Thursday, March 1, 2012

March 1

"I don't think art is propaganda; it should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further. It celebrates humanity instead of manipulating it."

--American artist Keith Haring (1958-1990); Haring image from


Hillary Clinton's Threats, US Backed Jundullah and Dana Rohrabacher - Aamir Mughal, Chagatai Khan: "In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The 'redirection,' as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought

the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East." Image from article

US Mission Pakistan: Ambassador Hoagland Visits Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque - Domani Spero, DiploPundit: "According to the US Embassy in Pakistan, the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation has provided more than $1.8 million towards 17 different cultural and archeological projects in Pakistan over the past decade.

Ten of these 17 sites were in the province of Punjab." Image of one of these sites, the Badshahi Mosque, from

Beyond the Radio Days - "Some view Voice of America as 'stuck in the 1950s with short-wave radios,' as one of the agency’s Washington-based Africa TV hosts recently phrased it. But the onslaught of 21st century communications has outfitted the one-time Cold War broadcasters with a wider global reach via the Web and social media. And the demands of digital have forced some new thinking on old rules. ... The worldwide penetration of online content, however, has called into question one long-standing fact of life at VOA: The 1948 Smith-Mundt Act prohibits it from disseminating content to domestic U.S. audiences. 'It’s anachronistic, since it’s all available on the Internet,' says Joan Mower, VOA’s director of development. The act was passed at a time when lawmakers feared the impact of foreign policy propaganda on American audiences (though that word is not in the law) and commercial broadcasters opposed the competition. Today, the restriction 'makes it hard to get our message out,' which is why VOA’s parent body, the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors, wants it lifted, 'so we can do a better job,' Mower says. The oft-cited example is a 2009 incident involving a Minneapolis-based radio station that serves the Somali-American community, which housed several young men arrested for traveling to commit terrorism in that troubled African nation. The station owner sought permission to replay a VOA program designed to counter al Qaeda propaganda, but VOA programmers nixed the proposal, citing Smith-Mundt. A comparable situation, Mower notes, is the community of native Tibetans that has sprung up in Los Angeles. VOA programmers believe that broadcasting to them would result in key news being relayed privately to their relatives in that isolated country, which is tightly controlled by China. Easing Smith-Mundt would 'help take away the handcuffs on a small part of the government and allow it to operate in a truly global environment,' says Matt Armstrong, who until December was executive director of the now-disbanded U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

But he complains about misinformation that has clouded the issue for decades. One example is the notion that the law prevents VOA from communicating with Americans, when in fact the ban is geographical—plenty of Americans can hear its broadcasts while overseas, he notes. Some incorrectly assume the State Department would lose resources and authority to communicate if the law were changed, and that Congress intended the prohibition to apply to Pentagon communications, Armstrong says. Such complexity might be the reason that legislation to modernize Smith-Mundt, introduced in 2010 by Reps. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and Adam Smith, D-Wash., is on hold pending further refinements. The bill would 'revise an outdated law that interferes with the United States’ diplomatic and military efforts,' the sponsors said. The Office of Management and Budget has responded favorably to the bill’s goals as they apply to the agencies under the Broadcasting Board of Governors, according to VOA staff. When the board in January announced that it was preparing draft legislation to streamline operations, it included language for repealing Smith-Mundt restrictions. Also favoring a change is Jeffrey Trimble, the board’s executive director, whose task is to maintain the journalistic independence of VOA and its four allied operations such as Radio Martí (which broadcasts to Cuba) and Alhurra TV, the Arabic-language service that played a key role covering last year’s uprising in Egypt. 'We’re about the news business, and we tell the journalistic story,' Trimble says." Image from

Linguistic Peking Duck Soup at Broadcasting Board of Governors - Quo Vadis, USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch: "Keeping VOA Cantonese broadcasts alive could and should be a strategic decision by the BBG in order to maintain and moreover, to increase listenership among a population now deprived of media in its own language. In the olden days of VOA, issues such as these were discussed and debated prior to implementation. Not so now. Unfortunately, trying to point these facts out to the members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and their executive staff is akin to speaking Mandarin to a Cantonese and vice versa: quack-quack to cluck-cluck: like a duck talking to a chicken."

