Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21

"You can’t trust what you’re hearing, but you can trust the metadata."

--Former NSA analyst Edward Snowden; image from


It’s All Diplomacy - "US Ambassador John Heffern [to Armenia] talks about public diplomacy, quiet diplomacy, his own efforts in Armenia to be public about policy and to welcome debate, US-Armenia relations – what they are and what they could be, and his own take on Armenia, Armenia’s development – especially in rural areas."


Diplomacy Fellows Program - "We are pleased to announce that the application period for the 2014 Diplomacy Fellows Program will open on Friday, August 1, and will close on Friday, August 29, at 11:59pm. The Diplomacy Fellows Program (DFP) is designed to advance eligible candidates to the Foreign Service Oral Assessment for the competitive selection of entry level Foreign Service Officer Candidates. ... We encourage all who are interested and eligible to apply to the Diplomacy Fellows Program to subscribe to our mailing list to receive email updates."


--Image/text from


‘My bad’: State Dept. official apologizes for #UnitedForGaza tweet - Jessica Chasmar, The Washington Times: "Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Richard Stengel gave a peculiar apology to outraged Twitter users on Sunday after he tweeted #UnitedForGaza to his 15,000 followers. In a tweet directed to the State DepartmentMr. Stengel said, ‘Critical for a full, credible and unimpeded intl investigation of crash. Urge Russia to honor it’s [sic] commitment,’ Twitchy first reported. After receiving swift backlash, the tweet was deleted, and Mr. Stengel sent out a terse explanation.

‘Earlier tweet with wrong hashtag was a mistake. My bad,’ he said. It wasn’t immediately made clear how Mr. Stengel tweeted the wrong hashtag. He would have had to type it incorrectly, or copy and paste it incorrectly, and he would have had to then press the ‘tweet’ button to send it out. Mr. Stengel sent out a subsequent, almost identical tweet, but instead with the hashtag #UnitedForUkraine. Twitter users weren’t buying Mr. Stengel’s apology. ‘Please, enlighten us as to how one incorrectly uses a hashtag like #UnitedForGaza. Maybe autocorrect changed #UnitedForGaga?’ tweeted Sean. ‘ ‘My bad.’ That’s something a 12 yr old would say. Shameful that you represent this country,’ said Rachel Ward. Mr. Stengel, who was the managing editor of Time magazine from 2006 to 2013, was sworn in on February 14 as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. He oversees the bureaus of Educational and Cultural Affairs, International Information Programs and Public Affairs as well as the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, according to the State Department’s website. See also (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6); image from

Neither US nor Palestinians will ever create peace. Only Israel can - Shlomo Avineri, [link no longer operative]: "Nothing can be expected from the United States or the Netanyahu government. The Obama administration has failed in every foreign-policy challenge, from Crimea and Ukraine to Syria and Iraq. The Netanyahu government is focused solely on public diplomacy enabling it to continue the status quo, which is disastrous."

Ballet leaders return from China after laying groundwork for future partnerships: Ballet representatives join John Kerry and others to foster relations between the two countries - Nathan Cushing, “Richmond Ballet Artistic Director Stoner Winslett and Managing Director Brett Bonda recently returned from China after taking part in the State Department’s 2014 Cultural Pillar Delegation for the US-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE).

The ballet representatives joined Secretary John Kerry, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong, and representatives from other organizations to promote cultural understanding between the US and China . … The trip comes before the Richmond Ballet, the State Ballet of Virginia, will hold its ‘Road to China and Beyond’ series during the company’s 2014-15 season. The ballet’s program will foster cultural exchange programs between the two countries.” Uncaptioned image from entry

Hip-Hop Diplomacy - "This photo essay on hip-hop diplomacy depicts the first Next Level program in India that recently came to a close after a three-week tour in Patna and Kolkata... The Next Level program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in association with the University of North Carolina's Department of Music, uses hip-hop as a tool to foster cross-cultural creative expression and exchange in diverse communities around the world. It promotes understanding and conflict resolution and supports the professional development of artists." [Among the images:]

Hannah Koenig - "I’m happy to finally report that last week was my first full week of work at the Collaboratory! On my first day, I successfully navigated the maze of buildings associated with the U.S. Department of State (DoS) in the Washington D.C. humidity and was officially sworn in as a Franklin Fellow. This was a pretty cool experience, as I took an oath to the U.S. Constitution itself alongside another Fellow. Here’s a nerdy picture of me (middle, trying not to mess up the words)

by the American flag taking the oath. Three cheers for public service! ... My time so far has largely been spent doing research and data-gathering, where I’m getting up to speed on the work and culture at the Collaboratory, the ECA Bureau, and DoS at large. I’m swimming in an alphabet soup of acronyms; for example, depending on the context, PD may mean Position Description, Professional Development, or Public Diplomacy. ... The Collaboratory can be a little difficult to understand at first, and that’s partly because it is iterating so quickly that its self-understanding is sometimes changing month to month. In November 2013, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) announced the launch of the Collaboratory, a new shop that was to be focused on virtual exchanges. ECA runs the Department’s 150+ cultural and educational exchange programs for Americans and foreign nationals, of which one of the most famous is the Fulbright program. This is part of a larger mission of public diplomacy, where education diplomacy has been a major focus and strategy to reinforce mutual understanding across cultures. In this context, the Collaboratory quickly grew from a team dedicated to virtual exchanges—which use technology to augment in-person exchanges by connecting people virtually—to a team equally interested in collaborative techniques and innovative approaches to government. The Collaboratory also wanted to serve as a network, connecting people within ECA to one another, to other bureaus at DoS, to other government agencies, and to organizations outside government, like NGOs, tech companies, and higher education institutions. Today, we are active on all of those fronts, and continuing to grow and 'rewire,' as my boss frequently says. ... Prior to my onboarding, the Collaboratory team (of which I am now the sixth member) drew a chart to express their latest take on their mission within ECA.

It’s in all of our workspaces (you can see it in mine below) and also in our studio, a former conference room built from big dreams, donated decor, and no budget."

VOA radio listener in Asia to BBG: bankruptcy without even a proper good bye - BBGWatcher, BBG Watch Commentary: "A longtime Voice of America (VOA) shortwave and medium wave listener in Asia has written this letter after VOA shortwave transmissions were abruptly cut last month without any warning to VOA listeners or even VOA radio program hosts. ['] Dear Chairman Shell and Broadcasting Board of Governors Members, On the 1st of July barely 3 days before American Independence, the airwaves fell silent of VOA broadcasts to millions of people in Asia. For a country like the USA to go off so abruptly after nearly 75 years of bringing every major event in the USA to us, this was unimaginable. Listeners started to call me to ask what was happening. These are loyal people, who valued the USA and above all friends of the USA.

In Sri Lanka, we followed Britain as a former colony, but the powerful signals of the VOA which once ruled the airwaves turned even our English to American English, from the day we heard the word 'Program Schedule' pronounced the American way. The daily editorial reflecting the views of the Government of the USA spoke directly to the people of the world, be they friend or foe. In that backdrop listeners cannot understand why the VOA left when it still has so many listeners. ... What the BBG did was akin to breaking diplomatic relations with Asia and the English speaking world. The VOA should have been the last international broadcaster to leave shortwave. Without doing so it abandoned the world of faithful listeners. BBG seems to be like the French Queen Mary Antoinette asking, why are people asking for shortwave? When the Internet is there? So out of step with the pulse of the world. The USA has to have a link with the masses of the vast Asian continent, get at least English back on the airwaves and show them that America cares and has the resolve and is not a bankrupt power. Sincerely, Victor Goonetilleke[']." Uncaptioned image from entry

Murder, Mayhem, and Meditation - "[Comment by] BradfordVonDaserdyly carrie • 2 days ago ... FYI: In 2012 when all of the US was distracted by the Trayvon Zimmerman race baiting the `Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012' was passed. The Smith-Mundt Act, which established public diplomacy and international broadcasting as activities of the U.S. government, has been in force since 1948. One of its provisions prohibits U.S. citizens from accessing the public diplomacy products of the U.S. government, whether in print or on the airwaves. The purpose of this provision was to prevent domestic government propagandizing. The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 effectively nullified the prohibition of domestic propaganda making domestic propaganda targeted at the US population legal. VoA and other programs are now produced by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which shares a 'strategic communications budget' with the State Department and has an annual budget of more than $700 million. $700 million a year for propaganda, that works out to about 2 million a day. That couldn't be influencing the production of documentaries, movies, and the rest of the media, naaaa, couldn't be. Not with the 'most transparent administration in history' ...... hope and change and propaganda."

Building Diplomacy Through Art: Fast Forward Exhibit at Meridian Center - Chris Herman, " 'In our country, we don’t just measure progress by the height of our buildings, the size of our airports, or the impact of our investments. Art has always been at the heart of Emirati society.' These were the opening remarks by UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba at the unveiling of Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates, a one-of-a-kind exhibition of Emirati artwork, at a reception on May 21st at the Meridian International Center.

The exhibit, a collaboration between the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, DC and the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy, features twenty-five artists representing all seven of the nation’s emirates across a variety of artistic genres and styles. It is the first major exhibition of Emirati art to tour outside of the UAE." Uncaptioned image from entry

The Surprising Duo Behind The Hamas Missile Map - A new computer tool showing the trajectory of Hamas rockets fired at Israel from Gaza is not only getting traction on social media, but constitutes an example of Jewish-Arab public diplomacy coexistence in action. The brainchild of 18-year-old Samuel Lespes Cardillo and 22-year-old Farid el-Nasire, the program – 'Israel Under Attack' – is a map of incoming red alerts, showing both their target in Israel and their point of origin. Cardillo is a Jew from Belgium who immigrated to Israel six months ago. El-Nasire is a pro-Israel Muslim from the Netherlands, whose family is originally from Morocco. The two met on Facebook, in a group called Innovation Israel, a mere week before launching the tool on the morning of July 20.


Realizing through chats that they shared a similar idea for faster and more precise Red Alerts, they collaborated via Skype and phone between Hoorn and Herzliya, spending what Cardillo described to ISRAEL21c as 'many white nights' to get the tool ready and up and running as quickly as possible for the safety of the Israeli public. ... El-Nasire [admitted]that it was unusual for someone of his background, both Muslim and European, to be embarking on a campaign to help the Jewish state’s public diplomacy efforts by showing the world that it is Israel under attack by Hamas and not the other way around. ... For more information, see Uncaptioned image from entry

10 ways Israel justifies killing Palestinians whenever it likes and however it likes - "Modern War is rarely limited to the ‘battlefield’ or war zone. Today’s wars are also waged in tv news studios, chat shows and op ed columns, in what the Pentagon calls ‘public diplomacy’ or ‘information warfare’ that attempts to shape the way that war is perceived, and enlist the active support or passive acquiescence of the wider public for one side or the other.

The Israeli assault on Gaza is no exception. ... [Its]narrative devices have combined, once again, to transform Palestinians into the equivalent of killable minor characters in a violent Hollywood movie or tv drama, who can be shot and blown to bits with impunity so that Israel can make itself feel better, while Western governments wring their hands and make lazy calls for ‘restraint on both sides’ or extend their solidarity to the government that is killing them." Image from entry, with caption: The father of three-year-old Palestinian child, Mouid al-Araj, carries his son’s body during his funeral in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, 13 July 2014.

Foreign Service Journal Features Public Diplomacy Award Winners -
"The July-August 2014 Foreign Service Journal reports on this years winners of PDAA Award for Achievement in Public Diplomacy, on pages 11 and 12. The 2014 awards went to: - Attia Nasar, International Information Program, Department of State - Ajani Husbands, Public Affairs Officer, Islamabad, Pakistan - Rachel Goldberg, The Phillips Collection."

A Day in the Life of a Political-Economic Section Intern - Abby Gadbois, "6:00 AM: Wake up, turn on electric tea kettle, grumble about the lack of good coffee in China. ... 1:30 PM: Reply to PAO (Public Affairs Officer) call for volunteers for an English language movie night attended by local students, add event to calendar, remember that you also wanted to schedule a meeting with a Management Officer to learn more about the Management Cone (there are five career tracks in the Foreign Service: Management, Political, Economic, Public Diplomacy and Consular). ... 3:20 PM Head down to the Consulate’s Information Resource Center (IRC; basically a small library) to help with set up for this week’s college chat, double the number of chairs because we have no idea how many students will show up. 3:30 PM Begin presenting to a room stuffed with students, feel nervous, but excited because everyone seems pretty interested. 4:00 PM: Open chat session with the students, other interns grapple with questions on admissions processes, entrance exams, and sports teams, you work with random eight year old and find major U.S. cities on the map. 5:00 PM: Reluctantly escort students out of the Consulate as official hours are over, and all of the interns can finish for the day. ... 10:00 PM: Message Mom for a while, reassure her that I am still alive and well. 11:00 PM: Go to sleep, because tomorrow will bring a whole new set of challenges and adventures."

First Catalonia Diplomatic promotion graduates - "After ten months enroled in the Executive’s Master Degree in Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs (MDAE, in Catalan acronym), the first promotion graduated successfully yesterday. With the aim of building capacities in Catalan institutions in the field of foreign affairs, the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia

and the Secretariat for Foreign and EU Affairs agreed to launch a supplementary study program in the field of diplomacy and external affairs, intended for employees of Catalonia’s civil service with international experience." Uncaptioned image from article

New trends in Taiwan politics research - "Under the guidance of Professor Gunter Schubert and his team, in the space of six years or so the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan at the University of Tubingen has become one of the major centres of excellence for Taiwan Studies in Europe (disclaimer: I am an ERCCT Fellow). The ERCCT recently celebrated the solidification of its relationship with the Taiwan-based Chiang Ching Kuo Foundation, officially becoming the CCKF’s fourth overseas centre. ... On July 14, the day after Germany became football world champions bathing the country in euphoria, the great and good of European Taiwan Studies (plus several scholars from the US and Taiwan) congregated in Tubingen to celebrate the signing of the new ERCCT-CCKF agreement. ... Gary Rawnsley of Aberyswyth covered Taiwan’s public diplomacy."

CFP: Popular geopolitics in Russia and post-Soviet Eastern Europe - "You are invited to submit papers for a two-day research workshop entitled 'Popular geopolitics in Russia and post-Soviet Eastern Europe' which will take place from 19-20 February 2015 at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies. Understandings of the world held by ordinary citizens affect political dynamics both between and within states. In Ukraine, the popular appeal of a ‘European’ future and antipathy towards the Moscow-oriented alternative helped to draw thousands onto the streets during the ‘EuroMaidan’ protests of 2013–14. In Russia, popular mistrust of the West has persisted since the end of the Cold War and has lately been exploited and encouraged by the authorities to justify domestic and foreign policy decisions. Western and non-Western states alike engage in public diplomacy with the aim of enhancing their image in the eyes of foreign populations and thereby increasing support for their international agendas. Yet popular perceptions of foreign ‘others’ and their relationship to the national ‘self’ tend to have deep roots in a complex nexus of influences, including education, personal experience, popular culture and the mass media. This workshop is intended to advance research into the societal or ‘popular’ dimension of geopolitics in Russia and post-Soviet Eastern Europe. Participants are invited to tackle the following interrelated questions: ... [among them:] How are geopolitical narratives sustained and/or challenged by domestic and transnational media, popular culture, government policies (including education and public diplomacy) and processes outside state control (such as travel and increasing internet use)?"

