Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March 13 Public Diplomacy Review

"We didn't need dialogue. We had faces!"

--Gloria Swanson, in the role of silent screen star Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950); image from


Tara Sonenshine on China's Public Diplomacy - VOA


Translating Karzai's Anti-US Outbursts - Paul R. Pillar, Consortium News: "Several explanations can account for Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s outburst this week, in which he accused the United States of in effect working in parallel with the Taliban by keeping Afghanistan unstable and thereby having an excuse to keeping U.S. troops there indefinitely. ... The episode illustrates

the near-inevitability of significant friction and resentment among the locals from prolonged military operations, no matter how well those operations may have been received earlier (as indeed the intervention in Afghanistan was received earlier by many Afghans). It also illustrates how easily the motives behind such operations get misunderstood, in ways that no amount of public diplomacy or public statements can correct." Image from

We don't really know what the North Koreans are thinking - Matthew Wallin, The Hill: "If North Korea takes actions that it predicts will likely push the US/ROK response over the edge (and ultimately cause the end of the Kim regime), that would indeed be crazy. The key for the U.S. is to work on establishing some sort of system of intelligence. Getting information out of North Korea is incredibly difficult for a few basic reasons, and much of the problem amounts to geography. North Korea has two land borders, one of which is heavily fortified, and the other is China. This is not like the Cold War game with the Soviet Union, where incredibly long borders neighboring many countries allowed for relatively easy access. Not to mention, the U.S. actively coupled public diplomacy efforts into its overall strategy in order to assure an on-the-ground presence, however innocuous, within Soviet territory."

To Be 'All In' on Asia, US Must Manage Crises and Leverage New Opportunities - Matt Stumpf, "In the Obama administration, the next step ... is ... to craft a positive vision for U.S. relations in Asia . ... In recent weeks, Asia Society-affiliated thinkers have offered ideas about many places to start ... . [including:] Decrease the barriers to foreign travel to the United States. Americans have raised since 2001 the barriers for foreign travel to and through the United States. This is an economic, as well as a public diplomacy, misstep.

It makes some of the United States’ most valuable assets — for example, its world-leading university system — less attractive. The United States would do well to use his influence to recast the balance between security and openness." Image from

The Thing About 'American Centers' - Inesha Premaratne, Huffington Post: "Sitting in on a conversation with Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine on Thursday, it was made clear to me that Public Diplomacy (for the U.S. at least) is that delicate art of making clear and accessible to people around the world the intentions, the values, and incredible opportunities that exist here in the United States. ... The cries of 'where America is absent, there will be consequences' -- a cry itself echoed by Sonenshine on Thursday -- are increasingly falling on deaf ears. While I can see how the creation of so called American centers around the world -- places where we can engage foreign populations and make them aware of our culture and language -- helps our country, I'm not exactly their biggest supporter. Don't get me wrong. These centers are not a bad thing. Oftentimes, locals will go to a center to learn English or for a 'safe space' to talk about something their culture might otherwise prohibit. But I wonder sometimes the extent to which these 'American centers' actually encourage cultural exchange instead of the imposition of our own on another's. Simply put, my problem is that we don't really live out public diplomacy here at home. I'm as proud an American citizen as anyone else but I do think how we define that citizenship requires reassessment. It is not OK that our country is present in so many places around the world and yet our people are turned inwards. ... A public diplomacy strategy that focuses on informing the rest of the world about us but that neglects to bring to Americans the stories of those around the world is not just a strategy that promotes inwardness, exclusiveness, and even that shunned strain of ethnocentrism we decry. It's bad policy. It makes our kids less competitive and it means on a very basic level that in the economy of 20 to 30 years from now in which Americans will be competing and working with people far beyond our borders, we will struggle to exercise the kind of cultural understanding, international knowledge, and common empathy needed to be not just citizens of this great country, but too this (great) world. Bottom line: we're losing out."

Department of State Public Schedule, March 13, 2013 - posted at "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 1:00 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine holds a meeting with Africa experts, at the Department of State."

Exit Interview: Alec Ross on Internet Freedom, Innovation and Digital Diplomacy -  Alexander Howard, Huffington Post: "Given the increasing penetration of technology into the lives of billions of people around the world, context for how we think about intersection of diplomacy and civil society is shifting. No one has been more central to that discussion than Alec J. Ross, the senior advisor for innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who in many ways defined the practice of "digital diplomacy" in the 21st century.

Almost three years ago, I talked with Ross about his role and goals, like supporting "Internet freedom" through funding technology." Image from

Obamamania online: the good, the bad, and the impossibly lame: Allison Kaplan Sommer takes a look at the efforts to excite Israelis ahead of the U.S. president's visit in Israel and finds that not everyone fares equally well - Allison Kaplan Sommer, "[S]coring high points for pre-visit hype are a group of English-speaking Israeli volunteers at the Ministry of Public Diplomacy who appear to have been diligently building a full-service social media outlet which cover the visit on every platform possible: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. The name of the group is The Unbreakable Bond which takes its name from a video used in the Obama 2012 campaign that was full of clips emphasizing the president’s support of Israel and the two countries’ mutual admiration."

Twitter Chat With the French Embassy in the US - "I love that the French Embassy here in D.C. is (slowly) embracing social media and I love this new project they're doing: a twitter Q and A about France. The Internet is a great public diplomacy tool to connect with new audiences. Like any tool, it has limitations and its own set of challenges. For one, the language issue is tricky and diplomats have to strike the right balance between communicating in their own language for the audience back home and the expat community as well as the language of the country where they are posted to reach "the locals". Immediacy is a huge challenge as well. Social media, twitter in particular, strives on the right now. Diplomacy, on the other hand, is more about carefully crafting an appropriate response. It can be hard to balance the two and a simple mistake or mispoken word, especially if you're trying to write in a language that's not your native language, can start a whole crisis.

Finally, one of the biggest challenge of ediplomacy is to remember that social media tools are, well, just tools in the diplomatic arsenal. Twitter, facebook, pinterest etc. are great for cultural outreach, but as Robert O. Boorstin, Director of Public Policy at Google recently explained at a 'Power to the Tweeple' panel on Digital Diplomacy during D.C.'s Social Media Week: 'no amount of tweets can change the nuclear program in Iran.' There's no arguing with that ;-) Luckily, changing the nuclear program in Iran is not the goal of tomorrow's Twitter Q and A with the French Embassy. The online chat, which will lead by Arnaud Guillois, press counselor and spokesperson of the Embassy of France in the United States, just wants to answer some of the questions that you might have about the Embassy (I'd like to know how I can get into the secret embassy store!!? I need good cheese...), France, France in the US and the relationship between the two countries. So if you have a question you'd like to ask to @franceintheus, use the hashtag (or should I say mot-dièse as it is officially supposed to be called in French?) #askfrance on twitter and ask away. You can also post your questions ahead of the chat on facebook on this thread. Then tune into the chat tomorrow, Thursday March 14 at 12:30PM EST to read Arnaud's answers. And if you can't tune in, check out my blog Thursday afternoon, I'll be posting a recap of the chat..." Image from entry

Repower Greece Releases Findings of Academic US Tour - "Repo(we)r Greece organized an academic US tour to spark a discussion across North America on rebuilding Greece and changing the world’s negative perceptions of its people. Below are the findings of the discussions as they were presented by Alexandros Costopoulos, one of the initiative’s organizers.

[']Restoring the credibility of Greece – a prerequisite for the international community to accept any image or listen to any message that we want to convey – can only be achieved through actions and stories that reflect the achievements, skills, and talents of the many, rather than the failures and interests of the few. The failure of the solutions that were imposed, the size of the ongoing structural changes that are yet to be completed and the fact that in reality, we are confronted with a monumental societal crisis regarding our perceptions and values, render the existence of a collective public diplomacy initiative imperative.['] ..." Image from entry, with caption: Alexandros Costopoulos of Repower Greece

A Tale of Two Pipelines and Pakistan's Geopolitical Significance - Karl Naylor blog: "A report for The Australian ( Pakistan risks wrath of US in pipeline push ) contains much illuminating information on the geopolitical stakes in the New Great Game over pipeline routes and the contest for the oil and gas of Eurasia.  The reason NATO has 'stayed the course' in neighbouring Afghanistan, and why western special forces and advisers will remain after what is now called in public diplomacy troop 'drawdown' as opposed to withdrawal, is that it needs to ensure the potential viability of the TAPI pipeline."

Celebrating female leadership at NATO - "An exhibit, 'Celebrating Female Leadership within the International Staff at NATO' was unveiled on International Women’s Day on 8 March at NATO Headquarters. The aim was to create greater awareness and to demonstrate NATO’s commitment to gender diversity.

The Assistant Secretary General (ASG) of Executive Management Ambassador William Eaton and Ambassador Kolinda Grabar, ASG for Public Diplomacy – the first female ASG in NATO history – addressed staff gathered for the occasion." Image from article, with caption: Ambassador Kolinda Grabar, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy addresses staff gathered for the opening of the exhibit "Celebrating Female Leadership within the International Staff at NATO."

4th Annual Strategy International Conference - Public Affairs Office, "The 'Strategy International Conference' was held on the 8th and 9th of March 2013 in Thessaloniki. ... 4. The Aftermath of NATO’s Chicago Summit, Greece and the Way Forward: Ino Afentouli, NATO Public Diplomacy Division."

The Sino–Japanese battle for hearts and minds over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands - Karl Gustafsson, "Both China and Japan have stepped up their public diplomacy efforts in order to gain sympathy from the international community in their dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. China has made an orchestrated effort to tie the issue closer to the history of Japanese aggression, thereby appealing to shared experiences among its old World War II allies. Japan, in turn, has abandoned its previous stance of not responding to Chinese claims and started promoting its position by emphasising its identity as a peaceful and democratic state that follows international rules and norms.

The public diplomacy battle continues, and just in time for his meeting with US President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe increased the stakes by criticising China for its ‘anti-Japanese’ education curriculum. ... China is attempting to draw a line between Japan and the international community, similar to the one that existed during World War II. China’s way of stepping up public diplomacy efforts might be seen as a response to the Japanese government’s nationalisation of the islands in September 2012. ... [F]or countries involved in disputes with China in the South China Sea, China’s appeals to war memory may be trumped by the Japanese emphasis on international law and norms. What is quite clear is that both sides have stepped up their public diplomacy efforts in an attempt to gain sympathy from the international community. This in itself is likely to have a negative impact on bilateral relations." Image from article

Xi to use wife in Chinese charm push - Kathrin Hille, Financial Times: "US presidents have long deployed their wives to broaden their appeal.

Now Xi Jinping, China’s incoming head of state, is getting in on the act.
When Mr Xi travels to South Africa later this month, he will use his folk singer wife as part of a charm offensive to build Chinese 'soft power'. ... Alistair Michie, a British citizen who advises Chinese officials on public diplomacy, said China has “not been telling its story” and that Mr Xi plans to tackle that issue. Xi Jinping image from

MPD in China 2013: An Hour Inside the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Danni Li, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "The MFA was the final ‘stop’ on our week-long research trip to China, where the nine of us visited a diverse group of China’s public diplomacy (PD) actors, ranging from academia and think-tanks to companies and government agencies. It was an amazing experience to exchange ideas with the scholars and practitioners, rather than read their thoughts through academic papers or news reports.

It was also a confusing experience to be exposed to varied and even conflicting opinions on what PD should be and how China conducts it. The MFA, I hoped, would dispel the confusion as an authoritative entity, telling me 'Ok, here is our definition of public diplomacy…' Our hosts were all in their late 20s or early 30s, surprisingly younger than I had expected. Yet I quickly read two messages from that: 1) public diplomacy remains an experimental endeavor, to which new ideas might contribute more than years’ experiences; 2) our meeting was likely to be more informative than official. ... We not only discussed formal public diplomacy but heard from the e-diplomacy team at the MFA as well. ... [O]ur hosts are civil servants who won’t say anything against policy in such a capacity and in such a ‘foreign-related’ setting, but also because of a larger picture: the limited influence MFA actually wields in China’s PD." Image from entry

Israeli teens boost ties with France's Jewish community - "A special delegation of 11 Israeli high school students landed in Paris on Sunday as part of the Israeli Jewish Congress' "Young Ambassadors" program. The IJC was founded in 2012 by Vladimir Sloutsker, former chairman of the Russian Jewish Congress and former vice chairman of the European Jewish Congress, and its mission statement is promoting the principle of Israel as the Jewish state and bolstering its ties with Jewish communities worldwide, mainly in Europe.

The Israeli teens, who are juniors at the Alliance High School in Tel Aviv, will be guests of the Paris Jewish community and will attend activities hosted by local synagogues, schools, youth groups and community centers. 'Teenagers are the most useful group when it comes to public diplomacy,' Sloutsker said. "They speak about their great love for the State of Israel and impart those feelings to European Jews. I believe that having close ties with the European Jewry is one of the most important strategic goals Israel has for its future.'" Image from article

Feeling Closer - Rabbi Pruzansky's Blog: "[I]n Israel, today, the mutual involvement of the chilonim and the Religious Zionists in defense, industry, culture and building the land of Israel have strengthened the bonds and made an alliance between HaBayit Hayehudi and Yesh Atid – two 'new' parties with obvious antecedents – seem natural and long overdue. Granted, there will always be areas of divergence – the mandatory observance of Shabbat by public entities, support for the right of Jewish settlement throughout the land of Israel, the role of religion in public life, Israel’s public diplomacy – but those critical matters are being temporarily shelved in order to focus on resolving other important issues."

Pakistan - The Dictatorship of the “Electables”! - "[T]he PMLN [see] leadership believes that they can counter the anti- status-quo and anti-'electables' movement by the sheer force of massive propaganda campaigns, political rhetoric of a symbolic democracy and the mantra of saving democracy over the last 5 years. Added to this is their huge investment in public diplomacy in the form of the recently announced PMLN political manifesto and hurried completion of several public sector projects at massive cost."

Le Diplomate et le Banquier: La diplomatie à l’épreuve de la financiarisation du système international - Claire Dilé, "[L]’impératif de transparence des Etats vis-à-vis de leurs citoyens, étendu au champ des relations interétatiques est venu perturber la pratique diplomatique dont le secret est l’un des éléments caractéristiques. Le phénomène Wikileaks, il y a de cela deux ans, s’il n’a rien révélé d’extrêmement sensible ou de spectaculaire, a démontré la faillibilité de la protection des systèmes informatiques des services secrets étatiques. Il a également révélé que sur de nombreux aspects liés au partage et à la diffusion d’information ainsi qu’à la maitrise des technologies digitales et informatiques, la société civile avait une longueur d’avance significative sur les Etats.

Les ambassades continuent bien d’exercer le coeur de leur métier, à savoir la représentation et la communication officielle de l'Etat. Cependant, elles doivent revoir leurs pratiques. Le développement de la public diplomacy ou des synergies 'track I-track II' vont dans le sens d’une réponse aux attentes d’information et de coopération avec la société civile." Image from

Our words and worlds - Philippe-Henri Latimier du Clesieux, "At / we take pride in the incredible role we play in connecting ideas around the web and we embrace our responsibility as publisher and editor on the internet to represent the very best of both modern French and North American corporate life style. We are keenly aware about the expectations of our readers and we are going to work hard to embody the values people think when they think of world politics, public diplomacy, business life, executive education, glamour, fashion and design: freedom, progress, innovation and opportunity, just to name a few."


Mr. Obama Goes to Israel - Thomas Friedman, While America’s need to forge Israeli-Palestinian peace has never been lower, the obstacles have never been higher. Image from

The Old Peace Is Dead, but a New Peace Is Possible - Ari Shavit, As Israel forms a new government, it needs a new strategic concept toward the Palestinians. The Arab world needs new organizing principles for its fledgling states. And America needs a new Middle East vision — one aimed not at grand and unattainable all-encompassing solutions but at incremental steps to temper the flames of extremism, tribalism and hate.

Veteran diplomat Jones to be U.S. envoy to Libya - Emily Heil, While Caroline Kennedy mulls the ambassadorship to Japan and other mega-donors to President Obama’s campaign consider which cushy postings around the globe they’d most enjoy, one less-than-glamorous diplomatic spot has been taken: Obama named Deborah Jones as envoy to Libya. Jones, a veteran career diplomat, will fill the post that was left vacant when Chris Stevens was killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the Benghazi consulate. Jones’ resume includes a stint as the ambassador to Kuwait, as well as postings in the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, Ethiopia, and Syria.

Cross Cuba off the blacklist: The nation has long since changed the behavior that earned it a U.S. designation as a sponsor of terrorism - Editorial, Washington has for three decades kept Cuba on a list of countries that sponsor terrorism, even though it has long since changed the behavior that earned it that distinction.

By all accounts, Cuba remains on the list — alongside Iran, Sudan and Syria — because it disagrees with the United States' approach to fighting international terrorism, not because it supports terrorism. That's hardly a sensible standard. Image from

Hugo Chavez's legacy - Editorial, The late Venezuelan president was beloved and reviled, bombastic and provocative, a flamboyant figure who was vastly influential in his own country and throughout the region. For better or worse, Chavez pushed for regional integration closer to home, helping set up organizations — such as the Union of South American Nations — that intentionally excluded Washington. The United States' decision to support a 2002 coup that briefly led to Chavez's ouster only deepened his hostility toward Washington.

Is the EU really ignoring citizens and funding propaganda groups instead? - Dean Carroll, How does a 'civil society' group qualify for European Commission funding? And do the said collectives really speak on behalf of citizens, as the commission claims in order to justify the sizeable public grants? These are reasonable enough questions but they are often
dodged by those in power.

The reason being that the chosen ones are usually those 'civil society' groups most ikely to lobby publicly for European integration, an increased European Union budget and new regulations originating in Brussels. At least that is the allegation originating from a new report by the right-wing London-based think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs. In the paper Euro Puppets: The European Commission's remaking of civil society, journalist Christopher Snowdon highlights the commission's supposed hidden agenda. In short, it is to manufacture a 'civil dialogue' in the commission's own image – through certain handpicked organisations – in order to respond the EU's perceived democratic deficit and waning public confidence in the European project. Image from article

EU attempts to brainwash children with 'sinister Soviet-style propaganda': EURO MPS want to brainwash children with “sinister” Soviet-style propaganda on a new website, it was claimed yesterday - European Parliament chiefs are considering setting up a site to target young children with a “playful” presentation of their working methods and democratic principles. It adds to concern highlighted by the Daily Express about ­educational materials produced for schools by the European ­Commission that critics claim are a bid to make children feel ­positive about the EU. UK Independence Party ­deputy leader Paul Nuttall MEP said: "A European Parliament website targeted at children really is a step too far. It is a sinister development so reminiscent of the totalitarian regime of Soviet Russia. The EU clearly wants to use your taxes to brainwash your kids. EU institutions already spend over £2billion a year on ‘communications’ but this exercise in funding kiddie propaganda really is cash for EU trash. EU institutions already spend over £2 billion a year on ‘communications’ but this exercise in funding kiddie propaganda really is cash for EU trash."

China’s Two Major Propaganda Organs Are Merging And Need A New Name. We Have Some Ideas - Anthony Tao, The General Administration of Press and Publication, or GAPP, and State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, or SARFT, are China’s two principal ministries of propaganda, tasked with tweaking, managing, and bowlderizing creative, edgy, realistic, and otherwise inspiring work into a mushy, digestible pap for mainstream consumption. It’s an unpleasant job, but someone has to do it. But on Sunday, the government announced plans to combine various ministries and departments, so it appears GAPP and SARFT will soon be no more — at least as independent entities. As Offbeat China notes, “The newly-merged organization will be called the ‘State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (国家新闻出版广播电影电视总局),’” a name that’s so unappeasing that netizens have howled for an alternative.

Arabs repeated Isreal propaganda as fact: Rumours spread that Arafat was a millionaire stealing the money of the Palestinian people - Mohammad Fadhel, Gulf News: In his book “By Way of Deception”, the former Israeli Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky admits that Mossad is behind all the rumors stained the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

According to Ostrovsky, that was part of the big efforts of special department of psychological warfare in the Mossad, but yet many Arabs would repeat some of these rumors as if they were facts, and surprisingly among them some intellectuals. But the long story of Arafat and the Palestinian struggle against Israel might reveals two important characteristics in Arab mentality: responding to propaganda rather than facts, and lacking a sense of history. Image from

Iran plans to sue ‘Argo’ filmmakers over ‘anti-Iran’ propaganda - Iran plans to sue filmmakers that contribute to “anti-Iran” propaganda like Oscar-winning film “Argo,” CNN reports. Iran’s state-run Press TV reports that in addition making its own film in response to “Argo,” the country is hiring a controversial lawyer to sue Hollywood filmmakers. “I will defend Iran against the films like Argo, which are produced in Hollywood to distort the country’s image,” French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre told Press TV, according to CNN.

The New Propaganda Is Liberal -- The New Slavery Is Digital - John Pilger, What is modern propaganda? For many, it is the lies of a totalitarian state. In the 1970s, I met Leni Riefenstahl and asked her about her epic films that glorified the Nazis. Using revolutionary camera and lighting techniques, she produced a documentary form that mesmerized Germans; her Triumph of the Will cast Hitler's spell. She told me that the "messages" of her films were dependent not on "orders from above," but on the "submissive void" of the German public. Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie? "Everyone," she said. Today, we prefer to believe that there is no submissive void. "Choice" is ubiquitous. Phones are "platforms" that launch every half-thought. There is Google from outer space if you need it. Caressed like rosary beads, the precious devices are borne heads-down, relentlessly monitored and prioritized. Their dominant theme is the self.

Me. My needs. Riefenstahl's submissive void is today's digital slavery. Hollywood has returned to its cold war role, led by liberals. Ben Affleck's Oscar-winning Argo is the first feature film so integrated into the propaganda system that its subliminal warning of Iran's "threat" is offered as Obama is preparing, yet again, to attack Iran. That Affleck's "true story" of good-guys-vs- bad-Muslims is as much a fabrication as Obama's justification for his war plans is lost in PR-managed plaudits. As the independent critic Andrew O'Hehir points out, Argo is "a propaganda movie in the truest sense, one that claims to be innocent of all ideology." That is, it debases the art of film-making to reflect an image of the power it serves. The 2010 Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, a torture-apology, was all but licensed by the Pentagon.According to Gallup, 99 percent of Americans believe Iran is a threat to them, just as the majority believed Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. "Propaganda always wins," said Leni Riefenstahl, "if you allow it." Image from article


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