Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Found on the Web: Public Diplomacy and its Institutions in United States of America - International Journal of Political Science ISSN: 2228-6217 Vol.3, No.5, Winter 2013

Judge for yourself about the scholarly value of the above-cited article (is it for real?) supposedly written by Iranian researchers ...   "Mohammad Javad Mousanezhad: He has M.A in Public Policy from Tehran University and is PhD candidate in Allameh Tabatabaee University [see]. Abdollah Sohrabi: He is PhD candidate in Allameh Tabatabaee University in Political Sceince [sic]. Mehri Akherdin: She has M.A in international Relations from, [sic] Allameh Tabatabaee University."

Well, nobody's perfect ... And Iran is an ancient civilization ... And who knows what appears on the Internet these days, whether it's genuine or not ...

Irish FM: BDS is a 'legitimate political viewpoint'

Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post

image  (not from article)  from

In advance of his June visit to Israel, Irish Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan has confirmed the legitimacy of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

“While the [Irish] government does not itself support such a policy, it is a legitimate political viewpoint, albeit one regarded in Israel as deeply hostile,” he told the Irish parliament last Thursday during a question and answer session.

“I do not agree with attempts to demonize those who advocate this policy, or to equate them with violent terrorists,” he said.

“I am deeply concerned about wider attempts to pressure NGOs and human rights defenders through legislation and other means to hinder their important work. We have raised this both at the EU level and directly with the Israeli authorities,” he said.

Holland and Sweden have similarly confirmed that the BDS movement, which seeks to push Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 lines and allow refugees to return, is protected under the laws of free speech.

Israel, however, holds that the movement is not about support for the creation of a Palestinian state, but rather seeks the destruction of the Jewish state.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said the belief that BDS is a legitimate form of free speech “is a misuse and misunderstanding of what freedom of speech means. It does not give you a license to encourage discrimination and hatred,” he said.

Flanagan’s words come in the midst of an Israeli legislative push in Europe to classify BDS as hate speech.

Last week, the State Comptroller’s annual report said that Israel was losing the battle against BDS because of disorganization and lack of funds.

Ireland’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign called Flanagan’s words “another blow to Israeli hasbara [public diplomacy] efforts.” On Monday, it launched a petition calling on the Irish government to end its arms trade with Israel.

“Ireland has bought €14.7m. worth of arms and military components from Israel over the last decade, while Irish-based companies have exported €6.42m. since 2011,” it said in a petition it circulated on Twitter.

It also asked the Dublin government “to advocate for an international arms embargo at EU and UN levels until Israel ends the occupation of Palestinian land and complies fully with its obligations under international law.”

The Irish government has in the past rejected such calls.

Quotable: Stuart Gottlieb on ideology, religion, and the next President’s policies


Monday, May 30th 2016

Gottlied image from

“As with fascism and communism in the twentieth century, America and the world currently face a determined ideological enemy out to destroy the contemporary order. And while it is clear that America cannot (and indeed should not) incur most of the costs in this fight, it is equally clear that American leadership—both militarily and diplomatically—will be essential if it is to succeed.”  This was one conclusion of Stuart Gottlieb’s May 27, 2016, essay in The National Interest, “How the Next President Can Uproot Terrorism.”  He teaches at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

The lengthy article does not focus on public affairs, public diplomacy, or hearts and minds, but Gottlieb offered a number of comments on the ideological and religious dimensions of the current contest, and he entered the fray on what to call the conflict and the enemy.  Here are a few quotes:

  • We in the West are constantly being told that Al Qaeda and related groups have nothing to do with religion, and nothing to do with Islam. And of course it is true that the vast, vast majority of the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world absolutely reject Al Qaeda and its affiliated and inspired groups—and are especially horrified that they claim to be operating on their behalf.

  • . . . the fact is, ever since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—with Western imperial powers assuming control or influence over many Arab and Muslim lands—the movement has become as much cultural and ideological as spiritual and religious, presenting itself more and more as an ideological and political alternative to Western democratic capitalism and the modern globalized international system.

  • It is this ideological element that is the most troubling, because it means two things: first, Al Qaeda and similarly inspired groups can use Western foreign policies—wars in the Mideast, support for Arab dictators and oil monarchies, support for Israel—as a primary propaganda strategy to attract recruits (not to imply there are easy alternatives to some of those policies); and second, that these recruits do not necessarily have to be very religious, or even religious at all, to get ensnared in the sticky web of the global jihadi movements.

  • On the second point, many of today’s pundits and commentators like to refer to the fact that many Al Qaeda and ISIS foot soldiers are not very religious (or are recent Muslim converts) as evidence that the movements are disconnected from Islam. What they seem to not realize is that this is actually worse—that the movements are related to Islam in a much more cultural-ideological way, rather than a fundamentalist religious way, and that it is the underlying radical Islamist ideology (not fundamentalist Islam) that poses the greatest threat today. Indeed, most fundamentalist—or devoutly religious—Muslims are not violent at all, because most to do not subscribe to, or outright reject, the militant interpretations.

  • Finally, even in the realm of the language used by the Bush White House after 9/11 we saw examples of costly overreaction. At its core, terrorism is a propaganda-fueled phenomenon, an ongoing political battle to win hearts and minds and entice new recruits for the cause. So it is important that the language used when fighting terrorism is not unnecessarily inflammatory. Much of the hot rhetoric of the Bush administration—“Islamo-fascism,” “smoke ‘em out,” “bring it on”—played right into the hands of the radicals.

  • Rather, the problem is that the administration believes that even if it keeps the most hard-line counterterrorism tactics and practices, as long as it speaks about terrorism in a different way—for example, eliminating the phrase “war on terrorism,” and never uttering the words “Islamic terrorism”—and as long as it is viewed as withdrawing from the Middle East and other parts of the world deemed provocative, then America will be, to use one of the administration’s favorite lines, engaging in a “smarter” fight against terrorism.

  • And, finally, it is the mindset that motivates the administration to downplay every instance of terrorism inside the United States as, for example, “workplace violence” (the Fort Hood shooting), or acts of “isolated extremists” (the 2009 Christmas Day underwear bomber), or a “gun control” issue (the San Bernardino shootings), without leveling with the American people about the true nature of this globalized threat.

  • To be clear, following the Bush record of hyperbole and overreaction, it was perfectly reasonable (and wise) for the Obama administration to offer a calmer tone. And it is certainly true, as administration officials like to remind us, that overhyping terror threats only benefits the terrorists—whose sole purpose, after all, is to terrorize.

  • But Obama’s decision to cling to soothing rhetoric even in the face of the dramatic uptick in terror violence worldwide—he recently dubbed ISIS as merely “a bunch of killers with good social media,” and described bathtubs as a greater hazard than terrorism—helps explain why a record number of Americans (roughly 60 percent) now distrust his administration on issues relating to terrorism, ISIS and foreign policy generally. Such discontent plays right into the hands of a nativist demagogue like Donald Trump.

  • It was not sufficient, because the softer language used by the administration has been totally detached from its hard-line policies—creation of a surveillance state, ramping up drones, dispatching dozens more Special Operations units around the world—which has led to a profound disconnect with the American people and with America’s allies.

  • And it was not sufficient because even if America needs to recalibrate its role in the Middle East, constantly telegraphing its intention to withdraw from the region dovetails perfectly with militant Islamist ideology—again showing the danger of not fully “knowing our enemy.” Indeed bin Laden staked his entire theory of global jihad on the belief that America (and the West generally) is a “weak horse” unable to match the “strong horse” of martial Islam. The same way Bush’s rush to war in Iraq threw fuel on the embers of militant Islam, so too did Obama’s rush for the exits—and now the entire region (and beyond) is mired in terrorist violence.

Israel braces itself for Paris peace confab...by doing nothing

Raphael Ahren, The Times of Israel

The French initiative is a 'serious and dangerous attack' on Israel’s standing in the world, says Dan Meridor

Outgoing Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

Meridor image from article
This coming Friday, foreign ministers from some of the world’s most powerful countries, including the United States, Russia and Germany, as well as a handful of Arab states, will gather in Paris to discuss ways to reanimate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

[A] lackadaisical wait-and-see approach to the Paris peace conference is emblematic of Israel’s Palestinian policy since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power in 2009. ...
The French initiative is a “very serious and dangerous attack” on Israel’s standing in the world, said Dan Meridor, a former deputy prime minister from Netanyahu’s Likud party. Dismissing it without offering a credible alternative toward progress in the peace process could have severe ramifications for Israel, he assessed.
“We need to launch our own diplomatic initiative. The government needs to determine what it wants in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank],” continued Meridor, who today is the president of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations. If only Israel were to declare where it would want to draw the border with a future Palestinian state, it could radically change public perception about its obduracy and put the ball in Ramallah’s court, he argued.
The government needs to determine what it wants in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank],” [said] Meridor, who today is the president of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations. If only Israel were to declare where it would want to draw the border with a future Palestinian state, it could radically change public perception about its obduracy and put the ball in Ramallah’s [see] court, he argued.
“This is not a question of hasbara [public diplomacy]. We can’t explain our policy as long as we don’t have a clear policy.” ...
While Jerusalem shrugs off the French initiative as a nuisance, doomed to failure like so many multilateral efforts that came before, Ramallah sees value in the proposal even if it does not immediately lead to success. For the Palestinians, the conference is another step in their ongoing effort to internationalize the conflict, and thus to “shift the inequitable power dynamic between Israel and Palestine.”

Monday, May 30, 2016

The U.S. National Strategy for Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication is Diametrically Opposed to Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" Campaign Brand. Agree or Disagree?

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caninemeatloaf[S] 1 point  
I grew up with the belief America has a special (marketing) message for the world. I believe that the promise of the American Dream has been the most effective informational tool America has wielded on the international scene. There are many scholars who consider the "American Brand" or "Brand America" to be our most important brand in America. (Not Budweiser, McDonalds or Coke -- these all fall under an "umbrella" of the 'American Flag' family of brands).
Without a doubt, Trump is almost running on a platform which is the opposite of the US National Strategic Communications Strategy -- where for example the document states:
Demonstrate respect. The most comprehensive survey we have conducted shows the number one thing the United States can do to improve public perception of our country is to demonstrate respect for other countries’ culture and contributions; this is especially true in many Islamic countries. United States officials can demonstrate respect by: visiting important historic and cultural sites during foreign travel; actively scheduling “listening” events and opportunities to interact with foreign publics and listen to their point of view; planning events that demonstrate respect for different cultural and faith traditions; inviting respected local authors, historians, poets, musicians, etc to appear at USG sponsored events; and attending important cultural and historical events in other countries. Use humility. The history of our own country is one of constantly striving and many times failing to live up to our own noble values. Our society is not perfect, and we should not be afraid to admit that we face many challenges and struggle to live up to our own ideals.
Use caution when dealing with faith issues in the public square. Government officials should be extremely cautious and if possible, avoid using religious language, because it can mean different things and is easily misconstrued. The extremists are murderers who pervert religion, members of a cult that promotes death and destruction rather than legitimate practitioners of any faith. When it is necessary to make a point that involves Islam, for instance, quote Muslim voices themselves. Also, avoid characterizing people of any faith as “moderate” – this is a political word which, when extended to the world of faith, can imply these individuals are less than devout and faithful. The terms “mainstream” or “majority” are preferable.
Finally, avoid phrases such as the “Muslim community” that imply it is monolithic; Muslim communities, like other faith communities, are diverse. Create platforms where divergent ideas are encouraged and freely and openly debated.
Support conferences sponsored by think tanks and foundations and intellectual publications that foster debates. Seek to empower/highlight Muslim voices that speak out against terror and violence, even when they do not agree with every aspect of U.S. foreign policy.
• As a diverse, multi-cultural nation founded by immigrants, America includes and respects people of different nations, cultures and faiths.
• America seeks to be a partner for progress, prosperity and peace.
• The American government wants to work in partnership with nations and peoples across the world in ways that result in a better life for all the world’s citizens.
• Because we believe all people are equal and equally valuable, we believe people everywhere should be free to speak their mind, to participate in their government, to worship as their conscience dictates, to assemble freely and to pursue opportunity, economic, political and creative.
• While we do not expect every country to shape its government like that of the United States, we believe that citizens should be able to participate in choosing their governments and that those governments should be accountable to their citizens. We believe all people want to live in societies that are just, governed by the rule of law, and not corrupt.
• We believe in universal education, with equal opportunity to learn for girls as well as boys.
• We believe in open markets and free trade to foster economic opportunity so all people have the ability to have productive jobs and provide for their families.
• As a nation where people are free to worship as their conscience dictates, we respect all faiths. Many Muslims live, work and worship freely in America and are an important part of American society. (see:http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/state/natstrat_strat_comm.pdf)
Clearly there is a major disconnect between Trump's resilient domestic message and that of the message which America presents about herself to the world. Does Trump's assumption of the mantle of (partial) brand ambassador for the USA damage our reputation on the international scene? What is the downstream effect on business? We all know that a brand takes a long time to build but can nearly be destroyed overnight (Audi's "truth in engineering" anyone?)