Tony Blair's Role as Special Envoy for the Middle East Quartet - "This blog is mostly about the New Great Game for resources in across the globe the impact of oil dependency upon both Britain and the oil rich nations, the purported interconnections between foreign policy and terrorism, the growth of Islamism and the mendacious nature of much 'Public Diplomacy'."

Poster Project: Symposium - "The event I have chosen for my project is the Syracuse University Public Diplomacy Symposium. My project evolved on the idea of international problems and solutions. The target crowd is people interested in international issues, more specifically conflict resolution. Initially I wanted to create a poster focused on progress and dialogue. Some of my sketches involve earths, teleprompters, and microphones. Due to the fact that I kept seeing the two words 'solution' and 'problems' on multiple websites, I decided to go with a poster than fostered those ideas. ... Initially with the text, I chose a font resembling a hand written picturesque.

It was decided that the font was not strong enough to relay the message and the lettering was too bright to fit the overall concept. I settled on Stencil STD Bold because of its practicality and boldness. This creates the idea of practicality and strength that, in turn, was reflected into the motto 'Practical Solutions for Rough Problems.'” Uncaptioned image from entry

Settling into the Medina - "Eric ... about me [:] Consulting. Traveling. Learning Arabic. Interested in public diplomacy and role of US as superpower. Seeking answers through RSS feeds.

All views my own, unaffiliated with any institution." Eric image from entry


US Embassy Ghana’s Errant Tweet Sparks Social Media Rumpus, Demo on July 25 – Domani Spero, DiploPundit: Apparently, some in the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) [of Ghana] are now even calling for sanctions against Ambassador Gene A. Cretz and the embassy staff over that spectacular, albeit errant tweet containing 73 explosive characters: “@JDMahama and what sacrifices are you making? Don’t tell me that pay cut.”

According to, the response was in reference to a much criticized decision by the Dramani administration of slashing the President and his ministers’ salaries by 10% to demonstrate their sacrifices as the country faces economic hardships while ignoring “other huge unconventional sources of funds.” Image from entry

Dim views of Hillary Clinton’s time at State - Maggie Haberman, A majority of voters are unimpressed with Hillary Clinton’s performance as secretary of State, according to a new POLITICO poll. Just 14 percent described her time at State — she served four years ending in February 2013 — as “excellent,” while another 28 percent defined it as “good.” Another 21 percent called it “fair” and 32 percent rated her performance “poor.”

Six percent weren’t sure or declined to answer. Image from entry, with caption: Clinton’s ratings did not vary meaningfully across income levels or age.

In court of public opinion, Putin goes on trial - Anthony Faiola, Washington Post:
Investigators are still far from an official judgment of what brought down a Malaysia Airlines flight in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew onboard. But in the global court of public opinion, the verdict appears to be rendered. Vladimir Putin is guilty. The Russian president could once claim a semblance of a role as a global statesman. But with the downing of a commercial airliner by what U.S. and Ukrainian officials suggest was a Russian missile, supplied to pro-Moscow rebels, Putin was facing a personal barrage of worldwide condemnation that threatened to result in further sanctions on Russia if it did not rapidly change course in Ukraine.

If Putin doesn't back down on Ukraine, the world should impose more sanctions - Editorial, Los Angeles Times: In announcing new U.S. sanctions Wednesday, Obama said that Russia hadn't taken steps to halt the flow of weapons and fighters across the border into Ukraine. On Friday, speaking after the destruction of Malaysia Flight 17, Obama reiterated his call for an end to Russian support for the insurgents, which he said would end the violence and lead to the political accommodations inside Ukraine that Putin himself has called for. Perhaps the shock and horror at Thursday's tragedy will cause Putin to reconsider his slow-motion destabilization of Ukraine. But if he doesn't, other nations — particularly in Europe — should follow the U.S. in imposing additional sanctions.

