Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 7-8

"Dudes, we’re on our own. #independence #totallyrad #stickitkinggeorge"

--A Twitter version of the Declaration of Independence; image from


The Devil With Hitler (1942) PT. 1 - YouTube [see also below entry in "Related Item"].


Opinion: A slap in the face for transatlantic ties: The alleged spying of a German intelligence employee for the US - if confirmed – wreaks havoc with the already strained US-German relations. But the new scandal also contains a clear message from Washington for Berlin - Michael Knigge, dw.de: "[T]the US mole inside the BND was apparently operational this year, perhaps even until a few weeks ago. That would mean that at the same time that Washington and Berlin were politically trying to get the transatlantic ties back in order after the fallout from the NSA scandal, US spy services ran a mole inside its German partner organization. It makes a mockery of the recently started efforts by Germans and Americans to reach a common understanding on privacy and security issues via the so-called cyber dialogue.

The new spying scandal reveals an utter lack of American sensitivity of German sentiment and will only deepen the transatlantic rift. To continue US spying activities inside the BND as if nothing had happened in the past year is not just brazen. It's like sending in the wrecking ball while workers are supposedly trying to repair the badly damaged transatlantic house. For Berlin, this latest incident contains a clear message. Washington - notwithstanding some public diplomacy efforts to soften the blow - is unwilling to significantly change its foreign intelligence operations, not for Germany or any other country for that matter. The writing was already on the wall when the no-spy agreement failed. Now it's high time for Berlin to heed the message and act accordingly: Germany must become more independent from US intelligence and close its intelligence blind spot regarding so-called friendly nations."

Daring to Try: The US and Sectarianism in the Middle East - Daniel Lakin, fairobserver.com: "While the US could still reach a final deal with Iran over its nuclear program and perhaps reverse some of ISIS’ gains, a more fundamental issue, if left unaddressed, would keep the region at a boil: the Sunni-Shia divide. If the Obama administration hopes to avoid passing a Middle East on fire to its successor, it must find creative ways to apply US influence and public diplomacy to downshift the split, and help to free the region from its explosive influence."

Letter from the President -- Regarding Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Request to Address the Increase in Child and Adult Migration from Central America in the Rio Grande Valley Areas of the Southwest Border; and Wildfire Suppression - whitehouse.gov: "Dear Mr. Speaker ... This funding would support a sustained border security surge through enhanced domestic enforcement, including air surveillance; expenses related to the repatriation and reintegration of migrants; associated transportation costs; additional immigration judge teams, immigration prosecutors, and immigration litigation attorneys

to ensure cases are processed fairly and as quickly as possible; funding to address the root causes of migration; public diplomacy and international information programs; the operational costs of responding to the significant rise in apprehensions of unaccompanied children and adults traveling with children; and expenses associated with the appropriate care for those apprehended, consistent with Federal law, and the necessary medical response." Image from

The first one, held in the U.S. dialogue senior public diplomacy [Google "translation"] - newswire.co.kr: Covers in part Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel's visit to South Korea.

Inside President Obama’s secret schedule - news.yahoo.com: "The demands on a president’s time are relentless and frequently require tough choices. 'There are so many claims on the president’s time.

They will come from policy people, the legislative people, the national security people, the public diplomacy people, Congress, agencies … everybody wants a piece of the president’s time,' said one former senior Bush aide, who compared the process of prioritizing the president’s time to wrestling with 'a Rubik’s cube.'” Image from entry, with caption: A mock presidential schedule, nearly identical in format to the one President Obama receives

America Finally Grounds Anti-Castro Propaganda Plane for Good - John Hudson, Foreign Policy: "The United States officially ended one of the most ineffective and widely criticized programs of the last decade aimed at undermining the Cuban government, the State Department revealed Monday. Foggy Bottom's inspector general released a report showing that AeroMarti, a multimillion-dollar boondoggle that involved flying an airplane around Cuba and beaming American-sponsored content to the island's inhabitants, quietly ended in April. Since launching in 2006, the program was plagued by a simple problem: Every day the plane flew, Havana jammed its broadcast signal, meaning fewer than 1 percent of Cubans could listen to its TV and radio shows.

The federal agency that runs the program, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, repeatedly asked Congress to ground the plane because of its exorbitant expense and dubious effectiveness. But for years, hard-line members of Congress opposed to Fidel Castro rejected the agency's recommendations and renewed funding for the 'public diplomacy' effort. According to the inspector general's report, the troubled program was finally spiked when money for it was quietly left out of fiscal year 2014 appropriations. Unfortunately for taxpayers, AeroMarti's final cost exceeded previous estimates, racking up a $35.6 million tab over its seven-year life." Uncaptioned image from entry

Audit finds low morale at U.S. Radio and TV Marti to Cuba, California paper reports - bbgwatch.com: “Low morale still plagues the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, the U.S. government organization responsible for Radio and TV Marti, a new audit finds,” The Sacramento Bee reported. ‘In a partially redacted report dated July 7, based on employee interviews conducted last year, the State Department’s Office of Inspector General cited morale as among the pressing challenges facing the Cuban broadcasting operations.’ The paper reports a reaction to the OIG audit from Lynne Weil, spokesperson for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). She told the paper Monday afternoon that 'we concur overall' with the recommendations made in the Inspector General’s report, and said 'the work of the OIG will help' the Cuban broadcasting office improve.”

Does America need the Voice of America? – media expert Jonathan Marks asks - bbgwatch.com: "We strongly disagree with international media expert Jonathan Marks’s conclusion in his latest blog article that the world no longer needs

the Voice of America (VOA), but we completely agree with his findings that executives in charge of Voice of America, as well as the overall Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) management centered within the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), have: 1. No concept of what VOA should offer the world and; 2. What they offer is of such bad quality that VOA has become an international embarrassment." Image from

Radio’s Brave New World by James Cridland offers lessons for BBG - BBG Watcher, BBG Watch: “James Cridland has published a thought provoking article on radio. He is the Managing Director of Media UK, and described as ‘a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business.’ We thought that Cridland’s article is especially relevant in light of the Voice of America’s (VOA) senior management’s push (mostly former CNN TV staffers) to replace experienced radio journalists, serious journalism and shortwave and medium wave radio broadcasts with amateur video productions that almost no one is watching, as noted in another article by another international media expert Jonathan Marks.”

Ukraine Hosts American Jazz Violinist - David Morris, guardianlv.com: "In an effort to highlight 'cultural diplomacy' with the embattled nation, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine invited jazz musicians Christian Howes and Douglas Droste to perform in Lviv. The Lviv Philharmonic Hall in Ukraine played host for workshops, rehearsals and performances infusing American jazz with classical music featuring violinist Howes and conducted by Droste. ... The performance hosted by Ukraine on June 21 was one of three, and featured both the INSO-Lviv Academic Symphony Orchestra

and the American jazz violinist and was a unique collaboration. ... In his opening remarks on June 21, Andrew Paul, the U.S. Embassy’s Cultural Attache, reflected on the importance of 'cultural diplomacy' during this difficult period. It is refreshing to see that in spite of all the turmoil they face, Ukraine has maintained its appreciation for art enough to host these performances and even engage in workshops for jazz and other American musical styles from both the conductor and violinist." Uncaptioned image from entry

Culture exchange pivotal to China-U.S. relationship - xinhuanet.com [July 6]: "As a Chinese folk art festival closed in Washington on Sunday, burgeoning cultural exchanges between China and the United States has been deemed a more active and pivotal role in promoting bilateral ties. The two-week 2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, having attracted about one million visitors this year to see the living traditions in China and Kenya, was credited by some critics as the largest cultural event in Washington.

The festival offered visitors a chance to watch craftspeople making paper cuts, New Year's prints, clay figurines, kites and sachets and to get close to artists specializing in embroidery, batiks and porcelain. As part of the festival, the Chinese folk art show, invited to the festival for the first time ever, have been well received by local audience and foreign travellers. The success showed the Westerners' acceptance and understanding for the colorful Chinese culture, experts said, adding it will promote the cultural exchanges between Beijing and Washington." Image from entry, with caption: Kids watch lion dance during the 48th Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, July 6, 2014. The 48th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival closed in Washington on Sunday.

Forum on China's new type urbanization held at UN - Xinhua, ecns.cn: "The forum was organized by CEFC, a nonprofit, non-governmental think tank devoted to public diplomacy and research on strategic issues with emphasis on energy and culture."

Even Greater Days Will Follow - Bartosz Marcinkowski, neweasterneurope.eu: Paata Gaprindashvili, vice-director of the Georgia’s Reforms Associates (GRASS): "Of course, we have a long way to go before our democracy is fully operational, but when you compare Georgia with its neighbours – Armenia and Azerbaijan – you can see that we are in a much better position. The majority of Georgian NGOs rely on international donors.

Why? Because in Georgia there is no practice, unlike in Poland, that the government (no matter who is in power) gives support and financial assistance to local NGOs as a part of public diplomacy. Another big challenge for Georgian think tanks is the lack of international partnerships. However, this will probably be changing slowly as the process of integration with the EU develops." Uncaptioned image from entry

Ganja hosts talks on Azerbaijani-NATO relations - Sara Rajabova, azernews.az: "A round table titled 'NATO-Azerbaijani relations: prospects of 20 years-long partnership' was held by the Euro-Atlantic Information Centre in Ganja, the

second-largest city of Azerbaijan. ... The event, financially supported by NATO's Public Diplomacy Division, brought together more than 50 members of the general public." Image from entry

Intelligent politics of remembrance: How Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia Celebrate the Fall of the Iron Curtain - Simon Gruber, visegradinsight.eu: "[H]ow to commemorate the end of communism in Central Europe and the removal of the Iron Curtain without getting boring, without repeating phrases, without lecturing those who were too young to experience life in 'real socialism'? Perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, the foreign ministries of Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia found a creative answer. They invited 100 young people from their countries – about 30 people from each country – and took them on a 'Celebration of Freedom and Youth.' ... This Celebration of Freedom and Youth was not simply an unconventional PR exercise linking politics, public diplomacy, and culture. It made good sense on the international, the ideational, and the educational level."

German college students "... K-Pop Korea, the food floats" [Google "translation'] - newsis.com: Mention of public diplomacy

Press Release - debatesedevaneios.blogspot.com [Google "translation"]: "Regarding the arrest of Antonio Muchanga, Member of the State Council of the Republic of Mozambique I hereby express my deep sense of fear and amazement the action taken today by the President of the Republic in the Council of State, to have authorized the arrest of a member of the State Council (EC), Dr António Muchanga, because the waiver of the immunity it enjoys as a member of the State Council, EC. ... What your role these days is and should be to help and not to complicate processes and should act more as a counselor than as police. And the PGR has capabilities for this, making use of what is called in communication by PUBLIC DIPLOMACY (Public Diplomacy in Inlges) • That PGR very quickly use legal means to restore the Dr António Muchanga freedom, even though conditional, applying for example, measures of coercion. The PR, I hope that: • Use Public Diplomacy (one element of government communication) to calm the spirits of the people, returning the same hope and the same expectations prior to this macabre act."

[JB note: It is difficult to make sense of this entry]. Image from


Obama’s ‘unity government’ plan in Iraq is just a mirage - Jackson Diehl, Washington Post: If the Kurds are right, the Middle East will be coping with an aggressive al-Qaeda state in its midst for the foreseeable future. Kurdistan will consolidate its position as a de facto, if not de jure, independent state. And the Obama administration’s strategy of re-creating a unified Iraq under a strong central government will, like its previous Middle East schemes, prove a mirage. Image from

The Kurdish option: An independent state for the Kurds, an ally for the U.S. in Iraq - Timothy William Waters, Los Angeles Times: Recognizing Kurdish independence would advance American interests and better reflect American values. The Kurds have powerful moral claims to statehood, claims denied after World War I, when a Kurdish state first proposed under Woodrow Wilson's principle of self-determination was instead divided among Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Iraqi Kurds' decades of suffering under Baghdad — including Saddam Hussein's genocidal gassing campaign — give them grounds for exit now. Still, despite calls over the years to recognize Kurdish claims, there have long been hard-nosed, geopolitical objections. But those concerns always rested on a brittle reading of realism and have now vanished.

The U.S. may be about to abandon Afghanistan just when it is turning a corner - Notable and Quotable, Wall Street Journal: Jonathan Foreman writing on Afghanistan in the July/August issue of Commentary magazine: [T]he truly awful aspect of this retreat is that America may be about to abandon Afghanistan just when it seems to have turned a corner—when a new leader is about to take power after a peaceful democratic process, when economic growth is transforming life for millions, and when the security forces are beginning to become genuinely effective in a limited but promising way. It wouldn't be the first time that the United States has chosen to lose a war without being defeated in the field, or risked rendering meaningless a huge expenditure of blood and treasure, or let down a beleaguered ally. But it would likely rank high in any list of the nation's strategic blunders and shabby betrayals, and its fallout might be felt for many years to come in the region and beyond.

China’s territorial advances must be kept in Check by the United States - Michèle Flournoy and Ely Ratner, Washington Post: Following decades of double-digit economic growth, China’s behavior took a notable turn in the wake of the global financial crisis. Many in Beijing anticipated a rapid U.S. decline, and this triumphalism fused with growing nationalism and wealth to generate a more assertive Chinese foreign policy. Yet China’s leaders are well aware that continued economic growth, the principal source of the Communist Party’s legitimacy, depends on a stable regional environment.

As a result, China appears to be taking carefully calibrated steps -- such as seizing small islands with coast guard vessels, unilaterally asserting greater administrative rights over contested territories, building small outcrops into military installations and drilling for oil in disputed waters -- designed to change the territorial status quo in Asia without provoking a serious response from its neighbors or the United States. The danger is that incremental Chinese revisionism, if left unchecked, will fundamentally alter the international order in Asia over time in ways antithetical to stability and the vital interests of the United States and its allies and partners. It is imperative that China’s destabilizing actions stop. This will require the United States to take steps that more regularly and visibly enforce the rules-based international order in Asia. Image from

The United States’ global leadership has eroded - Larence Summers, Washington Post: A failure to engage effectively with global economic issues is a failure to mount a strong forward defense of U.S. interests. That we cannot do everything must not become a reason not to do anything. While elections may turn on domestic preoccupations, history’s judgment will turn on what the United States does internationally. Passivity’s moment has past.

Principles Are No Match for Europe’s Love of U.S. Web Titans - Mark Scott, New York Times: Across Europe, love — or at least acceptance — often wins out in the love-hate relationship with American tech companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google.

Despite their often vocal criticism of these behemoths, people in the region are some of the most active and loyal users of American social networks, search engines and e-commerce websites. They are often even more hooked on the services than Americans are. Google now has an 85 percent market share for search in the region’s five largest economies, including Britain, France and Germany, compared with less than 80 percent in 2009, according to the research company comScore. Google’s share of the American market stands at roughly 65 percent. Image from

Reining In the Drones - Editorial, New York Times: For all the slick technology, there are grave moral and legal questions going unanswered in the government’s use of armed drones to kill people considered terrorist threats. The problems involving these secretive executions are ably underlined by a bipartisan panel of military and intelligence veterans who warn in a new report that without adequate controls and public accountability, the United States could be on a "slippery slope” into a form of perpetual warfare that invites other nations to follow suit and never explain themselves.

Is Obama’s Foreign Policy Too European? - Clemens Wergin, New York Times: When he was first elected in 2008, Barack Obama was hailed on the old Continent as a president with almost European sensitivities and worldviews. But the compliment was unintentionally double-edged. For more than two decades now, Europeans have assumed that the world would remain comparatively stable and wouldn’t need much hard power to be maintained (at least European hard power, that is). So too, it seems, does Mr. Obama.

While Mr. Obama’s new style of diplomacy -- soft power and nonintervention -- was at first seen as a welcome break with the Bush years, five years later a dismal realization has set in. It turns out that soft power cannot replace hard power. On the contrary, soft power is merely a complementary foreign policy tool that can yield results only when it is backed up by real might and the political will to employ it if necessary. Image from

The Post-Pax Americana World: Who needs foreign policy when the arc of history is bending your way? - Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal: American pre-eminence isn't being challenged by emerging powers. The challenge comes from an axis of weakness. Russia is a declining power. China is an insecure one. Groups like ISIS and other al Qaeda offshoots are technologically primitive and comparatively weak. Iran is a Third World country trying to master 70-year old technology. Ours is still an American world, but it is presided over by a president who doesn't believe in American power. The best lack all conviction while the worst are filled with passionate intensity—and a sense that the moment is theirs to seize.

Iranian journalist sentenced to 2 years in jail for “propaganda” - euronews.com: Iranian journalist and blogger Marzieh Rasouli, who works with several Reformist media outlets, announced on Monday via Twitter that she has been summoned to start a prison sentence of two years and 50 lashes for “propaganda against the Iranian regime.”

Specialising in arts and culture for Shargh and Etema newspapers, Rasouli was arrested in January 2012 along with other journalists. She was then released on bail awaiting her trial, the date and details of which were never publicly announced. Uncaptioned image from entry

Should Germans Read ‘Mein Kampf’? - Peter Ross Range, New York Times: “Mein Kampf” has maintained a shadow presence — on the back shelves of used bookstores and libraries and, more recently, online — its copyright holder, the state of Bavaria, has refused to allow its republication, creating an aura of taboo around the book. All that is about to change. Bavaria’s copyright expires at the end of 2015; after that, anyone can publish the book: a quality publisher, a mass-market pulp house, even a neo-Nazi group. The release of “Mein Kampf” into Germany’s cultural bloodstream is sure to be a sensational moment. In a nation that still avidly buys books — and loves to argue in public — the book will again ignite painful intergenerational debates on talk shows and in opinion pages about how parents and grandparents let themselves be so blindly misled.

bloombergview.com: You have to hand it to World War II: Not only did it produce the best war movies (contemporary and after-the-fact), it also had the best propaganda. I’ve written about “Point Rationing of Foods” (1943), a Warner Brothers cartoon, and about Frank Capra’s wonderful “Why We Fight” (in two parts). My selection for today's Monday Movie Post is a short, “Inflation,” from 1942. The film was intended to convince Americans not to hoard and not to bid up prices on scarce, and soon to be scarcer, consumer goods. It involves a plot by the devil himself (played upscale and only a bit over the top by Edward Arnold) to destroy the U.S. by inducing inflation. His Satanic Majesty is shown on the phone with Hitler, reassuring his friend Adolf that Americans are going to be easy to break with higher prices. As entertainment, "Inflation"

isn't at all bad. It may not rise to the level of the Warner Brothers gang or Capra, but it is a pleasant enough diversion before the main movie plays. Of course, it helps that instead of preaching about sacrifice, the movie has Old Nick talking about how great it would be to cash in your war bonds and buy that mink coat. There is one fairly brief excerpt of President Franklin Roosevelt explaining war measures to stabilize the economy, but only toward the end does it veer dangerously close to sanctimony, with the devil finally laying it on a bit too thick. Hitler doesn’t appear directly; he’s just on the other end of the phone. But this Hitler, like the one in several Warner Brothers cartoons of the era, is more buffoon than evil genius. Unlike in the Capra movies, though, the enemy is entirely personal here: It isn't the Axis leaders, or the Germans and Japanese -- just Hitler, in league with the devil himself. Image from

'Lion King' song animation based on Nazi propaganda film - jpost.com: It's been 20 years since one of Disney's most beloved films was released, but few people know that villain Scar's song "Be Prepared" was inspired by Hitler. This year marks the 20th anniversary of one of Disney's most successful animated films, The Lion King, and while the classic is beloved by many, few know that a musical sequence from the movie was inspired by Nazi propaganda. The song "Be Prepared," in which evil lion Scar sings about his plan to murder his brother Mufasa, features goose-stepping hyenas in a formation reminiscent of a Nuremberg rally. In fact, much of the scene was inspired by a 1935 Nazi propaganda film called Triumph of the Will, which documents 1934 Nazi Germany. The animation for the scene "grew out of one sketch by story staffer Jorgen Klubien that pictured Scar as Hitler. The directors ran with the concept and worked up a Triumph of the Will-style mock-Nuremberg rally," the film's production designer Chris Sanders was quoted by Entertainment Weekly as saying in 1994.


“The only remaining superpower is international public opinion.”

-Nation Brander Simon Anholt


Maybe there’s a new dress code?

Photo via state.gov

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus at the arrival of the Secretary's visit to this country. From DiploPundit


--Via Estúdio Pirata on Facebook

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