Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 17 Public Diplomacy Review

"Multibillion-dollar map of human brain might not be worth it"

--Headline in Los Angeles Times; image from article, with caption: A brain scan of white matter fibers, color-coded by direction


The German Wehrmacht (part 3) -


President Obama plans listening mission in Israel, West Bank: The White House seeks to lower expectations for Obama's Mideast visit this week, avoiding any anticipation of a breakthrough on peace talks - Christi Parsons, Paul Richter and Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times: "The White House has sought to lower expectations for Obama's visit, which begins Wednesday, particularly avoiding any anticipation of a breakthrough on peace talks any time soon. Even a renewed diplomatic effort, should one begin, stands a good chance of collapsing again, they say. Nonetheless, senior advisors say, Obama thinks time spent in public diplomacy is a worthwhile investment.

He is focused on 'the broader role of public opinion in peacemaking,' according to one administration official. ... Beyond Netanyahu, polls have shown many Israelis harboring suspicion of Obama that dates at least to his June 2009 trip to Cairo in which he called for a 'new beginning' in America's relations with the Muslim world. A poll published Friday in the Maariv newspaper found that 38% of Israelis defined Obama's attitude toward their country as 'hostile' compared with 33% who found it 'favorable.' More worrisome for Obama, only 10% of respondents said their opinion of the president was favorable, while the rest said their view was indifferent, unfavorable or even 'hateful.' Other surveys have found more positive views, but Obama clearly does not enjoy the sort of demonstratively warm relationship with the Israeli public that his two predecessors had."

Remarks at the Fulbright Foreign Student Enrichment Seminar - John Kerry, Secretary of State, George C. Marshall Center, Washington, DC, March 15, 2013 -U.S. Department of State: "I cannot tell you how many leaders I’ve met – prime ministers, finance ministers, foreign ministers, presidents and others – who once upon a time either were Fulbrighters or went to school in the United States and have affection and a connection as a consequence of that, and vice versa. People who have come to the United States and/or gone to another country – it works both ways. And you never forget the friendships that you build, the cultural, political, philosophical, economic, social grounding that you get from that experience and how it connects people and connects countries. That’s what Senator Fulbright believed. And he was right. As Tara [Sonenshine, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs] said, the notion that what you think and understanding what someone else thinks is more important than another submarine.

It’s really more profound than people think. And if today we had more people who could break down the barriers, break down the stereotypes, and take away the ideological extremes, and get rid of the sloganeering, and eliminate the simplistic sort of reduction to a stereotype that so many people engage in, and really find out, what does this person want? What does this person really think? What kind of family do they come to – come from? And wow, when you open those doors, you realize they’re really not that dissimilar – mother, father, brother, sister, uncles, grandparents, people who care about each other, people who want opportunity, people who want the right to respect each other, have an opportunity to have a good job, get an education, live their lives, hopefully free of violence and oppression." Image from entry

Employees (or ex) of US international broadcasting, and their legal challenges, in the news - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Book Review: The Last Three Feet: Case Studies in Public Diplomacy [scroll down link for item] - Sol Schindler, Mediterranean Quarterly: "The Public Diplomacy Council, a non-government agency, in an effort to facilitate and popularize the practice of public diplomacy has now published a book entitled THE LAST THREE FEET, edited by William Kiehl, which includes for the most part case studies of public diplomacy in action.

The title is a quote from Edward R. Murrow who wrote that moving information five or ten thousand miles is simply a technical problem; moving it the last three feet in face to face conversation is the real art. Even this statement, so enthusiastically endorsed by so many can be argued, however. The real art is generating a meaningful response from the person one is talking to. Dialogue, the mutual exchange of serious ideas, is the instrument a public diplomat uses not only to present his ideas but to present them in a convincing fashion. Dialogue is the meat of public diplomacy and once achieved can lead to many successful partnerships. ... The book’s point is that if you want to convey a message the recipient must not only be able to receive it, he must be able to respond. Communication between sender and recipient is a two way street, and until one gets a response one can never be sure that the message has been understand. The art of public diplomacy is to make sure that this communication exists." Via LJB; image from

Digital diplomacy: Threat or opportunity? - Elena Chernenko, Kommersant: "When she headed the Department of State, Clinton had only one official webpage. By the time John Kerry took office, the department had more than 200 Twitter accounts and more than 300 Facebook pages to its name, as well as virtual missions on YouTube, Tumblr, and Flickr — in not one, but 11 languages. The system is coordinated by 150 Department of State employees in Washington and 900 specialists abroad. Nearly 20 million people are subscribed to its myriad accounts and blogs. The example proved contagious for foreign ministries worldwide, particularly in Europe. The best practitioners of the new art are Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (more than 190,000 Twitter followers) and British Foreign Secretary William Hague (more than 130,000). The Russian Foreign Ministry has also partaken in a bit of digital diplomacy. To describe the new phenomenon, the department came up with its own term — 'innovative diplomacy' — which it deciphers as a 'tool of Russian foreign policy to exert influence on public opinion through the use of information and communication technologies.' The Russian Foreign Ministry currently has around 70 official accounts on Twitter. The most popular (@MID_RF) is read by about 65,000 people. ... Moscow seems to be placing high hopes on the new tool. The new draft of the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, signed by

Vladimir Putin in February, states that 'new information and communication technologies will be widely utilized' in order to 'create an objective perception of Russia in the world' and 'develop effective domestic means to exert informational influence on public opinion abroad.' Moreover, it clearly follows from the remaining fragments of the Foreign Policy Concept that Moscow considers the Internet and social media primarily as a potential source of threats to its stability and sovereignty. According to some experts, such fears may well be grounded. In the words of Brian Fung, editor of the U.S. publication, The Atlantic, 'digital diplomacy is good for at least two not widely publicized purposes: gathering intelligence from open sources and influencing public opinion in foreign countries to set the scene for future diplomatic clashes.' Fung believes that social networks presently do diplomats more harm than good."

Netanyahu presents new government to Peres - Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post: "Transportation Minister Israel Katz and Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat will keep their jobs and outgoing Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon will become defense minister . ... The Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry will be disbanded, with all elements of public diplomacy becoming part of the Prime Minister’s Office. Likud sources said MK Danny Danon was offered the position of deputy public diplomacy minister, but, despite indications that there will be no new ministers from the Likud, he said on Saturday night that he expects to be appointed minister, because he is ranked fifth on the party’s list. The Diaspora Affairs and Jerusalem portfolios will go to [party leader Naftali] Bennett, who will be responsible for Birthright and Masa programs, fighting anti-Semitism and developing Jerusalem." Image from

Sexy supermodel, draft dodger, official spokeswoman? - Shlomo Cesana, "A recent decision by the Foreign Ministry to use supermodel Bar Refaeli as the spokesperson in its new public diplomacy campaign has met with criticism by local advocacy groups, which claim that using her would do a disservice to the State of Israel. In February, Israel Hayom reported that Refaeli would headline a new public diplomacy campaign highlighting how Israeli technological breakthroughs and inventions contribute to the daily lives of millions of people worldwide.

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel and the Judicial Zionism students' forum have appealed to Foreign Ministry Director-General Rafi Barak to cancel the campaign, saying that Refaeli — who did not serve in the Israel Defense Forces — is not the right person to represent the country. Refaeli infamously attempted to postpone her mandatory IDF service saying it would interfere with her international modeling career. ... A Foreign Ministry statement said that Refaeli 'is considered one of the most beautiful women in the world and she is widely recognized as Israeli. There is no reason to dredge up the past when we are dealing with a public diplomacy campaign of this kind.'" Image from article, with caption: Sex symbol, or national symbol? Bar Refaeli. On Israeli pubic diplomacy, see.

New Cultural Exchange Program Brings U.S. Students to China - "Educators Overseas (EO), one of North America's premier international teacher recruiting companies, is expanding its commitment to fostering international cultural exchanges and opportunities to interact with other civilizations. EO has partnered with the Shenzhen Institute of Continuing Education and China's Shenzhen Ministry of Education, to sponsor an exciting new cultural immersion program for U.S. high school students to study in China for just 4 weeks."

Oman: Advancing Modern Diplomacy, Celebrating Historic Shipbuilding Traditions - Sigurd Neubauer, "Sigurd Neubauer [:] Neubauer has six years experience in strategic communications, public diplomacy and research focusing on American foreign policy towards the European Union and the Middle East from both the U.S. defense industry and from the NGO sector."


Obama's new method: Reaching out to Israeli public - Reuters, Jerusalem Post: After nearly four years of often testy relations with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, US President Barack Obama is about to try a different tack - going over the head of Israel's prime minister and appealing directly to the Israeli people.

Obama's first presidential visit to Israel next week, while certainly including meetings with Netanyahu, will focus heavily on resetting his relationship with the country's wary public as he seeks to reassure them he is committed to their security and has their interests at heart. All signs are that Obama hopes the strategy will give him more leverage with the right-wing Netanyahu - politically weakened by January's election in which centrists made surprising gains - to pursue a peaceful resolution with Iran and eventually address the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate. Image from

In Gaza, media war is not just a metaphor (updated) - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Real steps for a post-Assad Syria - David Ignatius, Washington Post: When Assad is gone and Syria is finally rebuilding its state, it will need massive foreign economic and military assistance — probably including peacekeeping troops from the Arab League or even a NATO country such as Turkey. The alternative is a power vacuum in which terrorists will take root in the heart of the Middle East.

What Rules Should Govern US Drone Attacks? - Kenneth Roth, New York Review of Books: Any program that kills on the basis of secret intelligence risks abuse.

The administration could go a long way toward minimizing the possibility of illegal killings—and discouraging others from acting in kind—if it explicitly recognized clear limits in the law governing drone attacks and allowed as much independent consideration of its compliance as possible. Image from article, with caption: Drone aircraft at a US base, Afghanistan, 2011

10 years later, many see Iraq War as costly mistake - Dan Nowicki, Few, if any, at the time expected that Operation Iraqi Freedom, which President George W. Bush announced on March 19, 2003, as military strikes began, would lead to an extended military presence that would last nearly nine years. The United States would suffer more than 4,480 deaths through the Iraq War's official end on Dec. 15, 2011. More than 32,000 others would be wounded. More than 100,000 Iraqi civilians would die violently, according to the website Iraq Body Count. The price tag for the war, according to nonpartisan congressional researchers, was at least $806 billion, although that figure doesn't take into account related expenses such as coming decades of veterans benefits and other costs including medical treatment and job retraining for wounded soldiers. The massive spending contributed to the nation's current financial troubles and limits U.S. ability to respond robustly, if needed, to other international threats.

Propaganda against Iran: for 33 years they have been telling us that Iran almost has a nuke - Breathless predictions that the Islamic Republic will soon be at the brink of nuclear capability, or – worse – acquire an actual nuclear bomb, are not new.

For more than quarter of a century Western officials have claimed repeatedly that Iran is close to joining the nuclear club. Such a result is always declared “unacceptable” and a possible reason for military action, with “all options on the table” to prevent upsetting the Mideast strategic balance dominated by the US and Israel. And yet, those predictions have time and again come and gone. Image from entry

The War Propaganda Continues - Scott Lazarowitz, Thanks to the propagandists, the Orwellian story of 9/11 suggests that these conflicts all began on 9/11. To this day, the propagandists still refuse to acknowledge that the U.S. government’s disastrous foreign interventions, and especially its 1991 first war of aggression on Iraq and subsequent sanctions were major provocations against the people of that region of the world. But, true to their diehard socialist agenda, the rulers went ahead after 9/11 to increase the interventions, wars, and crimes of renditions, indefinite detentions of innocents, tortures and murders of foreigners. War is really an artificial concept used by collectivists, statists, racists and power-grabbers to rationalize the commission of criminal acts of aggression against others and get away with it. This is the whole point of American Exceptionalism, by the way.

Propaganda, a key concern in our world - Though the news business has mutated further in the modern era, propaganda remains a key concern in the post-Arab Spring world too. The greater threat to news production, however, remains the growing encroachment of public relations (PR) into domains previously considered an inviolable space for facts. Faced with a shrinking market, news organisations are increasingly ceding to the inclusion of trivia and marketing information as news reports to keep their advertisers happy. Some are even floating the “paid news” business model for corporates to buy coverage. Popular culture, particularly cinema, has always had an open relationship with propaganda. As Iran condemns the Oscar-winning film Argo for what it perceives as blatant pro-American agenda-setting, the truth is that Hollywood has never shied away from jingoism. The ultimate tragedy is when there is no record left of the truth.

World War II propaganda in Persia - The man sleeping on the couch has the face of Adolph Hitler (in the body and clothing of the evil ruler Zahhāk, from Ferdowsi’s Shahname, the Book of Kings, the Persian national epic). The two snakes on his shoulders are Mussolini and Tojo. He is dreaming about three kings who are coming to kill him: Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt.

This miniature (part of a larger series) was created by a British graphic designer; he incorporated traditional Persian art, literature, and iconography in an effort to appeal to the people of Iran to support the "three kings" in their opposition to Germany. The British and Soviet forces invaded Iran from the north and south between August 25 and September 8, 1941. The reason for the invasion was that after the German offensive against the Soviet Union in June, they felt threatened the Iranian petroleum resources in their management, and they also intended to transmit war material from the Persian Gulf via rail to the Soviet Union. Although Iran was neutral, the Shah had basically done the inter-war modernization of the country with German help, and he refused to expel the German advisors on British request. After the peace treaty the British deposed him and expelled him to Egypt, and raised on the throne his son Reza Pahlavi, who represented the Anglo-American policy, and declared war on Germany. Subsequently, in November 1943 opened the Tehran conference with the participation of the three above kings, with the aim of coordinating the common war efforts and to open the second, western front. The easy defeat of the Persian army and the humiliation of the occupation hit very hard the country’s public opinion. This was acerbated by the fact that the massive British buying-up of food for the troops caused a severe famine in the occupied zone, and that, on the principle of “divide and conquer”, both occupying forces excited the ethnic minorities living under their power against the Persian rule. All this is described in detail in Simin Daneshvar’s Savushun (1969), the key novel of 20th-century Iran. It is understandable therefore, that on the occasion of the Tehran conference the British saw it opportune to present the purpose of their arrival in an easily perceptible visual form to the Persian people.


Rise of Latino population blurs US racial lines - Hope Yen, The numbers already demonstrate that being white is fading as a test of American-ness:

-More U.S. babies are now born to minorities than whites, a milestone reached last year.

-More than 45 percent of students in kindergarten through 12th grade are minorities. The Census Bureau projects that in five years the number of nonwhite children will surpass 50 percent.

-The District of Columbia, Hawaii, California, New Mexico and Texas have minority populations greater than 50 percent. By 2020, eight more states are projected to join the list: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey and New York. Latinos already outnumber whites in New Mexico; California will tip to a Latino plurality next year.

-By 2039, racial and ethnic minorities will make up a majority of the U.S. working-age population, helping to support a disproportionately elderly white population through Social Security and other payroll taxes. More than 1 in 4 people ages 18-64 will be Latino.

-The white population, now at 197.8 million, is projected to peak at 200 million in 2024, before entering a steady decline in absolute numbers. Currently 63 percent of the U.S. population, the white share is expected to drop below 50 percent by 2043, when racial and ethnic minorities will collectively become a U.S. majority. Hispanics will drive most of the minority growth, due mostly to high birth rates, jumping in share from 17 percent to 26 percent.

The pace of assimilation for today's Latinos and Asian-Americans is often compared with that of the Poles, Irish, Italians and Jews who arrived around the turn of the 20th century and eventually merged into an American white mainstream.

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