The Suns of August -- Flight 17: Ukraine’s War and Europe’s Passivity - Roger Cohen, New York Times: Russia would veto any United Nations Security Council Resolution authorizing force for a limited mission to recover the bodies and the evidence. But Ukraine, on whose territory the debris and dead lie, would support it. The American, British, Dutch and Australian governments should set an ultimatum backed by the credible threat of force demanding unfettered access to the site. Putin’s Russia must not be permitted to host the 2018 World Cup. A Western priority must be to transform the Ukrainian army into a credible force. It won’t happen. Europe is weak. Obama’s America is about retrenchment, not resolve.

Russia's Anti-West Isolationism - Maxim Trudolyubov, New York Times: The virulent, anti-American, anti-Western rhetoric emanating from the Kremlin has been one of the main drivers of Moscow’s support for the Ukrainian conflict. This antipathy has its roots in the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the dashed hopes and disillusion that fueled an unprincipled scramble for wealth and power in the anarchy that followed. While efforts by Washington — such as President Obama’s push for tougher sanctions — are understandable, they feed into Putin’s hands, enabling him to play the patriotic card, gaining political traction at home as he inveighs against foreign powers hostile to Russia and scores points against his domestic critics — Westernized middle class urban dwellers who see his authoritarian demagoguery for what it is.

In Ukraine, the US is dragging us towards war with Russia: Washington's role in Ukraine, and its backing for the regime's neo-Nazis, has huge implications for the rest of the world - John Pilger, The Guardian: For the first time since the Reagan years, the US is threatening to take the world to war. With eastern Europe and the Balkans now military outposts of Nato, the last "buffer state" bordering Russia – Ukraine – is being torn apart by fascist forces unleashed by the US and the EU. We in the west are now backing neo-Nazis in a country where Ukrainian Nazis backed Hitler.

Propaganda Flying On Both Sides In Malaysian Airliner Shootdown: These are dangerous times indeed - L. Todd Wood,

Russian media is covering up Putin's complicity in the MH17 tragedy: In Russia, errors like shooting down a Malaysia Airlines jet could not have happened, so they simply won't have happened - Masha Alekhina, Pussy Riot/Zona Prava,

Image from article, with caption: A pro-Russian fighter holds up a toy found among the debris at the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Friday, July 18, 2014

U.S. Anti-Russia Propaganda Machine Rushing to Judgment -– Facts Needed on Malaysian Plane Shoot-Down - Ray McGovern,

Will Russia shoot down West’s lies? - They don't call it the "gutter press" for nothing. But Western so-called news media sunk to new toxic depths over the weekend in their coverage of the Malaysian airliner downed over Ukraine - and the death of all 298 people on board. It was a veritable media-orgy of lies, propaganda and vilification spewed out by American and European corporate news outlets.

Mark Gregory Hambley: Coverage of the Arab–Israeli conflict is biased on both sides -

Israeli Crisis Propaganda Thrives On Social Media; Pro-Palestinian Hashtags Dominate Twitter Conversation - Jeff Stone, Image from entry, with caption: An example of the propaganda Israelis and Palestinians have to wade through to find the truth online.

The propaganda war over the Gaza crisis: Palestinians struggle to get their version of events heard - Richard Falk,

The Air Strike Propaganda Video Israel Doesn't Want You to See - Ben Makuch,

Objectivity Shot Down: The Holes in the Propaganda - Stephen Winspear. CounterPunch: "I am a life-long Pacifist, and that means that I cannot accept any attempt to justify War or premeditated violence. ... I am not bound to provide any knee-jerk rhetorical or material support, to one side or another in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nor am I obliged – much less expected by those who know me – to provide factional support to one side or the other in the current conflict in Ukraine."

Propaganda poster display offers look back to earlier Hong Kong strife - Lana Lam, As the electoral reform debate rages, Hongkongers will have a timely chance to relive an earlier age of strife when Chinese political propaganda posters - including anti-colonial messages - go on display on Thursday in a Central gallery. The posters date as far back as the 1950s and include some issued during the 1967 riots to stir Hongkongers to fight British rule. Among the posters, with caption: "People do not tolerate waste of food!"


From; via DR on Facebook

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