Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 31

"Gen. Robert Abrams, the regional commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Kandahar, has noted that 85 percent of Afghans are illiterate, which makes conducting complex operations difficult to plan."

--Douglas Ernst, "Afghan troops’ illiteracy hinders U.S. withdrawal plans," The Washington Times; image from


The English Language In 24 Accents - YouTube. Via RK on Facebook


Kerry, Drones and Cultural Diplomacy - Pierre Guerlain, Huffington Post: "Experience and scholarly analysis would seem to indicate that there is nothing smart about mixing drones and cultural diplomacy yet this is the preferred method. ... Can American leaders remain impervious to what is both costing tax payers too much and destroying the image of America? Drones achieve the exact opposite of what public diplomacy wishes to achieve. Why bother with cultural diplomacy if hard power, that is 'kill lists' and drones, block any positive effect?"

The endgame: ‘Taliban can be part of Afghanistan’s future’ - Kamran Yousaf, "The United States is ready to open the door for talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, said US Ambassador to Islamabad Richard Olson in a policy speech delivered at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad on Wednesday.

The Afghan Taliban could be part of Afghanistan’s future if they met conditions to ensure long-term peace and stability in the war-torn country, he went on to say. The remarks by Ambassador Olson reiterated recent American emphasis on pursuing reconciliation in Afghanistan instead of its usual method of using military might. In this context, Olson said their new office in Qatar could be used for negotiations between the Afghan High Peace Council and representatives of the Taliban. ... In a question-and-answer session, Ambassador Olson refrained from making comments on US drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal belt. He also avoided speaking on Pakistan’s nuclear programme. 'I think such issues must not be discussed through public diplomacy,' he replied, when asked to comment on apprehensions that the US wanted to de-nuclearise Pakistan." Image from

Public Diplomacy 2.0 - Brooke, "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bid the world a virtual goodbye on Jan. 29 during a ‘Global Townterview’ that allowed journalists and viewers at home to submit questions via Facebook and Twitter. The interactive, digital-friendly event served as a fitting end to her time in the State Department, which was defined by her passion for '21st century statecraft,' the use of social media and other digital platforms to achieve US foreign policy goals. Thanks to her push for innovation, the State Department and its embassies now boast 195 Twitter accounts and 290 Facebook pages with more than 15 million followers. ‘21st century statecraft’ and its social media strategies naturally go hand-in-hand with public diplomacy, deals with influencing public opinion overseas to promote positive perceptions of the US and build support for its policies. Thanks to its inherent interactive nature, social media fit neatly into Cowan and Arsenault (2008)’s discussion of public diplomacy, which emphasizes the importance of dialogue and citizen participation in winning trust and support from audiences overseas. The oldest methods of public diplomacy fall into the monologue, or one-way communication, category, which includes speeches, publications, cultural works, Voice of America broadcasts, etc. These certainly have their place in public diplomacy, as they allow the government to convey its ideas or perspectives clearly and eloquently (Cowan and Arsenault, 2008). However, for countries such as the United States with legacies of imperialism and economic and social imbalances, ‘traditional one-way public diplomacy messages are frequently treated with suspicion’ (Cowan and Arsenault, 2008).” See also.

31 Jan 2013, Thu, SoS Clinton and Staff Schedule posted at"UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 7:30 a.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine hosts a CO.NX digital video conference with embassies in South Central Asia, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE) 2:00 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine meets with the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE) 3:00 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine attends a meeting at the White House. (MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE) 5:00 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine delivers remarks on Public Diplomacy and Foreign Policy in 2013: The View from State, at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. (OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)"

Hagel in the Senate Hot Seat - Helle Dale, "The Senate Armed Services Committee is holding hearings today on the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel (R–NE) to head the Department of Defense (DOD). ... Hagel has a long history of commitment to engaging foreign audiences, speaking at The Heritage Foundation on U.S. public diplomacy in 2003.

It would be very interesting to hear Hagel’s view on the role of the Pentagon in synchronizing U.S. global actions and messages." Image from, with caption: Hagel as cheerleader for Iran [originally from Washington Times]

War in Africa: Countering China’s Influence. French Military oversees Power-sharing Deal with US in Central African Republic - Patrick O'Connor, "On June 17, 2009, US ambassador Frederick Cook dispatched a cable, “French-CAR [Central African Republic] relations seriously strained ... '. Another cable sent five months later was headed 'Growing Chinese influence in the CAR evident.' It detailed the extent to which both American and French interests were losing ground to Beijing, which was 'ramping up its military cooperation, public diplomacy and development efforts.' The cable noted that whereas there were only four resident diplomatic agents in the American embassy in Bangui, the Chinese embassy had about 40 employees. It added that approximately 40 CAR military officers were being trained in China every year, compared to the two or three officers who went to the US and 10-15 to France."

Fox News story addresses news versus "messaging" in US international broadcasting - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "[Elliott comment:] [A] BBG statement says that the 'international media environment is flooded with broadcasters.' Actually, it's US international broadcasting itself that is flooded with broadcasters, often duplicating one another. The BBG's desire to 'get more money' is the all-purpose solution offered by every Washington bureacracy. Before US international broadcasting gets more money, it first needs to eliminate the duplication that pervades its operations. Duplication is a significant form of waste in federal spending. The BBC World Services still have a larger audience than USIB, even though the United States spends more than the UK on international broadcasting. This Fox news item might encourage a useful debate about news versus messaging in US international broadcasting. Many US decision makers seem to subscribe to simplistic bullet-theory notions of messaging in USIB. Understanding the role of news in the communication process of international broadcasting requires an intellectual leap, but not a very high one."

No more business class plane travel for RFE/RL executives under new acting president - BBGWatcher, "BBG Watch has learned that one of the reforms planned by the newly-appointed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) acting president Kevin Klose is to put an end to business class plane travel for all RFE/RL executives regardless of their position.

Sources told us that Klose himself also plans to abide by this rule, which is in any case mandatory for employees of an institution like RFE/RL that gets all of its funding from U.S. taxpayers. The Fly America Act requires that federal employees and employees paid by federal grants fly economy class whenever possible. There are only very few and narrow exceptions to this rule." Image from entry

Kambiz Hosseini, formerly of VOA's Parazit, launches podcast distributed by human rights organization - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

[LINK] "Monumental Mistakes" – “At Slate, Joshua Kucera examines a particularly clumsy piece of Azerbaijani public diplomacy. The Azerbaijani government financed the renovation of two parks in downtown Mexico City, spending a bit more than five million US dollars in the process.

In one park, the Azerbaijani government placed a statue of the country's first president, Heydar Aliyev; in the other, a monument to the dead of the Khojaly Massacre, killed in the Armenian-Azerbaijani war. The statues were initially missed by a Mexican public caught up in other issues, but recently much public discontent has built up surrounding the placement of one statue to a dead foreign dictator and another to Azerbaijan's denialism of the Armenian genocide in the Mexican capital.” Image from, with caption: Sculpture of former Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev, pictured on Oct. 22, 2012, in Mexico City

Indonesia to hold Bali Democracy Forum in Dec. this year - "An Indonesian official said on Thursday that Bali Democracy Forum (BDF) is scheduled to be convened from Dec. 7 to 8 this year, making it the sixth that has ever been held by the country. The BDF was originally intended to encourage democracy development in the participating countries. Since it was first founded in 2008, the BDF has actively discussed the democracy development among countries sending their delegates in the event. Information and Public Diplomacy Director General at the foreign affairs ministry AM Fachir said that delegates of countries attending the BDF would be able to share their experiences in applying democracy in their countries with other delegates."