British Council Model To Be Examined in First Monday Forum (June 6)


British Council Model Examined in First Monday Forum

Smith image from entry
(29 May 2016). Paul Smith, director of the British Council in the U.S., will discuss the council’s work and how it can serve as a model for other countries in their international cultural relations, at the next First Monday Forum, on 6 June 2016, at American Foreign Service Association in Washington, D.C.
Smith became director of British Council USA in August 2012, where he also serves as Cultural Counsellor at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. He previously served in Afghanistan beginning in 2010, and at other postings on five continents. Smith is an outspoken advocate for the key role of humanities in individual development as well as the basis for cultural relations between countries. His writings appeared in the New York Times and Guardian newspapers, as well as online  at Huffington Post.
First Monday Forums are a joint project of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, and Public Diplomacy Council. The event takes place on Monday, 6 June 2016 at 12 noon, at AFSA headquarters, 2101 E Street NW, Washington DC (Foggy Bottom metro). Sandwiches and refreshments will be served.
The event is free, but advance registrations by e-mail are required: FirstMondayForum.RSVP@gmail.com.
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US-Russian citizens’ diplomacy, with a side of skeet-shooting

Linda Feldmann, csmonitor.com; via ML on Facebook

image from article

At a historic Russian resort, where Leonid Brezhnev once shot a wild boar for Henry Kissinger, Americans and Russians address deepening tensions.

ZAVIDOVO, RUSSIA — Consider the poor wild boar. He had grown quite large, an inviting target for Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

The year was 1973, and Mr. Brezhnev was hosting Henry Kissinger at a government retreat known as Zavidovo, a two hours' drive from Moscow. If the hunting-averse Dr. Kissinger had had his way, the boar would have lived. But alas, Brezhnev was eager to show off for President Nixon’s top foreign policy adviser, and the Soviet leader felled the creature with a single shot. Or so the story goes.

Before then, no Western leader had ever been invited to Zavidovo. But it was the era of detente, and Soviet-American relations were “unusually free of tension,” Kissinger writes in his memoirs.

Today, official tensions run deep, and Zavidovo is no longer the hyper-exclusive haunt of Russian leaders (though Vladimir Putin has been known to hold a meeting or two there).

Last week, the Russians welcomed a group of Americans at Zavidovo for a different sort of diplomacy – the informal, “Track Two” kind. The only weapons wielded were shotguns at the skeet-shooting range, but inside, around a big table, American and Russian “citizen diplomats” tackled the toughest issues of today’s fraught bilateral relationship.

Syria, Ukraine, and arms control were on the agenda. And while the two sides often didn’t see eye to eye, they agreed on a core point: that dialogue is valuable, especially at a time of deepening and dangerous tensions.

Officially, Americans and Russians aren’t talking much. Contacts are limited to essential business, while the more-routine discussions on a host of issues under the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission – from civil society to nuclear security – remain suspended. The US halted its participation in 2014, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

That’s where citizen diplomats have stepped in, with the 2014 revival of the Dartmouth Conference, an exercise in sustained dialogue between distinguished Americans and Russians launched in 1960 at the height of the cold war.

“Our job is to imagine what might make it possible for there to be solutions where there are none,” said David Mathews, president of the Ohio-based Kettering Foundation, which underwrites the US team’s participation in Dartmouth.

During two days of dialogue, one of the overarching issues that emerged was the lack of structure to US-Russian relations.

“This is not nearly as coherent as the ideological conflict of the cold war; rather it is somewhat incoherent and amorphous,” said James Collins, former US ambassador to Russia and co-chair of the American delegation. “It is bound up with issues of self-identity, national sovereignty, and how we see our future and positions in the world vis-à-vis each other.”

To the Russian delegation, the issue of national self-perception is central to US-Russian clashes today.

“It is hard for the US to understand our position, because the bulk of Americans believe Russia lost the cold war and should behave as the losing side, a premise not accepted by any Russians,” said one Russian delegate, a professor of international relations, to the plenary session. “We do not see ourselves as having lost.”

On concrete matters, Crimea was effectively off the table. The Russians see that territory, for decades part of Ukraine, as theirs forever. The Russians also didn’t want to discuss the war in eastern Ukraine, where Russia backs separatist rebels, but as a central source of conflict between Russia and the West, it was impossible to ignore.

Participants discussed the dangerous dynamic of action-reaction between the Russian and NATO militaries across NATO’s eastern borders, and supported full implementation of the Minsk II accord to end the conflict in Ukraine.

On a broader level, the delegations also agreed that US-Russian relations would benefit from a revival of routine topic-specific dialogue under the Bilateral Presidential Commission, without which, “loudspeaker diplomacy prevails.”

Breakout groups on arms control and the Middle East allowed for an airing of differences, but also affirmed a common desire for stability. Participants came up with a list of joint recommendations, to be shared with policymakers.

Then there was the elephant in the room: Donald Trump. Could he actually win the US election? Russians asked. (Yes, they were told.) The Russians already know they don’t like Hillary Clinton, from her time as secretary of State and the failed “reset” in relations. As for Mr. Trump, who has expressed admiration for President Vladimir Putin, the Russians were intrigued.

“Mrs. Clinton is well-known in Russia, and we understand what will happen if she is elected,” a top Russian delegate told the conference, without elaborating. “Mr. Trump is known less, and this led my colleagues to say we’d like him more.”

Later, this Russian, a businessman, expressed appreciation for Trump’s background, and announced: “Were I to vote in American elections, I’d vote for Mr. Trump.”

Other Russian delegates, speaking privately, shared a range of views. “He’s a clown,” said one, a Middle East expert. Another joked that he’d vote for Trump, because of his three marriages. “I’m on my third marriage, too,” he said.

The next Dartmouth plenary will take place next spring, after the new US president is installed. In the meantime, there is plenty to chew on from Zavidovo.

Matthew Rojansky, a leader of the US delegation, offers three takeaways. On Ukraine, he sees little hope for implementation of Minsk II.

“I think we need to pivot from that to a modus vivendi, given that Ukraine is now the next big post-Soviet frozen conflict, and it will be for the foreseeable future,” Mr. Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute in Washington, said in an interview.

His second takeaway is more hopeful: If “we can bottle up the battle of egos” that has shut down routine, “Track One” dialogue, then dialogue on areas with little disagreement – such as counter-terrorism and drug trafficking – becomes easy.

“I think Dartmouth reveals how ready we are to move forward,” he says.

Rojansky’s third observation centers on generational change, and what that means for arms control. He sees older Dartmouth delegates – in particular, retired senior military officials – and imagines a future without those who fought the cold war and understand the logic of “mutually assured destruction.”

“These guys have a deeply held conviction that if we don’t reorient our fundamental posture toward one another, then we’ll be back in a cold war,” says Rojansky.

Does the Dartmouth Conference, founded in 1960 by Saturday Review editor and peace activist Norman Cousins, really accomplish anything? “Sustained dialogue” can seem laborious, progress incremental. Last year, Harold Saunders, a longtime Dartmouth co-chair and pioneer in sustained dialogue who died in March, described to me the value of the institution this way: In times of tension between the US and Russia (and before that, the Soviet Union), Dartmouth “keeps the sinew healthy.”

Dartmouth participants have also found the dialogues helpful in their professional endeavors. In March, Russian co-chair Vitaly Naumkin was named as a consultant to the UN mediation team brokering Syrian peace talks in Geneva. In an interview, Mr. Naumkin told me that his long Dartmouth experience “in building bridges with Americans and trying to help each other” has helped him understand the US mindset during the talks.

Dartmouth – named for the college in New Hampshire where the first conference took place -- isn’t all dialogue. Part of the value is in informal contact – over coffee, during meals, at receptions. At Zavidovo, the final dinner took place in Brezhnev’s old hunting lodge, situated at the confluence of the Shosha and Volga rivers.

During the conference, there was also time for long walks, bike rides, and visits with the goats on the resort’s grounds. Some Americans went to the Russian baths and tried their hand at knife-throwing and skeet-shooting. (This reporter took five shots and hit three clay “plates,” as they are called in Russian.) Boar-hunting is also still on offer, though it wasn’t in season.

As for the wild pig shot by Brezhnev in 1973, his mounted head was donated by Kissinger to the Kennan Institute. “Boris the boar” hangs on the wall there, a testament to a time of detente in a usually tense relationship.

US allies and US image

Kılıç Buğra Kanat, Daily Sabah

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Seeing U.S. soldiers cooperate with the PKK's Syrian wing, the PYD, while the PKK was killing Turkish soldiers, will have serious long-term challenges for U.S. public diplomacy in Turkey

In my previous piece in this column, I discussed how the U.S. presidential election process is impacting the U.S. image and standing around the world. The fact that the nominees for the highest level of power in the U.S are talking about building walls, preventing people from coming in and plans to put chips to track immigrants and visitors have significant repercussions about the perception of the U.S. in Turkey. However, this is not the only thing that influences the U.S.'s position around the world. The ambiguity and lack of clearance in terms of its relations with its allies also indirectly shaping the image of the U.S. The U.S. allies around the world are questioning the U.S. commitments and adherence to the agreements and accords with the U.S. In regards to this category, Turkish public opinion's skepticism about the goals and objectives in the region. This skepticism had started with the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It was part of the public reaction against the unilateral U.S. actions in the region that was prevalent throughout the world. With the beginning of the Obama presidency and his message about multilateralism, the U.S. image around the world improved rapidly. In part what made U.S. President Barack Obama receive the Nobel Peace Prize in his first year in office was the positive feedback around the world about the message of President Obama.

However later this message started to fail to synchronize with the actions of the U.S. administration. With the Syrian crises, the U.S. image and standing among its U.S. allies started to get a major hit. The "Assad must go" speech and lack of action after that; the "red line" speech and failure to react to the breach of the red line; and constant condemnation and lack of an effective policy to stop the violence in the country impacted the U.S. standing in the eyes of the people of the region. For Turkish public opinion the last wave of U.S. skepticism started with the Kobani operation. The U.S.-led international coalition's military assistance to the People's Protection Units (YPG) forces in Kobani despite the expression of concerns by the government started to negatively influence the U.S. image in Turkey.

After the Kobani operations, the U.S. administration's military support for the YPG forces did not end. In the meantime, the Turkish wing of the YPG, the PKK, ended the cease-fire in Turkey and started to attack Turkish targets in the country. While almost every terror expert in the world stated organizational, ideological and personnel overlap between two organizations and recognized them as part of the same terror group, the U.S. insisted on the artificial distinction it came up with and significantly increased the capacity of the YPG in Syria.

As the death toll after the PKK attacks increased and as the PKK started to attack urban centers in major cities of Turkey, including Bursa and Ankara, the U.S. did not re-evaluate or re-consider its military support to the YPG. The fact that an important U.S. ally in the region was being attacked by a terrorist group that was armed and trained by the U.S. generated a major anomaly for the alliance relationships. Other than the statements of the spokespeople of the State Department and White House about the distinction between the PKK and YPG, the U.S. administration did not consider the possible after effects of this controversial policy of supporting a terrorist organization. Current administration's goal of degrading DAESH by providing support for the YPG within its tenure prevented the assessment of the long term implications of this policy.

With the pictures of U.S. soldiers having YPG signs on their uniforms, this skepticism about the U.S. in the Turkish public opinion had another major hit. The impact of supporting an armed group that was considered a terrorist organization by itself and its allies will have serious challenges for the mutual trust and confidence between U.S. and its allies. While PKK was killing Turkish soldiers to see the U.S. soldiers partnered with PKK's Syrian wing will have long term serious challenges for the U.S. public diplomacy in Turkey. The current administration in this sense is leaving a major burden for the next administration in regards to its relations with Turkey. When we bring together this factor with the increasing public attentiveness in Turkey to the foreign policy issues we can see the coming period of significant risks for the bilateral relations.

Voice of America Journalist Arrested and Beaten


Friday, May 27th 2016
The welcome release today of RFE/RL’s Khadija Ismayilova by Azerbaijani authorities after more than 500 days in prison, and the word a few hours later of Angolan authorities’ foul treatment of a VOA stringer (see VOA press release), show how the quest for the facts by U.S. international media is feared by local authorities in many regimes.
Due notice of these, and the killing of Mukarram Khan Aatif by Taliban operatives in Afghanistan four years ago last January, the beating of his VOA Deewa Radio colleague Naimutallah Sarhadi in Pakistan and VOA Kurdish reporter Zhiyar Muhamad earlier this month swell the list of attacks on those simply doing their job:  reporting news of vital interest to audiences they reach.  As Broadcasting Board of Governors Director and CEO John Lansing put it: these “aggressive acts are only meant to silence independent journalism and freedom of expression.  Threats to the free practice of journalism are a denial of basic human rights and must not be supported by any government.”
In danger zones around the globe, the risks of on-scene reporting have imperiled or cost the lives of many U.S. international broadcast reporters.
Bashir Fahmi, a TV correspondent for Alhurra TV in Syria, has been missing since August 20, 2012.  Fahmi was reporting from Aleppo with three other journalists when a firefight erupted.  Japanese journalist Mika Yamakoto was killed and Turkish cameraman Cunyet Unal was captured. The BBG repeatedly has called for information about Fahmi’s fate with no response.
And only last January, a VOA Yemeni photojournalist named Almigdad Mojalli, was killed in an airstrike by a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states in Jaref, a Houthi-controlled district south of the Yemen’s capital city, Sanaa.  Seriously wounded, he died en route to a nearby hospital.   Mojalli left behind a family of seven, and his album of photo essays appearing on the VOA website had a subtitle quoting one outraged Yemeni civilian observer as saying that “airstrikes on Yemeni’s most vulnerable children is an attack on humanity.”

Author: Alan Heil

Fighting for Israel on another front Reservists on Duty group counters BDS

Lidar Gravé Lazi, Jerusalem Post

Goldstof image from article

“We must create a shock wave [to fight BDS] because, otherwise, the efforts are just not working at the moment,” said Amnon Goldstof.

A group of IDF reservists is preparing for a fight on another front – countering the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement sweeping its way across US college campuses.

“We must create a shock wave [to fight BDS] because, otherwise, the efforts are just not working at the moment,” Amnon Goldstof, co-founder of Reservists on Duty, told The Jerusalem Post recently.

The organization was established in January to counter the Breaking the Silence group, an NGO that provides anonymous testimonies of alleged IDF transgressions.

Since its establishment, the group has expanded its activities to target the growing BDS movement, attracting the support of hundreds of IDF reservists, as well as military brass and MKs from across the political spectrum.

“Today, the main goal of our organization is to fight against the new anti-Semitism and the groups that lead it, primarily BDS,” Goldstof said.

According to Goldstof, the boycott movement is a manifestation of classic anti-Semitism “pure and simple” and he sees it as his civic duty to fight the phenomenon.

“Old anti-Semitism wanted to see a world without Jews, and the new anti-Semitism wants to see a world without a Jewish country,” he said.

There are many groups trying to counter the BDS movement, he added, though most are trying to use hasbara, public diplomacy, to depict a positive picture of Israel rather than to confront the phenomenon head-on.

“Everyone wants people to see how good Israel is, how much we have to offer, but this isn’t working [against BDS],” he said.

“We decided to change strategies, stop being on the defensive and to go on the offensive and stop apologizing and to, instead, expose BDS for what it really is,” he explained.

The group is working on a campaign set to launch in the coming months that aims to provide a direct and “shocking” response to the boycott efforts.

“Everyone will know what BDS is, what new anti-Semitism is, and what the dangers are – we have been there in the past,” he said.

Goldstof, along with other members of the organization, is currently touring college campuses and meeting with Jewish students and parents in the United States to learn firsthand about BDS and form partnerships with organizations fighting it.

“Every week we are visiting more campuses and hearing lots of stories and learning more about BDS,” he said.

For example, he said the group has learned that many of the leaders of BDS are Jewish and Israeli students in the US.

“It is a lot about the identity of Jewish youth that is looking for the victim to identify with. We need to bring back the pride for Israel,” he said.

The worry is more among the parents’ generation than among the younger generation, he explained.

“The parents grew up with Israel not being something that can be taken for granted as opposed to the youth who grew up with the State of Israel and the IDF as something that has been there and that can be taken for granted.”

Goldstof reiterated a number of anecdotes he has heard from students and parents regarding bullying and aggressive actions targeting Jewish students by BDS activists on a number of campuses.

“In Israel, we are comfortable because we live with a certain security, but when you go on campus [in the US] you see Jews being attacked, whether they are Zionist or non-Zionist,” he said. “Simply because they are Jewish.”

He called it “unbelievable” that in 2016, Jews are afraid to walk around on the streets of many countries in the world and that every Jewish institution must hide behind a security barrier.

“It is as if the world didn’t wake up – 70 years later [after the Holocaust] and the world doesn’t realize the direction it is heading in,” he said.

Still, Goldstof asserted, while he is overly pessimistic about this new anti-Semitism, he is ready for the fight, with the collaboration of many new Jewish organizations he has met on his US visit.

“Like in war, there are a lot of battles, you win some and you lose some,” he said. “We see this as our civic duty to fight for the Jewish people and for Israel.”

Free speech for BDS...

"Explain that," Letter to the Editor, Jerusalem Post

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While your May 27 editorial “Explaining Israel” correctly criticizes Israel’s shockingly inadequate public diplomacy efforts, your recommended solutions are unlikely to solve the problem. For example, “utilizing professional diplomats” who have “received training in the art of diplomacy and are therefore the best qualified to take up Israel’s case abroad.”

Diplomats are not public relations experts. For the most part, they talk to each other, while hasbara (public diplomacy) talks to private citizens. Even diplomats who have an aptitude for such work often are transferred to other jobs just as they develop the necessary skills and contacts to make a real impact.

Another recommendation is “coordinating the different hasbara efforts under a single body.” But coordinating is very different from devising and implementing an entirely new public diplomacy strategy – a sea change from the failed government strategies of the past. Contrast this with the tens of millions of dollars the PA expends to obtain the services of outside PR firms; the success of this PR onslaught in moving the world’s sympathies toward the Palestinian side is all too apparent.

What is needed is a dedicated agency – independent of any of the ministries or the government of the moment – whose sole responsibility is the dissemination of the truth of what Israel stands for and is doing. This is not a Goebbels-like ministry of propaganda, but an agency of communication.

We need an operation that is both independent and well funded, with the ability to contract with outside firms when necessary.

Israel must speak with one full-time voice that is expert in getting our message across. This task is too important to be left in the hands of well meaning diplomats who might have neither the time nor the skills that are essential if we are to succeed.

Israel must participate in the public diplomacy game with all its energy and resources. While hasbara, by itself, will not guarantee its survival, abandoning the playing field could well contribute to victory for the other side.


Cohen, a former US diplomat, is a fellow at Bar-Ilan University’s Center for International Communication. Bailey, a former staff member of the US National Security Council and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is professor of economics and national security at the University of Haifa. They are among the founders of “The Zichron Project,” an organization dedicated to developing creative approaches to Israeli public diplomacy.

Opposition MKs' travel funding clouded by impropriety, paper finds

Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom

Image from article, with caption: Hatnuah Chairwoman Tzipi Livni and Labor leader Isaac Herzog

Dozens of opposition MKs travel overseas at the expense of private and foreign bodies, and while all trips are approved by the Knesset's Ethics Committee, some of them pose a potential conflict of interest, an investigative report by the financial daily Globes said Thursday.
The report followed the political controversy sparked by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira's findings suggesting potential improprieties concerning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's travels in the early 2000s, when he was finance minister.
The report dubbed Hatnuah Chairwoman Tzipi Livni as the overseas travel "record holder," saying that in the past year alone, she accepted 11 invitations from foreign bodies that funded travel expenses estimated at tens of thousands of shekels. ...
Livni's office commented, "All of MK Livni's trips were approved by the Knesset's Ethics Committee, as required. At a time when Israel is fighting international boycotts, and in light of the state comptroller's report on the failures of Israel's public diplomacy efforts, MK Livni, an Israeli stateswoman who is highly respected overseas, is more than proud to represent Israel and its values whenever she is asked to do so."
Livni, the statement continued, "Meets with foreign missions and dignitaries visiting Israel at the Foreign Ministry's request. It is part of her public mission, and she will continue to do so. Any attempt to juxtapose Livni's travels with the state comptroller's serious findings about the Netanyahu family's travels seeks only to pull the wool over the public's eyes." ...

On Ramadan alert

Nadav Shragai, israelhayom.com

Temple Mount image from
The agreement between Jordan and Israel to set up a network of 55 security cameras on the [Temple] Mount was never implemented due to strong objection from the Palestinians. Hamas and the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement led the opposition to the compromise, out of fear that the cameras would record riots and other violent incidents they instigate there, and the PA followed suit. ...
Jordan reneged on its demand to outfit the [Temple] Mount with security cameras. The Jordanian team of experts, which was already in Jerusalem to install the cameras, returned to Amman. The Jordanians announced officially that Palestinian opposition torpedoed the plan. It was a disappointment for Israel; the lack of cameras will make it difficult for Israeli public diplomacy to consistently document the inciting and often violent activity of the Morabiton and Morabitat ["religious study"] groups on the Temple Mount, or the stockpiles of rocks, bottles and fireworks used to complicate and disrupt Jewish visits to the Mount. ...

Flanigan to serve at United Nations, Peace Corps


Flanigan image from article

Bren Flanigan, a 2012 Carthage High School graduate and senior majoring in economics and global politics at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., will serve the United Nations from June to August and in the United States Peace Corps from September 2016 through December 2018. ...
Flanigan has previously worked in global politics. During the summer of 2014, Flanigan was at the United States Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia for the US Department of State as a Public Diplomacy Intern. While there, Flanigan wrote opinion editorials for the Charge d affairs, co-led an education trip to the Western Province and acted as Press Secretary for the visit of Second Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden. Flanigan also drafted talking points about women's empowerment in Zambia, a key U.S. foreign policy objective, for Dr. Jill Biden, used at a formal reception at the Ambassador’s residence honoring 50 Zambian women leaders.
The following summer, Flanigan worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington D.C., drafting, compiling and assisting in the creation of information products in Strategic Engagement within the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) an agency that helps support US foreign policy objectives by helping local partners advance peace and democracy. ...

