Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May 8 Public Diplomacy Review

"'Public Diplomacy' is propaganda."

--OldUncleTom, commenting on the article, "State Department public diplomacy post still unfilled," Washington Post

"'Public Diplomacy', a PR version of 'foreign policy ['] in which cautious diplomacy is being replaced with reckless belligerent rhetoric and 'strategic games'."

--Blogger Karl Naylor

"American Cold War Public Diplomacy = warring tribes"

--Scholar Robin Brown, in his blog Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence

"i have triumphed over long academic papers where i have tried to be an expert on ... public diplomacy . ... i have created drawings and portraits and prints of trees and wolves and hot air balloons."

--symphony, writing in the blog jourordinaire; above image from; below image from, with caption: Balloons And Bounty At Wolf Oak Acres October 5th-8th


Hitler in Color -- YouTube


State Department public diplomacy post still unfilled - Al Kamen, Washington Post: "There was chatter recently in diplomatic circles that Charles Rivkin, now ambassador to France, would be headed home soon to take the job of undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. Secretary of State John F. Kerry apparently alluded to a new job for Rivkin during a trade meeting March 27 with French business leaders in Paris. But a senior State Department official told us Thursday morning that Rivkin, a huge Obama contributor and bundler in 2008, and former media executive (president and CEO of the Jim Henson Company [)], was not taking that job. Filling the public diplomacy post has not been hard — keeping it filled it seems, has been much more difficult. Since the U.S. Information Agency merged into the State Department in 1999, there have been eight undersecretaries, and the average tenure is about 15 months, with former Bush counselor Karen Hughes serving the longest, a bit more than two years. The unredacted version of a new IG report on the state of the Bureau of International Information Programs the modern successor [sic] to the USIA and a part of the underscretary’s portfolio, says that 'leadership fostered an atmosphere of secrecy, suspicion and uncertainty' and where staff 'describe the . . . atmosphere as toxic and leadership’s tolerance of dissenting views as non-existent.' There’s a 'pervasive perception of cronyism,” the 50-page draft report says, “aggravating the serious morale problem.' But before you think the place needs a good old-fashioned reorganization, staffers already talk about what the report calls 'reorganization fatigue,' for the constant prior reorganizations. Maybe they could start with a simple mission statement? Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Charles Rivkin was in line to be the next undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. A senior State Department official said that is not accurate. The story has been corrected. ... [Comment by pseib:] Last I looked, Tara Sonenshine was still Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, so the job is not 'unfilled.'"

The State Department’s Revolving Door of Public Diplomacy – Helle Dale, "The State Department is about to lose yet another Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. As reported last week, Tara Sonenshine, who has been in the post for 14 months, is planning to leave the job on July 1. Sonenshine came to the job with an impressive media, foreign policy, and administrative background, and has been an enthusiastic advocate for U.S. government public diplomacy. Her departure is a loss that fits into an unfortunate pattern for U.S. public diplomacy.

The public diplomacy field includes a range of activities directed at foreign publics: educational and cultural exchanges, international visitor programs, and, increasingly, social media outreach and counterterrorism communication. In a dotted line relationship, it also includes U.S. international broadcasting. Last year, Sonenshine spoke at The Heritage Foundation about the importance of tracking metrics in State’s public diplomacy work, and her work at State has improved the systematic accumulation of programmatic performance data, a critical element in budgeting. Though of major importance for U.S. global leadership, U.S. public diplomacy has been adrift for over a decade. The turnover in the under secretary post is both a symptom and a cause. It is a symptom of the diminished power and resources invested in public diplomacy since the U.S. Information Agency was folded into State in 1999 and a cause because rapid leadership turnover undermines strategic planning and operational effectiveness. By comparison, the National Endowment for Democracy, which does related work with foreign publics, and operates on a grant from the U.S. government but is not a part of it, has been under one director, Carl Gershman, since its founding in 1984. Since 1999, when the office of under secretary was created, it has been vacant 30 percent of the time and held by seven people. According to a 2011 report by the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, the average tenure of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy since 1999 has been 500 days. That is about half the tenure (in the same time frame) of the position of Under Secretary for Political Affairs and less than a third of that of the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs. As noted by Nicholas Cull of the University of Southern California, speaking in Washington yesterday about his new book, The Decline and Fall of the United States Information Agency, the essence of public diplomacy is building international relationships over time. Within the State Department, the turnover in the public diplomacy top spot and the increasingly shorter rotations of U.S. diplomats undermine a crucial element of foreign policy." Image from

Public Schedule: Wednesday, May 8 - U.S. Department of State: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 9:00 a.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine delivers remarks at a workshop with the Smithsonian Institution on guidelines, design, branding, and programming concepts for the Department’s 850 American Spaces around the globe, at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)"

State Department hires support firm for Indonesia - "The US State Department has awarded PT Ganesha Aggies Jaya a contract for just under $3 million for communications support for the @america public outreach center in Jakarta. The firm will provide public affairs and PR support as well as diplomacy programming for the outreach center, according to a representative from the federal agency. The representative did not provide further details on the contract's length.

The outreach center is a public diplomacy venue that showcases American culture, values, and ingenuity to the Indonesian public using both personal contact and technology. The effort largely targets young residents of the region ranging from 15 to 30 years of age. The goal of the outreach and the center is to improve awareness, change attitudes, and ultimately better the image the Indonesian public has of the US and the American people, according to the RFP. It will also promote US higher education and technology. A representative from PT Ganesha Aggies Jaya did not return a request for comment."  Image from entry

U.S. Assistance in Somalia - Fact Sheet, Office of the Spokesperson, U.S. Department of State: "Security Assistance – Security assistance is focused on two key efforts: support for peacekeeping operations, including the provision of training, equipment, and transportation to the troop contributors to AMISOM, and support to security sector reform activities and related mentoring, training, equipment, and logistical support for the NSF. Programs support the international community’s ongoing Security Sector Reform effort by building the capacity of civilian authorities to oversee Somalia’s new security institutions. As part of its stabilization strategy, the United States maintains operational support and capacity development of conventional weapons destruction programs in northern Somalia. The United States utilizes law enforcement, military, development, and public diplomacy expertise and resources to support the efforts of Somalia and other regional partners to build and sustain their own counterterrorism capabilities."

Voice of America Albanian Service, one of the best international broadcasting outlets in the world, marks 70th anniversary - BBGWatcher, "The Voice of America (VOA) Albanian Service, considered one of the best international broadcasting outlets not only within the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) but worldwide, celebrated its 70th anniversary.

The service has consistently maintained a large and loyal audience due to the excellence of its journalists, lack of governmental restrictions on its broadcasts in Albania and Kosovo, and highly relevant programming. Unlike some other VOA services, the Albanian Service also has managed to protect its independence from the often fatal recommendations of strategic planners and program managers at the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) who eliminated live VOA radio and television broadcasting to strategically important countries such as Russia and tried to do the same with broadcasts to Tibet and China." Image from entry

BBG Governors offer support to journalists in nations without free media - BBGWatcher, "In recent visits to Russia and Cambodia, members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) have offered support to journalists who work under difficult conditions in countries without free media. The visits show increased involvement on the part of BBG members in presenting the agency as a defender of media freedom. ... This kind of involvement by BBG members was badly needed after years of mismanagement of the agency by the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) executive staff and the recent public diplomacy crisis in Russia

created by the former management of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)." Image from article, with caption: Governors Meehan and McCue and Acting RFE/RL President Kevin Klose join VOA's Russia Bureau Chief Jim Brooke in a meeting with the U.S.Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul (center); see also.

Union alleges misuse of OIG by International Broadcasting Bureau executives, calls for investigation - BBGWatcher,

Israel Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs has officially closed its gates - Noga Gur-Arieh, "This week, the Israel Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs officially closed. With almost no media recognition, it has become a division in the Prime Minister's office. From a ministry to a division, just like that. I find this move unacceptable. Did someone think we no longer need the ministry’s services? Did someone think our image in the eyes of the world suddenly became perfect, and that our actions will always look good in the future? Did someone think we no longer need a Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs? If so, that someone must be blindfolded, or perhaps is living someplace else and mistaking it for Israel. Israel’s Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs is one of the most important ministries we have. Its employees work day and night to show the world the full and accurate picture of Israel’s reality.

They monitor every false or imbalanced report, and help spreading the truth. They deal with issues using the most important tool every country possesses—diplomacy. It’s true that many Israelis have independently become involved in Israel's foreign affairs, mostly via Facebook. Many Israelis have taken up the roles of mini-ambassadors, and they are doing a good, if not great, job. But closing the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs is a mistake. No Facebook activity or international blog can replace the formal and integral role of the ministry. Downsizing the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs into a small division is disrespectful to us, the citizens of Israel. We do our best to spread the word about Israel's true self, correcting mistakes and refuting lies, day and night, with only Israel's best on our minds. We want to help our government in its important diplomatic mission, but the decision to close the ministry has made our job of spreading the truth much harder. The closing of the ministry sends a message that 'we don't care what other people think about Israel.' That's a dangerous message that most of us, Israelis, don't agree with and don't stand behind. The mistake of closing Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora has already been made. Now, we will have to work even harder to prove we believe in diplomacy and international advocacy on behalf of Israel. In my opinion, the decision to close is not supported by most of us, who believe in its necessity. Now, I only hope that the someone who made this mistake will wake up soon, and change his mind." Image from article

EU head of delegation to Msia praise Malaysians for democratic awareness - "The European Union's (EU) Head of Delegation to Malaysia, Ambassador Luc Vandebon praised Malaysians for the record voter turnout during the 13th General Election (GE13) on Sunday. ... Vandebon said EU has reached out to many different segments of the Malaysian society and industry and often travelling to various parts of the country such as Johor, Penang and Sabah to engage in public diplomacy with the aim of bringing the EU and what it stands for, closer to the people of Malaysia."

The Visit That Marks the Beginning of Diplomatic Efforts With Far-reaching Impact: Foreign Minister Wang Yi Talks about President Xi Jinping's State Visits to Russia, Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo, And Attending the Fifth BRICS Leaders' Meeting - "The visit was tightly scheduled with rich programs.

The president attended 66 functions, including talks and meetings with 32 heads of state or political leaders, over 20 public speeches on China's foreign policy and major propositions, and over 10 cultural and public diplomacy activities. Despite the long and tiring journey, and against freezing storms or scorching suns, President Xi has completed one stop after another, sometimes working 15 hours a day, with a view to increasing understanding, deepening trust, and promoting cooperation and friendship." Image from heading of entry

Un ciclo de cine indio en el Aula Mergelina - "La celebración de un siglo de vida del cine indio ha dado lugar a un ciclo de películas de este ámbito en el aula Mergelina de laUniversidad de Valladolid. Estas citas tendrán lugar el 8 y 15 de mayo en esta zona de la UVa a partir de las 19 horas, y en el Aula Magna de Filosofía el 22 del mismo mes. La colaboración entre la Casa de la India, junto a la Cátedra de Cine de la Universidad y la Public Diplomacy Division ha conseguido que se seleccionen tres cintas de los años 50, 80 y de la actualdiad que reflejan la trayectoria de este cine a lo largo de cien años."

The trouble with red lines - Exchange Journal: "Kevin McElligott [is a] ... Public Diplomacy graduate student, Syracuse University."

What facilitates effective online collaboration and organization - Katrina Comyns, "References ... Burns, A., and Eltham, B. (2009). Twitter Free Iran: An Evaluation of Twitter’s Role in Public Diplomacy and Information Operations in Iran’s 2009 Election Crisis. Record of the Communications Policy and Research Forum 2009, 298-310."


Bill Keller's Absurd War Metaphors as Hawkish Propaganda: In a column advocating for intervention in Syria, he implies doing so might resemble choreography and a symphony - Keller's advice serves no purpose except to obscure the nature of what intervening in Syria would actually entail: a tremendously complicated gamble where the payoff and the potential losses are both unknown, the rules are unknown, the people with whom we're betting may turn on us at any moment, and aren't actually forced to bet.

Syria: Blogs Counter Western Propaganda – Lizard, As the situation in Syria continues to worsen, the political dynamics remain largely the same: blame any atrocity on the Assad regime, and try to minimize or ignore evidence to the contrary. Over a year ago, violence in Homs was initially being pinned on the Assad regime. Luckily we have blogs that are sometimes capable of successfully countering western propaganda.

Obama's Prisoners at Guantanamo: The president has the power to end indefinite detention without trial. But he won't use it - Martha Rayner, Mr. Obama must accept that the men held at Guantanamo are his prisoners, not George W. Bush's. As the commander in chief, he and he alone can and must act to end the practice of indefinite imprisonment without a fair trial.

Five myths about Guantanamo Bay - Karen Greenberg, Washington Post: 1. The Guantanamo Bay prison is open for business. Guantanamo Bay is in limbo. It’s neither closed nor fully open. 2. It’s impossible to close Guantanamo. Resettling the detainees in their home countries or in other nations is a matter of political will on the part of the president, realism on the part of Congress and trust in the nation’s sizable counterterrorism measures. But it is doable. 3. Guantanamo detainees have been treated more harshly than inmates in federal prisons.

