Monday, May 27, 2013

May 26-27 Public Diplomacy Review

"The State Department will always be in the propaganda business and will never be in the art business. 'Art' judged from the standpoint of the U.S. Government and its Congressional appropriations, applied to overseas activities, must always be judged from its impact as propaganda – and never from its impact as art."

--William Benton, an assistant secretary of state during the Truman administration, in a communication to art historian Lloyd Goodrich, November 10, 1959; cited in Marilyn S. Kushner, “Exhibiting Art at the American Nation Exhibition in Moscow, 1959,” Journal of Cold War Studies 4 (Winter 2002): 6; Benton image from


Alfa Fellowship Alumni Association cordially invites you to panel discussion: Role of 'Soft Power' in the U.S. - Russian Bilateral Relations Presented by: Dr. John Brown Adjunct Professor of Liberal Studies at Georgetown University Former diplomat; Consultant for the ... “Open World” [program]; Jill Dougherty, Foreign affairs correspondent for CNN; Yelena Osipova Ph.D., Candidate in International Relations at the School of International Service, American University, Blogger on Public Diplomacy and International Communications; Moderated by: Jason Jarrell, Head of International Programs at Public Affairs Council, President of the Alfa Fellowship Alumni Association.

Tuesday, May 28 6:00 - 8:00 pm Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Choate Room 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC; Sponsored by the Alfa Fellowship Alumni Association; image (not produced by the panel discussion organizers) from


Foreign Projects Give Afghans Fashion, Skate Park and Now 10,000 Balloons - Rod Nordland, New York Times: "Braving jeers and provoking smiles, volunteers spread through Kabul on Saturday, giving away 10,000 pink balloons as part of a performance art project called 'We Believe in Balloons.' ... [W]when it comes to the ephemeral, the meaningless and the just plain silly, 'We Believe in Balloons' has plenty of competition. With more than a hundred billion dollars in Western aid and private philanthropy sloshing around Afghanistan in the past dozen years, and thousands of groups trying to find ways to spend it, examples abound of efforts from the ridiculous to the sublime. ... In 2011, Travis Beard, an Australian musician, put on what he described as the world’s first 'stealth rock concert,' aimed at teaching Afghan youth how to 'rock out.' ... Mr. Beard said he had financial support from a half-dozen embassies, including that of the United States. His grant — the American Embassy refused to disclose the amount — came from the public diplomacy budget, a discretionary fund that totaled $148 million in 2010-11 alone, according to a special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction. American officials refused to say how much it is now, though it is believed to have declined to about $80 million in the past year. ... The fund underwrites projects ranging from Fulbright fellowships to cellphone towers. 'Public diplomacy is how we engage people around the world, it’s how we explain our values,' said an embassy spokesman, David D. Snepp. 'All of these programs fit together to provide a comprehensive public diplomacy strategy that we feel has been very successful in the last 10 years or so.' ... One group, Young Women for Change, run by an Afghan woman attending college in the United States and two friends here, said it received American Embassy financing to put on a fashion show in February, which it described as a 'female empowerment project.' The audience was largely foreigners and journalists. ... Some well-intended ideas have run up against the harsh realities of Afghan life.

In 2007, a representative of the United States Agency for International Development addressed an audience at Kabul University to discuss plans for a gender empowerment project that would give free bicycles to women in Kandahar, a city in the deeply conservative Pashtun south. That project never took off, since no woman would dare go out in Kandahar except in a full-body burqa, which makes it hard enough to walk, let alone pedal. Looking for a way to spend some of the $35 million U.S.A.I.D. grant to promote the rule of law, DPK Consulting, an American contractor for the agency, arranged an event to hand out kites and comic books to children. The kites were festooned with slogans about gender equality and rule of law that most of the attendees could not read. Police officers guarding the event stole many of the kites, beating some of the children, while fathers snatched kites from their girls to give to the boys. ... For Saturday’s pink balloon event, the American Embassy turned down a request for financing. So did the Dutch Embassy, but it provided a place for fund-raising. 'Another story comes from Afghanistan than the military one,' said the embassy’s first secretary, Vasco Rodrigues. 'We thought it was an original idea.' He added that the balloons were reassuringly biodegradable." Image from article