In Afghanistan, 1981, "men listened to BBC, sometimes to VOA (and) laughed at Radio Moscow" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Oy Frickin’ Vey: Israeli Prez Shimon Peres on Yenta Hag-Fest, “The View” - Debbie Schlussel, I’d like to know which teepshee [Hebrew for dummy] at Israel’s Ministry of Public Affairs agreed to book 89-year-old left-wing Israeli President Shimon Peres on ABC’s pro-Muslim yenta hag-fest, 'The View,' this morning. There’s another Hebrew word I have in mind that the Israelis apparently did not: hasbarah.

It has several meanings, primarily public relations or public diplomacy. But it can also mean propaganda. Peres’ appearance on 'The View,' this morning did neither. ... [W]hatever happened to the good old days when daytime TV was for game shows and soap operas? Those are Shakespearean classics compared to what’s replaced them. Attention, Israel: stay away from moronic ABC personalities who brag about their Fourth of July vacations with the leader of Syria. It might be a hint." Image from article: Talk show hostess Barbara Walters (r) with "Dr. Death" Jack Kerkorian

Shimon Peres On The View - "The View had quite a guest of honor this morning  - Aussie Dave, "Israeli President Shimon Peres, who is in the United States for a meeting with the president, and decided appear on daytime television while he was in the neighborhood. Why not? Apparently he and Barbara Walters are friends, so that might have had something to do with it. Barbara fielded this interview on her own, perhaps not trusting the other ladies to avoid offending/yelling at the president . ... Walters ... asked Peres for a farewell kiss as the segment ended, and he gave her two enthusiastic smooches on both cheeks. I’m not sure if this indicative of the poor state of Israeli public diplomacy or Peres’ desire to kiss women. Or both."

Is Putin's Russia Keeping Up With a Changing World?‎ - Pavel Andreev, RIA NovostI: "Considering the current economic and social situation in Russia, a foreign policy relying on 'hard power' but also using elements of 'soft power' constitutes a major challenge. It can succeed by relying on the country’s internal development, which implies having sufficient resources for creating the instruments of 'hard power' while at the same time using 'soft power' to project one’s interests. The latter appears to be questionable given the sizeable approved state defense order (although experts are not sure that it can be fulfilled). Russia does not have a developed and clearly formulated narrative reflecting its basic principles and values.

Its development and use do not involve a return to the historical period when foreign policy was invariably burdened with ideology. On the contrary, it is a way to become aware of one’s place in the world and to project this vision to your partners. Russia currently has only a limited set of 'soft power' instruments. It lacks coordination and interaction between the various federal agencies operating in the field. It requires more active and meaningful parliamentary and public diplomacy. Russia lacks trained personnel in this sphere. Russian diplomats are skilled in traditional diplomacy, methods of 'hard security' and the balance of power, but have limited awareness of modern communication practises, including for representing Russian business interests abroad." Image from

In Russian agriculture has great potential for development - "The annual growth rate of rural tourism in the world is 10% on 'Tourism in Russia,' said the Russian Union of Travel Industry. This number is the president of the Association for the Development of agro-tourism Astakhov Taras at a scientific conference 'Rural tourism as a modern interpretation of the factor of public diplomacy' in the travel fair MITF-2009 in Moscow. ... Rural tourism can build infrastructure, restoring derelict buildings. 'In Russia there are many interesting things for rural tourism development', - said Vladimir Novikov. He believes that the development of tourism in rural areas should be taken, in particular concerning the legal status of rural tourism, to ensure the participation of regional and local authorities in tourism, to develop the concept of rural tourism in Russia and coordinate with state plans for the development of agriculture. 'Government support to this trend - the factor of public diplomacy - Mr. Novikov said. - We must learn to respect the tourists, wherever they went.'"