Until the recent confrontations between guards and prisoners, Guantanamo held most of its detainees in relatively lenient conditions, especially compared with federal prisons. 4. The military commission system offers the best chance of convictions in the war on terror. The commissions were well-intentioned, but the trials, including those of the Sept. 11 defendants, are taking forever. In federal court, they would have concluded long ago. 5. Guantanamo has indelibly stained America’s reputation. If the hunger strikers die, Guantanamo will become an even stronger terrorist recruitment tool. Image from

Start-Up Diplomacy - David Rohde, New York Times: We should stop thinking we can transform societies overnight. Even if the United States perfectly executes its policies and programs, they alone will not stabilize countries. We need viable local partners. Nations must transform themselves.

‘Boston bombing a tool for neocons, Israel’s propaganda’ - Neoconservatives and Israelis are using the Boston bombings to spread a dual-purpose propaganda that instigates some extremists in the U.S. to act in an insane way, says Jim W. Dean, managing editor and columnist at Veterans Today. A Muslim taxi driver has told the Washington Post that a passenger broke his jaw for being a Muslim, comparing him to the men accused of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombing. When the Muslim driver asks the passenger why he punched him, the passenger uses an obscene phrase saying “You’re a [expletive] Muslim.” “The neocons and the Israelis are trying to spend this [the Boston bombing], they’ve got a dual thing going on now, trying to spend it as an al-Qaeda connection and also trying to tag the Russians with it,” said Dean in a phone interview with the U.S. Desk on Thursday.

Anti-Religious Propaganda in the Soviet Union: Could It Ever Happen Here? - Kathy Schiffer, By 1930, the central task of Soviet education became the spread of atheism. Eventually, all religious education was banned, and education which had as its goal the expansion of atheistic ideals was encouraged. ATHEISTIC PROPAGANDA POSTERS: In the first propaganda poster, a Russian triptych displays three icons: an image of Christ in the center, with Mary, the Theotokis, on one side and a saint, possibly St. Nicholas, on the other.

A younger woman—perhaps a relative—sneers at the display of icons in the home. The same young woman glances at a television set, where a Russian satellite is shown in orbit. The caption reads: The bright light of science has proved that there is no God. Image from entry

Russian propaganda pictures displayed by University of Nottingham - Marcus Boocock, An online exhibition featuring Russian propaganda posters from the Second World War has been launched by the University of Nottingham. Windows on War: Soviet posters 1943-1945 is an online exhibition featuring 45 posters. To see the exhibition, visit this site. Image from site

Right Wing "Plain Folks" Propaganda Technique - Commodore Snoogie Woogums, Plain folks propaganda is an attempt by the propagandist to convince the gullible that his views reflect those of the common person and that they are also working for the benefit of the common person. The propagandist will often attempt to use the accent of a specific audience as well as using specific idioms or jokes.

Also, the propagandist, may attempt to increase the illusion through imperfect pronunciation, stuttering, and a more limited vocabulary. Errors such as these help add to the impression of sincerity and spontaneity. This technique is usually most effective when used with glittering generalities, in an attempt to convince the gullible that the propagandist views about highly valued ideas are similar to their own and therefore more valid. Image from blog heading

Propaganda - fansinaflashbulb: Propaganda can serve multiple means. It can help advance a progressive cause, it can challenge our own beliefs and assumptions or reinforce stereotypes. Photography is a very malleable tool, which, often combined with words, can serve such aims effectively. Among the photos: Signal, March 1941 (2008.72.7)

Signal was a Nazi propaganda magazine published by the Wehrmacht with a layout similar to LIFE magazine, which promoted a cheerful view of fascist Germany and an anti-bolshevik united Europe under Teutonic hegemony. It was published for neutral, allied, and occupied countries. At one point, it reached a circulation of 2.5 million in twenty-five editions. Image from entry


Air Force sidelines 17 ICBM launch officers; commander cites ‘rot’ within system - AP, Washington Post: The Air Force stripped an unprecedented 17 officers of their authority to control — and, if necessary, launch — nuclear missiles after a string of unpublicized failings, including a remarkably dim review of their unit’s launch skills. The group’s deputy commander said it is suffering “rot” within its ranks.


James VanDerZee, [Unidentified], 1927 (867.2000)

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