Overcoming “Development Fatigue”

Johanna Blakley, uscpublicdiplomacy.org

uncaptioned image from article

May 27, 2016
We’ve got a problem. People in rich countries don’t believe that things have improved in the developing world — and this view is really hard to change. Even regular news consumers who in theory are in favor of foreign aid are likely to believe that it is usually misspent and pilfered away by shameless dictators.
Public opinion in developed nations is decidedly against increasing foreign aid. The common belief that “it’s a hopeless and bottomless pit” means there’s very little incentive for news organizations to cover the expensive global development beat.
According to a 2013 Eurobarometer poll, only 22% of Europeans had heard of the Millennium Development Goals, even though the MDGs have been the United Nation’s overarching framework for all global development work since 2000. Because there’s so little reporting on it, it’s not terribly surprising to discover that few people in rich nations know what the goals are and whether the effort was successful.
In reality, the UN’s final report on the MDGs in 2015 showed that there was a lot to celebrate. For example, extreme poverty in developing countries was reduced from 47% to 14%, there was a 45% decrease in HIV infections, and 2.6 billion people have access to better water.
So who’s been covering all this good news?
Among the hardy few, we find the Guardian. In 2010, they entered into a partnership with the Gates Foundation to develop a website that would help focus the world’s attention on global development and the progress of the MDGs.
They asked our team at the Media Impact Project to work with them to figure out if the site was achieving its goals. It can be very tricky to establish correlations between media interventions and broad social change, but, given the right data, it is possible to assess effects on individuals.
We started with a content analysis, which allowed us to understand exactly what topics and countries were covered in two years’ worth of the Guardian’s Global Development coverage. We also gathered web analytics, which helped us determine who visited the Global Development site and who hadn’t. Then we administered a survey that asked questions that would gauge respondents’ awareness, knowledge, and whether they had taken any “offline” actions that our web analytics wouldn’t reveal.
This was a targeted survey that popped up only for people who met specific criteria. In this instance, we wanted to find people who had visited the Global Development section of the Guardian, but we also wanted to find people who had never visited that section of the site but had gone to the World News section, which is its closest cousin.
Our strategy was to find among the World News visitors a group of people who were very similar to the visitors to the Global Development site — we had just under 8,000 respondents so it was pretty easy to do. Ultimately, we could use this matched comparison group to find out whether visiting the Global Development site was associated with higher levels of awareness, knowledge and engagement in global development.

The results were quite clear. Those who had visited the Global Development site were more likely to be more aware of MDGs, to have signed a petition, and to have changed their minds about a global development issue after reading a Guardian story.

These findings suggest that Global Development readers are persuadable and prepared to take political action based upon Guardian reporting.
Encouraged by our findings, we now wanted to know if there was a subgroup who were even more engaged with global development. Who was most likely to both be knowledgeable and to have taken action?
We looked through piles of data, and found a surprise. The best predictor for taking action was the question, “How much of a difference do you think an individual could make to reduce poverty in poor countries?”
The crucial link between awareness and action was self-efficacy, a sense of agency that social psychologists have long associated with positive behavior change, like eating healthier or quitting smoking. People who are more inclined to act are the ones who already think that they can make a difference. Without the feeling that “you can do it,” you probably won’t.
Psychologist Albert Bandura has published studies since the 1970s demonstrating that people’s sense of self-efficacy is affected by the media they encounter. When they see people like themselves succeeding at something, they are more likely to believe that they can do it too.

If this is the case, then the next inevitable question is, how can we increase people’s sense of self-efficacy?

I believe the answer can be found in two recent studies (first and second) conducted by the Engaging News Project at University of Texas Austin. They worked with the Solutions Journalism Network in order to figure out whether news stories that include solutions in them — rather than just focusing on the problems — affect readers in some way.
In the first study, researchers presented U.S. adults with news articles that were identical in every way, except half of them added reporting on potential responses to mitigate the problem. It turned out that readers of the “solutions journalism” were significantly more likely to say they had increased interest, they felt inspired, and they believed they could contribute to a solution to the issue.
People who read the articles that included solutions reporting also were significantly more likely to say that they would like to get involved in the issue and donate money.
Fortunately, as the solutions journalism framework tells us, these lessons apply to all types of communication and media — whether you’re crafting a tweet, a blog post, a press release, a fundraising letter, or a feature film. Consider, for instance, explaining the causes of the problem, and not just the problem itself. Describe responses that people have devised, and provide how-to details. And don’t forget to include evidence of results so that people are empowered to evaluate for themselves the scope of the solution. This kind of information makes it easier for people to think constructively about grave social problems, rather than turning a deaf ear and feeling disempowered.
This is hopeful news for all of us involved in efforts to improve global health. Let’s use these guidelines to overcome “development fatigue” and finally build the global momentum necessary to address the utterly solvable health problems that continue to plague us.

Special Newsletter from the USC Center on Public Diplomacy Spring 2016

Special Newsletter from the USC Center on Public Diplomacy Spring 2016 

During this spring semester, CPD broadened its visibility among key international audiences by taking our programming to Europe and Canada. In February, CPD partnered with the Canadian Embassy in Rome to mount a workshop on digital diplomacy and co-hosted NATO’s annual PD Forum in Brussels. In May, we traveled to Ottawa for a Diplometrics forum on measuring public diplomacy and advocacy. Meanwhile, on campus we continued to host numerous international visitors including several members of the Los Angeles consular corps for a discussion on the Baltic States and Russia, 11 of the 14 recipients of the International Women of Courage Award, and a roundtable on the U.S. presidential election & Mexico’s image of America featuring Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan. 
CPD also hosted members of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy for a frank discussion about U.S. PD in an election year and co-sponsored a special screening of The Diplomat: The Life and Times of Richard Holbrooke, in addition to an intimate conversation with the Ambassador’s son and filmmaker, David Holbrooke. CPD Takes on the World Featuring international visitors and travel Filmmaker David Holbrooke discusses his father’s legacy and the making of his HBO documentary. ...

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Quotable: Paula Chertok on how word choices support propaganda myths


image (not from entry) from

image (not from entry) from

Saturday, May 28th 2016
One of the techniques of propaganda is to warp language and word choices.  In my own career, I saw this up close and personal in Korea.  The generals in South Korea controlled the media, and they long curbed discussion of the Kwangju rising of 1980 by calling it an “incident.”  When I was first introduced to “learn Chinese” textbooks produced in the PRC, I was struck by how they referred to the Kuomintang – in China before 1949 or in Taiwan afterwards – as “Chiang’s bandits.”  And we all recall the novel 1984, where use of Newspeak stunted minds by stunting vocabulary. 

Writing in Ukraine’s Euromaidan Press on April 25, 2016, Paula Chertok explained “How Russia’s worst propaganda myths about Ukraine seep into media language.”  Her analysis goes farther than examining word choices like “rebels” and “separatists”; it looks at how expressions and word patterns shape confusion, false equivalence, indifference, and mistrust.

She also revealed how others can unconsciously fall in line with Russian propaganda by repeating its usages.  She was especially critical of the BBC, and she examined in detail a recent article that conveys equivalence by using such phrases as “each other,” “tit for tat,” “both sides,” and “similarly.” 

This useful article bears reading – to alert those who follow events, opinions, and narratives for how they may be shaped by word choices for malign purposes.  This brief gist omits her extensive word-for-word analysis of some BBC reports, so click on the link above to read the whole essay.

  • Over the past two years, much has been written about the “Ukraine crisis.” This phrase is, in fact, a euphemism, used purposefully by some and sloppily by others. In both cases, however, use of the euphemism “crisis” diminishes, distorts and distracts from the reality in Ukraine.

  • . . . the reality is that the “crisis” in Ukraine is Russia. Russia compelled the annexation of one region of Ukraine – Crimea – and invaded and occupied another region – the Donbas. Indeed, Russia created a crisis of the worst sort – war.

  • There is plenty of reliable eyewitness and documentary evidence of Russia’s war in Ukraine. We’ve seen Russian soldiers, Russian weapons, and Russian tanks crossing into a sovereign European nation’s internationally recognized border. Furthermore, Russia’s war has been purely aggressive and unprovoked. Ukraine didn’t fly planes close to or inside Russian airspace. Ukraine didn’t kidnap Russian citizens. Ukraine didn’t claim Russian territory nor did it even threaten to claim an inch of Russian territory.

  • Crisis or War. Yet despite the overwhelming evidence of a war on Ukrainian territory – an aggressive, unprovoked war, begun by Russia, financed by Russia and largely lead and fought by Russians, much of the media continues to use the language of “crisis” rather than the language of “war.”

  • . . . there are reasons for this.  War refers to a relatively concrete set of hostile acts. The euphemism “crisis” on the other hand creates a kind of distance from the reality of war’s violence. “Crisis” also invokes a sense of complexity, perhaps even of murky, difficult to understand events.

  • The use of the euphemistic “crisis” for Russia’s war in Ukraine works to divert attention from the very concept of responsibility in general, and in Russia as a responsible party, specifically.

  • More significantly, however, the use of the word “war” entails specific, identifiable parties to the war. “Crisis” does not necessitate identifying the parties or even determining the aggressor.  A messy, murky crisis can exist independent of an aggressor. Thus, the use of the euphemistic “crisis” for Russia’s war in Ukraine works to divert attention from the very concept of responsibility in general, and in Russia as a responsible party, specifically.

  • Once our attention shifts away from Russia, the door is then open to the Kremlin’s own alternative narrative.

  • This is precisely what we’ve seen for two years: Russia issues one incredulous denial after another that it is not the aggressor of war in Ukraine. At the same time, the Kremlin swoops in with a set of anti-Ukraine propaganda memes – US-sponsored coup, fascist Kyiv junta, Ukrainian neo-Nazi nationalists – that provide another ready-made version of events for mass consumption. The memes are disseminated using specific language patterns and word choices to paint the picture Russia wants the world to see, diverting attention and thereby consequences from its very aggression.

  • We’ve come to expect the Russian media using the language of “crisis” rather than the language of “war” precisely because it diminishes Russia’s responsibility. State-run Sputnikand RT (Russia Today) have run thousands of articles about the “Ukrainian Crisis,” all of which perpetuate Russian myths about Ukraine.

  • . . . it’s even more disconcerting to see the same language patterns regularly used in Russia’s propaganda press seep into the seemingly uncaptured Western media. As a result, people casually reading the news are given Russian perspectives on Ukraine, and come away with more Russian perspective and more Russian propaganda myths than they bargained for.

  • Furthermore, when such imbalances are presented in a “he said she said” format, as the BBC piece does, the suggestion is that it is impossible to determine who the credible party is. And it’s here that the reader has been led by the nose right into the heart of darkness of Russian propaganda.

  • Much of Russia’s propaganda about Ukraine is aimed at confusing the public with murky facts laced with murkier disinformation so that people stop paying attention, and Russia’s policy can continue unobstructed. In other words, Russian propaganda presents stories about Ukraine that leave the reader saying to herself: Who’s right, who’s wrong, who cares.

  • By using words repeatedly about equivalency, without the appropriate contextualization with well-established facts, we’re left thinking we’re reading about parties that are equally bad, equally dirty, and equally to blame for the current war “crisis.”

  • The BBC’s language of equivalency is boosted by language that downplays and diminishes Russia’s indisputable role as aggressor. Whenever Russia is presented for what it is, the aggressor, the phraseology is softened by adding hedges, such as “In Kyiv’s view” and “Kyiv regards” Russia “as an aggressor state.” Ukraine “considers” Russia to be a national security threat.

  • It’s a shame that after two years of war and a wealth of evidence of Russia’s role, Russian propaganda still so comfortably finds its way into mainstream media. What’s worse is that our own Western media outlets, by sloppily mimicking Kremlin language, are letting Russia get away with murder.
Hat tip:  Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence.