Thursday, February 21, 2013

February 20-21 Public Diplomacy Review

“No one’s going to take my gun — no one’s going to take anyone’s gun.”

--Vice President Joe Biden, who owns two shotguns; Biden image from


(a) Public Diplomacy and Social Media in Latin America - "Tuesday, March 29 at 12:00pm to 2:00pm [.] The Rome Building, Auditorium (Room 100) 1619 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington D.C., DC 20036, USA Judith McHale, U.S. under secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs; Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas; Carlos Ponce, Reagan Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy; Oscar Salazar, founder and CEO of Citivox and co-founder of Cuidemos el Voto; and Sam DuPont (moderator), policy analyst at NDN and the New Policy Institute, will discuss this topic. NDN will host a live webcast of the event accessible at. For more information, contact To RSVP, visit"

(b) NASA’s Public Diplomacy – "Improving Relations on Earth by Exploring Space: America has long been admired for its scientific accomplishments, and science diplomacy offers a prime opportunity to build trust relationships with the people of other nations. From the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project to the International Space Station, NASA has been key in building and maintaining Earth-bound relationships by exploring off-world environments. Join us for a deeper look at how NASA partakes in both traditional and public diplomacy. Tuesday, March 5 12:30-1:30PM 1100 New York Ave NW Suite 710W Washington, DC 20005 A light lunch will be served. RSVP by March 4. Please arrive by 12:15 for registration. Featuring: kent G. Bress [,] Director, Aeronautics and Cross Agency Support Division [,] NASA Office of International and Interagency Relations."


Nordic Ministers of Culture Meet with Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine - Media Note, Office of the Spokesperson,U.S. State Department, Washington, DC, February 20, 2013: "Nordic Ministers of Culture and representatives of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, as well as Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Åland met with Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine on February 20 at the U.S. Department of State to mark the opening of the Nordic Cool 2013 festival. Presented by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Nordic Cool 2013 highlights the culture and heritage of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Faroe Islands, and the Åland Islands. The international celebration, which runs from February 19 through March 17, features traditional and contemporary expressions of theater, dance, music, visual arts, literature, design, film, and cuisine.

During their meeting, Under Secretary Sonenshine and the Nordic Ministers of Culture discussed the importance of cultural diplomacy as a vehicle for building mutual understanding in an increasingly interconnected world. Recent programs sponsored by U.S. Embassies in the Nordics have focused on engaging U.S. and Nordic Somali diaspora communities as well advancing scientific research in the Arctic. All meeting participants emphasized the importance and value of cultural exchange, in particular the ability of artists to be able to continue to engage in cultural exchanges and collaborations on both sides of the Atlantic. The group also discussed joint ambitions to analyze the best ways of facilitating such exchanges in order to increase cultural exchanges between the United States and the Nordic Countries. More information on the Nordic Cool 2013 festival can be found at." Image from

Department of State Public Schedule, February 21, 2013, posted at "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 10:00 a.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine attends a farewell reception for Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China His Excellency Zhang Yesui and Mme. Chen Naiqing, at the Department of State. 11:15 a.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine is joined by Coordinator McCall and Assistant Secretary Stock in a meeting with Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera, at the Department of State. 1:15 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine is joined by Assistant Secretary Stock in a meeting with Aaron Lobel, founder and president of America Abroad Media, at the Department of State."

U.S. Policy on Russia for Obama’s Second Term - Ariel Cohen, "Since Vladimir Putin’s third inauguration as Russian president last May, U.S.–Russian relations have deteriorated sharply. Officials on both sides have moved past the 'reset' honeymoon as disagreements over geopolitics and human rights abound. Spanning two continents and with a veto on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Russia is uniquely positioned to play a prominent role in U.S. foreign policy.

However, the United States needs a new course of action for the next four years to prevent Russia from negatively affecting U.S. interests across the globe. ... Specifically, the Obama Administration should [do includes]: ... Make human rights and democracy a central pillar of U.S.–Russian relations. The U.S. should call on the European Union to pass a measure similar to the Magnitsky Act, because corrupt Russian officials spend more time and hide more assets in Europe than in the U.S. Such an effort can be combined with U.S. international broadcasting reform and a renewed public diplomacy effort aimed at Russia and Eurasia. The U.S. should also call for the release of political prisoners, including Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former CEO of Yukos." Image from

Africa: Stronger Law Enforcement Needed to Stop Wildlife Crime - Charlene Porter, "Improving law enforcement cooperation to protect endangered species is on the agenda for an upcoming international meeting. The 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will be held March 3-14 in Bangkok. The meeting marks the 40th anniversary of the convention, which was adopted in response to findings that the lives of exotic species were being sacrificed in a completely unregulated marketplace. ... The CITES Secretariat, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, INTERPOL, the World Bank and the World Customs Organization are the partners in the ICCWC. The U.S. Department of State is working with these agencies to combat the illegal trade in wildlife through diplomatic outreach, public diplomacy, training and partnerships."

Finding the Date of VOA’s First Broadcast - Roxanne Bauer, “'It has always interested me how VOA originally celebrated February 24 as the anniversary date. No one could tell me how that date was selected.'

Dr. Walter Roberts, one of Voice of America’s early staff members (now in his mid-90s and still going strong) can recall the first broadcast in VOA’s history from New York City in 1942. In an interview, he stated that he remembered the first VOA broadcast occurred earlier than the 24th of February. ... He was able to find the actual recording of the Febraury [sic] 1st VOA German broadcast. It was dated February 1, 1942. ... A longer, more detailed account of Walter Robert’s investigation is available in two articles he wrote for the University of North Carolina’s American Diplomacy website." Roberts image from article

The use of Social Media in Public Diplomacy: Scanning e-diplomacy by Embassies in Washington DC - Ali Fisher, Jeanette Gaida, Take Five, The IPDGC Blog on Public Diplomacy and Global Communication: "With over 170 diplomatic missions in the United States, American citizens and social media users around the world have a vast range of channels with which to engage.

Adding to the range of channels, many embassies also have multiple accounts on the same platform, often an account representing the Ambassador and an account for the embassy. ... Twitter and Facebook are the most popular platforms." Image from article

‘Argo’ premiere event in D.C. a ‘Canada love-in’ and public diplomacy win - "A screening and reception for the Hollywood film 'Argo' at the Canadian embassy in Washington last fall was such a hot ticket, people complained afterwards about not getting invited. The star-studded, $23,000 affair appeared to be well worth it for film execs and embassy officials, who considered the event a success both for public diplomacy and marketing purposes.

'Argo,' which spotlights role of the CIA during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979, heads into this weekend’s Academy Awards with 7 nominations, including best picture. But the movie has attracted criticism in some quarters for appearing to give short shrift to the role Canadians played in hiding six U.S. citizens for just over two months and helping ensure their passage out of the country. Documents obtained by The Canadian Press reveal the film company Time Warner considered the October event a 'Canada love-in' which helped mitigate some of the bad press the movie had received." Image from article, with caption: Director and actor Ben Affleck covers his '70's hairstyle on a movie poster while posing for photographers at the premiere of his film Argo in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012

Ulyanovsk Hub Not Getting Much Use by NATO - "NATO and Russia pride themselves on cooperation over Afghanistan and the fight against terrorists and pirates, but a planned logistics hub to transport military hardware from Afghanistan is not taking off. Moscow and the Western military alliance will conduct a range of exercises this year, including a joint anti-terror drill in the Paris metro, NATO Assistant Secretary General Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic told a roundtable meeting Wednesday.

National media reported in 2011 that Russia and NATO want to test a jointly developed device for screening crowds for hidden explosives in Paris. Grabar-Kitarovic also pointed out that a direct phone line was established last week between General Knud Bartels, the chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, and General Staff head Valery Gerasimov, allowing both sides’ military leaders to stay in touch. The assistant secretary general was speaking via video link from Brussels to a roundtable with defense experts in the alliance’s Moscow Information Bureau. She said NATO’s new public diplomacy strategy identifies the partnership with Russia as a priority." Image from article, with caption: NATO headquarters in Brussels

Does Russia Need 'Soft Power'? Multi-track diplomacy occupies an increasingly prominent position in current political discourse - Zaur Shiriyev, Since 2008, the Russian government has focused on improving public diplomacy by establishing cultural centers and establishing a centralized mechanism to promote Russian nation branding. The building of its soft power capacity began during Dmitry Medvedev's presidency but was institutionalized as a foreign policy tool in Vladimir Putin's third term. First of all, for the Russian leadership, soft power is a tool to be used in the realization of the country's foreign policy goals, a resource to bolster hard power and coercive power [i.e., UN Security Council membership). In this case, the difference is that for Nye, soft power is the ability to get others to want what you want; for Putin, the word 'want' has a different meaning here: The target of Russia's soft power mechanism is coerced into doing what Moscow wants. The Western method attracts other countries to Western values/system and then traps them in this value system. Herein lies the difference. Russia's soft power denies Western values, or at least does not make room for democracy, human rights and freedoms as values of the West. Moscow's argument is that Western countries use values to influence the domestic issues of other countries, infringing on their sovereignty. However, despite its criticisms that the West 'occupies' universal values, Russia offers no alternative -- Russian soft power only provides a rejection of Western values. Second, in Russia's version of soft power, nation branding has a vital place: Russia offers its own national brands to rival Western ones. ... Third, Russian soft power is under government control; the Kremlin is focusing on developing cultural dominance. ... The Russian version of soft power does not seek to attract other countries; it is rather an additional tool for achieving foreign policy goals, namely the formation and development of the so-called Eurasian Union, which is being promoted via public diplomacy tools in post-Soviet countries."

Unfinished Morass - Sol Schindler, American Diplomacy: "Several months ago the Syrian Free Army told us that a no fly zone over some corner of Syria would be very helpful. This would indeed have been a public diplomacy coup of the first order. A public area where people could line up in front of a bakery without being shot or bombed, thanks to the U.S.A. Who could object other than the Assad regime whom we have already told to step down and make way for a more democratically constituted government.

We did not respond to this request presumably because such a move would put us into conflict with the Syrian air force and its anti-aircraft elements. The administration was determined not to have to send troops into Syria, a position backed by most of the public, and therefore refrained from initiating any conflict that a no fly zone was bound to make happen. If, however, we look at the relations between Syria and Israel we will note a number of air combats, all of them disastrous for Syria, but none precipitated a war." Image from

JFNA head: Obama trip is ‘a very positive sign’ - Steve Linde, Jerusalem Post: "US President Barack Obama’s decision to visit Israel next month 'is a very positive sign,' Michael D. Siegal, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America, said Tuesday. [Siegal:] ... We need to raise more money. ... It’s an opportunity. I think that oftentimes the American Jewish community will complain about Israeli hasbara [public diplomacy]. We have our own issues with our own hasbara. So I think that while we have one of the greatest stories of all time occurring right now, with the recreation of the Jewish nation and an in gathering of Jews, there’s a lot of competition for dollars in America, both from other institutions, like hospitals and universities, as well as a multitude of Jewish organizations trying to do individual fund-raising against the collective. We have 600 registered “friends of...” something Jewish, looking for individual funding. We, as the collective voice of the Jewish people, have to make sure that our fund-raising is a paramount issue for the collective good of all Jews, not just in Israel and the United States, but in the whole world. ... Rabbi David Hartman, alav hashalom [may he rest in peace] spoke early and often about the joy of being Jewish and the strength that we bring to the narrative of the world. When we look at the story of Passover and the Exodus, it doesn’t come without Sinai. Rather than sold as a people of need, we should be portrayed as a people of joy and great strength, who bring light unto the world. And I think people want to hear the good side of what Jews bring, as opposed to their constant need. Not that there isn’t a constant need, and within the story of the Jewish narrative we have an obligation to take care of the most vulnerable parts of our community, but we want people to be joyful in their Judaism."

Students ‘Talk Israel’ at advocacy retreat - Melanie Roth Gorelick and Hilary Levine - "Students from nine New Jersey colleges gathered this month as part of an initiative to advance pro-Israel advocacy at area campuses. ... Hasbara Fellowships facilitated the weekend’s programming. The retreat began with an Israel 101 presentation from StandWithUs, an international organization dedicated to informing the public about Israel.

In workshops, the students learned how to respond to accusations about Israel regarding occupation, excessive force, and racism. Hands-on skill-building sessions included engaging campus media, led by CAMERA; strategic planning and coalition building; and effective messaging and response to anti-Israel propaganda. ... [E]ducational opportunities included a session on Iran-centered campus activism led by a representative from Iran 180, a coalition that advocates on behalf of victims of the Iranian regime and against the country’s nuclear ambitions. The students also spoke with Moran Israel, a young politician and member of Israel’s Hatnua Party, and heard from representatives from the Consulate General of Israel in New York, who discussed the role of social media in public diplomacy on behalf of Israel." Image from article, with caption: Talk Israel College Retreat participants and staff with the StandWithUs “Israel Matters” exhibit at the Madison Hotel.

Failure in Israel’s "Twitter war" exposed - Ben White, "[T]he results of an Israeli academic’s study revealed last month showed that 'the social networking activity of Hamas during Operation Pillar of Defense was more effective than that of the Israel Defense Forces.' ...  Tomer Simon, a researcher at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, carried out 'a comprehensive analysis of the hashtags used by each side' and 'determined that Israel was under harsher attack by international web surfers.' ...  Simon’s research was also covered by technology magazine Wired, in a piece that noted how the Israeli military’s 'attempts at using social networking

to support foreign policy appear to be failing.' Problems during Operation Pillar of Defense included basics such as 'hashtag fails' but also a failure to persuade public opinion. ... Simon’s research supports criticisms made at the time, with reports during the attack that 'Israel’s aggressive online advocacy' was facing a 'backlash.' Image from article, with caption: An Israeli military “operational security awareness ad." The slogan reads: “Social media can be a weapon. Don’t aim it against us."

Public diplomacy and civic consciousness - Suh Chung-ha, "[P]ublic diplomacy, a term that describes the interaction with foreign publics rather than with those at the highest levels, becomes one of the core tasks in winning the hearts and minds of people around the world and achieving diplomatic goals. In the United States, the front runner in public diplomacy, the former State Secretary Hillary Clinton emphasized public diplomacy as a pillar of “smart power” diplomacy which embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools ― economic, military, political, legal and cultural. China ratchets up its efforts to enhance its image as contributor to the world peace and prosperity by running Confucius Institutes and providing development aids around the world. By doing so the world’s second largest economic and military power counters criticism raised by other nations which feel threatened by China’s growing power and influence. Meanwhile Canada and Norway are said to have successfully branded their image as crusaders for universal values of mankind by converging efforts from the public and private sector. Korea has increasingly paid keen attention to public diplomacy these days. The government’s efforts to reinforce public diplomacy have gained momentum with the help of worldwide popularity of the Korean Wave. It is needless to say that actors, actresses and K-pop stars are now important assets for public diplomacy. But even so, in order to achieve meaningful public diplomacy, efforts should be made in a wider range of areas. That is, the government should collaborate with the private sector in taking full advantage of tangible and intangible sources of public diplomacy such as ideas, values, people and institutions. By doing that, the government should aim to minimize negative images and maximize nation’s brand image. ... Roles of the private sector in public diplomacy are more critical than ever. French professor Guy Sorman once said ”a nation’s image is grown when each individual makes an effort over a long time.“ Now is the time when voluntary and concerted efforts by the government and citizens are necessary for Korea to build the image commensurate with its national strength."

Rohingya: Testing Democracy in Myanmar - José Ramos-Horta and Muhammad Yunus, "Even as we applaud and rejoice in the new freedoms enjoyed by the Myanmar people, the country's newly elected government must face this challenge as they evolve from autocratic rule into a democratic state. The tragedy of the Rohingya people, continuing to unfold in Rakhine State in the country's western corner, on the border of Bangladesh, will be its proving ground. The minority Muslim Rohingya continue to suffer unspeakable persecution, with more than 1,000 killed and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes just in recent months, apparently with the complicity and protection of security forces. ... We ask the world to not look away, but to raise its collective voice in support of the Rohingya. In these days of public diplomacy the citizens, civil societies, NGOs, private investors and the business community have a vital role to play in the context of democratic reforms, human rights and development around the globe. We must use this voice."

Sri Lanka Wake-Up: Creation of another Kosovo is the objective - "In these columns, we talked about Sri Lanka's deficiency in the areas of overseas public affairs, public diplomacy and strategic communication at a time the 'professionals' of the Tamil Diaspora in the West were steadily making a case for Sri Lanka's isolation in the international community. Their 'voice' in the Western policymakers' and lawmakers' chambers was seen burying the infantile diplomatic 'sound bytes' of Sri Lanka. ... [T]he pro-separatist Tamil Diaspora

commenced on this journey in 2009 as a long shot but recent history of the development of the 'movement toward a Tamil Eelam' shows how the agitation, public diplomacy, strategic communication, fabrication, half truths and diabolical lies campaign culminated in power centers of the Western Capitals to incorporate most of the sentiments of the Tamil Diaspora organizations." Image from article, with caption: A file photo of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran (Left) and his wife Mathivathani (Right) with their son Balachandran at an undisclosed location

Azerbaijan: Baku Pursues Cultural Diplomacy in France - "The 11th-12th century church of Saint Paterne in the sleepy hamlet of Bellou-sur-Huisne in France’s western region of Normandy seems like a typical medieval-era edifice in this heavily forested, agricultural area. But there is something special about it: a government-linked foundation based in predominantly Shi’a Muslim Azerbaijan has paid for part of its restoration. The project is widely seen as part of a charm offensive launched by Azerbaijan in France that aims, in effect, to buy goodwill and counteract bad publicity arising from Baku’s poor rights record. France, as a major European Union power, is a natural target for such a campaign; it ranks as Azerbaijan’s fifth-largest investor, primarily in the energy sector. And with a large Armenian Diaspora population, the country has also been an important diplomatic booster of Baku’s longtime antagonist, Armenia. Azerbaijan’s arts and culture campaign dates back to 2007, when the Heydar Aliyev Fund, which is run by First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, granted an undisclosed sum to the Palace of Versailles for the restoration of 'works of art.' ... The outlay is all about promoting an image of tolerance, in particular inter-faith tolerance when churches are concerned. ... Azerbaijan has some prominent supporters in France . ... Back in Azerbaijan, the arts & culture campaign in France, as well as the tolerance meme, draws criticism from many political observers. ... But those complaints often fall on deaf ears abroad. It is worth noting that seven of France’s 11 delegates to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted against a January 23 resolution urging Azerbaijan to 'speedily resolve' cases of alleged political prisoners."

Bipartisan Policy Center Announces New Commission on Political Reform - "Today, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) announced the creation of a new Commission on Political Reform (CPR) to understand the causes and consequences of America's partisan political divide and to recommend reforms to help Americans achieve shared national goals. ... Commission on Political Reform Members [include]: ... Karen Hughes, Former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs; Worldwide Vice Chair, Burson-Marsteller."


Kerry makes case for robust foreign aid - Anne Gearan, Washington Post: When a shrinkking world clashes with calls for shrinking budgets, it’s our job to connect the dots for the American people between what we do over there and why it matters here at home,” he said.

Kerry will embark on his first foreign trip as secretary next week, a lengthy tour of European and Arab capitals that will largely focus on international proposals to end the grinding civil war in Syria. Kerry image from

Generalissima Clinton Expanding the Empire - Ralph Nader, Common Dreams: Hillary Clinton has completed her four-year tenure as Secretary of State to the accolades of both Democratic and Republican Congressional champions of the budget-busting “military-industrial complex” that President Eisenhower warned about in his farewell address. Behind the public relations sheen, the photo-opportunities with groups of poor people in the developing world, an ever more militarized State Department operated under Clinton’s leadership. Clinton’s successor, former Senator and war veteran, John Kerry, says he wants to emphasize peace, human rights, and anti-poverty endeavors. He doesn’t have to prove his machismo should he strive to de-militarize the State Department and promote peaceful, deliberative missions in the world, from which true security flows. Via PVB

U.S. needs to show Egypt some tough love - Robert Kagan and Michele Dunne, Washington Post: The United States made a strategic error for years by coddling Mubarak, and his refusal to carry out reforms produced the revolution of Tahrir Square. We repeat the error by coddling Morsi at this critical moment.

The United States needs to use all its options — military aid, economic aid and U.S. influence with the IMF and other international lenders — to persuade Morsi to compromise with secular politicians and civil-society leaders on political and human rights issues to rebuild security and get the economy on track. Image from

Who Will Mind the Drones? - Neal K. Katyal, New York Times: IN the wake of revelations about the Obama administration’s drone program, politicians from both parties have taken up the idea of creating a “drone court” within the federal judiciary, which would review executive decisions to target and kill individuals. But the drone court idea is a mistake. It is hard to think of something less suitable for a federal judge to rule on than the fast-moving and protean nature of targeting decisions. Fortunately, a better solution exists: a “national security court” housed within the executive branch itself. Experts, not generalists, would rule; pressing concerns about classified information would be minimized; and speedy decisions would be easier to reach. One of our Constitution’s greatest virtues is that it looks to judges as a source of reasoned, practical, rights-minded decision making. But judges should be left to what they know. A national security court inside the executive branch may not be a perfect solution, but it is a better way to balance the demands of secrecy and speed with those of liberty and justice.

Wooing Russia — and its influence - David Ignatius, Washington Post: A sign of Russia’s defensiveness, bordering on paranoia, is that some senior Russian officials regard the recent buzz about shale gas and oil as American propaganda designed to undermine Moscow’s clout as an energy producer.

But The benefits of a more cooperative U.S.-Russian relationship — on Syria, Iran, North Korea, arms control and other issues — are so substantial that they are worth the cost. That’s a heavy burden, especially since it’s likely to be borne by Russian human-rights activists. Image from

Shinzo Abe’s new agenda: Better ties with U.S. - Fred Hiatt, Washington Post: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told us that he learned from his truncated first term to focus on clear priorities, which means the economy and the alliance. Strengthening ties with the United States, he said, is essential to countering the growing assertiveness of China, which is challenging Japan’s control of disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Quel Brouhaha! A Diatribe on Unions Irks the French - Liz Alderman, New York Times: "How stupid do you think we are?” With those choice words, and several more similar in tone, the chief executive of an American tire company touched off a furor in France on Wednesday as he responded to a government plea to take over a Goodyear factory slated for closing in northern France. “I have visited the factory a couple of times,” Maurice Taylor Jr., the head of Titan International, wrote to the country’s industry minister, Arnaud Montebourg, in a letter published in French newspapers on Wednesday.

“The French work force gets paid high wages but works only three hours. They have one hour for their breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three.” “I told this to the French unions to their faces and they told me, ‘That’s the French way!’ ” added Mr. Taylor, a swaggering businessman who is nicknamed “the Grizz” by Wall Street analysts for his abrasive negotiating style. His decidedly undiplomatic assessment quickly struck a nerve in France, where concerns about declining competitiveness and the divisive tax policies of President François Hollande’s government have led some economists to ask whether the nation is at risk of becoming the next sick man of Europe. Via JB on Facebook; image from

The View From North Mali - Anne Jolis, "I recite Washington's reason for ending the training mission in Mali after the coup last March: U.S. law prohibits direct assistance to junta governments. This explanation doesn't impress Gao's locals, who seem more concerned with electricity and security than if or when their country holds an election to satisfy Washington."

Indonesia Will Step Onto the Art World Stage at This Year’s Venice Biennale - Carla Bianpoen, In Sanskrit, sakti refers to the primordial cosmic energy and the personification of divine, feminine creative energy, as well as indicating change and liberation. At the 2013 Venice Biennale,"Sakti" is the theme of the Indonesian Pavilion. The Biennale, which opens June 1, is not the first to include Indonesian participation.

How Chocolate and Patriotism Helped Boost Romania’s Nation Brand - sjmanniex, ROM had been Romania’s favourite chocolate since communist days, but had recently begun losing popularity as more and more young Romanians chose American brands such as Snickers. So ad agency McCann Erickson were hired to get ROM’s chocolate brand buzzing once again. The resulting campaign in 2010 was daring, and somewhat risky. From 1964 to present day, ROM chocolate bars had been packaged in the national flag. Overnight, the Romanian flag vanished and the chocolate was suddenly decked out in the Stars and Stripes, with corresponding video and slogan ‘The Taste of Coolness’

promoting the ‘coolness’ of the USA all over social media. The agency set up a Facebook page to invite comments on ROM’s ‘new look’. It was then that Romania’s patriotic side came out with a vengeance, as if it had been ignited. The comments poured in from the public, about how could ROM possibly sell out to the USA like this? What about the Romanian flag? Weren’t they proud of their country? And many more remarks in a similar vein. Loads of Facebook pages and YouTube videos sprang up to protest against the USA ROM. The Romanian public may have been disappointed and frustrated with ROM. But their sense of national pride had been reawakened. After only one week, ROM replaced the original packaging and admitted the whole thing had been a joke. However, the product experienced a mega increase in sales – and even the American flag chocolate bars sold out in a flash. They became collector’s items. The ROM campaign won two Cannes awards and was highly praised across the board for its success as an imaginative and daring campaign. Image from

Sink or Swim: Why doesn't America train its diplomats? - Nicholas Kralev, State Department officials have long blamed the lack of professional development on limited resources and staffing shortages. (It's difficult to let officers take time off for training when you are already short-staffed.) Some also insist that diplomacy is a profession that can only be learned on the job. But Michael Hammer, assistant secretary of state for public affairs, said the ever-increasing demands of modern diplomacy make high-quality training more urgent than ever. "Diplomacy in the 21st century has so many dimensions that you can't just learn it on your own or through osmosis," he said. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed. The Foreign Service "must be a constantly learning organization," she told me in 2012. "There is no doubt that we cannot rest on our laurels," she said. "People have to keep pushing themselves."

North Korean Video Shows Obama in Flames [includes videos] - Choe Sang-Hun, New York Times: North Korea has released a new propaganda video that shows President Obama and United States troops

in flames and credits Washington with leading the impoverished country to become a proud nuclear power. Image from, with caption: North Korea has released a new propaganda video that shows President Barack Obama in flames of a nuclear explosion.

Why North Korean propaganda videos steal from American video games - Max Fisher, Washington Post: It turns out that North Korea has a long history of using propaganda to target right-wing nationalists in South Korea, where a small fringe minority is more receptive than you might think. Though South Korea’s pro-Pyongyang movement has weakened significantly over the years, it’s still there, on the fringes of nationalist movements. The “why” is a little more complicated. A decade ago, Seoul’s “sunshine policy” of detente with North Korea coincided with rising hostility toward the U.S. troop presence. This is about the time when Psy, the Korean music star known for Gangnam Style, performed a couple of violently anti-American concerts. This doesn’t mean that Psy, who was 25 at the time, supported Kim Jong Il; far from it. But his concerts are a reminder that nationalism and anti-Americanism do exist in South Korea, including among young people. The most extreme incarnation of that ideology could lead some young South Koreans, even those who play American-made video games, to enlist themselves in North Korea’s propaganda effort.

Hollywood’s Imperial Propaganda - Joe Giambrone, CounterPunch: If there ever was a time for loud disgust and rejection of the Hollywood / Military-Industrial-Complex, this would seem to be it ( Naomi Wolf made a comparison of Zero Dark Thirty’s creators Bigelow and Boal to Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl (Triumph of the Will). That, to me, seems inappropriately offensive to Leni Riefenstahl. The good German filmmaker never promoted torture through deception. Nor was Triumph a call to war. The film was simply an expression of German patriotism and strength, rebirth from the ashes of World War I. The current insidious crop of propaganda, as in the CIA’s leaking of fictional scenes about locating Osama Bin Laden through torture extraction, are arguably more damaging and less defensible than Riefenstahl’s upfront and blatant homage to Hitler’s leadership.

Dr. Seuss’s Racist Anti-Japanese Propaganda (And His Apology) - Hashi, As we saw in How To Spot a Jap, WWII was a time for American artists to use their talents to make racist propaganda for the war effort. And given the size of WWII, everybody who could contribute something did, including Theodor Seuss Geisel AKA Dr. Seuss. While Dr. Seuss created propaganda against every enemy of the US (including a lot of quality Hitler caricatures), his propaganda against the Japanese really stands out.

After the war, Dr. Seuss began to question his beliefs about the Japanese. He’d created anti-Japanese propaganda for the US and had supported Japanese internment, but was it all justified? Not one Japanese-American had been convicted for any sort of sabotage or treason, and the evil monsters that Dr. Seuss had drawn in his wartime propaganda turned out to be much different that he’d imagined. So how did Dr. Seuss apologize to the Japanese? By writing a children’s book, of course. Dr. Seuss wrote Horton Hears a Who!, in part, as an apology to the Japanese that he’d demonized during the war with his propaganda.

Published in 1954, Horton Hears a Who! was dedicated to a Japanese friend of Dr. Seuss, and the story itself is meant to be a metaphor for American postwar occupation of Japan. Images from entry

Drew University in Madison offers series on Nazi propaganda, starting Feb. 28 - Nazi propaganda will serve as the focus of an upcoming three-part seminar series offered by Drew University in Madison. The seminar sessions on Feb. 28, March 7 and March 14 will focus respectively on the following topics: “Propaganda, the Collapse of Weimar, and the Rise of the Nazi Party;” “Josef Goebbels and the Final Solution;” and “Nazi Propaganda during World War II: External and Internal Enemies.”


--From Abbatiale Sainte-Foy de Conques (arquivoltas) Fotos:; via A. T. on Facebook

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