Monday, December 30, 2013

December 29-30

"Love, and do what you like."

--Saint Augustine; St. Augustine image from


U.S. Embassy in Uganda Slays Christmas - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well

Animated Soviet Propaganda - American Imperialist: The Millionaire - Via


Cult of Personality Watch: US Embassy becomes Obama Embassy  - "Sure, all US embassies and consulates have portraits of the current president hanging in the offices; he is, after all, Head of State. But… Well… This

is just a bit much: ['] Large tapestry portraits of President Barack Obama were unveiled for guests at the U.S. Embassy in London over the weekend. The recently-installed, large-scale tapestry portraits were created by National Medal of Arts winner and renowned American painter, photographer Chuck Close. ['] Call me old-fashioned, but if you want a large piece of art decorating the entry to a United States embassy, the first thing visitors see, why not a work that reflects the history of the United States? Christy’s 'Signing of the Constitution,' for example, to celebrate one of our seminal events, or Rockwell’s 'Abraham Delivering the Gettysburg Address,' in honor of what many feel is the moment of our second Founding? Or, to borrow Rockwell again (1), why not showcase 'Freedom of Speech,' that most American of values, which both embodies and guards the right of a free people to rule themselves? Instead we get giant portraits of one man? All art is communication, after all, especially public art, and art displayed in an embassy should reflect the nation’s values, how it sees itself, what it holds dear, its spiritual center, its… Oh, wait. I get it. In this case, I guess it reflects the government’s spiritual center.  Footnote: (1) He was the all-American painter, after all." Via RM on Facebook. See also John Brown, "Rockwell/Socialist Realism: A Photo Essay," and "Norman Rockwell and the Four Freedoms," Notes and Essays.

Don’t Assume Your Audience Knows What You Know - To Inform is to Influence: "I have been doing a fairly deep dive on Public Diplomacy and the BBG for the past year. They have a feedback mechanism which tells them how effectively their broadcasts are reaching the target audience, yet most of the information activity ‘cycle’ is hidden. The staff puts out 'fair and objective' reporting and then broadcasts it into denied areas. The focus is on reaching the most numbers. The focus is not on achieving an objective. What is that objective? The best answer I can ascertain is to 'promote democracy'. Other than that the objective is to merely reach the most numbers. The true measure of success, I have discovered in the past year, is only anecdotal.

After the fall of the Iron Curtain, we discovered that the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and other International Broadcasting efforts were being listened to. I have yet to find concrete evidence that VOA or RFE contributed to the fall of the Iron Curtain, however, I would like to think so. I admit I have not done enough research in that area. My point is that I do not see adequate planning or research in the Public Diplomacy field, I don’t see stated objectives, I don’t see planning, I don’t see how the planning is effected by the feedback mechanism they have in place – except for broad policy and resource allocation changes." Image from

BBG Journalists Honored For Bravery, Excellence And Innovation - "In 2013 the networks of the Broadcasting Board of Governors earned high-profile awards and accolades for their innovative use of technology, commitment to excellence and dedication to providing quality, unbiased information to audiences around the world. Journalists from the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting received honors from the New York Festivals, the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB), the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation, the Society of Professional Journalists and many other organizations."

VOA Russian Service reports on White House – NSC statement on terror attacks in Russia –- VOA English does not - BBG Watcher, BBG watch: "In effect, the VOA English website is not reporting on U.S. reactions to the terrorist attacks in Russia and neither is the vast majority of more than 40 VOA language services."

Public diplomacy meets social media: A study of the U.S. Embassy's blogs and micro-blogs - "Xin Zhonga, School of Journalism and Communication, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China,[;] Jiayi Lua, School of Journalism and Communication, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China [.] Highlights: -- Traditional public diplomacy is transforming. -- We examine the U.S. Embassy's public diplomatic communication via social media. -- We use the methods of content analysis and interview. -- Experience-sharing and relationship-building is the core of new public diplomacy. Abstract [:] With the evolution of communication technologies, traditional public diplomacy is transforming. This study examines the practice of the U.S. Embassy's public diplomatic communication via social media, namely Chinese mainstream blogging and micro-blogging, sites using Tencent for a case study. This study analyzes the embassy's blog and micro-blog entries and an interview with the embassy's public diplomacy officer. Based on the content analysis and interview, this study discerns the key features of the U.S. Embassy's public diplomatic communication using social media and further suggests that the common values and interests related to the global public as well as experience-sharing and relationship-building might become the focus of new public diplomacy research." Via LOS on Facebook

First Lady of the United States Visits Pakistan and Tours Peshawar, the Khyber Pass, and Lahore [includes video of the United States Information Service film video of this even] - "Given that USIS was folded into the State Department back in 1999, I expect there are few active members of the U.S. Foreign Service today who have

any memory of when there was an independent government agency that did public diplomacy and broadcasting. ... In its last year of operation, USIS had 190 posts in 142 countries, an annual budget of $1 billion and change, and employed - even after a staffing reduction in 1997 - 6,352 employees, of whom 904 were Foreign Service personnel, 2,521 were locally engaged staff overseas, and 2,927 were Civil Service employees in the United States. How does that compare to the resources of the R Bureau [at the State Department] today? Badly, I know." Image from article, with caption: Arriving in Peshawar. On USIS/USIA, see.

Brazil’s top 10 foreign policy challenges in 2014 - Oliver Stuenkel,  Post-Western World: "7. Engage the public - both at home and abroad [:] "Few Foreign Ministers spent as much time talking to students, representatives of NGOs and academics as Antonio Patriota during his time in office. Rightly so: Itamaraty [the Brazilian Foreign Ministry] must convince civil society that Brazil should turn into a global actor strongly involved in many issues around the world. Yet foreign policy still plays only a marginal role in Brazil's bustling public debate. Itamaraty's greatest projects are often greeted with a mixture of neglect and rejection by both the media and public opinion. A supportive public, however, could help the Foreign Ministry precisely with the sort of problems it faced in 2013. A youtube channel, a public diplomacy blog, a twitter presence and an accessible Foreign Minister are important first steps. Launching a complete English-language Foreign Ministry website would make a tremendous difference to those who follow Brazilian foreign policy abroad, making Brazil's international strategy more transparent and accessible. ... 10. Keep opening up Brazil[:] Brazil has undergone an incredible and unprecedented process of internationalization over the past decade. Foreign investment skyrocketed. Never in history have as many Brazilians traveled or studied abroad. The number of foreign tourists, business travelers and exchange students has never been as high. And yet, Brazil remains, in many ways, more isolated than other countries. Far more tourists travel to Argentina than to Brazil. The number of foreign tourists coming to Paris alone exceeds that of visitors to all of Brazil by more than three times. The number of Brazilian students who go abroad remains low by international comparison. The government's growing financial support for exchange programs is thus to be welcomed. Universities should push governments to make recognizing diplomas abroad easier. Following the example of the Brazil-Russia visa waiver deal, visa requirements with other countries (such as the United States) should be eased. Brazil has little to lose and lots to gain from enhancing this international people-to-people diplomacy."

External interference aimed at impeding Sri Lanka's forward march - Daya Gamage, Asian Tribune: "Sri Lanka's Consul General-designate for eight western states in the United States Malraj de Silva didn't sound like he was unaware of how external factors affect a post-war Sri Lanka. He is well conscious of global nuances unleashed to isolate his country of birth by the agents who had been in collaboration with the defeated Sri Lanka terror movement to diplomatically achieve the objective the terror group failed before its domestic demise in 2009.He realizes the obstacles

Sri Lanka is facing to get her message across to American foreign policy framers and lawmakers. And then he advocates a concerted effort to invigorate a public affairs, public diplomacy and strategic communication campaign to erase the myths, half-truths, diabolical lies and misinterpretations that the pro-separatist elements in the Tamil Diaspora very professionally dispatch." Image from, with caption: A Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil woman dressed in traditional costume

Embassy of Israel at Limmud Conference - "This week, Israeli diplomats attended Limmud Conference and participated in, and gave a variety of sessions on subjects close to their hearts. ... Ms Rony Yedidia-Clein, director of Public Diplomacy at the Embassy gave a talk on the importance of Israel for diaspora Jewry." On Limmud conference, see.

South Sudan on brink of civil war: who to blame, Riek Machar or Salvar Kiir? - Nangayi Guyson, "The United Nations Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-moon has asked [Ugandan] President Museveni to intervene and help find a solution to the ongoing crisis in South Sudan.

Head of public diplomacy at the ministry of Foreign Affairs Fred Opolot revealed last week at a media briefing on the state of affairs in the South Sudan. Political relationship between South Sudan and Uganda have been friendly for several decades, and the intervention could be of great importance since Uganda’s longtime President,Yoweri Museveni was a personal friend of South Sudan rebel leader John Garang and supported the (SPLA), which fought for the region’s independence." Image from

New Special Issue on Political Public Relations -[Among them:] "Public Relations and Public Diplomacy: Conceptual and Practical Connections, by Kathy Fitzpatrick, Jami Fullerton and Alice Kendrick."

Yang signs contract for book on PR, public diplomacy - "Yang signs contract for book on PR, public diplomacy  [:] Associate professor Sung-Un Yang has signed book contract with Peter Lang Publishing Inc. for International Public Relations and Public Diplomacy: Communication and Engagement. "


Kerry’s Energizer Bunny Diplomacy Takes Risks for Wins - Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Whatever their eventual outcome, Kerry has breathed new life into an array of long-shot talks.

He has stuck with negotiations late into the night in Kabul, Geneva, Jerusalem and Ramallah to secure pledges from allies and adversaries alike that many -- including officials in the White House -- considered unachievable. Via HF. Image from entry, with caption: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is departing on New Year’s Day for Jerusalem and Ramallah for another attempt at negotiating an end to 65 years of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

New York Times under fire for 'propaganda' claiming video caused Benghazi attack - The New York Times sparked controversy Saturday with an article claiming, among other things, that the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi that saw four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, killed, was the result of an obscure YouTube video.

The article, panned as "propaganda," also claimed that al-Qaeda played no role in the attack. Those assertions were criticized by Reps. Darrel Issa, R-Calif., and Mike Rogers, R-Mich., along with a former CIA analyst. Image from

West should drop 'inconsistent approach' to terrorism after Volgograd bombings - RT: Neil Clark [a journalist, writer and broadcaster']: "The West needs to change its policy towards Russia because there is a war being carried against Russia. That’s a kind of soft war, a propaganda war which has been orchestrated by the Western neo-conservatives and what I call the 'fake left' in Western countries, which is actually trying to demonize Russia for any reason, whether it’s Pussy Riot… whether it’s the gay rights law ... I think we need to work closer with Russia. We saw close cooperation at the Boston bombings, when we had the Russian warnings about the Tsarnaev brothers, but they were ignored by the Americans because again it’s Russian warnings. The West [must] cooperate more seriously with Russia, as equal partners, in this battle against the radical terror groups; that’s a major shift that’s got to happen. On the one hand, they say they are going to work with Russia; on the other hand, there is this kind of Cold War propaganda against Russia."

U.S. Cold War rivals China, Russia step up challenges to Obama’s Asia pivot - Guy Taylor, The Washington Times: As the Obama administration attempts an ambitious reorientation of the nation's strategic and diplomatic focus, two regional powerhouses and former Cold War adversaries are showing themselves increasingly keen to challenge Washington's dominance on the world stage. Foreign policy analysts say recent moves by Moscow and Beijing have been far-reaching, heavy with symbolism and clear tests of President Obama's intentions and resolve.

Iran, Turkey’s New Ally? - Vali R. Nasr, New York Times: With American influence in the region in decline, and with Israel and the Persian Gulf monarchies finding themselves united in their opposition to Iran, Turkey could find itself playing a central role thanks to its links with Iran.

Hey, Who’s that American? Probably a Special Forces Guy - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: The U.S. military as a whole has armed personnel in more than 150 nations worldwide.

The U.S. Special Operations Command has over 67,000 acknowledged personnel and a known budget of $7.483 billion for Operations and Maintenance; $373 million for Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation; $1.6 billion for Procurement; and $441 million for Military Construction funding. Image from

'Baghdad: The City in Verse' finds poetry in Iraq's capital: The enlightening collection includes poets from Muti' ibn Iyas in the 8th century to Sinan Antoon and more in the present [review of book authored by Reuven Snir] - Hector Tobar,

"Baghdad is a city that looms large in the American imagination. In 2003, at the start of the last Iraq war, it was occupied by U.S. troops. In the years that followed, thousands of U.S. citizens (soldiers, contractors, officials and journalists) passed through Baghdad. My own memories of the city are of its heat and light and the brokenness of its buildings and the kindness of its people. I lived there in 2003, briefly, as a reporter. The ongoing war and the constant fear of being swept up in the conflict that was destroying the city kept us Americans from exploring in it. The legendary Baghdad, that center and crossroads of Mesopotamian cultures, the city of "One Thousand and One Nights," remained unknown to us. Uncaptioned image from entry

If True That Foreign Diplomats in the U.S. Are “Eligible” for Medicaid — That’s Absolutely Bonkers! – Domani Spero, DiploPundit

MODERN SCIENCE (From: "Scientists tell us their favourite jokes," The Guardian, via Boing Boing; among them:)

An electron and a positron go into a bar.
Positron: "You're round."
Electron: "Are you sure?"
Positron: "I'm positive."

What is a physicist's favourite food? Fission chips.

A blowfly goes into a bar and asks: "Is that stool taken?"

A statistician is someone who tells you, when you've got your head in the fridge and your feet in the oven, that you're – on average - very comfortable.

There are 10 kinds of people in this world, those who understand binary, and those who don't.

Psychiatrist to patient: "Don't worry. You're not deluded. You only think you are."

What do scientists say when they go to the bar? Climate change scientists say: "Where's the ice?" Seismologists might ask for their drinks to be "shaken and not stirred". Microbiologists request just a small one. Neuroscientists ask for their drinks "to be spiked". Scientists studying the defective gubernaculum say: "Put mine in a highball", and finally, social scientists say: "I'd like something soft." When paying at the bar, geneticists say: "I think I have some change in my jeans." And at the end of the evening a shy benzene biochemist might say to his companion: "Please give me a ring."

--Image from

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