Moving Australia’s Public Diplomacy Beyond the Cult of Rudd - Caitlin Byrne, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Australia’s international policy portfolio has been left hanging after Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s surprise resignation from his post . ... Rudd’s resignation ... is potentially devastating for Australia’s international image projection. ... Rudd has personified the message that Australia is a hardworking, practical, and creative global player. As such he has been a driving force for Australia’s ambitious international policy profile, and a critical feature of Australia’s public diplomacy profile. ... In terms of managing Australia’s international image, certainly the latest political shift highlights the risks associated with a public diplomacy profile that is heavily influenced by the cult of leadership personality. It draws attention to the gaping hole in the institutional leadership of Australia’s public diplomacy.

There are decent threads of substance to Australia’s public diplomacy profile: the frontline work of Australian diplomats in building local relationships from the post, on-shore and off-shore modes of international education, the expansion of many Australian Studies Centers within international universities, international broadcasting activities and English language study offerings via the Australia network, the activities of nine bilateral foundations, councils and institutes utilizing small grants programs to build mutual understanding, the vast expanse of Australia’s arts presence, cultural and science exchanges, as well as sports outreach programs, to mention a few. However, this expanse of public diplomacy activity is highly fragmented. Interagency coherence is absent, and Australia’s public diplomacy remains disconnected from strategic policy – moving at a fits-and-starts pace, often following the latest crisis or politically motivated initiative. ... Last year at the Australian Institute for International Affairs (AIIA) Forum on Public and Citizen Diplomacy in Canberra, some suggested the establishment of a single entity that might move Australia’s public diplomacy forward, in concert with existing diplomatic networks, but away from the unpredictable influences of political profiles and processes. That suggestion needs to be (re)considered." Byrne image from article

Radio Australia launches new website and social media services - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

China talks public diplomacy, Middle East
- correspondent Jonathan Calkins interviews Chen Mingming, the former Director-General of the Department of Translation and Interpretation at China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former Chinese ambassador to

New Zealand and Sweden, and Zhang Yuanyuan, the former Director-General of the Department of Translation and Interpretation at China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the former Chinese ambassador to New Zealand and Belgium. Topics include: public diplomacy, the Middle East and the upcoming 2012 Chinese leadership handover." Image from article, with caption: Zhang Yuanyuan (L), Chen Mingming (2nd L)

China and the U.S.: Comparing Global Influence (China in the 21st Century) - "This book compares the People's Republic of China's (PRC) and U.S. projections of global influence, with an emphasis on non-coercive means or 'soft power', and suggests ways to

think about U.S. foreign policy options in light of China's emergence. The global public images of the two countries are compared in this book and PRC and U.S. uses of soft power tools are described, such as public diplomacy, state diplomacy, and foreign assistance. Other forms of soft power such as military diplomacy, global trade and investment, and sovereign wealth funds are also examined." Image from article

OIC/UN: Ihsanoglu Calls for “Preventive Cultural Diplomacy” to Keep Interfaith Harmony - "The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu asserted that the OIC has demonstrated ability to build consensus on the most sensitive of international issues. In his speech at the High Level Segment of the 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, today Tuesday 28 February, 2012 he highlighted the OIC’s initiative of sponsoring resolution 16/18. ... Ihsanoglu stated that Islamophobia is a contemporary manifestation of racism. He assured that combating Islamophobia as well as vilification of all religions and denigration of symbols and personalities sacred to all religions is a matter of priority at the OIC. He urged the HRC to an urgent initiative of ‘preventive cultural diplomacy’."

Everything is Global Summit - "April 18, 2012 The goals of the Summit are to share skills and strategies for improving global business and intercultural relations and to raise local awareness of the value and importance of citizen diplomacy by bringing together members of the business, academic, nonprofit and international exchange communities. Global competence combines intercultural awareness, sensitivity and respect for personal and cultural differences with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and experiences necessary to strengthen America’s image and maintain a strong presence in the global economy. This Summit on Citizen Diplomacy was initiated through a seed grant from the National Council for International Visitors as part of its 50th Anniversary celebration. The Northern Nevada International Center (NNIC) at the University of Nevada, Reno is a driving force of promoting the concept of citizen diplomacy in Northern Nevada. ... [Among the speakers:] Gillian Martin Sorensen, senior advisor at the United Nations Foundation ... is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Fellow at the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy."

Host A Foreign Exchange Student - Lauren Jewel, "Did you know you could host a foreign exchange student right here in your

Menifee [CA] home? Cultural Homestay International is a non-profit educational exchange program looking for families to host students. It’s a unique opportunity to volunteer and give back in a way that promotes cultural understanding and public diplomacy. In exchange you and your family will gain a lifelong friendship and innumerous memories of the experience you share with your student." Image from

Course teaches about law, government and other global issues - "David Chaplin, of Stone Mountain, Ga., is currently pursuing a law and public diplomacy joint degree at SU’s Maxwell School and S.I. Newhouse School. This semester he works with students at Fowler High School."

Grad Students Front Row for NATO Town Hall - "This week, six GWU graduate students in the Elliott School [at George Washington University] were provided with the opportunity to attend a town hall event with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the National Defense University (NDU) in Washington, D.C.

The town hall event–geared specifically toward students of the NDU and other schools around D.C.–provided a forum for dialogue between the Secretary General and students pursuing careers in international affairs and public diplomacy." Image from article, with caption: Secretary General Rasmussen visits NDU and addresses students at Town Hall discussion.

Want to be like Obama? Speak English! - Elizabeth Dillard, Djibouti Is A Funny Name: My Adventures on the Dark Continent: "Life here in the Horn of Africa has been crazy busy! I ... hosted a tea party on behalf of the Ambassador, and eaten enough pizza to last a lifetime. ... [l]ast week when I came back from lunch, I had an envelope on my desk to 'Elizabeth Dealer'. I assumed that was me, so I opened it, and it was an invitation from the English club (that I attended the day I got to Djibouti) inviting me to their mid-semester party. Jazmine received one as well and we decided to attend, along with the Marines and Omar (Public Diplomacy for the Embassy). When we arrived, I was shocked. If I had to guess, I would say there were at LEAST 500 students there. And they had saved us seats right up front.

And they gave us two shout outs. And they gave us water in the middle of the show. I enjoyed every minute of it because I know that was as close as I will ever get to VIP treatment!" Image from


Internet Can be Used for Evil, Too - Heritage Foundation, You send and receive them all the time: friend requests, tweets, wall posts, etc. For most of us, our regular routine of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites doesn’t seem particularly dangerous. Few would even consider such activities as part of a larger conflict.

In Wiki at War, Heritage’s James Carafano argues that conflict does not end at the edge of the Internet and social media sites. All types of conflict—business competition, international rivalry, social unrest, and even military conflicts—are continued on the Internet. When governments are savvy enough to manipulate and use the Internet to their own ends, it can become a tool of oppression and propaganda, such as in Iran. When the opposite is true, the Internet is a tool for revolution like in Egypt. Image from article

Scholars reflect on Afghan Koran burnings, rioting - The burning of the Koran simply adds insult to injury to a battered and impoverished population(Aisha Ahmad); The Taliban are capitalizing on gross mistakes and signs of tiredness from US troops and American allies. At the same time, burning the Koran (as well as urinating on dead bodies) clearly questions the effectiveness and quality of the cultural awareness training these soldiers should have received (Chiara Ruffa); the best chance for rioting over the Bagram Koran-burning incident to die down quickly is if Afghan political leaders appeal for calm, Afghan security forces deal responsibly with public order incidents and Afghan media refrain from airing inflammatory material (Michael Semple).

The Koran Burning Episode: Negligence or Stupidity? - Patricia Lee Sharpe, Whirled View: Is it possible that the paperwork crazy U.S. military doesn’t have a clear, consistent, well-publicized and constantly-pounded-in policy on what to do with Korans that fall into U.S. military hands?

Israel’s Last Chance to Strike Iran - Amos Yadlin, New York Times: What is needed is an

ironclad American assurance that if Israel refrains from acting in its own window of opportunity — and all other options have failed to halt Tehran’s nuclear quest — Washington will act to prevent a nuclear Iran while it is still within its power to do so. Image from

Iran Invokes the West to Motivate Voters - Robert F. Worth, New York Times: In the days leading up to Iran’s parliamentary elections on Friday, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other top officials have been crisscrossing their country to issue stern warnings against a vast Western conspiracy, driven by panic, to undermine the vote. The official news media have amplified the campaign: “U.S. Dreads Iranians’ Turnout in Elections,” read one typical banner on Press TV, the state-run English-language vehicle.

Column: Time for Assad to go - Dennis Ross, USA Today: Creating humanitarian corridors or safe areas for civilians, though difficult to implement, need to be on the table and developed as a real possibilities. Arming the Free Syrian Army when it lacks clear organization and is highly localized raises a number of troubling questions about who would be armed and what could take shape in Syria. But there is help short of arms that could alter the realities on the ground, such as blocking the communications of Assad's forces and facilitating those of the Free Syrian Army. Moreover, given the behavior of Assad's forces, lethal assistance managed in a coherent way through Jordan and Turkey should not be ruled out.

How to advance Syria’s transition - Anne Applebaum, One way or another, this conflict will end. Assad will fall — or he will remain in power thanks to a bloodbath, followed by another era of sullen repression. Either way, one of the best things the West can do now is help Syrian rebels and the Syrian diaspora think about what might come next. It seems ridiculous to focus on the future in the middle of a crisis. But in this case, that might be the only way the crisis can be resolved.

Yemen’s peaceful transition - David Ignatius, Washington Post: The very fact that Yemen is so poor and remote is an unlikely source of leverage for the United States and its allies. Curbing corruption and spreading the wealth in this faraway country is the best strategy for getting “buy-in” for the Arab Spring’s quiet revolution.

Don't Worry, North Korea's Nuclear Program Will Be Back Soon Enough - Max Fisher, North Korea has pledged to halt its nuclear enrichment, nuclear tests, and long-range missile tests, which is great news. Pyongyang's nuclear program is one of the world's most dangerous threats: it risks an accidental nuclear war, raises the possibility of a conventional war, and destabilizes one of the most militarized and densely populated regions in the world.

A mere gesture from Pyongyang toward cutting this program makes everyone on Earth a bit safer. And all we had to do was promise some food aid for North Koreans, which is worthwhile in its own right.But this is not a permanent solution to North Korea's nuclear program. Even if Pyongyang does live up to the deal, they will almost certainly start the program back up in a few years. Image from article, with caption: One of countless propaganda posters that plastered North Korea shortly after the country's leadership accelerated its nuclear program. A caption, out of frame, reads "Ruthless Punishment to U.S. Imperialism!"

On "Putin 2.0" - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: Few people doubt that Putin will win the coming elections, even if he is forced to go on to the second round. And although there are many analyses and predictions as to what "Putin 2.0" will bring, one thing can be said for sure: the Internet has played a key role in this election campaign, thus making it all about "Web 2.0."

Putin's Well-Timed Assassination Plot - Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg: Mass anti-government protests in Moscow are no reason to suspend the venerable traditions of Vladimir Putin's propaganda machine.

