Tuesday, May 7, 2013

May 7 Public Diplomacy Review

"[A]s a student of public diplomacy, I often wonder if PD is worth it at all."

--Indian PD blogger Madhurjya Kotoky; image from


"I’m Lisa Liberatore. This blog [Fashion Diplomacy] began in connection with the completion of my masters degree in Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California in Spring 2013.

It is an extension of my research on the global fashion industry, politics, international relations, and women’s empowerment. For more on why this blog focuses on women, read the introductory post: 'Why Women and Not Men?'" Liberatore image from her blog


(a) Hula Class at the Casa Thomas Jefferson - Moanalani Beamer, with Keola Beamer and Jeff Peterson led a hula class for dance students at the Casa Thomas Jefferson in Brazil (an "American Music Abroad," program, which is sponsored by State Dept and administered by American Voices). Via PR on Facebook

(b) Americana: The Hero Who Rescued Three Kidnapped Women in Cleveland Is Hilarious - gawker.com: "Charles Ramsey, who helped rescue three missing Cleveland women from the house where they'd been held captive for a decade, is more than just a good Samaritan and hero: He's also an amazing interview. (And even better on the phone with 911.)"


ExchangesConnect - U.S. Department of State: "Did you know international exchange contributed an estimated $22.7 billion to the U.S. economy in fiscal year 2011-2012?

Or that California is ranked #1 in the U.S. for the number of international students in its colleges and universities? Click on your state on the interactive map ... to explore expertly collected data on the contributions international exchange has made to American communities and the economy."


Ain’t No Sonenshine When She’s Gone… - Tim Lowden, Take Five, The IPDGC Blog on Public Diplomacy: "Rumors began to fly online on April 23rd, and today, April 24, The Washington Post politics blog said that Tara Sonenshine, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the State Department, will be leaving her post in July. It has not been made public what her next position will be, although the Post noted she’s 'likely headed to an academic or media gig'. ... In the last ten years, the United States has had only two presidents, but has had six Under Secretaries at the helm of what is increasingly regarded as a very important piece of U.S. foreign policy (public diplomacy). The shelf life of these people (not including Stephens [Kathleen Stephens (Acting): February 2012 – April 2012 (2 months)]) averages to less than a year and a half.

In addition, approximately 29 months of the last decade, the seat has been empty, which is maybe the saddest fact of the entire situation. And likely, it will see many more months of vacancy after July, due to the incredible hassle of confirmation in today’s Congress. So, my question is, 'What exactly is driving these people away?. I understand that it has historically been an appointed position (which many say is a flaw in itself), but what is it about U.S. public diplomacy that makes it so we can’t even keep someone for a single Presidential term? Is the job too difficult because one simply can’t easily defend U.S. foreign policy over the last decade? Are the appointees, many from the more efficient private sector (including Sonenshine) too bogged down by bureaucracy? Is promoting the image of the U.S. to foreign countries a lost cause? I don’t know the answers to those questions, nor will I opine thoughts about them. But the current level of rotation of the top public diplomacy position in the U.S. surely is not helping our cause." Sonenshine image from entry

Public Schedule, Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - U.S. Department of State: UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 10:15 a.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine meets with the High Commissioner of the Government for Brand Spain, Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

U.S. Ambassador: “Public diplomacy should be used in support of the activity of the OSCE Minsk Group”: Richard Morningstar offers to involve Azerbaijani and Armenian women activists in the resolution of the conflict - Mubariz Aslanov - APA: "'We clearly understand that 'status quo' in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not acceptable. We understand that continuation of the conflict is difficult for the Azerbaijani people,' said U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Morningstar addressing the South Caucasus Forum in Baku, APA reports. He recalled the ceasefire agreement signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 1994 and said that the agreement prevented the war: 'However, prevention of the war is not sufficient to resolve the conflict. The Minsk Group understands it very well. Therefore, we consider that the Minsk Group should be more determined to achieve something in the establishment of peace and formation of framework that will bring the parties to the compromise.' The ambassador also touched on the role of the two countries’ civil societies in the resolution of the conflict: 'The participation of the civil societies in this process is important. OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs can not do this, the parties must do it themselves.

The second type of diplomacy – the public diplomacy should be used in support of the activity of OSCE Minsk Group.' The ambassador proposed to involve women activists from both Azerbaijan and Armenia in the settlement of the conflict: 'Women, as mothers, suffer more from the war and they do admit the current situation.' The diplomat said that in any case, the US will try to solve the problem till the end: 'The US position is that the conflict is a painful problem of Azerbaijan and must be resolved, because the question is the fact of occupation.'” Image from

Della Mae - National Security Imperative - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "While the President-for-Life of Dellamanistan is in exile in South America, the Dellas (pronounced 'jellas' down in Brazil) invade the City Upon the Hill. Della Mae will be hosted by the thinktank American Security Project on May 13 from 12:30pm-1:30pm to share on their cultural diplomacy adventures through Central Asia. Rahmiet to ASP Sr. Policy Analyst Matt Wallin for his help on this cultural diplomacy shindig."

With Jack Ma Out, Who Is The Next Global Chinese CEO? - William Brent, Forbes: "The Chinese government is heavily encouraging Chinese companies to invest overseas as part of their current five-year plan (which ends in 2015). International engagement is also part of the Beijing government’s 'soft power' effort to win influence abroad by persuasion and image rather than by threat or military force. Whether they like or not, businesses are on the front lines of that push. China’s intention is clear for its homegrown businesses to be global citizens.

But corporate execution is still lacking. Zhao Qizheng, a senior adviser to the Beijing government, had this to say about Chinese multinationals: 'They lack in-depth and comprehensive knowledge about overseas markets, practices and rules, and they are not adept at conducting public diplomacy with the local communities.'” Image from

Silence is not always golden: The communication of Taiwan's democracy -  Public Diplomacy and International Communications: Thoughts and comments about public diplomacy, soft power and international communications by Gary Rawnsley - "[T]he international media are not necessarily ignoring Taiwan; Taiwan is not getting the message out and its voice heard because of the inadequacies of the public diplomacy structure."

Rhetoric of Power - Madhurjya Kotoky, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Why do states undertake public diplomacy? To promote national image, build influence, and participate in the competing marketplace of ideas. Now if we consider the situations above, PD for India is indeed a mammoth task."

'Israel Under Fire slogan damaged Israeli tourism marketing efforts' - Amir Mizroch, israelhayom.com: "The slogan 'Israel Under Fire,' used by various Israeli government bodies during Operation Pillar of Defense last November, was disastrous for Israeli tourism, the head of the Tourism Ministry's marketing department said Monday. Speaking at a conference at Haifa University on public diplomacy during the eight-day operation, Oren Drori, deputy director-general of the Tourism Ministry and the head of its marketing efforts, said the slogan caused 'serious damage to the Israeli tourism market.'

Incoming tourism fell 19 percent in November and December 2012, likely due to the military offensive. In December, only 239,000 tourists visited Israel, a relatively low number compared to previous Decembers." Image from article, with caption: The rocket or the slogan? A Hamas rocket in southern Israel during Pillar of Defense


The struggle for Syria: Any military intervention by the U.S. would only exacerbate the conflict - Majid Rafizadeh, latimes.com: The sources of strife in Syrian society emerge from not just religious differences but also ethnic ones, and there's no way of imposing an outside cure for those divisions.

Obama's loss for words on Syria - Richard Cohen, Washington Post: In Syria as elsewhere, the Obama administration has no policy. It wants only to avoid trouble abroad to produce serenity at home — a nifty aspiration but not really a policy. In Iraq, for example, it capitalized on the long war there by just bugging out. Afghanistan, too, is a muddle. Image from

The Non-Intervention War: The U.S. failure to lead on Syria has resulted in a wider regional conflict - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: If nothing else, events in Syria are proving once again that in the absence of U.S. leadership, bad actors fill the vacuum. Sooner or later—usually sooner—the troubles they create implicate U.S. interests. By striving so hard to avoid U.S. intervention, the Obama Administration has made a wider war far more likely.

What to Do About Syria: Act now against Assad or risk chemical weapons falling into terrorist hands - Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal [subscription]

Questioning Syrian Intervention - Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Doesn’t the “Pottery Barn rule” — you break it, you own it — still apply? We still “own” Afghanistan, where the CIA regularly delivers bundles of cash to a corrupt government and the biggest danger to U.S. forces is from our ostensible allies. In a sense, we still “own” Iraq, where sectarian violence is again threatening to spin out of control. If we intervene in Syria, won’t we “own” that country as well?

The real reason not to intervene in Syria: Not only can outside interference in humanitarian emergencies not help -- it can actually make things worse - Jordan Michael Smith, Salon: The humanitarian impulse is a noble one, spurred by good intentions. But good intentions, even if they don’t pave the road to hell, can sometimes take us a good way there. Those calling for intervention in Syria should seriously consider the possibility that outside interference may be counterproductive.

Obama’s Chemical Weapons ‘Red Line’ Is Even More Propaganda Than You Think - John Glaser, antiwar.com: "When the news about chemical weapons use in Syria hit the headlines again last week, I wrote that the whole debate on the issue was bogus.

I argued that the alleged use of chemical weapons didn’t change the fact that the administration sees war in Syria as too costly and that, in any case, chemical weapons aren’t any different from the conventional military means that have already killed tens of thousands." Image from

The Vietnam syndrome: Regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, are we telling ourselves — and believing — the same false story we told in 1975? - Frank Snepp, latimes.com: One major ingredient of both the Afghanistan and Iraqi experiments was the use of American dollars to buy off insurgents, wean them from their Al Qaeda or Taliban suitors and win the indulgence, however grudging, of the leadership in Kabul or Baghdad. Such payments may help ensure a lull in the violence to allow U.S. forces to withdraw. But the enduring fallacy of such tactics was made clear in Vietnam.

A Noble Responsibility: At a time when jihadists have proven capable of conquering Mali, a country roughly the size of Texas, the U.S. can't afford to turn inward [review of Foreign Policy Begins at Home By Richard N. Haass] - Sohrab Ahmari, Wall Street Journal: Mr. Haass's doctrine is premised on the notion that the U.S. is currently experiencing a "strategic respite." The global order today, he thinks, is "relatively forgiving; that is, presenting no existential threat," and therefore the U.S. can afford to turn inward. At a time when North Korea's psychopathic rulers issue daily threats of nuclear war against the U.S.—and jihadists have proven capable of conquering Mali, a country roughly the size of Texas, within a matter of days—such confidence may be seriously misplaced. Yet even granting that the U.S. is benefiting from a "respite," a problem remains that the author never pauses to consider: Isn't it possible that the relatively peaceful state of many regions of the world is a product of precisely the muscular policies and hegemonic posture Mr. Haass would do away with?

Here We Go Again With The Anna Wintour Ambassadorship Rumors - Princess Sparkle Pony's Photoblog: Of course Anna Wintour isn't going to be named the next ambassador to Paris, to London, to anywhere. Come on, now!

‘Iron Man 3’ is latest Hollywood movie to court Chinese censors - William Wan, Washington Post: The Chinese government’s 37-member censorship board each year approves just 34 foreign films for Chinese screens and reviews all their content. With China becoming the world’s second-largest box office market last year, failing to make that list can mean the loss of tens of millions of dollars.

U.S. film executives have described a process that involves heavy negotiation and wooing as they try to win approval. To please the authorities, studios have been willing to add Chinese actors, locations and elements to their cast, adjust release dates and tweak plot points to flatter or at least avoid offending Chinese officials. Image from article, with caption: Performers pose during a promotional event of the movie "Iron Man 3" at the Imperial Ancestral Temple in Beijing. The movie includes top Chinese actress Fan Bingbing and some footage shot inside China - additions aimed at tapping into the country's lucrative and booming cinema market.

Publicity or propaganda, it's all just a matter of spin - Philip J Cunningham, bangkokpost.com: When Beijing changed the name of the Department of Propaganda to the Publicity Department, journalists snickered at the transparency of the ploy, since the spin and the information control system remained the same. But there's another side of the coin - the paid "publicity" and "public relations" produced by multinational corporations, government speechmakers and even US academics can rightly be considered propaganda too. Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently showed his corporation's penchant for propaganda, of which "Don't Be Evil" is empty slogan number one, in an article which slyly puts his company on the good side of the struggle against data mining and privacy invasion - even though Google is a master exploiter of private information for commercial gain as well as a formidable data miner. "We fight hard not just for our own privacy and security," Mr Schmidt said, with a touch of noblesse oblige, "but also for those who are not equipped to do so for themselves." Harvard University professor Joseph Nye likes to brand himself a strategic thinker, but he's also a propagandist, hammering out one anodyne platitude after another, such as "all countries can gain from finding each other attractive", and "the best propaganda is not propaganda." This while hammering home his, and by extension, America's "ownership" of the word "soft power", even though it's not an original concept and in the US context is part and parcel of military strategy. "When Foreign Policy first published my essay Soft Power in 1990," Mr Nye opines, "who would have expected that someday the term would be used by the likes of Hu Jintao or Vladimir Putin?" Clunk. Yeah, who would have thought? He even quotes a mention he gets in the Economist. Wow.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra recently gave a speech on democracy in Mongolia that reflects some of the same spin and self-serving agenda as the examples above. Overall, Ms Yingluck's speech is a wobbly piece of propaganda, as such things go, inadvertently revealing when it gets personal but otherwise opaque and full of boilerplate platitudes. It makes mention of important issues. But her breezy, superficial treatment of these dead serious topics is more fitting for a partisan rally than a serious forum on democracy. Image from article, with caption: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks at the Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, on Monday. Ms Yingluck condemned the 2006 coup, defended her brother Thaksin Shinawatra as a champion of democracy and blasted independent agencies for abusing their power.

