Saturday, March 31, 2012

March 31

"Planners don't talk."

--George C. Marshall, Secretary of State; cited in Hannah Gurman, The Voices of Diplomats in the Cold War and Beyond  (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), p.53; Marshall image from


Power, Principles And Participation In The Global Information Age (San Diego, California, April 1-4, 2012). For public-diplomacy related panels at this convention, see.


The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Under Secretaries - Brian Carlson, PDC Public Diplomacy Council: "Habit One: Remember that it is all about 'the field.' Public diplomacy gets done out there at the embassies and consulates, not here in Washington. ... Habit Two: The most important thing the Under Secretary can do for the field is – are you ready? can you guess? – 'send money.' Well, to be accurate, 'send resources.' ... Habit Three: The next most important thing the Under Secretary can do for the field, and therefore for public diplomacy, is to restrain Washington. ... Habit Four: The Under Secretary’s target audience is at the other end of Constitution Avenue. That is, on Capitol Hill. Those congressmen and Senators up there are the key to money, influence and success in Washington. ... Habit Five: …that discussion of chutzpah and being proactive leads to a mini-analysis of the State Department’s organizational culture. The Department is like a giant sponge. If you press on it, it will give, and it will assume the shape you want. And, the moment you stop pressing, it will return to its original shape. Decide on what you want, and keep pressing for it in every forum and opportunity. Be relentless. ... Habit Six: Mention of the military reminds that the State Department does not own 'public diplomacy [']. However, State (meaning you) can lead it. Foreign audiences take their understanding of American values, actions and policies from a vast array of sources -- the impact of American business, media, tourists and travelers, sports, exported entertainment products, the academic community, and inventions, to name a just a few. The Under Secretary can generally do little about those, but she can offer leadership to the parts of the U.S. Government that work in the public diplomacy sphere. ... Habit Seven: Lastly, in the inter-agency, you can lead, but you cannot direct. Neither the Department of State, nor the Under Secretary, can direct the actions and expenditures of other cabinet agencies, departments and military units." See also: John Brown, "Memo to Karen Hughes," Common Dreams (April 24, 2005) which in its last recommendation (no. 14) to her as the newly-named Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs during the Bush administration suggests that she "Keep your sense of humor."

The World's Fair Podcast, Episode 29: César Corona on Public Diplomacy and World's Fairs - "Episode 29 of the World's Fair Podcast is now available for download as an MP3 or via iTunes. In it, Urso Chappell and John McGregor

talk to César Corona about the role of public diplomacy at international expositions." Uncaptioned image from article

Tara Sonenshine, now confirmed as under secretary for public diplomacy, will attend BBG meetings - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "Sonenshine will represent the secretary of state, ex officio member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, at BBG meetings. Other than that, she will have no administrative authority over US international broadcasting; i.e., US international broadcasting is not under US public diplomacy."

Moroccan professor gives Radio Sawa/Alhurra part credit for lack of US flag burnings during Arab Spring - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Alhurra program acquisitions (updated again: "one about a Muslim high school football team") - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

VOA wall-to-wall coverage of Burmese election. RFA wall-to-wall coverage of Burmese election - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Radio/TV Martí's @martinoticias has most retweets per tweep of USG Twitter accounts - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Image from entry

Russia to block any UN decision on foreign intervention in Syria -– FM - "Outlining a year in Russian foreign policy, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has reiterated Moscow’s insistence on an immediate halt to violence in Syria and the start of a national inclusive dialogue . ... The effective use of soft power in all its forms is another important resource in our work. We intend to cooperate with civil society institutions, the expert community, business circles and mass media. We will actively use the potential of organizations established last year, namely, the Russian Council for International Affairs and the Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Foundation, and other opportunities that we have with civil society in addition to traditional diplomatic instruments. We also expect that the new foundation for supporting and protecting the rights of Russians living abroad will become fully operational this year, as will the International Cooperation Agency."

If You Can’t Go to the Mountain, Have the MountainRunner Go to You - After many years of  interaction in the blogosphere, I had the pleasure of finally meeting Matt Armstrong of the noted public diplomacy and information influence blog MountainRunner, at a suburban Chicago watering hole. A lively discussion ensued in which Smith-Mundt legislation only made the briefest appearance. Uncaptioned image from article

Man found in Dominguez Channel ID'd - "A body found in the Dominguez Channel in Carson has been identified as that of a 23-year-old man reported missing March 20. Coroner's investigators identified the body as that of Elgin Olu Stafford, who until recently was pursing a master's degree in public diplomacy at USC. ... He was a graduate of UC Berkeley. The body was found Thursday between Avalon Boulevard and 213th Street, but it was unclear how he died. His father, Michael, told several broadcast outlets that his son was under a lot of stress."


U.A.E. Closes Down U.S.-Financed Democracy Group - Steven Lee Myers, New York Times: On the eve of a summit meeting here between the United States and Arab nations of the Persian Gulf to deepen security ties, one of those countries, the United Arab Emirates, announced that it had shut down an American-financed organization that promotes democracy, State Department officials said. The United Arab Emirates announced the shutdown on Friday of the office of the National Democratic Institute, State Department officials said, a day before the meeting on Saturday attended by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

A new doctrine of intervention? - Henry A. Kissinger, Washington Post: For more than half a century, U.S. policy in the Middle East has been guided by several core security objectives: preventing any power in the region from emerging as a hegemon; ensuring the free flow of energy resources, still vital to the operation of the world economy; and attempting to broker a durable peace between Israel and its neighbors, including a settlement with the Palestinian Arabs. In the past decade, Iran has emerged as the principal challenge to all three. A process that ends with regional governments either too weak or too anti-Western in their orientation to lend support to these outcomes, and in which U.S. partnerships are no longer welcomed, must evoke U.S. strategic concerns — regardless of the electoral mechanisms by which these governments come to power. Within the framework of these general limits, U.S. policy has significant scope for creativity in promoting humanitarian and democratic values. The United States should be prepared to deal with democratically elected Islamist governments. But it is also free to pursue a standard principle of traditional foreign policy — to condition its stance on the alignment of its interests with the actions of the government in question.

The U.S. can meet Israel halfway on Iran - Dennis Ross and David Makovsky, Washingt post: Because Israel is the only country that Iran has repeatedly threatened to “wipe off the map,” it is reasonable for it to have some input into the objectives of diplomacy and the timetable for progress in negotiations. It is possible to synchronize the U.S. and Israeli clocks and give diplomacy a chance to work. Ironically, the better these timetables are aligned, and the more Tehran understands this reality, the more likely the Iranians are to see that if they want to avoid force being used against them, they must take advantage of the diplomatic out that the United States is offering.

China mounts online crackdown amid political crisis - David Pierson, China launched an Internet crackdown Friday amid its worst political crisis in decades, shuttering more than a dozen websites, limiting access to the country's largest micro-blog providers and arresting six people for spreading rumors about a coup attempt in Beijing. The measures represent the strongest attempt yet to quash speculation that the nation’s top leadership is wracked by infighting after the ouster of Bo Xilai, the controversial Communist Party chief of mega-city Chongqing.

The official New China News Agency quoted a spokesman for the State Internet Information Office as saying authorities were punishing 16 websites and six individuals for "fabricating or disseminating online rumors" about "military vehicles entering Beijing and something wrong going on in Beijing." Image from article, with caption: An Internet cafe in Shanghai

What art history reveals about ‘dehumanization’ of Jews in Swedish drawing - Menachem Wecker, As the Associated Press reported a couple of weeks ago, a drawing by two Swedish pastors that has been described as anti-Semitic was yanked from an exhibit in a Stockholm church. The drawing shows a rat carrying a rifle while two other rats eat what the Simon Wiesenthal Center calls a map of the Palestinian territories. “Animalization (depicting humans as animals) of Jews was perfected by the Nazi propaganda machine, an all-too effective way to dehumanize Jewish citizens in the eyes of their German neighbors. The propaganda of the 1930s set the stage for the murder of 6 million Jews in the 1940s. Since then, Soviet and Arab and Muslim anti-Jewish propaganda used the very same method. Now it has surfaced in 2012 Sweden,” says Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the center in a post on the center’s website.

Assad says revolt is over but the army keeps shooting - Rick Moran, The opposition claims it won't stop fighting until tanks and artillery are withdrawn for the major cities. But President Assad continues his propaganda campaign claiming the revolt against him is over.

NKorea rebuilds Pyongyang to welcome new leader - Pyongyang still serves as the biggest billboard for the government's messages both to the outside world and to its own people. Just about every prominent building and statue in North Korea is located in Pyongyang, said Brian Myers, a professor at Dongseo University in South Korea and expert on North Korean propaganda. "It really is the apex of all propaganda and political life," he said. "The fact that the buildings are so monumental, they are very good at eliciting pride in the state."

Check These Out: Hilarious Propaganda Posters for 'Hunger Games' - Ethan Anderton, The adaptation of Suzanne Collins' hit young adult novel The Hunger Games is still dominating the box office, and it will be interesting to see whether or not Wrath of the Titans or Mirror Mirror can knock the mighty sci-fi film off its throne. In the meantime, the internet is having fun with all the hype surrounding the film from how awkward the tabloid relationship name would be for Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) to this new batch of hilarious propaganda posters from the comedy factory that is College Humor. Using some familiar imagery, these posters make light of the brutal nature of the games. Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss, a 16-year-old living in the post-apocalyptic country of Panem. Every year, one boy and one girl

are chosen from each of Panem's 12 districts to fight each other to their death. Josh Hutcherson plays Peeta, the boy chosen from District 12 for the Hunger Games with Katniss. The Hunger Games is both written and directed by Oscar nominated filmmaker Gary Ross, director of Seabiscuit and Pleasantville previously, but also writer of Big, Mr. Baseball, Dave, Lassie, Pleasantville and Seabiscuit. It's adapted from Suzanne Collins' popular series of novels, first published in 2008. Lionsgate brought Hunger Games to theaters everywhere March 23rd, 2012. May the odds be ever in your favor. Image from article


"[T]he Pew Research Center ... found that 68% of respondents did not approve of targeted Internet advertising if it meant having their online behavior tracked and analyzed. Pew has said that nearly 3 in 4 Americans now use search engines, and two-thirds use social networks. Nearly half of adults in the U.S. own smartphones."

--Tech firms' data gathering worries most Californians, poll finds: Trust is low even for the most widely used Internet and smartphone companies, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple - David Sarno, Los Angeles Times


"Vacation? Who's got time for a vacation? That seems to be the attitude of many Americans, according to a new national survey that shows 48% of adults passed up on using at least half of their vacation time in 2011. The survey of 1,000 adults by Los Angeles-based Kelton Research for Radisson Hotels & Resorts found that Americans are given an average of 18 vacation days a year. But those Americans who said they passed on using half or more of their vacation time blamed a heavy workload and not wanting to play catch-up after returning to work.

Even though so many Americans forgo vacation time, 52% of Americans said they would give up office-sponsored events in exchange for five more days of vacation, according to the survey. Nearly one in four adults surveyed said they would give up their next promotion or 5% of their salary for five more days of vacation. To squeeze in more time with loved ones, 63% of Americans said they bring family along on business trips. Vacation time goes unused for many Americans, survey says"

--Vacation time goes unused for many Americans, survey says   \- Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times; image from article, with caption: A scene from National Lampoon's Vacation.

Friday, March 30, 2012

March 30

"Big Idaho Potato on a mission: combating ‘anti-potato propaganda’"

--Headline in Idaho Statesman; image from article, with caption: The Great Big Potato was inspired by the popular giant Idaho potato postcard.

"Uranian propaganda that Dolphins are bisexual"

--Headline in


WE-NATO: Jed Willard and the Power of Soft Power. Via MA on twitter


Congratulations Tara Sonenshine! confirmed to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs - Matt Armstrong, "Congratulations to Tara Sonenshine, who was confirmed this evening to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs! Also confirmed was Mike Hammer as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs (he’s been 'Acting' all this time). ... For Tara, getting started and digging in requires waiting for the President to attest (certify) the confirmation, she then gets sworn in (mostly like at the Department, possibly by Secretary Clinton but possibly Under Secretary Kennedy, unless she has a specific qualified individual in mind), and she’s off and running.  (She’ll get to use the VIP line for getting her badge and the Blackberry will be delivered to her of course.)  Conceivably, she could start as early as Monday but Tuesday is probably more like it.

It largely depends on the White House’s ability to turn around the certification and get it to State. Congratulations also goes to State’s public diplomacy, including the bureaucracy, the practice and concept, and the people and the people in the bureaucracy and those who practice it.  Having a strong leader like Tara confirmed for the job is long overdue." Image from

US official spells out policy towards Muslim countries - Noimot Olayiwola, "The US is sincere and committed in its efforts at building bridges with the rest of the world, particularly with the Muslim countries, US Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Kathleen Stephens has said. She was speaking yesterday during a public lecture on American Policy and the Muslim World organised for the students and faculty members of Qatar University. 'The US approach to issues in the Middle East has been very defined and I will say that rather than looking at the words of mouth, which do not really matter, I will suggest that people should look more at actions being taken by the US,' she stated. ... The official asked the student participants to respect precedent and tradition, and be intellectually curious so that they can understand and embrace different perspectives in a world that is becoming increasingly inter-connected. 'That’s why it’s so important to meet different people, and share perspectives,' she noted adding: 'As the acting under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, I am here to continue and extend that conversation.

And I can do that by working to support our visitor programmes – whether they are educational, sports or professional exchanges,' she said. According to Kathleen, thousands of international visitors go to the US from all over the world every year. ... She mentioned that the US International Visitor Leadership Programme [IVLP] now have in Qatar up to 253 alumni and another 12 who are alumni of its Voluntary Visitors programme. ... The US embassy in Qatar has organised an event at the Museum of Islamic Art to honour recent participants in Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) 'Museum Ambassadors' programme and to celebrate Qatar-US co-operation in the field of arts. US Ambassador to Qatar Susan L. Ziadeh opened the reception on Wednesday evening, welcoming Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy Kathleen Stephens, the regional Public Affairs Officers, Qatar Museums Authority Officials, as well as the 'Museum Ambassadors'." Image from

On PD and Sensationalism - Part 2 - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "[Whether Alec] Ross [Senior Advisor for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton] himself sees public diplomacy as propaganda or not ... [there is no ]'proof' ... that this was not the actual wording he used [at a meeting with American University students]."

NATO Grapples with Soft Power - Philip Seib, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "NATO has a public diplomacy department staffed with smart and dedicated people, but it became apparent at a conference on 'The Power of Soft Power,' held recently in Brussels, that this contingent is increasingly lonely. As NATO prepares for its summit conference in Chicago in May, the organization needs to do much more to address the strategic realities of soft power in the digital communication era. This involves NATO assembling the tools to allow it to convince as well as coerce. ... It is understandably difficult for a hard power organization such as NATO to adapt to the demands of a world in which soft power is becoming more important, but NATO’s future depends on its ability to adapt. Through soft power it must lay the foundation for an answer to the question, 'If NATO were to disappear overnight, would the world be changed?' That question may have been unthinkable during the Cold War, but among some it has resonance today. NATO is like the Tyrannosaurus Rex – a fearsome fighter wielding unmatchable hard power. Of course, for the Tyrannosaurus hard power was not enough. It became extinct. NATO is still with us…for now."

How the Chinese Communist Propaganda Machine Runs Wild and Free in America - "Testimony of Greg Autry Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine Senior Economist, American Jobs Alliance On The Price of Public Diplomacy with China before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Committee on Foreign Affairs U.S. House of Representatives March 28, 2012 ... My testimony will focus on the co-option of the U.S. media, academic, business and political elite by the Chinese under the influence of the Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department. ... Overall my findings are: The Chinese Communist Party views Americans and their leaders as naïve, short sighted and easily coopted. China is very actively involved in manipulating the American media to promote the Communist Party agenda, while actively constraining reciprocal American access to their media. China has carefully targeted our schools, universities and multinational corporations as agents for Chinese propaganda. Former and current US government officials have been uncomfortably financially intertwined with Chinese state owned business leading to a real question of their ability to speak or act objectively in regards to China. American political leaders, business leaders, and pundits are increasingly out of touch with the reality of Chinese propaganda and with mainstream American views on Communist China."

China works hard to project soft power‎ - Jaime A. FlorCruz, CNN International: "In recent months, China has been on a 'soft power' offensive to improve its national image and increase its global influence. China has hosted the 2008 Olympics and the Shanghai Expo in 2009 -- expensive events which, many experts say, helped enhance the 'China brand.' ... There are long-term initiatives, too, such as the setting up of Confucius Institutes to promote the Chinese language and culture. Akin to Germany's Goethe Institut or the British Council, hundreds of these Confucius Institutes have been established in leading universities and colleges around the world. ... In a white paper issued in 2005, China outlined its intentions to rise peacefully as a global power.

'China did not seek hegemony in the past, nor does it and will not do so in the future when it gets stronger,' the white paper said. 'China's development will not pose a threat to anyone; instead it can bring more development opportunities and bigger markets for the rest of the world.' But some public opinion polls show China's soft power offensive remains inadequate. ... Zhao Qizheng, the former director of the State Council Information Office and an advocate of public diplomacy, acknowledges the limits of official propaganda. 'For a long time, the international community has been cynical towards the traditional Chinese voice, believing that it's mostly official propaganda with political agenda, so it's not very credible and interesting,' Zhao said in a recent online forum. Zhao admonished ordinary Chinese to engage in public diplomacy. 'We Chinese should be good at storytelling, to use soft ways of communications to create the so-called 'China image,'' he said." Image from article: China's new stamp of a "ferocious" dragon has raised concerns that the post office has put too hard of an image on China.

Media a hot topic - "A symposium on media innovation in the era of mobile communication was held recently in Beijing. Hot topics included the dissemination of Chinese culture with the latest mobile technologies, the importance of public diplomacy for Chinese firms and cultural organizations that are going global, challenges to privacy and consumers' rights in the age of mobile communication."

American student leaders in India on a friendship trip - Indian Public Diplomacy: Advancing India’s Conversation with the World ...: “’Watch out, one of us from this group may become the future president of the United States of America,’ says Daniel Wernick jokingly. The 22-year-old student from Connecticut College may have said that light-heartedly, but that’s a dream that all members of College-100 may be harbouring. As student body presidents of their respective colleges and universities, they are clear that a career in politics is their calling in life. A group of 11 students from C-100 are on an official visit to India on the invitation of Ministry of External Affairs’ Public Diplomacy Division. C-100 is a network of youth leaders from various colleges across the US."

Public Diplomacy and Mongolia - Tsolmon Davaa, "In order to conduct public diplomacy successfully, a country must train

public diplomacy officers. ... [I]n the past decades Mongolians are travelling a lot and going abroad meeting people from other cultures as they form their ideas of what Mongolian is like. There are many of them who are passionate about sharing Mongolians’ values and culture through exchange programs and other artistic and cultural programs abroad, which means there are great possibilities to conduct Public Diplomacy in Mongolia successfully. Thus in order to do that: First of all, a critical issue needs to be addressed is whether just big and economically powerful nations conduct public diplomacy or the scope of public diplomacy can be variable depending on its nature. Second, there must be official Mongolian plans for Public Diplomacy. Public Diplomacy (PD) is to seek to promote the national interest of Mongolia through understanding, engaging, informing, and influencing foreign publics, and by promoting mutual understanding between the people from other nations around the world. Third of all, Mongolia must stay as open to the world as it has been since the 1990s. Openness to different cultures really set us off on a great foot when we come into the world stage. ... Mongolia cannot protect itself and promote its national interest, if it pulls back from the world. Fourth, by informing and influencing foreign publics and strengthening the relationship between the people and government of Mongolia and citizens of the rest of the world, Mongolia may become one of the influential international actors and 'Neutral negotiator' as it has geographically unique and significant location between the two Super Powers – Russia and China. At a time when the need for collaboration and cooperation among nations and peoples has never been greater, Mongolia’s role in the world can be very important, but is threatened by Mongolians’ apparent disinterest in and lack of understanding of global affairs. In particular young Mongolians are not interested in global affairs and they just spend their time playing computer games, gambling, using narcotics, browsing through the Internet watching dirty movies, and shopping. Fourth, to have a career track for Public Diplomacy in the Mongolian Guide to the Foreign Service Officer Selection Process (if there is one) and train IR students how each interact with one another, so that they would understand the lifestyle and work of a Foreign Service Officer and the roles of Public diplomacy career track. The reason is when they go abroad they represent Mongolia’s interests and its people overseas as goals would be accomplished in part through the expansion of people-to-people relationships and by better-informed policymaking." Image with caption: Mongolian wrestlers[:] Wales calling Mongolia Update.

Public Diplomacy: Key to Pak-Afghan close understanding - Sana Jamal, "To achieve sustainable peace in the region, Pakistan and Afghanistan would have to abandon the traditional diplomacy and introduce people-centric policies, noted the speakers at a workshop held here on Wednesday. Traditional diplomacy, which is concerned with the policymakers only, has been practiced since long through political and diplomatic channels, but, 'there is still much room for informal exchange between the peoples of the two countries', noted the speakers. To promote societal cooperation and to reinforce the historical bonds of friendship and mutual respect between Pakistanis and Afghans, it is vital to launch methods of public diplomacy, which has an extensive reach as it goes beyond the dominant few to the masses, and encourages the communities overseas to adopt a positive and open outlook about each other. The seminar on 'Pakistan Afghanistan Relations and Regional Stability Scenario' was organised by Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP)."

Super Hero! How cool is this? A differently-abled SUPER HERO! Read on so meet The Silver Scorpion: US and Syrian Youths Created Disabled Superhero, "The Silver Scorpion" - "[L]iquid Comics and the Open Hands Initiative, a U.S.-based nonprofit dedicated to public diplomacy efforts, announced today [JB note: exact date not specified] the launch of a new comic book that will

introduce children around the world to the Silver Scorpion, an Arab teenager who loses his legs in a tragic accident, but whose powers- his creators hope- include the ability to help build bridges between the youth of America and the Arab world, starting with Syria." Image from entry

Reconsidering Theories of Public Diplomacy, Part I - Craig Hayden, Intermap: "To understand public diplomacy at the level of theory is get past simple definitions, by decomposing the practices of public diplomacy into its component parts or activities. ... What do I mean by this? I mean quite simply to focus on what we actually want to know."

American Avatar: The United States in the Global Imagination - Matt Armstrong, "One of the most important public diplomacy books you have never heard of is American Avatar: The United States in the Global Imagination by Barry Sanders.

An adjunct professor of Communications Studies at UCLA, an international corporate lawyer, President of the Board of Commissioners of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, Barry provides a unique, fascinating, and worthwhile exploration of the opportunities and risks of American global engagement. In American Avatar, Barry looks at narratives, their foundations and  trajectories.  'Now more than ever,' Barry writes, 'foreign views of the United States also affects its national security.' As a panelist at the November 2011 meeting of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, Barry explained that stories at the heart of everything: the study and practice of law, movies, group membership, and more."  Image from

craigconnects: Infographic on Restrictive Voting Laws Released by craigslist Founder Craig Newmark - "Launched in March 2011, craigconnects is Craig Newmark’s personal, Web-based initiative to support philanthropy, public service, and organizations getting results in both areas. The initiative spotlights individuals, organizations and agencies working for veterans and military families, open government, public diplomacy, back-to-basics journalism, consumer protection, and technology for the common good. craigconnects is a fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives."


Pakistan: Suspected U.S. missile strike kills four - AP, USA Today: A suspected U.S. drone fired two missiles at a house in northwest Pakistan early Friday morning, killing four militants in an attack that comes as Pakistani officials have stepped up their calls for the strikes to end, intelligence officials said. The attack could complicate U.S. efforts to get Pakistan to reopen its border crossings to supplies meant for NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan shut the border last November in retaliation for American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan's parliament is debating a revised framework for its relationship with the U.S. that Washington hopes will result in NATO supply routes reopening. But a key demand is that the U.S. stop drone attacks, which are very unpopular in Pakistan because many people believe they mostly kill civilians — a claim denied by the U.S. and contradicted by independent research. Image from

U.S. grants Egypt $1.3 billion -- poll says Egyptians don't want it - Emily Alper, Just after the United States decided to keep sending $1.3 billion in annual aid to the Egyptian military, a new poll shows that most Egyptians don't want their country to receive American financial assistance. Pollsters say Egyptians suspect that taking money from foreigners will end up impinging on their nation's sovereignty. More than eight of 10 Egyptians oppose receiving aid from the United States, according to a Gallup poll that finds opposition has grown over the last year. Egyptians are even more strongly opposed to the U.S. sending aid to Egyptian civil society groups, the February poll found.

Helping Arab Democrats: The U.S. has a chance to aid pro-American reformers in Tunisia - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: The Obama Administration's response to the past year's Middle East convulsions won't make any Best of American Foreign Policy lists. It was slow to recognize popular uprisings against authoritarian rulers and reluctant to lead. Which makes Thursday's decision to give Tunisia's new government a helping hand notable and welcome. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the Administration wants to give Tunisia $100 million this year.

This isn't a standard assistance package that funds U.S. consultants, but a direct injection of cash into the government's coffers. The U.S. would also set aside $30 million to guarantee Tunisian government bonds, which will ease its access to international capital markets. Today's Tunisia offers an antidote to the pessimism about the Arab world. With American help, it has a chance to show the rest of the Middle East that political pluralism can result in new prosperity. Image from article, "Protests and Website Hackings in Tunisia!"

Where's an Open Mic When We Really Need It? Obama was admitting his distrust of his fellow Americans to a leader of a nasty government that seeks to thwart our purposes - Martin Peretz, Wall Street Journal: President Obama is in cahoots with the Russian regime against America's very body politic. Mr. Obama is presiding over what might be called a withdrawalist moment in American foreign policy. Throughout his presidency, Mr. Obama has seemed strangely unmoved by the claims and values of American nationalism as they were expressed in most of the last century—for the rights of other peoples to establish nation-states after World War I, to free Europe and Asia from the bloody rule of monstrous fascist tyrannies in World War II, to defeat the egalitarian phantasm of communism as a civilized way of life. What exactly are his intentions, for example, about the threat of a nuclear Iran? It is, once again, hard to say. He told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that he is against containment, which is what he knew Aipac wanted to hear. But his false faith in the efficacy of sanctions and diplomacy will land him right in the lap of containment—unless he chooses force. Will he support Israel's use of force? Will he use American force?

The ‘flexibility’ doctrine - Charles Krauthammer, In addition to canceling the Polish/Czech missile-defense system, Obama gave the Russians accession to the World Trade Organization, signed a START Treaty that they need and we don’t (their weapons are obsolete and deteriorating rapidly), and turned a scandalously blind eye to their violations of human rights and dismantling of democracy. Obama even gave Putin a congratulatory call for winning his phony election.

In return? Russia consistently watered down or obstructed sanctions on Iran, completed Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr, provides to this day Bashar al-Assad with huge arms shipments used to massacre his own people (while rebuilding the Soviet-era naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus), conducted a virulently anti-American presidential campaign on behalf of Putin, pressured Eastern Europe and threatened Georgia. Image from

U.S. ambassador to Russia wonders who’s leaking his schedule to TV channel - AP, The U.S. ambassador to Russia is perplexed over how a government-controlled television station seems to know his every move and concerned that his email and phone calls may be intercepted. In a series of tweets on Thursday, Michael McFaul said he encounters crews from the NTV channel wherever he goes. NTV, which is owned by an arm of the state natural gas monopoly, this month aired a documentary-style program claiming that participants in recent anti-government protests are paid U.S. agents.McFaul has previously come under sharp disdain from state media and elsewhere. Shortly after taking up his post in mid-January, Channel One state television aired a program describing him as a “specialist in the promotion of democracy” who came to Russia to organize “a revolution.” As a Stanford University professor, McFaul wrote extensively on fostering democracy. Vladimir Putin’s campaign for the presidency, which he won in elections on March 4, was marked by heightened anti-U.S. rhetoric that was in sharp contrast to the mollifying tone that had taken hold as the Obama administration pursued its initiative to “reset” relations with Russia. McFaul was a principal architect of that initiative.

New Ambassador to Iraq [Brett McGurk] Done Little with Life But Iraq Mistakes - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: "McGurk is 38 years old and has never done any job other than help fuck up Iraq on behalf of the United States. Dude only graduated in 1999. Despite essentially doing nothing but Iraq stuff his entire adult life, McGurk has also avoided learning any Arabic. You’d kind of think that maybe that wouldn’t be the resume for the next guy in charge of cleaning up some of his own mistakes, like maybe you’d want someone who had some… depth or experience or broad knowledge or understanding of something other than failure in that God-forsaken country. Normally when you are a hand maiden to failure you don’t get promoted, but then again, this is the State Department."

Why Israel is an Apartheid State | Introduction - The Israeli propaganda machine is in full swing this time of the year. Israel's image as the 'only liberal democracy in the Middle East' continues to be tarnished as Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) and BDS (Boycotts, Divestments, Sanctions) grow as a grass roots movements on campuses across the globe. Israel's positive image in the North American psyche is the one thing which has allowed it to continue its brutality against

the Palestinians without any backlash from the general public. The fact that its image is slowly undergoing a seismic shift shakes Israel to the core. Israel's nervousness and isolation is best indicated by the attempts to counter this movement. It has organized massive public relation campaigns, initiated events such as Israel Peace Week and has sent out delegations on speaking tours all over the world. Condemnation of IAW pour in from right-wing politicians and media outlets continue to brand the event as a hate fest which is rooted in misinformation and anti-Semitism. Image from article

Israeli Double Speak Propaganda - The Israeli government was in a rage at a comment made by the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton relating to the killing of three Jewish children in Toulouse France. Ashton decried the killing but then tied it in to equally unfortunate deaths of children in other places, including Gaza. Her comment caused Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to explode, saying he was “infuriated” by the “comparison between a deliberate massacre of children and the defensive, surgical actions” of the Israeli Defense Forces hitting “…terrorists who use children as a human shield.” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman quickly joined in, saying that Ashton should instead be thinking about the “children of southern Israel who live in constant fear of rocket attacks from Gaza.” Where to begin? Israel’s “surgical attacks” have killed thousands of Gazans, including many children, and the stories about children as human shields comes from – you guessed it – Israeli government sources.[Excerpt of article by Philip Giraldi, former CIA officer]

Profile: French Islamist group Forsane Alizza - Mohamed Achamlane, the leader of Forsane Alizza, is among 19 people arrested on Friday Forsane Alizza (Knights of Pride) is known in France more for its provocative statements and propaganda videos than for any acts of violence.

The group has called for Islamic Sharia law to be introduced worldwide, and for France to become an Islamic caliphate. Since its formation in 2010, it has staged protests on issues including the ban on wearing the veil in public. Following a government investigation, the group was banned by Interior Minister Claude Gueant in February. Image from article, with caption: Mohamed Achamlane, the leader of Forsane Alizza, is among 19 people arrested on Friday

Do not believe Western Propaganda! North Koreans love Kim Jong il! Watch the video.. - Stefanos Konsta, A totally heartbreaking video depicting the reaction of the people of North Korea to the news of the death of their beloved Dear Leader. For years the western media have been trying to tarnish his reputation by depicting him as a cruel and brutal tyrant. Time and again they claimed that he was ruling against the will of his people. Yet the people once again show their love and affection for their dear leader. Instead of smiling and rejoicing as the western propaganda would dictate them to do they are full-heatedly mourning the passing of their beloved Dear Leader. Rest in peace Comrade Kim. Your legacy will never die.

“Earth Hour’s” Global Propaganda Campaign - On Saturday, 8:30 PM local time, everyone will be invited to turn off all their electrical devices and presumably sit in the dark. According to the World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour is intended to “encourage American cities to prepare for the costly impacts of climate-related extreme weather and reduce their carbon footprint.” Earth Hour is an example of the enormous funding available to the Greens and of their continued assault on the world’s population to encourage and maintain its message that the Earth is imperiled by mankind’s activities, i.e., the use of energy. Earth Hour is a huge piece of international propaganda.

Millions of dollars and man-hours have been expended to get the lights turned off from the Eiffel Tower to the Empire State Building, the Leaning Tower of Pisa to Australia’s Opera House. Image from

Perception Management - David Glenn Cox, There is no top to this and no bottom. There are no sides to this and no way to contain it. It can only be held in place temporarily, only with makeshift propaganda and truckloads of hubris. This involves us all, every last mother-loving son or daughter of us and it is inescapable, it is our destiny, our Alpha or our Omega, a new beginning or a certain end. From the power of Barack Obama to the powerlessness of Trayvon Martin, from the violence of George Zimmerman to the violence of Robert Bales in Afghanistan: we are a violent and bloody people who tend to excuse our way past our own violence.


"Across the United States, more than 10 million housing units are in gated communities, where access is 'secured with walls or fences,' according to 2009 Census Bureau data. Roughly 10 percent of the occupied homes in this country are in

gated communities, though that figure is misleadingly low because it doesn’t include temporarily vacant homes or second homes. Between 2001 and 2009, the United States saw a 53 percent growth in occupied housing units nestled in gated communities."

--Rich Benjamin, "The Gated Community Mentality," New York Times; image from article, "Florida's problematic gated communities" by Bonita Burton, CNN

Thursday, March 29, 2012

March 29

"When the ambassador dances, everybody wants to dance."

--Antonina Soshnikova, 25, a project coordinator for Project Harmony, an organization established in 1985 to build community ties between the United States and Soviet Union, commenting on US ambassador to Russian Michael McFaul dancing with his spouse at a "Wylie and the Wild West" performance at Spaso House, his official Moscow residence; image from; via HS on Facebook. See also: confrontational "impromptu" meeting of the Ambassador with Russian NTV


House to Hear about Chinese Public Diplomacy - Helle Dale, "There used to be a saying about the Chinese: 'They work while we sleep.' In the field of public diplomacy, it is absolutely spot on. The Chinese have taken to public diplomacy and information warfare with a vengeance, using every tool of state and military craft to advance their ideology and cause. This is happening while the U.S. State Department is focused on turning public diplomacy into a dialogue with the world (so as not to seem too bossy, presumably) and while regular Voice of America broadcasting to China is under threat of being cut. Thankfully, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is determined to expose the Chinese public diplomacy offensive. Hearings on 'Public Diplomacy with China' will be held by the Foreign Affairs Committee at 2:30 pm Wednesday [March 28]. The committee has a lot to cover. From Confucius Institutes to Xinhua’s 24-hour news networks in various languages—as well as blockbuster events like the Shanghai Expo—China is projecting itself on the world stage with the kind of assurance the United States used to display. Let us stop sleeping and wake up to the challenge."

Bureaucratic Cannibalism or Twitterganda? - Matt Armstrong, MontainRunner: "Yesterday, there was a stunning tweet that a senior official at the State Department described public diplomacy as like 'old-school American propaganda.' This resonated with many because it seemed to affirm a discrimination at State against public diplomacy ... . But it wasn’t an attack on the organization.

On inspection and checking with a senior official, the tweeter, and others at the discussion held at American University, Alec Ross, Secretary Clinton’s Senior Advisor for Innovation, actually said something closer to 'Old-school public diplomacy with American propaganda doesn’t work.' ...For the record, I’ve long argued, and raised to Alec, that some, if not most, of Alec’s portfolio should be accomplished by the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, but is not for a variety of reasons, including a lack of capability, creativity, institutional respect and support, and leadership." Image from article

On PD and Sensationalism - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "A tweet I posted yesterday has raised some eyebrows, apparently. Given the misunderstandings and misrepresentations involved, I thought there is need for some clarification.So. Yesterday, I happened to attend a small talk that Alec Ross, Secretary Clinton’s Senior Advisor for Innovation, held early morning at the American University. It was open to all students with prior registration and it was not off the record. So, given my interest - as well as that of many among my not-too-numerous followers on Twitter - I thought I'd live-tweet from the event, highlighting the core issues that Ross covers. I was not alone in my 'tweeting' endeavor: there were at least eight other people doing the same. So, towards the end of his talk, Ross turned to highlighting why he thinks innovation and social media are so important in foreign policy.

He was talking about issues such as decentralization of information and the significance of networks. That is when the tweet in question came: ... [I]t is clear that Ross has a very traditional and narrow definition for 'public diplomacy' . ... He sees 'public diplomacy' as one, unified message from the government (or its representative) to a foreign public. Instead, he is advocating for more decentralized and networked approaches, with a pluralistic message, that also involves interaction and engagement. Therefore, I really don't think Ross would disagree with public diplomacy practitioners and advocates, such as Armstrong [see above entry] himself (whose work I admire greatly), over the essence of what needs to be done." Image from article

The limitations of nation branding - albr08, Public and Cultural Diplomacy 1: A group blog by students at London Metropolitan University: Nation branding excludes the aspect of two-communication which is necessary in order to understand your audience and which today is important in order to gain credibility and respect. In regards to American public diplomacy, it has been suggested that it needs to ‘ recognize that the United States’ constituents are ‘publics’, not ‘markets’, and that an effective public diplomacy model must be one that is not propaganda or market-oriented advocacy, but one that is based on two-way symmetrical communication and community-building’ (Kruckeberg 2005: 303).

Clearly, the failure of the Bush administration to gain support for its 'war on terrorism' and its attempts of marketing America as the land of the free and the liberator of democracy, illustrates this example. This also proves the necessity of having policies that clearly coincides with your words. If a country wants to be perceived in a positive way by foreign audiences, it needs to convince them that their policies are 'good' and this requires implementing policies that these people perceive as good, not only performing a nice sales talk.While acknowledging that people to a great extent are affected by stereotypes and simplified images, I believe that public diplomacy has to deal with issues that are far more complex than nation branding alone can handle. Whilst the former can go a long way without having to use the latter, the latter cannot exist without the former." Image from entry

Clashing taboos and Public Diplomacy - frs0110, Public and Cultural Diplomacy 6: A group blog by students at London Metropolitan University: “'Freedom of expression' is a global topic of debate and is often a tool used in a bid to win over a foreign or domestic audience. This issue has been of increasing significance in the Post-Cold War World due to the emergence of more democracies and therefore better accessibility to reach out to publics. Encompassed within this debate is the 'war of ideas' (Rolfe, 2009). This has moved on from the battle of Cold War ideologies and has been shaped by the events of 9/11. The US launched its 'strategic communication/information warfare' (Rolfe, 2009) to counter the negative feelings directed towards them. This was carried out through a form of public and cultural diplomacy as the US aimed to project their culture, policies and political values through the media. The Arab world however developed a mistrust of this type of state-sponsored media, an issue exacerbated during the Danish cartoon controversy. ... Our clashing taboos ... [:] religion, democracy, freedom of speech etc. cannot be expected to transcend borders in the same way. However through public and cultural diplomacy our tolerance of such taboos will be encouraged, as long as efforts are made by a state before an incident (such as the Danish Cartoon controversy) has the opportunity to take over a country’s reputation in such a negative way." 

Psychological Operations in the Information Age - "To better understand PYSOPS it would be best to look at the environment in which they belong to. PSYOPS are a small part of a bigger set of operations called information operations. Information Operations are operations conducted under the discipline of strategic communication. According to the DOD strategic communication is defined as, 'focused United States Government efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of United States Government interests, policies, and objectives through the use of coordinated programs, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of all instruments of national power.' (United States 2009) These efforts are coordinated and facilitated through a variety of means. They could come in the form of Public Diplomacy, Public Affairs, Operations Other Than War (OOTW), or direct military operations. If PSYOPS are involved then it will most likely come in the form of OOTW and/ or direct military operations in the form of IO. The DOD defines information operations as, 'The integrated employment of the core capabilities of electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception, and operations security, in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own.' (United States, 2009) From this definition we can see that IO itself is made up of multiple components that are also conducted in concert with a larger message. ... A class handout

(example 1) taken from the Dr. J Michael Waller’s (Dr. Waller is a Professor of propaganda, public diplomacy, and political warfare class at The Institute of World Politics) propaganda class blog. Example 1 refers to the old USSR/ Russian methodology of Information Operations and their use of PSYOPS. Example also serves as a great visual for summarizing the methodology of soviet 'influence activities' ... . Topics for future research include propaganda, public diplomacy/ affairs, strategic communication, and counter subversion methods. If PSYOPS will be used there must be a way to preserve truth and remain consistent, while still holding on to our freedom. Truth and consistency go hand-in-hand. The message must be just as clear inside our borders as we broadcast it outside of our borders. Image from article

"Truthful information to foreign audiences in support of U.S. policy and national objectives" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "ShadowSpear Special Operations, 24 Mar 2012 Dave Chace: 'More than 80 initial-entry Army Reserve Soldiers graduated the Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Advanced Individual Training course during a ceremony March 22 on Fort Bragg, N.C. ... Civil Affairs teams can quickly and systemically identify critical requirements needed by local citizens in war or disaster situations; the work with civilian authorities and populations to lessen the impact of military operations. Psychological Operations level-one skills include foreign-audience analysis, selection of themes and symbols, and identification of relevant information. Psychological Operations Soldiers conduct military information support operations in order to disseminate truthful information to foreign audiences in support of U.S. policy and national objectives.’ [Elliott comment:] Truthful information ... in support of U.S. policy and national objectives’ suggests that some information may be emphasized, other information de-emphasized, and some omitted altogether. The output, while 100% truthful, could come across as propaganda to audiences who can quickly discern the patterns.'"

Need for connectivity among neighbouring countries, says Nair - "A three-day ‘International Conference on Cooperative Development, Peace and Security in South and Central Asia’ was organised at Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), Sector 19, on Wednesday. Delivering the inaugural address, T K A Nair, adviser to the Prime Minister, stressed the need for connectivity

and cooperation among neighbouring countries to build harmonious relations. Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, Special Secretary (Public Diplomacy), Ministry of External Affairs, said putting the initiatives of the ministry online had considerably increased public participation in these programmes. Chakravarty highlighted that after the ministry started giving information about these initiatives on its website, a number of Indians living in the country and abroad also posted their feedback online regarding these programmes. A total of 23 delegates from Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Russia and other countries are attending the conference."  Image from

[WATCH]: India Innovates: How IITs, IISc and AIIMS are Changing the World [video] - "A Documentary by Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, India."

How the Arab spring countries former regimes used Public and Cultural Diplomacy to defend their positions?
- shh0388, Public and Cultural Diplomacy 5: A group blog by students at London Metropolitan University - "Cultural and public diplomacy are [sic] very effective tools to use in order to pursue a country [sic] interest abroad and internally. However, the efforts of the Arab Spring countries’ governments to re-brand their state and achieve their object to remain in power failed to work. And it did so because the government efforts were demonstrate [sic] too late and foremost, because people’s pledges for transformation were stronger and they were determined for regime change."

Turkayfe Gastrodiplomacy - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "'Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.' -Turkish Proverb [.]I ran into my friend Efe yesterday at the Hip Hop Diplomacy conference yesterday at GW, and he shared with me about a great gastrodiplomacy initiative he is involved in.

Turkayfe is setting up a Turkish Coffee Truck to travel up and down the East Coast. This goes along with its Turkish coffee series that is promoting Turkish coffee culture. I love it. Great plan to promote Turkish culture one cup at a time." Image from

Women Must Make Themselves Noticed to Succeed in the Workplace: Advice from Charlotte Beers, Former CEO of Ogilvy & Mather - "Charlotte Beers is the former CEO of global advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather and also served as under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs under Colin Powell. During her visit to HBS for International Women’s Day, Beers advised young women in business to be their own agent of change — to speak up and be noticed, because companies are not going to change for them." Beers image from article


War Propaganda - chels, Yes, Iran sponsors terrorism and the Ayatollah may be an extremist, but there are many just as bad, or worse, around the world (my previous example of North Korea springs to mind). Can we make the world a better place by starting a war in this situation? Is that really the best solution?

Is Russia still America’s bogeyman? - Scott Clement, Washington Post: Republicans pounced on President Obama this week after he seemed to offer discreet assurances to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he will have more “flexibility” on nuclear defense missile negotiations once the election year is over. Even before House Speaker John Boehner (R) issued a prickly letter today, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney had criticized Obama for making promises to the president of Russia, calling the country the United States’ “number one geopolitical foe.”

Just over two decades ago, many Americans would have agreed with Romney’s severe assessment. But the idea that Russia is this country’s biggest enemy carries very little weight with the American public in the 21st century. Image from article

The Never-Ending Cold War - Editorial, New York Times: Two decades after the end of the cold war, Mitt Romney still considers Russia to be America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe.” His comments display either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craven politics. Either way, they are reckless and unworthy of a major presidential contender. Two years ago, President Obama made a sound strategic decision, scrapping former President George W. Bush’s dubious plan to build a long-range missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. The Pentagon is deploying a less-ambitious — but-more-feasible — system of interceptors and sensors, first on ships and later on land. Russia objects to a system in Europe, saying it will put their long-range missiles at risk. That is not America’s intent — the real target is Iran — and Mr. Obama is right to work to find a compromise.

‘Western sociologists behind Islamophobia’ - Dr Munawar A. Anees, founding director for Global Dialogue at the University of Management and Technology, Lahore, has said that western social thinkers know the value of Sharia and Seerat in Islam and with the help of a new group, the ex-Muslims, they carry out propaganda against

Islam and the Prophet (PBUH). He stated this while delivering a lecture on the topic of Islamophobia, Neo-Orientalism and the Prophet (PBUH), which was arranged at the Quran auditorium by the Anjuman Khuddamul Quran, Lahore. Image from

Ousting Syria’s Assad through a ‘soft landing’ - David Ignatius, Washington Post: Maybe it’s time for Syrian revolutionaries to take “yes” for an answer from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and back a U.N.-sponsored “managed transition” of power there, rather than rolling on toward a civil war that will bring more death and destruction for the region.We should learn from recent Middle East history and seek a non-military solution in Syria — even with the inevitable fuzziness and need for compromise with unpleasant people. The case for this cautious, managed transition can be summarized with a four-letter word: Iraq.

The Syrian international video war, continued - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Sudan’s scorched-earth approach to settling an oil dispute - Editorial Board, Washington Post: The new nation of South Sudan was on the brink of war this week with Sudan, the country it split from just eight months ago.

The Obama administration, which worked hard to midwife the birth of South Sudan last year, is pushing both sides to return to negotiations. Image from

Inside China: Red Songs curbed but not banned - Miles Yu, The Washington Times: A signature action of ousted Chongqing Communist Party Bo Xilai was to hold mass rallies for the singing of communist songs, or “red songs.” Mr. Bo’s program was officially curtailed by the new propaganda chief, who announced the move Monday in the southwestern metropolis of more than 30 million people.

Edward Bernays – Father of Propaganda - The growing realisation that those in power feed us a false reality is now spreading far and wide. It is interesting to look back at the work of Edward Bernays (November 22, 1891 – March 9, 1995). He was the nephew of Sigmund Freud and was dubbed ‘father of Public Relations.’ He was someone who has played a key role in defining the industry’s philosophy and methods. Bernays convinced industries that it was the news, and not advertising, that would carry their message to the naïve public. He used his uncle’s psychoanalytic research and theories for commerce. He promoted everything from books to smoking. He had a large client list, including President’s, Procter and Gamble, CBS, the American Tobacco Company, General Electric, and Dodge Motors. He worked on a highly profitable media campaign to convince the public that fluoride was safe, along with the American Dental Association. We are manipulated. We grow up with images of products on television and in magazines.

We are taught to aspire to certain ideals in school. Everything is geared towards consumption. Buy a mortgage, buy a car, get a loan, get a credit card, get married, new clothes every season. Buy fast food, buy insurance, buy cigarettes, everything is geared around money and consumption. There never seems to be a thought in society for the long- term effects. When you start to reflect on the story behind the story, it is liberating to know you can make choices that have nothing to do with the consumer world. Open your eyes. Just remember PR used to be called propaganda, but that term was not so popular with the masses. Image from article


Trayvon Martin's case turns into brand - David Goldman, AP, USA Today: From the T-shirt and hoodie sales to trademarking slogans like "Justice for Trayvon" to the pass-the-hat rallies that bring in thousands, the case of an unarmed black teenager killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer is quickly turning into an Internet-fueled brand. Websites are hawking key chains bearing Trayvon Martin's likeness. His parents have bought two trademarks, saying they hope to raise money to help other families struck by tragedy.

Trayvon clothes, bumper stickers, buttons and posters are up for grabs on eBay. Vendors selling Martin T-shirts and hoodies have become fixtures at rallies in Sanford, the central Florida town where Martin was shot last month. At one Sanford rally this week, a man had a variety of T-shirts laid out on the ground as marchers went by, yelling out, "I've got every size!" Image from Google

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March 28

"[T]he State Department's enthusiasm for technology has surpassed its understanding of it."

--Social media commentator Evgeny Morozov; image from


(a)  Концерт ковбойской музыки в резиденции посла США (Cowboy music concert at the residence of the USA Ambassador [in Moscow]). Via HS on Facebook; see also (1) (2)

(b) “Be My Baby” from the K-pop stars the Wonder Girls


PD Under Secretary-Designate’s Advice: Watch China - Adam Clayton Powell III, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Tara Sonenshine, nominated to serve as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, offered advice this morning to public diplomacy observers: Watch China. 'We are challenged every day by what the Chinese are doing in public diplomacy,' she said. Speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where she is Executive Vice President, Sonenshine pointed to China’s paid print supplements in the Washington Post and other newspapers, including the New York Times. 'You may not read it,' she said, but readers are 'embraced' by the paid supplements, which Sonenshine called 'brilliant.' These supplements have not been without critics, focusing on blurring of editorial and paid propaganda content. And an article on the Nieman website described them as 'content-as-advertisement strategy.' That may be good news for China’s public diplomacy -- and confusing to readers who miss the sometimes subtle cues that label these sections as paid advertising. Second, said Sonenshine, are the Confucius Institutes, China-funded centers that have spread rapidly to U.S. universities from east to west and north to south. She said the buildup of the Institutes’ Chinese language

instruction programs across the U.S., followed by Institute-produced programs, was a major long-term investment by Beijing to gain influence here. Her third illustration was the Chinese government’s international broadcaster, CCTV. Sonenshine, formerly a producer at ABC News, recently visited CCTV’s new Washington studios, which she described as a major broadcast production center. ... Sonenshine also noted Russia has started to follow China’s PD model in the U.S., with its Russia Now section in The Washington Post and its 24-hour English language Russia Today television channel and website. 'Do you want to lose the public diplomacy battle with China and Russia?' she asked." Image from

Today in Congress: budget day in the House, waste of day in the Senate - David Waldman, Daily Kos: "Today's [March 27] House committee schedule: FOREIGN AFFAIRS [:] ... 2:30-Open [:] Oversight and Investigations Subc. On price of public diplomacy with China. Public witnesses. 2172 RHOB."

Piracy Off the Horn of Africa: Remarks, Andrew J. Shapiro, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs; Remarks to the Center for American Progress, Washington, DC - "The international community has adopted innovative steps to address the problem of piracy. For our part, the United States has helped lead the international response and galvanize international action. ... In January 2009, the United States helped establish the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to both prompt action and coordinate the efforts to suppress Somali piracy. The Contact Group is based on a voluntary membership and was established concurrent with the UN Security Council’s passage of Resolution 1851.

It now includes over 70 nations as well as international and maritime industry organizations, to help coordinate national and international counter-piracy policies and actions. ... A number of specialized working groups were established within the Contact Group to address a variety of subjects, including, naval coordination at sea, judicial and legal issues concerning captured pirates; and public diplomacy programs in Somalia to discourage piracy. Through these working groups, the Contact Group adopts a problem solving approach toward addressing piracy. While we don’t always agree on everything, we agree on a lot and this coordinated international engagement has spawned action." Image from

Report: State Dept. has more than 150 people working on ediplomacy - Josh Rogin, The Cable, Foreign Policy: “The State Department now has more than 150 employees working full time on ‘ediplomacy,’ the use of the Internet to achieve policy goals, as well as at least 900 part-time ediplomats, according to a new study. ‘The US State Department has become the world's leading user of ediplomacy," states the new report put out by Australia's Lowy Institute for International Policy, highlighting a range of initiatives that Foggy Bottom has included in its ‘21st Century Statecraft’ Initiative.’ In some areas ediplomacy is changing the way State does business. In Public Diplomacy, State now operates what is effectively a global media empire, reaching a larger direct audience than the paid circulation of the ten largest US dailies and employing an army of diplomat-journalists to feed its 600-plus platforms, the report, entitled ‘Revolution @State: The Spread of Ediplomacy,’ states. ‘In other areas, like Knowledge Management, ediplomacy is finding solutions to problems that have plagued foreign ministries for centuries.’ In addition to public diplomacy and knowledge management, new technology is being used by the State Department around the world for information management, consular communications, disaster response, the promotion of internet freedom, and even policy planning. ...  Not all experts are thrilled about the State Department's ediplomacy. Evgeny Morozov wrote in a recent edition of FP that the State Department's internet freedom efforts and other technological gambits have not produced significant results.  ‘A year later, however, the Internet Freedom Agenda can boast of precious few real accomplishments; if anything... Clinton's effort has certainly generated plenty of positive headlines and gimmicky online competitions, but not much else,’ he wrote. ‘Elsewhere, the State Department's enthusiasm for technology has surpassed its understanding of it.’  The Lowy Institute report credits Secretary of States [sic]  Hillary Clinton's

Senior Adviser for Innovation Alec Ross and Policy Advisor for Innovation Ben Scott, ‘who have helped embed ediplomacy at State, driven an external and internal ediplomacy promotion campaign and helped conceive of specific ediplomacy initiatives.’ Read the whole thing [the report] here." Image from

The Polite Conference Rooms Where Liberties Are Saved and Lost - Chris Hedges, "I covered the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua from 1983 to 1988. Press members who reported on the massacres and atrocities committed by the Salvadoran military, as well as atrocities committed by the U.S.-backed Contra forces in Nicaragua, were repeatedly denounced by senior officials in the Reagan administration as fellow travelers and supporters of El Salvador’s Farabundo Marti National Liberation (FMLN) rebels or the leftist Sandinista government in Managua, Nicaragua. The Reagan White House, in one example, set up an internal program to distort information and intimidate and attack those of us in the region who wrote articles that countered the official narrative. The program was called 'public diplomacy.' Walter Raymond Jr., a veteran CIA propagandist, ran it. The goal of the program was to manage 'perceptions' about the wars in Central America among the public. That management included aggressive efforts to destroy the careers of reporters who were not compliant by branding them as communists or communist sympathizers. If the power to lock us up indefinitely without legal representation had been in the hands of Elliott Abrams or Oliver North or Raymond, he surely would have used it. Little has changed. On returning not long after 9/11 from a speaking engagement in Italy I was refused entry into the United States by customs officials at the Newark, N.J., airport. I was escorted to a room filled with foreign nationals.

I was told to wait. A supervisor came into the room an hour later. He leaned over the shoulder of the official seated at a computer in front of me. He said to this official: 'He is on a watch. Tell him he can go.' When I asked for further information I was told no one was authorized to speak to me. I was handed my passport and told to leave the airport." Image from

"Call to Action on Public Diplomacy" includes call to action on US international broadcasting - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Entertainment as a strategy of neutrality for Voice of America - BBGWatcher, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "[A]s far as the BBG strategists are concerned, silencing of VOA radio to Tibet will not be a big loss. Tibetan monks cannot be easily surveyed in Tibet about their radio listening habits. Those fearing reprisals do not share such information with strangers. If they can’t be counted, they don’t exist. What can bring the BBG a large audience in China are English lessons with juvenile humor that the regime censors will not prevent from circulating on the Internet. The BBG plans to pay for expanding such program offerings by abolishing not only VOA Tibetan radio but also the entire VOA Cantonese Service. VOA radio programs to communist-ruled countries like Vietnam, Laos, as well as to Georgia, are also set for elimination. Serious journalism and long-format news reporting and analysis that offend dictators cannot be placed on local networks and do not produce audiences that can be easily measured. The BBG therefore also plans to reduce drastically VOA English and Spanish programs, while China and even Iran are expanding theirs. ... [T]he Broadcasting Board of Governors current commercial programming and marketing philosophy designed to maximize the audience size by diluting the message. It reminded us of one of Marshall McLuhan’s keen observations other than

'the medium is the message' and 'the global village': ['][...] the commercial interests who think to render media universally acceptable, invariably settle for 'entertainment' as a strategy of neutrality.[']The Inside VOA message may seem banal but it was no doubt carefully crafted based on recommendations from the BBG’s research and marketing strategists. They have have recently signed a 50 million dollar five-year audience research contract with Gallup while planning to eliminate numerous broadcasts to countries without free media and to fire more than 200 journalists, broadcasters and support staffers." Image from

One Organization, Many Brands, Much Confusion - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "BBG Strategy, 19 Mar 2012, Bruce Sherman: 'One organization, many brands' is integral to the BBG’s new strategy, Impact through Innovation, and Integration. The ability to have multiple brands offers several advantages. The BBG’s major brand names are, of course, the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra TV, Radio Sawa, Radio Martí and TV Martí. There are also various sub-brands such as Radio Azadi (RFE/RL) in Afghanistan and Deewa Radio (VOA) in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Popular BBG programs — Parazit in Iran, OMG Meiyu in China, and Studio 7 in Zimbabwe — often acquire identities in their own right. Differential branding is beneficial.

It lets us position our products for specific markets and target key audience segments (women, youth, etc.). It helps us stand out in cluttered media environments and deal with challenging political realities, including anti-Americanism. All this helps boost our reach and impact — a BBG priority.' [Elliott comment]: How can USIB 'stand out in cluttered media environments' when it is itself a cluttered media environment? For an example of the confusion caused by the 'many brands,' see the previous post. I argue for a single, unified, global USIB brand in 'US International Broadcasting: Success Requires Independence and Consolidation'."  Image from entry

BBG's "busy" Victor Ashe visits RFA and VOA offices in Bangkok and RFA and VOA offices in Phnom Penh - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Ashe image from entry

Former VOA journalists in the news - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Sri Lankan politician calls for closure of VOA relay station - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Image Making Mumbai - Bob's World: High Points Low Points, What's the Point? - "Some time after World War II the Propaganda bureau gave way to the Office of Public Diplomacy, a more gentile [sic] term for selling a nation. There are now public diplomacy Phd programs and fresh faced public diplomats flourishing all over the world. Only along the North Korean DMZ–same place Obama visited a few days ago—do they still blast real propaganda and martial music at the enemy through huge loud speakers. Public diplomacy creates lots of government PR jobs, but doesn’t hold a candle to pop culture.

For that you need a 'Slumdog Millionaire' the 2008 Brit film that won 8 Oscars and made the Mumbai’s Dharavi slum world famous. Jamal, the orphan Muslim kid rises from the slum to win final question on 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire', confirming to the world that Indian’s [sic] do have brains like supercomputers." Image from article, with caption: Jamal vs Anil

India to wage documentary war countering West’s exposure of Sri Lanka crimes - "The Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi has embarked on deploying India’s expertise in cinematography to campaign against recent exposures of Sri Lanka’s war crimes by Western documentaries and to defend the partnership efforts of the two Establishments in the island. Leading film makers in India have been hired by the ministry to produce a documentary that will be showing an interview with

Rajapaksa, de-mining work by Indian teams and footages of Tamils ‘praising’ India, news sources in Colombo told TamilNet on Tuesday. Meanwhile, India’s Bollywood is set to produce a ‘politically charged’ commercial film, 'Jaffna,' directed by Shoojit Sircar carrying the theme of ‘extremism’ to another level compared to his earlier film on Kashmir, and the actor John Abraham is going to visit the island often to get a hang of the milieu, IANS reported early this month. Indian Public Diplomacy, a wing of India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is engaged in producing the documentary." Image from article

India: The Last Handwritten Newspaper in the World - Rezwan, "The earliest forms of newspaper were handwritten and now ‘The Musalman‘ probably is the last handwritten newspaper in the world. This Urdu language newspaper was established in 1927 by Chenab Syed Asmadullah Sahi and has been published daily in the Chennai city of India ever since.

It is presently run by Syed Asmadullah’s grand son Syed Arifullah and six skilled calligraphers work on this four pages newspaper everyday. With a circulation of approximately 23,000 the paper covers news in Urdu language across a wide spectrum including politics, culture and sports. ... Check out this video [on the Musalman, included in entry] directed by Ishani K. Dutta and produced and uploaded to YouTube by the Public Diplomacy Division of India’s Ministry of External Affairs. Image from article, with caption: Signboard of the office. Screenshot from the video The Musalman

The Media and South Korean Public Diplomacy - Ashley Turner, "There are two things the South Korean government is completely sure of – that the local pop culture has been good for the country economically and that it has carved out a distinguishing trait that correlates with the country’s desire to become more dynamic in the eyes of the world. South Korea has successfully individualized itself in Asia by forming a mainstream culture that has increasingly isomorphic qualities in the Eastern Hemisphere. This also coincides with the government’s public diplomacy strategy of successfully promoting Korea as a brand. However, South Korea now has its sights set on moving beyond that region into one where cultural values tend to be more segregated: the West. This alone will not halt any progress currently being made, but with a still-developing tourism industry, the knowledge and resources will be necessary to repeat that same success on the other side of the world. South Korea is already reaching out to expand its network, which in Asia already has vastly embedded connections. However, they are missing integral connections to bridge those connections in Asia to create a substantial network in the West. There are already preparations for this in the country’s active involvement in globalization. There is a need to be noticed and appreciated by the rest of the world, and the connection with the United States is still fairly weak. If seriously pursued, South Korea will proceed to export its popular culture westward after which it will undergo another change courtesy of its usage of transnationalism."

South Africans recall their own history during Israeli Apartheid Week - "This year’s Israeli Apartheid Week in South Africa created a buzz nationwide. BDS South Africa and other Palestine solidarity groups teamed up with trade unionists, political parties, student bodies, churches, youth organizations and activists in Gaza to reach out to a wide audience. Organizers used various means to inspire broad-based support for boycott, divestment and sanctions activism. Huge billboards were put up to announce Israeli Apartheid Week. Durban-based GangsOfGraffiti inspired fellow street artists and graffiti writers to participate by creating works with 'Free Palestine' as the theme.

On walls in several cities, artwork appeared in support of IAW and boycott activism. In thirteen towns around the country, the film Roadmap to Apartheid was screened, including all major cities and in Soweto ('National film tour, 5-11 March 2012,' BDS South Africa). According to an article in The Jerusalem Post, the Israeli 'Public Diplomacy Ministry' had sent a delegation to South Africa to 'battle the apartheid label,' but Israel’s messengers did not succeed in changing the perception held by many South Africans that Israeli apartheid is similar to apartheid in South Africa ('Envoys to fight Israel Apartheid Week on campus,' 19 February 2012)." Image from article, with caption: In Johannesburg, a graffiti artist helped promote this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week.

The THNK Tank: Why Amsterdam Wants Your (Creative) Brains - fmartindesign's Space: "The city of Amsterdam, the Dutch government, and a host of private sponsors are funding an accelerator for 'successful dropouts and Harvard alumni' from around the world. The goal? More talent in Amsterdam. ... Participants come from a variety of backgrounds--and are working on some very interesting projects.

Ben Keene is the founder of the crunchy global south living project Tribewanted, Gines Haro Pastor is behind The Guardian's ambitious Social Enterprise Network, and Shona McDonald's Shonaquip produces low-cost wheelchairs for rural areas. ... The public diplomacy portion of THNK also comes up thanks to a recent visit by Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan to India. THNK staff members traveled to Mumbai and Bangalore as part of a trade mission, where they hosted leadership workshops for like-minded local firms. Six of the initial thirty participants in THNK are Indian." Uncaptioned image from article

Why KONY 2012 is Bad Public Diplomacy - Marissa Cruz-Enriquez, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "In early March 2012 the international non-profit organization, Invisible Children (IC) ... began an awareness raising campaign to bring African warlord, Joseph Kony, to justice. While Invisible Children and other NGOs have been conducting on-the-ground activism in Uganda for years, KONY 2012 is not a call to action beyond the act of purchasing an action kit, sharing a video, and clicking 'Like' on Facebook. Providing assistance to citizens in Africa to take back control over their own futures is where the real solution lies. Any approach that does not consider this aspect is severely misguided. This public diplomacy mandate touches on another criticism leveled against KONY 2012, that of the 'White Savior Industrial Complex'

where Africa is merely a backdrop for Western egos to be projected upon. The video can be seen as a fantasy of heroism where a 'nobody' from the Western world can be a godlike savior in Africa. ... The goal of public diplomacy is to communicate and engage in a meaningful and mutual way with foreign publics. Now non-state actors such as Invisible Children have the ability to do just that. However, with the democratization of information sharing, thanks to new media tools, comes great responsibility. Social media is an excellent tool for bringing together different stakeholders, in this case Invisible Children and its supporters, but there also needs to be more than just raising awareness for real change to occur: raising awareness is a noble cause but it is not enough. Invisible Children’s campaign has proven that social media can be used to spread an idea to all reaches of the world but the danger lies in assuming that social media campaigns alone have the power to bring about concrete changes. Social media present an exciting dynamic

in the international arena but it must be coupled with an effective public diplomacy strategy to bridge the say-do gap." Top image of Invisible Children official John Russell from; below image from an article which states: “'Invisible Children' filmmaker Jason Russell, who created  the viral 'Kony 2012' video, is seen nude yelling and slapping the ground in a new video that emerged yesterday highlighting his bizarre behavior last week. His family said Russell was under stress and that he 'never had a substance abuse or drinking problem, and this episode wasn’t caused by either of those things.'”

But the longer-winded tropes of “public diplomacy” carry keys to their own undoing - Newspeak: [no additional text]

Remembering Priscilla Buckley - Mike Brownfield, "Heritage Foundation President Edwin J. Feulner issued the following statement on the passing of Priscilla Buckley, longtime managing editor of the National Review, who died Sunday at age 90. Priscilla and I served together for seven years on President Reagan’s U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

As commissioners, we met monthly in Washington and travelled together frequently. We went to Guantanamo (before it was considered newsworthy), to Berlin (before the Wall came down), to China (before it was popular), and most every other part of the world. She was the ideal traveling companion." Image from article

Guest Post: the Relationship Between EU Identity and Sports - Emina Vukic, Ren's Micro Diplomacy~ a public diplomacy and soft power blog: "Emina Vukic is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. She is an Annenberg scholar, born and raised in Croatia. Emina has worked for Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia (for several years as a human rights activist after the war), the Hague Tribunal office in Belgrade, and later for USAID’s Local Government Reform Program in Serbia. Emina’s public diplomacy interests lie in nation branding through cultural diplomacy, primarily of post-conflict countries."

Noses, Shaking Hands: Social Norms in Kenya - Ryna Keith, A World Not Our Own: A Public Diplomacy Blog: "This world is not my own, I am just passing through" - "Even after a year and a half of living in Kenya, I am still everyday amazed at the difference in cultural norms. The minute you step into this country you realize how different everything is. My favorite cultural difference is the extended greetings. It makes the world seem so friendly when every person you meet greets you with a smile and a loud 'Habari Yako!!' And then you must stop to shake their hand, greet them in return, and have a short conversation about their family or yours. If they are strangers, this can get a little tedious; walking through town can take five times as long if you stop to talk to every person you meet. Even the language barrier does not stop the friendliness from overwhelming you. If I pass an old mzee on the road, he will stop and take my hand in his wrinkled grip, and say hello in the local mother tongue. I smile and greet him back and, when he goes off on a long rant in kiborana, I tell him I only know a little Kiborana ('Afan anin kiborana'). Undaunted, he will continue to chat amicably, not at all concerned that I am not answering. Eventually, he will wave, say his one English word, 'Goodbye!', smile, showing off his yellowed, chipped or missing teeth, and continue on his way. And this encounter will be repeated by every person you meet. If you are in a hurry, you can get away with a wave and just call the greetings over your shoulder until you are over the next hill. My least favorite social norm is the acceptance of

picking your nose. I find it disgusting to see grown men, sitting across from you at a staff meeting, 'digging for gold'. It is normal and no one cares. I will never get used to seeing someone approach, finger firmly up their nostril as they come over, pulling the finger out in time to inspect it and wipe it on their shirt and then hold their hand out for me to shake. One thing that I am bothered by, but accidentally acquired as part of my 'Peace Corps Quirks' is the tendency to stare. Everywhere I go, I feel like a movie star. I do not know what is so interesting about me that requires near constant eye contact. I will wear the same clothes every day, walk the same path, see the same people, and after eighteen months, the sight of me requires everyone walking in front of me to slow their pace and everyone behind to run to catch up. Once the person is next to me, in nine out of ten cases, they do not want to talk. They just want to look at me. Walking side by side, neck craned to never lose eye contact, just in case I break into dance or change color or have a fit. I rarely do. I have seen many a person trip over stones, fall off a bicycle, and ride into a bush on their pikis, while attempting to get a good look at me. Once, while being followed by a group of primary school kids who refused to make conversation, in any of the three languages I know, I decided to do something crazy just to see what would happen. I started singing along to my iPod, and without hesitation, the kids just started singing along. I was belting out some Glee hit and they sang a traditional Borana song. It was weird and strange and less entertaining than I thought it would be. When you walk into a room filled with ten Americans, it is polite to say a 'Good Afternoon' to the room in general. And if there is something going on, an important meeting for example, it is polite to not say anything, either wait outside until they are finished or come in and sit down without interrupting. In Kenya, the proper etiquette is to come in and greet the room, then go around to each person and shake their hand and greet them individually. The important meeting will come to a halt while you make your rounds, and then you may go outside to wait. If two groups approach each other, you line up like opposing Little League teams and go down the line shaking hands. Another custom that I dislike is the custom of mentioning flaws. If you have acne, a bad hair day, have gained a little weight, or just look scruffier than usual, you can be guaranteed that people all day will ask you about it. And they are blunt. 'You look fat today.' I have never been called fat in my entire life and yet somehow I am pressured to go on a diet because of all the 'you gained some much weight!' comments I have received. Sometimes, they comments are just in inquiry. 'Why do you have spots on your face?' They worst are the ones where the person implies that you have been looking terrible for awhile. 'Yeah, I’ve noticed you hair has been looking strange lately. What happened?' The flip side of this custom of bluntness is that everyone is also generous with the compliments. If you look slightly nicer than yesterday you get a whole slew of 'you look so smart!' Yesterday, I wore a short skirt (it was one of the few clean things I had) and a pair of black tights to hide my white legs, and I had one student say I looked like a movie star, and another say I looked like an angel. Pretty high compliments for a Wal-Mart skirt and old tights. And so, as hard as it is to hear blunt, sometimes negative, honesty, I will never complain because I love the habitual self- esteem boosters. Another social convention that was difficult to get used to, but I am afraid I might have begun to emulate, is the Kenyan concept of keeping time. For Kenyans, the

phrase 'on time' is never heeded. If you have a meeting scheduled for 9am, people, including the organizers, will not start to show up until 11am. And with all the greetings and introductory chatting, you will not get started until 1pm. This can be extremely frustrating for Americans who are very time conscious (early bird gets the worm and all that) and hate to be kept waiting. In Kenya, the unofficial motto is 'Haraka Haraka Hyena Baraka' or 'Hurry Hurry brings no blessings.' Even in the cities, time moves at its own pace. A movie showing at a popular theatre will start at least fifteen minutes late. If you call for a taxi to take you home at night, you will be waiting for over an hour every time. Even on a large scale, or for events of great importance, end up being very, very late. When reporting to public school, it is guaranteed that not one of the two hundred students will show up on the first day. Most will not even come the first week. That is usually fine because none of the teachers will have reported back from vacation either. Most will come a week late, and then sit around complaining that they can’t begin teaching because the classes are empty. It is baffling to me. Recently, my school acquired a number of computers from the government. We hired a local man to come install them for us and after three WEEKS of waiting for this guy to show up, I am still the only one incensed at this appallingly unprofessional behavior. It is frustrating and difficult, but on the other side of the coin, people never question you when you are late. You are pretty much free to show up to important events whenever the mood strikes you. I only worry about my friends and colleagues; if they ever go to America for jobs (as they all endeavor to do) [,] they are going to have a lot of trouble adjusting to the 'Haraka Haraka' nature of life over there. Living in Kenya has been a very different experience from living in America. It is an adventure everyday just trying to navigate the social waters with no life vest on. I am sure that I fail, committing faux pas nearly constantly, and am only saved by the overwhelming kindness of Kenyans. Now that I am closing the distance to the end of my time here, I am starting to worry about going back to America and behaving like a crazy Kenyan. I only hope I don’t walk into my first American job interview an hour and a half late with my finger up my nose and say to the interviewer 'wow, you are kinda fat!." Top image from; below image from blog, with caption: Ryan and Katharine Keith


4,000 days of war in Afghanistan? - Rachel Maddow, Washington Post: Our public and political willingness to accept the costs of the Afghanistan war in years one through 11 (so far), may not hold for years 12, 13 and beyond. If so, it should not be lamented as a failure of will on the part of the American people but, rather, as an expression of our will.

Американцы летят в Афганистан - Военнослужащие сидят на борту военного самолета США - они летят в Афганистан из транзитного центра в киргизском Манасе. (American military on a US military plane flying to Afghanistan from the transit point in Manas (Kyrgystan)

Image from article

Is Russia America's #1 geopolitical foe -- and if not, who is? - Presidential candidate Mitt Romney recently called Russia "without question, our No. 1 geopolitical foe" while criticizing President Obama for remarks he made to Russia's president about missile defense that were picked up by a live microphone.   At the United Nations Security Council, "who is it that always stands up for the world's worst actors?" Romney asked on CNN on Monday. "It is always Russia, typically with China alongside."  Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was unimpressed, telling reporters in Seoul that Romney's remarks seemed to come out of the Cold War era and "smacked of Hollywood," the Associated Press reported. The Times posed the question to several experts in international relations: Is Russia the "No. 1 geopolitical foe" of the United States? And if not, who is? Nicholas Burns, director of the Future of Diplomacy Project: Iran. Lawrence J. Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress: Nobody. John Feffer, co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus: The United States is its own worst enemy. Barry Pavel, director of the International Security Program, Atlantic Council: Iran. David C. Speedie, senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs: Nobody.

New York Times on Syrian developments: where do I begin - As'ad, The Angry Arab News Service: So the writers [not identified in entry] of this article in the New York Times really believe that it is impossible to find tens of people inside Syria who are supportive of the regime? What about the hundreds of thousands of people who have demonstrated in support of the regime over the last few months? Were they also bused in? And where they injected with a chemical that made them look enthusiastic? Why can't the media report on the story without an obsession with the propaganda agenda?

Propaganda changes lanes in Chongqing - David Bandurski,  Offering further indication of the shift away from the politics of Bo Xilai, who was removed as the leader of Chongqing on March 15, a report in today’s Chongqing Daily offers what seems to be a mea culpa by the municipality’s head of propaganda, He Shizhong (何事忠).  According to the report in Chongqing Daily, the official “mouthpiece” of the municipality’s top leadership, He Shizhong told a gathering of propaganda leaders on March 26 that “the cultural and propaganda work of the whole city must firmly and resolutely maintain a high degree of uniformity with the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.”  He Shizhong emphasized that Chongqing propaganda leaders needed to “realistically summarize and analyze propaganda and culture work over the past few years, in which there are a number of areas that require improvement.” Specifically, He said there was a need to “improve activities and methods, reducing as much as possible collective theatrical performances, firmly avoiding movement-style [propaganda] methods.” Just over a year ago, as Bo Xilai’s campaign of “red songs” was in full swing in the city, He Shizhong defended the Chongqing’s policies on propaganda and culture. Below image from, with caption: Cute as a Chinese Baby: Radar rounds up Chinese propaganda posters in honor of their underage gymnastic team.

Beijing Power Struggle Heralds End of Chinese Communist Party The persecution of Falun Gong is ending, laying the foundation for a stable China - Editorial Board, Epoch Times: When Chongqing’s former top cop, Wang Lijun, fled for his life on Feb. 6 to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, and Chongqing’s Communist Party chief Bo Xilai pursued him with 70 police cars and armored vehicles, the first sign appeared of a power struggle breaking out at the highest levels of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The infighting behind the high red walls of Zhongnanhai, the CCP’s leadership compound, has focused attention on the darkest chapter in the history of today’s China: the persecution of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa. That persecution is now seen to be the core issue behind the struggles going on at the top of the CCP, The CCP’s propaganda machine claimed that Falun Dafa had caused the deaths of 1,400 people through suicide, homicide, alcoholism, drug use, failure to use medical treatment, mental illness, and so on. This lie was spread just as the persecution was launched and was the opening gambit in an effort to turn the Chinese people against this peaceful, traditional spiritual practice. The regime used threats and bribes to fabricate cases; claimed the deaths of many who didn’t practice Falun Dafa as deaths caused by the practice; used patients at mental hospitals who did not practice Falun Dafa as examples of Falun Dafa’s alleged negative effects; promised reductions in medical expenses to bribe hospital patients into blaming Falun Dafa for their illnesses; and counted some of the Falun Dafa practitioners who had been tortured to death as among the 1,400 cases.

Soviet Space Program Had A Ball Spreading Propaganda On The Moon - Radio Free Europe/RadioLiberty: The "Luna 2" slammed into the Moon by design in 1959, becoming the first manmade object to reach the lunar surface. American artist Randy Regier, who frequently employs old parts from military or industrial equipment to great effect, shared a replica of that Soviet memento in a flickr photo set he calls "Who's On First?" It's a sphere made of pentagonal silver panels with the Soviet state symbol and "USSR January 1959" repeated in Cyrillic in relief. And it's one of at least two copies of those objects used in the actual mission, the other having been gifted to U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower by Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev. Says Regier: "I'm an object person, So, it goes with the territory that I tend to trust them (objects). The first on the Moon? Well, object-ively speaking? The Russians, Damn it." 
The photos come from a visit to the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, which in addition to genuine spacecraft also houses artifacts from the history of spaceflight.

Soviets on the Moon_02

Regier also shared an image of what is presumably the placard that apparently accompanies the orb:

Soviets on the Moon_01

The Huns and Germans? - "My albeit weak understanding is that the Huns were a barbarian horde from Asia, that conquered most of Eastern Europe during the dark ages. Why then, do you sometimes Germans being referred to as Huns? The best example I can think of is Wartime propaganda calling Germans 'the Huns.' Hi. Back in the days before World War I, Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II, known for his outrageous speeches, gave one to German troops setting sail to put down the Boxer Rebellion in China in which he urged them to 'act like Huns' and make sure no Chinese would ever offend a German again – show no mercy like Atilla and his Huns of old. The name was then in fact later used as propaganda against German troops during World War I. Cheers. 'The comparison was helped by the Pickelhaube or spiked helmet worn by German forces until 1916, which was reminiscent of images depicting ancient Hun helmets'. The ostrogoths, or the eastern goths had served under the Huns during the battle of Chalons."

Katy Perry 'Part of Me' video branded "propaganda for the Marines" - Lewis Corner, Katy Perry has been criticized by a feminist author for her latest music video. The singer's visual for new single 'Part of Me' sees her joining the US Marines after discovering that her partner had cheated on her.

Katy Perry Part of Me Video poster
However, Naomi Wolf - who admitted that she used to be a fan of Perry - has criticized the star for the pro-military message included in the video. Wolf stated on her official Facebook page: "Have you all seen the Katy Perry marines video? It is a total piece of propaganda for the Marines… I really want to find out if she was paid by them for making it… it is truly shameful. "I would suggest a boycott of this singer who I really liked – if you are as offended at this glorification of violence as I am." 'Part of Me' reached number one in the US and UK upon its release and is included as one of three new tracks on Perry's new repackaged album Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection. Watch the music video for Katy Perry's "Part of Me" in the entry.

New Website Launches to Satisfy Hunger Games Superfans - recently launched, creating a place for super fans to immerse themselves in the world of the smash hit Hunger Games and extend the fantasy beyond the books and movie. The fictional voice of is the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem, the ruins of what was once North America. The site posts regular stories from the fictitious “Ministry of Propaganda” but is often “hacked” by the burgeoning rebellion. The site boasts original Propaganda art inspired by the story, hand-drawn Panem maps and a wide variety of Hunger Games merchandise. Dan McCall, the accomplished artist and satirist of, creates the art for the site. "We're huge fans, basically writing between the lines of Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins’ world. It's part fan site, part fan fiction. We know there are tons of fans out there who want to totally immerse themselves in the story, just like us, so this has been a creative outlet for that." says Dan McCall of, “We are offering something different from the other fan sites in that we stay in character, offering fans the feeling that they are actually living within the story, in Panem.” It's a family affair. McCall's sister, Molly Amberson, is editor and head writer of the site's content under the ‘Games’ name Lollia Grey. Another sister, Emily Greenfield, runs the business end of things. “It's amazing to see the response from fans to the site, especially the positive reaction from students and teachers. 

The Hunger Games books have really engaged kids to read. And the website is hopefully another extension of that.” says Amberson “We’re giving fans a way to stay inside the story long after they’ve finished the books or seen the movie.” The Boston Herald recently featured’s merchandise in their article, “‘Hunger’ Pangs” – further feeding the appetite for this global juggernaut. Image from


The Topless Photo Spread - Here she is ... a topless OctoMom in all her nipple-covering glory ... smiling her way through a series of erotic photos for a European magazine. The photos feature Nadya Suleman in various states of undress ... eventually stripping down to just a pair of panties. For the record -- the panties never come off (thank god). Octo had previously sworn to never EVER pose naked ... but when she once again found herself desperate for rent money ... she agreed to drop her top for a $10,000 paycheck.

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--From OS on Facebook


From: Photographs of Moscow 1931 from the archives of the traveler Branson DeCou. Via VP on Facebook


Via VL