Monday, March 12, 2012

March 12

--Via AKS on Facebook


Communication Hip Hop Diplomacy: Connecting Through Culture: Tuesday, March 27 2:00pm - 5:00pm State Room, 7th Floor

The Elliott School of International Affairs 1957 E Street NW Washington, DC. Image from entry


Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Eurasia and Central Asia (Global UGRAD) Host University Application. Via LHM on Facebook


Video: I Got Blasted by the Pentagon’s Pain Ray — Twice: Spencer Ackerman, Wired: "In 2010, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, sent the Pain Ray back to the States after a deployment of mere weeks. His reasoning: it was too great a propaganda boon to the Taliban, who’d say the U.S. was microwaving Afghans, giving them cancer, making them sterile, and so forth."


Diplomacy in the Digital Age  - P.J. Crowley, "Do a web search for the Egyptian Influence Network and what emerges is a visual depiction of the social network that helped bring down President Hosni Mubarak a year ago. The United States government knew about broad public discontent, but did not have a meaningful relationship with these new digital elites. It certainly underestimated their power. Earlier this week other digital actors released a dramatic film on the Lord’s Resistance Army, called KONY 2012. It instantly went viral; the State Department learned of it via the daughter of its Deputy Spokesman (in the interest of full disclosure, my former deputy). In this case, Jason Russell, the film’s producer, is trailing U.S. policy. The government months ago deployed military advisors to help improve the ability of regional governments to defeat the LRA. Both cases underscore the dynamism of the digital age and the pressures it places on U.S. diplomacy. More and more people will have access to the kind and quality of information that was previously reserved for governments. Digital media do not fundamentally change the diplomatic process, but it expands the number of influencers, accelerates the process and can generate sudden shifts in public opinion. As cell phones and other technologies become even more ubiquitous – equipped with cameras and connected to the Internet – everything we say and do will be increasingly visible. Government bureaucracies are going to struggle to keep pace and respond meaningfully in real time. The State Department is already aggressively expanding its use of social media to communicate beyond governments directly to the people in multiple languages.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review has created a vision of a new breed of ambassador who will be more visible and more empowered than ever. Recently minted Ambassadors Robert Ford and Michael McFaul in Syria and Russia respectively are great examples of 'early adopters' who have led significant engagement campaigns using social media." Image from article; more on Kony 2012 in below "related items"

World can use power of the Internet to destabilize Iran's regime: While Congress has provided close to $100 million to foster Internet freedom in closed societies, its efforts have been thwarted by the State Department - Sam Brownback, Michael Horowitz, Mark Palmer, "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long understood the power of the Internet to undermine the Iranian regime. In December 2009, this newspaper quoted him as noting to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that '[u]sing the power of the Internet and of Twitter against the Iranian regime is a tremendous thing that the United States can do.' Unfortunately, this has not occurred. While the U.S. Congress has provided close to $100 million to foster Internet freedom in closed societies, and has specifically called for a robust initiative directed at Iran, these efforts have been thwarted by the State Department. Senior department officials have publicly deprecated the importance of firewall circumvention programs and have sat on millions of dollars of congressional appropriations for long periods of time. ... Prompt and merit-based expenditure of unspent State Department funds would increase uncensored Internet service in Iran by orders of magnitude. In fact, we believe that Iran's Internet firewalls could rapidly be made significantly inoperative by the use of no more than $20 million dollars in Internet freedom appropriations now sitting idle in State Department budget accounts." Via

"Race, Rap and Raison d'Etat" [available by subscription] - Hishaam Aidi, MERIP Fall 2011. Cited at.

Image from, with caption: The US government wants to improve its tarnished image abroad by sending out "hip hop envoys."

Website for investors says it is blocked in Uzbekistan after article published jointly with RFE/RL (also blocked) - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Today on "From Washington al Mundo" - "Marketing the American brand abroad. Tune in today to 'From Washington al Mundo' for a conversation on the importance of public diplomacy with Michael Gonzalez of The Heritage Foundation and Richard Parker

of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Gonzalez is a former State Department official and former Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal's Asia and Europe editions. Parker is a former Director of Communications for the Peace Corps. 'From Washington al Mundo' is broadcast live on Sirius-XM's Cristina Radio (Channel 146) from 4-5 p.m. (EST) and rebroadcast Tuesday from 3-4 p.m. (EST)." Image from entry

Making the Most of Cultural Diplomacy: While France Upgrades, Japan Considers Budget Cuts - Watanabe Hirotaka, "In December 2011 I was invited to be a panelist at a Paris symposium on cultural diplomacy hosted by the Institut français, a new organization that is expected to play a central role in France’s cultural diplomacy. ... In Japan, by contrast, there is little recognition of the importance of cultural diplomacy. ... Any discussion of the current state of Japan’s public diplomacy should start by acknowledging the requirement for a fuller

complement of specialized public officials and the need to organize a reliable parent body to act as a platform for the various ministries and agencies involved. ... [I]f the government decides instead to make cutting costs its number-one priority, I am afraid that Japan’s cultural diplomacy will become even weaker than it already is. This budget-driven approach strikes me as being based on feeble arguments driven by short-sighted considerations. In order to become a global leader whose norms, values, and culture are respected and admired around the world, we need to project an image of peace and security and emphasize ideals like unpretentiousness and compassion as typifying the Japanese lifestyle and philosophy of life. It should go without saying that improving the prosperity and status of Japan’s cultural industries would make a major contribution to transmitting this image to the world." Image from entry

Greece’s International Profile And Financial Crisis - George Protopapas, "The financial crisis and international profile of states are two interdependent elements that influence negatively all aspects of foreign policy, especially the tools of public diplomacy. In the age of globalisation public diplomacy is considered a useful communication tool for governments that aim to influence the public opinion of third countries and in particular seeking to improve their national image and reputation in the world. Greek foreign policy has not managed in the past years to develop an effective public diplomacy and the financial crisis has destroyed to a large extent its international profile. ... Greek Public Diplomacy (GPD) is indeed characterised by lack of a national communication strategy, both at governmental and non-governmental institutions, as well as in the media. This paper tries to find strategies that could improve Greece’s international image and could create an effective Greek PD even at this difficult and ominous period of financial crisis."

Australian students enjoy 5-week Thailand internship - Gemma Khaicy and Anthea Burton, "The Australia-Thailand Institute (ATI) funded two Australian media students to undertake a five-week special internship program in Bangkok at the Australian embassy’s Public Diplomacy Unit and a major Thai newspaper. The media internship contributes to the ATI’s aims of promoting institutional and people-to-people ties between Australia and Thailand."

Wheel in the Sky - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I spent my days preparing for my two lectures at the Sister Cities convention. As I noted, previously I had to stand and deliver my first lecture on gastrodiplomacy, but that went just fine as I spoke at a Japanese restaurant. We switched the location outside, and I used a menu stand as a lectern. How apropos. It was my second lecture, however, that really earned me my PD stripes. I should point out that Sister Cities convention was related to US-Mexico sister cities. Well, as I got prepared to give my lecture, it became apparent that the vast majority of the audience were Spanish-speakers, or strongly bilingual. So rather than give my lecture as I had prepared in English, I winged it in Spanish."

Smokey Robinson at Cardiac Gala, Dr. Ofelia Gallardo’s 90th Natal Day, Dr. Henrich Barner Awarded - Jerry Berger, "Bentleys, Rolls Royces, Jags and a few Mercedes drove past the Clayton high-rises, whose walls are already beginning

to crack, through the cunning curve of the Ritz Carlton Hotel Saturday night under the eagle eyes of security. Most of the drivers were physicians who specialize in cardiovascular issues. ... [Among the guests were] St. Louis American publisher Don Suggs with his daughter, Dina, a public diplomacy expert at the U.S. State Dept." Image from article

The Internship Offer That Changed My Graduation Date - "When I first received the internship offer from the State Department, I called my supervisor and I asked what the typical schedule for a full-time student intern was. ... My supervisor went on to describe why they are looking for full time interns. After discussing the work load and the types of projects that really do require

a substantial time commitment, she added, 'And on rare occasions, there might be a chance for you to meet the Secretary of State, and it would be a shame if you had to miss that.' That got to me. ... Sure enough, within the first few weeks, I attended the Appeal of Conscience where I heard Secretary Clinton address the role of spirituality and religion in International Relations and Public Diplomacy. I also was invited to sit in on one of the classes for the new Foreign Service Officers. I learned about Security Overseas and how to travel smart and live smart in a foreign environment and culture. These classes and events have given me incredible opportunities to see my International Relations studies in practice in the real world." Image from entry, with caption: Posing at the Diplomatic Entrance to the Foreign Service Institute


Killings of civilians threaten Afghanistan mission - Jim Michaels and Oren Dorell, USA TODAY: Allegations that an American servicemember went on a shooting spree that left at least 16 Afghan civilians dead have plunged relations between the two countries to a new low and threaten to test U.S. strategy to end the conflict. There were no signs of protests Monday and it was unclear what the response would be to Sunday's deadly spree. It may not be as dramatic as after the Quran burnings since the desecration of the Muslim holy book is viewed as one of the worst sins in Islam. Afghans have also faced numerous instances of civilian casualties from coalition military operations, though rarely the kind of killings seen Sunday. The Taliban has vowed revenge for the shootings, saying in a statement on their website that "sick-minded American savages" committed the "blood-soaked and inhumane crime" in Panjwai district, a rural region outside Kandahar that is the cradle of the Taliban and where coalition forces have fought for control for years.

Afghans speak out after killing spree: Afghans in Kabul express their feelings after an American soldier killed 16 civilians on Sunday - Kabul, Afghanistan - In the early hours

of  Sunday, a heavily-armed US soldier in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) left a military base in the Panjawi district of Kandahar province and opened fire on three houses in southern Afghanistan. The pre-dawn attack claimed the lives of 16 Afghans - nine children and three women among them - as witnesses say the US Army Sergeant went from house to house shooting civilians. The attack comes as yet another setback for international forces in the Central Asian nation. Recently, protests against the burning of Qurans at Bagram airbase, a centre for foreign troops, led to the deaths of 41 Afghans and six US personnel. Ali Latifi took to the streets of the Afghan capital on Sunday to ask locals on the bustling streets of Shahr-e-Naw, Kabul's commercial centre, and the neighbourhood of Qalai-Fatullah, what impact the shooting has had on the Afghan people and what it means for the increasingly strained relations between the people and international forces now entering their eleventh year in Afghanistan. Via YO on facebook. Image from article

Afghans to US Military: Be at Least a Little Ashamed - Juan Cole, Informed Comment: This is one Afghanistan newspaper’s reaction today to the story of the massacre by a US staff sergeant of 16 villagers, including 9 children, near Qandahar. It is a medley of photographs of US troops in the country. Note that the source,, in Dari Persian, is considered an “independent” news source by the US government; it is not a Taliban operation, and has usually been balanced.

The headline is, “Let us be at least a little bit ashamed.” The BBC is reporting that villagers are complaining that one of the victims was 2 years old. A woman wept, “They say they are Taliban. Are there any 2-year-old Taliban?” She said, “They are always setting dogs on us and helicopters circle at night.” The Taliban press in Afghanistan is giving the number of civilians killed as 45, and this sort of incident makes Taliban propaganda more credible to Afghans. Image of poster for Russian film, "How shameful" from

Say No to Propaganda Scam Kony2012 - Question Everything: "When the Kony2012 vid came out, I’ll admit, I watched it. So did millions of others. As far as notions go, you can’t go far wrong with wanting to get rid of a guy like Kony. If I had left it there, I could have continued on blissfully, like many others, thinking that in watching and forwarding the video, my bit was done. I wasn’t content to leave it there. As the piece came to me via Facebook, I’ve been using mostly Facebook to bring attention to articles that made it clear what a scam

the Kony2012 campaign is. This isn’t about getting rid of Kony. It’s not even about making this guy a hell of a lot of money (and he is, make no mistake there). This is something worse. Some links [I'll do my best to keep this updated]:
Kony 2012 is An Imperialistic Propaganda Campaign - Anson Asaka, Through Twitter, Facebook and mainstream media, the Kony video has been repeatedly dispersed worldwide. When one’s cuts through all of the sensationalism and emotionalism of the video, the purpose is clear. Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign seeks to persuade the American public to promote its goal. Its ultimate goal is to support, sustain and possibly expand US military intervention in Central Africa. It urges the public to pressure Congress to support the Ugandan military. Obviously, such an objective is pro-militarism. Western troops occupying African land is imperialism. Like most propaganda, the video omits and/or glosses four key facts. Such glaring omissions make me question Invisible Children’s true motives. First, although it calls on us to support the Ugandan military, it fails to mention the human rights violations and atrocities committed by the Ugandan government. Second, it fails to mention that the United States intervened in Uganda in 2008. That year, United States Africa Command launched the failed Operation Lighting Thunder. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the Operation failed to protect civilians. Third, according to Amnesty International 2011 Annual Report on Uganda, Northern Uganda is currently, “relatively calm.” That fact is glossed over and only mentioned briefly in passing on the Kony 2012 video. Finally, as part of its sales pitch, Kony 2012 emphasizes that the US has no strategic interest in Uganda. Invisible Children uses that as a primary reason for demanding that the public keep up the pressure on politicians and celebrities. However, the Kony 2012 video conveniently fails to mention that in recent years oil was discovered in Uganda. According to the Wall Street Journal, Uganda could become one of the top 50 oil producers in the world. Under the circumstances, stability and US influence in the region could serve American corporate interests.

Right Idea, Wrong Monster: Is Kony 2012 Viral Propaganda? -  Sean Fenley, African Dictator:


Uganda is undoubtedly rife with resources for Obama, Sarkozy, Cameron, et al to plunder, otherwise why would a viral film like Kony 2012 be popping up on YouTube? And the unwitting, or perhaps even duplicitously savvy shill’s film -- and its Hollywood accomplices -- are certainly making ample headlines. The ostensible end of the viral YouTube picture, would appear to be pressing for yet another “humanitarian” intervention. After all AFRICOM is still based in Stuttgart, Germany, so the US and its partners, are undoubtedly pining away for another place to base their banefulness and multifarious tools of mass destruction. The US/Western-backed dictator Yoweri Museveni is somehow never mentioned in the film. A man’s whose iron fist, and human rights violations, have given rise to a monstrous opposition movement like the Kony-led Lord’s Resistance Army. And, Museveni has been involved in numerous atrocities, and crimes against humanity himself; and about 40% of the Ugandan people live in immense poverty under Museveni’s authority. Uncaptioned image (evidently of Museveni) from article

Kony 2012 and the Failed Fantasy of Firepower in Libya, Syria, Uganda... - Lisa Schirch, Huffington Post: "This week the viral video to increase the notoriety of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony faced criticism from the very people who have spent their lives trying to address the root causes of Kony's violence in Uganda. As CNN commentator notes, the Kony 2012 video basically supports the status quo in Uganda by making the case to fight Kony's violence with more violence, to support the violent Ugandan government which creates the fuel for Kony in the first place, and to "dismiss intricate steps of social change and make a narrow ideology

mass-compatible by having millions of unquestioning people raise their fists in support." Local Ugandan organisations working to end violence have largely decried the presence of US troops supporting the Ugandan government's fight against Kony. But it seems nobody in the US government or the makers of Kony 2012 thought to ask Uganda civil society democracy experts working to support peace in their own country. Instead of just decrying Kony, foreign governments and NGOs could do much more to support the peace process in Uganda and to stop working with and supporting the repressive Ugandan army. Image from (via KK on facebook)

Israel Recruits Two Arab Women as Propaganda Tools - It is a true crime when the oppressor uses the oppressed to do its dirty work. In light of Israel Apartheid Week, which is a growing and prevalent movement on university campuses around the world, two Palestinian Arab women, Bushra Khalaileh and Ranin Khouri, were recruited to speak positively of Israel on global forums and to the international media.

MEMRI style propaganda - As'ad AbuKhalil, The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: So MEMRI has a childish PR ploy: they wait for any opponent of Israel, preferably in Hizbullah or Hamas, to be extending his hand high, and they put out a special bulletin to say that they are Nazi-like.

Here, for MEMRI: Israeli prime minister performing the Nazi salute. Would you feature that? Image from article

Propaganda war affects coverage of Syrian conflict - Khadija Patel, Coverage of Syria's civil war has been polarised by competing narratives.

Relying as we are on sources like activists and opposition politicians, a more moderate approach ought to have been adopted, but instead news channels like Al-Jazeera Arabic have adopted a decidedly opposition-friendly stance. Image from article

Iranian agency is surprised: why Iran assists Azerbaijani Government? - "Relations between Iran and Azerbaijan become worse especially during the last time. The relations become worse on various spheres including cultural, political aspects. Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is going to give 1.200.000 million USD of grand to Azerbaijani Government. As informs Iranian 'Taqnab' news agency expressed its dissatisfaction towards the decision. Iranian source condemns the initiative by Iranian MFA: 'Azerbaijan did not refuse to make anti Iranian propaganda during 15 years. Azerbaijan is included in cooperation with Israel and fulfills anti Iranian activities in this context. Azerbaijani side also assists the separation actions against Iranian territorial integrity. Azerbaijani media and text-books make anti-Iranian propaganda and despite of this fact Iranian MFA is going to present such great assistance towards the Baku dictatorial regime'."

PsyWarfare: "The Battle for the Mind" - Adrian Salbuchi, PsyWar uses every possible weapon and tool to influence and impact the will of the enemy. Such “weapons” are labelled “psychological” because of their effect and not because of their own nature. This is the reason why, open propaganda (“white”), secret (“black”) or “grey” propaganda -- subversion, sabotage, murders, special operations, guerrilla, espionage, political, economic and racial and ethnic pressures -- are all considered useful PsyWar weapons.

Radio in Nazi Period - Seton Hall University: Thursday, March 15, 2012 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Location: Bishop Dougherty University Center, Room Chancellor's Suite A Holocaust Study Day, featuring two lectures and workshops, will be presented by Mr. Richard Lucas, author of Axis Sally: The American Voice of Nazi Germany, and Ms. Laura Smith. Mr. Lucas will present Berlin Calling- German Radio Broadcasts to America. Ms. Smith will give a second presentation on Allied and Resistance Radio: Past and Present dangers for All? In the afternoon there will be two workshops: Propaganda and Treason: Then and Now presented by Mr. Lucas, and Radio in Daily Life: Then and Now presented by Ms. Smith.


--From Thomas Edsallsat, "The Reproduction of Privilege," New York Times, which notes that "SAT scores ... correlate directly to students’ family income."

"We read so you don’t have to"

--Designation of a Section in The Washington Post


--From AB on Facebook

--ABECEDA: a jazz-age alphabet from Prague. In 1926 the Czech dancer Milca Mayerová choreographed the alphabet as a photo-ballet; via OS on Facebook

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