Sunday, March 31, 2013

March 30-31

"Art and mass entertainment and propaganda, they can all be plotted on the same graph, but there is a difference."

--Dramatist David Mamet; image from


The BBG's globalnewsdashboard; via


Establishment of a University Partnership in Textile Design with National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan - "The Public Affairs Section of the U. S. Embassy in Islamabad and U.S Consulate General in Lahore announces [sic] an open competition for a cooperative agreement to establish a University Partnership between a four-year college or university in the U. S. and the National College of Arts in Textile Design. Accredited U. S. four-year colleges and universities meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c)(3) may submit proposals to pursue institutional or departmental objectives in partnership with the National College of Arts.

Objectives detailed as priorities for this partnership include: collaborative research, curriculum development, faculty exchange, long distance teaching via internet/DVC and sharing of manuals and literature. The means of achieving these objectives is purposefully left broad to encourage the submission of innovative proposals tailored to the international education and research goals of both institutions. ... The project implementation period should be 36 months. Agency: Department of State Office: Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Estimated Funding: $1,000,000." Image from

A Letter to Michael Kaiser About Cultural Diplomacy - "Dear Mr. Kaiser, I read with interest your open letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, in which you propose a new form of cultural diplomacy: to send arts administrators abroad to teach fundraising skills to their counterparts at cultural institutions, which in the current fiscal climate can no longer depend on government funding. The model of cultural diplomacy followed by most developed nations, the exchange of information and ideas, you dismiss as a waste of money: touring artists is expensive, you argue, and appeals only to elites. But this is a misreading of American cultural diplomacy, which consists of a variety of artistic and educational programs often geared toward reaching underserved populations. Sending artists to teach and perform in places of strategic interest is in fact a cost-efficient means for the State Department to articulate our ideals to foreign audiences, build bridges between friends and foes alike, create sustaining networks. ... In the course of my travels I have met on every continent artists and writers expert in securing funds for their projects, and I cannot imagine telling them how to raise money in their own back yard. But I can share with them my thinking about the music and meaning of Whitman's 'Song of Myself' or Frost's 'Directive.'"

The psychological, communication and political skill that was marshaled to give the speech its maxim - fema maps: "The effectiveness of Obama's careful political and psychological preparation for these unprecedented statements with his Israeli audience was demonstrated by the sustained, and otherwise unimaginable, applause he received for almost all these remarks.

He clearly went a long way in assuaging Israeli skepticism. Palestinians will be harder to win over, as they require more than words given the onerous conditions of the occupation and their repeated disappointment with successive American governments, and in particular with Obama's first term... Diplomacy without sufficient outreach may have proven to be a failure in Obama's ... first term. But this kind of bravura performance of public diplomacy will have to be backed up with significant real diplomacy or it may be remembered as yet another inspiring Obama Middle East speech that ultimately produces more disappointment than tangible achievement." Image from, with caption: U.S. President Barack Obama and Israel's President Shimon Peres (L) pose for a photo with Israeli children during a welcoming ceremony at Peres' residence in Jerusalem March 20, 2013.

A Tale of Two Pipelines Part II - "Global media now consists of mutual partisanships where objective journalism is becoming increasingly more scarce. Simon Tisdall of the Guardian, it's [sic] 'World Correspondent' never seems to break out of repeating Western government 'Public Diplomacy ['] as opposed to working out what the contending sides [sic] interests are in global conflicts. ... The TAPI Pipeline was termed 'The New Silk Route' by Hilary [sic] Clinton. It is a prime war objective in Afghanistan that is routinely omitted from Western media discussion, including The Guardian. As it seems to undermine the 'Public Diplomacy' that the war is about 'humanitarian intervention'."

Virtual Embassies: Better Than Nothing or Bad PD? - Matthew Wallin, "The advent of internet communications has given a rise to the concept of virtual public diplomacy engagement—that is communication with foreign publics without actually having a ground presence to do so. Some call it e-diplomacy. While this sounds like a revolutionary concept, functionally, it is not.

The ability to get information into a country without being on the ground there has existed for many years in the form of various types of electronic communication. Despite this, the announcement of Virtual Embassy Tehran by the U.S. State Department in 2011 has been viewed as a revolutionary occurrence. ... Ultimately, if the best use of the internet as a medium through which public diplomacy can be conducted is as a component of real-world in-person engagement, then do virtual embassies stand out as bad PD, simply 'better than nothing,' or actually effective? Without proper metrics, we won’t really know. It will take people on the ground in these countries to really find out." Image from

The Prodigal State: India’s New Nuclear Clothes - Ibn-al-Dunya, "In November 2004, America followed India into the election booth. Bush’s reelection was celebrated more in India than the United States, indicating the positive mood in public diplomacy between the two countries. According to a poll conducted by the BBC soon after the elections, the American President’s popularity stood at 62% in India, higher even than in the United States and second only to the Philippines at 63%."

The Interagency Working Group on Active Measures - Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence:  "If you know what the Interagency working Group on Active Measures was you either read The Cold War and the United States Information Agency very carefully or you’re old enough to have been paying attention during the 1980s. This was a group based in the State Department that worked to unmask Soviet use of forged documents and front organizations One of topics that they spent a lot of time on was origins and circulation of a rumour that the AIDS virus was an American biological warfare programme. The high point of their fame came in October 1987 when Mikhail Gorbachev waved a copy of one of their reports at George Shultz and complained that publishing such information undermined relations between their countries. ... Many people in the State Department were unhappy with the whole enterprise.

Their unmasking of what the Soviets termed ‘active measures’ had the potential to further strain relations with the USSR and to embarrass allies who appeared to be the target of these actions. Although Shultz conceded nothing to Gorbachev after their meeting there were stories that he returned to Washington and ordered that future reports from the group should be published by the USIA and not State. ... Interestingly a few days after his meeting with Shultz Gorbachev told Charles Wick of the USIA that disinformation activities had to stop. If you’re interested in how organizational imperatives shape public diplomacy or the interaction between public diplomacy and diplomacy this study is well worth a read. Schoen, F., Lamb, C.J., (2012) Deception, Disinformation, and Strategic Communications: How One Interagency Group Made a Major Difference, National Defense University Press, Washington DC." Image from

VOA and BBC World Service announce reductions to their shortwave schedules - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Russia calls for 'maximum restraint' around N.Korea - AFP, "The Interfax news agency quoted a diplomatic source as praising South Korea and the United States' positions in the stand-off with North Korea. 'The situation is, of course, very tense and dangerous but still there are some encouraging moments: the reaction from the United States and South Korea is measured and calm to a certain degree,' the source was quoted as saying. 'It is not the time to breathe fire,' the source added. 'The time has come for active, non-public diplomacy aimed at searching for a political settlement within the framework of international law including the decisions of the UN Security Council which are binding in nature.'"

NATO Cultivates Bellicose Yuppie Elites For 21st Century Wars - "North Atlantic Treaty Organization Alied Command Transformation March 27, 20[1]3 Young Professionals Bring Fresh, New Perspectives to NATO at YP Day Written by ACT PAO[:] ... During the day-long event, young professionals analysed challenges and opportunities inherent in four potential future scenarios for the Alliance.

They were then assembled in four working groups, guided by mentors from ACT and other organisations, to formulate their own ideas for taking on these challenges. Ultimately, the discussion generated by these young people will help shape the future of the Alliance and ensure that NATO remains a capable and adaptable military force." Image from article, with caption: Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at NATO Ambassador Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović

Statement on Salafranca Report – EUSR on human rights - Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, Europa Press Release Rapid: "I am looking for somebody with an established track record and international experience in human rights, as well a strong understanding of EU policy. The Member States have put forward some excellent candidates, and I look forward to a swift appointment.

It is clear that the EUSR will be an important interlocutor for the Parliament too. You have my full commitment that he or she will be able to brief the EP regularly, in line with existing arrangements. The EUSR will add considerable value to our existing work. This may take the form of leading human rights dialogues and consultations, where the EUSR should be a natural interlocutor for our partners. Communications and public diplomacy will also be key. The EUSR should help us to be more visible and to promote human rights across the whole range of the EU's external policies."

Is Canada serious about the Americas? - Robert Muggah, "After decades of non-engagement, Canada launched an Americas Strategy in 2007, announcing that it would step up its diplomatic, defence and development engagement in some of the most insecure countries on the planet. This was never going to be easy: six of the top 10 most violent countries in the world are in the Western Hemisphere and for some, the situation is worsening. ... As Canada reconfigures its foreign affairs and aid agencies in 2013, it would do well to initiate an open debate on the intended objectives and outcomes of the Americas Strategy. Instead of focusing inwardly on government institutions alone, Canadians of Latin American and Caribbean descent could be enlisted into public diplomacy efforts. What is more, Canada could usefully refocus its investments in a selection of strategic partners and promote triangular and south-south partnerships in thematic and geographic areas where Canada has demonstrated value-added."

Backed by Qatar's billions, Sarkozy's brokerage and Beckham's glamour, Paris St Germain are forging the new French Revolution - "James Dorsey, Senior Fellow at Singapore's Nanyang Technical University and an expert on football in the Middle East [:] 'The Gulf states such as Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates use sport for all the same reasons as others do - projection, image building, leveraging of business opportunities ... But what sets them apart is that sport is a key element of their defence and security policy. It doesn't matter how many weapons you buy, and how sophisticated they are, you're not going to be able to defend yourself. You want to embed yourself into the international community, so that if and when there's trouble you may be able to rely on the international community to bail you out. You're building relationships on levels which you would not do in normal diplomacy or defence and security policy. It's soft power, cultural diplomacy and public diplomacy. But what sets Qatar apart is that sport has been a key element in what they're trying to build as a national identity.'"

First lady’s radiance delights world and boosts soft power - Jason Lee, "Peng Liyuan’s debut on the international stage as China’s first lady has put her into the international limelight. Along with her husband, Chinese President Xi Jinping, she has just paid a highly successful state visit to Russia. Xi’s visit to Russia has been very rewarding by promoting Sino-Russian relations to a new height.

Both countries deemed their bilateral ties as among the most crucial in their external relations. In particular, Beijing and Moscow are committed to supporting each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is significant in boosting global stability. Peng’s accompanying her husband made this visit even more perfect. Her graceful presence on various occasions has brought China and Chinese people closer to Russia and Russians. China needs a high-profile staging of its new top leader and his family to be presented to the world, to empower its state and public diplomacy." Image from entry

Past as military propaganda singer complicates first lady’s emergence as icon of softer China - "A photo of China’s new first lady Peng Liyuan in younger days, singing to martial-law troops following the 1989 bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, flickered across Chinese cyberspace this week. It was swiftly scrubbed from China’s Internet before it could generate discussion online. But the image — seen and shared by outside observers — revived a memory the leadership prefers to suppress and shows one of the challenges in presenting Peng on the world stage as the softer side of China. The country has no recent precedent for the role of first lady and faces a tricky balance at home. The leadership wants Peng to show the human side of the new No. 1 leader, Xi Jinping, while not exposing too many perks of the elite. And it must balance popular support for the first couple with an acute wariness of personality cults that could skew the consensus rule among the Chinese Communist Party’s top leaders.

The image of Peng, wearing a green military uniform, her windswept hair tied back in a ponytail as she sings to helmeted and rifle-bearing troops seated in rows on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, contrasts with her appearances this week in trendy suits and coiffed hair while touring Russia and Africa with Xi, waving to her enthusiastic hosts. Image from article

invited Chen Mingming - "Chen Mingming Editor’s Note: Public diplomacy has been the norm in the US and European countries for a long time, but in China this concept has yet to be understood and accepted widely."

Consular officials told to improve services to public - Tarra Quismundo, Philippine Daily Inquirer: "Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has asked consular officers at the Department of Foreign Affairs to 'strive harder' in providing services to the public even as he noted improvements in the agency’s passport processing and authentication systems. At a recent meeting with consular officers at the DFA, Del Rosario called on his frontliners to step up efforts to enhance consular services, saying 'there is still room for improvement' in areas that have garnered mixed reviews from the public. ... Officials also discussed issues like passport fraud and irregularities in document authentication, human trafficking, assistance to nationals and public diplomacy, among others."

Public Diplomacy - danbird19, Diplomacy Old and New 2012a: A group blog by students at London Metropolitan University: "Public Diplomacy is a form of diplomacy that has become increasingly important across the past 50 years. Public Diplomacy is essentially a state using a public event such as a Olympic Games to show the rest of the world what their state is like and to promote their state to other nations.

There are many examples of public diplomacy that have happened in recent years but the one I’m writing about today is how India used the Indian Premier League Twenty20 Cricket tournament to show the world how they were capable of hosting major events and how far they’d come as a nation since gaining independence from the British in the 20th Century." Uncaptioned image from article

Defining an era through the prism of sci-fi films - "Nicholas Cull, professor and director of the Master of Public Diplomacy program at USC, argues in his latest book that futuristic science fiction movies relate the story of their time in a way that is often more telling than political discourse. Using historical documents located in U.S. and British archives, Projecting Tomorrow: Science Fiction and Popular Cinema analyzes the making of Star Wars, Forbidden Planet and 2001: A Space Odyssey, among other iconic films.

'The book uses the most successful films of a particular era as a way to understand that time,' Cull said. 'We look at War of the Worlds to understand the 1950s, Planet of the Apes to think about the ’60s and Avatar as a window on our own time. A great way of understanding who we are is to look at the stories we tell ourselves about an unlimited subject like the future.'” Image from entry, with caption: Projecting Tomorrow: Science Fiction and Popular Cinema offers a peek into the production of well-known movies.

Student Spotlight: Chris Johnson, MPA ’13 - Graduate Admissions Blog, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs: "As part of our weekly Student Spotlight series, we sat down with current student Chris Johnson and asked five questions about his life prior, during, and after attending the Woodrow Wilson School. ... What did you do before studying at WWS? I was studying at NYU majoring in International Relations and Latin American Studies immediately before matriculating at Princeton. I was awarded the Department of State’s Pickering Foreign Affairs fellowship in 2009.

As part of the program, I interned with the Department of State in D.C. working in public diplomacy and at Embassy Bangkok on the Economics desk. ... What are your plans for after you graduate and how has WWS prepared you for those plans? As a Pickering Fellow, I will start as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) in September, focusing on public diplomacy. ... The WWS has prepared me for work as an FSO through developing my analytical skills (especially in economics and concise writing)." Image from entry, with caption: Chris dressed as the city of Chicago at the U.S. Mission to Bangkok’s Fourth of July Celebration in 2012.

Junior Embarks on Internship to Northern Ireland for U.S. Consulate General - "High Point University junior Johnathan Grimmel is taking on an international experience of a lifetime this spring as the political section intern for the United States Consulate General in Belfast. Grimmel, who is majoring in political science with minors in women’s and gender studies and nonprofit management, is spending his time working with sections of the consulate general, including public diplomacy, politics/economics, management and consular affairs.

He’ll complete the internship in late May. The internship is providing Grimmel with a wide variety of important responsibilities, including working on specific political and economic issues, such as sectarian tensions, budget cuts and the economic recession; collaborating with the public affairs section in the preparation of events involving alumni of U.S. programs; updating the consulate general’s database of contacts; and maintaining biographical information for local politicians or civic business leaders." Uncaptioned image from entry

San Diego Diplomacy Council appoints new executive director [scroll down for item] - "Jill M. Secard was appointed executive director of the San Diego Diplomacy Council, a North Park-based nonprofit working with the public and private sector to bring world leaders to the region for several professional and cultural exchanges. Announced Wednesday, March 27, Secard brings more than 10 years experience in nonprofit management, fundraising and development, public relations, and special events production. 'I am very happy to be serving as the San Diego Diplomacy Council’s executive director,' Secard said in the announcement. 'I had been searching for an organization that would be the right match for my passion of international business and public diplomacy.' Secard said she heard of the global impact of the Diplomacy Council through hosting a youth leader from Egypt in 2012."