Ever since he first won the presidency in 2000, Putin has told voters that his job is to lead the “fight for Russia” against enemies, both foreign and domestic. To underscore this immutable message, it is an established custom to foil an attempt on Putin's life not long before the vote. Image from

Russian lawmaker calls Georgia’s visa move propaganda - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili said in his annual speech to parliament Tuesday night that he would drop visa requirements for all Russian citizens. Today, citizens of Russia’s northern Caucasus republics can visit Georgia without a visa for up to 90 days. Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili said in his annual speech to parliament Tuesday night that he would drop visa requirements for all Russian citizens. Today, citizens of Russia’s northern Caucasus republics can visit Georgia without a visa for up to 90 days.

An Act of Valor Dissent - G. Murphy Donovan, American Thinker: Hollywood and the Pentagon are good examples. Like the Soviet propaganda flicks of yore, the good guys are ten feet tall, and the bad guys are ambiguous nitwits. The action film Act of Valor purports to show "active-duty SEALs," an elite cadre specially trained for covert warfare, in operations "based on true events." For openers, it's hard to quibble about the hype for feature-length propaganda, but it's also difficult to reconcile "true" anything and a Hollywood film crew.

Veteran saves books from getting destroyed in World War II - George Ostrom, Our US WWII occupation forces acting under orders from top brass had accumulated a storehouse filled with confiscated Nazi propaganda books. There were thousands of volumes and a large fire was used to destroy them. As I helped haul books out of the building, I couldn’t help but examine some. One big one was magnificently bound and contained several hundred photos of military parades and Hitler addressing his troops and various crowds at giant rallies around the country from Nuremberg to Berlin.

It was a pompous display of the power of Nazism 'in all it’s glory' the way Hitler wanted it to appear. The photography was flawless. Although only eighteen, I disliked the idea of burning all those books. I thought at least some should be saved for study by scholars and historians. Frankly, just the cursory looks I was able to make told me things I did not know about Hitler’s Germany and about the Nazis, things I hope other Americans should know. I was seriously intrigued so I did it … I hid a copy of the big book and two others in a handy pile of rubble. I don’t remember exactly how I eventually shipped them back home, but I know I was worried about being caught and maybe court-martialed. I never did learn if there was a specific punishment for 'not burning books.'” Image from

Native Communist Party, father Stalin, and dear Lenin… On manipulations in language of political propaganda - Larysa Masenko, Unlike Nazi totalitarianism which did not try to hide the antihuman essence of its ideology, communist totalitarianism held in power not only thanks to terror but also due to constant use of fraud. Soviet propaganda always used the words borrowed from the European political lexicon of democratic and humanistic orientation. Although, in realities of antihuman regime such words as “freedom,” “equality,” and “brotherhood” lost any sense, the government continued to use them for manipulative effect on public consciousness.

As Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski once noted, the purpose of propaganda in communist countries was not to simply lie but to destroy the very idea of truth in normal understanding of the word. Particularly we should consider such manipulative techniques as using words taken from the field of family relations in the language of political propaganda. For example, the name of Communist Party was often used with an attribute “native” -- Soviet people were building a bright future under the leadership of native Communist Party. The absurdity of such combination of words was that the word “party,” which comes from the Latin root meaning “a part” refers to a union of people for political views, thus, a party can not be native even for the members of such union, not to mention all of the country’s population. Image from article, with caption: The placard reads; Lenin organized the [Ukrainian]  famine of 1921-22.

1 comment:

Barbara Lamprecht said...


On behalf of the decommissioned U.S. Consulate in Karachi, I would like to gather information for documentation of the building for DOCOMOMO, an international organization devoted to the documentation and conservation of buildings of the Modern Movement. I am an architectural historian whose scholarship focuses on Richard J. Neutra, who with his then-partner Robert E. Alexander, designed the U.S. Embassy in Karachi. I would like to talk with anyone who is familiar with the building. Thank you, Barbara Lamprecht, M.Arch.,