Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 15-16 Public Diplomacy Review

"Everything I know about social media marketing I learned doing sex work."

--Sex worker Kitty Stryker tells CNNMoney; via PVB; image from entry


Sen. Rubio: Beyonce’s trip to Cuba is ‘propaganda’ - CBS, Washington Post

Azerbaijani Cuisine: A Dream Come True - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: Memorable line: "Actor Gérard Depardieu: 'The country who has that kind of food is obviously a smart country.' [wink-wink] Apparently, he had signed this contract back in 2011, and the ad was made specifically to air on EuroNews. Smart 'gastrodiplomacy', you say?"


Georgia, U.S. sign MoU on Fulbright program - Sabina Idayatova, azernews.az: "Georgian Education Minister Giorgi Margvelashvili and U.S. Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine signed on Monday a Memorandum of Understanding to expand the Fulbright exchange program in Georgia. The memorandum signed between the parties envisages the strengthening and development of relations within the academic exchange program Fulbright, designed for students and research scientists. It will facilitate the exchange of students and scientists at all levels of education and research in all fields and areas, strengthen links between public and private institutions, research institutes and universities of the two countries. According to georgia.usembassy.gov website, the program will enable more Georgians to come to American campuses and experience life and academia at an American university.

With this MoU, the U.S. and Georgia will jointly support students who wish to pursue graduate studies in the U.S. Fulbright Scholar Program is one of the most prestigious scholarships offered by the U.S. government to Georgian students. When implementing the memorandum of understanding the U.S. side will coordinate funding of the Fulbright program in Georgia, management and implementation. Educational exchange programs remain one of the strongest links between two countries. Over the last twenty years, thousands of Georgians have come to the United States for education, and over 3000 Georgians have participated in a U.S. professional or academic exchange programs." Image from article

Remarks On Media Freedom - Tara Sonenshine, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Tbilisi State University, Tbilisi, Georgia, April 15, 2013, U.S. Department of State: "Today, I come to talk to you – the young minds of Georgia – about something that’s also deeply and profoundly important. And that’s media freedom. Why is media freedom so important? Because – as I often say – information is the oxygen that a free and civilized society needs to breathe. Without it societies suffocate. Sometimes there’s no information at all – because governments repress it, or journalists are too intimidated or unmotivated or irresponsible to report the truth. Sometimes the information consists primarily of gossip, rumor, hearsay, and conspiracy theories. So it’s important that we have a diverse and independent press, so the people can trust what they read, hear, and see in the media. When we have a free, fair, and vigorous media environment in a democratic society, we are informed about the truth. And that allows us to make the best decisions we can, based on the most reliable information we can find. ... We see that media pluralism in Georgia is still evolving, and facing many challenges. The press is often criticized for being unprofessional. People accuse media outlets of being too closely connected to the UNM or Georgian Dream. And more independent, regional media outlets continue to struggle. Not only that, there are pending elections. So the need to provide fair and balanced media coverage, so voters can make the right choices, is crucial. And in that regard, Georgians face some critical issues. One is making sure that they can have access to a variety of news channels in the pre-election period. Given the limited variety of media outlets currently available in Georgia, and the clear appetite of the Georgian people for a wide variety of programming and opinion, it is important that they have that programming. That’s why we are supporting the USAID-funded Georgian Media Enhance Democracy, Informed Citizenry, and Accountability. It’s better known as G-MEDIA. The goal of this $12.9 million program is to improve the Georgian public’s access to a range of sources of news and information by developing a more politically balanced, editorially independent, professional, and viable media sector that reaches audiences across Georgia through diverse delivery channels. As we continue to advocate for freedom of expression and citizen access to more independent, balanced, and reliable sources of information, we also recognize that Georgia does not face media challenges alone. ... [T]hrough our public diplomacy, we echo those values in our promotion of media freedom and journalistic professionalism throughout the world. We do that through a robust array of programs through our Public Affairs Office and the USAID. In Georgia, that includes sending Georgian news teams to the U.S. to cover major events like our November presidential elections; or building partnerships between U.S. and Georgian media outlets; or establishing a journalism partnership program between The Georgia Institute for Public Affairs Media School and the University of South Carolina. We look forward to working with the Government of Georgia, civil society, and media organizations to promote the idea that even the smallest voice from the tiniest village must be heard."

US 'extremely concerned' of threat to media freedom in Sri Lanka - Daya Gamage, asiantribune.com: "Meanwhile, Tara Sonenshine, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs said in a policy statement at the Tbilisi State University in Georgia on Monday that 'it’s important that we have a diverse and independent press, so the people can trust what they read, hear, and see in the media. When we have a free, fair, and vigorous media environment in a democratic society, we are informed about the truth. And that allows us to make the best decisions we can, based on the most reliable information we can find. We need all sides of the equation to be mutually reinforcing: On one side, there are the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, and association that are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and on the other, we need to have freedom of the media so they can hold accountable anyone or any institution that abuses those freedoms. That balance is crucial to a robust democracy'."

U.S. Official Says Social Networking Could Help Smooth Relations - The Moscow Times: "U.S. Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine rejected the idea that relations between the U.S and Russia are deteriorating and said social networking should be used to forge better ties during her visit to Moscow. 'I would dispute the idea that we have a bad relationship. About 60 percent of Americans have a positive view of Russia. Your country has the same indicators: 50 to 60 percent of Russians think positively of Americans,' Sonenshine said in an interview with Kommersant published Tuesday. Sonenshine proposes increasing the amount of joint programs between the two countries, including cultural, educational and sports programs, to 'better understand each other.' She said an increase in social networking between Russia and the United States is particularly important in building stronger relations. It would be a mistake to consider such sites problematic, she said, since 'digital diplomacy, just like traditional diplomacy, involves interaction on a personal level.' According to Sonenshine, Russia's 'independent and strong Internet community' could help it to give the world a better idea of its values and cultural identity. Sonenshine also commented on reports that the Kremlin is not pleased with comments that U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul makes about Russian officials on Twitter. She noted that while McFaul did at times criticize Russian authorities, he also highlighted the positive aspects in relations between Moscow and Washington."

What the Papers Say, Apr. 16, 2013 - Moscow Times: "Kommersant ... 11. Maria Yefimova interview with Tara Sonenshine, U.S. undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, speaking on the role of the internet in relations of the two countries; p 8 (584 words)."

Embassy Madrid Rings in International Roma Day with Spanish Partners - U.S. Department of State, posted at humanrights.gov: "Embassy Madrid marked International Roma Day April 8 with a video message from Ambassador Solomont noting the Roma community’s unique contributions to Spanish society, as well as a visit to the Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG), an NGO partnering with the Embassy to develop English-language skills among Roma youth. ... One of the greatest challenges facing the Gitano population of Spain is the high school drop-out rate. Only 20% of Spanish Gitano students who start high school graduate, and many young women never even start high school.

Programs such as FSG’s 'Promociona' initiative, which provides after-school tutoring, can make a difference. Public Diplomacy officers marked Roma Day by visiting students of an English language program incorporated into Promociona that is sponsored by the U.S. Embassy. The joint Embassy-FSG program empowers young Gitanos, both by helping them pass mandatory English classes that could otherwise hold up graduation and by providing language skills that might give them a leg up in Spain’s dismal job market. Gitano and other vulnerable populations have been especially affected by Spain’s economic downturn." Image from entry

FLEX Students Participate in a Civic Education Workshop - americancouncils.org: "On March 17th, 100 Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program students arrived in Washington, D.C. to participate in the Civic Education Workshop (CEW) program. These students are currently studying in high schools across the U.S. and were selected to participate in the CEW through a competitive application process. The workshop, implemented by American Councils for International Education and the American Civics Center, is an intensive one-week program funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

Its goal is to provide the unique opportunity for students to gain a better understanding of some of the key concepts and values that are a fundamental part of U.S. society, culture, and government. Highlights from this year’s workshop included a trip to the State Department, where U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain J. Adam Ereli addressed the group, followed by a panel discussion with a group of regional Public Diplomacy and Political Officers. At the end of the week the participants visited Capitol Hill and met with the congressmen, senators, and/or their staffers from the states in which they are currently being hosted." Image from entry

This American Corner - Paul Rockower, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "While recently on a cultural diplomacy adventure across Central Asia on an American Music Abroad tour—the State Department’s flagship musical exchange program that American Voices administers—with the bluegrass band Della Mae, I had the opportunity to encounter the public diplomacy space that are the State Department’s American Corners. As one who ascribes to Professor Manuel Castells’ postulate that

public diplomacy is meant to build spheres in which diverse voices can be heard and understood, I found myself quite impressed with these corners of public diplomacy for their ability to create a space for cultural exchange. ... While perhaps overlooked and underappreciated in the discourse on American public diplomacy, the American Corner program exists as a valuable and worthwhile facet of the U.S. public diplomacy outreach. The indirect nature of public diplomacy socialization is profound: by drawing in younger audiences with engaging content, the American Corner obliquely invites younger generations to know America better." Image from entry, with caption: Della Mae perform at the American Corner in Bishek

America's soft power secret: Hip Hop - bybrooklynbadboy, Daily Kos: "Secretary of State John Kerry's first official speech introduced to the foreign policy establishment a vision of an America that is more reticent to solve international problems with military force. Instead, Secretary Kerry pointed to traditional diplomacy and trade as better routes for America to engage with the broader world. He also spoke of traditional tools like foreign aid and student exchanges as ways to communicate a positive view of America to the people of all nations, friend or foe. Absent from his discussion was perhaps America's greatest, most positive attractive magnet: its youthful, vibrant force as a cultural power. Arguably, America's music, movies, arts, images, and books, are more popular than they have ever been.

Indeed, if there is any group of Americans that is winning the hearts and minds of people all over the world, it isn't military leaders, diplomats, business leaders or academics. It is the makers of America's popular culture. The actors, musicians and other celebrities. At the vanguard of this group, the Marines of this group, if you will, is the youth culture of Hip Hop, born and nurtured in the Bronx. Hip Hop has even touched the hearts of youth in corners of the world where America the military power is hated. American leaders should pay attention to what his happening among the youth of the world. Join me for a brief tour around the world of those who made America's hip hop culture a truly global phenomenon."[Covers hip hop artists from Russia, China, Iran].Via BM; image from entry, with caption: Iranian Hip Hop underground sensation MC Hichkas.

Russians in America: Chasing a dream or unemployment? - Vladimir Chukov, Stepan Serdyukov, Anna Laletina, rbth.ru: "The Summer Work and Travel program, created as a public diplomacy tool in 1963, allows foreign university students to work and travel for up to four months in the United States, where most work entry-level jobs at resorts, theme parks and restaurants, and experience American culture.

The only firm requirements for participation in the program are a working knowledge of English and to be a full-time student at a university. About 1 million students have participated in the program. Participants come from around the world; some of the top participating countries are Russia, Brazil, Ukraine, Thailand, Ireland, Bulgaria, Peru, Moldova and Poland. RBTH interviewed three ex-Work and Travel participants who shared their experiences in the United States." Image from article

The Long Road to Public Diplomacy 2.0: The Internet in US Public Diplomacy - Nicholas J. Cull, onlinelibrary.wiley.com: "[T]he experience of the first 20 years of digital diplomacy suggests that the Department of State may need to strain against habits of advocacy and remind itself of the need to open two-way channels of discussion and to relax rigid message control if it is to succeed in using social media to the fullest extent."

Godwin's Law - Rules of Denial - oldephartte: "In the lead-up to the invasion of Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell explained: 'I am serious about making sure we have the best relationship with NGOs who are such a force multiplier for us and such an important part of our combat team.' 'It’s a useful counterinsurgency tool,' is how Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Doucette, commander of Canada’s provincial reconstruction team, described CIDA’s work in Afghanistan. Development assistance, for instance, was sometimes given to communities in exchange for information on combatants. After a roadside bomb hit his convoy in September 2009, Canadian General Jonathan Vance spent 50 minutes berating village elders for not preventing the attack. 'If we keep blowing up on the roads,' he told them, 'I’m going to stop doing development.' If even a 'progressive' NGO such as Alternatives can be pushed into working as a tool of the military, shouldn’t we at least come up with a better description than “non-governmental” organization? ... ( ... Another lament made ridiculous when put in context with 'public diplomacy')via RT Bot."

US Public Diplomacy: Cold War To Present – American Diplomacy (March 2013):

"New Cultural Exchange and the Cold War: How the West Won by Yale Richmond New Remembering Van Cliburn: Despatch From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State Moscow, July 18, 1960 New The Future of United States Public Diplomacy in Brazil by Blair Rapalyea New Link The Second Annual Walter Roberts Lecture: Public Diplomacy and Foreign Policy in 2013: The View from State With Tara Sonenshine, U.S. Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs: http://www.gwu.edu/~ipdgc/events /2013.01.14.TaraStatePD.cfm” Image from entry.

The Propaganda System That Has Helped Create a Permanent Overclass Is Over a Century in the Making - Andrew Gavin Marshall, dandelionsalad.wordpress.com: "Shortly after World War II and into the 1950s, the U.S. State Department became increasingly interested in the subject of propaganda, or what was termed 'information management' and 'public diplomacy.' Television was of particular interest in promoting American state interests, specifically those defined by the Cold War. Francis Russell, the director of the State Department’s Public Affairs (PA) division from 1945 to 1953, noted that 'propaganda abroad is indispensable' in the Cold War, but that the State Department had 'diligently cultivated the concept of PA as a service to the American people, a place where the public can come to obtain information.' He explained his worry that, 'if the American people ever get the idea that the same high-powered propaganda machine' used abroad was 'also at work on them, the result will be disaster fir both the domestic and overseas programs.' The role of the PA was not in a censorship bureau, but as a dispenser of 'information,' to which the media – largely privately owned – would use as a consistent source for reporting, re-printing press releases, and seeking official sources for comment. Edward Barrett, another top official in the PA division, later noted: 'We really tried to stick to the truth and tell nothing but the truth, but we didn’t always tell the whole truth.' ... When Eisenhower came to power, a new agency was created to handle information and cultural programs previously undertaken by the State Department, the US Information Agency (USIA), established in 1953. In attempting to create a terminology to describe the activities of the USIA and its relationship to foreign policy goals – without using the obvious term 'propaganda' – the term 'public diplomacy' was commonly used. Frank Stanton, who left CBS in 1973, subsequently chaired a research report by the prominent American think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in 1975, entitled, International Information Education and Cultural Relations – Recommendations for the Future. The report recommended 'that the international information and cultural programs [of the U.S. government] deserve all possible support in the years ahead, that they have demonstrated their success and are therefore an exceptional investment of government energy and the taxpayer’s dollar.' While head of CBS, Stanton developed relationships with American presidents, whose Cold War strategies he would help promote through his network. When Kennedy became president, he offered Frank Stanton the job as head of the United States Information Agency (USIA), which Stanton declined (though recommended the appointment of Edward R. Murrow, a prominent journalist with CBS, whom Stanton had no lack of problems with). In fact, in 1958, Edward R. Murrow delivered a speech before the Radio-Television News Directors Association in which he 'implicitly indicted Stanton' for the way in which he managed CBS, stating: 'The top management of the networks… has been trained in advertising, research, or show business… by the nature of the corporate structure, [these managers] also make the final and crucial decisions having to do with news and public affairs. Frequently they have neither the time nor the competence to do this.' Stanton developed a reputation as a trustworthy propagandist for the Cold War, but was not unwilling to flex his own power when confronted with state power, such as when President Lyndon Johnson, angry at specific coverage of Vietnam on CBS, called up Stanton and stated, 'Frank, are you trying to fuck your country?' Stanton refused to budge on his coverage under pressure from the president. Yet still, he remained a propagandist, and even participated in the CIA’s program to infiltrate the domestic media, with general knowledge of the Agency’s program with CBS, though according to one CIA agent involved in the matter, he didn’t 'want to know the fine points.' ... Through the educational system, the social sciences, philanthropic foundations, public relations, advertising, marketing, and the media, America and the industrialized states of the world developed a unique and complex system of social control and propaganda for the 20th century and into the 21st. It is imperative to recognize and understand this complex system if we are to challenge and change it."

Pacific's Brubeck Institute Brings Jazz, Peace and Dave Brubeck to United Nations, Smithsonian - jazzcorner.com: "University of the Pacific's Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet will perform later this month at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., and two days later during the first-ever Dave Brubeck Forum at the United Nations in New York City. ... The forum 'celebrates and forwards' Brubeck's legacy as an artist using jazz to promote peace and social justice. Brubeck visited 42 countries, many under the support of the U.S. State Department, and left an indelible mark on the global culture and public diplomacy. His first international tour was in 1958 and included performances in Holland, Sweden, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Germany. He later began a State Department tour that involved 12 countries, including Poland, India, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq."

Nigeria and cultural diplomacy - nigeriaintel.com: "[T]his writer likes the United States. One reason is that he had grown up watching Sesame Street, an American educational programme for children that was beamed on Nigerian television stations in the 1970s and 1980s. He had also grown up listening to what the Voice of America had to feed its worldwide listeners with. And when, for the first time, this writer in his teenage years wrote to the VOA, and the station responded by post from its headquarters in Washington DC, America was made in his mind. For him, America can do no wrong.

That is the power of influence, of catching minds achieved through cultural and information dissemination means. Cultural diplomacy, achieved through information dissemination is nothing but that — feeding the mind, providing information that helps understanding among peoples. This is done through other means also. International education that involves exchange of students, teachers, and professors, is one. International business promotion and tourism is another. And through libraries stocked with books on a country, its national goals and policies can be explained and passed on. ... Cultural diplomacy, a country’s means of informing other countries about its cultural or other values, is closely related to public diplomacy, which is a means by which a government presents its country to others, for the purpose of realising foreign policy goals. As opposed to public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy is realised by national and sub-national actors alike, all working together in pursuit of national interest." Image from article, presumably of its author

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Dinner in Washington - BBGWatcher,  usgbroadcasts.com: "Masha Gessen

should leave as a manager at Radio Liberty and use her talents as a writer and reporter elsewhere." Gessen image from entry

CUSIB’s Ann Noonan condemns targeting of dissidents’ children in China, defends RFA and VOA radio broadcasts - BBGWatcher, usgbroadcasts.com: "Ann Noonan, Executive Director of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) gave an interview to Boxun.com, a Chinese website that covers international political news and human rights abuses in China, in which she condemned the targeting of dissidents’ children by the Chinese authorities. Noonan also defended Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA) Chinese radio programs which are facing reductions due to U.S. budget cuts, but also due to arbitrary decisions by the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), the executive arm of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency in charge of these broadcasts."

Obama nominates Matthew C. Armstrong to serve on Broadcasting Board of Governors - BBGWatcher, usgbroadcasts.com: "President Obama announced his intent to nominate Matthew C. Armstrong to serve as a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the bipartisan federal board in charge of U.S. international broadcasting. The board is now down to five members, instead of nine, and has as its Interim Presiding Governor, Michael Lynton, who has not been showing up for meetings in recent months. Armstrong is a Republican nominee. He will presumably fill a vacancy created with the departure of Dana Perino. Matt Armstrong, and another nominee Jeff Shell who is President Obama’s Democratic choice to become the BBG chairman, still have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The confirmation process can take several months. Meanwhile, because of Michael Lynton’s prolonged and unexplained absence, the BBG board cannot hold formal meetings or vote on pressing issues. Their last meeting on April 11 was not a formal meeting. ... BBG Watch welcomes the nomination of Matt Armstrong to serve on the BBG board. His expertise in public diplomacy will strengthen this very important institution and will help other BBG members and any future CEO in their efforts to reform the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), the worst managed organization within the federal government. We hope that Mr. Armstrong will help to transform the IBB from a centralized bureaucracy bent on increasing its power into a lean support organization that serves rather than issues commands to individual media entities." See also. Armstrong image from entry

Placing diplomacy in public hands -  thy-rising.blogspot.com:  "Brazilian hackers defaced 18 Indian websites recently. In a tit-for-tat action, Indian hackers defaced 37 Brazilian websites (double of 18 plus 1). Indians also left a provocative message -

"Bitchz! Big mistake what you have done!!
Now We Stand!! For our Mother LanD!!
We wer Busy with our Life But Now its time to teach moral storys!!
Feel US!! Feel Our Love towards our nation!!
Never make a mistake again Hacking Indian servers!!
Feel the Counter Attack Force
we are not the only force But to warn you unskilled lamers only we are enough!!
want a Cyber War ?? ask for it and you will be served!!!"

... Diplomacy has largely been a mandate of elites - politicians, bureaucrats, and others sitting at the head of important organizations in field of defense, aviation, trade etc. When we say India has good relations with Brasil, it fails to take into account the relationship between an average Indian and an average Brasilian. This deficit in 'People-to-people'(P2P) relationship has been acknowledged by leaders of both nations as well. This is also loosely called Public Diplomacy. ... So leaders are now understanding the importance of public diplomacy. US President Obama engaged with school children in Mumbai school for Diwali.

And UK's Prime Minister interacted with girl students of DU taking along Aamir Khan with him. If public is not on your side,  you cannot save your embassy and even evacuate your people as it happened in 'Argo' (movie was based on real events that happened in Iran) ... Establishing public diplomacy and intricate people to people relationship is the only way to create a harmonious and peaceful world; possibly also the only solution to chimerical aspiration of disarmament of nations. We, the people are the sole creators of the world we wish to live in." Image from article, with caption:  Obama with Indian kids in Mumbai

Kremlin Summer Camp to Expand Overseas - A summer camp founded by the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi will be held outside of Russia for the first time in 2013, in an effort to rally support from the Russian diaspora for projects back in their homeland, Izvestia reports. Sergei Belokonev, head of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs (Rosmolodezh), said that the Selinger summer camp would be held in one European and one US location in addition to the original Russian one.

He named Strasbourg, where the European Court of Human Rights is located, as a possible European site. ... Political analyst Mikhail Vinogradov believes that Rosmolodezh is simply leeching off of the recent popularity in Russia of support for the Russian diaspora. He was also certain that Rosmolodezh’s strategy to stimulate entrepreneurialism among young Russians only has potential in Russia and will not be successful in the West. ... The youth camp Seliger was first held at a lake by the same name in Tverskaya region in 2005. Founded as a training camp for Nashi, it only allowed non-members to participate starting in 2009. The camp has been heavily criticized for indoctrinating young Russians with a paranoid Kremlin ideology and comparing human rights advocates to Nazis, as well as for leaving a great deal of garbage at the lake. Via MC; image from entry

Journalism, Ethics and Student Exchange - Molly Bettie, Public Diplomacy and Student Exchanges: Possibly the first study of the Fulbright Program to be conducted by someone who isn't affiliated with it in any way.. - "The story of BBC Panorama journalists posing as LSE students to get into North Korea has made me think about the way that educational exchange can be used and misused. Students are a "safe" category, considered to be pretty harmless and free of controversy. This good reputation can help students gain access to places, people and things needed for educational purposes. Unfortunately, the guise of 'educational purposes' can be used to cover up other uses. The journalists posed as students to gain access to North Korea--despite the fact that the North Korean government does allow Western journalists to get a journalist visa (no doubt it demands more paperwork and time, but it does exist). By lying about their status, they endangered the students who travelled with them, the North Korean tour guides, and damaged the reputation of the BBC, LSE, and Western journalists in general. For a paranoid country like North Korea, this act just reinforced all of their fears."

BRICS and the New Model - Wesley Nkwazi, southerntimesafrica.com: "Brics Summit, and the first in the African part of the grouping, a fortnight ago ended with the bloc declaring its new approach to the world economic and political systems. The Ethekwini Declaration, named after the Durban venue in which the

BRICS leaders from Brazil, Russia, India China and South Africa met, pronounced the new zeitgeist. ... The bloc is set to explored [sic] new areas of co-operation in fields such as public diplomacy, anti-corruption co-operation, state-owned companies/enterprises, drug control, youth issues, tourism, energy and mega sporting events."

Brazil – Turkey relations: Can the love last? - Oliver Stuenkel "Turkey has identified Brazil as a key partner in the region, and it has undertaken a significant diplomatic effort to strengthen its presence in Brazil. The Turkish Ambassador to Brazil, Ersin Erçin, is a high-ranking diplomat who played a key role in Turkey's accession negotiations with the European Union.

His appointment reflects the importance Ankara now ascribes to Brazil. Erçin actively strengthens Turkey's public diplomacy in Brazil, there is a visible Turkish-Brazilian Cultural Center and a Turkish high school in São Paulo. Turkish Airlines now offers multiple direct flights from São Paulo to Istanbul. The Turkish community in São Paulo has grown over the past years, albeit from a relatively small base. Dilma Rousseff's third foreign visit was to Turkey (after Bulgaria and China). ... From a realist point of view, Brazil and Turkey can be expected to jointly balance the United States - and their partnership will therefore last as long as their national interest is aligned. Yet realists would not expect a meaningful friendship beyond occasional and issue-based cooperation - such as in the financial G20." Uncaptioned image from article

Lunch Buffet - Ed Kilgore, Political Animal, Washington Monthly: "Today’s one of those days we may look back on with pleasure or with chagrin as typical of everything about Washington we long for or deplore. ... South Korean government tries a little carrot along with the stick in public diplomacy responding to wild threats by North Korea."

Supermodel and Draft-Dodger - Shmuel Rosner, New York Times: "The Foreign Ministry, always on the lookout for ways to make Israel’s image trendier, recently asked the supermodel Bar Refaeli, one of the country’s most famous celebrities, to lead an ad campaign promoting Israeli technology and innovation abroad. She agreed, free of charge. Apparently it was a success: “My Instagram feed has more readers than Israel’s most popular newspaper,” Refaeli bragged in a tweet.

The Israeli military establishment is not amused. The Israeli military establishment is not amused. On her way to becoming a supermodel (and the onetime girlfriend of Leonardo DiCaprio), the 27-year-old Refaeli dodged the draft, evading the compulsory two-year military service by getting married (and divorcing soon after). ... The timing of the Refaeli campaign does seem poor, especially as the country is debating whether to require ultra-Orthodox men to enlist. On one level this is a story about the difference in outlook of two institutions. The Foreign Ministry worries about Israel’s reputation abroad; the armed forces worry about how to keep Israelis believing in the importance of military service. Proponents of the Refaeli campaign might argue that this controversy is a chance to question whether the military should be so central to Israel’s life. That’s a worthy cause, but I’m not sure this is the occasion to argue for it. I think the generals have been right to balk — not because military service is all-important but because the people who officially represent my country should have more to show for than active Instagram accounts. They should be exemplary citizens." Refaeli  image from article

On the Online Front: ‘Jerusalem behind the headlines’ -  Laura Rosbrow, A young journalist living in Israel,aurarosbrow.com

What is also unique about this piece is that the group, called Ambassadors Online, consists of a number of Arab students, which are usually underrepresented in such public diplomacy activities.” Image: heading of Laura Rosbrow blog

Most Indians agree there's more to our relationship than cricket - Rory Medcalf and Amitabh Mattoo, theaustralian.com.au: "Most Indians, it turns out, quite like Australia, despite a torrent of bad press over student safety a few years ago. A groundbreaking opinion poll reveals what Indians really think of this country. First, the good news. Sixty per cent of Indian respondents said they would like their country's government and society to be more like Australia's. Only the US stands significantly higher in their warmth and esteem. And Australia still ranks second only to the US as a place to be educated, ahead of Canada, Singapore, Britain and Germany. This suggests reassuring resilience to Australia's reputation based on its core strengths as a developed, democratic, multicultural and egalitarian nation and is also testament to public diplomacy efforts to repair Australia's image. But it would be a grave mistake to read these results as cause for complacency. For the poll shows lingering concerns about the kind of welcome Indians receive here, with 61 per cent still thinking the attacks against their countrymen in 2009 and 2010 were driven mainly by racism. ... When Julia Gillard went to New Delhi to launch a cultural festival, Oz Fest, last October, it seemed that controversies over student safety and the Labor Party's previous ban on uranium sales could be put to rest. Her engagement efforts have made a difference. And it is encouraging that the Coalition is showing serious intent about India. ... Three-quarters of Indians polled thought cricket projected a positive image of both countries and helped us grow closer. But 35 per cent think cricket can sometimes cause frictions between the countries. With this poll, crafting a partnership for the Asian Century now has a scorecard to help us all lift our game."

New Dubai club to promote cultural diplomacy - Jamil Khan, gulftoday.ae: "The newly established Diplomacy Club will be a bridge in promoting cultural, sports, humanitarian and business diplomacy among the diplomatic community in Dubai. This was stated by Mobisher Rabbani, CEO and founder of the Diplomacy Club-UAE on the launch of the initiative on Sunday. Representatives from various consulates were present at the opening ceremony, including the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Japan, Peru, Tunisia, Angola, Algeria and Kyrgyzstan. ... Jibran Khan, a co-founder, welcomed the distinguished guests and shared the successes of previously organised events like the Ambassadors Dialogue series, South Asian Cultural Night, 1st Ambassadors Awards and Arts and Cultural Diplomacy evening."

Artículo sobre el Perú como destino 'Gastrodiplomático': Food + Diplomacy = Gastrodiplomacy - Diplomacia pública peruana: una puerta abierta al mundo: "Food is the butter to diplomacy’s bread. It is also an incredibly powerful, nonverbal means of communication. Long ago, culinary needs preceded diplomatic needs, opening up ancient trade routes and pathways that eventually shaped the global political and economic landscape of today. Later, in the time of the Silk Road, envoys relied on food and spices for currency, a means for trading, and gifts for strengthening relations with distant powers. When a nation-state decides to combine food with its public diplomacy strategy, the outcome is gastrodiplomacy. The concept is ancient, but the terminology is relatively new. As Paul Rockower aptly explains, gastrodiplomacy 'is the act of winning harts and minds through stomachs.' Culinary diplomacy, on the other hand, as Sam Chapple-Sokol notes, is 'the use of food and cuisine as an instrument to create a cross-cultural understanding in the hopes of improving interactions and cooperation' at a higher, government-to-government level (as opposed to government-to-the-public level). On Tuesday, April 9, 2013, the Public and Cultural Diplomacy Forum at American University ... proudly host[ed] 'Gastrodiplomacy: A Panel Discussion and Tasting,' featuring experts Paull Rockower and Sam Chapple-Sokol, esteemed speakers from the

Embassy of Peru, Embassy of the Republic of South Korea, and the Embassy of Spain, as well was guests from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States. The panel will be moderated by our very own Ambassador Anthony Quainton, and a tasting featuring wines from Spain and other delectable bites will follow. ... [G]astrodiplomacy is a public diplomacy thing." Image from entry

Sports diplomacy - tek0070, Public Diplomacy and Global Communication B: A group blog by students at London Metropolitan University: "Sport may not always be the most obvious term when we think of diplomacy. But when there are well-known sporting events around like the Olympics, the World Cup or the Super Bowl, which are all followed by millions across the globe, it is easier to understand how sport and diplomacy are related. It is argued whether those two terms should be mixed and whether they can serve a positive purpose."

Georgia State University and the Carter Center welcome South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool for a conversation about his role in the peaceful disarmament of a Muslim vigilante militia, 17 April, 2013 - saembassy.org: Disarming a Vigilante Militia is part of a broader research initiative, Muslim Approaches to Religious Extremism, which seeks to examine the various strategies employed by Muslim communities and civic actors to counter the threat of religious radicalism in their societies.

In the global political moment when military solutions are increasingly sought to manage complex sociocultural phenomena, public diplomacy and civic based approaches to conflict resolution deserve increased attention. The project connects to GSU’s Transcultural Conflict and Violence. Image from entry

The job of post office and travel agent - Sue Grant-Marshall, bdlive.co.za: "Mention Argentina and up pops Evita, Diego Maradona, the best beef in the world and Pope Francis. Into that heady mixture we can now stir Tony Leon’s hilarious, pertinent and thoughtful insights into the life of an ambassador in a country so volatile that South Africa pales by comparison. ... Leon doesn’t pull his punches about an embassy today being 'a sort of glorified combination of post office and travel agent'. Nor does he spare his words in describing how his minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, spent R235,000 for a single flight from Norway to Bulgaria, 'when she refused to have her handbag searched at Oslo airport and chartered a private jet'.

He estimates the cost 'of this one junket was equivalent to my embassy’s entire annual budget for public diplomacy projects to promote SA'." Image from article, with caption: Don't Cry for Me: Former opposition leader Tony Leon in Argentina, where he spent three years

West Model United Nations Speaker: Hillary Evans - svcgs.wordpress.com: "Santa Barbara City College recently hosted the 21st annual Western Collegiate Model United Nations where SVCGS‘s own Hillary Evans was the Distinguished Speaker. Evans earned her B.A. in international relations with a concentration in Europe and Eurasia from Syracuse University.

In fall 2009 she was accepted into the Library of Congress’ Open World Leadership Program in Washington DC, where she interned at a public diplomacy organization specializing in Eurasia. She is now the contract manager for the Pakistan Distance Education Enhancement Program here at SVCGS." Image from entry

An Interview with Maliha Masood - - travelwriting2.com: “Maliha Masood is a Pakistani born writer, teacher and educator on global affairs based in Seattle, WA. ... She is the founder and director of the Diwaan Project, a non profit organization geared towards public diplomacy through the arts. Her work has been featured on NPR and PBS.

Connect with her on her website or Facebook page.” Masood image from entry

Rice student named Truman Scholar - "Rice University junior Andrew Amis is one of 62 students selected from 629 nominees from 54 U.S. colleges and universities as a 2013 Truman Scholar. ... He has authored articles for Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy urging for serious commitment to technology in U.S. foreign policy in Africa and more broadly on the importance of knowledge-based economies in the developing world. He has met with Arab students as a delegate to Qatar in the Public Diplomacy and Global Policymaking in the 21st Century program. ... The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to the 33rd president and is supported by a special trust fund in the U.S. Treasury. In addition to funding for graduate school, recipients receive priority admission at some premier graduate schools, career counseling, leadership training and special internship opportunities with the federal government."

Old Challenges, New Locations - Tabbies In Tow: A couple and their three tabbies give up the comforts of everyday life to move into the unknown world of life in the Foreign Service: "The Department of State has a very clever hiring process, and I've talked about this before, but I want to mention it again. To become a Foreign Service Officer, one does not have to have a particular college degree, work background, language skills or even overseas experience. BUT, one most somehow, from whatever source, possess certain personality traits and skills that can then be applied to an enormous variety of situations. That is to say, they want raw material, not necessarily pre-made and packaged employees. (This, naturally, is my take on the whole hiring process and not the official word, but I don't think I'd ruffle too many feathers by stating that.) In my A-100 class I was surrounded by classmates with graduate degrees in public policy, international relations or public diplomacy. You couldn't swing a cat (NOT THAT WE EVER WOULD!) without hitting a former lawyer or Harvard Kennedy School of Government grad. But this kind of education is not required, and that's what I love; that's what I've been figuring out little by little."

Arthur A. Bardos, Foreign Service officer - Matt Schudel, washingtonpost.com: Arthur A. Bardos, 91, a retired official with the U.S. Information Agency who participated in a World War II psychological warfare broadcasting effort, died March 7 at his home in Chevy Chase. ... Arthur Alexander Bardos was born in Budapest and came to the United States when he was 17. After graduating from the University of Southern California in 1943 with a bachelor’s degree in cinematography, he served in the U.S. Army in Europe. He was part of a group that operated mobile broadcasting teams that produced German-language programming as part of a psychological warfare effort aimed at German youth. Mr. Bardos, who was fluent in German, French and Hungarian, received a master’s degree in comparative literature from Southern Cal in 1948. He was enrolled in a PhD program and teaching German at Harvard University when he entered the Foreign Service in 1951. Harvard awarded him a master’s degree in comparative literature in 1968. While serving at U.S. embassies in Austria, Vietnam, Guinea, Morocco, France, Belgium, Germany and Turkey, Mr. Bardos worked largely on cultural, educational and broadcasting programs. He taught at George Washington University from 1959 to 1961 and at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts from 1981 to 1983. He retired from the Foreign Service in 1986. Mr. Bardos was a member of Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired and served on the board of the Bethesda United Church of Christ, where he volunteered with many programs. He was a past president of a neighborhood association in Bethesda." Via LJB. [JB note: Mr. Bardos's memorable article, “'Public Diplomacy': An Old Art, A New Profession,” 424-437, The Virginia Quarterly Review (Summer 2001) is on the reading list of my course, "Propaganda and U.S. Foreign Policy: A Historical Overview."

Generalist Versus Specialist - foreignservicetest.com: Generalists [:] "Preparing for and passing the Foreign Service Officer Test is the focus of this website. Generalists, though they must select a career track, are indeed the Swiss Army knives of the Foreign Service world.

You will be expected to be able to do a little bit of everything and can be assigned to any Generalist position, whether Political, Management, Public Diplomacy, Economic, or Consular. To become a Generalist you must pass the written test, personal narratives, and oral assessment." Image from


U.S. Practiced Torture After 9/11, Nonpartisan Review Concludes - Scott Shane, New York Times: A nonpartisan, independent review of interrogation and detention programs in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks concludes that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture” and that the nation’s highest officials bore ultimate responsibility for it. The sweeping, 577-page report says that while brutality has occurred in every American war, there never before had been “the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.”

The study, by an 11-member panel convened by the Constitution Project, a legal research and advocacy group, is to be released on Tuesday morning. The report’s main significance may be its attempt to assess what the United States government did in the years after 2001 and how it should be judged. The C.I.A. not only waterboarded prisoners, but slammed them into walls, chained them in uncomfortable positions for hours, stripped them of clothing and kept them awake for days on end. Image from

Afghan Interpreters for the U.S. Are Left Stranded and at Risk - Azam Ahmed, New York Times: As the American pullout hits full pace and bases across the country are shut down, hundreds of Afghans have suddenly found themselves without jobs, leaving them without military protection despite the continued risk of attack by the Taliban. The danger is especially real for the estimated 8,000 interpreters who have worked for the Americans. Though no one tracks the targeted violence figures, anecdotal evidence is grim — at least a few people are said to be killed each month. The urgency among Afghans to receive visas mirrors the situation in Iraq on the eve of the American military pullout there. Only in Iraq, the system, while still problematic, has been better equipped to deal with the visa situation brought on by the withdrawal, thanks to the intervention of lawmakers, including Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts in 2008.

Among the disparities between the programs are the number of visas available — 7,500 in Afghanistan versus 25,000 in Iraq; the family members eligible to join the applicant — strictly wife and dependent children in Afghanistan versus parents, siblings and all children in Iraq. Other differences include the additional avenues for recourse — almost none for Afghans, versus the ability to apply directly to the United States for refugee status as an Iraqi. So far, about 22 percent of the available visas for Iraqis have been granted, according to a letter to the State Department and White House from concerned members of Congress. The figure is closer to 12 percent for Afghans, the letter states. Image from article, with caption: Sulaiman, a combat interpreter, in Kabul, Afghanistan. An American visa has remained beyond his grasp, despite years of effort.

Kerry's Soft Touch on North Korea: The U.S. Secretary of State wants to negotiate over a nuclear arsenal Pyongyang has vowed never to give up - Bruce Klingner, Wall Street Journal: Mr. Kerry's diplomatic approach to the Korean peninsula is based on two faulty premises. First, that North Korea is willing to negotiate away its nuclear weapons. Secondly, that China will alter its own longstanding resistance to pressuring Pyongyang.

How the East Was Won: Because Thatcher and Reagan dissented from the orthodoxies of their time, the world's people are freer - Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal: President Obama has said that his foreign policy should be seen as a turning away from George W. Bush's foreign policy. That is incomplete. It is about reversing Reagan and Thatcher, once and for all. A case study: North Korea has moved into launch position a ballistic missile with a range of 1,900 to 2,500 miles. With the technology available today, Reagan or Thatcher would surely shoot down that missile on launch, to deter Kim Jong Eun. Barack Obama will not, leaving the reasons why to his spokespersons.

The Dangerous Price of Ignoring Syria - Vali Nasr, New York Times: Since the beginning of Obama’s first term, the administration’s stance as events unfolded in the Middle East has been wholly reactive.

The Syrian crisis has become a Gordian knot that cannot be easily disentangled. As daunting as the crisis looks, there is a cost to inaction — in human suffering, regional instability and damage to America’s global standing. And as the Syrian crisis escalates, America and the world will only rediscover their stakes in the Middle East. If Obama truly wants to pivot away from the Middle East then he has to help end the bloodletting in Syria. Uncaptioned image from article

Syria’s Forgotten Front - David Pollock, New York Times: As the civil war in Syria rages on, the risk that Israel will be drawn into the fray is rising. The risk that Israeli retaliation for cross-border fire could spiral into a major skirmish, or even a larger Israeli intervention to set up a buffer zone in Syria, is real. To prevent it, the United States should broker a tacit agreement between Israel and moderate elements of the Syrian opposition.

Putin's Got a List: Vladimir's idea of moral equivalence - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: They say history repeats itself as farce, but it usually takes longer than this. A day after the U.S. government published its list of Russians banned from travel to the U.S. under the Magnitsky Act, Russia responded Saturday with two lists of its own. Our recommendation would be that as long as these U.S. legal officers and former political officials on these lists are banned in Russia, no American judges, prosecutors or Members of Congress should accept invitations to visit Russia.

Your State Department Spends $704k on Gardening in Belgium - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: It is good to see that State is saving its money for the important things, like dropping $704,198.30 on gardening services at the Ambassdor’s mansion at the U.S. Embassy to NATO in Belgium. The award provides for grass cutting, edging, trimming, weeding, and other gardening and landscaping services. It will also mandate the planting of 960 violas, tulips, and begonias. The frighteningly-specific contract says that “any pruning of trees exceeding 2.5 m in height is excluded from the contract. The Contractor shall maintain the height of grass between 4 and 6 centimeters.” As a matter of simple comparison, the money your State Department spends in one year on gardening for one embassy in Belgium would fund fourteen public school teachers under the Teach for America program.

Retro Propaganda Posters From Russia’s Space Program - sobadsogood.com: Included in this entry are some retro posters from the Soviet military, designed to drum up public support for the space program, blatant propaganda has rarely looked so stylish – block fonts, powerful imagery and bold colours designed to make the impossible seem possible. Among them:

Glory to the KPSS!


Hundreds of Thousands of Rat-Sized, House-Eating Snails Invade Florida - Taylor Berman, gawker.com:

Via JMK on Facebook; Image from article

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