"[I]t costs State [Department] between $105,000 to $480,000 for each employee it trains in a foreign language, the IG [Inspector General] said."
--John Solomon,washingtonguardian.com; image from
Coffee Propaganda, A Colorful Animated Short Chock-Full of Facts About Coffee - Kimber Streams, laughingsquid.com: Coffee Propaganda is a colorful animated short created by Hyun Ji A.J. Bae, Janice Ahn, Yoon Sun Lee, and Zach Eastburg at he Art Center College of Design in
State Department failing to spend foreign language training money wisely - John Solomon, washingtonguardian.com: "The State Department, already blamed for lax security leading up to the Benghazi terror attack, is getting some additional uncomfortable scrutiny for the way it spent an estimated $195 million last year training its diplomats in foreign languages. The department’s internal watchdog reported Wednesday – the same day State officials testified before Congress on last year’s tragedy in Libya – that the department is failing to spend its language training money wisely. In some cases, the department continues to pay to train diplomats in foreign languages who actually do their overseas work in English, while shorting diplomats in other countries like Afghanistan, Egypt, and Pakistan here foreign language skills are mission critical, the inspector general reported. Investigators 'found that some positions identified as language designated do not in fact require foreign language skills; other positions are not language designated but should be,' the report concluded. ... The IG said it had uncovered instances in which the lack of foreign language training in some hotspots had set back U.S. diplomatic efforts.
'In Muscat and Kuwait, language limitations undermined political and public diplomacy outreach efforts,' the IG reported. 'In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the shortage of language qualified officers limited the missions’ ability to participate in public debates with fluency in local languages.' The watchdog also talked to State officials who said they intentionally kept languge skill requirement low in certain hotspots because it was hard to find people to serve in places like Iraq, Pakistan and other dangerous locations. ... State Department officials did not immediately offer a formal response to the report, which echoes concerns raised by other watchdogs like the Government Accountability Office over the last decade. The inspector general made numerous recommendations ranging from eliminating some foreign-language required posts in Europe and improving cost consciousness to requiring embassies, human resources officers and top leaders in Washington to review and better justify language training needs for every diplomatic outpost." Image from article
Leadership Institute for Secondary School Teachers - grants.gov: "Estimated Total Program Funding: $400,000 ...[T]he Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad announces an open competition for a cooperative agreement to support a Leadership Institute for Secondary School Teachers (LISST) from Pakistan."
Public Schedule: Thursday, May 9, 2013 - U.S. Department of State: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 12:00 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine attends a reception in honor of Europe Day, at the residence of European Union Ambassador Joao Vale De Almeida, in Washington, DC. (MEDIA DETERMINED BY HOST) 3:00 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine delivers remarks at the Inaugural Sheikha Fatima Lecture series, Recognizing Women as Messengers of Peacebuilding, at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY HOST) 6:00 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine attends a reception hosted by the Ambassador of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, His Excellency Sir Peter Westmacott, in honor of His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales, in Washington, DC. (MEDIA DETERMINED BY HOST)." Image from
BBG: Creating New Ceo Requires Congress To Transfer Certain Authorities’ From The BBG Board - Adam Clayton Powell, III, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: Dick Lobo, Director, International Broadcasting Bureau: "[c]reating a CEO position through legislation is a key priority for the BBG and the White House. The CEO would oversee day-to-day operations of the BBG and its grantees. The Board has been pursuing this goal for more than a year. Legislation is clearly the way to go, since there are certain authorities that belong exclusively to the Board under law that would have to be transferred to the CEO for the job to be as comprehensive as envisioned."
Alliance Francaise/the French Institute of Michigan Presents Euro American Celebration May 2013. This Spring Europe Converges on Detroit for a celebration of Europe and America with a Detroit flavor - "From May 4th to June 20th Alliance Francaise/the French Institute of Michigan along with the European Union Delegation to the United States, the Detroit Institute of Arts, U of D Mercy, and several European Chambers of commerce and consulates will be sponsoring various events in and around the Detroit Metro area celebrating the European-American connection. Events will include wine tastings, free guided tours of the European Art Collection at the DIA, panel discussions with delegates from the E.U., film screenings, golf and petanque outings, and the grand celebration on May 30th which will feature a lecture by an astronaut from
the European Space Agency. Many of the events are free and open to the public; others require an admission fee. ... Friday May 17th—European Delegate visit [:] A panel discussion about Europe, touching upon co-op jobs and/or employment outside the US. Mrs. Eva Horelova, Deputy Head of Press and Public Diplomacy at the Delegation and Deputy Delegation Spokesperson, and Mrs. Betina Schlossberg, immigration lawyer and board member of the Dante Alighieri Society will be there to offer their insight." Image ("How Americans see Europe") from
Twitter Diplomacy (scroll down link for item) - Express news service: "A recent study on the use of social media in public diplomacy by embassies in Washington DC has thrown up interesting data. The study, conducted by the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication of the George Washington University, has found that of all missions and ambassadors in DC, Indian ambassador Nirupama Rao has the highest number of followers on Twitter. The next highest is Indian Diplomacy twitter account. However, the study says the number of followers is not the best indicator of the success of social media for public diplomacy. It uses more complex formulae — taking into account importance of the followers as well as interactions between embassies on social media — as a better measure of success. Sadly, in this list of 10 top accounts, led by the British Embassy, there is no mention of an Indian individual or institution."
Why Diplomat Nirupama Rao works on undiplomatic Twitter - FP Staff, firstpost.com: "The Indian Express reports today in their ‘Delhi Confidential’ section that the Indian Ambassador to the
1) Unlike the PMO’s handle this one talks. Her views on issues as well as her responses are clear even if not edgy. 2) She distributes: articles that she has written across the media, articles she has liked, tweets of others – again there’s personality behind the distribution. 3) Her own activity is not just announced through bland text, but images, meeting details and more. 4) And you do get to know more about her, than just work – music, cinema tastes et al. While Diplomats are being encouraged worldwide to engage more with global and local audiences, Twitter is probably the medium that is least diplomatic. It is perhaps therefore an enormous challenge for diplomats to be present on Twitter and be true to what they do. The screw-ups can become disproportionate and there have been enough examples of that. Within the constraints of the amount of information that diplomats can release and how they can release it, it is a slippery slope. The skill likely lies in making press release-worthy material more exciting than it could ever be! Ambassador Rao, certainly does well on that count. Image from article, with caption: A screengrab of Nirupama Rao’s Twitter ID
Sexy Indian American Professor Manjari Blasts “India’s Feeble Foreign Policy” - searchindia.com: "These days, Mera Bharat Mahaan has become a favorite whipping boy for all and sundry. The latest to deliver a stinging slap on India’s face is cute looking Indian-American Manjari Chatterjee Miller, an Assistant Professor of International Relations at Boston University and alumnus of Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi and Harvard University.
In an article titled India’s Feeble Foreign Policy published in the latest issue (May/June 2013) of the respected journal Foreign Affairs, Manjari slams the mechanism by which the nation’s foreign policy is made. ... [S]he summarily dismisses the two units in India’s foreign ministry that specifically deal with strategic planning, the Policy, Planning, Research Division and the Public Diplomacy Division as effete divisions 'lacking clout' without offering any details. Nor does her article provide any suggestions to improve the influence of these divisions." Image, evidently of Manjari, from article
Machiavelli turning in his grave - Haider Mehdi, The Nation: "In the aftermath of Musharraf's debacle, General Kayani has honestly, tirelessly and diligently worked hard during the last five years to restore the armed forces' image and prestige as a vital national institution. His address at the GHQ was an exemplary speech in public diplomacy, responding to the call of the nation and supporting the forces of political change to ensure that the general elections are held at all cost. Good move. Commendable act in the national interest."
Zimbabwe: Myth of Regeneration - Allen Hungwe, allafrica.com: "Recently, I had a very unusual but intriguing chat with a senior ZANU-PF member about issues in the party and its future, given all the heckling that has taken centre stage. My conclusion from that discussion was that factionalism and divisions are real in the party and are slowly becoming uncontainable. ... My interlocutor tells me that ZANU-PF ... would prioritise economic recovery, public diplomacy, international engagement and progressive policy framework."
Former Morocco Country Director David Burgess Remembers Chris Stevens - John Coyne, peacecorpsworldwide.org: "Before returning to Peace Corps in 2006, David was an International Democracy and Development Consultant, and director or Chief of Party on several USAID-funded programs in the US and abroad. He provided strategic advice and problem-solving assistance to clients in the US and overseas in a dozen countries in Eastern Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East and Africa. He was the Director of the US Democracy Fellows Program in the 1990s, and previously served for six years as the State Department’s Director of Human Rights Policy, Programs, Legislation and Public Diplomacy, in the Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs."
Diplomatic Stirrings on Syria - Editorial Board, New York Times: Those in the United States who have advocated American military involvement -- either by arming the rebels, imposing a no fly-zone or by attacking facilities in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons -- will grow more strident. President Obama has taken a much more cautious approach, arguing, as he did on Tuesday, that his responsibility is to “constantly measure our very real and legitimate humanitarian and national security interests in Syria” against his bottom line, which “is what’s in the best interest of America’s security.” This is a sound argument that he should advance ever more forcefully against those who would lead the country unwisely into war. Image from
A President as Aloof Abroad as at Home: Reagan had Thatcher, Clinton had Tony Blair, Bush had Angela Merkel. Who is Obama close to? - Karl Rove, wsj.com: The fact that the White House has done nothing since the Assad regime crossed the "red line" by using sarin gas has made a mockery of Mr. Obama's warnings to Iran not to build a nuclear weapon. The president also needs stronger personal relationships with world leaders.
Options for action in Syria: Ignoring Assad's use of chemical weapons would set a terrible precedent - Chuck Freilich, latimes.com: Despite nearly irrefutable intelligence regarding Syrian use of chemical weapons, which the Obama administration acknowledges, the White House persists in setting a burden of proof that is impossible to achieve in practical terms and is designed to allow the U.S. to avoid military involvement in Syria almost at all costs.
A beginning for Syria talks - David Ignatius, Washington Post: It shouldn’t have been this hard, but Secretary of State John Kerry has finally gotten Russia to back the peace plan on Syria that it endorsed in principle last June. This isn’t a breakthrough, but at least it’s a beginning. There are many ways this peace initiative could fail. But at least it has begun.
U.S. credibility is not on the line in Syria - Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post: The Syrian conflict is fundamentally a civil war between a minority elite and the long-oppressed majority.
The only path to peace in such circumstances is through a political accord among the parties. Secretary of State John Kerry is right to try to achieve such an accord and to enlist Russia. Image from
To Speak Yet Say Nothing - Carlos Puig, "Hundreds of Central American immigrants jump aboard it in the hope of reaching the northern Mexican border and the United States. They are routinely abused, robbed or murdered. Yet to listen to the presidents, this issue barely registered. Immigration is a “domestic affair” of the United States, said Peña Nieto. And Obama nodded.
Propaganda and Precedent: North Korean Tensions - Andrea Berger and Hugh Chalmers, RUSI Newsbrief: Over the last two months, the regime in North Korea has indulged in an astonishingly vitriolic outburst of rhetoric. This has occurred mainly in response to the expansion of UN sanctions against the country and the resumption of US-South Korean Foal Eagle military exercises on the Korean Peninsula in March. North Korea opened this one-sided war of words with threats to use its ‘lighter and smaller’ nuclear weapons to turn its enemies’ strongholds into a ‘sea in flames’. Since then, its rhetorical volleys have ranged from the general (issuing warnings of its troops’ state of readiness for ‘all-out-war’), the specific (reminding the US that its air forces on Guam are ‘within the striking range’ of North Korean missiles), the indirect (warning diplomats in Pyongyang to leave for their own safety), and even the self-destructive (stating the country’s intention to ‘close the [Kaesong industrial] zone without mercy’). Yet with the two-month-long exercises now drawing to a close, the object of the North’s chagrin (be it sincere or not) has receded. And having marked the birthday of the deceased ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Il-sung on 15 April, Pyongyang may feel that it has fuelled the revolutionary fires of its people sufficiently to last through to the next Kim family anniversary. Moreover, despite the pervasive atmosphere of crisis, over the last two weeks the stream of threats from the North has subsided without a shot being fired.
The most alarming quotes from Korea Today, Kim Jong-un's propaganda magazine - Oliver Franklin, gq-magazine.co.uk: North Korea is caught in a paradox: due to the escalating rhetoric and nuclear testing under the leadership of recently appointed dictator Kim Jong-un, tensions on the peninsula are the highest in years. But bizarrely, tourism to the secretive state is booming: according to BBC, up to 3,500 western tourists still visit North Korea every year.
In response, the state's official media branch, Naenara, now produces Korea Today, an English language magazine for tourists (it's also printed in Russian and Chinese). Visitors to the DPRK are given a copy on the plane into the country along with a translated copy of the Pyongyang Times. While Western journalists are normally banned from the country, GQ has managed to obtain a recent copy edition of the 50-page monthly . Now in its fourth issue of 2013 - or Juche 102, by the North Korean calendar - it's a bizarre mixture of banal travel guide, state propaganda and anti-American rhetoric; headlines range from "A Look Back On Korean Stamp Development" (Kim Jong-il was apparently an avid collector) to aggressively titled editorials such as "We Will Hasten Our Final Victory." Image from article
Propaganda classes offered starting in fall - Daniella DeVivo, highlandernews.net, Misericordia University: Starting in the fall, professors will teach new classes in the Communications Department to expand students’ knowledge about visual design and its impact on society. Professors Douglas Martin and Jimmy May will each offer a new class in the 2013-14 academic year that helps students understand how visual art impacts society’s attitudes. Martin will teach “Graphic Design: An Agent of Social Change” in the fall and said the course will examine propaganda and social justice throughout history. “We are going to be exploring social injustice,” Martin said. “Anything that is an injustice to people of the world.” He then offered examples of the kind of propaganda he would be focusing on in the fall. “Wanted” posters or Uncle Sam’s “I Want You” and other posters from World War II would be used as models for students to create similar posters.
Texas cheerleaders win legal right to wave banners with biblical quotes - Cheryl K. Chumley, The Washington Times: A judge ruled on Wednesday that high school cheerleaders in
The Freedom From Religion Foundation had complained about the banners last September. State District Judge Steven Thomas said the banners are protected by the Constitution, Fox News reported. But he didn’t rule whether the banners are protected under the First Amendment’s free speech provisions, Fox News reported. He said no law “prohibits cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events,” in his ruling. But the Freedom From Religion Foundation had argued the banners represented a violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition against government establishing a religion, and the judge’s ruling did not address that argument specifically. Image from article, with caption: The cheerleaders of Kountze Middle School use their faith-based signs at the middle school football game held at Kountze High School on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, in Kountze, Texas.
Dialect Map Of U.S. Shows How Americans Speak By Region (IMAGE) - Hunter Stuart, The Huffington Post