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 na├»ve 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

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