U.S. policy toward countering al-Qaeda 2.0 - David Ignatius, Washington Post: The Obama administration is working with its allies to frame a strategy to combat what might be called “al-Qaeda 2.0” — an evolving, morphing terrorist threat that lacks a coherent center but is causing growing trouble in chaotic, poorly governed areas such as Libya, Yemen, Syria and Mali. U.S. officials liken this new problem to the spread of cancer cells: Al-Qaeda nodes emerge in diffuse places, feeding off local issues and grievances.

These cells have only a loose, ideological connection with what remains of the core leadership in Pakistan, but they are stubborn and toxic. So long as the cancerous nodes of al-Qaeda don’t threaten the American homeland, U.S. officials want to avoid using drone strikes or other such attacks. But as the local cells adapt and spread, al-Qaeda 2.0 will almost certainly move through the global bloodstream toward targets in the United States. Image from

Richard M. Walden, Operation USA's charity buccaneer: Almost 35 years ago, he and a friend rounded up six tons of relief supplies and a jet to ferry them to Vietnamese boat people in Malaysia. And he's still soldiering on - patt Morrison, Almost on impulse, almost 35 years ago, Richard M. Walden and a friend rounded up six tons of relief supplies and a jet to ferry them to Vietnamese boat people in Malaysia. Thus was Operation California — now Operation USA — born. A Times headline soon called him the "charity buccaneer," a red-tape-slashing contrarian who fretted about the "international web of neglect," and who still has sharp words for relief efforts unmet and relief agencies that don't measure up.

Curator, Tear Down These Walls - Roberta Smith, New York Times: Despite rising interest in and scholarship about folk art — and even after the wholesale rethinking of several

major American wings on the East Coast — the isolation of folk from academic is still the norm. Given that we live in a time of eroding aesthetic boundaries and categories, when many curators are experimenting with integrative approaches in international biennials and commercial galleries, it seems past time for the folk-academic division to soften. It undoubtedly has at some institutions, especially those with modest collections. Image from article, with caption: “Lake George and the Village of Caldwell,” left, by Thomas Chambers, challenges the perspective of John Frederick Kensett’s “Hudson River Scene.”


Image from [Soviet-Style Homosexual Propaganda] - via VK on Facebook

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 30

"An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have."

--Andy Warhol; Warhol image from


Remarks at the Announcement of the Open Book Project - Remarks, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, Ben Franklin Room, Washington, DC, January 28, 2013, U.S. Department of State: "Through the Open Book Project, we will work to expand access to free, high-quality, open education materials in Arabic, with a focus on science and technology.

Our hope is to lower geographic, economic, and even gender-based barriers to learning. Anyone with access to the internet will be able to read, download, and print these open materials for free or adapt a copy that meets the local needs of their classrooms or education systems." See also: Jane Morse, "Arab League, U.S. Launch Open Book Project," Image from, with caption: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ambassador Mohammed Al Hussaini Al Sharif of the League of Arab States announce the launch of the Open Book Project at the State Department January 28.

The Diplomacy of Art - Hillary Clinton, "In my line of work, we often talk about the art of diplomacy as we try to make people’s lives a little better around the world. But, in fact, art is also a tool of diplomacy. It reaches beyond governments, past the conference rooms and presidential palaces, to help us connect with more people in more places. It is a universal language in our search for common ground, an expression of our shared humanity. That’s why Art in Embassies is so important.

The Museum of Modern Art first envisioned this global visual-arts program in 1953, and President John F. Kennedy formalized it at the U.S. Department of State in 1963. Working with over 20,000 participants globally, including artists, museums, collectors, and galleries, this landmark public-private partnership shares the work of more than 4,000 American and international artists annually in more than 200 U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world. These can be exhibitions, permanent collections, site-specific commissions, or two-way artist exchanges." Image from entry, with caption: Artists whose work has been displayed in U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world, from left: Cai Guo-Qiang, Kiki Smith, Shahzia Sikander, Marina Abramović, Carrie Mae Weems, Nick Cave, Pedro Reyes, Fred Tomaselli, Jeff Koons, Jenny Holzer, Julie Mehretu, Jim Drain, and Seton Smith; photographed on the balcony of the U.S. State Department, in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Embassy closes amid Egyptian violence - Cheryl K. Chumley, The Washington Times: "The U.S. Embassy in Cairo shut down Tuesday, as more than 120 were reported injured in the escalating violence that has marked Egypt over the past few days. United Press International reports that emergency services for U.S. citizens would only be offered 'to the extent possible,' according to an embassy statement. 'Due to the security situation in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy, our public services will be closed, including visa services and the Information Resource Center,' the statement continued, according to UPI."

Public Schedule for January 30, 2013 - U.S. Department of State: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 8:00 a.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine hosts a CO.NX digital video conference with embassies in the Middle East and North Africa region, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE) 9:00 a.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine hosts a CO.NX digital video conference with embassies in Europe, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE) 12:00 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine meets with visiting Brazilian Youth Ambassadors, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS CVOERAGE [sic])"

Hot topic: no shortage of reports on public diplomacy - "Public diplomacy has become a ‘hot button’ issue, not just for diplomats but for a whole clutch of non-state actors – those active in business, culture, education, the media, public affairs and scholars, and even tourism – all of whom contribute to PD and are affected by it. Why is PD so relevant? One simple reason is that the field of international affairs is no longer the preserve of those that wear striped pants and morning coats. Management of global issues involves a huge range of official agencies and even more, lots of non-official activists. They need to understand the levers of influence available to them and the modalities of getting their objectives to mesh into an increasingly open foreign affairs process. As an emerging discipline, PD also offers potential for one’s own original contribution. Ministries of foreign affairs around the world have woken up to the need for and power of public diplomacy. Back in 2008, Britain’s FCO produced an interesting report: Engagement: Public Diplomacy in a Globalised World. In a foreword by Jim Murphy MP, then Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the report’s opening sally is: There are two responses to globalisation.

One is to run and hide and the other is to engage. That same year, the Brookings Institute launched its report Voices of America: U.S. Public Diplomacy for the 21st Century presenting ‘concrete steps to strengthen America’s efforts to engage, persuade, and attract the support of foreign publics’. Five years later, such reports still make regular headlines and public diplomacy has taken on a life of its own. In 2011, a third player, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, made available to the public a fine document on public diplomacy that is worth a read, giving practical insight into how a foreign ministry can exploit this new set of approaches to building stronger foreign relations, especially in partnership with diverse actors, including non-official agencies.  According to Amb. Kishan Rana, co-lecturer on Diplo’s Public Diplomacy course, this publication is ‘especially useful in de-mystifying a discipline that is sometimes cloaked in needless complexity. It also shows how public diplomacy connects with many disciplines and deserves wide support, as well as participation.’ Once a specilised term, public diplomacy is increasingly becoming a hot topic. Bruce Gregory, an adjunct professor at George Washington University and at Georgetown University who previously served as the executive director of the US Advisory Communication on Public Diplomacy, has helpfully provided his choice of books, articles, and websites on the subject, too." Image from

GAO says BBG needs to take additional steps to address overlap in international broadcasting - BBGWatcher: "The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, conducted a study of how various Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) language services–offices that produce content for particular languages and regions– overlap with another BBG service by providing programs to the same countries in the same languages. GAO identified 23 instances of overlap involving 43 of BBG’s 69 services. Often called the 'congressional watchdog,' GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. GAO recommended that BBG systematically consider in its annual language service reviews (1) the cost and impact of overlap among BBG entities’ language services and (2) the activities of other international broadcasters."

Fired Kazakh journalists ask new RFE/RL president for reinstatement - BBGWatcher,

Ivan Tolstoy leads Radio Liberty in Exile innovative online video discussion on Tamizdat [includes video] - BBGWatcher, "Using Google Hangout live video technology, the same one used by

President Obama for online interactions, Radio Liberty in Exile recorded a video discussion on Russian emigre literature known as 'Tamizdat.' Google Hangout, a feature of Google+, emerging as a potent alternative media platform for those who feel ignored by the mainstream media television, The Times of India recently reported in an article on new media trends. In a show of solidarity with Radio Liberty journalists who were fired by the previous Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) management, the video discussion was led from his home library in Prague by Radio Liberty broadcaster and literary critic Ivan Tolstoy who still works at RFE/RL." Image from entry

Afghan orchestra set to hit the right notes: Country's first post-Taliban orchestra set to travel to the US to disprove stereotypes associated with Afghanistan - Jennifer Glasse, [includes video]: "In a crowded rehearsal room at Afghanistan's National Institute of Music, the country's first post-Taliban orchestra is preparing for its international debut. ... The orchestra plans on playing in Kabul in February before its US tour. Its one concert last year in Kabul was vastly oversubscribed. 'Last year we had to turn more than 200 people away,' says [Dr Ahmad] sarmast the school director.

'We wanted everyone to have a chance to come this year.' Sarmast's office was a hive of activity the day Al Jazeera visited. His staff was trying to purchase uniforms for the orchestra from local stores in Kabul, and ensure that the last of the US visas were approved. ... 'I think their presence in Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center will change the perception about Afghanistan,' he says. 'I think it's important to show that in spite of reports about suicide bombing, killing, destruction, and corruption, there's been many positive changes in Afghanistan - one of which is the establishment of the National Institute of Music in Afghanistan.'" Via CR on Twitter, image from

Friends of IPD Meeting - "On 28 January 2013, IPD held a Friends of IPD meeting which was attended by representatives of donor governments including AusAID, the Netherlands and Norwegian Embassies as well as the Vice Rector II of Udayana University, and representatives from the Indonesian Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Presidential Advisory Council. The meeting discussed IPD’s programmatic and technical development and areas where support is needed. The agenda was: a. Programmatic Development b. Institutional Development c. Discussion and Agenda for Future Cooperation [.] Mr. Dadang Sudiyarto, from the Ministry of Education, gave a presentation on how to register donor funds with the government of Indonesia. In 2013, the Public Diplomacy Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will conduct programs on capacity building for democracy in Egypt, Fiji and Myanmar. There is also possibility to have program on election to support Tunisia, since Tunisia will have election in June this year. The prospect of MoFA and IPD cooperating in delivering these programs was discussed. At the end of the meeting, attendees visited IPD’s new facilities including the auditorium and guest houses for which construction was finalised in December."

The op-ed as a strategic tool of public diplomacy: Framing of the 2011 Egyptian revolution - Guy Golan, Public Relations Review, posted at "The current study examines how the op-ed section of two prominent international newspapers were used for the articulation of

public diplomacy issue stands by international experts who made an attempt to influence both government policy and public opinion abroad." Image from

武8L0 | Activity | - Boycott KETK: "In addition, the city CPPCC Friendship with Foreign Countries Committee revealed, Yao Ming as the Shanghai Public Diplomacy Association Vice President and Honorary Ambassador,louboutin pas cher, will also be in the public diplomacy to play a unique role. For Friendship with Foreign exchange activities this year, Shanghai will be China and the United States Basketball cultural exchange project as a starting point,parajumpers, the tailor 'Yao Ming and the Shanghai Exhibition”,hollister france, Yao Ming and you make friends'."

MPD in China 2013: Differentiating Corporate Responsibility in China and the U.S.-
Dao-Chau Nguyen, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "On a recent MPD trip to Beijing, a research group focused on Corporate Diplomacy. We listened to Chinese corporate social responsibility (CSR) experts including practitioners from a state-owned enterprise (SOE), a corporate philanthropy magazine, and several public affairs firms, all of whom shared their thoughts on the different concepts of CSR that currently divide the East and the West. ... [U]ntil protecting human rights and ensuring environmental sustainability becomes a part of China’s national agenda, China’s idea of CSR will continue to be a breed apart from that found in the United States."

Basketball diplomacy in Iran - "Tensions between Iran and the US were intensifying in 2008 when American basketball player Kevin Sheppard went to play for the Iranian league. A German filmmaker has brought his unusual story to the cinema. ... Filmmaker Schauder is a basketball fan himself, and is married to an American with Iranian roots, so the story was close to his heart from the beginning. In 2008 he first learned that a handful of American basketball players were active in the Iranian Super League. 'When I heard that Americans were playing such an American sport in Iran, I immediately thought of the so-called ping-pong diplomacy of the 1970s,' Schauder said.

Chinese and American table tennis players played an important role in improving political ties between the two countries in the 1970s. The film director was curious to find out whether the American basketball players were having a similar influence in encouraging cultural understanding between the US and Iran. By making a film about one of them, he wanted to take a closer look at the reality in the 'enemy' country and do away with prejudices that had developed." Image from article, with caption: Sheppard played soccer before starting his successful basketball career.


Targeted killings: they are too secret: The administration should spell out criteria for the assassination of suspected terrorists abroad - Editorial, Los Angeles Post: We agree that the U.S. shouldn't have to sit on its hands while terrorists plan imminent attacks on Americans. But using drones to kill terrorists anywhere in the world because they might attack Americans in the future is a dramatic departure from traditional warfare.

And while drone attacks may be more surgical than other sorts of airstrikes, they do kill innocent bystanders. The administration hasn't been forthcoming enough about the legal and practical judgments underlying targeted killings. In the coming weeks, the Senate Intelligence Committee will have an opportunity to demand answers about targeted killings when it holds hearings on Brennan's nomination to head the CIA. Image from

Meanwhile, “Ten Things You Should Know About the State Department” - Peter van Buren, We Meant Well: Your Department of State, right on the cusp of budget time, has released a self-pleasuring “fact sheet” of what it thinks it does with your tax money, helpfully titled “Ten Things You Should Know About the State Department.”

Some of it is over-the-top performance art hilarious, like the unsupported statement that “We directly support 20 million U.S. jobs (No. 1)” and “In South Sudan, Libya and many other countries we worked through various means to foster democracy and peace (No. 3).” Image from entry

Iran arrests journalists accused of working for "counterrevolutionary," i.e. foreign, media - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Saudi propaganda claims of plots and assassinations - As'ad AbuKhalil, The Angry Arab News Service: For several days, House of Saud media peddled an explosive story: they claimed that a Syrian diplomat in Saudi Arabia (who it turned out was a part-time contractor) came to the Saudi government with this story: that he was ordered by the Syrian government to undertake bombing in Mecca. The story did not say if he also had sought the assistance of Mexican drug cartel or Texan car salesmen.

Two Versions of Mao's China: History Retouched as Propaganda - On January 29-30, 2013 one of the top ten micro-blogs in Sina Weibo, the most influential micro-blogging platform in China, has a set of historical photos showing two versions of the Chinese history during Mao's Era (1949-1976). The micro-blog, in the form of a collage, published by @Pongyoung with a brief comment: “How history has been amended?”, has been retweeted 13362 times with 2237 comments within one day. The photos and their explanation were originally published by the history channel [zh] of In order to help our readers see the difference between the two versions of the Chinese history, the collage is cut into 10 photo sets with a brief explanation. Among the photo sets:

The umbrellas and those carrying them had obstructed the stage and thus deleted.

The missing person is Ren Bishi, a CCP military and political leader. The photo was taken in 1940 with Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong. Ren was deleted because he was criticized for being sick and hospitalized in USSR in during the Chinese liberation war.

Accidental propaganda and the Basi Revolt paintings - Ina Alleco R. Silverio, The issue of art as propaganda has already been settled long ago, and no one but reactionaries and the politically conservative and naïve will contest the historic and moral validity of claims that art should serve specific political purposes such as exposing social corruption and providing viable alternatives to it. There are art works, however, that are inherently political regardless of what the artist intended.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 28-29

“We can give their virtual avatar asylum.”

