Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 6

“what century is it outside?”

--Russian poet Boris Pasternak; Pasternak image from


Ambassador Robert Gosende: Presentation in Warsaw on "The Conduct of Foreign Relations in the Digital Age" (June 13, 2014)


Iran and the US play nuclear chicken in Vienna: Analysis: As the deadline for an agreement draws near, each side is setting its own terms for compromise - Barbara Slavin, "In dueling op-eds and YouTube videos, Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif have each accused the other side of making excessive demands and warned, in near-identical language, that a 'historic opportunity' to resolve one of the world’s most important security issues risks being lost. But theatrics and public diplomacy aside, there are reasons for both optimism and concern as the delegations square off in Vienna and try to meet a July 20 deadline to conclude an agreement.

That deadline marks the expiry date of the interim accord signed last November, which would compel the two sides to renew respective freezes on new sanctions and on the expansion of uranium-enrichment capacity that were adopted to enable the current talks. Reasons for optimism stem from the obvious benefits of a deal for both Iran and the international community." Image from

Chefs are the new diplomats - Zarina Patel, "The terms 'culinary diplomacy' have been in use since the early 2000s, and have been popularized by the work of public diplomacy scholars Paul Rockower and Sam Chapple-Sokol. The Global Thai programme, launched in 2002, was the first government-led culinary diplomacy initiative. Its intention was to build the number of Thai restaurants worldwide; according to the Thai government, the number went from 5,500 in 2002 to more than 10,000 in 2013, as well as to encourage more people worldwide to eat Thai cuisine. (Wikipedia). In September 2012, the United States officially launched its Culinary Diplomacy Partnership Initiative. More than 80 chefs, including were named to be members of the 'American Chef Corps.' One goal of the programme is to send members of the Chef Corps to American embassies abroad on public diplomacy missions to teach about American cuisine. In a 2011 article published in the Taiwanese journal Issues and Studies, Rockower wrote that 'Gastro diplomacy is predicated on the notion that the easiest way to win hearts and minds is through the stomach.' Chapple-Sokol wrote in a 2013 article in the journal The Hague Journal of Diplomacy that culinary diplomacy is 'the use of food and cuisine as an instrument to create cross-cultural understanding in the hopes of improving interactions and cooperation. ['] Recently, American celebrity Chef Mary Sue Milliken visited Pakistan's city of Islamabad for a culinary diplomacy programme. The Chef is a restaurateur, cookbook author, and radio and TV personality working mostly on Latin cuisine in the United States.

Chef Milliken is a most excellent ambassador of authentic Mexican cuisine, setting the standard for gourmet Mexican fare for over two decades and co-authoring five cookbooks, including 'Cooking with Too Hot Tamales', 'Mesa Mexicana', 'City Cuisine', and 'Spice Up Your Kitchen'. Chef Mary Sue Milliken hosted Master Cooking Classes for guests at Islamabad Serena Hotel. Attendees learnt some valuable cooking tips and got to taste from a sumptuous selection of appetizers and dishes that were prepared during the sessions. The capstone of her journey was serving as the judge of culinary competitions and Mighty Mango Festival in Islamabad. Ambassador Richard Olson and Pakistani fusion cooking sensation Chef Shai served as the co-judges. At the venue of a competition, organized by The Islamabad chapter of the Pakistan-US Alumni Network US, the chef said, 'judging the cooking competition was quite an experience. I am very pleasantly surprised by the quality of food and the creative thought that went into each dish.' The chef also stressed that currently there is a big interest in Pakistani food in the US. 'There is a huge demand for new cuisines and dishes in America right now. I think many Pakistani dishes will be loved by the American public especially 'Biryani', 'Qeema' and 'Khari Pakora'.' Chef Milliken's trip to Pakistan was all about understanding the Pakistani cuisine. 'Food is a universal language and is a basic, fundamental part of every society,' Milliken said. 'I really believe that food is a great way to start a dialogue.'" Milliken image from

Behind the Propaganda Wars/ China, South Korea using soft power to win support - The Yomiuri Shimbun: "China and South Korea have refined their propaganda war strategies every year. It is noteworthy that they have adopted a so-called soft power strategy in skillful ways to attract support and sympathy from other countries by improving their image through cultural activities. In this respect, China puts special emphasis on the promotion of the Chinese language. ... In recent years, more and more young people are invited from island countries in the Pacific by the Chinese government to study the Chinese language in Beijing. The Chinese government also finances their living expenses during their studies. After returning home, many young people find jobs at factories or hotels in their countries, which are operated by Chinese companies. ... Many countries in the South Pacific are small and financially constrained. China is supplying such countries with satellite dishes and is offering programs from China Central Television to local cable television stations. China is also increasing the number of Chinese learners by enrolling people, who become interested in Chinese culture through TV programs, at the Confucius Institute. The Confucius Institute is a nonprofit educational organization established in 2004 by the Chinese government to promote Chinese language and culture. The institute has established 1,091 schools in 117 countries and regions around the world in cooperation with local universities and other educational institutions, including some prestigious universities in the United States and European countries. Such schools have a total of 660,000 students and 20,000 teachers. Smaller schools established at middle and high schools are called Confucius Classrooms. In Japan, the institute has 20 schools at Waseda, Ritsumeikan and other universities around the country.

Similarly, South Korea places importance on the promotion of its language. Sejong School, a Korean language education organization authorized from 2007 by the South Korean government, has 120 branch schools in 52 countries and regions around the world. In comparison, there are only 22 Japanese language institutes in 21 countries, including Japanese Cultural Centers operated abroad by the Japan Foundation. Prof. Yasushi Watanabe of Keio University, who specializes in cultural diplomacy, has expressed concern about this situation. If Japan does not significantly increase its efforts to promote Japanese language education abroad, Japan’s international influence eventually might be undermined, he said. Korea uses such cultural weapons as Korean Wave dramas and K-Pop music. The South Korean government helps with marketing the country’s soft power. For example, it subsidizes the costs for making subtitles and voice-overs for South Korean dramas and for producing videos for exhibitions abroad. The South Korean government even offers TV dramas for free to developing countries as cultural exchange programs through the Korean Foundation. The Korean Wave phenomenon has reached even Cuba, a nation friendly to North Korea. ... South Korea is even using its soft power to criticize Japan. At the Angouleme International Comics Festival held in France in January and February, the South Korean government and writers’ groups exhibited their works with so-called comfort women as the theme. They showcased about 60 works depicting Korean girls abducted and taken to a brothel. South Korean Gender Equality and Family Minister Cho Yoon Sun attended the opening ceremony and said the comfort women issue is not only a bilateral problem between Japan and South Korea, but a universal problem. The Japanese Embassy in France told the organizer of the comics festival that allowing a certain country to make a political assertion in an arbitrary manner did not mesh with the event’s intent and purpose. Despite this, the embassy failed to prevent South Korea’s exhibition." Image from

Peaceful coexistence bedrock for peace, development - "The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence were, are and will continue to be the foundation for China’s diplomatic works, says an article in 21st Century Business Herald. Excerpts: [']China, India and Myanmar celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence

in Beijing last week. After 60 years, the principles of mutual respect for the integrity of sovereignty and territory, mutual nonaggression, mutual nonintervention in internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence, have been recognized as conventional codes for dealing with international relations.['] ... The Five Principles remain the bedrock for Chinese decision-makers to tackle new challenges in national security, energy security, trade and diplomatic frictions and public diplomacy. In a multipolar world, China keeps good relations with many countries and makes efforts to undertake its international responsibilities to promote world peace and stability. With the Five Principles deeply rooted in China’s diplomatic works, China demonstrates great restraint and patience in dealing with territorial disputes with its neighbors. ... Courtesy: China Daily." Image from

Iraeli policies in Jerusalem spur unrest - Daoud Kuttab, "The absence of a political horizon and the physical and psychological separation imposed by Israel on the 360,000 Palestinians of East Jerusalem is very frustrating and plays into the hands of political radicals and criminal elements.

The spiral of violence can’t be tackled simply by more tear gas and Israeli public diplomacy. A serious political process is essential to tackle the root cause of the conflict. Nowhere is this needed more than in Jerusalem." Image from entry, with caption: An Israeli border policeman detains a Palestinian protester during clashes ahead of Land Day in East Jerusalem, March 29, 2014.

Hasbara = Propaganda? (Guest post) - Orryia Kohen, “The word Hasbara literally means ‘explaining’, and thus carries almost the opposite connotations of propaganda. A person who explains himself isn't telling the listener what to think. He doesn't want the listener just to agree with him, but to understand him as well. And that desire for understanding implies that he treats the other person as creature with a brain, capable of independent judgment. It is therefore not surprising that those who oppose the use of the term argue against its apologetic overtone.  Besides being used as a name for Israeli public diplomacy, Hasbara is mainly used in connection to information and education. The phrase ‘education and Hasbara’, i.e. consciousness raising, is used regularly. There are Hasbara conferences on the subjects of fire prevention, employment programs, ageing and disability services, the rights of Holocaust survivors, etc.

Hasbara campaigns about road safety, anorexia, recycling and veganism also occur periodically. The Israeli ministry of environment has many ‘education and Hasbara’ centres all over the country.  Instances in which Hasbara is used as a euphemism for propaganda can be found. However, almost all cases will be by people who happen to believe that Israeli public diplomacy is propaganda. They are entitled to keep that opinion, but that's all it is in the end - just an opinion. As I hope I've demonstrated, Hasbara isn't used as a synonym for propaganda in any other context. It's not the plain meaning of the word. By claiming the contrary, the opinion of certain people (Hasbara is propaganda) has turned into a fact (the word Hasbara means propaganda). No wonder Hasbara hasn't been very successful."
Image from

Do We Still Need Embassies? Modern technology and cost pressures prompt some to argue they are irrelevant. But embassies still have a role - By Moira G Gallaga, "[T]there would seem to be a strong argument to be made in favor of eliminating embassies, particularly for governments facing harsh fiscal and economic realities. Yet there is an equally strong case to be made in support of maintaining a diplomatic presence overseas. This case rests on the premise that the outlays are necessary and will produce a return over the long term. Specifically, establishing or maintaining an embassy is a clear sign to the host government of a commitment to deepening bilateral relations. In addition, having people on the ground provides added value in terms of obtaining insight into what is going on in the host country. ... Another advantage of having people on the ground is the extensive people-to-people contact is allows the host country. While communication may be maintained via phone and e-mail, and air travel makes it easy for officials to fly in for crucial meetings, these tools cannot replicate the relationship that can be established through constant personal contact and interaction. ... Embassies

have existed for centuries and it is very likely that they will be around for a long time to come. The way they will operate and conduct their work will necessarily change and evolve to keep them relevant and responsive to global developments, but in one form or another, the embassy will continue to be key to the conduct of international relations. Moira G Gallaga was Presidential Protocol Officer to three Philippine presidents and has completed assignments at the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles and Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C." Image from, with caption:  Cinema Embassy, Bologna


The drone warfare drawbacks - Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times: In an almost-invisible campaign that started modestly under Bush and expanded dramatically under Obama, the U.S. has launched more than 1,600 drone strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and even, in one case, in the Philippines, according to Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations. Drone strikes may be an efficient way to kill terrorists, but they're no way to make friends. Just because drone wars have succeeded in killing terrorists doesn't mean they're working.

The widespread use of drones has created a backlash around the world, and not only in remote villages in Pakistan or Yemen. Our drone policy could come back to haunt us once the U.S. loses its current near-monopoly in drone technology. The ease of using drones makes them seductively tempting to deploy. The administration should make public its enemies list. It's past time that the U.S. disclosed a list of organizations that qualify as “Al Qaeda associates,” and thus as legitimate targets for U.S. attack. Image from entry, with caption: A man walks near graffiti protesting U.S. drone operations in Yemen last April.

Let justice be served in Syria and Iraq - David Scheffer, Los Angeles Times: Justice may appear to be the least likely survivor of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, but history teaches us that investigations and prosecutions of atrocities like those sweeping through these nations can still be achieved despite political obstacles. The likely suspects in the atrocity crimes scarring Syria and recently Iraq will resist arrest for years, if not indefinitely. So a practical way forward would be for the U.N. to partner with a government that already embraces in absentia trials under its domestic law. Many European and Arab nations hold such trials (as do Syrian and Iraqi courts), so this would not be a novel procedure.

India’s Role in the Nuclear Race - Editorial, New York Times: India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, who plans to visit President Obama at the White House in September, has made economic growth a priority. The Americans are eager to capitalize on that, as are other Western powers, with a focus on winning Indian defense and nuclear energy contracts.

Who Do We Think We Are? - Maureen Dowd, New York Times: With our swaggering and sanguine image deflated by epic unforced errors, Americans are playing defense, struggling to come to grips with a world where we can no longer dictate all the terms, win all the wars and lead all the charges.

NYT Dishes More Ukraine Propaganda - Robert Parry, Now, as the Kiev regime celebrates its bloody conquest of the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk, it might be advisable for Americans  who don’t want to continue being deceived by U.S. government/media propaganda to recognize – and reject – these one-sided and false narratives.

North Korea’s Fear of Hollywood - Paul Fischer, New York Times: Movies have held inordinate importance in North Korean politics, beginning even before the country’s founding in 1948. One of the earliest actions by Kim Il-sung, called Great Leader, was to create a Soviet-supported national film studio, where he gave filmmakers and crews preferential food rations and housing. His son, Kim Jong-il, called Dear Leader, was a film buff who owned one

of the largest private film collections in the world and whose first position of power was in running the regime’s propaganda apparatus, including its film studios. For over 20 years he micromanaged every new North Korean film production, as writer, producer, executive and critic; to his people, he is still known today first and foremost — thanks to propaganda rather than any real talent or skill — as the greatest creative genius in North Korea’s history. Image from

“Last Days in Vietnam”: propaganda flick by JFK’s niece - As U.S. foreign policy in Iraq faces its biggest defeat since the Indochina Wars, the niece of President Kennedy - who escalated the U.S. presence in Vietnam - has directed Last Days in Vietnam, the cinematic equivalent of putting a blossom on a turd.

Rory Kennedy's film is so shamefully one-sided that it's hardly a documentary - rather, it's pure propaganda. As the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin incident nears this August - that fabricated hoax LBJ exploited to further escalate U.S. military activities in Vietnam - and the 40th anniversary of Vietnam's liberation approaches next April 30, Last desperately tries to find something positive to say about the role the American military and diplomats played as the "Yankees go home" scenario unfolded and the communists took over what was then Saigon. Uncaptioned image from entry

The CIA’s ‘Zhivago’ - Michael Scammell, New York Review of Books: Two new books, Inside the Zhivago Storm: The Editorial Adventures of Pasternak’s Masterpiece by Paolo Mancosu, and The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book by Peter Finn and Petra Couvée describe in great detail the way the CIA successfully covered its tracks and the mechanisms it used to get a Russian-language edition of Doctor Zhivago published in Europe with great speed. As as Finn and Couvée point out, the CIA had a large number of officials who had strong literary credentials and loved books. They believed in the power of ideas, and agreed with the CIA’s chief of covert action that “books differ from all other propaganda media primarily because one single book can significantly change the reader’s attitude and action to an extent unmatched by the impact of any other single medium.” Crass and reductive as the sentiment may be, it acknowledges an important aspect of literature that cannot be denied. Ironically, the idea seems to have been borrowed from the Soviets themselves, who were guided by Maxim Gorky’s 1934 dictum (itself reflecting centuries of Russian attitudes) that books are weapons, “the most important and most powerful weapons in socialist culture.”

The Soviets were already masters of propaganda and the manipulation of culture in the 1930s, as George Kennan, author of containment and the intellectual father of the cold war, well knew. Kennan’s ideas had led to the foundation of the Congress for Cultural Freedom in 1950, and in 1956, just before the appearance of Doctor Zhivago, the device of mailing American books and magazines across the iron curtain was beginning to be tried. The next step was a small program to translate Western books into Russian, which functioned alongside a multimillion-dollar enterprise to publish and or distribute thousands of titles in Soviet-controlled countries. Finn and Couvée estimate that up to ten million books and magazines were clandestinely smuggled into the Soviet bloc in this way. It was an effort much less known to the public and much less controversial than cold war cultural activities in the West, although some argue that the problem was the CIA and secrecy itself the offense. The authors respond that in 1950s America no other agency could have done it, for it would have been impossible to get Congress to openly appropriate money for the support of art and culture. Image from entry, with caption: Anna Akhmatova with Boris Pasternak just after he began writing Doctor Zhivago, 1946

Bombers’ Early Light - [Review of A. J. Baime’s ‘Arsenal of Democracy’] - Charles N. Edel, New York Times: “England’s battles, it used to be said, were won on the playing fields of Eton,” the American labor leader Walter ​Reuther declared in 1940, but “America’s can be won on the assembly lines of Detroit.”

Joseph Stalin agreed. Toasting President Roosevelt in 1943, he stated that “the most important things in this war are machines” and that the United States was “the country of machines.” WWII proved both men correct. Image from entry, with caption: Building a Liberator Bomber at Willow Run


At Colo. restaurant, menu comes with armed waitresses - Trevor Hughes, USA Today, At Shooters Grill, you can decide whether your freshly made cherry pie comes with ice cream, but you have no choice on who delivers it: An armed waitress. All nine of the servers at the restaurant pack heat as they shuttle plates of food to diners, from Glock semi-automatics to Ashlee Saenz's thigh-length Rueger Blackhawk .357 six-shooter.

On the wall, posted alongside copies of the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, is a sign declaring that those inside are still "proudly clinging to my guns and Bible." Image from entry

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