Friday, March 9, 2012

March 9

"The power of narration is in its ability to overcome, or really sneak undetected past people’s persuasion radar."

--Professor R.S. Zaharna; image from


Heritage Foundation evaluation declares that VOA Persian News Network "is not up to the task" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: [Elliott comments on the evaluation]: "US international broadcasting can be an asset to US foreign policy if it is allowed to exist as a news organization, and not as a mere 'part of the U.S. foreign policy and public diplomacy tool kit.' It's interesting that the VOA Charter, traditionally used to defend VOA journalistic independence ('VOA News will be VOA news will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive'), is lately being used to bring VOA into line ('VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively'). US policies are presented most 'effectively' through credible information, which is what international broadcast audiences are seeking, rather than through propaganda, which is what international broadcasting audiences are escaping when they tune to foreign stations ... Why does BBC have a larger audience in Iran than VOA PNN?

The most important research project that BBG could commission in FY12 is to ask Iranians who listen to BBC more than PNN, or to the exclusion of PNN, why. Does BBC provide better reception? Is the BBC on-air talent better? Does BBC do a more thorough job of covering Iranian affairs? Does BBC do a better job of avoiding bias? And why is it so difficult for US international broadcasting to recruit Farsi speakers who also happen to be journalists? Perhaps part of the problem is that VOA PNN is over here, and Radio Farda is over there, splitting between them the scarce commodity of Farsi-speaking journalists, and chasing the same stories." Image from

Willis Conover’s Jazz: A secret weapon in the Cold War - "David Goren, Shortwaveology author and producer for Jazz at Lincoln Center, released a JazzStories Podcast today featuring VOA broadcaster, Willis Conover. Willis Conover is a noted name in both Jazz music and international broadcasting. His characteristic deep and articulate voice guided many shortwave listeners behind the iron curtain, into the realm of Jazz music. Here is the description of the podcast from Jazz at Lincoln Center: [']During the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the United States had a secret weapon: Willis Conover’s 'Jazz Hour,' carried on the shortwave radio signals of The Voice of America across Russia and Eastern Europe. Starting in 1955 and running for over forty years, ‘Jazz Hour’ nurtured generations of jazz musicians who grew up under the restrictions of Communism. ['] On this edition of Jazz Stories we hear Willis Conover and two outstanding jazz musicians, Czech bassist George Mraz and Russian trumpeter Valery Ponomarev – both of whom learned about jazz from his broadcasts. You can preview this podcast on the Jazz at Lincoln Center podcast page (look under 'Jazz and the Cold War')." Via "Willis Conover" on facebook

Should we worry about CCTV's US operations? - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: [Elliott comments on "Chinese News Makes Inroads in U.S" by Helle Dale, Heritage Foundation]:"'Should we worry about this promotion of the Chinese point of view?' The answer is 'no.'

That answer is derived from the question. Any international broadcasting effort that exists to promote a point of view will not be taken seriously as a news operation.Even if CCTV News, RT (Russia Today), and Al Jazeera English can get cable access throughout the United States, they will never appeal to American viewers the way that the US-centric CNN, Fox, and MSNBC do. It would be interesting, however, if Al Jazeera or BBC tried (a la Al Jazeera Balkans) to create a US-centered news channel, to compete with CNN/Fox/MSNBC. Interesting, but probably ultimately not successful." Image from

International Radio Serbia marks 76th anniversary, thus, as they point out, "predating Voice of America" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting.

Image from entry

What a foreigner saw in Wen's report - Harvey Dzodin, "Most foreign analysts reviewing Premier Wen Jiabao's Government Work Report at the National People's Congress have fixated on either the slower annual economic growth target of 7.5%, or the year-on-year reduction in military spending. In doing so, they have done a disservice by ignoring many other important aspects of his report. One aspect is culture, a powerful, but as-yet poorly deployed tool in the exercise of China's soft power and public diplomacy. Premier Wen's report clearly indicates that China will continue growth in this area at home and abroad. This is important because as the Chinese learn how to use these tools better, they will more effectively compete in the contest for hearts and minds. It's also critical if this country is ever to move from merely 'Made in China' to its long elusive goal of 'Created in China.' What resonated for me was the Premier's comment that 'culture gives human beings a sense of belonging, and passing on fine culture is essential in maintaining the everlasting vitality of a nation.' I believe that is true not only internally, but in some ways even more important externally. If China and its people are to be understood and appreciated around the world, more has to be done to burnish China's often misunderstood and still under-appreciated culture and history. China's few global successes, such as the growing network of Confucius Institutes, are a mere beginning. In this vein, the Premier also pledged that China would turn its cultural sector into a pillar of the economy by making the cultural industry 'larger, more intensive, and more specialized.' He promised that China will 'intensify cultural and people-to-people exchanges with other countries so that we learn from each other's strengths.' It appears to me that such nascent efforts are already bearing fruit. I thought that the most significant recent concrete achievement in this area was announced last month during Vice-President Xi Jinping's American visit. DreamWorks Animation, the studio that produced

Kung Fu Panda will undertake a joint venture with several Chinese companies to create Oriental DreamWorks with studios in Shanghai. My hope is that this template will provide the model for many such joint ventures in the future in which the Chinese side can learn from others, such as Hollywood studios, which have been so successful in the creation, marketing and sales of cultural products. ... The agreement announced during Vice-President Xi's American visit will give American and other foreign films greater access to Chinese audiences but at the same time, will give each side a better understanding of the other's markets and creative skills. For the Chinese side, it will provide further, much needed insights into the how's and why's of Hollywood's recipe for success. At its best, this agreement has the potential to stimulate a heavily travelled two-way super highway for successful films and other cultural products. Today, this is little more than a simple dirt road." Image from

Culture Posts: Oscar Lessons in the Persuasive Power of Stories and Storytelling - R.S. Zaharna, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "When Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi took the stage to accept the Oscar for A Separation, he spoke of his film as a counter narrative to talk of war and offer a view of Iran 'through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.' During times of escalating political rhetoric, films can help shape and, as Farhadi hopes, reshape national images. For public diplomacy, the Oscars offer lessons not only in culture, but in the persuasive power of storytelling. ... The persuasive power of storytelling is not just for winning Oscar films. The communication dynamics of the international arena are ripe for a gradual shift for the narrative paradigm to become the dominant persuasive paradigm. Public diplomacy practitioners and scholars will need to be ahead of this shift because it is likely to be very fast and very global. That is, unless, it hasn’t already happened."

IC PD - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I have been impressed with the viral sensation of the Kony 2012 video by Invisible Children. Over 40 million views in just a few days. It is worth a watch, it is well done. ... I think Invisible Children has done a wonderful public diplomacy campaign to educate global citizenry on an issue that until a few days ago drew a blank. I commend IC for their PD efforts and use of new mediums to conduct such campaigns. I also think the groups kicking up a fuss (academics, other ngos, etc) are missing the point, or jealous, or both.

This nonstate actor is doing a tremendous job trying to craft new policy via new mediums. Call it the YouTube Effect. IC is being a proverbial fast learner to the new world of PD...and so were we at Public Diplomacy Magazine. When I was a Sr. Editor on Public Diplomacy Magazine, the issue I helped direct was on public diplomacy and human rights, specifically how nonstate actors pursue human rights through public diplomacy. One of our case study contributors was Invisible Children, chosen because we had a real sense that they understood the new paradigm." From "'Kony 2012' viral video by Invisible Children stirs debate" by Oren Dorell, USA Today: "Filmmaker Jason Russell, who heads the San Diego organization Invisible Children, introduces his audience to Joseph Kony, who for 26 years led the Lord's Resistance Army in the jungle in and around Uganda. The United Nations and the International Criminal Court say that Kony, backed by child soldiers, comforted by girl sex slaves and fed by a campaign of terror against Ugandan villagers, has abducted, mutilated and killed tens of thousands of children and adults." See also (1) (2). Image from

Boris savours school dinner - "To help meet the shortfall on its £5 million rebuilding project, Edgware's Beit Shvidler Primary School attracted 435 supporters to a fundraising dinner in London's West End on Monday night. They heard London mayor Boris Johnson thank the school's leadership for improving education in the capital and cite the recent protest in the grounds of St Paul's cathedral. ... Another speaker was Israel's Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, Yuli Edelstein, who observed: 'Our greatest challenge is to keep the younger generations aware of the centrality of Israel in Jewish life.'"


Culture clash, bribes prod Afghans to turn on NATO: ‘Green on blue’ killings a perplexing problem - Rowan Scarborough -The Washington Times: The post-Koran-burning slayings in Afghanistan have put focus on one of the most pressing questions facing U.S. commanders: Why do Afghan troops suddenly turn their weapons on NATO personnel and kill them?

In an impoverished, deeply Islamic nation at war for decades, amid a stark mix of Western and old-school Muslim values, disputes are bound to arise. "The Taliban have been pretty consistent in messaging, calling for the Afghan security force, police and army to turn on their NATO counterparts," said Paraag Shukla, a former Pentagon intelligence officer who is an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War. "But the effect of some of this consistent messaging is really very, very difficult to measure because we don't know the motives for these killings of [NATO] personnel. There's not really a consistent pattern. They are sort of all over the map." Image from

Egypt's hold on the U.S.: The Camp David accords — and the economy — explain American policy - Timothy Garton Ash, In Egypt the U.S. has managed to tie its hands behind its back when it comes to doing what Americans have done so well in other countries, promote liberal democracy. The long-term interests of both Israel and the United States will not be served by being fainthearted or ambivalent in supporting what is still one of the most hopeful developments of our time.

Why Egypt doesn't trust us: Private pro-democracy groups funded by the U.S. have a troubling history - Stanley Meisler, America's attempt to promote democracy around the world through private organizations has unsavory beginnings and a sometimes troubling history. There is an American smugness that assumes everyone else must benefit from emulating our political system. In fact, advising our friends about their politics demands great sensitivity. Not everyone appreciates our interference.

These private though U.S.-government-funded institutes should not be in a country where, as seems to be the case in Egypt, they are not wanted. Image from article, with caption: An Egyptian soldier on an armored vehicle guards an exchange office in Cairo, Egypt.

Obama vs. Israel - Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post: The world’s greatest exporter of terror (according to the State Department), the systematic killer of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, the self-declared enemy that invented “Death to America Day” is approaching nuclear capability -- and the focus of U.S. policy is to prevent a democratic ally threatened with annihilation from preempting the threat? Indeed it is.

Washington Post Features More Unopposed Palestinian Propaganda - The Washington Post’s Op-Ed page periodically presents anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian propaganda by outside contributors, with no equivalent counter-point.

The Media And Iran – Dave Lindorff, The sorry state of American journalism is on full display in the coverage by the corporate media of the ongoing crisis surrounding Iran’s nuclear fuel program. The leaders of both Israel and the U.S. have publicly threatened to attack Iran -- Israel saying it could do so within weeks, President Obama warning that he would consider attacking Iran militarily if he were convinced that that nation was building an atomic bomb. Not once, in reporting on these threats of aggressive war by Israel and/or the United States, has any major U.S. news organization, in print or on the air, included any reference to the U.N. Charter or to the fact that what is being contemplated is an invasion by Israel or the United States of a country that has not even been shown to be producing or planning to produce a nuclear weapon, much less to be in possession of one. Not once, in any of these daily reports on the Iran “crisis,” has any report by these news organizations -- including National Public Radio -- interviewed a source who could point out that what is being discussed is the most serious of all war crimes: the crime against peace (the same crime that led to the hanging, after World War II, of several military leaders in Japan and Germany).

Propaganda a bigger threat than Iran's nuclear power - Eamonn McCann, The attempt by David Cameron to persuade us that Britain is under threat of an Iranian nuclear attack should be seen alongside Tony Blair's claim in 2002 that Iraq had the capacity

to hit British targets any time it chose. Then, the London Evening Standard headlined that Britain was '45 minutes from attack'. Yesterday, The Sun warned: 'Iran building missile to hit UK'. Here we go again. There is evidence that Iran had a nuclear weapons programme in 2003. But the evidence shows, too that, under international pressure, the programme was abandoned at that point. Ayatollah Ali Khameni image from article

Debunking Anti-Iran Propaganda: The Myth of the "New Holocaust" - Benjamin Schett, In a pattern of propaganda now well-established in the mainstream media, fear-mongering against Iran is reaching an all-time peak. A case in point includes ongoing accusations that Iran is in violation of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, despite statements to the contrary from U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta as well as a number of American intelligence officials. Opponents of possible armed aggression against Iran are regularly accused of repeating the mistakes from the period prior to World War II, namely of not taking seriously the purportedly dangerous eliminatory "anti-Semitism" of the Iranian regime.

Iran: New US Propaganda Line, Iranian General ‘Instrumental’ in Afghan Drug Traffic - The United States has named a general in Iran's elite Al-Quds force as a key figure in trafficking heroin from Afghanistan. The U.S. Treasury designated General Gholamreza Baghbani, who runs the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force office in Zahedan, near the Afghan border, as a narcotics "kingpin." Baghbani is accused of aiding Afghan drug runners in moving opiates into and through Iran, as well helping send weapons to the Taliban. The Treasury said in a statement that "U.S. persons are prohibited from conducting financial or commercial transactions with General Baghbani, and any assets he may have under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen."

