Friday, March 30, 2012

March 30

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

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

"Uranian propaganda that Dolphins are bisexual"

--Headline in


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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