Hacking, propaganda the main weapons for Syrian Electronic Army: The Syrian Electronic Army has launched a counter-offensive against the online activities of opposition protesters, and its main weapon is hacking - South China Morning Post: The self-styled Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) has launched hacking attacks in recent weeks on the BBC, the Associated Press and most recently The Guardian. Last week the pro-government group succeeded in hijacking AP's main Twitter account, with 1.9 million followers. It falsely claimed that US President Barack Obama had been injured in an explosion. AP corrected the message, but not before US$130 billion had been briefly wiped off the value of stocks. Online pro-revolution activists have been one of the defining features of the Arab spring.

In Syria, opposition activists have played a crucial role in the struggle against President Bashar al-Assad. Over the past two years they have uploaded numerous videos of anti-Assad demonstrations to YouTube, posted gruesome footage of victims killed by government forces, and helped shape political perceptions in the West, as European Union leaders inch towards arming Syria's moderate opposition. But unlike Tunisia, Egypt and Libya - whose former regimes were caught badly off guard - Assad's government is fighting back. It has created an increasingly rambunctious group of counter-revolutionary hackers. These hackers have a twin function: to punish Western news organisations seen as critical of Syria's regime, and to spread Damascus' alternative narrative. Image from article, with caption: Syrian Electronic Army hackers are organised into battalions.

BBC pushes Assad propaganda in Israel raid report: The BBC has reported the Assad regime's claims as news, in a clear-cut example of intensive anti-Israel bias - Media Hawk : In the curse of this weekend, media sites from around the globe were littered with stories about Israel's raid on a Syrian position. Few outlets however, reported the Assad-regime line on the raid, claiming that Israel was "backing terrorists". Most could probably see through the spin, and realise the complete bullsh*t emanating from Damascus. Britain's BBC however, funded by any law abiding citizen with a TV, ran the following stories:

'Propaganda' claim over pulled BBC Jerusalem documentary - Jennifer Lipman,thejc.com: The Israeli-born director of a documentary that makes controversial claims about Jewish history has criticised the BBC's decision not to air it as planned. The film, Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story, was due to be shown on BBC Four last Thursday as part of the channel's archaeology series. Made by Ilan Ziv, it was to be an abridged version of a documentary that was screened at a Jewish Film Festival in Canada last year. The documentary pushes a theory that the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD did not send the Jews into the diaspora.

"The exile of the Jewish people has played a central role in Christian and Jewish theology," said the BBC's synopsis. "But what if the exile never actually happened?" Despite appearing in television listings, the documentary was replaced with another by the BBC, which stated that "it did not fit editorially" with the channel's season exploring the history of archaeology. However a viewer who contacted the BBC to ask why the programme had been cancelled said he was told that "it might have been controversial." Image from article, with caption: The Cardo in Old Jerusalem

What Do Hitler, Dr. Seuss, Pope Gregory XV and Walt Disney Have in Common? - wordfocus.com: Propaganda: - Definition: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person. Where it Began: ● The word propaganda originally referred to the biological reproduction of plants and animals ● Modern propaganda began in the 17th century with a special division of the Catholic Church. ● WWI: propaganda became a powerful weapon for shaping public opinion ○ All major belligerent governments employed writers, artists and filmmakers ■their messages aimed at ● mobilizing populations for war ● weakening enemy morale ● winning audience in neutral countries ● Post WWI propaganda began to be identified with lies and manipulation ● Some American leaders feared unregulated propaganda would destroy democracy WWII Affected by Propaganda Adolf Hitler: one of the most well-known propaganda experts in war history Theodor Seuss Geisel AKA Dr. Suess: Prolific creator of children’s books and wartime propaganda Walt Disney: created animated propaganda during WWII Vietnam War ● Propaganda was used to distract and deplete enemy efforts in the Vietnam war Propaganda Today ●Propaganda is now more prevalent than ever due to the number of media sources ●More than 600 journalists have been in military units to report on the Iraq War.


David Guttenfelder. Two North Korean officials look up at a crowd of military members seated in a stadium in Pyongyang during a mass meeting called by the Central Committee of North Korea's ruling party. April 14, 2012. Courtesy of the artist. Via DP on Facebook


In 2013, Magicicada Brood II will emerge along the US Eastern Seaboard - www.magicicada.org: Modern Americans maintain numerous websites to assist in planning weddings, graduations, and other outdoor activities around Magicicada emergences.

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