After death, young diplomat's 'go-to bag' carries memories: Anne Smedinghoff was killed in Afghanistan, but her bag made it home to her parents [includes video] - Jennifer Delgado, "A gentle nudge from a friend taking the foreign service exam during her senior year of college encouraged Anne to think of a career as a diplomat. At the time, the international studies major was mulling her future and its long list of possibilities. Her friend opted for the Peace Corps, but Anne stuck with the foreign service test. She passed the written portion. Next came a series of essays followed by a grueling all-day interview in spring 2009. ... She had heard that public diplomacy officers at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul dealt with international and Afghan media. That, coupled with learning an entirely new culture, was like a dream. 'She seemed very comfortable sort of operating in a foreign culture, just getting around day to day and navigating the logistics,' her father said. ... In the press office [at U.S. Embassy Kabul], everything on Anne's desk sat perfectly aligned, even as paperwork and files swallowed the rest of the room. Always with her tote bag, she helped set up news conferences and met with Afghan journalists, all while taking photos on her iPhone that were sometimes used for the Embassy's Facebook page. ... Her enthusiasm brought a youthful energy to the compound. Once, she co-hosted trivia night for her older co-workers with the playful theme 'Things that happened after Anne was born.'"

For Obama, image is everything and the only thing - Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post: "With Obama it is all stagecraft and no state craft. He’ll chest-thump about the assassination of Osama bin Laden and be happy to leak details of 'kill lists' (president, with brow furrowed, sits deciding life-and-death issues), but in fact he’s mostly talk. ... [H]e [Obama]’s not interested in really being commander in chief; he just likes to play one on TV. He 'ends' wars as if it doesn’t matter whether they are won or lost, whether aims are achieved or not. ... The president’s eerie detachment from actual events and hyper-concern about image

have led to a series of foreign policy blunders on everything from Iraq (no status-of-forces agreement) to Benghazi to Syria to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ... The speak-loudly-carry-a-small-stick routine (and do it in secret) makes for bad policy. And it requires him to clamp down on the media, demonize critics, spin cover stories, stonewall investigators and control the message. ... Bush made gutsy calls and never flinched from action, although his public diplomacy and communication skills were poor and he was racked by unremitting leaks. Still, that’s a better deal than a president who never wants to do much of anything but has been, until now, quite adept at snowing the public and abusing the media." Image from

The Obama Doctrine and Public Diplomacy - Philip Seib, Huffington Post: "In his NDU speech, Obama said that the United States must help other nations 'modernize economies, upgrade education, and encourage entrepreneurship,' and must 'connect with people's hopes, and not simply their fears.' In doing so, emphasis should be placed on establishing direct links to publics, rather than to their governments. That is the essence of public diplomacy. ... Successful public diplomacy directed toward the Muslim world must be firmly grounded in the recognition that Islam is a dominant factor in the daily life of hundreds of millions of people and in the public sphere of many countries. ... President Obama's NDU speech does not mark the end of the struggle against terrorism, but rather puts new emphasis on remedying the discontent that nurtures extremism. That is a task for which public diplomacy is well suited, but only if public diplomacy is pursued in a sophisticated and thoughtful way, and if it is accorded a more significant role in U.S. foreign policy."

Novel Suggestion: A Qualified Nominee for America’s Next Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy? - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View: "[T]here are both structural and cultural reasons why the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs position has usually been filled with less than the best – and even these people haven’t stuck around long enough to make a difference if they could have. Namely, the position has little power – the Under Secretary has neither budgetary nor personnel control beyond a front office that has expanded exponentially since its inception and oversight of three functional bureaus (Education and Cultural Affairs, International Information Programs and Public Affairs) lodged under the Under Secretary. ... Yet public diplomacy’s rubber hits the road overseas –through public diplomacy professional staff working out of Embassies, Missions, Consulates, and Centers.

The Under Secretary has no say over overseas public diplomacy appointments (except for certain specialists like reference specialists), staffing or even the qualifications or experience required for assignment as a public diplomacy officer abroad. In reality, State has allowed public diplomacy to wither on the vine both as a career track and a skills set. ... The sad truth is that the State Department has never understood nor valued what public diplomacy can offer US foreign policy. ... Yes, it would indeed be welcome and also novel to see a qualified someone appointed as the next Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. He or she will more than have his or her work cut out for him or her. Nevertheless until and unless the State Department’s culture, structure and institutional priorities undergo radical surgery – and it will take the White House and Congress to rethink and redo America’s entire approach to foreign publics – expect this Under Secretary’s door to revolve endlessly." Image from

Remarks by Dr. Elizabeth H. Prodromou, Hellenic American Leadership Council, Dir. of International Affairs, Harvard University, Affiliate Scholar, Briefing on “The State of Religious Freedom and Human Rights Abuses in the Eastern Mediterranean” Before the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic-Israeli Affairs of the United States House of Representatives, Rayburn House Office Building, May 15, 2012 - "[F]reedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief is a universal human right and its vigorous protection for all citizens in the cases that I have mentioned will be a yardstick of political reform in Turkey and a requirement for the transition to a non-violent, post-Assad Syria. Given this sobering picture of what amounts to a religious freedom and human rights emergency in some parts of the Eastern Mediterranean, the question remains about how the US can help. We can discuss specific policy options in the question and answer, but above all, I would emphasize a single point: namely, that it is in the moral and strategic interest of the USA to advocate relentlessly, in private meetings, public diplomacy, and via our international aid policies, for the protection of this right for all those living in the Eastern Mediterranean."

American Library Re-opens as 'American Corner' in Hyderabad - "American Library (located at Panchsheel Hotel, Behind Ravindra Bharathi) in Hyderabad was closed, in 1960s. And in 2013 it re-opens at St Francis College for Women, Street Number 6, Uma Nagar, Begumpet Hyderabad. What's in a Name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

They called it American Corner, instead of US's Information Center (or USIS), and American Information Centre (AIC) or American Library. Is it simply old wine in a new bottle, or meant to satisfy a new dimension? Will this 'American Corner' succeed in bypassing the American Center--huge library and its resources at the former American Studies Research Centre, now functioning as: Osmania University Centre for International Programmes? Only time can give an answer." Image from blog

BBG Honors RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service - BBGWatcher,

Image from entry

“Given the multiple crises, I did my best”: The Pak-US relations were facing the worst low when Sherry Rehman took over as the ambassador — the Raymond Davis, OBL episodes, the killing of soldiers at Salala… Here she talks about her tenure in Washington and how she fought the anti-Pakistan narrative [scroll down link for item] - Wajid Ali Syed, "To my mind, diplomacy as taught in the traditional sense is unable to cope with the complex challenges facing foreign policy practitioners everywhere.

For a Pakistan advocate in the US, the need for conventional diplomacy to include public diplomacy is even more acute than anywhere else. America is a society that likes to articulate and record almost everything. Policy is made in the marketplace of often competing ideas, and failures require an everyday explanation. By not enlisting voices that amplify our message, we forego our chance as a country, to be heard in this marketplace. Some of our embassy’s successes, fragile and reversible, with Congress were only made possible, because I emphasised strongly that the embassy’s senior officer corps use their time at their level on as much active public lobbying for Pakistan as I did, as Ambassador. I encouraged the Deputy Chief of Mission, for example, to regularly lead a team to meet staffers as much as I would meet the Congressmen or Senators." Image from entry

Iran should not negotiate with US from a weak position Aref - Tehran Times: "Presidential contender Mohammad Reza Aref has said that it is not in the interests of Iran to negotiate with the United States from a position of weakness. In a TV program on Sunday night, Aref, a pro-reform candidate

who served as first vice president under Mohammad Khatami, said Iran should establish relations with other countries from a position of strength. ... He also emphasized that Iran should utilize the media and public diplomacy to improve its status in the world." Uncaptioned image from article

Eritrea News (May 27, 2013) - "Reports indicated that various Eritrean communities abroad celebrated Independence Day with patriotic zeal and voiced staunch resistance against anti-Eritrea agendas. The Eritrean community members in Oakland, US, organized colorful celebration in connection with the momentous day, including a cultural show. Speaking on the occasion, Foreign Minister Osman Saleh gave detailed briefings regarding the national foreign policies vis-à-vis the role of public diplomacy to this end, and called on the nationals to become primary beneficiaries of the new investment prospects in the Homeland."

NATO To Open Liaison Office In Uzbekistan - Joshua Kucera, "NATO is opening a liaison office in Tashkent -- but don't read too much geopolitical significance into the move. A number of Russian-media outlets have reported the move, seeing in it yet another piece of evidence that Uzbekistan is moving away from Russia (leaving the Collective Security Treaty Organization) and toward the West (cooperating with the U.S. on military transit to and from Afghanistan, getting increasing military aid from Washington). But a NATO official tells The Bug Pit that this is simply a regular rotation of its officials, in this case from Astana to Tashkent. And it will coordinate all the alliance's activities in Central Asia: ... [']The office will have the status of a diplomatic mission and be headed by a national of a NATO member state. A small number of staff will support the work of the NATO Liaison Officer. In addition to working with the governments of the respective Partner states with a view to strengthening long-term bilateral co-operation, the NATO Liaison Officer will also support the Alliance’s public diplomacy activities as well as co-ordination with other international actors in the region.[']"

What Indians Think About China - Rory Medcalf, "The bad news for India-China relations is that 83 percent of Indians see China as some kind of threat to their country’s security over the next ten years. And 60 percent see China as a major threat.

It is worth noting that these attitudes were recorded in late 2012, well before the recent flare-up of border tensions. These data do not, as one editorial implies, have a 'propaganda angle'. Quite the contrary. It is a reflection of Indian anxiety and it amounts to hard evidence that such threat perceptions are not exclusively held by India’s strategic elite, but rather by a large cross-section of society. This means that China’s public diplomacy challenge in dealing with India is of Himalayan proportions, and will not be resolved by one high-level visit, however successful." Uncaptioned image from article

Putin is unreliable; on to direct messages to Assad - Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynetnews: "The bellicose statements issued by senior defense officials regarding Moshe Ya'alonBenny Gantz and Air Force Commander Amir Eshel were an intentional public diplomacy offensive aimed to forestall a war from breaking out due due to Bashar Assad’s misreading of the situation."

The Inquisitr Interviews Adina Kutnicki -The Reality Of Life For An Israeli Patriot - "Today, The Inquisitr presents a no holds barred interview with Adina Kutnicki, a respected investigative journalist, op-ed writer, Israeli patriot and an outspoken Zionist who believes in the right of her country to exist and be recognized as the nation of the Jewish people. ...  Adina Kutnicki: First and foremost, the Post-Zionist movement in Israel is replete within every sector where civil society elitists permeate.

They burrow deeply inside the political and military hierarchies and their tentacles reach within academia, media, legal, cultural and public diplomacy arenas. Many are leftist ideologues, but some are simply well paid whores, handsomely provided for by various foreign-funded NGO’s, all in order to ply their wares. The New Israel Fund (among others) is a major umbrella front for those who seek to delegitimize Israel as the Jewish national homeland. On the other hand, it is estimated that a very small fraction (approximately 3%) of the Jewish majority public veers to the left. Nevertheless, the majority’s wishes are continually marginalized, and herein lies much of the rancor and push back from nationalist Jews, of which I am immeasurably aligned with. Kutnicki image from article

Grapevine: Majesty and modesty under the bridal canopy - Greer Fay Cashman, Jerusalem Post: "Former Chief of protocol at the Foreign Ministry Yitzhak Eldan, like many retired diplomats, continues to keep his finger in the diplomatic pie. ... Eldan took an 11-member group of 12thgrade students from the Herzog High School in Kfar Saba on a four-day visit to Prague. ... The group met with radio and print media representatives; toured the Czech parliament, sat in on a session and met with legislators; met with the director of the Public Diplomacy Department at the Foreign Affairs Ministry; and subsequently met with members of their peer group at the International School of Prague, where they made a presentation."

Pointless report on another pointless child-killing - "It is interesting that Times reporter Isabel Kershner’s husband, Hirsh Goodman, working for Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, 3 years ago called on Israel to mount a 'public diplomacy offensive to get out its side of such [child-killing] stories: 'in the context of post-Goldstone realities and the concerted campaign to besmirch Israel and de-legitimize the country, it is probably as important, if not more so, than the conventional battles Israel faces.'"

Qatar's Foreign Policy: The Limits of Pragmatism - "International Affairs [:] This 16-page US article assesses the key components of Qatari foreign policy, as well as public diplomacy, highlighting the potential implications of the lack of a coherent foreign strategy for the country, both on the domestic and external fronts."

Peng among world's powerful women - "China's first lady Peng Liyuan has made it onto Forbes' list of the world's 100 most powerful women. ... Peng is a member of the Public Diplomacy Association, an organization tasked to make China more appealing abroad."

Romania's lifting visas for Kosovo could lead to recognition, analysts say - "The recent visa liberalisation for Kosovo citizens travelling to Romania could initiate the use of public diplomacy to change Bucharest's perception of Kosovo's independence, analysts said.

'The recognition from Romania would be a very positive step. Romania, Slovakia and Greece have shown in the last year a constructive and not-blocking position after the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on Kosovo regional representation was reached,' Fatmir Curri, a European Integration Programme co-ordinator at the Kosovar Civil Society Foundation, said." Image from article, with caption: Romania now recognises Kosovo passports.

He helps bring countries closer together - Gil Dietz, Muscatine Journal: His student involvement with Muscatine’s Sister City in Japan helped point Ian T. Hillman to his career as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State. Fresh out of high school, Hillman — a 1992 Muscatine High School graduate — took part in a cultural exchange in Ichikawadaimon (now Ichikawanisato), Muscatine’s Sister City in Japan, where he taught residents about life in Muscatine and Iowa. ... 'While at the University of Iowa, I learned about the U.S. Foreign Service and immediately knew this was the career I

was looking for,' he said. ... Hillman did research on Japanese politics for a think tank in Washington, D.C., for two years before becoming a Foreign Service Officer for the Department of State in January 2001. ... The flexibility that his Foreign Service career affords him is allowing Hillman to take a short break from consular work. Today, he's focusing on public diplomacy and is sharing America's story with international audiences through work at the Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs." Uncaptioned image from article

American University - "The School of Communication (SOC) at American University is seeking candidates to fill one full-time 12-month teaching position at the rank of Instructor to begin Fall 2013 within the Public Communication division. The Public Communication faculty has a national reputation for work in the areas of political communication, public affairs, advocacy communication, social media and public diplomacy. For more information, visit:"


Finally, Obama breaks his silence on drones: It's past time for the president to enter the debate on the deadly new warfare - Peter W. Singer, Obama has to try to strike a balance between arguing that terrorism threats will remain with us for the long term, as recent events in Boston and London would illustrate, but that the structures we gradually built up in response, from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the drone campaign, cannot remain with us in their ad hoc manner for the long term. By finally speaking out on some of the key issues that have grown to define his place in foreign policy history, Obama has his chance, finally, to set the terms of the debate and steer it toward more positive ends.

Violence Against Journalists in Afghanistan Increasing - VOA: The rise of independent media in Afghanistan has been one of the country's biggest achievements - but there are troubling signs for its future. A growing number of attacks on journalists, and the international community's continued silence on the issue, are drawing concern. Via LJB

Muhammad al-Dura and Israel's obsession with the propaganda war - Rachel Shabi, The Guardian:
If Israel's government is to be believed, Palestinians have sunk so low as to be capable of faking their own deaths. Or wait, maybe the Israeli accusation of fakery is itself the indication of a horrifying new nadir.

An Israeli report has concluded that Muhammad al-Dura, the 12-year-old Palestinian whose death in 2000 in Gaza was captured by a French public TV channel, was not killed by Israelis – and may in fact not be dead at all. And so begins another ugly bout of the endless propaganda disease that is so endemic to this conflict.Image from article , with caption: Footage from the France 2 report showing Muhammad al-Dura and his father, Jamal.

Hezbollah, a product of Arab media propaganda - Abdulrahman al-Rashed, The crimes committed during battles in Syria's central town of Qusayr have increased Arab anger and hatred towards Hezbollah. The Lebanese Shiite's chief Hassan Nasrallah had to make an appearance yesterday to defend his reputation which is stained with the blood of children, women and thousands of slain people. In order to gain the sympathy of his adverse audience, he resorted to his old rhetoric style, which was once directed towards Sunni Arabs. And so, he spoke of a united front against Israel and the West.

The 17 Most Unintentionally Hilarious Propaganda Posters - Jacopo della Quercia, Among them:

#14. Save Up and Buy a Car! (USSR)

#7. Fieldwork Does Not Wait! (USSR)

Non-Family-Friendly Propaganda Posters - Among them:

Every society has its Anthony Weiner [on Weiner, see].

British WWII Spying and Propaganda in U.S. Shown in Secret Files - Robert Hutton, Britain’s World War II spying on U.S. isolationist groups and its propaganda efforts against them were revealed in secret archives published for the first time today. The declassified documents at the National Archives in London show how Winston Churchill was sent a report on a 1940 private phone call between President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and Joe Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to London, during which they discussed options “if Europe is overrun” by Nazi Germany. The following year, British agents in the U.S. compiled a four-inch-thick dossier on America First, a group urging the U.S. to stay out of what was then a European war. It included private correspondence and mailing lists. Meanwhile, British diplomats paid for propaganda on the other side of the argument and considered secretly funding sympathetic groups. The money spent in the U.S. was nothing to the sums authorized by Churchill to be spent keeping Spain out of the war.

The documents released today cover Britain’s intelligence work from 1903 to 1951. In early 1941, a memo was sent to Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, proposing the U.K. channel $10,000 to a sympathetic American businessman who wanted to lobby in favor of the Lend-Lease Bill, which Roosevelt used to send support to Britain. Eden replied, in a message coded “most immediate, most secret,” telling officials not to hand over the money. “I feel gravest apprehension at action taken which if it ever became known must surely have most serious repercussions,” Eden wrote. The question of whether the U.S. would enter the war was settled neither by America First nor by British propaganda, and instead by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.Image from article, with caption: Winston Churchill poses for a photograph at his seat in the Cabinet Room at No. 10 Downing Street in London in this 1940 file photo.

Book a new spin on propaganda - Jess Lee, If you have ever pondered how propaganda can permeate your thoughts, feelings and behaviour then Nick McFarlane may just hold the answers. The Pt Chevalier graphic designer has created a beginners' guide to propaganda told in 10 simple steps. His book, Spinfluence: The Hardcore Propaganda Manual for Controlling the Masses, contains everything you will ever need to know about spinning the truth and manipulation.


From: College grads still face a struggle to find that first good job –

No comments: