Sunday, December 30, 2012

December 30

“I get what we’re supposed to achieve, but what are we supposed to do?”

--A U.S. military junior officer, regarding General Petraeus' counterinsurgency plans; image from


A) Oliver Stone: 'US Has Become An Orwellian State' - Video By RT: "Americans are living in an Orwellian state argue Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick, as they sit down with us to discuss US foreign policy and the Obama administration's disregard for the rule of law." Via AJ

b) To Sell A War_ Gulf War Propaganda (1992) 1of 2.mp4 -

c) WWII propaganda - Elbeeb, "A while ago I found a website that had a bunch of Soviet WWII propaganda cartoons on it. Some of them were even translated into English. Here are the only 2 cartoons I have complete copies of. Enjoy!"


Kerry’s ‘realist’ approach slips into callousness - Jeff Jacoby, "[O]n the whole, Kerry prizes order and stability over liberty and human rights. He prefers to accommodate and engage America’s foes than to deem them enemies who must be defeated.

He thought the horrors of 9/11 justified not a military war on terror, but better 'intelligence gathering, law enforcement, public diplomacy.' During his run for the White House in 2004, Kerry told The Washington Post that 'as president he would play down the promotion of democracy' — not because he denied the lack of freedom in places like Pakistan, China, and Russia, but because other issues 'trumped human rights concerns in those nations.' Again and again, Kerry has shown a remarkable indulgence toward the world’s thugs and totalitarians." Kerry image from article

US meddling in Middle East creates more problems than it solves - "George W. Bush unveiled his plan to spread democracy in the Middle East – from Pakistan to Morocco – in 2004. The United States decided to implement the plan despite the criticism from many other Western countries. The propaganda of democracy resulted in blood shed in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bush did not achieve his goal; Barack Obama has not suggested anything new yet.

If the US administration does not change its politics, both the Middle East and the United States will have to face a serious dangerPravda.Ru reports. ... Outside the far Left, commentators from all major newspapers, radio and television stations have variously characterized the US response to events in Egypt as irrational, irresponsible, catastrophic, stupid, blind, treacherous, and terrifying. They have pointed out that the Obama administration’s behavior – as well as that of many of its prominent conservative critics – is liable to have disastrous consequences for the US’s other authoritarian Arab allies, for Israel and for the US itself. Here are the top five challenges. ... 2. Public Diplomacy; While many policy choices of the past cannot be undone (read: the war in Iraq), continuing and emerging issues must be handled with care; such as the continued use of drone strikes and the existence of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay." Image from entry

With VOA Korean and RFA Korean busy competing with each other, "US officials" want BBC to start a Korean service - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Think tank: Israel's poor international image not the fault of failed hasbara: Study finds that Israel's advocacy effort has become one of the world's most efficient and productive, but Israel nevertheless suffers from an image problem - which is rather a product of the Israeli government's policies - Barak Ravid, "[A] new research study conducted by Molad, the Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy ... acknowledges that Israeli advocacy can indeed be improved, but it refutes the claim that Israel's advocacy campaign is ineffective. In fact, the study says, in the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War, Israel's advocacy effort has become one of the world's most efficient and productive in the world - and far more efficacious than the campaigns waged by anti-Israel organizations. While the

Molad study notes that Israel does indeed suffer from an image problem, the reason for this, the study argues, does not lie with faulty advocacy. ... [T]he study concludes that 'the sweeping criticism leveled against Israeli advocacy is detached from reality - the advocacy problem is nothing but a myth. If Israel suffers from diplomatic isolation and a bad image in the world, the reason for this is not laden in faulty advocacy.' 'Instead of dealing with the connection between the policies of Israel's government and the country's image in the world,' it continues, 'a myth is taking hold, one which stresses an 'advocacy problem' caused by anti-Israel organizations and institutions which exploit double standards and even anti-Semitic tendencies in the international community in order to damage Israel.'" Image from

Anti Zionist Blog By ‘Jews Sans Frontieres’ - “They say Brendan O’Neill is a Telegraph hasbara blogger. So now I want to know what Hasbara is.  Is it a cultural tradition, I wonder. Well, Palestinians have posted about Hasbara Bingo.  I’m a bit behind the loop having spent too much time on Savile and matters relating to Savile.  I turn to hasbarabusterblogspot. ‘The standard hasbara answer is….’  No, still no nearer. Web Definition:  ‘Israel’s public diplomacy efforts are called hasbara in Hebrew.’ Ah, I see….  It’s semantics.”

Defense Department officials to ta juicy couture u abercrombie and fitch [sic] - "[I]nterview with Foreign Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defense Qian Lihua ... Q: Western public opinion is mixed evaluation of our army, military and diplomatic What efforts made for the shape of our military image? A: In recent years, our military has made great efforts to strengthen the outreach, institutional mechanisms, methods and means to take a number of innovative initiatives, military soft power construction has made remarkable progress.

Military diplomacy is an important window display of our military image, every one of the officers and men in the foreign exchanges ambassador. Our military leaders attach importance to public diplomacy work, many occasions during his visit, a speech, an interview and discussion seminar on national defense policy and army building, and actively respond to external concerns. Foreign public and the media spoke highly of our military leaders, that the Chinese army has a high level of professionalism." Image from; translation: Our Friend China: Dictionary/Reference [1959]

Diplomat steps up to post in world's biggest democracy - Joe Kelly, The Australian: "Career diplomat Patrick Suckling will become Australia's next top man in India after being appointed high commissioner to the world's largest democracy. The appointment is one of Australia's highest-level international postings, with Mr Suckling

being entrusted with the management of Australia's burgeoning economic and political ties following Julia Gillard's attempt to deepen relations during her well-received October visit to New Delhi. Foreign Minister Bob Carr yesterday said Mr Suckling would take up the position in New Delhi next month, replacing Peter Varghese who has been charged with running the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. ... 'Mr Suckling is an accomplished career diplomat with expertise in policy development, public diplomacy and consular service,' Senator Carr said yesterday." Suckling image from


Good year in Washington: Bill and Hillary Clinton - Chris Cillizza, Washington Post: Hillary Clinton is leaving her post as secretary of state as a beloved figure in many circles, hailed as a dedicated public servant, an able diplomat and, by many, as the heavy favorite to be the next president of the United States.

Somewhat amazingly, her Teflon image wasn’t scratched by the controversy over the death of four American diplomats on Sept. 11 in Benghazi, Libya — an episode that cost Susan Rice her chance at being secretary of state. Image from article, with caption: America’s favorite political couple is more popular than ever

Drones for South Korea - Editorial, New York Times: Equipping South Korea with drones that could reach all of North Korea could increase the risk of inadvertent war during a crisis. To guard against that threat, there would need to be close American-South Korean coordination. Keeping the pressure on North Korea, including the use of sanctions, is important. But the administration, wedded to an ineffective approach called “strategic patience,” also needs to look for ways to re-engage North Korea. South Korea’s new president-elect, Park Geun-hye, has expressed interest in resuming a dialogue with the North. President Obama should support and follow that example.

You Say 2012 Was Bad? - A shroud of anxiety hangs over the coming year in Afghanistan. It’s not only the country’s war-weary civilians who are beset with trepidation and uncertainty—even the Taliban are uncharacteristically worried. The people of Pakistan next door are bracing for trouble as well. To be sure, the Afghan insurgents unabashedly welcome the impending U.S. troop drawdown.

Maybe now they can start to regroup and regain some of the momentum they’ve lost over the past three years. At the same time, however, they’re acutely aware that their ranks have been decimated, while the Americans have worked overtime to transform the Afghan National Army into a credible fighting force. The Taliban’s propaganda department keeps claiming that the ANA is a laughably hollow threat, unable to fill the vacuum left by the departing Western troops. But privately, the guerrillas in the field aren’t sure which side is stronger now. Image from article, with caption: Afghan National Army cadets secure the perimeter as smoke bombs, simulating detonated IED's cover the area during a Taliban capture military exercise, overseen by French and Canadian soldiers, at the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC) on November 13, 2012 in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Outraged Utah Family Speaks out against Russian Adoption Ban - Vinny and Dana DiGirolamo of Draper, Utah, recently interviewed on Fox-13 News, expressed new feelings of outrage and dismay at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s deaf ear as he approved the ban on American adoptions. They have eleven children of which three were adopted from Russia in 2002. The DiGirolamos have presented their Russian adoption story at adoption seminars with Catholic Charities, spoken at Latter-day Saint firesides and other adoption forums promoting international adoptions. Dana DiGirolamo appealed, “These are children we’re talking about here! All they want is a family to love and nurture them. When they turn eighteen in Russia, they are turned out on the street. Many have no extended family to help them out and what else do they have but to turn to a life of despair, drugs and prostitution. We know this firsthand. It’s not propaganda.” She continued, “Despite what the Russian government has done, we don’t believe the Russian people want this for their children either. We’ve seen the Russian protestors on the news and we remain connected through Skype and Facebook with our adopted daughter’s extended Russian families. We love them and they love us for what we were able to do for their family. What more can anyone ask for?”

Foundations of Holocaust: American eugenics and the Nazi connection - As early as 1928, five years before Hitler, American eugenics was enthusiastically providing the Reich America’s Aryan Master Race goal, and the means by which Germany too could achieve it.

Image from entry, with caption: Propaganda for Nazi Germany's T-4 Euthanasia Program: "This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the community 60,000 Reichsmark during his lifetime. Fellow German, that is your money, too." from the Office of Racial Policy's” Neues Volk

Taming the Behemoth: A New Social Psychology of the Masses - Anthony F. Castriota, Arguably the most influential thinker and founder of the emerging social theory of political psychology in the early years of the 20th century was Walter Lippmann, a veteran journalist who was intimately involved in the U.S. government's propaganda campaign during World War I. After the war, the publication of his seminal work Public Opinion created a sensation in the political and intellectual community. His concise critique of representational democracy, as well as those who aspired to the establishment of a more direct participation of the public in politics, set the groundwork for how democracy was to be discussed for years to come and the central issues of its consideration as a viable form of governance. It is probably warranted to claim that Lippmann more than any other figure of the time established political science as a proper academic discipline. Lippmann's social prescription comprised a modernized "Platonic" outlook in which highly trained experts from specialized fields with the assistance of a sophisticated technical media network would be employed to effectively disseminate information without the distorting intrusion of public prejudice. Experts were designated as the newest version of the "philosopher-kings" who would be able to distinguish true Form from the transient shortcomings of public opinion (the senses), enabling leaders as well as the public access to reliable information upon which to make informed decisions that fell beyond their immediately experienced environments. Within the program of this analysis, which constituted the "manufacture of consent" as Lippmann famously phrased it, was a strong critique against long-held beliefs about democracy and the underlying philosophy of the Panopticon. Under Bentham, the Panopticon was a physical space so constructed as to permit constant surveillance of its occupants/prisoners. Lippmann moved the Panopticon into the very composition of the human mind as Plato had in his famous metaphysical allegory.

In the dim light of the Cave, one can only see the shadows on the wall and we are chained to the floor, unable to turn about. For some individuals, there is a way to freedom but society, and more specifically public action, would be forever bound. Lippmann's argument, if conceded, comes to the conclusion that ". . . those thinkers of the Eighteenth Century who designed the matrix of democracy. . . had a pale god, but warm hearts, and in the doctrine of popular sovereignty they found the answer to their need of an infallible origin for the new social order. There was the mystery, and only enemies of the people touched it with profane and curious hands." Lippmann's project demanded that he trespass into that "sacrosanct mystery" however. His assessment was that stereotypes made the masses incapable of competent decision-making on issues that were removed from the immediate and tangible realities of their own local environment. These decisions had to be managed and communicated through the applicable mechanisms of propaganda, especially when many of these issues were not even known to the public previously. Lippmann image from entry

How to tell War Propaganda [includes videos] - Rayn Gryphon: War Propaganda is distinguishable by the use of fear in order to put forth loosely supported evidence that suggests the reasonable necessity for violent military action or intervention.

Future Obama Administration Propaganda Posters - PatriotUSA. Image from article

Propaganda - Ray Pensador, To not only counteract the effects of mass media propaganda at an individual level (you), but at a collective level, it seems that the first step would be to become aware of the propaganda: who is behind it; what methods are used to spread it, and the reasons behind it; and what effects it has on the citizenry.


"I wanna be instamatic
I wanna be a frozen pea
I wannna be dehydrated
In a consumer society"

--X-Ray Spex: Art-I-Ficial; image from

Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 29

"I'm a 'None.'"

--What pollsters call Americans who respond on national surveys to the question "What is your religious affiliation?"; image from


Hillary Clinton And John Kerry: Style And Substance – Analysis - Eurasia Review: "Ms. Condoleezza Rice, who was Secretary of State during the second term of Mr. George Bush, and Mrs. Clinton were different from the traditional cold war style of Secretaries of State that one had seen before them. They realized that they had to operate in a world that had changed and that continued to change after the end of the Cold War and that the old style of policy-making, execution and projection that served the US well during the days of the Cold War, would no longer serve it well. They diluted the elitist tradition that dominated the functioning and thinking of the US State Department before them. Public diplomacy and greater policy maker-people interaction became their defining characteristics. They discarded the traditional aloofness of US foreign policy makers and encouraged their staff in the State Department to do so too. Mrs. Clinton was the most out-going and transparent Secretary of State that the US has had who never hesitated to speak her mind out whether to China or Pakistan or other countries.

She could be blunt without being unpleasant in her interactions with her counterparts from other countries. One had a glimpse of her quintessential style of public diplomacy during her town hall interactions with selected members of the civil society in Kolkata earlier this year moderated by Barkha Dutt of NDTV. Mr. Kerry is as knowledgeable as Ms. Rice and Mrs. Clinton and his expertise in moulding policies is considerable. But in a commentary on Mr. Kerry after he was nominated by Mr. Obama, the BBC described him as 'deliberate and strategic' in thinking, but secretive in style. A commentary by the 'Christian Science Monitor' drew attention to Mr. Kerry’s past reputation of elitist aloofness. Many commentators feel that public or people-to-people diplomacy of the kind in which Mrs. Clinton excelled as we saw in Kolkata does not come naturally to Mr. Kerry. It is said that Mrs. Clinton was an excellent team manager in running the State Department. One has misgivings whether Mr. Kerry would be an equally good and warm team manager. ... While the style of Mr. Kerry could be different from that of Mrs. Clinton, in substance one is unlikely to see any changes in foreign policy except in nuances in relation to China and Pakistan." Image (Kerry, U.S. UN Ambassador Susan Rice, Clinton) from

Lt. Col. Ralph Peters: Something is fundamentally wrong with the media in this country [video] - The Right Scoop: "This is a great segment with Lt. Col. Ralph Peters responding to the fact that those in the State Dept. who were supposedly canned after the Bengahzi report came out were actually reassigned to different offices or something. Peters says that the reason they weren’t canned is that the Obama administration is afraid of these people actually telling the truth, so instead of agitating them they pet them softly in another office. And to that point, Peters says, the lack of media interest in this entire Benghazi scandal where 4 people needlessly died and the Obama administration lied points to the fact that there is a fundamental problem with the media in this country. He says the media are more concerned with a stray kitten than Benghazi. ... [reader comment:] Ralph Peters just can't adjust to reality. In a USAToday op-ed, he thinks the Sunnis are now our buddies - 'Paradoxically, our former enemies, Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgents,..' - despite the fact that 93% of them think it's ok to attack coalition forces. He then calls the Anbar Awakening the 'greatest American public diplomacy triumph since the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001' but neglects to point out how our public diplomacy played any role. Continuing with his cheerleading, Peters writes this counter-factual, 'We're not the enemy anymore,' when 57% of Iraqis think it's OK to attack coalition forces. I guess USAToday doesn't do much fact-checking. Posted by Steve J."

Young Up-and-coming Journalists of Uruguay Tour US Media Houses - Open Equal Free: "On winning the 'Youth Correspondents of Uruguay' initiative, organized by the U.S. Embassy of Uruguay, Helen Bernatzky, along with three other Uruguayan female correspondents, visited The Washington Post, Voice of America, and the Foreign Press Center as part of a reward trip.
The competition was organized to promote journalism as a career in Uruguay. In the first round, participants wrote an essay connecting the provinces they came from with the United States of America. 18 out of 400 teenagers were selected for the second round that was comprised a four-part intensive seminar series.

Over the course of the year, the selected students interacted with professional journalists, TV station personnel, politicians, U.S. envoys, and photojournalists. While they learned the tricks of the trade, each participant was given a netbook, a video camera, a bag, and a jacket with the program’s logo. Finally, the four winners, Helena Barnetzky, Manuela García, Georgina Kluver, and Cynthia Rocha, were celebrated at the ambassador’s residence and were awarded with a trip to several media houses in USA. They also got the opportunity to meet the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Tara Sonenshine, without whom this enriching initiative could not have been possible." Image from article

Go West Young Woman: Grad School at DU - "The great thing about working in and with the career office is that I’ve had my eyes open to all the things that a DU grad can do with their degree. Nonprofits, federal and state government jobs, and even the private sector are looking for people like us. And especially since our undergraduate work study guys are awesome and constantly posting job and internship opportunities on the KorbelCareers site, you have a constantly updated database of places that are hiring. So, when someone is all, can’t you just work in an embassy somewhere with that degree, you can be, oh no

girlfriend, I can save babies in Africa by sending them clean medical supplies or work with immigrants helping them adjust to living in America or start a nonprofit to do what I’m passionate about or be a research analyst for the CIA or State Department or private company looking to go global. And while I’m not 100% sure about what life after graduation holds for me, I know I have options. Next quarter I’m taking International Development in Cross-Cultural Perspectives, Reading the Arab Spring, and Practical Public Diplomacy. That’s what I love about DU." Image from, with caption DU [University of Denver] cheerleading team.


Matt Damon’s anti-fracking propaganda film financed by oil-rich United Arab Emirates - Lachlan Markay, A new film starring Matt Damon presents American oil and natural gas producers as money-grubbing villains purportedly poisoning rural American towns. It is therefore of particular note that it is financed in part by the royal family of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates. The creators of Promised Land have gone to absurd lengths to vilify oil and gas companies, as Scribe’s Michael Sandoval noted Wednesday. Since recent events have demonstrated the relative environmental soundness of hydraulic fracturing – a technique for extracting oil and gas from shale formations – Promised Land’s script has been altered to make doom-saying environmentalists the tools of oil companies attempting to discredit legitimate “fracking” concerns. While left-leaning Hollywood often targets supposed environmental evildoers, Promised Land was also produced “in association with” Image Media Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media, according to the preview’s list of credits.

A spokesperson with DDA Public Relations, which runs PR for Participant Media, the company that developed the film fund backing Promised Land, confirmed that AD Media is a financier. The company is wholly owned by the government of the UAE. The UAE, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has a stake in the future of the American fossil fuel industry. Hydraulic fracturing has increased the United States’ domestic supply of crude oil and natural gas in areas such as the Bakken shale formation and has the potential to increase domestic production much more in the foreseeable future. That means more oil on the market, and hence lower prices for a globally traded commodity. Fracking is boosting the country’s natural gas supply as well. While the market for American natural gas is primarily domestic, the Energy Department recently approved Cheniere Energy’s plan to export about 2.2 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas per day from Louisiana. The Department is considering LNG export applications from seven other companies. Image from entry

State Dept. pulls ambassador from Central African Republic - By Kristina Wong, Washington Times: The U.S. has suspended embassy operations in the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, due to concerns about the security of its personnel amid a rebel uprising, the State Department announced Friday. Ambassador Lawrence D. Wohlers and his diplomatic staff left Bangui on Friday with several private U.S. citizens, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said, adding that diplomatic relations with the have not been suspended.

Image from article, with caption: In this frame grab taken from APTN footage from Dec. 27, 2012, Central African Republic President Francois Bozize addresses crowds in Bangui. The president urgently called on France and other foreign powers to help his government fend off rebels who are quickly seizing territory and approaching the capital of Bangui.

A package deal on Iran and Syria - Jim Hoagland, Washington Post: Syria’s impending implosion is coming to a head just as President Obama runs out of time on his promise to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran’s hands. His last best hope may now lie in linking the two crises in bargaining with Russia and Iran, Assad’s two most important foreign backers.

Defectors Say Syrian State Journalists 'Kill with Words' - Naharnet: Lama al-Khadra summed up her work for Radio Damascus with a grim phrase: "Our mission was to kill with words." Along with two other journalists for the state-run radio station, Khadra met with journalists in Paris on Friday after the three fled to France to join with opponents of President Bashar Assad's regime.

Now hoping to set up a pro-opposition station to counter regime propaganda, the three described a climate of fear and paranoia within state media that have remained loyal to Assad amid an uprising that has left more than 45,000 dead. Uncaptioned image from article

Piling on Syria - Stephen Lendman, Western-recruited Islamofascist killers are US favorites. They committed mass murder and horrific atrocities since last year. Washington, other Western countries, and regional rogues arm, fund, train, direct, and encourage them. On December 21, Russia Today interviewed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Moscow isn't "in the business of regime change," he said. He categorically rejects notions about Russia granting Assad asylum. He condemned Western double standards. So-called friends are terrorists, he said. They're ravaging Syria.

Dwindling Adoptions - Charles M. Blow, New York Times: When Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, signed a law on Friday banning the adoption of Russian children by Americans, it brought the issue of international adoptions by United States citizens back into the spotlight. As it turns out, the number of international adoptions by Americans has been falling for years. American adoptions from Russia in particular fell from a high of nearly 6,000 children in 2004 to fewer than 1,000 in 2011.

Putin signs law banning US adoptions - Posted by AFP, President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed into law a ban on the adoption of Russian children by American families that activists slammed for making orphans pawns in a diplomatic row between Moscow and Washington. The law — retaliation for a US law punishing Russian officials implicated in the 2009 prison death of the whistle-blowing attorney Sergei Magnitsky — will take effect on January 1, the Kremlin said in a statement. The United States reacted with disappointment. Russia’s foreign ministry decried in a statement what it called a US “propaganda campaign” against the adoption ban, saying that 19 deaths of Russian children adopted by Americans since 1996 is “only a tip of an iceberg."

The Afghan Dilemma: ‘Different guns, different uniforms, but it’s the same war’ - Vladic Ravich and Olga Belogolova, The Globe and Mail: It is early in the afternoon, but Igor Yerin has to turn on the lights – he doesn’t get many visitors to the tiny Soviet Afghanistan War Museum he manages on the outskirts of Moscow. This weekend, however, veterans will gather here to commemorate the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the last week of December, 1979. On display are bullet-riddled helmets, crutches and even soldiers’ guitars, along with photographs of mine-sniffing German shepherds and leaflets showing the rebel mujahedeen being given money by American agents. This is obviously wartime propaganda, but based on fact: Russians often remind American visitors that the U.S. financed and armed Osama bin Laden and his fellow rebels during their war of resistance. A striking difference between the wars was the Soviet Union’s consistent efforts to display Soviet and Afghan unity.

The peak of this propaganda was in the final years of the war, just before Soviet forces had to withdraw from the quagmire. A celebrated Afghan combat pilot named Abdul Ahad Momand was chosen for cosmonaut training and launched into space for nine days in 1988. Stamps, books, posters and pins were produced to show the union of these neighboring nations, even as they were locked in a war of attrition. By the time the war was lost, the cosmonaut was a member of the Soviet-installed cabinet and had to flee to Germany. According to Mr. Yerin, the stigma of co-operation would endanger all Afghans. Image from, with caption: International Joint Space Flight with Afghanistan members

BBC World News (the 24/7 TV channel) gets US distribution boost with Time Warner deal - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

China takes new steps to "make the internet clean again" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

The year of Twitter - Imane Kurdi, Twitter is highly democratic; everyone has the chance to reach the whole world through the power of 140 characters. It is free and devoid of political affiliation, a perfect platform for anyone with a message to disseminate. Gone are the days when you needed to write a press release, send it to news agencies, which would then pass it on to newspapers and broadcasters, who would then decide whether or not to use it to produce news content. Now you can contact the public directly at the press of a button. A great platform for disseminating information is also a great platform for propaganda as the Israelis showed us in November when they live-tweeted their attacks on Gaza. Seeing the Israelis post pictures and videos of them bombing and killing their “targets” was sickening. Of course this kind of footage has long been available online and terrorists of all kinds love posting gruesome pictures of their actions, but seeing those images on Twitter was different because it brought it into the mainstream.

Photos: Xi Jinping propaganda makes him look normal, handsome - Beth Main, Recently Xinhua has taken to posting photos of senior officials, including Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, to emphasise their human sides.

It's a pity that Xinhua also published a set of photo-shopped images of Li Keqiang (awkward face), but they're doing a much better job a propagandising Xi Jinping's past (and his dashing good looks). More pictures of Xi Jinping 'before he was famous'. Uncaptioned image from entry, but presumably of Xi Jinping

Wave of nationalism sweeps through Northeast Asia - Barbara Demick, Both Koreas soon will be governed by the progeny of Cold War strongmen. China is in the hands of the son of one of Mao Zedong’s revolutionary comrades. The new prime minister of Japan is a long-standing hawk and the grandson of one of Japan’s war cabinet leaders. The future is looking uninspiringly like the past in Northeast Asia. And although few (other than doomsday theorists) are predicting another war, the alignment of new leaders seems likely to cause some bumps in the year ahead. Perhaps the least overtly militant of the new crop of leaders is Park, who was elected on Wednesday in South Korea, a country where the left tends to be more nationalistic.

But the 60-year-old Park carries her own historical baggage as the daughter of Park Chung-hee, the fiercely anti-Communist leader who seized power in 1961 and ruled until his assassination in 1979. Although Park has also pledged to improve relations with Pyongyang, which deteriorated during the last five years, it might not be so simple. If past patterns hold true, North Korea will welcome the new administration in Seoul with a provocation, such as a nuclear test or a skirmish at sea. During the South Korean presidential campaign, Pyongyang’s propaganda machine lashed out at Park, its official news service sniping that “a dictator’s bloodline cannot change away from its viciousness.” Late Thursday the North Korean news service reported the news of Park’s electoral victory in a one-sentence dispatch saying that the ruling party candidate “was elected with a slim margin.” The report did not mention her name. Uncaptioned image from article

Kingdom of Kitsch: The oversize public monuments and buildings in the capital of North Korea confirm the subservience of the citizen to the state and display the ghastly aesthetic imperatives of totalitarian art - Eric Gibson, Wall Street Journal: Browse the travel section of any bookstore and along with old reliables such as Michelin you'll find a plethora of other titles and brands covering just about every destination and taste. Surely the strangest addition to this genre is the two-volume "Architectural and Cultural Guide: Pyongyang," edited by Philipp Meuser, a German architect and architectural historian.

Strange because Pyongnang is unlikely to be on anyone's "see before you die" list and because, even if it were, it's not an easy place to see. The capital of the Hermit Kingdom receives only a few hundred visitors a year, the bulk of them officially sanctioned and accompanied every step of the way by government minders. The book is not so much a Baedeker—there are no transportation tips, no business hours, no walking tours or other standard guidebook information—as an attempt to parse a city that Mr. Meuser describes as "an architectural cabinet of curiosities. . . . arguably the world's best preserved open-air museum of socialist architecture." One day the regime will fall and democracy will come to North Korea. We can only hope that, when it does, the successor government will preserve the monumental, public, propagandistic Pyongyang in all its perverse glory. It would be a real tourist destination, the world's only totalitarian-kitsch theme park—a kind of lopsided Disneyworld—and an object lesson in what happens when art is hijacked by the state, and the individual is ground beneath the wheels of a repressive ideology. Image from article, with caption: The Grand Monument on Mansu Hill features a 60-foot statue of Kim Il-sung; a sculpture celebrating the founding of the Communist Party

Love Lists? We've Got 'Em, For Better and Worse - Anita Huslin and Mark Memmott, "2012's Top 5 Craziest World News Stories," from CBS News. And, of course, The Onion fooling China's Communist Party newspaper into thinking that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is the world's sexiest may is on that list.

Image from article, with caption:  The mysterious, most-interesting, super-sexy North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (And if you believe all that, you may be reading too many reports from Chinese media.)

It’s a Wonderful Life: Commie Propaganda? - Donald R. McClarey, Hard to believe, but there was an FBI report in 1947 that deemed It’s a Wonderful Life as Communist propaganda. [From a memorandum] "To: The Director D.M. Ladd COMMUNIST INFILTRATION OF THE MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY (RUNNING  MEMORANDUM) There is submitted herewith the running memorandum concerning Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry which has been brought up to date as of May 26, 1947….

With regard to the picture “It’s a Wonderful Life”, [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a “scrooge-type” so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists. ..." Ironically, Frank Capra, the director of the film, was a life long conservative Republican, as was the star of the picture, Jimmy Stewart. Image from

Borgias got a bad press, book claims: A new book that draws on documents in the Vatican Secret Archive tries to debunk some of the darkest stories about the much-maligned Borgias - Nick Squires, In The Borgias: The Black Legend, Mario Dal Bello, an Italian historian and journalist, argues that the notorious Renaissance clan were the unfair victims of disinformation and propaganda fuelled by the rivalry of other power hungry families. Lucretia Borgia has also been the victim of five centuries of misinformation, said Mr Dal Bello.

She is portrayed as a scheming vamp who indulged in incest and intrigue at court. In reality she was "an exemplary wife" who later devoted herself to helping the poor in the city of Ferrara. "When Lucretia died at the age of 39 in 1519, as a result of the birth of her eighth child, the whole of Ferrara mourned," said Mr Dal Bello. "Even her third husband, who had married her for political reasons, was destroyed. Her last words were 'I'm forever a servant of God'." Much of the black propaganda about her was spread by her first husband, Giovanni Sforza, who was left embittered after Alexander VI engineered the dissolution of his marriage to Lucretia. The Borgias may have used poison to dispose of their enemies, but so did every powerful family at the time, Mr. Dal Bello writes in his book. Nor was it unusual for popes of the time to have wives and mistresses, as Pope Alexander did – he fathered eight children by at least three women. Image from article, with caption: Jeremy Irons stars as Rodrigo Borgia in The Borgias.

Conversation: A Word Signifying Nothing - Robert J. Mack, American Thinker: Next time you hear a politician or a news analyst use the word "conversation," be very afraid. That word has become the weapon of choice used by the propaganda specialists in politics and media to bamboozle the American people. You will know that in that "conversation" no one won the debate with a vigorous defense of the facts, no minds were changed, and nothing of significance happened.


"In America the articulate use of language is often regarded with suspicion."

--British actor Daniel Day-Lewis; cited in Richard Pells, Modernist America: Art, Music, Movies and the Globalization of American Culture (2011), p. 372


Image from, with caption: Personal defense instructor Jim McCarthy shows Cori Sorensen, a fourth-grade teacher from Highland Elementary School, how to hold a .357 magnum revolver during concealed weapons training for 200 teachers on Dec. 27 in West Valley City, Utah 

Image from, with note: I feel there is basically 2 types of drug user. One type uses drugs such as ganja, mushrooms, ecstasy, LSD or amphetamines for recreational purposes, just like someone might like going skydiving at the weekends, that type might take ecstasy at weekends. This type of drug use is not without risks (but then nor is skydiving) but is fundamentally different from the other sort of use. The other type uses drugs such as heroin or crack cocaine. This type often use needles and are addicted. This type of drug use is out of control and has taken over a person’s life.

Friday, December 28, 2012

December 28

"What is postwar Iraq going to look like, with the Kurds and the Sunnis and the Shiites? That’s a huge question, to my mind. It really should be part of the overall campaign plan."

--Recently deceased Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the seemingly no-nonsense Desert Storm commander; Schwarzkopf image from


Completed Evaluations - [State Department] Bureau Of Educational And Cultural Affairs: Promoting Mutual Understanding: "The Division’s evaluation projects are large-scale, 18- to 24-month studies designed to assess outcome achievement and long-term impacts, with respect to overall State Department, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and program goals. The evaluations are retrospective, examine cross-cutting themes, and employ both quantitative and qualitative research methods, including surveys, focus groups, interviews, and document review.

If after reading the one-page and/or executive summary, you are interested in a copy of the full report, please contact us on email at Recent Evaluations + Journalism and Media Exchange Programs + English ACCESS Microscholarship Program + Fulbright Visiting Student Program + Global Connections and Exchanges Program + Jazz Ambassadors Program + Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES)[.]" Image from

Balkh Media Information Center - "Category Explanation: Public Diplomacy [;] Expected Number of Awards: 1 [;] Estimated Total Program Funding: $250,000 ... CFDA Number(s): 19.501 -- Public Diplomacy Programs for Afghanistan and Pakistan... Description [:] The Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan announces an open competition for assistance awards through this Request for Grant Proposals (RFGP). PAS invites all eligible organizations to submit a proposal to establish a Media Information Center (MIC) based in the governor’s office of Balkh Province. The grant’s goals will be achieved by strengthening provincial capacity to engage in proactive, effective, and truthful outreach to both public and private media. This solicitation calls for the establishment of the regional Media Information Center (MIC) to include staffing, training, operations, and equipment to provide initial assistance in disseminating accurate and timely information—especially on governance and development success stories that extend the Afghanistan narrative beyond security issues and create a sense of national unity."

Review: "The Last Three Feet: Case Studies in Public Diplomacy" - Pat Kushlis, Foreign Service Journal.

Image from

Fact Sheet – The United States Information Agency – American Security Project: “The United States Information Agency (USIA) ran America’s public diplomacy efforts from 1953 until it was disbanded in 1999. What did it do?

Who were the key figures? Whatever happened to it? This fact sheet takes a look at some of these issues, telling a brief history of the program and how public diplomacy is operated today. Download the report here or view below.” Image from

Report: Embattled RFE/RL president Steven Korn will depart - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Music Time in Africa Time in America: public radio report on VOA's Leo Sarkisian - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Hispasat removes Iranian international channels Press TV and Hispan TV - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Actress, diplomat among Ottawa High hall of fame inductees - "An actress, Wake Forest professor of physiology and pharmacology and an accomplished military veteran and diplomat are among the seven individuals and one basketball team selected as inductees to the 2013 class to the Ottawa Township High School [Illinois] Hall of Fame. ... He [Bill Bach] joined the Foreign Service and was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria. After returning to Washington D.C. in 1981, he worked in a number of positions with the U.S. Information Agency, and with the National Security Council, publishing during that time several articles in foreign policy journals while completing a Master’s degree in International Public Policy at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

He was later assigned to Bonn, Germany working with two U.S. ambassadors on short-range nuclear deterrence and détente, assisting with German unification after the fall of the Berlin Wall and dismantling of the U.S.S.R. and the Warsaw Bloc. Bach concluded his diplomatic career with an assignment with the State Department as director for public diplomacy and public affairs for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs." Image from

A facebook comment on V. Pozner, a USSR-USA "public diplomacy advocate" - John Brown, Notes and Essays: "Known to some aged American TV audiences, Vladimir Pozner (he was on a U.S. television talk-show decades ago the name of which I can't remember), is a not-so-amiable, soft-talking chameleon/survivor/fellow traveler from Communist Russia

from whom I had to endure a silly question on 'why Americans are fat' (we have enough to eat, I said), at a-made-for-Russian-TV session at a U.S. NGO involved in promoting U.S. -Russian understanding, years after the "capitalist vs. Commie" ideological conflagration/nonsense was over. It turns out that Russian apparatchiki are no longer willing to subsidize good ol' -- supposedly thin -- now head-shaven Vlad." Pozner image from


John Kerry Smart Choice For Smart Power - Caroline Espinosa, The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition released this statement from Executive Director Liz Schrayer on President Obama’s nomination of Senator John Kerry for Secretary of State: “Senator Kerry is a smart choice for a world that needs a smart power agenda.  He has been a strong leader in making sure the State Department, USAID, and other civilian agencies have the resources they need to keep our country safe

and our economy strong.  As one of the most respected foreign policy leaders with a stellar security background, Senator Kerry will bring strong leadership to build on the Secretary Clinton’s legacy of elevating diplomacy and development in our foreign policy to ensure America’s leadership in the world.  Our vast coalition of business, NGO, military, and faith-based leaders stands ready to work with Senator Kerry to build a better, safer, and more prosperous world.” Click here for complete smart power profiles on Senator Kerry. The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition ( is a broad-based influential network of 400 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic and community leaders in all 50 states who support a smart power approach of elevating development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world. Image from, with caption: John Kerry and his PCF94 crew in '69

After facing up to world of change, 
Clinton leaves a legacy of caution - Guy Taylor, The Washington Times: Mrs. Clinton has visited more nations — 112, according to the official count — and spoken to more foreign populations than any U.S. secretary of state in history. Impressive as that may be, her critics say Mrs. Clinton has fallen far short of making much of an impact on several foreign policy challenges facing the United States, not to mention the fate of democracy around the world. Mrs. Clinton’s admirers say she has sought tirelessly to redefine U.S. foreign policy away from government-to-government “talks” and toward direct interaction with foreign citizenry.

Russian ban on U.S. adoptions meant to cast Americans as abusers - Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times: Anyone unfamiliar with the hyperbole of post-Cold War politics might be perplexed by Moscow’s move to outlaw American adoption of Russian orphans. More than 60,000 Russian children once condemned to a hellish institutional life have been brought into U.S. homes over the last two decades, most of them suffering disabilities that would have gone untreated had they been left in the Dickensian orphanages of their homeland. The disabled remain victims of stigma in Russia, while a struggling economy and the Stalin-era brand of orphans being “children of the enemies of the people” continue to dissuade Russians from adopting their own unfortunates. But Russians’ inability and unwillingness to take care of their legions of unwanted children is nevertheless the source of deep embarrassment and wounded national pride, Russia experts say.

And having Americans swooping in and rescuing them by the thousands each year nurtures an inferiority complex that has only deepened since the superpower rivalry purportedly ended with the Soviet Union's 1991 breakup. Paul Gregory, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, said Putin’s followers have churned up public animosity toward U.S. adoptions by resurrecting the Soviet-era propaganda tactic of casting the United States as a dangerous and depraved nation. Image from article, with caption: A campaign by Russian lawmakers to cast U.S. adoptive parents as depraved child abusers has stirred up public support for a ban on American adoptions of Russian orphans. A woman stands outside the upper house of the Russian parliament on Wednesday with a poster declaring "Russia! Do not give children to USA."

Taking Syria back from the extremists - Mohammed Alaa Ghanem, Washington Post: The United States must do all it can to bolster the legitimacy of civilian councils and other moderate organizations, including delivering aid through the coalition and regional councils rather than third-party nongovernmental organizations. This would help enable civilians to run their communities and increase the likelihood that a post-Assad Syria will become an inclusive democracy, rather than a failed state.

China closing Web loophole: Virtual private networks, used to penetrate the Great Firewall, are being blocked, reflecting concerns before Xi Jinping takes office as president - David Pierson, Los Angeles Times: For years, China's net censors turned a blind eye to a major loophole. Anyone who wanted access to blocked overseas websites like Twitter, Facebook, and more recently, the New York Times, only needed to download foreign software called a virtual private network (VPN) to circumvent the Great Firewall. But in recent weeks, even these tools have begun to falter, frustrating tech-savvy Chinese and foreign businesspeople who now struggle to access Internet sites as innocuous as and The tightening appears to be part of a broader and continuing campaign by China to rein in the country's Internet, which has nearly 600 million users and challenges the government's monopoly on information. Michael Anti, a Beijing-based critic of Web censorship, believes the current pushback on the Web reflects paranoia over incoming President Xi Jinping's crackdown on official corruption. Local officials could be pressuring propaganda departments to curb freedom of speech online, he said. "Officials hate the Internet," Anti said. "They're afraid of being victims of the anti-corruption campaign."

China looks to meat exports to boost ties to Arab world - William Wan, Washington Post: China’s government has thrown considerable diplomatic and political resources during the past five years into building up Middle East ties. Lavish conferences have been sponsored across the country, ethnic festivals held to celebrate Chinese Muslims’ heritage, and trade delegations sent out from both sides, including

two visits to Saudi Arabia by outgoing Chinese President Hu Jintao. The most recent large-scale event — an economic forum that included high-level dignitaries from China and the United Arab Emirates — took place this fall in Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia. In private conversations on the sidelines, Chinese officials described an overall strategy of outreach to the Middle East that was laid out in broad terms by central authorities, then planned and executed in more detail by local officials. Image from article, with caption: Chinese visitors sit in front a huge screen at a trade fair during the China-Arab State Economy and Trade Summit in Yinchuan, in China's Ningxia region on Sept. 21, 2011.

Politics and the Chinese Language: What Mo Yan's Defenders Get Wrong - Perry Link, Asia Society: Since the 1950s, the Party’s Propaganda Department has disseminated lists of words for the media “to stress” and “to downplay” as political needs come and go,1 and the unchanging assumption has been that this word-engineering helps to “guide thought.” It is crucial to remember that we are speaking of not just any native language but a specific one — Mao-language — which is much more freighted with military metaphors and political biases than most. Mao-language has seeped into daily-life Chinese and is still very much there.

China Tightens Control Over Tibet After Unprecedented Self-Immolations - Michelle FlorCruz, Chinese officials have also taken to countering separatist propaganda with even more propaganda by organizing campaigns condemning self-immolations and continuing to publicly blame the Dalai Lama for the unrest and disruption in the area. However, it is understood among Tibetans that they are protesting against what they see as the erasure of their cultural heritage by the Chinese.

North Korea Does Not Believe in Unicorns: But it does believe in promoting a fanciful version of its own history - Isaac Stone Fish, Adam Cathcart, In early December, the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea's state wire service, provoked much online merriment when it reported that archaeologists had "reconfirmed" an ancient "unicorn lair" in the heart of Pyongyang. The discovery, "associated with legend about King Tongmyong, proves that Pyongyang was a capital city of Ancient Korea," the article claimed.

A Korea scholar quickly debunked that interpretation, explaining that "unicorn" was a mistranslation. The mythical beast was actually a kirin, a four-legged creature with the head of a dragon and the body of a tiger. And it turned out that the North Koreans weren't using the fanciful story to prove that the kirin actually existed. Instead, they were reinstating their claim on the king's birthplace, to remind their people and their neighbours that North Korea was once a great nation, and can be so again. Image from article

Wahhabis launch anti-New Year propaganda in Russia - Radical Islamists in the Russian republic of Tatarstan are urging Muslims to refrain from celebrating the ‘pagan festival’ of New Year claiming it is ‘shirk’ – an unforgivable sin. As the country prepares to celebrate one of its most favorite holidays, Wahhabis have launched an anti-New Year campaign in the Central Russia’s republic, which has a large Muslim population.

Through slogans that appeared in the capital, Kazan, and posts on social networking services, Islamists try to convince believers that New Year is a pagan holiday and those who celebrate it are idolaters. In their view, all the symbols of the holiday – Father Frost and his granddaughter the Snow Maiden, a decorated fir tree and a party (even if it is alcohol-free) – are not appropriate either, writes Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily. Opponents of the celebration stress that it is absolutely unacceptable for men and women – particularly those who are not married – to gather for a feast at the same table. Image from article, with caption: Tatar Santa and Snow Maiden respectively, at their residence in the village of Novy Kyrlai, Tatarstan


Via JB on Facebook

Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 26-27


Femen March Topless in Muslim Area of Paris to Celebrate Boot Camp Opening (Sep 19, 2012) - Gianluca Mezzofiore, Members of the Femen radical feminist group have paraded topless through Paris to celebrate the opening of their new training centre, aimed at teaching feminists how to evade security forces. The Ukrainian women’s group marched half-naked through a predominantly Muslim neighbourhood in Paris’ 18th arrondissement with messages written on their chests including “Muslim, let’s get naked” and “Our God is a woman.”  Via


"Happiness is something we can imagine but not experience."

--Leszek Kołakowski, "Is God Happy?" New York Review of Books; Kołakowski image from article


Afghan Girls Lead Peer Education: Coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs, Dawn L. McCall: DipNote Blog – U.S. Department of State - "The Internet may be important, but it’s not everything. In rural Afghanistan, courageous and talented young women who have never heard of the Internet are using skills today often associated with social media users — initiative, resourcefulness, and social connections — to make tangible contributions to their community. During a recent visit to the Guzara district outside Herat, near Afghanistan’s western border with Iran, I saw teenage girls training themselves in English and leading language classes for their younger peers. These women worked with the Afghan Women Educational and Professional Improvement Organization, an ambitious organization housed in a sparsely furnished three-room office. ... Even though the girls I met don’t use the Internet and have never heard of Facebook, they yearn for information on the world beyond Guzara, particularly English language resources. The modest library offers American and British literature, as well as resources in Farsi, Pashto, and European languages. One of the most popular books in that library, funded by a small public diplomacy grant, was developed and printed locally. It pairs on facing pages the English and Dari versions of speeches by President Obama. The young volunteer teachers use those coupled speeches as one tool to teach American English to local girls. The book has since been augmented by other books on American culture and government in a similar format.

My visit to Guzara drove two lessons home for me. One, English language learning is an aspiration of many students around the world. And two, women can lead their communities to achieve that goal — and many others — through simple means such as access to information, safe study spaces, and networks of peer support. Cross posted from DipNote [entry by Dawn L. McCall], the official blog of the U.S. Department of State." Image from entry, with caption: Dawn L. McCall, Coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs, meets with Afghan teenage girls training themselves in English and leading language classes for their younger peers in the Guzara district outside Herat, Afghanistan, December 2012.

Folk Music Group Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer With BarbaraLamb Tour Asia and the Pacific Islands - Media Note, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC: “Part of American Music Abroad, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced that Kensington, Maryland-based folk group Cathy Fink and  Marcy Marxer, with Barbara Lamb, will tour Asia and the Pacific Islands. Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer have won two GRAMMY® Awards and fourteen consecutive GRAMMY® nominations in folk and children’s music. The trio will tour China Dec. 30 - Jan. 6, Malaysia Jan. 7-17, Vanuatu Jan.18-23 and Papua New Guinea January 23-27. Tour activities will include public concerts, lectures, demonstrations, workshops, media outreach, and collaborations with local musicians. The American Music Abroad program, a partnership with American Voices, sends American musical groups overseas to engage with audiences and communities, especially underserved youth.

This season’s 12 participating American Music Abroad groups were selected from a pool of nearly 300 applicants to travel to more than 40 countries to promote cross-cultural understanding through music. The program builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power,” which embraces the full range of diplomatic tools, including music, to engage people and create opportunities for greater understanding. For more information, please visit ECA Cultural Exchanges. Media contacts: U.S. Department of State (202) 642-6452, and ; Paul Rockower, American Voices (301) 875-8319 [.]Image from

In Bhutan, Conserving The Natural Environment And Biodiversity - "Related Content: DipNote entry by Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine on Take the Pledge: Stop Wildlife Crime."

U.S News and World Report: How the Peace Corps Benefits Diplomatic Security Posted by John Coyne on Wednesday, December 26th 2012 By Robert Nolan (Zimbabwe) - When al Qaeda affiliated terrorists bombed the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998, the gap between what we knew and what the diplomatic corps knew about life in Zimbabwe grew even wider. Like in other capitals cities around the globe, our embassy began to resemble a fortress, with large concrete blocks and an increase in military personnel guarding the building. In 1999, the United States also shut down the United States Information Agency, an independent government body responsible for public diplomacy around the world. Since then, embassies have been further fortified (funding for diplomatic security has risen from $200 million in 1998 to $1.8 billion) and formerly accessible programs carried out by the agency, like helping foreigners study in the United States, providing access to American cultural and political activities, and explaining American policies around the world, have been brought “behind the wall” of the State Department. ... But as we barricade our diplomats further, it’s also worth considering a corresponding increase in funding for nontraditional diplomatic initiatives like the Peace Corps. After all, the two are not mutually exclusive. Many ambassadors and Foreign Service officers cut their teeth in the Peace Corps, where they pick up language and cultural skills critical to successful diplomatic work.

This was certainly the case with Ambassador Stevens, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco during the 1980s, learning Arabic and developing the affinity for Arab culture for which he became so well known and loved. ... The good news is that since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a record number of young people are studying Arabic (some on State Department scholarships) and, thanks in part to slow economic growth, applying to programs like the Peace Corps. As the independent panel findings out this week recommend the State Department boost funding for diplomatic security to the tune of $2.3 billion annually for the next decade, it’s worth noting that the Peace Corps budget has hovered for the past two years at a paltry $375 million. I would propose increasing this funding significantly, with the aim of boosting volunteer activity specifically in the Middle East and North Africa. I would also suggest the creation of a renewed United States Information Agency or similar public diplomacy initiative in the region, not dissimilar from China’s rapidly expanding Confucius Centers based at universities in Asia, Africa and even the United States." Uncaptioned image from entry

This little piggy went to market….No $$$-Money for Benghazi Security [December 26] - Onion Slice, Duck Sauce: "Flanked by grinning men - and women - in navy blue chef coats emblazoned with American flags and the department's official seal. Now Chief of Protocol of the United States, unveiled

the department's new Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, which will 'elevate the role of culinary engagement in America’s formal and public diplomacy efforts.'  Hillary Clinton: 'Better and more effective diplomacy can happen around a dining table than at a conference table.' Notice the announcement date - Sept 11, 2012." Image from entry

Best Places to Work survey shows VOA among worst places to work - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Thoughts for 2013 - M Saeed Khalid, "Somehow, there is no mention of Pakistan’s legitimate concerns about developments in Afghanistan and how the US could try to accommodate those. It must be understood that, as the US and allied forces leave Afghanistan, the Taliban’s need for sanctuaries outside would come down. America should start depending less on anti-Pakistan public diplomacy and seriously try to address more serious issues. The other relationship that merits serious reflection is that with our big neighbour and traditional adversary, India. The accounts one heard from Pakistani participants at the Track II meeting in New Delhi were indeed sobering. Renewing invitations to India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan is an exercise in politeness but nothing more. Pakistan must review its public diplomacy which gives the impression that we are desperate for dialogue with India."

The Israeli Lobby and US Foreign Policy (3-4) - Alfatih Ziada, "[U]nconditional U.S. support

for Israel makes it easier for extremists like bin Laden to rally popular support and to attract recruits. Public opinion polls confirm that Arab populations are deeply hostile to American support for Israel, and the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim world found that 'citizens in these countries are genuinely distressed at the plight of the Palestinians and at the role they perceive the United States to be playing.' ... Modified from John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt." Image from

Israel Wishes You a Merry Christmas? - Eytan Meyersdorf, Sheva: "Why must Israel, a Jewish state founded on Jewish values, voluntarily go out of its way to wish Christians a Happy Christmas? I understand very well the idea of public diplomacy and the political game, but Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu appealing to the Christian world on their holiday will not change the facts on the ground – rather, there is a deeper reasoning behind the message: Jews suffer from an illness of needing acceptance.

The thought process is simple - if we are kind to those who oppose us, we can be friends; however, history has proved differently. The reality is, we have allies, because it is in their best interest to be our allies, and not because we wish them a Merry Christmas. As a citizen of Israel, I do not approve of my country reaching out to those who have caused us so much suffering throughout our history. To most, 'Merry Christmas' is an innocent, kindly message of togetherness, but I will never forget my grandfather explaining to me what Christmas meant for the Jews in Poland, and the fright and terror they experienced when the Christians would go around wreaking havoc and terror upon the Jewish community on their holiday." Image from

IsraHell Recruits ‘Sayanim’ - "For those of you who don’t know, ‘sayanim’ are semi-official agents, usually recruited from Jewish communities abroad, who can at times, be called on to act for Israel [.] Israel [link evidently does not lead to specific article -- JB] has instructed its embassies in 10 European countries, including the UK, each to recruit 1,000 members of the public to act as advocates for its policies in a new public relations offensive. A cable from the foreign affairs ministry was sent to embassies last week, with instructions from Avigdor Lieberman, the controversial and extreme right-wing foreign minister, to adopt a range of measures aimed at improving Israel's standing in Europe. The most unusual was the order to identify up to 1,000 people by mid-January to act as 'allies' to Israel.

One source described them as 'friends who are willing not just to receive messages but to actively promote these messages'. These individuals – likely to be drawn from Jewish or Christian activists, academics, journalists and students – will be briefed regularly by Israeli officials and encouraged to speak up for Israel at public meetings or write letters or articles for the press. ... Israel has previously launched drives to improve its image through hasbara – literally meaning explanation, although alternatively interpreted as public diplomacy, spin or propaganda. During its three-week war on Gaza, which began in December 2008, Israel launched a PR strategy through its national information directorate to co-ordinate key messages on a daily basis. ... The Israeli government, military and various embassies are adept at using social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to promote material. Organisations such as Bicom, the Britain Israel Communications Research Centre, in the UK and the Israel Project in the US, which describe themselves as independent, are dedicated to promoting Israeli policies. Both organisations offer regular briefings, contacts and tours to foreign correspondents based in Israel and Palestine, and all-expenses paid trips to Israel for journalists, including from the Guardian, based elsewhere. Other countries undertake similar PR drives." Image from

Dr. Evil in Israel's corner [subscription only] - Jerusalem Post. According to Google Search, mention of public diplomacy/hasbara.

Close encounters with the IAF [subscription only] - Jerusalem Post, According to Google Search, mention of public diplomacy.

Is Foreign Policy Hypocritical? - Sabah Athar, There's no happily ever after without a bit of heartache: "After juxtaposing recent personal events with recent public events, I have come to the conclusion that foreign policy or more specifically, public diplomacy, is hypocrisy.

In comparison to the highly publicised shooting of the young Pakistani girl Malala Yousaf-zai by the Taliban, it can be said that unless you have money in the bank, have celebrity status or the whole world backing you, you will be treated like complete and utter SHIT!" Image from

Sudhir Vyas appointed Secretary (West) in Ministry of External Affairs - NetIndian News Network: "Mr Sudhir Vyas, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry ofExternal Affairs, has been appointed as Secretary (West). ... Mr Pinak R. Chakravarty, IFS (77), Special Secretary (Public Diplomacy), will succeed Mr Vyas on his relinquishing the charge of the post."

Executive Director’s Letter (WC: 478) - "As we approach the end of 2012, the organization’s vibrant health reflects strengthened staffing capabilities and focused program-based development – two strategic objectives set by the Chairman and Board in April 2012. ... Program-based Development. The growth trajectory of our three program areas – Educational Exchange, Public Diplomacy, and Leadership Development – is entering an advanced stage of enriched content and extensive reach. ... Educational Exchange: The Journalist and Civic Leader Delegations continue to attract elite interest and participation. With the inaugural Civic Leaders Delegation in May and completion of the November Journalist Delegation, C-100 is shaping the U.S.-China dialogue on the frontlines.

Recently-returned C-100 Journalist Delegates Jonathan Tepperman, managing editor at Foreign Affairs, Clive Crook, senior editor of The Atlantic and columnist for Bloomberg View, and Brian Lehrer, host of the Brian Lehrer Show WNYC have been blogging about their China experience. To view their conversation and contribute your comments, visit Public Diplomacy: As Chairman Dominic Ng referenced, the impact of C-100’s China policy debate in Washington DC continues to reverberate. Building on the debate’s strong momentum, we released a verbatim China debate transcript, which was briefed to Members of Congress and key stakeholders in Washington. All expressed high interest in exploring future collaborative efforts. Leadership Development: High demand for participation in the New York Women’s Leadership Exchange, Washington DC Leadership Roundtable, and Southern California Leadership Mentoring Program attests to the Committee’s unparalleled appeal as a magnet that attracts rising Asian American leaders who aspire to learn from C-100 members. ... Best wishes, Angie Tang Executive Director Committee of 100." Image from entry

Public Diplomacy Assistant (FSN-08), U.S. Embassy - "About U.S. Embassy [:] U.S. Embassy Kabul Afghanistan [;] Job Summary [:] Public Diplomacy Assistant (FSN-08) [;] Position is based in Herat [;] Province Duties and Responsibilities [:] The incumbent serves as an advisor to the Consulate Public Affairs Officer (PAO), the Consul and other members of the Consulate on public diplomacy related activities in the Consulate’s geographic area of responsibility. The incumbent assists in the design and implementation of public outreach programs designed to understand, inform and influence members of the Afghan government, media, educational institutions and other influential citizens in their provinces. The incumbent assists the PAO and Consul in the development and sustaining of relationships with contacts that enable constructive engagement."


John Kerry: Well-suited to be secretary of state - Editorial Board, Washington Post: Mr. Kerry’s dedication to dialogue even with U.S. enemies makes some sense for a secretary of state.

But Mr. Obama’s new Cabinet could also benefit from the balance provided in the first term by figures such as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Robert M. Gates, who took a more skeptical view of “engagement” and favored steps such as the surge of troops in Afghanistan. Mr. Kerry’s confirmation as secretary of state would be a rare achievement for a losing presidential candidate. It’s one he has earned, and we expect he would serve the country well. Image from

The surprisingly high cost of security at diplomatic posts - Michael J. McMorrow, Arlington, Letter to the Editor, Washington Post: "The Dec. 21 news article 'State Department to raise security at diplomatic posts' reported thus: 'Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is asking Congress for an additional $750 million to hire about 150 more security officers, a deputy said.' Do the math: $5 million per security officer. Where do I apply?"

Afghanistan Taliban appears to be softening stance: The militant group in Afghanistan has suffered military setbacks and seems to be more willing to bargain, observers say. Others aren't convinced - Alexandra Zavis, Los Angeles Times: Recent pronouncements by the Taliban have raised the possibility that the insurgents may be softening their stance on what a future without U.S. and international

forces in Afghanistan might look like. But even among those who are most optimistic about reviving a stalled peace process, there is hesitation about prospects for reaching a political settlement before the bulk of NATO forces pull out in 2014. And others dismiss the Taliban's overtures as propaganda designed to build the group's political profile among Afghans and the international community. Uncaptioned image from article

Egypt’s Flawed Constitution - Editorial, New York Times: Ideally, a new constitution in Egypt would unite citizens around a consensus vision for their country and set a firm foundation for a democratic transition. The Islamist-backed constitution that took effect this week has only exacerbated divisions and left millions of non-Islamists feeling disenfranchised, angry and determined to force changes in the document. If there is to be a durable solution, President Mohamed Morsi will have to take the lead in steering Egypt out of the chaos he did so much to create and toward compromise, including amendments to constitutional provisions many Egyptians find objectionable. The State Department has urged Mr. Morsi to seek compromise. Egypt needs stability.

Zionist lobbies seek to restrict Press TV activities in US: William Spring [video] - United States Zionist lobby groups seek to limit the activities of Press TV in America over fears of losing the propaganda war, a human rights activist tells Press TV. Spring: [']Why is it ... that the Jewish lobby, or the Zionist lobby, I’d rather say, in America, is so anxious to limit the activities of Press TV? It seems to me though there’s a real fear among the Zionist lobby in America that they are losing the propaganda law.[']

Looking back at a time of smoke and fire: Propaganda posters with the themes: Vietnam definitely wins, Hanoi is determined to follow Uncle Ho’s words, Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom bring us back to a time of smoke and fire - VietNamNet Bridge: Some 40 of 1,000 propaganda posters with great historical value in the war of resistance against America are on display at the 4th exhibition of painter Truong Sinh in Hanoi.

In Vietnam, propaganda posters are attached to the struggle for national liberation. They played an important role in serving the task of political propaganda, revolutionary struggle and mass mobilization associated with the revolution. They also become a strong spiritual weapon in the process of struggling for national independence. After the country’s reunification, propaganda posters contributed to urge all people to rebuild the country and protect the achievements of the revolution. From these results, propaganda posters passed the "political task" to become an important part in the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people. Image from article, with caption: Nixown [sic] has to pay blood debt.


The Hidden Revolution in Online Learning: The economics of digital learning will undermine the liberal biases built into the current education system - Lewis M. Andrews, Wall Street Journal: Udacity, one of the three largest providers of online college courses, picks its instructors not on the basis of their degrees or research interests but according to how well they actually communicate.

"We reject 98 percent of faculty who want to teach with us," Udacity co-founder David Stavens recently told the New York Times. He sees a day when faculty are selected and promoted very differently, with the best "compensated like a TV actor or movie actor." Image from