Calls for Papers – Public Relations Inquiry - "Public Relations Inquiry – a Sage journal Special Issue Public relations, propaganda and terrorism [:] This issue is intended to explore connections between public relations, propaganda and terrorism through conceptual and empirical analyses that embrace sociological, philosophical, socio-psychological, political, anthropological, historical perspectives including humanistic perspectives such as language and literature. Central concerns include: definitional challenges; ideological framing and composition; processes of identification and justification; the taboo nature of propaganda in particular contexts; the way in which public communication and rhetoric are employed to position some sources and communications as propaganda; psychological operations and counter-terrorism, and counter-terrorism.

Articles and essays may take a variety of forms including philosophical analysis, case studies and social scientific empirical work, histories, textual analyses, social theory, shorter polemics, up to around 3,000 words will be considered and made available for ‘Reply to’ responses – please contact the Editors. Submissions focused on communications around the following themes are welcomed: ... • Public diplomacy, nation-building and nationalism." Image from


Our policy toward North Korea isn’t working - Mike Chinoy, Washington Post: Every time Pyongyang has faced pressure, sanctions and coercion — as opposed to a U.S. willingness to engage — it has responded in precisely the same way: by doing the opposite of whatever the heightened pressure was designed to achieve. Only face-to-face discussions with Kim Jong Un will enable the United States to judge whether there is any hope of dialogue and revived diplomacy. Obama should send a high-level envoy to Pyongyang.

The war danger in Korea: Pentagon’s false propaganda conceals truth about crisis - Brian Becker, The American war propaganda machine does a thorough job in misleading the public about the high-stakes struggle the Pentagon is waging against North Korea. On March 28, the Obama administration ordered and the Pentagon executed a mock bombing attack on North Korea by U.S. B-2 stealth bombers equipped to drop nuclear bombs—the most advanced nuclear-capable plane in the U.S. Air Force.

In recent months, the U.S. has also used nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to simulate the bombing of North Korea.The work of the war propaganda machine is designed to make sure that the American people do not join together to demand an end to the dangerous and threatening actions of the Pentagon on the Korean Peninsula. The propaganda campaign is in full swing now as the Pentagon climbs the escalation ladder in the most militarized part of the planet. North Korea is depicted as the provocateur and aggressor whenever they assert that they have the right and capability to defend their country. Even as the Pentagon simulates the nuclear destruction of a country that it had already tried to bomb into the stone-age, the corporate-owned media characterizes this extremely provocative act as a sign of “resolve” and a measure of “self-defense.” As the Pentagon climbs the escalation ladder, North Korea will climb too. That is often how wars start. Image from article

Kim Jong Un's soft side comes out in propaganda - AP, USA Today: The outside world focuses on the messages of doom and gloom from North Korea: bombastic threats of nuclear war, fantasy videos of U.S. cities in flames, digitally altered photos of leader Kim Jong Un guiding military drills. But back home, North Koreans get a decidedly softer dose of propaganda: Kim portrayed as a young, energetic leader, a people person and family man. Mixed in with the images showing Kim aboard a speeding boat on a tour of front-line islands, or handing out commemorative rifles to smartly saluting soldiers, are those of

Kim and his wife clapping at a dolphin show or linking arms with weeping North Korean children. North Korea takes pains to select and sometimes alter photos so its leaders appear in the best light possible, said Seo Jeong-nam, a North Korean propaganda expert at Keimyung University in South Korea. Image from article

Drone Warfare is Neither Cheap, Nor Surgical, Nor Decisive: The Ever-Destructive Dreams of Air Power Enthusiasts - William J. Astore, The recent marriage of precision guided munitions to drones, hailed as the newest “perfect weapon” in the air arsenal, has once again led to the usual fantasies about the arrival -- finally, almost 100 years late -- of clean, precise, and decisive war. Using drones, a military need not risk even a pilot’s life in its attacks. Yet the nature of war -- its horrors, its unpredictability, its tendency to outlive its original causes -- remains fundamentally unaltered by “precision” drone strikes. War’s inherent fog and friction persist. In the case of drones, that fog is often generated by faulty intelligence, the friction by malfunctioning weaponry or innocent civilians appearing just as the Hellfire missiles are unleashed. Rather than clean wars of decision, drone strikes decide nothing. Instead, they produce their share of “collateral damage” that only spawns new enemies seeking revenge.

Drawing down, but still projecting power - David Ignatius, Washington Post: Adm. William McRaven’s plan to create a “global SOF network” was endorsed in February by the Pentagon, which gave McRaven direct control over special operations forces around the world. The idea of filling the power gap with special forces is appealing, but the world is wary of forward-deployed U.S. commandos, no matter how important the mission. A decade ago, a Pentagon plan to spread special forces abroad as “military liaison elements” created a firestorm of protest. McRaven may promise that his network won’t act anywhere without the approval of the U.S. ambassador, but the State Department will still have the jitters, not to mention foreign governments. A global SOF network will be a powerful tool, but it can’t fill the vacuum by itself. SOF power and soft power aren’t the same thing.

The fun-filled ocean resort at Guantánamo Bay: A growing hunger strike among detainees is mocked by gullible journalists spouting familiar Potemkin Village propaganda - Glenn Greenwald, Guardian: If you're looking for a fun activity-filled resort to take your family for a summer vacation, you simply cannot do better than Club GTMO, according to a new glossy travel guide just published by Robert Johnson, the Military and Defense Editor of Business Insider, under the guise of a news article. Scrumptious meals. Video games galore for the kids. Outdoor sports.

Newspapers from your hometown delivered by smiling bellhops to the front door of your villa. Picturesque Caribbean vistas. All that and more can be yours - provided that you're "compliant". What more could vacationers - or prisoners kept in a cage for more than a decade with no charges thousands of miles away from their family - possibly want? They are, proclaims Johnson, treated "absurdly well". Not just well: absurdly well. They are, he actually writes, lavished with "resort treatment". The context for Johnson's glowing thumbs-up is an intensifying hunger strike among (totally ungrateful) prisoners at the camp. Lawyers for the detainees say the hunger strike was triggered "as a protest of the men's indefinite confinement without charge and because of what they said was a return to harsh treatment from past years, including more intrusive searches and confiscation of personal items such as mail from their families." Image from article, with caption: Guantánamo inmates kneel at prayers.

Obama’s ‘nuclear zero’ rhetoric is dangerous - By Douglas J. Feith, Frank J. Gaffney, James A. Lyons and R. James Woolsey, Washington Post: In the name of opposing nuclear proliferation, promoting international cooperation and championing peace, the Obama administration has embraced “nuclear zero” and a set of nuclear policies that risk spurring proliferation, harming U.S. alliances and increasing the danger that nuclear war someday will occur.

America the Innovative? - Eamonn Fingleton, New York Times: Throughout history, rich nations have gotten to the future first. Their companies can afford to equip their tinkerers and visionaries with the most advanced materials, instruments and knowledge. This raises an epochal question: as China becomes richer, is it destined to pass the United States as the world’s most inventive nation?

What's Missing from the Iraq Debate - Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: The outpouring of commentary surrounding the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war can feel like déjà vu all over again. The political battle lines have changed very little over the past decade: Mostly, those who opposed the war decry the invasion, and its supporters defend it. There have been plenty of (often very good) diagnoses of what went wrong, but the parallel push for intervention in Syria and war with Iran suggests that few lessons will actually be learned from the war.

But here's one surprising detail about the flood of retrospectives: They have almost exclusively been written by Americans, talking about Americans, for Americans. Want to understand what went wrong in Iraq in all its complexity and chaos? The Internet is full of Iraqi academics, journalists, NGO leaders, and political activists with interesting perspectives on the invasion. It might also be useful to hear from the refugees, the displaced, and the families who lost everything. They will disagree with each other, have little patience for the pieties of American political debate, and refuse to fit comfortably into analytical boxes. On the 10th anniversary of the invasion, we should be hearing a lot more from them -- and a lot less from the former American officials and pundits who got it wrong the first time. Image from article


A 'gray divorce' boom: The Beatles sang 'Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?' When it comes to marriage, many baby boomers are saying 'no' - Susan L. Brown, Until recently, it would have been fair to say that older people simply did not get divorced. Fewer than 10% of those who got divorced in 1990 were ages 50 or older.

Today, 1 in 4 people getting divorced is in this age group. Image from

Friday, March 29, 2013

March 28-29

“He will never forgive you for supporting him.”

--Boris Nemtsov, Russia’s deputy prime minister during Yeltsin’s second Presidency, warning recently self(?)-hanged Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky that Putin would not accept a kingmaker by his side; Putin image from


Vladimir Putin es James Bond! -

Under Secretary Sonenshine: Public Diplomacy and Countering Violent Extremism -


Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites #64 Written by editor on March 26, 2013 by Bruce Gregory -


For Obama, Peace Looks Like a Low Priority [March 27] - Michele Dunne, "'Expressing optimism when you don’t even have negotiations would be foolhardy,' said Secretary of State John Kerry on March 24, joining in the systematic lowering of expectations that has characterized public diplomacy around the first foreign trip of President Obama’s second term. In fact it would not have been advisable for Obama to launch a peace initiative on this trip, as it was first necessary to climb out of the ditch into which his relations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Israel more broadly, had fallen since a failed attempt four years ago to force Israel to freeze West Bank settlement construction. For U.S. diplomacy to have a chance, something would have to change, for better or worse, to create urgency. Obama has now restored his ability to exert some influence in Israel, which he put to good use in brokering an Israel-Turkey reconciliation that will be useful to the United States in dealing with Iran and Syria. But while Obama spoke eloquently of the need for Israeli-Palestinian peace during the trip, he distanced himself from any real commitment to act on that score."

Public Show Over, Obama Turns to Private Diplomacy in Middle East [March 26] - George E. Gordon, Jr.: "President Obama’s highly visible trip to the Middle East was seen as a timely and badly needed shot of public diplomacy in the world’s most volatile region.

But what happens behind the scenes and out of public view now that the president is back in the United States may be even more critical to the decades-old American quest to forge stable peace between Israel and her neighbors. ... Keeping the talks under wraps is important for two reasons. First, public opinion now actually matters in the Middle East. The days when autocratic leaders could reach agreements and impose them on their citizenry are gone in a region reshaped by the Arab Spring. And, second, the public on both sides of the divide has grown distrustful of a peace process that has failed them so often." Image from article, with caption: President Obama walks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

Israelis Experience Obama’s Charm Offensive - Kobi Gidenon, "Obama’s tour de force in public diplomacy cannot mask the nagging feeling that it may be mostly rhetoric. Arab audiences in Cairo were just as enthused by Obama four years ago when, at the beginning of his first term, he placed relations with the Arab world at the center of his foreign policy agenda. The President then dropped the ball on follow-through, dashing hopes and crushing expectations. This time, Obama’s reception among Palestinians was much less positive than among Israelis, as Palestinian demonstrations erupted and pictures of Obama were burned."

Obama Trip Renews Debate over Israeli-Palestinian Solution Posted about 3 days ago | VOA - "U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have re-ignited the prospect of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, after meeting with officials on both sides in the region. During his trip to the Middle East last week, Obama urged Israel and the Palestinians to begin direct talks on the core issues of a peace agreement. But some analysts say neither side may be ready for full-fledged talks in the near future. Natan Sachs, a foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, said the president’s trip was a resounding success in terms of public diplomacy. But he told VOA’s Encounter program Israel and the Palestinians are reluctant right now to take the 'bold steps' that could lead to change."

Analysis: President's diplomacy leaves behind hope, skepticism [March 23] - Scott Wilson: "A deeply suspicious Israeli public, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, appeared to receive Obama warmly throughout much of his visit, a tribute to his skills in public diplomacy. But Obama's overall message reflected a shift in his thinking about the best way to pursue a final resolution to the issues of borders, Palestinian refugee claims and the division of Jerusalem, which both peoples view as their capital.

His first effort, initially more focussed on pressuring Israel, ended unsuccessfully, even becoming a 2012 campaign issue. As he begins his second term, Obama has adopted an approach that one school of past U.S. diplomats who have managed this agonizing portfolio have long advocated. The policy calls for 'hugging' Jewish Israelis, through acknowledgment of their ancient history and threatened security, before demanding politically costly sacrifices from its leaders." Image from article, with caption: U.S. President Barack Obama tours the Treasury in the ancient city of Petra, Jordan, Saturday, March 23, 2013.

Sonenshine: Public diplomacy has to look beyond drone strikes, news cycle - Zach Rausnitz, "Efforts at public diplomacy can still succeed in countries where drone strikes have led to outrage against the United States, said Tara Sonenshine, the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, in a talk at the University of Maryland on March 27. Sonenshine recalled a recent trip to Pakistan where she held a question-and-answer session with students, who immediately asked how public diplomacy could persist there amid drone strikes and after the United States had entered Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden without notice or permission. But after the forum, the undersecretary spoke one-on-one with many of the students, and she said that despite their sharp criticisms in public, they wanted to know how they could join an exchange program to study in the United States.

You have to be willing to accept that you might not be popular on a given day,' Sonenshine said at the event, hosted by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. 'You've got to be willing to ride it out' and to tune out the news cycle in order to address long-term issues such as education, employment and health, she said. 'How are we possibly going to know if we're moving the meter?' Sonenshine asked. 'Terrorists are not exactly willing to participate in surveys.' Indicators of success have to be unconventional, she said. When al Qaeda leaders complain about the presence of State Department officials on their online forums and urge visitors to ignore them, that's a sign of success, she said. When foreign governments and citizens set out to replicate the State Department's digital outreach to counter violent extremism, that's taken as a positive sign as well. Opinion studies also indicate that the State Department's messaging is effective, or at least 'make me believe it's worth a try,' Sonenshine said." Image fromsee also.

Global counter-terrorism strategy - Yemen, the drones and extremism - Yemen Post: "Speaking in Maryland, Tara Sonenshine, U.S Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs stressed on the importance of public diplomacy in offsetting terrorism and eradicating extremism. 'Positive work can offset negative environments. Yes, construction requires hard work, patience, resources, and time. Building capacity, forging partnerships, providing resources, engaging actors in positive ways, wiring up communities so there is connectivity -- the list is endless.

But it is worth the effort to build positive environments. To work with nations, citizens, and other partners to support their efforts to build peaceful, prosperous, and tolerant societies.' She explained that through 'the U.S Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, Washington is coordinating closely with its counterterrorism office and other agencies, including the military, and with missions abroad to address the upstream factors of radicalization.' For the most part Under-Secretary Sonenshine described America covert drone warfare in Yemen as one element of Washington counter-terrorism strategy, a necessary evil against the destructive power of al-Qaeda, brushing off criticism. But whether the Obama administration is ready or willing to own up to the devastating effects drone strikes are having on local communities across Yemen, an ethical debate has already begun, one which is fast gaining momentum." Uncaptioned image from article

Dear President Obama: Let’s Help Yemen instead of Droning It - "This is a [pdf] letter to President Obama pleading for a substantial rethink of Yemen policy in his second term, which I among other Middle East experts signed. It was worked up by the Yemen Policy Initiative of the Atlantic Council and the Project on Middle East Democracy. Yemen gets little news coverage in the US but it is a vitally important nation at the mouth of the strategic Red Sea and deserves a more thoughtful Washington policy than just droning its radicals. ... [Letter:] ['] With the development of a new national security team, your administration is well positioned to make the following changes in US policy: ... [including:] Implement a more robust public diplomacy strategy to demonstrate that US interests in Yemen are not limited to counterterrorism and security issues . Although the State Department and USAID are engaging President Hadi’s government on economic, political, and humanitarian issues, most Yemenis are unaware of such initiatives and feel only the negative aspects of US counterterrorism policy. A visit by Secretary of State John Kerry would send a strong signal of support for Yemen’s transition and i ts democratic aspirations. Additionally, other high – level civilian officials — who are not connected to defense or security issues — should make public statements and speeches conveying a sustained US commitment to ensuring Yemen’s economic well – being and democratic development through the transition process. [']"

US sparring directly with Al-Qaeda fans online - AFP: "The United States is deliberately sparring with Al-Qaeda supporters and militants online aiming to shoot down extremist messages and win over hearts and minds, a US official said Wednesday. Seeking out the virtual spaces where 'Al-Qaeda and its supporters lurk' is part of America's strategy to combat violent extremism, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine told students at the University of Maryland. 'We robustly engage with them in chat forums in Arabic, Somali, Punjabi and Urdu,' she explained. 'By targeting the hardliners, we are really trying to reach the middle grounders, the fence sitters, the sympathizers and passive supporters.' Last year, staff at the new Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, which reports directly to Sonenshine, wrote some 7,000 posts on different online forums."

Alhurra Interviews Under Secretary Of State Tara Sonenshine On Countering Extremism - "Alhurra’s State Department correspondent, Michel Ghandour interviewed Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine about public diplomacy and countering violent extremism in the Middle East.

On the role of public diplomacy in fighting violent extremism, Under Secretary Sonenshine said that public diplomacy is a very useful tool when you are countering violent extremism because you are providing an alternative scenario to violence. By opening up engagement with people online and offline, you respond to negative impressions and wrong information, and offer alternative futures in terms of economics, employment, education, and civil society. She went on to say 'It is always a balancing act, but I think most of what social science and political science teaches us is that once somebody has a job, a family, an education, a prospect, some peace, some prosperity and some security, chances are that they will take that over the alternative,' she added." Image from article, with caption: Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Tara Sonenshine speaks with Alhurra

Video Game is Latest US Diplomacy Tool [video] - Carla Babb, VOA: "The U.S. State Department is using a new kind of public diplomacy to counter extremism. And it's not what you'd expect. Trace Effects is an online game geared toward children and young teens far from U.S. shores. It takes the main character on a virtual adventure across the United States, from the Grand Canyon to New York City and beyond. But what is the State Department doing with a video game? 'We want to go where young people are, more and more young people are online,' said Tara Sonenshine, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplimacy [sic]."

Public Schedule for March 29, 2013 - U.S. Department of State: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 1:00 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine attends a luncheon hosted by Assistant Secretary Carson on the occasion of the visit of the Four Democratic Partners, led by President Banda of Malawi, Prime Minister Neves of Cape Verde, Foreign Minister Ndiaye of Senegal, and Foreign Minister Kamara of Sierra Leone, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE) 2:45 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine addresses the 171st A-100 class of Foreign Service Officers, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)"

Shocking and Awing [March 27] - Harlan Ullman, "Today ... the West faces religious and ideological fanaticism that is suicidal in nature as Sept. 11th and hundreds of car and other bombings testify. Conventional wisdom argues, wrongly in our view, that suicidal behavior can neither be deterred nor prevented. So far, the strategy has been to kill or capture this enemy, not to change its behavior. That strategy alone cannot work. Focus must be placed on delegitimatizing and defaming these fanatics to destroy any and all credibility.

Second, the grounds for deprivation and helplessness that too often force volunteers to join these ranks because no better options exist must be reduced. Regarding the first, U.S. politics excel at demonization. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts earned in Vietnam could be 'swift-boated.' Former Senator Chuck Hagel, also a decorated veteran of that war, was demeaned in his confirmation hearings. Why aren't these same skills used to attack these religious extremists? Sadly, the United States hasn't developed a message to win this battle of competing ideologies or to neutralize the fanaticism that is central to these terror organizations. Creating a compelling campaign of public diplomacy and strategic communications and using it to discredit and destroy this message of terror are crucial first steps." Image from

The Young Generation–Thinking Too Much? - "David Brooks writing in the New York Times (3.29.13) reflects on the attitudes of the new crop of seniors graduating from college; and finds that they have lost the idealism that has characterized other generations of young people in the past. ... Young people, say Brooks and his young student, have withdrawn from this tarnished and ineffectual idealistic posturing to a much more mechanistic and empirical approach to the world. This approach, however, without any guiding moral or philosophical beacon, can easily be reduced to relativism and scatter-shot policies. While the State Department may never arrive at a Unified Field Theory of public diplomacy, it should at least be guided by principle; and if young, smart, and talented Yale graduates are retreating from global affairs, and are abandoning their traditional position as visionaries, we are in trouble."

What is Information Operations - To Inform is to Influence: IO, SC, PD, what's in a name?: "Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication(s) are ongoing, as are foreign adviser programs, defense attache activities, military exchanges, military presence, foreign equipment and military sales (the list goes on, I’m just getting tired of typing). The United States does not have a master plan for influencing other countries to do what we want, to not stand in the way or to otherwise remain neutral. We have diplomacy. We have military programs and we have economic programs.

We do not have an information program (remember the I in DIME?) but almost all our Cabinet Departments do, under the label of outreach, public diplomacy, international relations or so on. Those of us who deal with the information environment, and that, quite honestly, is all of us, usually do not feel as if we are contributing to a bigger, broader unified program of promoting our respective country or at least to increase the understanding by others of the way we think, act, work and harmonize. If you don’t think you are part of the information environment, stop reading now." Image from

Gallaudet University forms collaborations with university, advocacy organization in Panama - "At the Gallaudet-UDELAS Memorandum of Agreement signing ceremony March 19 in Panama City, Panama. ... A ceremony was held on March 21 at the Miramar Intercontinental Hotel in Panama City and was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Panama Jonathan Farrar, National Secretary for Disabilities in Panama Ramon Aleman, as well as other dignitaries. The idea for the establishment of the agreement resulted from a 2009 visit by Director Luzcando to Gallaudet’s Washington, D.C. campus. ... Also at the ceremony, Ambassador Farrar announced the U.S. Embassy in Panama successfully applied for and was awarded a grant from the State Department Public Diplomacy Innovation Fund as part of President Obama’s program '100,000 Strong in the Americas.'

The Gallaudet-UDELAS collaboration will receive the $100,000 grant. 'I am extremely happy to announce that we are committed to this initiative that will directly support the President’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas project, and that’s why we will support this great cause with $100,000,' said Ambassador Farrar." Image from entry, with caption: At the Gallaudet-IFARHU Memorandum of Agreement signing Ceremony March 21 in Panama City, Panama. Gallaudet University is pleased to announce it has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with The Republic of Panama’s Instituto para la Formación y Aprovechamiento de Recursos Humanos (IFARHU) in Panama City to facilitate the opportunity for Panamanian professionals to pursue graduate studies at Gallaudet.

Cultural Diplomacy Idol; En route on the Oregon Trail - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "It has been a crazy but wonderful week. I have been running auditions for the next class of American Music Abroad ensembles. American Idol meets cultural diplomacy."

Cultural Exchange and the Politics of Suspicion - Robert Albro, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Skepticism about the value of cultural exchange programs is not uncommon, particularly among critics in and out of government looking to trim the budgetary fat. Partly, this is because 'cultural exchange' – as a concept—understood to be vague—can encompass a lot of different activities, while also resisting the technocrat’s need for oversight and metrics. The experience and effects are not best understood as quantifiable and so become illegible in such numbers games. Distance-learning is no substitute."