Can the ICC take on Syria? - Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: Hillary Clinton testified last week that Assad may fit the definition of a war criminal but "such a step often makes it difficult for a leader to step down." But the time for this logic is rapidly passing, since Assad has shown no interest in such a deal while the atrocities mount. Ad hoc measures which are useful tactically

but undermine the strategic goal of constructing robust norms against regime violence should be avoided unless there is a clear and overwhelming case that it is necessary to end violence and achieve a transition. Image from article

No-Fly Déjà Vu: The United States has a strategic interest in the future of a Syria without Bashar Assad - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: Today Moammar Gadhafi has fallen after a U.S.-led air campaign in which no American lives were lost, and for which President Obama rightly takes political credit. Yet the Administration is still offering identical arguments against establishing a no-fly zone to protect the brutalized people of Syria and turn the tide against Bashar Assad's merciless onslaught.

The Perils of Piecemeal Intervention - Jonathan Tepperman, New York Times: The only sure way to quickly stop the killing and replace the Assad regime with something better would be to do what few have been willing to advocate so far: start a serious military operation to topple the government.

Video of deputy minister’s defection boosts cause of Syrian rebels - Paul Koring, Embattled Syrian opposition activists scored a propaganda coup Thursday, turning the purported defection of a little-known senior official in the Syrian government into a global event and underscoring the far-reaching impact of YouTube and social media in the struggle to topple the regime. Abdo Hussameldin, who said he was a deputy minister, announced his defection in a strongly worded, carefully scripted video, accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of leading a “criminal regime” and urging other officials to abandon “a sinking ship.”

Propaganda Daily Wrap-Up - Items on Pakistan, Palestine, Yemen

What Putin’s Return to the Presidency Means for U.S.-Russia Relations - Steven Pifer, The Brookings Institution: Putin’s return could and probably will mean more bumpiness in the U.S.-Russia relationship. He will pursue his view of Russian interests. On certain issues, those will conflict with U.S. interests, and Washington and Moscow will disagree, perhaps heatedly. Putin’s style will differ markedly from Medvedev’s. But he is not likely to seek to turn the relationship upside down or take it back to the grim days of 2008. For all the rhetoric now, we should not rule out that the American president will be able to deal with Putin. Via HS on facebook. Below image from

The promise of Russia’s urban middle class - Condoleezza Rice, Washington Post: For centuries Russia’s great-power status has largely rested on military might, natural resources, intimidation of its neighbors and suspicion of the outside world. U.S. foreign policy -- “reset” or not -- has not changed that reality because its foundation has been the character of Russia’s internal politics. How refreshing it would be if the Kremlin’s power were based on the creativity of its people -- a not-so-farfetched idea for a nation that has produced extraordinary achievements in the arts and basic sciences throughout its troubled history. A new generation of Russians has loudly voiced its insistence on respect from those who would govern -- perhaps even demanding that they consent to be governed. We have a stake in their success and an obligation to help them achieve it.

Holder's troubling death-by-drone rules: Atty. Gen. Eric Holder's justification of the targeted killing of suspected terrorists is deeply troubling - Editorial, We're uncomfortable with the broad powers Holder asserted for the president to act as judge, jury and executioner.

We're also troubled by Holder's assertion that the administration is free to target anyone it deems to be a terrorist, on the soil of any country it considers "unable or unwilling to deal effectively with a threat to the United States." or suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens, on the basis of secret evidence. Image from article, with caption: Attorney General Eric Holder speaks about the Obama Administration's counter-terrorism policies at Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. See also

Chinese propaganda hero struggles in Internet age - AFP: A Chinese government publicity campaign to promote selflessness using the model of soldier Lei Feng, who died 50 years ago, is encountering resistance from an increasingly media-savvy population. Ever since China's supreme leader Mao Zedong recognised Lei Feng for his humble heroism, said to include washing his comrades' uniforms and giving his pay to the needy, authorities have encouraged citizens

to do good every March. To mark five decades since his death, authorities have launched a huge public campaign through the official media, which have been awash with invocations for Chinese citizens to follow his example. But with the rise of the Internet -- China now has the world's largest online population with more than half a billion users -- the soldier has come under attack as people question his good deeds and relevance for modern times. Image from article, with caption: Chinese children catch a glimpse of the items used by Lei Feng as they gather at the newly opened Lei Feng memorial museum in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province as part of a huge public campaign to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Lei Feng's death.


"Quote from Willis Conover in 'Jazz Forum', 1958....Jazz is a classical parallel to our American political and social system. We agree in advance on the laws and customs we abide by and having reached agreement, we are free to do whatever we wish within those constraints.

It’s the same with jazz. The musicians agree on the key, the harmonic changes, the tempo, and the duration of the piece. Within those guidelines, they are free to play what they want. And when people in other countries hear that quality in the music, it stimulates a need for the same freedom in the conduct of their lives.'"

--Marie Ciliberti on facebook.  Image (left, Conover, right Armstrong) from facebook

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