Hip Hop Jam Sessions" in Post-Revolution Tunisia - Maytha Alhassen, Huffington Post: "This past summer, in the heat of the Arab revolution movements, I joined American hip hop collective Remarkable Current (RC), Tunisian hip hop artists and youth activists for the remaining days of the tour--a tour that occurred only a couple of weeks after a national curfew . ... Remarkable Current, the musical collective founded by Anas Canon [,] launched a cultural

envoy and musical exchange program called 'Hip Hop Ambassadors.' The initiative is consciously modeled as a 21st century update to an earlier century's 'Jazz Ambassadors' run by the State Department that emerged out of the Cold War context of the mid-1950s to the 1970s. Led by jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Quincy Jones, the productive outcome of these tours were concerts and 'jam sessions" of intercultural dialogue and musical exchange.'" Uncaptioned image from article

Afghan Army General optimistic about the future - "From 14 to 16 December 2011, a delegation of high ranking Afghan Military Officers, led by General Sher Mohammed Karimi (Chief of General Staff of Afghanistan)

visited NATO HQ and SHAPE. ... The visit was organized by the NATO Public Diplomacy and the Political Affairs and Security Policy Divisions. ... Ambassador Grabar-Kitarovic, Assistant Secretary General for NATO Public Diplomacy, pointed out the importance of NATO's long term commitment towards Afghanistan. She said: 'End of 2014 will mean the completion of a process of transition to Afghan lead. It will also mean the beginning of a new partnership between Afghanistan and the Atlantic Alliance.'" Image from article

NATO Public Diplomacy Workshop for Civil Society Representatives from Partner Countries - "There was held Public Diplomacy Workshop for Civil Society Representatives from Partner Countries in NATO Headquartes, in Brussel on 13-14

of December. According to portal, several representatives from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Kyrgyz Republic, Macedonia, Montenegro, Finland, Serbia were participated in this important event. ... Dr. Stefanie Babst, Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, spoke about 'How NATO Communicates'. She told about key principles of NATO Public Diplomacy. Accuracy, trustworthyness, responsiveness, complementing national efforts, participation are key principles of NATO Public Diplomacy. ... Daniele Riggio, Information Officer for Afghanistan and Central Asia, Public Diplomacy Division, told about 'NATO’s engagement in Afghanistan - Transition period'. He stressed that after 2014, stability in Afghanistan will be more important for international community. The Round Table Discussion about NATO’s Communications Toolbox was interesting for participants. It was chaired by Mr. Michel Duray, Head, Partnerships Section, Public Diplomacy Division with the participation of some experts from NATO media. The told about NATO public diplomacy priority in world countries." Image from article

The Erasmus Mundus African Chapter representing at the COP17 conference in Durban, South Africa - "Erasmus Mundus members ... had time for a brief discussion with the Public Diplomacy Officer of the European Union Delegation to the Republic of South Africa. The European Union Delegation to the Republic of South Africa´s exhibit had an ever-melting block of ice (which had to be replaced every morning) as part of the expo to showcase the threat global warming poses to icecaps, glaciers and sheet ice in the

Arctic and Antarctic." Image from article, with caption: Erasmus Mundus Alumni at the European Comission´s Expo next to the melting block of ice (from left Mr. Shingi Mutanga, Mr. Frank Oberholzer (Public Diplomacy Officer at the European Delegation to South Africa), Mr. Cosmas Kombat, Ms. Marli Geldenhuys and Mr. Justice Tambo)

More Manpower - Aparajitha Vadlamannati, "NEW DELHI – Who would think that India could have a problem with finding enough people? When you look at India, a shortage of people seems impossible. As the world’s second most populous nation, India has grown in leaps and bounds in the last 30 years with millions of skilled workers in every industry imaginable. But at home, in the government, India just doesn’t have the manpower it needs to execute effective public diplomacy. Running a government, a working democracy, requires manpower composed of steadfast, trustworthy, knowledgeable, and concerned citizens committed to serving their fellow citizen. Unfortunately entering the civil service is impeded by the constraints of hiring policies, budget restraints, and exams and procedures with limited intake and numerous qualified candidates. Complications in the traditional route to government employment lead to public-private partnerships and concerned citizens supporting civil service action by non-profits. After several meetings this past week in Delhi, we learned that though manpower is limited – especially people who understand the nascent field of Indian public diplomacy – there is room for 'smart partnerships.' Navdeep Suri, Joint Secretary and Head of Public Diplomacy, spoke to us about smart partnerships with local (i.e. Indian) private organizations and foreign organizations to work on shaping and getting India’s message to the world through varied campaigns. Work by the PD division is distributed to the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the embassies but, today as PD grows, partnerships are being made with organizations such as theIdeaWorks. The organization conceptualized and manages the India Future of Change project to determine perceptions of India abroad and work on a means to reconcile perceptions with reality. For example, the most recent project launched is the India Africa initiative. The aim is to engage African university students through arts and writing contests seeking submissions which express their viewpoints on India. Entries help evaluate what they see, and winners get money to fulfill their studies as well as a trip to India so that they can see how their impressions of India measure up to the reality. Local private organizations, too, are improving India’s image through grassroots action. The Centre for Equity Studies (CES) and Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace (WISCOMP) are two organizations working the area of development and conflict transformation respectively whom the India: Inside Out team met

with in Delhi. CES is dedicated to assisting the children of the urban poor to change them from victims of their circumstances to empowered individuals in charge of their future. WISCOMP educates women on their important role in conflict management, especially in contentious areas such as Kashmir. Though these organizations are not part of a concerted public diplomacy campaign, they are vital to affecting change in India – whether they lobby government for reform or empower an individual to make India a more effective democracy. Even though the Indian government might have trouble with staffing, Indian citizens are independently working to strengthen India. Indians rooting for the nation to succeed are filling in the gaps and ensuring that India is heard with a voice that can only be described as its own." Image from blog

Feast of Buddhist arts, culture in Delhi - "A multi-disciplinary festival of Buddhist arts and culture will bring to the capital performances and art from across Asia Nov 28-Dec 1. ... It will be presented by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to coincide with the Global Buddhist Congregation to commemorate the 2,600th year of enlightenment of Lord Buddha. ... On Nov 30, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama will unveil a coffee table book, 'Sharnam Gacchami: An Album of Awakening'. The book has been published by Full Circle with the support of the public diplomacy division of the external affairs ministry. The book portrays India as the land where Buddha preached and where great scholars planted the roots of Buddhism." Image from article, with caption: Feast of Buddhist arts, culture in Delhi

Azerbaijani, Armenian presidents may meet early next year - "Bernard Fassier has given a press conference in Baku to mark the end of his tenure as a mediator in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Karabakh. ... He said that public diplomacy was a key component to a settlement."

Brand Ghana’s Football Diplomacy on the Move: 2010 FIFA World Cup and Beyond - "Following the Black Stars’ good performance at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, football helped significantly to the rise of Ghana’s image worldwide. As such, this sport can be seen as an essential tool of soft or public diplomacy. Historically, football has always played a strong role in Africa. However, on the world stage, it has held a dual function.

Indeed, if Congolese factions stopped the civil war when Pelé visited the country in 1969, El Salvador and Honduras started a 13-day war following a football match, the so-called 'Football War'. With regard to the Ghanaian national team, it seems quite clear that the 'Brand Ghana' has risen thanks to the good results of the squad, and that football is one of the determinants and communication channels of the nation brand, as well as a tool of public diplomacy of sorts." Image from

Rethinking Democracy among Muslims:Are Muslims partners in Democratisation or a threat to Democracy and Nation-building in Uganda? - Omar Kalinge, Uganda Muslim Brothers and Sisters: "PROSPECTS FOR DIALOGUE BETWEEN MUSLIMS AND WESTERN DEMOCRACIES This dialogue is likely what the advisory group on public diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim world advocate in their October 2003 document: 'Changing Minds Winning Peace: a new strategic direction for us public diplomacy in the Arab and Muslim world'. The group chaired by Edward P. Djerejian calls for a new strategic direction in US policy towards the Muslim world. The advisory group states at the outset that 'the United States today lacks the capabilities in public diplomacy to meet the national security threat emanating from political instability, economic deprivation, and extremism especially in the Arab and Muslim world'. Public diplomacy is the promotion of national interest by informing, engaging and influencing people around the world. But a process of unilateral disarmament, the report continues, in the weapons of advocacy over the last decade has contributed to wide spread hostility towards Americans and left us vulnerable to lethal threats to our interests and our safety.' The report recommended that no public diplomacy actively be launched without as much testing and research as possible and that programs be continually measured for effectiveness. The authors argued that the most effective programs of public diplomacy, the ones that most likely to endure and have long-term impact are those that are mutually beneficial to the United States and to the Arab and Muslim countries, emphasizing programmes that build bridges and address the region’s weaknesses, especially in education while at the same time advancing the American message and building a constituency of friendship and trust.

The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Information Technology and Political Islam (The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You) - “In contests between dictatorship and democracy, new media exert increasingly determinative influence. Philip Howard provides a detailed,

thoughtful analysis of how the flow of information and tools of communication are reshaping global politics.”– Philip Seib, Director of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. Image from entry 

Black Gold - Arun, "Great movie posters. Terrible movie. In view of the subject matter—Arabia at the beginning of the oil era—, I just had to see it, and despite the mixed reviews it received in the Paris press. .... One Response on December 18, 2011 at 20:11 | Replylouisclerc 'Qatar is an interesting place at the moment. What with Al Jazeera getting into TV football in France and other things. I read recently an article on Al-Jazeera and its role in qatari foreign relations, which I cannot find now writing

from home. Al Jazeera was described there as an outreach program for the qatari leadership, both inside and outside. Interesting to see how movies will start being made in this country. That is pretty clever public diplomacy for a pigheaded dictatorial system. But they have the money to pull it. Let’s see…" Image from article

Two Papers on Libraries and Public Diplomacy - Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "[A] couple of items that you might have missed on libraries in public diplomacy. Lincove, D.A. (2011) ‘The British Library of Information in New York: A Tool of British Foreign Policy, 1919-1942′, Libraries & the Cultural Record, 46: 156-184. ... Maack, M.N. (2001) ‘Books and Libraries as Instruments of Cultural Diplomacy in Francophone Africa during the Cold War’, Libraries and the Cultural Record, 36: 58-86."

Corps Values - "The role of an ambassador’s spouse can be difficult enough, but when the partners are of different nationalities, the pressure is really on. However, as Duangporn Choktippattana discovers, these cross-cultural partnerships can benefit both countries. ... Ratanawadee Hemniti Winther believes public diplomacy trends have shifted significantly from the past. 'Previously the wife of an ambassador was expected to care for the home and support her family,' she says. 'Now it’s normal for both spouses to pursue their careers.' Ratanawadee balances both duties since tying the knot with Danish ambassador, HE Mikael Hemniti Winther. Prior to meeting him, she

was in Canada heading the continuing education department at the Toronto Board of Education. In 1996, she flew back to Bangkok to take up a teaching stint at a Thai university and was also the director of the Thai branch of the International Australian Education Center. While attending the Australian Ball, she encountered Mikael who was a first secretary at the Danish embassy. Two years later Ratanawadee made the hardest decision in her life: quitting all her jobs to move to Copenhagen with him. 'I was already in my late 30s yet my life was changing drastically. It was a great departure from my independent lifestyle,' she admits. In Denmark, the Foreign Ministry provides extensive support to help foreign-born spouses find employment. Uncaptioned image from article

All-American Bigotry - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I posted a while back about the show All-American Muslim, a reality show about Muslim-American life in Dearborn, Michigan. I loved the concept, and thought it would make for great public diplomacy. Well, the agents of intolerance balked at portraying Muslims as anything less than radical jihadis, so they unleashed their own jihad at advertisers who were associated with the program. Lowe's and other advertisers subsequently backed away in a particularly feckless fashion."


In Iraq, peace at last: America owes a debt of gratitude to the activists who opposed the Iraq war from the start, and who kept the pressure on - Tom Hayden, Some peace activists view the fact that thousands of advisors and contractors will remain in Iraq on the U.S. Embassy payroll as evidence of a secret plan to continue the war by other means. But the war is as over as a war can be, and the peace movement should celebrate. Removing troops from Iraq will save tens of billions of dollars a year, and it will also save lives.

An elusive victory in Iraq: After almost nine years, the war ends, with questions - Doyle McManus, most wars don't end with clear-cut winners and losers, especially long counterinsurgency wars of the sort we've been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Image from article, with caption: Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, left [?], commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, retires the United States Forces-Iraq flag during a ceremony marking the departure of American troops from the country.

U.S. military, Taliban use Twitter to wage war - Ernesto Londoño,Washington Post: The Twitter war began in earnest Sept. 14, in the midst of a sustained attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and the adjacent headquarters of the U.S.-led international military force. Until then, NATO officials had kept close tabs on the messages posted on two accounts linked to the Taliban’s media arm — but had refrained from engaging or acknowledging them. U.S. military officials assigned to the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, as the coalition is known, took the first shot in what has become a near-daily battle waged with broadsides that must be kept to 140 characters. How much longer will terrorists put innocent Afghans in harm’s way,” @isafmedia demanded of the Taliban spokesman on the second day of the embassy attack, in which militants lobbed rockets and sprayed gunfire from a building under construction. “I dnt knw. U hve bn pttng thm n ‘harm’s way’ fr da pst 10 yrs. Razd whole vilgs n mrkts. n stil hv da nrve to tlk bout ‘harm’s way,’ ” responded Abdulqahar Balkhi, one of the Taliban’s Twitter warriors, who uses the handle ­@ABalkhi. The running spat appears to be the sole open line of communication between Americans and the Taliban after exploratory peace talks collapsed this year. U.S. military officials say the dramatic assault on the diplomatic compound convinced them that they needed to seize the propaganda initiative — and that in Twitter, they had a tool at hand that could shape the narrative much more quickly than news releases or responses to individual queries.

As the Ice Cracks Under Putin, What Will He Do? No matter how he rolls the dice, every option is fraught with huge risks - Leon Aron, Wall Street Journal: No matter what Mr. Putin's final choice, in the throes of a likely bitter and divisive presidential campaign in the U.S., both the White House and Republican front-runners ought to be prepared with responses to the unfolding political crisis in Russia. They will not be easy to calibrate. On the one hand, destabilization of the world's other nuclear superpower is a cause of serious concern. On the other hand, despite the Putin propaganda, America's opinion carries enormous weight among the Russian people and elite alike (as it did even in the Soviet days) and we should be careful not to throw rhetorical lifelines to a regime deplored by its own people. Ultimately, our policy ought to be informed by a simple but durable proposition: A free, democratic, stable and prosperous Russia, at peace with its own people, its neighbors and the world, is among the most important geostrategic objectives of the United States. Whatever unfolds in the months to come, assisting the emergence of such a Russia should be the goal to which all other shorter-term policies should be attuned.

When special interests block national interest - Fred Hiatt, Washington Post: Barring a last-minute surprise in the U.S. Senate, the well-qualified diplomat President Obama sent to serve as ambassador to Azerbaijan, Matthew Bryza, will have to come home in less than a month.


Study: Nearly 1 in 3 will be arrested by age 23 - Donna Leinwand Leger, Nearly one in three people will be arrested by the time they are 23, a

study to be published today in Pediatrics found. "Arrest is a pretty common experience," says Robert Brame, a criminologist at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and principal author of the study. Image from

U.S. drone operators show signs of exhaustion - Gregg Zoroya, About one in three airmen who operate cameras on high-altitude, remotely controlled spy planes and 30% of those who fly attack drones used to kill terrorists have emotional exhaustion from long hours of work, according to Air Force research recently released. Sixty-five percent to 70% of those with mental illness signs are not seeking treatment for it, researchers found. Nearly 900 Air Force personnel were surveyed. Seventeen percent are women and 60% married. When they were first asked broadly about burnout, nearly half admitted it. More precise questioning revealed that true rates of exhaustion were far lower.


"Picture all experts as if they were mammals."

--Deceased enfant terrible atheist Christopher Hitchens, as cited in Image from

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