On Cultural Exchange [comment to above article by Professor Albro] - John Brown, Notes and Essays: "In my view, what is particularly hard for congressional decision makers to accept is that cultural exchanges -- in and of themselves -- are worthwhile. Cultural exchanges are all too often seen by those in elected positions of influence as merely a 'tool' for another, more 'important' purpose, e.g., fight terrorism, convert the world to American 'values,' etc. In other words, policy makers, concerned that the public could accuse them of wasting hard-earned tax dollars, are unwilling to 'take the risk' that cultural exchanges, per se, are worth taking a risk on, so these exchanges have to be 'justified' politically by invoking a purpose other than themselves (see my piece at). As Frank Ninkovich, U.S. Information and Cultural Diplomacy (1996) p. 58, puts it: '[C]ultural or informational programs cannot effectively promote narrow national interests (of which the United States has many). That sort of thing must be left to the traditional instruments of foreign policy.

The programs themselves, like internationalism more generally, are based at bottom on an act of faith.' 'Act of faith' are the key words here, in my opinion; indeed, studying the liberal arts (and taking them seriously because what, in themselves, they have to offer) is 'an act of faith.' (Of course, for all his good intentions, Ninkovich himself could be accused of seeing cultural diplomacy as a 'vehicle' for promoting an agenda beyond cultural diplomacy -- laudatory 'internationalism'). Still, his heart is in the right place, in my view -- that, as he puts it (pp. 58-59) 'an open and human world can be constructed through dialogue. Without that assumption, there would be no need for such programs except as outright propaganda. But in that case Washington would be left with power as the only reliable medium for promoting U.S. national interests.'" Image from

AU Peace Corps Symposium Offers Many Perspectives on the Purpose of Peace Corps Service - ryandalton2013: "Peace Corps and its 7,000 active Volunteers receive an annual budget of no more than one-fourth of what the country spends on defense in a single day. It reminds me of the Richard T. Arndt (24-year vet of the USIA) article, 'The Hush-Hush Debate' from Public Diplomacy Magazine. The U.S. isn’t doing enough cultural diplomacy. We aren’t sending enough Americans abroad for long enough to build relationships, forge bonds, make friends. It’s something I hope for and care about very deeply."

US Invite to Cm Narender Modi: Jolly - "Senior US Congressman visiting India and State of Gujarat today met Chief Minister Narendra Modi at his residence at Gandhi Nagar . US Congressman Mr Aaron Schock Leader of Delegation from State of Illinois along with Mrs. Cathy McMorris Rodgers from State of Washington and Mrs. Cynthia M. Lumis from the State of Wyoming along with a 7 member US business leaders delegation led by Chicago Punjabi NRI Mr Shalabh Kumar and BJP Overseas Affairs leader Mr Vijay Jolly attended the two and half hours long meeting. The US Congressman extended an invitation to Gujarat Chief Minister Mr Narendra Modi to visit United States of America soon.

The C.M accepted their invite promptly and smilingly. The issue of visa was never discussed in the meeting. It is important to state that in recent years, this is the highest point of contact between the US elected Officials and the Chief Minister of Gujarat stated OFBJP leader Mr Jolly. To promote people to people contacts & diplomacy and under Global Community Over reach program, the US based NIAPPI led by its Chairman Mr Shalabh Kumar and India based Delhi Study Group led by BJP Convenor Overseas Affairs Mr Vijay Jolly joined hands to make this program a grand success. People in India and US worked hard for more than 14 to 15 hours a day for this global connectivity to happen and public diplomacy to succeed stated OFBJP leader Mr Vijay Jolly at Gandhinagar, Gujarat." Image from article

$70,000 Funding Available for Public Diplomacy Grant Program - Varalakshmi Pulugurtha, "The U.S. Department of State's Mission to India has announced that it expects to award a maximum of 10 discretionary grants to meet Indian and U.S. technical and legal require[ments]."

Funding Games: Sad Plight of the East-West Center - Lou Cannon, "At a time when the Obama administration seeks to emphasize U.S-Asia relations after years of focusing on Iraq and Afghanistan, the East-West Center (EWC) in Honolulu ought to be flourishing. Created by Congress in 1960 to promote understanding between the United States and the nations and peoples of Asia, the center is a valuable resource. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton visited the EWC three times and made her most significant policy statements on Asia there. She lauded the center for bringing together educators, students, journalists, and political leaders and contributing to a “sea change” in the region. Located in a state where many people have Asian-Pacific ancestors, the EWC is a nonprofit organization with considerable expertise, a lean organizational structure, 750 partner groups and 57,000 alumni worldwide. It organizes many public diplomacy and educational programs, including exchanges between U.S. and Asian journalists, support for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and educational outreach for Okinawa. ... Yet despite these contributions, the East-West Center now faces massive budget reductions that have already resulted in cancellation of some scholarships and now threaten staff layoffs and the elimination of many useful programs. ... Kerry seems typecast for the role of secretary of state, but has been preoccupied since taking over with various firestorms in the Middle East. Asia has been on the back burner, although that could change if Kerry travels in April to China, as expected. In the meantime, the East-West Center flounders without a champion in Washington. That’s sad."

A Reporter’s View of Public Diplomacy in the Clinton State Department - Philip Seib, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "The Secretary, by BBC correspondent Kim Ghattas, is a remarkable book. Not only does it provide an insightful record of life on the road with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but also it treats public diplomacy seriously. ... It is nice

to see public diplomacy treated seriously in a non-academic book." Image from

Kazakh political prisoner is unhappy with Radio Liberty programs - BBGWatcher, In a letter sent from prison in Kazakhstan, dissident, scholar, poet and writer Aron Atabek expressed his unhappiness with American taxpayer-supported Kazakh language news programs of Radio Liberty, while a group of other Kazakh democratic opposition

and human rights leaders sent a protest letter to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) new acting president Kevin Klose, asking him to look into their complaints. Atabek has authored more than ten books and is considered one of the world’s best experts on Central Asian languages and culture." Atabek image from entry

This Week From NATO - "In cooperation with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division hosted a group of Serbian members of parliament on 5 March. The visit is part of efforts to strengthen NATO’s relations with Serbian key decision-makers and to broaden the public debate about Serbia’s partnership and cooperation with the Alliance."

Next year in Jerusalem - and the Diaspora, too: We all came out of Egypt. We just happened to end up in different places. But the future of Israel depends on engaging the attention and commitment of Jews around the world, and not pushing away a younger and more critical generation - Yoav Schaefer and Brian Schaefer, "This year, in Jerusalem, hundreds of young North American Jewish students currently living in Israel – from gap-year and study-abroad programs, yeshivas and rabbinical schools, and Jewish organizations from across the political spectrum – gathered at the third annual Avi Schaefer Symposium to discuss the challenges of maintaining the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel. A.B. Yehoshua, Anat Hoffman, Dr. Yoram Hazony and Rabbi Shai Held, among other speakers, confronted complex questions about Israel’s status as a Jewish and democratic state, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and Israel’s state monopoly of religion, in an event held in honor of the memory of Avi Schaefer, an Israel Defense Forces veteran and Brown University student killed by a drunk driver in Providence, Rhode Island in 2010. While these questions may be familiar to Israelis, they are increasingly difficult for North American Jews to digest.

They demand serious engagement and rigorous intellectual debate in the open marketplace of ideas. Ignoring these important issues, or trying to massage them away with one-dimensional hasbara (public diplomacy) or the honeymoon experience of a 10-day Birthright trip, are no longer sufficient to help young Jews from the Diaspora wrestle with the difficult and multifaceted reality in Israel today. No amount of reciting facts about Israel's high-tech success or gay-rights record will inspire Jewish students who are concerned about Israeli policy to support a state that some feel is becoming morally indefensible. Nor will it prepare them to participate in the difficult and heated debates over Israel taking place on many college campuses today, which, in recent years, have become hotbeds of anti-Israel scholarship and organizing. Indeed, this new generation is distancing itself from Israel. Its disengagement is real and significant, while the reasons for why it’s happening are complex and multifaceted." Image from article, with caption: Participants of the Avi Schaefer Symposium engage in discussions about the future of Israel. Jerusalem, February 17, 2013.

Bar Refaeli Controversy: Supermodel Accused Of Dodging Israeli Draft - "Bar Refaeli has a controversy on her hands after her home nation of Israel picked her for to be the focus of a public relations campaign, renewing cries that she actually dodged the draft there.

Refaeli was picked this week by Israel’s foreign ministry to lead a public relations campaign about the nation’s emerging technologies. The ministry was banking on the appeal of the international supermodel, but instead put Bar Refaeli into a controversy. The Israeli army immediately attacked the idea of the 27-year-old Sports Illustrated cover girl serving as a representative to Israel, saying instead that she’s a bad example to Israeli youth." Refaeli image from article. See also: Travis, "Bar Refaeli Might Cause A Civil War In Israel."

BRICS summit delivers tangible results, forum pledges to promote partnership with Africa - "The leaders of five major emerging economies on Wednesday wrapped up their latest round of summit in the South African city of Durban to promote their partnership for development, integration and industrialization. It is the first time for the BRICS nations, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, to hold their leaders' meeting on the continent of Africa. ... At the summit, the five BRICS members have achieved a number of tangible results, and agreed to expand their future cooperation to more sectors, according to a statement issued after the meeting. ... They would also consider to expand their cooperation to ... sectors including public diplomacy, anti-corruption, drug control, youth exchanges, tourism, energy and sports."

丽媛风 (Liyuan feng) - "Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping, has drawn extensive attention from people both at home and abroad for her charisma and grace. Accompanying her husband on his first overseas trip after becoming president, Peng Liyuan exhibited graceful demeanor, a pleasant personality and well-chosen dress, prompting people to coin the term 'Liyuan style' (Liyuan feng). Peng Liyuan, as one of China's best-known singers, was popular among Chinese people long before her husband became the president. Loved by her fans, she has been in touch with the people for years. 'Liyuan style' is not only representative of a fashion icon, but also transcends cultural and diplomatic barriers.

The beautiful handbags Peng has carried, and the plain but elegant and delicate dresses she has worn have become popular. Her choice of clothing, made-in-China instead of luxurious foreign brands, shows her belief in domestic dress designs, and augurs well for the domestic clothing and fashion industry. But 'Liyuan style' is not only about clothing and a woman's paraphernalia. It is also about diplomacy and promoting China's soft power. In Moscow, Peng visited a boarding school for orphans and children estranged from their parents, encouraging them to strive for a better life, which brought out the maternal side of her character. In Tanzania, she donated sewing machines and school bags to women and children. And as a World Health Organization ambassador in the fight against AIDS, Peng is devoted to many public causes, including those relating to charity and healthcare. Some observers have already started saying that Peng's activities have become part of public diplomacy in China." Image from

Public Diplomacy Adds Soft Touch for China - "Chinese President Xi Jinping's wife has received increasing attention for not only her attire, but also her good-will activities during the presidential visit to four nations, a soft-toned diplomatic gesture to boost China's image. Upon arrival in Moscow last week, Peng Liyuan, in an elegant overcoat, descended the plane arm in arm with President Xi. A photo of her appearance has been widely circulated on the Internet and published in major newspapers. The picture gives the world a more tender impression of China, a country that has often been viewed as rigid and, sometimes, 'threatening.' Women are usually tender in nature and are easier to connect with than men. As for the wives of state leaders, women are in a better position to promote public diplomacy during their visits abroad. ... With more Chinese cultural centers, TV series and people-to-people exchange activities, China is using multiple methods to connect to other societies and promote its culture. ... On the last day of 2012, the China Public Diplomacy Association was founded in Beijing. Chairman of the association Li Zhaoxing, also former foreign minister, said it will boost China's soft power by mobilizing, coordinating and organizing social resources and the public in an inclusive way. Peng's activities might provide another channel for Chinese public diplomacy."

Do you think the image of first lady will improve the nation’s image? - "Overall, the women’s influence is not big on the top of Chinese politics, the current political bureau of the CPC central committee that consists of 25 members ... only has liu yandong and Sun Chunlan two women. peng liyuan’s high-profile appearance seems to show that her husband, xi jinping’s confidence in both China’s internal and international affairs."

The New, Very Beautiful First Lady of China - "It could be that Ms. Peng's star power will push the diplomats into the background. Although Mr. Xi may not like the comparison, some see her as a figure akin to Raisa Gorbachev, the wife of Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who helped humanize the Soviet leader as the Soviet Union fell apart.

Mr. Xi has singled out Mr. Gorbachev as a man who let down the cause of Communism. Others see her as roughly equivalent to Michelle Obama: modern, outgoing, intrigued by fashion. They await the moment when Ms. Peng and Mrs. Obama stand with their husbands at a state visit, either in Washington or Beijing, a lineup that is likely to happen in the next four years." Image from, with caption Peng Liyuan vs. Michelle Obama

Book Excerpt: 'China Goes Global' by David Shambaugh - "Over the course of the next year (2010), which has become known as China's 'year of assertiveness,' the Chinese government took a number of disconcerting diplomatic actions toward its Asian neighbors, the United States, Australia, and the European Union. Collectively, as I opined in a newspaper op-ed at the time, the 'Chinese tiger was showing its claws.' In the wake of these actions, during 2011–12, China recoiled and recalibrated its diplomacy somewhat. It undertook a campaign of diplomatic reassurance toward these countries and launched a multifaceted soft-power and public-diplomacy drive aimed at improving China's image worldwide. Yet, embedded in these events and personal vignettes lie the complexities of China's rise."

Nation seeks 'pragmatic' ICAO participation - "Taiwan's efforts to seek international support for its participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are not in conflict with its pursuit of engagement with China, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday. Taiwan is looking to participate in the ICAO pragmatically, with the aim of protecting travelers' safety, in light of the large number of flights in and out of the country, said Calvin Ho, deputy director-general of the ministry's Public Diplomacy Coordination Council."

The Politics of Blame - Max Hänska, "Max Hänska says: March 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm The German evening news (Heute Journal) had an interesting piece on anti-German sentiments. A TV reporter offered an account of the mood in Cyprus and recounted the difficulties of getting interviews with people on the street. 'People we approached often declined to speak with us saying they want nothing to do with Germans' he explained. But not only on the streets, also among Finance ministers are tensions said to be rising. Reportedly Luxembourg’s foreign minister said about Germany: 'you accuse Cyprus of having an inflated banking sector, we don’t accuse you of having an inflated arms industry.' These are not good sign. After all, the Eurozone has a long way to go yet. Rising resentment make public diplomacy and working together to reach good decisions ever harder."

Turkish Public Diplomacy Faces Challenge in Yemen [March 27] - Pinar Tremblay "Turkey's involvement in several countries has gone beyond the calculations of the Turkish state, and coordination efforts have fallen behind the passionate activities of the NGOs, businessmen and even newly created government agencies. Turkish public diplomacy has a lot of catching up to do to generate a positive image of Turkey among Yemenis. ... Turkish public diplomacy ... exists, but its effectiveness is questionable to say the least."

The PKK’s military capacity and the withdrawal process - "Öcalan declared the first step of the negotiations a ceasefire to be followed by the withdrawal of armed militants from Turkey. ... The withdrawal process is multifaceted. It has military, legal, diplomatic, political and public diplomacy dimensions. Here I will focus on the military dimension. According to open sources, the number of PKK militants in Turkey is around 2,700-3,200."

Pope Francis and Public Diplomacy - Elizabeth Howley, From a public diplomacy perspective, the church would do well to embrace

the concept of strategic two-way communication to enhance the relationship with its current members and to establish relationships with other publics. Image from entry

Forum of Azerbaijani students starts in Rome - AzerNews: "ASAIF (Azerbaijani Students and Alumni International Forum) forum has begun in Italy's capital, Rome, ASAIF's press service reported on Thursday. The purpose of the forum is to ensure the effective promotion of Azerbaijan abroad through uniting youth studying or educated abroad, support young people in information exchange and online promotion, create appropriate conditions for the rapid solution of problems of young people, provide a dialogue between the youth and official representatives of the state, create a common platform for the exchange of experiences, and increase the activity of the youth for the development of effective relationships with the Italian-Azerbaijani youth organization. ... The forum will include presentations on the real situation around the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and the prospects for negotiations, promote Azerbaijan's stance through the media and public diplomacy, the themes 'Human Capital: Values Return' and 'Azerbaijan 2020: a look into the future' and others."

DFA intensifies fight vs passport fraud, human trafficking - "The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) recently held its 2013 Regional Consular Offices Consultation Meeting (RCOCM) to improve its services to the public and its coordination with concerned government agencies. The meeting, which was attended by the heads of the DFA’s 22 regional offices and National Capital Region extension offices, 'discussed various important issues aimed at improving consular services' DFA said in a statement. The issues discussed focused on 'strengthening and developing awareness against passport fraud and authentication irregularities, aiding concerned government agencies in the fight against human trafficking, efficient handling of assistance-to-nationals cases in the regions, public diplomacy, and enhancing internal control systems,' it said."

Campbellsville University to host U.S. Department of State spokesperson for Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs - Joan C. McKinney, "Snipe has worked for the U.S. Department of State since March 2003. He is working with the Near East desk and was instrumental in preparing President Barack Obama's recent trip to the region.

Snipe's most recent Foreign Service assignments include two tours in Iraq where he served as the public diplomacy officer and spokesperson for the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Muthanna Providence from 2008 to 2009 and as the deputy spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad where he coordinated the U.S. Government's civilian media and messaging efforts in Iraq from 2010 to 2011. Prior to his Iraq service, Snipe worked in the State Department's Office of Iranian Affairs where he worked with the Department's Press Office, as well as with Western and foreign media organizations, to coordinate U.S. Government policy messaging on Iran." Snipe image from article

An Inside Look At NYU Florence’s Art Program Controversy - Ava Kiai, An  NYU press release from June 1st, 2004 announcing [Ellyn] Toscano's appointment as Director of NYU Florence, detailed some of her experience up to that date: 'She is well-versed in government policies with regard to public diplomacy, educational exchanges, and cultural diplomacy; moreover, she has had significant expertise in fundraising and program planning… Since 1990, Ms. Toscano – who speaks Italian — has served as chief of staff and counsel to Congressman José Serrano, an association that has spanned some 20 years overall. From 1988 to 1991, she had a private law practice, specializing in arts, entertainment, and publishing. Prior to that, she had served as counsel to the New York State Assembly Committee on Education for nine years, during which time she also worked with Mr. Serrano.'”

Full-time Media Affairs Specialist at US Embassy - "Location: Melbourne ... DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES ... Researches and procures specialized information and media services (e.g. photographers and other outside contractors) as necessary for Public Diplomacy programs."

Embassy of the United States Embassy. Open Recruitment Human Resources Assistant (Trainning), Consular Clerk, Clerk (Exhibition Support), Shipment Assistant, Administrative Assistant (- 4 May 2556) [Google Translation] - "The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok is Seeking an individual for the position of Consular Clerk, located at U.S. Consulate General, three hundred and eighty-seven Witchayanon Road, Chiang Mai. BASIC FUNCTION OF POSITION:. Perform Required for Nonimmigrant Visa (NIV) and routine American Citizen Services (ACS) processing, including applicant intake; Application review and screening; Data Entry, Photo Capture, and Fingerprint Collection; printing and quality Control; and preparing. printed products and information packets for return to applicants. Maintain consular section records in accordance with Department instructions. Assist with Public Diplomacy and Public Information duties, including managing Post's Relationship with Summer Work Travel (SWT) Program recruiting agencies."


What really happened in Jerusalem - Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post: When an American president so sympathetic to the Palestinian cause tells Mahmoud Abbas to stop obstructing peace with that phony settlement excuse, something important has happened. Abbas, unmasked and unhappy, knows this better than anyone. Below image from

McManus: Inching toward Syria: There are plenty of arguments against U.S. intervention on the side of the Syrian rebels. But they're outweighed by the much-worse alternatives - Doyle McManus, Military intervention in the Muslim world seems to bring the United States nothing but grief. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya: None looks much like a success story now. Yet the Obama administration is edging reluctantly into a civil war in Syria, aiding rebels who are fighting to overthrow the brutal regime of Bashar Assad. And it should: The longer this war goes on, the worse it will be for the U.S. and the Syrians. U.S. restraint hasn't succeeded in stopping the war; it's merely made it more difficult to organize the opposition.

U.S. must decide about troops in Afghanistan - Ronald E. Neumann, The United States has problems in Afghanistan, with the Taliban, Pakistan and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The Obama administration is making them worse by dilatory decision-making about how many U.S. troops will remain there after 2014. To gamble our remaining chance of success in Afghanistan on the difference of a few thousand troops is shortsighted or displays a lack of support for the men and women whose lives are at risk in carrying out the policy.

Hamid Karzai, confused by the U.S. - Stephen Biddle and Michael O’Hanlon, Washington Post: America shares some of the blame for the public divisions between Washington and Kabul. Our inconsistencies and reversals have interacted with Karzai’s various shortcomings to create an ever more difficult relationship.

China’s Glass Ceiling: Sure, the Middle Kingdom is becoming a superpower, but it's always going to be No. 2 - Geoff Dyer, Foreign Policy: Rather than usher in a new era of Chinese influence, Beijing's missteps have shown why it is unlikely to become the world's leading power.

Even if it overtakes the United States to have the biggest economy in the world, which many economists believe could happen over the next decade, China will not dislodge Washington from its central position in global affairs for decades to come. Via MC; image from article

17 cultural reasons why this European never wants to live in America - Fluent in 3 months: Unconventional Language Hacking Tips from Benny the Irish Polyglot: 1. Americans are way too sensitive 2. Everything is “awesome”! 3. Smiles mean NOTHING 4. Tipping 5. False prices on everything 6. Cheesy in-your-face marketing 7. Wasteful consumerism 8. Idiotic American stereotypes of other countries 9. Heritage 10. ID checks and stupid drinking laws 11. Religious Americans 12. Corporations win all the time, not small businesses 13. A country designed for cars, not humans 14. Always in a hurry 15. Obsession with money 16. Unhealthy portions 17. Thinking America is the best [not numbered:] What I love about Americans.

North Korea's public relations man is a Spaniard with a tough job: Meet Alejandro Cao de Benós, the only non-Korean employee of North Korea’s foreign ministry. The Spaniard is taking the PR message of North Korea's greatness across Europe - Zach Campbell, Christian Science Monitor: Image from article, with caption: Alejandro Cao de Benós, a representative from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, listens to a question after a speech he gave on North Korea in Bilbao, Spain.

Mr. Cao de Benós has been embarking on a series of appearances in Europe to boost support for the North Korean regime. Via ACP III on Facebook

Condi Book Deal Creates Instant Condi 2016 Rumors - Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog: Condiproduct alert! Here's some great new: Henry Holt just gave Dr. Ferragamo a wheelbarrow full of money to write a new book!

It'll be about democracy 'n' such, "at home and abroad," as the press release says, so... sounds boring? Yes, it sounds very boring. People want biography from Condi, not political science. Image from entry; see also John Brown, "10 Percent Intellectual": The Mind of Condoleezza Rice," (2008)


From Max Read, "The Unbelievable Photos Taken by the Crazy Russians Who Illegally Climbed Egypt’s Great Pyramid," Via PR on Facebook


From: "Советская эротическая азбука 1931 года" ("Soviet Erotic Alphabet, 1931"); via PC on Facebook