--A State Department official, quipping about what the virtual US Embassy "in" Iran can do to provide political asylum to dissidents; image from


(1) Watch John Kerry Get Emotional Talking About Public Servants - Tom Shoop,

(2) "Fiebre del Superclásico" EmbajadaUSA· Via TH

(3) KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov's warning to America - YouTube. Via MC on Facebook


State of the Union Prep – The National Security Challenges - posted by Paul Hamill, "Public Diplomacy: Matthew Wallin, Policy Analyst: 'Over the next four years, President Obama’s primary public diplomacy challenge will revolve around shaping the American message. Though the President has high approval ratings in several parts of the world, the U.S. still faces low levels of trust in areas where it holds national security interests.

The President must focus on increasing American credibility, building trust relationships, and keeping the commitments we make to our partners overseas. Though much debate has occurred concerning America’s choice of medium—be that radio, television, or the internet—the U.S. must focus on redeveloping a credible message grounded in its founding principles and demonstrated not solely by its rhetoric, but also by its actions.'" Image from

PRESS Pass: Brookings Institution's Martin Indyk - "As President Obama begins his second term, he'll have a new cadre of foreign policy leaders in his cabinet. Martin Indyk, author of the new book Bending History: Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy, believes the president's choices to lead the Defense and State departments indicate his broader agenda abroad. In the case of former Senator Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary, Indyk believes the president is signaling that 'the decade of war is ending.' He argues that the 'two principal responsibilities' for Hagel will be to responsibly withdraw the troops from Afghanistan and cut the defense budget. At the State Department, Indyk says Obama’s nominee is a different kind of diplomat than his predecessor. Senator John Kerry's personal relationships with foreign dignitaries will move U.S. foreign relations from 'public diplomacy' as practiced by outgoing Secretary Clinton, to 'private diplomacy' as Kerry has used during his time as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman."

Hillary super PAC readies launch - "In an interview that aired last night on 60 Minutes, Clinton said neither she nor President Barack Obama 'can make predictions about what's going to happen tomorrow or the next year,' referring to the prospect of a presidential run.

Clinton confidantes have said that Clinton has not telegraphed to them in any way what her intentions are after she takes a well-deserved break from the stresses of the public eye and public diplomacy." Image from

Public Schedule for January 29, 2013 - U.S. Department of State: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 8:00 a.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine hosts a CO.NX digital video conference with embassies in Africa, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE"

Year-Old Virtual US Embassy in Iran Tallies Its Hits and Misses - Barbara Slavin, Al-Monitor: There has been no functioning US Embassy in Iran since Nov. 4, 1979, when radical students seized the sprawling compound in downtown Tehran and held American diplomats hostage. But for the past year, Iranians have been able to access an online menu of information and services that partly compensates for the absence of a physical US diplomatic outpost in the Iranian capital. ... Over the past year, there have been almost two million distinct page hits and nearly half a million distinct visitors to the site, ... [a] State Department official said. The fact that over 78% of the hits have been on the Farsi version of the site — and that tens of thousands of hits have come from IP addresses in countries without many Iranian residents — suggests that the 'vast majority' of those accessing the site are in Iran, the official said. While no substitute for a real embassy, the virtual one combines public diplomacy functions — stories about US government policies and news of interest to Iranians — with practical services, such as how to apply for a visa or get information about educational opportunities in the US. Applications for visas can be filled out online and appointments scheduled at US consular offices in nearby Turkey, Armenia or the United Arab Emirates. The site also features links to Farsi-language social-media platforms managed by the US government, including ones on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and YouTube. The Facebook page currently has about 87,000 fans, of whom two thirds are believed to be in Iran, the State Department official said. He added that about 170 videos posted on the YouTube site so far have attracted more than 800,000 views — 'pretty good given the [slow] download speeds' in Iran. Those videos can be shared via compact discs and zip drives, he added.  The Iranian government periodically blocks the sites. The Facebook page was jammed for about 15 months but is currently accessible in Iran, the official said. 'People go on it,' Tara Sonenshine, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, told a Washington audience recently, describing the virtual embassy and its related links. 'They get knocked off every now and then, cut off and they try to reconnect. And we know they’re reconnecting.' Asked by Al-Monitor how she measures the impact of the virtual embassy, Sonenshine said 'you can see a lot of traffic in other places from people who’ve seen something on the virtual Iran website that they’re thinking about or talking about. So the interesting thing is all these conversations multiply exponentially.' ... Reza Marashi, director of research at the National Iranian American Council and an Iranian American who previously worked for the State Department, called the virtual embassy 'a great way to increase outreach and dialogue with the Iranian people.' 'On the other hand, Iranians inside Iran are looking for examples of US actions, not [President Barack] Obama’s words, telling the story of America’s Iran policy,' Marashi told Al-Monitor. 'To that end, neatly packaged public diplomacy like the virtual embassy is not a substitute for compelling policies — and actual results — that matter to the Iranian people, like the multiple-entry visa policy change in 2011 [that allows Iranian students to leave and re-enter the US].

This is particularly true at a time when sanctions and government mismanagement are really starting to hurt the people that America says it seeks to help,' he said. The State Department official told Al-Monitor that there are obvious limitations to what a virtual embassy can accomplish. 'It’s hard to follow up in a meaningful way,' he said, without a 'brick-and-mortar mission' that permits timely face-to-face meetings. And of course, a virtual embassy cannot provide political asylum to dissidents. 'We can give their virtual avatar asylum,' the State Department official quipped." Image from article, with caption: A woman uses an iMac computer in a shop at a mobile and computer shopping complex in northern Tehran Jan. 18, 2011.

A rocking performance - U.S. Consulate General Kolkata: "Hey fans!!! The American Center Pavilion at the Kolkata Book Fair

came alive yesterday evening with an energetic and high spirited performance by our young friends from Jungle Crows!" Via JJ on Facebook. Image from entry

Voces estadounidenses promueven la música - "Un grupo de selectos músicos viaja a América Latina para entregar el sabor de sus nota musicales. La banda ‘The Clinton Curtis’, integrada por seis músicos escogidos de un total de 300, viajará a países como República Dominicana, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador y Colombia, en una gira que comienza el 30 de enero y finaliza el 4 de marzo de 2013. ... Las actividades internacionales

de la banda en recorrido por la música estadounidense en el extranjero incluirán conciertos públicos, conferencias, talleres y colaboraciones con músicos locales. La iniciativa, creada por la oficina de asuntos culturales del Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos y la organización ‘American voices’, ofrece conciertos a nivel mundial." Image from article, with caption: The Clinton Curtis Band se presentará en República Dominicana, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador y Colombia.
See also.

VOA union leader appeals to Director Lobo to stop intimidating security procedures - BBGWatcher, "Imagine if Willis Conover, the legendary Voice of America (VOA) broadcaster whose jazz programs helped to pierce the Iron Curtain, were still alive today and in his retirement tried to visit his old VOA friends at work. He would not be able to move around the building, from which his famous broadcasts originated, without a constant escort following him, even if he wanted to use the restroom.

This is how the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ (BBG) officials in charge of the BBG’s administrative arm, the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) who report to IBB Director Richard Lobo, treat former employees, some of whom have spent decades working for the U.S. international broadcasting agency and had outstanding careers. Many Broadcasting Board of Governors employees and union leaders from the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1812, have log suspected that the retiree escort rule, introduced by the management several years ago, had very little to do with security but rather was designed to intimidate former staffers, including retired union officials who still hold their union positions and need to meet with IBB and VOA staffers. They believe that the rule’s real purpose is to discourage frequent contact by retirees with current employees." Image from

Maximus Hubris: Dysfunction, employee union describes problems at Broadcasting Board of Governors - BBGWatcher, "One year after employees working in U.S. government-funded international broadcasting were threatened with the most extensive layoffs in decades [43 positions were originally targeted in VOA’s central newsroom among 171 for VOA and 289 across the structure of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)], the threat isn’t over. Though somewhat reduced by the failure of a polarized Congress to approve a budget, and action by employees to raise awareness on Capitol Hill, the BBG (recently the subject of a State Department Inspector General report labeling the agency 'dysfunctional') has been determined to undertake 'substantial additional restructuring, including consideration of eliminating VOA’s federal status. Meeting with VOA Central News staff in 2012, VOA Director David Ensor warned that while the overall picture was a bit brighter, he would not hesitate to order sharp reductions to the news operation if faced with future “draconian” budget pressures. 'I will cut you,' employees quoted the former network and NPR correspondent whose previous position was as head of U.S. embassy public diplomacy and information operations in Kabul, Afghanistan, as saying."

Broadcasting Board of Governors – Information War Lost: The Secretary Weighs In – Again - The Federalist, "Readers know that we believe the best option at present is a process we refer to as 'transfer of function:' in essence, absorbing the agency [BBG] into another department of the government.

We believe the best department is the Department of Defense (DOD). We have argued broadly that the agency could be made part of the Armed Forces Network." See also. Image from

Why a political CEO of a news organization is a bad idea (as if this needs to be explained) - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "[Elliott comment:] The firewall function of the BBG is to keep the administration and Congress from influencing the content of US international broadcasting. In decades past, when VOA directors were appointed by presidents (or by USIA directors who were appointed by presidents), some VOA directors went native and protected the VOA newsroom from interference. Other VOA directors shifted newsroom management to result in output in line with administration policy. This historical inconsistency of VOA's news product prevented VOA from achieving the reputation and the audience size enjoyed by BBC World Service. ... VOA journalists are dismayed that they must abdicate their professional standards, but at least they keep their jobs. The president and Congress are pleased by the content, so funding for USIB keeps coming. Who cares how big the audience is? The next president and Congress care, and they ask for audience data. The data show that the audience for VOA has plummeted because it has obviously become a mouthpiece of the US government. Funding for USIB is cut, and massive RIFs ensue."

Senior officials urge calm - Zhang Yunbi, China Daily: "Bilateral trade and public diplomacy were badly affected after the Japanese government in September illegally "purchased" part of the Diaoyu Islands."

CrossTalk on Perceptions of Russia Abroad [includes video] - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: The UNdiplomatic blog on public diplomacy and international communication: "I finally watched RT's [Russia Today] program on Russia's brand and perception abroad that was aired last week. Funny, that despite everything said and done on public diplomacy and soft power over the past decade, the Russian approach to the problem is still stuck in the early 2000s. First, the discussion is still about 'branding' and 'advertising', even though they did touch upon media and cultural matters, as well.

Secondly, no where did they seem to acknowledge Russia's own fault - whether in its policies or public diplomacy approach - in contributing to the problem. (By the way, this very much reflects the official discourse on the subject, too). It's all either the history's fault or that of the 'West's': of the persistent negative image, ever-present stereotypes, evil politicians and their devout media (and yes, their intentional desire to mire Russia's international image). Whatever happened to listening, public diplomacy of deed, or true relationship-building... Clearly, there is a long way to go. But it will have very little to do with actual marketing campaigns or spending sprees." Osipova image from

Bringing the story of Witold Pilecki, Polish hero who volunteered to go INTO Auschwitz, to America - "On Holocaust Remembrance Day, celebrated on January 27, Washingtonians will have the chance to learn about the life and legacy of Captain Witold Pilecki – the only person in the world who deliberately and voluntarily had himself imprisoned in the Auschwitz-Birkenau German concentration camp in order to later escape and inform the world about the Nazi atrocities. 'The discussion at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington will acquaint the U.S. public with the back-story of Captain Pilecki’s report, in which he describes the crimes perpetrated in Auschwitz, including the Shoah,' says Ryszard Schnepf, Poland’s Ambassador to the United States.

Last year, Captain Pilecki’s report on the situation inside Auschwitz-Birkenau was published for the first time in the United States under the title 'The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery'. 'There is an immense task facing Poland’s public diplomacy in spreading knowledge about Captain Witold Pilecki, an officer of the Polish Underground State, whose amazing feats remain little known outside Poland. Witold Pilecki is a shining example of patriotism, heroic bravery and sacrifice in the name of independence,' Ambassador Schnepf adds." Uncaptioned image from article

MND Foreign Affairs Office summarizes China's military diplomacy work in 2012 - Qian Lihua, director-general of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), published an article entitled Strive to Make Success of Military Diplomacy Work in Line with General Trend which summarizes China's military diplomacy work in 2012 on the PLA Daily on January 28, 2013. Qian Lihua said that China's military diplomacy work stood severe tests under complex and volatile international and regional situations in 2012. ... The article continues to say that the Chinese military carried out pragmatic cooperation in such fields as professional exchanges, academic education and personnel training with foreign militaries and conducted 10-odd joint military exercises and training on the subjects of maritime combat, special operation, anti-terrorism, anti-piracy and emergency rescue, etc. with foreign militaries, and achieved many new breakthroughs; the Chinese military also faced up to complex and volatile public opinion environment, actively conducted public diplomacy, did a good job of policy publicity and media guidance on hotspot issues concerning army building, strengthened external contacts in such fields as military culture, military sports and military science, and displayed an open and confident image of the Chinese military."

A New Hope for the Peace Process? - Victor Kotsev, “Though it is much too early for optimism, groundbreaking developments related to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process are expected in the weeks following Israel's January 22 elections. ... 'There's no scenario

in my mind that Israelis and Palestinians could succeed through public diplomacy, only through secret negotiations,' said the veteran Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who mediated the prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas—a swap which led to the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011." Uncaptioned image from article

Presenting, PART TWO: A Strategic-Based Policy Interview With Dr. Martin Sherman, Founder Of The Israel Institute For Strategic Studies (IISS)…By Adina Kutnicki - "MS: Without a doubt, Israel’s greatest strategic challenge, its gravest strategic failure and its grimmest strategic danger is the (mis)conduct of its public diplomacy. In this regard, I endorse entirely the grave warning conveyed by Professor Eitan GIlboa in a 2006 article entitled 'Public Diplomacy: The Missing Component in Israel’s Foreign Policy': [']The lack of an adequate PD programme has significantly affected Israel’s strategic outlook and freedom of action…. Any further neglect of PD would not only restrict Israel’s strategic options, it would be detrimental to its ability to survive… ['] Gilboa is quite right. In an era of unprecedented power and influence held by the media, it is difficult to overstate the strategic importance of diplomacy (particularly public diplomacy) and public relations. These are circumstances that call for a far-reaching change in Israel’s approach to diplomacy – and the resources allocated to it. In fact, the role of diplomacy is in many ways similar to that of the air force – and should be treated accordingly. For just as the classic role of the air force is to provide the ground forces the necessary freedom of action they require to attain their objectives, so the classic role of diplomacy is to provide national policy makers the freedom of action they require to attain the objectives of that policy. ... The attitude of Israeli officialdom towards diplomacy (especially public diplomacy and public relations) does not reflect an appropriate awareness of their importance – as is revealed by the minimal scope of resources allocated for this purpose. After all, one of the most revealing criteria regarding the importance an organization assigns a given activity is the amount of resources it allots for the conduct of that activity. In Israel, the resources allocated for the conduct of its public diplomacy efforts are – by any standard – ridiculously small. ... Over 200 years ago, Frederick the Great, who reigned as king of Prussia 1740-1786 reportedly stated that 'Diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.' Over time his relationship has been entirely reversed and today it is true to say that :'Arms without diplomacy is like music without instruments'. According, diplomacy – particularly public diplomacy – constitutes a strategic instrument of primary importance and should be treated as such. ... Currently, Israel’s GDP is around a quarter trillion dollars. If even a small fraction of one percent of GDP was devoted to public diplomacy, this would generate a budget of one billion dollars—rather than the paltry sums provided today. But if this seems excessive to some – consider what could be achieved by a massive $100 million public diplomacy drive that focused merely on the Hillel (Jewish student) branches across US campuses. ... Rather than Israeli national policy makers viewing diplomacy as an instrument at their disposal to enable them to achieve the goals of their chosen policy, diplomatic difficulties themselves have become the factors that dictate the goals chosen by the policy makers. The first step in transforming Israeli diplomacy into the strategic resource that it should be is to comprehend this conceptual distortion and to rectify it. ... Perhaps the most important transformation requires its removal from a largely defensive roll – with the emphasis on trying to rebut accusations against Israel – to a more offensive and aggressive mode of public diplomacy. After all, ever since Sun Tzu’s 'The Art of War', written about two and a half millennium ago, it has been widely accepted that 'the ability to defeat the enemy means taking the offensive….Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient strength'."

Thirty Years On: Reflections on DFAIT and the Diplomatic Prospect – Part II - Daryl Copeland, "DFAIT executives have not been held accountable for the serial failure to push back, to make their case to decision-makers. The wholesale retreat from public diplomacy (PD) is perhaps the most egregious example among many. DFAIT was once a pioneer and a leader in the PD field. Now, through the imposition of the Orwellian 'Message Event Proposal' pre-clearance requirement in advance of all public communications, DFAIT staff have been effectively gagged. This is especially debilitating as regards the use of social media platforms to connect directly with populations. Among the world’s leading foreign ministries, digital, or e-diplomacy is front and centre. Not so in the Pearson Building. Whereas a decade ago DFAIT was way out in front – remember the on-line Foreign Policy Dialogue? – today it trails the pack internationally."

Creativity rises from the ashes of revolution: UK and Arab artists are collaborating to rebuild societies - Graham Sheffield, "In late December, the British Council convened a debate at the Southbank Centre examining the role the arts and artists are playing in the social and political upheavals of the Arab world. We wanted to ask how, and if, the arts sector in the UK should respond; it was the result of research undertaken by Professor Sultan Barakat, Director of the Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit at the University of York on arts and social change in the region. From the research, we extrapolated a report, Voices of the People, which we hope will stimulate more collaboration in the arts and creative industries between the UK and the region. Our objective is to use this report as an action plan, in partnership with the UK arts sector and artists from the Middle East. A piece of cultural diplomacy if you like, but not on the traditional model of a simple export of arts and artists from the UK. ... From the UK side, there was a palpable desire to engage but a relative lack of known networks in the region. That is probably the single most valuable service we at the British Council can offer all our friends – with our arts network in the region and our links to the UK arts scene, to make the connections, to support emerging artist development, to build bridges, to foster new initiatives in region with partnerships in the UK, and (a demand wherever I go) to build capacity, skills and expertise using UK experience. Not forgetting talking to governments, even the more conservative ones, about the role and value of culture in their newly reshaped nations."

Post-Soviet Security Group to Open Academy in Armenia - "Armenia’s government on Thursday agreed to establish an academy of a Russian-led collective security organization in the capital Yerevan, the government press service said.

In a letter to the Armenian president, the general secretary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has proposed that a CSTO Academy be opened in Yerevan, to be co-founded by the CSTO Institute, its Yerevan branch, and the Russian Foreign Ministry’s A.M. Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Support Foundation. The project is designed, among other things, to promote “favorable public opinion about the CSTO through the efforts of scholars, political scientists, experts, and young political and public activists from the member states,” the Armenian government said in a press release. Image from article, with caption: CSTO's office in Moscow

Weekend Update: Armenian Army turns 21, Armenian Jews Community on genocide, attacks on Turkey, Chakhalyan’s message to Georgian government - "The head of the Jewish community of Armenia Rimma Varzhapetyan urged Armenians around the world to strengthen public diplomacy in the process of recognition of the 1915 Genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey. Varzhapetyan says Armenians are too passive in this matter and gave an example of what the Jews do in the direction of "lessons of the Holocaust" in the world. The Jewish people, she says, more than any other people, understand and recognize the Armenian Genocide, but the official Israeli position on this issue is related to possible political, military and economic threats from Turkey. She noted, fortunately, there are some politicians in Knesset, who recognize the Armenian genocide."

Promoting cultural communication - The Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) is participating in the 44th edition of the Cairo International Book Fair, which will continue till Feb.5. The SIBF’s participation in Cairo Book Fair is the first in a series of upcoming participations in Arab and

foreign book fairs during the current year. Egypt was the guest of honour at the 31st edition of SIBF, which was held in November 2012. Organised by the General Egyptian Book Organisation, the Cairo Book Fair is being held under the theme ‘Dialogue not Clash.’... 'The aim of the Sharjah Book Fair is to extend bridges of cultural communication, bridge the cultural gap between world nations and establish a culture of co-existence between peoples of diverse cultures, Al Ameri [ Ahmed Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, director of SIBF] clarified." Image from article

ICC Suspects Can Hide -- and That Is the Problem - "Jurist Guest Columnists Richard Dicker and Elizabeth Evenson of the Human Rights Watch argue that the efficacy of the International Criminal Court depends upon international efforts to apprehend criminals... 'Justice must take precedence amid other competing, and sometimes contradictory, objectives. ... [G]overnments should take every opportunity to raise the importance of arrest in their one-on-one diplomatic contacts with the non-cooperating states, with third-party states that have influence on the non-cooperating states and in multilateral intergovernmental settings. The opening of the UN General Assembly, an EU summit or the African Union's Political Assembly provide a high-profile stage for private and public diplomacy on behalf of arrests. Using EU summit meetings to press for arrest of suspects was a successful tactic for the Yugoslavia tribunal. Diplomacy puts arrest on the agenda, creating expectations of follow-through.'"

Ethiopia: Dr. Tedros Holds Talks With Egyptian Foreign Minister - "Dr. Tedros Adhanom. Miniter of foreign affairs held talks yesterday (January 26) with Egyptian foreign minister Mohammed Amr at the sidelines of the AU meeting. The two sides discussed on the bilateral relations of the two countries. Mohaamed Amr on the occasion noted the on the importance of strengthening people to people ties of the two countries to further bolster their diplomatic ties. Dr. Tedros on his part said 'the importance of people to people relations cannot be stressed enough'. He also told the Minsiter that Ethiopia will send a public diplomacy team in very short time to Cairo."

Wichita State’s international students part of global diplomacy, director says - Gerhard runs Wichita State University’s international education program. He has helped hundreds of foreign students study at WSU. They come here from 110 countries. There are currently 1,400 at WSU, he said, and another 400 former international students in the U.S. still working with WSU. Most of them face eventual visa deadlines to leave the U.S., he said. Many want to stay. Many trained at WSU to become engineers, scientists, math teachers, entrepreneurs.

After we train them, we make them leave, Gerhard said. 'We haven’t been smart enough to keep these people here,' he said. 'With our immigration policy, we welcome them here, they become virtually a part of our country—they become very American in many ways.' He’s been glad to hear that politicians in Washington are talking about changing that. ... 'A lot of people have no idea about this community, or the positive impact these students have in the world,' he said. 'Many of them go on to become influential leaders in their countries. Most of them go home with a favorable impression of the United States – and say wonderful things about us. It’s a form of public diplomacy, soft diplomacy, and the goodwill it generates for the United States is incalculable.'" Image from article, with caption: Madhulika Srikanth, right, and fellow student Vishal Nageshkar conduct experiments relating to nanotechnology at Wichita State.

Israel Today Forum focuses on diplomacy - "The Oxford English Dictionary defines diplomacy as: the profession, activity or skill of managing international relations, typically by a country’s representatives abroad. Wherever, whenever, and however he can, Neil Lazarus epitomizes the definition. Lazarus’ goal is to have others join him in effectively and proactively putting Israel in a positive light and he offers a variety of methods to teach people how to do that.

Lazarus is coming to the Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community as the second speaker in the popular Israel Today Forum. The Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and a number of partners have arranged for Lazarus to speak to high school and college students ... . Considered an expert in the fields of Middle East politics, public diplomacy and effective communication training, Lazarus is adept at getting his message out through any and all available mediums. He was an advisor on an Israeli reality TV show, provides commentary for public affairs TV and radio programs, posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter and on his own website— Lazarus contributes opinion pieces to newspapers, is a guest blogger on multiple sites, hosts free webinars teaching digital diplomacy, and recently launched his own Neil Lazarus app on the iTunes and Android stores. Additionally, he has clients that include Israeli Ministry of Tourism, Harvard Extension Courses in Israel and Birthright Israel, and travels frequently to communities large and small, speaking to an estimated 30,000 people a year." Image from article

War, Peace and a New World Paved with Good Intentions through Sport - Grant Jarvie, "As a form of soft power that is able to broker moments of normality within terrorist situations or periods of conflict between ethnic or national communities, sport as a form of public diplomacy or social intervention has often been overlooked. This need not be the case. At the very least, sport may have a part to play in the reconstruction of people and places, reconciliation of relationships and the resolution of issues and animosities. At it’s worst sport can divide, but at its best it can provide moments of normality upon which other resources of hope can be activated and built upon. At least four initial propositions might be put forward: (i) that sport matters in world politics because it can provide opportunities for diplomatic interventions at times when other forms of international relations and mediation are not working; (ii) that sport provides a popular prism through which nation- states can and do present an image to both the rest of the world and their own people; (iii) that sport can be a facilitator of change within a country and (iv) that historical ideals of sport being a cathartic form of war without weapons should be replaced by more progressive realist cases of sport being part of a holistic package or resources that any foreign ministry or office has at it’s disposal. Sport is a valuable soft diplomatic tool in certain situations. (Howie, 2012; Jarvie and Thornton, 2012)"

Individualism, Collectivism – and Relationalism - R.S. Zaharna, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "In honor of the New Year (both West and East), I would like to share a relatively new lens for viewing relations in public diplomacy. Many may have heard of the terms individualism, which privileges the individual, and collectivism, which favors the collective or group. What they may not have heard about yet is relationalism, which privileges personal relations. At the time of this writing, relationalism literally 'isn’t in the dictionary' – at least the most prominent one in the English-language. Relationalism is in Wikipedia. However, the entry lacks cultural and communication dimensions as well as the pivotal contributions from female and Asian scholars. For public diplomacy, relationalism offers a more refined lens for viewing relationships beyond simply 'one versus the many' or 'two-way communication.' Relationalism may be particularly valuable for understanding the dynamics of networking and collaborative public diplomacy."

Research Trip - Molly Bettie, Public Diplomacy and Student Exchanges: Possibly the first study of the Fulbright Program to be conducted by someone who isn't affiliated with it in any way... - "In terms of my actual research, this trip has been a huge success. The CU papers have had some of the key missing bits that I needed--grantee selection guidelines, BFS membership info, trip reports, etc. The interviews were brilliant.

Both Prof. Woods & Prof Purvis were so interesting to talk with, and I know the material will be useful. Mostly, though, it was just really good to practice interviewing and to realise that it was easier than I'd expected. This trip's been another confidence boost, just when I needed it." Image from article, with caption: Mullins Library at the University of Arkansas

Fed Event: CISSM forum: January 31 - "'Furthering Tolerance and Inclusion in Europe: U.S. Foreign Policy Interests' by Spencer Boyer, Visiting Senior Fellow, Johns Hopkins University, and Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars [.] Spencer P. Boyer is a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University and a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. From August 2009 – December 2011, he served in the Obama administration as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. Mr. Boyer’s work in the bureau focused on Western Europe, public diplomacy, and public affairs. Prior to joining the State Department, Mr. Boyer was the Director of International Law and Diplomacy in the National Security and International Policy Department of the Center for American Progress, a Washington-­based think tank."

bid lists and priorities - our life in the foreign service: "The most exciting day of A-100 is flag day, when you find out where and how you’ll be spending the next two years of your life. The second most exciting day is the day you receive your bid list, when you find out what your options are. The weeks in between are spent arranging and rearranging bids, considering and reconsidering preferences, and trying to figure out where some of the lesser-known cities are located. When Alex went through this three years ago, we thought long and hard about our list and what our preferences were. We wanted somewhere Francophone and in Africa. We also wanted a hardship post, but not one that was particularly dangerous (we prefer our hardship in the form of wandering goats, not wandering rebels). Alex wanted a public diplomacy job. All of those preferences helped inform our final list. A few posts met all of them. A lot of posts met some of them. And a small handful met none at all. This time, though, things are different. When someone asks me what my preferences are, I really only have one – we want to be posted together as a tandem couple. Simple right? Sure, we’d love to be a little closer to home and it might be nice for Flynn to continue his French, but the only thing we really, truly care about is being together as a family."


The Getty is getting it right: The Getty has taken steps to separate itself from corrupt collecting. An online database will help it in the task - Editorial, Los Angeles Times: The J. Paul Getty Museum has spent the last five years making amends for acquiring looted antiquities and trying to distance itself from a culture of rapacious and corrupt collecting. Stricter rules on acquisitions have been put in place. Nearly 50 objects in the museum's possession — valued at many millions of dollars — have been returned since 2007 to their homelands.

This month, Getty officials announced that they would voluntarily return to Sicily a terra cotta head of Hades, framed with lush curls, after the museum's curators realized it matched fragments of curls from an archaeological site that has been heavily looted in the past. Now the museum is in the midst of an ambitious project to verify the ownership history and origins — the "provenance" — of its entire collection of 45,000 antiquities. Some are valuable and famous works of art; others are mere pieces of objects. Many are for study and not display. Eventually all the information will be available online, and some of it is already is. We are glad to see the museum honorably returning things that it discovers were ill-gotten. Image from article, with caption: The Getty Museum said it will return a terra cotta head believed to depict the Greek god Hades to officials in Sicily.

Rethinking our China strategy: U.S. policy of engagement with Beijing has not been as effective in shaping its rise to superpower status as Washington had hoped - Gary Schmitt and Dan Blumenthal, Los Angeles Times: A productive discussion of the "pivot" or "rebalance" to the Asia-Pacific region will require a frank acknowledgment that the primary factor driving the change is increased nervousness in Washington and Asian capitals about China's rise and, in turn, recognition that the U.S. policy of engagement with China has not been as effective in shaping that rise as successive administrations, Republican and Democratic, had hoped. Finding the right balance in U.S.-China policy is a complex task. But the first step for the new secretaries of State and Defense in getting it right must be to understand what engagement can and can't do, and to realize it is unlikely that China will become a member in good standing of the liberal international order until its leaders have made the decision to become liberal at home.

The Still-Clenched Fist in Moscow: Congress's Magnitsky Act sanctions Kremlin officials, but enforcement is up to the Obama State Department - Gary Kasparov, Wall Street Journal: This year is shaping up to be a worrying one for Russian President Vladimir Putin. After a long delay, the U.S. Congress finally passed the Magnitsky Act last month, committing to travel and banking sanctions against the Russian government officials who turn the wheels of Mr. Putin's repressive machine. Taking aim at the apparatchiks this way can shake the entire Kremlin power structure.

It remains to be seen whether the State Department will vigorously enforce the law, having attempted to scuttle it before Congress passed it. But with proper enforcement, the law could undermine the standard mafia-boss promise that governs Mr. Putin's ruling clique—"Stay loyal to me and I will protect you, no matter your crimes." Meanwhile, Mr. Putin is turning to propaganda games to perpetuate the impression that he can still count on Western support. The Kremlin-controlled mass media have recently been full of stories about impending high-level visitors from Washington looking to restore the U.S.-Russian "reset" and convey a letter from President Barack Obama himself. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week emphasized that Mr. Putin had personally invited Mr. Obama to come to Moscow. Putin image from article

Diversionary Politics - Masha Gessen, New York Times: In the next year or so Russia is scheduled to host several major international events, including a G-20 summit meeting in September 2013 and the Winter Olympics in February 2014. The visits of world leaders in politics and sports will continue to lend legitimacy to a regime that deserves to be treated as a pariah. By shaking the hands of Russian leaders, Western politicians will be engaging with them as partners — and communicating to the Russian opposition that it is alone.

Consequences of U.S. inaction in Syria are clear - Editorial Board, Washington Post: The United States could do much to shape the course of events in Syria without using American troops. It could begin providing aid directly to Syrian refu­gee organizations and civilian councils inside the country, as France has done for months. It could provide arms to moderate rebel factions, so that they can compete with the jihadists and so that they will look to the United States when the war is over. Continued passivity will ensure that the crisis in Syria continues to worsen — along with the consequences for the United States.

Google Maps North Korea - Wall Street Journal: One of the striking features of North Korea on Google Maps is a highlighting of the areas where the country operates gulag-like work camps, believed to be some of the largest and most inhumane prisons in the world. Brown shading stands out against the light beige background, instantly imparting to a user of Google Maps the enormous size of the prisons. Includes video: With the help of "citizen cartographers," Google Maps has filled in some of North Korea's streets and prison camps. The WSJ's Evan Ramstad gives a preview of some places the world's most reclusive nation would rather keep a secret.

North Korea in the Dark - Benedict Rogers, New York Times: Just as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan put concern for Soviet dissidents firmly on the table, the world today needs to look North Korea in the eye and challenge Pyongyang over its gulags. Critical engagement, investigation, information, and accountability go hand in hand.

North Korea's poets of propaganda stay true to their muse despite world's laughter - Ian Johnston, NBC News: North Korea’s leaders are “peerlessly great” and capable of “immortal feats,” Americans are “imperialists” who use “brigandish logic” and critics are just “rats” scurrying about in a ditch. And not to forget the gushing ode to the “threadbare and discolored” parka worn by the late “dear leader” Kim Jong Il or the discovery of a unicorn lair.

Official pronouncements from North Korea’s state-controlled media have always had a certain poetic quality -- although the poet in question would appear to be extremely angry, somewhat paranoid and possessed by an overly active imagination. And more than a year after Kim Jong Un, son of Kim Jong Il, came to power, it is clear that the planet's only hereditary communist state is still pleased with its flowery rhetoric, despite mocking laughter from the rest of the world. Image from article, with caption: A banner reading "Accomplish task suggested by Workers Party Central Committee and Central Army Committee" appears at a rally commemorating the 65th anniversary of North Korean Workers Party in Pyongyang on Feb. 13, 2010.

Anti-Japan propaganda has handcuffed Beijing - Today, anti-Japanese sentiment is high in China and the government has become a prisoner of its own propaganda as the Internet multiplies the impact of public pressure on the authorities.

Explosion at Fordow: Israeli propaganda or Iran’s biggest secret? - Contradictory reports of an explosion at Iran’s uranium enrichment site have been emerging. Iran denies it ever happened, calling it “Western propaganda” while Israel confirms it, putting tensions around upcoming nuclear talks.

Reports of the explosion at the underground Fordow plant, near the city of Qom, central-northern Iran, originally surfaced on Friday after a former Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Reza Kahlili, published his report on the website. Iran has denied the reports, while Israel and some of US media reported that the explosion occurred and caused significant damage. Image from article, with caption: Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility

Step-Grandchildren Of Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister, Are Billionaires: Report - Bonnie Kavoussi, The Huffington Post: Four step-grandchildren of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels

are worth $1.2 billion each, according to an investigation by Bloomberg. That's largely thanks to an inheritance from their biological grandfather, Guenther Quandt. Harald Quandt, Goebbels' step-son, and his half-brother Herbert inherited and rebuilt their father's industrial conglomerate, which produced guns and missiles for Nazi Germany's war effort, Bloomberg reports. One of the most lucrative parts of the conglomerate turned into a stake in BMW, and Herbert's widow and two children now own nearly half of the company. Image from entry

Comedy in Denver: Using the power of "Propaganda" for good, not evil at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret - One of the most encouraging signs of Denver's growing stand-up renaissance is not only the number of comedy shows popping up but their quality and staying power. Comedian Matt Monroe's "Propaganda," which takes over Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret the last Sunday of each month, has already snagged national comics such as Ron Funches, Andy Peters, Claudia Cogan, Kyle Kinane and Rory Scovel. Next week Monroe will welcome back headliner Sean Patton along with Denver's delightfully weird Jim Hickox, L.A.'s Sofiya Alexandra and Brock Wilbur and locals Dave Clay and Rick DeSimone. Expose your mind to the warped goodness.

Image from article, with caption: A promotional poster for the "Propaganda" comedy show at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret the final Sunday of each month

Analyzing his diatribe against the President and thoughts on what the Chicago MC can learn from Dr. King - David Drake, There is an essay by George Orwell entitled “The Frontiers of Art and Propaganda” which addresses the complicated relationship between politics and art. All art is propaganda; it is impossible to divorce a person’s creative output from his or her political biases and ideological outlook. Orwell writes that “our aesthetic judgements are always coloured by our prejudices and beliefs.” But there is a flipside to this; the end of "pure aestheticism," in Orwell's era, caused “countless young writers to try to tie their minds to a political discipline which, if they had stuck to it, would have made mental honesty impossible.” At a certain point, the artist has to recognize that his job is to create effective art, and that requires a certain kind of honesty that pure “pamphleteering” undermines. Dr. King himself recognized the political power of art. "In a real sense, you have paved the way for social and political change by creating a powerful cultural bridge between black and white," he told the National Association of Television and Radio Announcers in 1967. "School integration is much easier now that they share a common music, a common language, and enjoy the same dances. You introduced youth to that music and created the language of soul, and promoted the dance which now sweeps across race, class, and nation." He spoke of music and dance laying the groundwork for "a cultural conquest that surpasses even Alexander the Great and the culture of Classical Greece. But, my brothers and my sisters, we're only beginning. We still have a long, long way to go."

CBS News Wanted To Hire An Insightful Political Commentator, But Instead Chose Condoleezza Rice  Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog: And now, as if Condi hasn't enjoyed the largesse of corporate welfare quite enough, we learn that Bob Shieffer has announced that CBS has hired Dr. Ferragamo to be a regular, paid, staff contributor, rather than just having her on for free all the time.

This is a particularly rich vindication for Condi, because at one point she was actually banned from CBS for being a "frustrating" talking point mimic. Longtime Pony Pals may recall that Condi and CBS/Shieffer have a bit of a complicated history! Let's review: March 13, 2005: Bob Shieffer is all, like, "Huminahuminahumina" over Condi's sexy boots. April 30, 2006: "That sounds like a dodge," grouses Bob at Condi's incessant talking points. September 24, 2007: Condi is effectively banned from CBS. Schieffer explains, "I expected we'd just get a repetition of the administration's talking points." That was then. But now –now!– they'll get superinsightful Condianalysis! Great buy, CBS. Maybe Condi will wear the boots again, Bob. Image from entry


--Pavel Kartashev's photo Via DR on Facebook: 1991. The line facing the first Moscow McDonald's


"we prefer our hardship in the form of wandering goats, not wandering rebels."

--U.S. Foreign Service officer Andy; image from