Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March 14

"Policymakers presumably have hearts." 

--Philip Seib, Director of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy; image from


The Václav Havel Journalism Fellowship is a joint program between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and RFE/RL. Inspired by the former president’s belief in the power of words and recognizing the transformational role of journalism in challenging tyranny, it provides training and development opportunities at RFE/RL’s Prague headquarters to journalists from countries where media freedom is stifled and independent journalists are at risk.[Evidently there is no website on this program, about which your PDPBR compiler was kindly informed by the Czech Embassy in Washington]


U.S. Drawdown: A Heritage Roundtable - "Helle Dale [Heritage Foundation]: Unrequited love might be the best description of European feelings about President Obama. ... [British PM] Cameron is in the U.S. to cement relations with President Obama, whom Europeans are convinced (indeed hope) will remain in office for a second term. Yet, at the very same time, the Pentagon has announced a further drawdown of U.S. troops based in Europe. 'In another chapter on our incredible shrinking military, Team Obama has decided to reduce US forces in Europe by about 15,000 troops (of an estimated 80,000) over the next two years,' writes Peter Brookes. As Brookes notes, this move is logistically problematic and sends terrible public diplomacy signals. The consequences will be diminishing ties with Europe through NATO, declining interoperability within the alliance, less ability for the U.S. to engage in trouble spots like North Africa and the Middle East, and encouragement for Russian revanchism under newly reelected President Vladimir Putin. None of this is good news for the transatlantic relationship or American global leadership."

Public Diplomacy hosted a Video Conference program with U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence against Women - USEmbassyTelAviv on Twitter.

Image from entry

Obama | President Obama Takes British Leader To NCAA Basketball Game In Ohio – Los Angeles Times, : "Obama and Cameron are practicing a brand of public diplomacy appropriate to two young, athletic leaders, said Heather Conley, senior fellow of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank."

Gay Jamaica Questions Needed for State Dept Ambassador's Chat - "[T]here are a few things on my mind to share with the State Department, since they are asking for my participation in their public diplomacy:  I am a member of Gays Without Borders, a group concerned with the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Jamaica.

We applaud the State Department's advocacy for the respect of LGBT Jamaicans and request that LGBT issues are raised during the conversation. How is the U.S. prodding the Kingston government to investigate and prosecute bias motivated crimes and will the upcoming annual human rights report mention an improvement or setback for LGBT concerns in Jamaica? Are there plans to counter the virulent anti-LGBT preaching of religious leaders? What movement can be taken to repeal the anti buggery statues through legislative or judicial avenues?  Looking forward to having these and other LGBT concerns on the tape of the conversation. The conversation, asking folks for questions, and then making the chat available as on-demand media is all good. I would suggest also transcribing the entire conversation on Jamaica to further engage stakeholders. That comment is awaiting moderation. As of this writing, there is not a single question in the comments section of the Dip Note post. Do the movement a favor." Image (one of three) from entry, with caption: (A transgender Jamaican person under mob-attack in April 2007.)

"CIA-linked," "psywar," "hand-wringing," and other things they are writing about VOA - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

In its submission to the Australia in the Asian Century Taskforce, ABC calls international broadcasting a "national fundamental" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

The Afghanistan Effect: Understanding Afghanistan’s Media Landscape - Joshua Frey, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: According to a USAID report on Afghanistan’s media landscape, the media sector has averaged 20% growth each of the past five years, which corresponds to about 50 new TV stations and over 100 new radio stations since January 2006. Most of these media outlets are Afghan, with minimal international assistance. ... Coupled with conventional media, the internet and social media can thus empower young Afghan voices, which are now over 50% of the population, capable of defending their country from extremism with an 'Afghan Spring.'”

India, China, and the Importance of Storytelling - Angilee Shah, "Katherine Boo’s debut book 'Behind the Beautiful Forevers' is a powerful story set in a Mumbai slum, and a reminder of how important stories about ordinary people can be. ... China has the fastest-growing economy in the world, but its diversity and inequities are not as well embedded in the popular imaginations of Westerners. Nuanced portraits like Boo’s are harder to come by. American media and political rhetoric on China too often paints the picture of a monolith, says Adam Hersh, who researches China’s economy at the Center for American Progress. ... For Lal, the proliferation of engaging narrative nonfiction about India’s poor does not mean that the lives of slum dwellers will improve. Reporting that gets close to ordinary people is an important part of his courses on modern Indian, but there is a difference, he says, between pedagogy and the bureaucracy of public policy. But Philip Seib, director of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, takes a more optimistic view. 'That kind of journalism is important, or should be important to policymakers, because it makes things real,' he says. 'It gives us faces and people to care about.' Seib is the author of Real-Time Diplomacy, a study of politics and social media that will be published in April. He says that stories about ordinary people have a real impact on foreign policy, pointing to the importance of Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times reports on Darfur to changing the George W. Bush administration’s position on genocide and the television images of the 1992 famine in Somalia that helped push George H.W. Bush to action. 'Policymakers presumably have hearts,'  Seib says. And even if they are not moved to action, books like Boo’s can galvanize the public, which in turn gives them a push to change course."

RADİKAL▸ Turkey Lags Behind on Digital Diplomacy - "by Çağıl M. Kasapoğlu / Radikal 11.03.2012 Digital diplomacy is becoming an indespensable tool for almost every state in today’s world. Israel, the USA and the UK appear to be trend-setters in this newly emerging mode of diplomacy. They develop and use various methods of digital diplomacy. Recent growth of microblogs & social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube help digital diplomats in conducting foreign affairs. The US Department of State has formed a strategy for digital diplomacy under the name of '21th Century Statecraft'.

Both US State Department and British Foreign and Commonwealth Office have published guidelines for their diplomats concerning the use of social media tools. Furthermore, Israel is now training citizen diplomats to replace classical actors of public diplomacy – known as 'Hasbara'. The Haifa University’s new degree programme will train 'citizen diplomats' to this end. Those who will complete a degree course of digital diplomacy will become 'Ambassadors Online'. Haifa University’s digital diplomacy curriculum will include a variety of course subjects (i.e. editing and content-management) to have a direct impact on online news, Wikipedia articles, forums, chat rooms, Facebook and Twitter. According to experts of which is one of the world’s few independent digital diplomacy institutions, Turkey has not considered a serious strategy or roadmap on digital diplomacy yet." Image from article

They're trying. So what? - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "The Armenian Ministry of Diaspora launched a new 'online portal' on March 13. It's called 'The Virtual Museum of Armenian Diaspora.' Unsuspecting onlookers can probably see this as yet another 'noble' attempt by the Republic of Armenia [the Country] to connect with the Armenian communities around the world [the Diaspora].

After all, 'diaspora diplomacy' is one of the strongest assets the Country has on the international arena. The problem is, public diplomacy with the Diaspora is not working out all that well." Image from article

State Department Human Resources -- A System Run Amok - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View: "I have been writing about corruption and cronyism in the State Department's Human Resources Bureau for the last several yearsMy reporting has consistently led to one conclusion -- that State's personnel system -- which affects both Civil and Foreign Service employees -- has run amok. .. [D]ozens -- if not more -- of FSOs [are] forced out on false grounds. How many ... excellent employees in both the Civil and Foreign Services have had their careers derailed or ended by the indiscriminate behavior of HR?"

Advertising Icons Discuss the Real 'Mad Men' and Women: Former CEOs of New York advertising firm speak, sign books at events, both free and open to the public - "Two legends of Madison Avenue will visit Duke University this spring to discuss the making of modern advertising and how the industry has evolved since the so-called 'Mad Men' days. ... [One is] Charlotte Beers ... a former CEO of Ogilvy amd Mather and former undersecretary of state for public affairs and public diplomacy, will speak next month, on Tuesday, April 10. Beers is the author of the new book, 'I'd Rather Be in Charge.' She will discuss advertising, women and leadership at her 6 p.m. talk in Perkins Library's Gothic Reading Room."


How to end the Afghan mission - David Ignatius, Washington Post: Some of the recent events in Afghanistan show the American military mission at its worst: urinating on enemy dead; accidentally burning Korans; a crazed soldier massacring civilians. We can say that most U.S. troops did nothing of the sort, and that such incidents are rare. But that doesn’t change the reality that in such moments, we see how war can degrade decent men and nations. The question for policymakers isn’t the nature of war, but how to end it. And here, the gut reactions of this week are likely to be misleading -- in the sense that they could prompt hasty decisions that bring more loss of civilian life. A retreat under fire is dangerous in any case, but especially a pell-mell retreat that abandons previous strategies for withdrawal.

Obama’s troubled handling of Afghanistan - Editorial Board, Washington Post: Afghans, the Taliban and neighbors such as Pakistan can reasonably conclude that the United States, rather than trying to win the war, is racing to implement an exit strategy in which the interests of Afghans and their government are slighted. In this context, it’s not surprising that Afghans show little tolerance for U.S. failures — whether it is this week’s shooting or the accidental burning of Korans. And it’s little wonder that most Americans favor withdrawing troops as quickly as possible. If it’s evident that the president won’t defend the war, and is focused on “winding down” rather than winning, why should anyone else support it?

Analysis: Crisis over Afghan killings may follow familiar script - Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post: Some civilian members of President Obama’s national security staff viewed the killings as a siren call for a more rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces. “This has the potential,” one administration official said, “to become a game-changing moment.”

The initial reaction, however, suggests that this crisis may well hew to the arc of other moments of brinkmanship in the U.S.- Afghan relationship: claims of irreparable damage and demands for profound change, followed by a grudging recognition in both capitals that the two governments have more reasons than not to stick with their previously agreed-upon strategy of fighting the Taliban, training the Afghan security forces and creating a semblance of civil administration across the country. Image from article

How will it end in Afghanistan? Are Western troops going to leave too soon to prevent civil war? Sandy Gall, Short of civil war, is an extremist Islamic state, jeopardizing Western-inspired achievements in education and women's rights, inevitable? Gen. David Richards, chief of the British defense staff who commanded coalition troops in Afghanistan in 2006-07, does not think so. Image from article, with caption: Afghan villagers pray during a prayer ceremony for victims of Sunday's killing of civilians by a U.S. soldier in Kandahar province.

Too many wars, too few U.S. soldiers - Robert H. Scales, Washington Post: "If someone just after 9/11 would have told me that a very small Army and Marine Corps would fight a 10-year-long set of close combat engagements in two wars and still remain intact, I would have called them crazy. Well, we’ve done just that, haven’t we? But at what cost to the few who have borne an enormously disproportionate share of emotional stress?" Robert H. Scales, a retired U.S. Army major general and former commandant of the Army War College, is president of the consulting firm Colgen.

In Section 60, a silent search for meaning - By Dana Milbank, Washington Post: Washington is debating that greater meaning and whether all the trouble — the civilian killings, the Koran burnings, the feckless Karzai government — justifies continued fighting in Afghanistan even though al-Qaeda has been routed and public opinion on the conflict has soured. There’s no good answer, but no policymaker should make a decision about the war without strolling through Section 60 in Arlington cemetery. Its rows tell the story of this generation’s wars: A few headstones from Afghanistan quickly yield to monuments mostly from Iraq; then, toward the end, the Afghanistan dead return.

He added: "I believe where we have got the balance right, we are already turning the corner in practical terms.... Which is why, I think, give us a bit longer; 2015 is probably doable, for example. We have just started to get it right, and we might yet succeed." But will the politicians give the generals that long? In the light of recent developments, it is doubtful. Image from article

Why We Lost in Afghanistan - Peter Van Buren, From the US perspective, a soldier in uniform, representing the United States to the people he encounters in Afghanistan, murders sixteen people including nine children and it is called an unfortunate, isolated incident. When the US accidentally blows up sixteen Afghan civilians with a 500 pound bomb, to the US it is just another day at the office, “collateral damage.” Meanwhile, only 36 hours after the murder of those Afghan children, the US Embassy in Kabul sends out this chirpy Tweet:

It is obvious that inside the Embassy, as witnessed by their most public of faces, that the incident is already old news. Speaking to her collected Ambassadors, SecState Hillary Clinton said the same day without irony “Only America has the reach, resources & relationships to anchor a more peaceful and prosperous world.” Each time one of these horrors occurs in Afghanistan, the US response is that it is an isolated incident. How many isolated incidents must accrue before we acknowledge we have a collective problem? It is obvious to everyone in Afghanistan that the US really could care less about burning Korans, pissing on Afghan dead or even the murder of children, except perhaps as a PR issue to be managed. That is why we lost in Afghanistan. Time, now, after twelve years of war, to call it quits. Image from article

Watching the Watchdog: Is Kony 2012 for Real -- or Brilliant Propaganda? - Tim Knight, Huffington Post: Whatever the truth about the film, Michael Moore and even, perhaps, Leni Riefenstahl, now have a strong competitor when it comes to powerful visual propaganda.

Can Uganda tourism survive 'Kony 2012'? - Laura Bly, USA Today: "Successfully expelled by the Ugandan Peoples Defence Forces in mid-2006, the LRA has retreated to dense terrain within bordering countries in the Central African area. They are a diminished and weakened group with numbers not exceeding 300," says a press release issued this week by the President of Uganda. "The threat posed by the LRA in our neighboring countries is considerably reduced and we are hopeful that it will be altogether eliminated with the help of U.S. logistical support." The U.S. State Department, meanwhile, has no travel warnings or alerts for the country, where it says "tourist facilities abound." And Huffington Post travel writer Steve Bramucci complains that the video "leaves us feeling as if all of Uganda is a scary, dangerous" destination.

KONY 2012: State Propaganda for a New Generation. An Orchestrated Campaign to Justify US Military Intervention in Africa - Vigilant Citizen:

Kony 2012's Old-Fashioned War Propaganda: With lots of social-media hoodoo, popular new campaign calls for another U.S. intervention - Tate Watkins,

Tweets and silences of propaganda war: The Israeli media once again fails to show the impact of Israeli military strikes in the Gaza Strip - Omar Rahman,

Chinese Maoist propaganda in Northern Quarter art gallery exhibition - Charlie Bennett, Chinese propaganda art from the Maoist era is being displayed in a Manchester city centre art gallery’s exclusive exhibition.

Propaganda Posters of Soviet Space Program 1958-1963 -

Among them, above image from article


"[I]t could soon become the new normal for other employers to request your [Facebook] password."

--Katrina Trinko, USA Today


--Image from Princess Sparkle Pony's Photoblog, with comment: "No roots on that girl."

Exploding manure terrorizes America's hog farms - Maggie Koerth-Baker, Boing Boing: The manure pits on pig farms across the United States have been invaded by a mysterious foam—at Ars Technica, Brandon Keim describes it as "a gelatinous goop that resembles melted brown Nerf". It's probably the byproduct of some kind of biological process, though nobody knows exactly what. The larger problem, though, is that the foam is rather explosive.

No comments: