Sunday, June 30, 2013

A misguided memorandum on "political warfare"

I plan, time permitting, to post a refutation of the below misguided piece, which misinterprets/misunderstands both the present and the past.

Note: Indian Strategic Studies has reposted the below article under the heading, "Department of Dirty Tricks"; Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners - News from the Associate Director, Security Studies Program has reposted the piece under the heading, Department of Dirty Tricks: Why the United States needs to sabotage, undermine, and expose its enemies in the Middle East.

Political Warfare Policy Innovation Memorandum No. 33 - Council on Foreign Relations

Authors: Max Boot, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies, and Michael Doran, Roger Hertog Senior Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution

The United States is in a long-term struggle for influence in the Middle East with competitors such as Iran, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and various Salafist organizations. All have their own differences, but they are united in promoting visions of society that are at odds with American interests and ideals. Yet the U.S. government lacks the tools to contest this struggle for "hearts and minds." The armed forces and intelligence community are skilled at using drone strikes to eliminate the leaders of terrorist organizations. But the United States does not have a political strategy to capitalize on short-term gains achieved by air strikes. It is time to develop such a strategy and to call it by its rightful but long-neglected name: political warfare.

The Problem

The U.S. government has gotten out of the habit of waging political warfare since the end of the Cold War. Instead, the U.S. government focuses on public diplomacy aimed at "telling America's story"—the mandate of the State Department's Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. But selling the virtues of the United States—the central concern of public diplomacy—was far more important in the Cold War than it is today. Back then, the United States sought to persuade countries that its system was superior to the Soviet Union's. Today, the battle taking place in the Muslim world is not about how Muslims view the United States, but rather how Muslims view themselves. This is a multifaceted struggle over identity, power, and authority that pits moderates against extremists, but also tribe against tribe and ethnic groups against the state. The attitudes of Muslims toward the United States are, more often than not, a function of how U.S. power shapes the local struggles that define their lives.

The United States has the potential to influence such struggles in a positive direction, but it is not skilled at doing so, as two examples drawn from the authors' experience illustrate. Imagine that an Iraqi filmmaker approaches an American official seeking support for a film about how Shiite-dominated democracy functions in Iraq. Such a film could undermine Iran's Shiite theocracy—an American interest. But the State Department's public diplomacy office would likely reject such a project because it has nothing to do with promoting American society. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in all likelihood, would not support it either; nor should it, because most filmmakers would not want to become covert operatives. Consequently, the film might never get made. Or take another example: imagine that a pro-American Iraqi politician approaches an American visitor and asks for funding for his electoral campaign. Like many of his colleagues, he has been offered millions of dollars from Iran, but he does not want to accept Iranian money. Yet the United States is not offering to fund him. So, he will not have the funds to contest the election, and the Iranian-backed candidates will win. While the United States could congratulate itself for its dedication to the principles of democracy, it has simply ceded strategic territory to Iran.

The problem is that no government agency—not the State Department, not the Pentagon, and not the CIA—views political warfare as a core mission. This gap is partially filled by the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, and the National Democratic Institute, entities created during the Reagan administration to promote democracy abroad in an overt manner. But these organizations primarily focus on the procedures of democracy—training activists to conduct campaigns and elections—rather than trying to influence substantively who assumes power. That has rightly allowed them to maintain a neutral reputation but also leaves a yawning gap in the U.S. government's capabilities.

Back to the Future: A New/Old Approach

The Obama administration could learn from the example of the early Cold War, when the U.S. government first organized itself for political warfare. This concept was defined in a May 4, 1948, memorandum produced by the State Department's policy planning staff under George Kennan:

Political warfare is the logical application of Clausewitz's doctrine in time of peace. In broadest definition, political warfare is the employment of all the means at a nation's command, short of war, to achieve its national objectives. Such operations are both overt and covert. They range from such overt actions as political alliances, economic measures (as ERP—the Marshall Plan), and "white" propaganda to such covert operations as clandestine support of "friendly" foreign elements, "black" psychological warfare and even encouragement of underground resistance in hostile states.
During the Cold War, the U.S. government waged political warfare through a variety of mechanisms, including covertly funding noncommunist political parties in Europe and Japan, covertly starting magazines and organizations to organize artists and intellectuals against communism, and providing financial and logistical support to dissidents behind the Iron Curtain. At its worst, the policies of the Cold War supported strongmen with scant legitimacy, such as Cuban president Fulgencio Batista and the shah of Iran, engendering anti-American "blowback." But at its best, the United States aided fighters for freedom behind the Iron Curtain and beyond, helping win the Cold War.

It is the latter tradition, neglected for too long, that should be rediscovered. Reinvigorating the U.S. government's capability to wage political warfare will not cost much—in all likelihood less than the $37 million price tag of a single Reaper drone—but it will require mobilizing autonomous bureaucracies to act in concert. In particular, this will require overcoming the normal balkanization of government operations in which al-Qaeda specialists focus only on al-Qaeda, Iran specialists only on Iran, and public diplomacy specialists only on buffing America's image. Waging effective political warfare will require crosscutting skill sets.

It will be necessary, therefore, to modify the U.S. system so that decisions made at the top, such as countering Iranian or Muslim Brotherhood influence, will be implemented by the interagency process in Washington and by country teams at various embassies. Achieving this goal will require significant organizational innovation.

Adapting the Counterterrorism Model

Fortunately, a model already exists. The counterterrorism apparatus created in the wake of 9/11 provides a good example of what should be built—or, rather, expanded. As a first step, President Barack Obama should take a keen interest in the problem and appoint a highly respected coordinator for political warfare, to be located in the National Security Council. Without the personal support of the president, this initiative will fail.

Second, the president must create a strategic operational hub—an interagency coordinating body that pulls all of the local efforts together—housed in the State Department. Under an executive order signed by President Obama in 2011, the State Department has already created a Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications that is designed to "coordinate, orient, and inform government-wide foreign communications activities targeted against terrorism and violent extremism." This is a good step in the right direction, but it does not go nearly far enough. The effort should aim to counter not only terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda but also organizations such as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah, even in their nonviolent manifestations. In addition, the effort should involve much more than just overt messaging directly from the U.S. government. The goal is to integrate a variety of elements of national power, some of them clandestine, to shape the Middle East.

Third, the president must direct the top-level government officials— the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the CIA director—to create political-warfare career tracks, which would result in the training and promotion of specialists in this area. Without separate career tracks, the bureaucracies will stigmatize and ostracize individuals who find political warfare rewarding and attractive.

Once an effective institutional framework is in place, the U.S. government can get to work helping intellectuals and political leaders in countries from Pakistan to Mali. Some activities could be carried out overtly, others covertly. There is an obvious need to be sensitive to the taint of "Made in America" in the Middle East, but this fear need not paralyze the United States, since moderate leaders in the Muslim world are already accused of being American stooges even if they have no U.S. support. Some would actually welcome open U.S. backing; others would accept aid if it were funneled through intermediaries. Such operations must be conducted carefully so as not to run afoul of the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act, which prohibits the State Department from making any attempt to influence domestic opinion. But even in the Internet age it is possible to ensure that the messaging is aimed overseas and not at home.


"Political warfare" may be an alien-sounding concept in 2013, but that is precisely the problem. The United States will never best its rivals and enemies without enhancing its capacity to exert influence in countries whose futures are up for grabs. That this can be done successfully should be clear from the experience of the Cold War, even if there are many differences between the situation then and now. It is high time to rediscover lost skill sets and get to work countering the attempts of various anti-American actors to shape the world—and in particular the Muslim world—in their own image.

It will be difficult to measure the outcome of a political warfare campaign—hard metrics are easier to come by for kinetic targeting than for political-influence operations, which is why American leaders naturally prefer the former to the latter. But U.S. enemies, from Iran to al-Qaeda, work hard and often effectively to shape public opinion with influence operations, not just with the use of force. Unless the United States counters their efforts in kind, it is likely to find the greater Middle East developing in a dangerous direction.

After More Than 30 Years, President Margaret Ayers Steps Down from The Robert Sterling Clark Foundation

Looking Back at a World Tour: After More Than 30 Years, President of Arts Foundation Steps Down By PIA CATTON, Wall Street Journal

The Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, one of New York's small, but influential arts funders, will soon enter a new era: On July 1, President Margaret Ayers will step down from the post she held since 1979.

The foundation—which has an endowment of about $90 million and no permanent guidelines on how to spend it—was established by Robert Sterling Clark, one of four grandsons of the lawyer Edward Clark, who helped the inventor of the sewing machine obtain a patent. Edward Clark also headed the Singer Sewing Machine Co. and introduced the concept of buying the machines on layaway. Robert Sterling Clark died childless in 1955, leaving behind the foundation (incorporated in 1952) and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass.

During Ms. Ayers's leadership, the foundation has targeted its grants to entities in New York City or state that relate to three subject areas: improving the performance of public institutions, protecting reproductive rights and promoting international arts engagement.

Within the third category, it has supported, in collaboration with the State Department, projects including the Brooklyn Academy of Music's DanceMotion USA, which sent four dance companies to tour four regions of the world this year, and the Bronx Museum's smARTpower, which selected 15 American artists to serve as cultural ambassadors. In 2012, it gave 18 grants in this field totaling $2.2 million. The State Department is currently budgeted to spend between $10 million and $12 million for cultural affairs exchanges.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Ms. Ayers discussed the evolution of the foundation and its support for sending American artists abroad, particularly since the 1999 closure of the U.S. Information Agency.

When you arrived as a consultant in 1976, the foundation was funding cultural institutions, but also colleges, settlement houses, family-policy analysis and more. How and why did you focus the grant-making program?

I made the argument to the board that the foundation was very small, and if the trustees wanted to make an impact, they had to narrow the program areas. In 1976, there were 10 fields of interest. By 1980, there were three fields. And by 1985, those had become very pinpointed.

What did that mean for your arts support?

You have to go back to the 1970s when cultural organizations and libraries were closing. We went from funding lots of cultural organizations all over the country to looking at them in New York City. We helped countless organizations get into the direct-mail business and develop computerization, things that would improve their operations.

And that ended by about 2005. Why was that?

It became clear that this was not a unique thing that we were doing. A lot of other foundations were making these management support grants.

The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, contributed to a new phase. How did that start?

We noted that global public opinion regarding the U.S. was at a high in the months after Sept. 11. However, after the U.S. sent troops to Iraq, global public opinion sank like a stone. Amidst the mounting calls for change, there were many that questioned what had happened to our public diplomacy apparatus. It was destroyed when, in 1994, Congress made the decision to eliminate the U.S. Information Agency. In 1999, USIA's cultural exchange programs were moved as a block to the State Department. However, there was no arts exchange program. It had been eliminated by Congress in 1996. By the turn of the century, little was happening on the international front with regard to sending American artists abroad. At this point, I began to consider moving our arts support to international cultural engagement.

What were your first steps?

We hired a consultant to research the level of foundation support in the field. We also conducted extensive research on public-sector funding in the field. Our research confirmed our belief that both private and public support were on the decline, and that this was an area where our philanthropic efforts could have impact.

How has the field changed over time?

International cultural engagement is becoming disentangled from state policy. Many would describe such engagement activities within the context of a "third space," in which creativity and new forms of collaboration among the various public and private participants in the field are enhanced. I believe all of this promotes international acceptance and tolerance—necessary ingredients for producing a more congenial world.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Foreign Service Prominently Cited in Recent Humanities Report

"Who will lead America into a bright future? Citizens who are educated in the broadest possible sense, so that they can participate in their own governance and engage with the world. An adaptable and creative workforce. Experts in national security, equipped with the cultural understanding, knowledge of social dynamics, and language proficiency to lead our foreign service and military through complex global conflicts. Elected officials and a broader public who exercise civil political discourse, founded on an appreciation of the ways our differences and commonalities have shaped our rich history. We must prepare the next generation to be these future leaders."

--From the cover page of American Academy for Arts and Sciences, "The Heart of the Matter: The Humanities and Social Sciences for a vibrant, competitive, and secure nation" (2013)

Image from

5 Shocking Ways Social Media Trends Can Predict Catastrophes

5 Shocking Ways Social Media Trends Can Predict Catastrophes
By: K. Montagne, Dennis Fulton,

June 27-28 Public Diplomacy Review

"You who celebrate bygones,
Who have explored the outward, the surfaces of the races, the life
that has exhibited itself,
Who have treated of man as the creature of politics, aggregates,
rulers and priests,
I, habitan of the Alleghanies, treating of him as he is in himself
in his own rights,
Pressing the pulse of the life that has seldom exhibited itself,
(the great pride of man in himself,)
Chanter of Personality, outlining what is yet to be,
I project the history of the future."

--Walt Whitman; Whitman image from


House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing: "Broadcasting Board of Governors: An Agency 'Defunct'" -


2013 Study on Congressional Attitudes - "In early 2013, AFSA commissioned a study to measure the attitudes of a diverse and bi-partisan group of congressional staff toward the Foreign Service and the Department of State. The study was also designed to identify opportunities to deepen understanding and promote awareness about the Foreign Service and to improve our relations with Congress. AFSA engaged journalist and author Nicholas Kralev to conduct the study.

Interviews were conducted with 28 congressional staff members, on both personal and committee staff to gauge their views of the Foreign Service and whether relations and communications between Capitol Hill and the Foreign Service and Department of State could be augmented or improved. Staff members from both the House and Senate were included, and the sample is completely bipartisan with 14 interlocutors each from Republican and Democratic staffs. This study follows up on a 2002 study done by Tom Melia for Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, funded by the Una Chapman Cox Foundation." Image from


AFSA Book Notes Presents: "50 Years in USAID: Stories from the Front Lines" July 11 at 2:00 pm AFSA's ongoing Book Notes series presents "50 Years in USAID: Stories from the Front Lines." This collection contains 115 brief essays by past and present USAID staff and administrators, organized by decades. To celebrate USAID’s 50th anniversary, the editors, Janet C. Ballantyne and Maureen Dugan, reached out to all USAID staff, alumni, and all living administrators to gather tales that would tell their story and seek their thoughts on serving at USAID. Via email


Farewell Note from Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine‏ - Received by email; internet citation not available at this writing: "Thank you for all the work you do to advance U.S. national security through public diplomacy. ... The case for public diplomacy was never so compelliing

With its unique position at the intersection of global information and people-to-people relationships, it has the potential to enhance the most positive and productive aspirations of citizens everywhere. It has impact. It matters." [Full  text below.]  Image from

The Secstate Visits Delhi: Some PD Perspectives - Patricia Lee Sharpe, Whirled View: "It was obviously a busy two days for John Kerry, so the Embassy schedulers are probably feeling good, but the visit has received little local coverage. I've seen some brief clips on Indian newscasts, which are as annoying as U.S. local stations relying on fast-talking, faux-friendly 'if it bleeds it leads' snippets. As for Delhi's all-important print press, it has been preoccupied with other issues. ... A recent report reveals that the State Department’s romance with social media has yielded little benefit of a substantive nature. My own experience in Delhi this week suggests that State has even less savvy when it comes to dealing with electronic journalists. And then there’s this: would local coverage of the Kerry visit have been more expansive had it been packaged better to appeal to local interests?"

Congressional Panel Criticizes Management of US International Broadcasting - "[A]t the hearing [it was] said that BBG's structure makes reporters' jobs more difficult and that the agency's overall mission is unclear in the post-Cold War era. An Inspector General report issued earlier this year concluded that the BBG is failing in its mandated duties. ... After the hearing, the BBG gave VOA a statement saying the current BBG board has been working on ways to address the structural issue, reduce overlap and promote innovation, with the aim of providing the best support possible for its award-winning journalists' work around the globe, under increasingly tight budget constraints.

Some lawmakers pointed out that other international broadcasters such as al-Jazeera operate with much bigger budgets, and called for more funds for the Voice of America and other broadcasters to help them compete on the world stage." Via LJB; image from

Fixing the Strategic Dysfunction - Emily T. Metzgar, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "The House Foreign Affairs Committee came out swinging this morning in its hearing titled 'Broadcasting Board of Governors: An Agency ‘Defunct.'  Chairman Ed Royce laid the groundwork in his introductory remarks, offering an overview of the BBG’s legislative origins and the proud history of U.S. government broadcasters that helped the West win the Cold War. The point – much like the hearing’s title – was not subtle, but it was important: The salad days of U.S. international broadcasting (USIB) are long past and the current administrative structure, under the purview of the BBG, does not work. ...  Today’s event on Capitol Hill broke no new ground in the debate about how to address well-recognized difficulties in the operation of U.S. international broadcasting. But the hearing carried tremendous symbolic importance: First, the subject of USIB was the focus of a nearly two-hour hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Second, discussion took as a given the litany of problems increasingly associated with the BBG, evidenced in everything from the reports of outside consultants, to consistently low employee morale, to damning GAO and OIG accounts of the status quo. Finally, both members and witnesses spoke directly about the role of USIB as part of America’s public diplomacy efforts, thus successfully framing any future hearings, debates and legislative action as more than just requisite Congressional oversight but as real foreign policy imperatives. And that is a step in the right direction." See also.

Upcoming House Committee on Foreign Affairs Hearings - "On Thursday, June 27, 2013, at 10:00 AM EST, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs will be marking up H.R. 1897, the Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2013 (read the Act here), in 2172 Rayburn House Office Building. ... The bill encourages U.S. public diplomacy to help the human rights situation in Vietnam, including working to overcome the block that Vietnam places on

Radio Free Asia, support for increased cultural exchanges, and U.S. opposition to Vietnam’s candidacy on the UN Human Rights Council." Image from

Interview – Nick Pratt - "Terrorism and counter-insurgency, with a regional interest in Central Asia and the Caucasus. He has been professor of strategy and international politics at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies since 1996 . ... [Pratt:] Combating terrorism abroad requires the United States to use all of its national security 'tools.' The approach required must be multi-pronged, multi-dimensional, as well as multi-national. The elements of national power are: diplomacy, intelligence, information, public diplomacy, economic, financial, law enforcement, military, and homeland security. We cannot simply declare international terrorism threats to be over and retire into isolation. This is a sure course of action for attacks from outside our borders."

U.S. Consulate Chennai Maritime Trade and Security Conference - "The Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U. S. Consulate Chennai is soliciting proposals for a cooperative agreement that meets the specifications stated in Section II from non-governmental organizations and other legally-recognized non-profit institutions that meet Indian and U. S. technical

and legal requirements to develop and implement public diplomacy programs as specified by Section II below. Information about the Public Affairs Section (PAS) can be found at: Agency: Department of State Office: U.S. Mission to India Estimated Funding: $100,000" Image from

Active Citizen Summit 2.0 – Pathways to Youth Employment -  “Deadline-  12 July 2013  Department of State Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (NEA/PPD) is seeking proposals for Active Citizen Summit 2.0 (ACS 2.0) for which the theme is Pathways to Youth Employment. The objective of this program is to focus on leadership, youth unemployment, and political/economic empowerment topics. Goals -- Expand capacity of young leaders to participate effectively in civil and political organizations -- Provide insights into U.S. strategies to combat youth unemployment -- Encourage participants to explore intervention strategies that could alleviate youth unemployment in their home countries -- Analyze organizations (political structures; educational institutions; private sector; international organizations) that could support/partner with youth leaders and assist in implementing recommendations -- Strengthen and expand relationships among participants; between participants and U.S. counterparts; between participants and U.S. Embassy officials.”

Pics from Dellamanistan - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Funemployment has finally offered me the time to upload all my pics from Central Asia for the Della Mae tour.

I dare say the finest cultural diplomatesses the State Department has ever sent out. Enjoy!"

[Note: American Voices sponsored the Della Mae Tour]. Above uncaptioned image from entry; below  image from entry, with caption: From US Cultural Days in Turkmenistan. See also.

Film Screening and Discussion: V/H/S 2 - "Saturday 29 June 2013 12:00 PM - 03:00 PM ... @america Pacific Place Jakarta, Indonesia ... Description: Join us in watching this highly anticipated horror sequel. Meet Timo Tjahjanto, director of this film's 'Safe Haven' segment, along with the cast members Fachry Albar and Epy Kusnandar.

Horror fans get ready to scream! Opening remarks by Gregory McElwain, Public Diplomacy Officer, U.S. Embassy Jakarta Limited seating: 200 viewers Rated: R Restricted, Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent Or Adult Guardian"

A Musafir in Iraqi Kurdistan –- Part II - Jyotsna Singh, "Almost everyday in the past few months, news from Iraq inevitably describes bombings, random violence, and sectarian conflict in Southern Iraq, often in Baghdad, but also in other cities closer to Kurdistan, such as Mosul and Kirkuk; thus, as we drive by small road-side communal clusters of shops, with trinkets and steel dishes hanging below canopies, small car repair hubs, trucks passing by, and at frequent intervals, mounds of water melons piled up for sale along the road side, this normalcy seems to make that other news seems surreal. ... On Day 2, some of us attend a well-publicized Career Fair, hosted by the University of Dohuk, with corporate and government sponsors, and attended by the chief diplomatic officer from the US consulate in Erbil as well as by a representative of the British Council, and a former Minister of Kurdistan, a glamorous intelligent woman who presents a power-point on development in the region (see photo). The general audience consists of many recent graduates, young men and women. We enter a grand convention center – all marble and bright lights. ... As our group from Michigan State listens to the opening round of introductions, we note a young-ish woman enter with a big, bulked-up man behind her; we are told she is the Public diplomacy Officer from the US Consulate accompanied by her security detail. She is the face of the US government, and I was interested in how she represents the US in a region that is the 'New Iraq'! ... [C]comes the big moment of the US Diplomat’s speech, a direct address to the graduates in the hall. She deploys a familiar American genre of a commencement address, recalling her own experiences of student life and career trajectory of joining the state department via a very competitive process in which percentages for success are not high.

She has a pleasant, breezy delivery, a moment of droll humor occurs in a colloquial breakdown, when she bonds with the students, saying, 'I sat where you sit;' (the translator is flummoxed: ‘Sat/Sit? What is that?). The only time the audience laughs! She apologizes at the outset for not speaking the local dialect of Kurdish (so I assume she is familiar with other variants). Overall, I am struck by a lack of reference to any aspect of the culture or history of Kurdistan – or to specific experiences of students from Kurdistan. As her sources for three inspirational quotes, she draws on Ronald Reagan, Condoleeza [sic] Rice, and the basketball star, Michael Jordan! (I am afraid I did not transcribe the quotes, but they all dealt with finding success under challenging odds). I can imagine that the students may be familiar with Michael Jordan’s name, but what about the other names? Is she giving a safe speech with no risky boundary crossings? No partaking of native customs? In striking contrast to the US diplomat, the British Council representative, also in the gathering, (and with whom we had struck up a conversation with earlier) shows all the markers of an Oxbridge, class-inflected education, but coupled with a solid knowledge of the area. He has lived in Syria for several years, knew both Arabic and some Kurdish, and seems adept in recognizing cultural cues! American, liberal good intentions versus a seemingly Orientalist education! Which is more effective?" Image with entry, with caption: A nice effect/affect. A photo of Barzani the freedom fighter next to the name of the restaurant “Azadi”

The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers, USA, Documentary - Claus Mueller, "The New York premier [sic] of The Prime Ministers on May 7, 2013 was introduced with a brief video salutation by the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and comments by Yehuda Avner. Avner is the author of the bestselling book The Prime Ministers on which the documentary is based. ... Avner provided a running commentary throughout the film which was directed by Rick Trank with Sandra Bullock, Michael Douglas and Leonard Nimoy providing voices for Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, and Levi Eshkol. ... The Prime Ministers provides a very sympathetic view of Israel’s history and problems and will be useful as an instructional tool given the new information it contains and its high production value.

As an instrument of public diplomacy it can be aimed at Jewish and other interested communities. The reaction of the audience during the New York premiere indicated that for some the documentary was too long and too emotional and should have been more focused on essential elements. The film has been produced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Moriah Films division which will also be distributing it. It was funded in large part by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Holocaust Issues but also derived support from numerous other sources." Image from entry

Cultural Engagement Key to Improving U.S.-Iran Relations –- Report - Jasmin Ramsey, "Increasing U.S.-Iran cultural exchanges could lay the groundwork for better relations between the two countries, believes a prominent think tank here, despite the prevalence of stereotypical memes of the United States as the 'Great Satan'' and Iran as part of the 'Axis of Evil'. According to an issue brief released today by the Washington-based Atlantic Council, the United States should reach out to Iran’s people through a variety of cultural exchanges, even as the Jun. 14 election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s next president may present an opportunity for the United States and Iran to mend their decades-long cold war. 'Cultural and academic exchanges between the U.S. and Iran are a low-cost, high-yield investment in a future normal relationship between the two countries,' said the brief, authored by the council’s bipartisan Iran Task Force. 'When it comes to countries that have no diplomatic channels like the U.S. and Iran, people-to-people diplomacy is the only route available to us,' Reza Aslan, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told IPS. ... 'Yes, cultural diplomacy is good and has been tried before with decent results during the Khatami presidency,' Farideh Farhi, an independent scholar at the University of Hawaii, told IPS. 'But note that the context was different.

The United States had not yet fully embarked on its ferocious sanctions regime which makes cultural exchanges quite difficult and reliant on the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control granting exceptions to literally every exchange,' she said. ... 'While public diplomacy is absolutely vital and really the only outlet we have, the question of whether it’s going to change the larger media perception in the two countries of each other remains a complex one,' said Aslan. ... In his first press conference as Iran’s president-elect, the reformist-backed Rouhani appeared as a stark contrast to Iran’s current controversial president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. 'Our main policy will be to have constructive interaction with the world,' Rouhani, Iran’s nuclear negotiator during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, during a televised broadcast on Jun. 17. ... 'Unless there is a change in the overall frame of Washington’s approach to Iran, cultural exchanges will be perceived with suspicion in Tehran and effectively undercut by powerful supporters of the sanctions regime in Washington,' Farhi told IPS." Image from article, with caption: Experts suggest that cultural exchanges could help improve U.S.-Iranian relations. Above, members of Kiosk, one of Iran’s underground rock bands.

the academy anchorperson will acceptable get a job - Onine Collector: "Disney put this 'Portrait of America' video calm for the U.S. State Department to advertise America on television screens in assorted airports, embassies, and consular offices about the world. Karen Hughes, [then] Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, wrote about the video here. I absolutely like the video even if it’s just a creamy promotional piece.I anticipate the video auspiciously captures a allotment of the American people, our accustomed wonders, and our communities – at atomic the smiling, happy, august aspects of American life."

Social Media Diplomacy is about Innovation - Andreas Sandre, "At the Embassy of Italy in Washington DC, the process of integration between traditional activity and social media presence has brought us to the creation of the embassy’s Social Media Hub ( In one single page, formatted to be accessible online, including by tablets and mobile devices, the user has an overall picture of what the embassy does in terms of digital diplomacy. It is a way to make it easier for the public to find us online and engage with us at all levels on topics ranging from foreign policy to public diplomacy, business, art, and more. ... 'The idea of a Social Media Hub is as simple as it is innovative, making it possible for us to spotlight our press and social media activities on a single page,' the Italian Ambassador to the US, Claudio Bisogniero, said in a recent interview. 'What is most interesting is how the page continues to circulate on social networks, with over 900 ‘shares’ to date, drawing more and more virtual visitors,' he added. While I don’t believe new technologies and social media have had a strong impact on the daily life of the embassy – as traditional diplomacy has not disappeared, but rather improved – it is safe to say that diplomats have been forced towards a different way of engaging foreign publics.

And the Hub is indeed an example as it has been drawing us closer to the end user, allowing us a more personal approach at all levels. In this context, diplomacy – and public diplomacy in particular – has changed and is now geared more towards an organic way of interacting online, reducing political discourse to a minimum. The key messages are still present, but the focus is now to build a dialogue. In order to achieve this goal, it is important to tune the message in a way that it is organic, bold, and engaging. If you look at how diplomats around the world communicate on social media platforms, the three key ingredients to success are: being organic, and thus establishing a natural dialogue with your public, which helps nurture the conversation and reach a larger audience; being bold, while not always necessary, generates additional interest and encourages debate. And while organic communication and boldness are becoming more frequent in how diplomats interact online, the engagement side of this triptych equation comes at various levels. Being engaging is not easy to achieve and unfortunately there are no set recipes for success. It is often a try-and-fail process and as such it requires experimentation. As social media is here to stay, being experimental and thinking outside of the box is certainly not a bad thing. I believe it is the key to innovation in foreign policy. Andreas Sandre is a Press and Public Affairs Officer at the Embassy of Italy in Washington DC. He is the author of Twitter for Diplomats (February 2013) and has contributed articles on foreign policy and digital diplomacy to numerous specialised publications. ... The views expressed in this article are the author's only and do not necessarily reflect those of the Embassy of Italy." Image from article

Positioning and networking in the run-up to elections: Network European Movement Germany on day 1 July [Google translation from the German] - "Europe's future is the theme of the network-day around the General Assembly of the European Movement Germany (EBD). EU Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger delivers to the impulse: 'Germany and Europe before important elections: the challenges for the time after' is the theme of his keynote speech. To the network, EBD expected next day the ambassadors of Croatia and Lithuania and around 250 EU actors in the dbb Forum Berlin. The political agenda of Germany's largest civil society network for Europe, then the focus is on: The Board to EBD President Dr. Rainer Wend provides a catalog of political demands for discussion. This calls for the EBD include a Convention of the changes to the EU treaties to prepare a comprehensive Voting rights for EU citizens at the state level and the creation of a 'European public diplomacy' as cross-border dialogue of politics, society and economy."

Even for 'good Europeans' like Angela Merkel, defending national interests is king - Mats Persson, "[A]s I’ve argued before, for all the talk about 'good' and 'bad' Europeans, the national interest remains king in Europe. It’s all about how you frame the issue. It’s clear that Merkel has leveraged her (sizeable) power base in Europe when and where it is needed.

Secondly, it’s clear that the UK has a big image problem in the EU – unlike Merkel’s attempt to let her car manufacturers off the hook on emissions rules, Cameron has actually sought to impose stricter requirements on British bankers than the EU norm (under capital requirements rules). But the UK has done a terrible job of translating that into public diplomacy." Image from

EEA Newsletter June 2013 - "Brussel [sic] – Major step in adopting Religious Freedom guidelines: ... The European Evangelical Alliance welcomes the adoption of the EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief on Monday 24 June. ... Since the Guidelines are a public diplomacy document, victims will from now on be able to report what they endure to EU Delegations and Member States embassies, and ask them to intervene according to the instructions of the Guidelnes [sic]. ... EEA

was regularly invited and contributes actively ... to the drafting process. 'So, finally, for us, this celebration is more than that of the adoption of a public diplomacy document,' said Mr Christel Lamère Ngnambi, Brussels Representative of the European Evangelical Alliance ... who was asked to speak at a cocktail celebration on Monday at the European Parliament in Brussels. "It is also a celebration of a significant and fruitful success story of civil society organisations working hand in hand with public institutions to increase the solidity and the efficiency of policymaking.” Image from

Park Geun-hye: Northeast Asia is currently the Asian paradox potential for cooperation is not fully excavated - "Question: As we all know, you have a deep understanding of Chinese culture, which became you are dealing with China and China-related issues as well as leadership, public exchanges of a great advantage. Your public diplomacy between the two countries to promote the development of the plans? [South Korea President] Park Geun-hye: Diplomacy is no longer the exclusive government. Public on the formulation of foreign policy has a great impact. Therefore, the aim of winning the heart of the people of other countries and establish mutual trust and public diplomacy has become more important. ... Chinese people cherish each other's cultures have a positive attitude, the two sides at the cultural level has a profound connection, so deep base public diplomacy between the two countries. I will further work to strengthen cultural exchanges between the two countries, especially young people exchanges between the two countries to promote bilateral relations in the field of humanities. The two countries have agreed, if possible, this year held in Hanzhong Gong of diplomatic forum. I hope the two sides can discuss and share in the forum related to public diplomacy policies and experiences."

Yao Ming hailed as most successful case of public diplomacy - Wang Jinxue, People's Daily Online: 013 Forum on Public Diplomacy and 6th Diplomats Forum was held in Beijing on June 26, and about 100 people including government officials, scholars, entrepreneurs attended the forum. The theme for this year’s forum is 'China’s stories and image under public diplomacy'. Chinese ambassador to Tanzania Lyu Youqing said at the forum that public diplomacy plays an important role in promoting China’s national image in the world, therefore people should attach great importance to it. Lyu Gongxun with PetroChina shared his opinion on oversea public diplomacy.

He pointed out that Chinese enterprises operating overseas should try to bring benefits to local people, adding that public diplomacy can ensure the implementation of overseas projects, and boost the development of enterprises in foreign countries. Professor Jin Canrong with Renmin University of China said that non-governmental participation is the best way of doing public diplomacy, and Yao Ming is the most successful case of public diplomacy as he has greatly improved the image of Chinese people in the world. Established by Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) in August 2010, the Center for Public Diplomacy Studies is the first university-level research center on public diplomacy in China. It is the pioneer in public diplomacy studies and a strategic think tank for decision making of the Chinese government. Based on the innovative research results, it is designed for promoting research on public diplomacy, and providing intellectual support for government practices and serves as a platform for the public to join in public diplomacy activities. Meanwhile, as a pioneer and research base in public diplomacy, the center also conducts public consultation, corporate overseas strategy consultation and cross-cultural exchanges." Image from article, with caption: Speakers at the forum.

China’s Foreign Policy Dilemma – Sea Lines of Communication: "Foreign policy will not be a top priority of China’s new leader Xi Jinping. Xi is under pressure from many sectors of society to tackle China’s formidable domestic problems. To stay in power Xi must ensure continued economic growth and social stability. Due to the new leadership’s preoccupation with domestic issues, Chinese foreign policy can be expected to be reactive. This may have serious consequences because of the potentially explosive nature of two of China’s most pressing foreign policy challenges: how to decrease tensions with Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and with Southeast Asian states over territorial claims in the South China Sea. ... The 18th Party Congress work report, the single most important public document outlining the Party’s strategy over the next five years, also hints at a more assertive Chinese foreign policy. It pledges to ‘never yield to outside pressure’, a phrase which was not in the 2007 work report. Another new addition was the promise to ‘protect China’s legitimate rights and interests overseas’ when working to promote public diplomacy."

Is the Australian Liberal party out to silence opposition to Israel? - Jake Lynch, "The charge that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel is anti-semitic fails its only salient test. The target of BDS is not Jews or Judaism, but militarism and lawlessness, argues Jake Lynch. ... Universities come into BDS because Israel uses academic exchange as a distraction from its lawless and militaristic behaviour. The Neaman Report on public diplomacy, published by Technion University Haifa and commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recommends targeting 'educational organisations' as 'beneficial clients' in efforts to sanitise its image abroad."

Will Erdogan Go to Gaza? - Tulin Daloglu, Al-Monitor Turkey: "When Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Tuesday, June 25, that he might make a “surprise visit” to Gaza, no one thought it would happen as early as next week. Though it's unlikely the visit will take place any time soon, the Islamist Palestinian militant group Hamas believes differently.

As reported on June 27 by Falestin, a newspaper considered to be Hamas' mouthpiece, Abdelsalam Siyyam, secretary-general of the Hamas government, said Erdogan’s Gaza visit is scheduled for July 5. ... Although Erdogan’s office maintains its silence, Cemalettin Hasimi, project director at the Turkish Public Diplomacy Office, tweeted on June 27, 'We were able to invite (journalists from) four television channels and two newspapers. … This was a program about bringing together the journalists and foreign policy issues. It’s not related to our prime minister’s visit to Gaza.'” Image from article, with caption: A Palestinian youth draped in a Turkish flag looks at the Gaza Seaport during a rally in support of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Gaza City, June 18, 2013.

Consulates and foreign service - "[Comment by:] wahday Cyburbian [:] I looked into and took the first round of exams for the Foreign Service a few years ago. While I passed the written exam, I was not asked to move forward to the next round. In the interim (as I was anticipating applying again – many people apply numerous times before advancing), my local career took some unexpected turns and so I am pretty ensconced here at this point. ... Foreign Service also seems to be more dangerous right now than it has been in past eras. That definitely gave me pause, but I was strangely patriotic about it all as I was applying. There are different tracks (or 'cones') one applies for as well and anyone considering applying should research carefully what each entails. For me, though the Public Diplomacy arena was attractive, I ultimately felt that it would really take me away from my family more (and already its taxing on the family experience). So, I applied within the Consular track. Day to day, these folks deal with a lot of applications to come to the US and also provide support to Americans travelling abroad (including things like what happens when someone dies abroad? What if an American is arrested abroad?) But they also get to interact more with regular local people and its more or less 9-5, special emergencies and arrests by Turkish prisons notwithstanding. This means more time with the family and more time out and about. Also, the diplomatic folks are much more in the public eye and so they have to more careful about what they do and say when out and about."

Book Talk 6 – The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy - "In Book Talk 6, Andrew F. Cooper discusses his co-edited book, The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy. Co-edited with Jorge Heine and Ramesh Thakur, the book explores the ever-changing nature of diplomatic practices and the various forces impacting the profession. The book features the writings of practitioners and scholars and includes insight into the latest developments in the field. Cooper categorizes the tension between the forces of continuity and change as a major dilemma for diplomacy. Additionally, moving forward, diplomacy will likely become less state-centric, particularly in regards to issues like environmental policy which cannot be solved exclusively by state actors. Cooper points out that the appetite for global governance requires diplomats to act in a different way.

There is an increasing need for cooperation and open diplomacy across borders. Cooper also discusses the notion of diplomacy becoming a client based service industry and the opportunities and threats that accompany such a trend. ... Andrew F. Cooper is a Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), and is Professor of Political Science at the University of Waterloo where he teaches in the areas of International Political Economy, Global Governance and Comparative Politics. He holds a D.Phil in International Relations from Oxford University. From January to May 2009, he served as Visiting Fulbright Chair at the Center on Public Diplomacy, University of Southern California." Image from

Newcrest Mining Limited – Newcrest announces independent advisor to review … - "The Board of Newcrest Mining Limited today announced the appointment of former Australian Securities Exchange Chairman, Dr Maurice Newman AC, to conduct an independent review of the Company’s disclosure and Investor Relations practices. ... Maurice Newman retired as Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in December 2011 . ... He was appointed ... Honorary Professor in Public Diplomacy at the Soft Power Advocacy Research Centre, Macquarie University in September 2012."

Projects and Press Officer - British High Commission in Tanzania - "The British High Commission (BHC) is seeking a confident and well-organised individual to fill the post of Projects and Press Officer. This is a great opportunity to work in an exciting and fast-paced environment where the ability to think creatively, troubleshoot, work effectively with others, pay attention to detail and deliver results are key. ... Main Responsibilities: ... --To use media and social media

to maximise public diplomacy opportunitiesof BHC project work to contribute towards the British High Commission’s objectives. --To communicate the BHC’s objectives and messages, and lead on maximising public diplomacy opportunities through organising events, such as press conferences, interviews, press releases, and other events requiring media attendance." Image from


Pentagon propaganda efforts continue - Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY: The Defense Department wants to continue working with contractors to pump propaganda into Afghanistan despite a recent Government Accountability Office report that shows the programs are inadequately tracked, their impact is unclear, and the military doesn't know if it is targeting the right foreign audiences. The military deems the capability so integral to its effort in Afghanistan that it has extended the contract of the Leonie Group, its top private producer of propaganda, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a Pentagon spokesman. The company's co-owner, Camille Chidiac, was suspended for a time last year for admitting that he launched an online smear campaign against USA TODAY. The campaign, which Chidiac said in a letter to the Army, was started by public relations firm he had hired and wasn't his fault. The campaign began after the paper learned that Chidiac and his sister, Rema Dupont, the company's co-owner, owed the federal government $4 million in back taxes. They paid their tax bill, and Chidiac agreed to put his ownership stake in a trust and relinquish management of the company. That satisfied the Pentagon, which dropped its suspension of Chidiac and continues to do business with Leonie. The Pentagon is taking bids until July 19 for its propaganda enterprise in Afghanistan, known in miltiary-ese as, Military Information Support Operations (MISO). Since 2005, the Pentagon has spent hundreds of million of dollars on MISO. These propaganda efforts include websites, leaflets and broadcasts intended to change foreigners' "attitudes and behaviors in support of U.S. Government" objectives, according to the GAO. Some of them disclose the U.S. military as the source; others don't.

The Service of Snowden - Roger Cohen, New York Times: Across the world, and in the United States itself, many people sympathize with Snowden. They see his leaks as a needed stand for individual freedom against the security-driven mass surveillance of a U.S. National Security Agency armed with the technology to gather and analyze the digital trails of our lives.

Defense Contractors Vastly Outnumber Troops in Afghanistan - For every U.S. service member serving in Afghanistan, there are 1.6 Defense contractors on the ground (and on the payroll) in supporting roles.

Contractors make up 62 percent of the force there — 108,000 versus 65,700 troops, watchdog agency reports reveal. Image from entry, with caption: A U.S. Contractor stands while a helicopter departs over the gatepost at Combat Outpost Terra Nova in Kandahar, Afghanistan

Don’t Talk With the Taliban - Husain Haqqani, New York Times: As was the case in the 1990s, negotiating with the Taliban now would be a grievous mistake.

Syria won’t be Iran’s quagmire - Vance Serchuk, Washington Post: The Obama administration has reportedly decided to send light weapons and ammunition to the opposition. But even if this starts to reverse the momentum of Assad and the Iranians — an optimistic assumption — a return to a bloody stalemate is still a win for Tehran. That’s because Assad doesn’t need to reconquer all of Syria for the Iranians to emerge successful.

Too Hilarious: Susan Rice Decries Torture (except by the U.S.) - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: Ho, ho, now the U.S. wants to criticize (other) people who commit torture, sure, why not put that out there?

It’s what, the International Day for Victims of Torture? Maybe to celebrate the U.S. will force two cans of Ensure down the throats of those held indefinitely in Guantanamo. Image from entry

After 1,989 Day-Vacancy — President Obama Nominates Steve Linick as State Dept Inspector General – Domani Spero, DiploPundit

The evolution of Arab public opinion research [video] - Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy:  "How reliable is public opinion survey research in the Arab world?  What lessons should we draw from its findings for policy or for academic hypothesis testing? Has the proliferation of new research, of varying quality, improved the state of our knowledge? In last week's POMEPS Conversation, I talked to Shibley Telhami about his new book, The World Through Arab Eyes, based on a decade's worth of survey research in the region. In this week's POMEPS Conversation, I talk with the University of Michigan's Mark Tessler, one of the founders and leading scholars in the field of Arab public opinion research."

Squandering EU is left red-faced over kid's colouring book branded 'pro-Europe propaganda' - Martyn Brown, A children's colouring book produced at huge cost by the EU was David ­Cameron’s weapon yesterday to crank up pressure on Brussels to stop squandering vast sums. Bureaucrats also found the money to distribute 15,000 copies of the children’s book, described by critics as an attempt to brainwash youngsters with pro-EU propaganda, across member countries. Image from article, with caption: Prime Minister David Cameron warns European leaders to tighten their belts

'White House Down' Review: Unrelenting Liberal Propaganda Disguised As Popcorn Entertainment - Christian Toto: White House Down lets director Roland Emmerich indulge in his favorite stunt--dumping ideological sludge atop his already bloated disaster films.

Emmerich, who previously prayed at the altar of Al Gore with the global warming fright flick The Day After Tomorrow, outdoes himself with his latest adventure. White House Down slams conservatives, the "military industrial complex," defense contractors and any politician who thinks it might not be wise to withdraw all troops from the Middle East. Emmerich the pundit would be advised to read some conservative sites to flesh out his woefully one-sided world view, while his movie-making persona should re-watch a movie like Die Hard to show how grand escapism works. Uncaptioned image from entry

FAREWELL MESSAGE FROM TARA SONENSHINE, UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS [in the interest of space, without indentations; for text with indentations,see]

Farewell Note from Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine‏ - Received by email:"Thank you for all the work you do to advance U.S. national security through public diplomacy. ... The case for public diplomacy was never so compelling. With its unique position at the intersection of global information and people-to-people relationships, it has the potential to enhance the most positive and productive aspirations of citizens everywhere. It has impact. It matters." [full, unintended text below] This past year has given me the opportunity to see public diplomacy up close in our embassies, posts, American Spaces and out in the field. As I move on, I do so knowing that our work does what it's intended to do: create a safer and more prosperous world for Americans at home and abroad by helping citizens abroad build better futures. Throughout the past year, I have focused on defining the public diplomacy space, internally, and externally, and re-building confidence in PD programs and people while advancing the priorities of U.S. foreign policy through people-to-people engagement. My approach has been to frame public diplomacy in terms of short-range, mid-term, and long-term priorities so that we both stay focused on the immediate, but remain true to the premise that the real dividends of engagement sometimes take years to materialize. You see the results of positive public diplomacy when you meet heads of foreign countries, leaders of NGOs, influential writers, and others who have participated in USG funded programs years earlier. The people who experience our programs are often the people who solve problems, win Nobel Prizes, advance global interests, and reduce extremism. By supporting emerging leaders at a crucial time in their lives, we have made solid investments for our own country. This year has included outreach to the PD field through the establishment of the first external public diplomacy newsletter, the posting of agreed-upon core tenets for public diplomacy, active tweeting, speeches, interviews, visits to American universities and overseas trips as well as participation in bilateral summits, strategic dialogues, and town hall meetings, and a re-invigoration of our American Spaces overseas. Some major achievements that I am most proud of but need to be sustained: English language learning, globally, is now centralized on a Mobile App but needs to be broadened and deepened as we need to use more mobile technology and e-platforms overseas. A new video game, Trace Effects, for teaching English, is a major achievement and is gaining ground. We have to keep elevating Education and English learning as a core pillar of our engagement. Social media work is expanding through Facebook pages in multiple languages, content through Apps, global twitter feeds, etc. We must keep moving mobile. American spaces overseas are in the middle of a transformation to new models and the partnership with Smithsonian must be guided and sustained so that all of our American spaces have common standards of good content, accessibility, resources and evaluative capacity. American Spaces are critical windows onto America for those overseas. They can't be ignored. We have followed up on a Presidential Executive Order to stand up the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC)-a center for countering violent extremism online. It is already making an impact among targeted groups, and we must continue to support it. Monitoring and evaluation of public diplomacy is essential; we have good results, both quantitative and qualitative such as the PDI study showing that where we use public diplomacy the results are measured in the number of volunteers starting businesses, running for office. Favorability of the U.S. is up and those who participate in USG exchanges want to build civil societies. Thanks to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Study Abroad and exchanges are recognized now as centrally important to the State Department, with an economic dividend at home of $22 billion. There must be a high level 'call to action' with focus on Fulbright and other programs like YES. If we let these programs go ignored from the top leadership of State, they will fall victim to cuts or country decisions to do away with them or control them. Women and girls must remain central to U.S. foreign policy in words and deeds and that will require close coordination between our Office of Global Women's Issues (S/GWI) and public diplomacy. I have led the call for greater interagency participation, so we can work together to enhance those critical goals. BBG is in urgent need of reform and new approaches to the entities. I have worked hard as the Secretary of State's representative to the Board to suggest commission, board replacements, and other reform approaches. Public-Private partnerships to expand and enhance our public diplomacy have gotten much of my attention through our work on 100,000 Strong China, 100,000 Strong Latin America, and our Open Book project on Arab translations, to name a few of our initiatives. There is great potential to do more partnerships, particularly for our outreach to Islamic communities around the world. Building a domestic constituency for overseas engagement remains an economic and national security priority which means domestic outreach. I have traversed the U.S. from the East Coast to the West Coast, and in between, to make the case for public diplomacy. This must be continued so we don't lose momentum. Religious outreach is a vital ingredient to good public diplomacy and we have been carrying some of the load on coordination of these activities. I co-chaired the Global philanthropy and civil society effort which has made real inroads with the philanthropic community in creating a State Department bridge to international NGOs that work on issues related to R. I have mentored dozens of young people interested in service and tried to be a strong choice for career development within the Foreign Service and outside it to create a good leadership track for others to follow. So what does the future hold for U.S. public diplomacy in a complex world? Over the coming year, we have enormous opportunities to continue what public diplomacy does best: integrate our policies into a wide spectrum of public engagement. Using all the tools in the 21st century statecraft toolbox, in traditional and online ways, we can promote inclusiveness, tolerance, diversity and democracy and reduce the risks of costly global division, extremism, and war. Direct engagement is the key. We can connect with young people about things that directly affect their lives, including unemployment, vocational training, primary school education, gender issues, and health care. These issues are as important these days as bilateral trade, investment, security, and official delegations. We can share ideas with bloggers at a university roundtable, meet with alumni of our exchange programs, or sponsor sports or cultural events. We can interact with citizens with disabilities, support English-language students, or engage with visitors to more than 800 American spaces around the world. And we must also venture beyond the usual halls of power and connect with citizens in rural areas. People-to-people outreach goes beyond tweeting or texting. It involves virtual programming, disseminating thoughtful products, creating public awareness campaigns, connecting businesses through embassies, engaging religious figures, and acknowledging the work of citizen diplomats in a holistic approach. What is the recipe for good public diplomacy? The first step is to use convening power-internally and externally- simultaneously not sequentially. Inside government, officials who make and shape policy need to consider how the policy is communicated and understood by those on the receiving end of the policy-real people with real lives. That means convening the experts in public diplomacy while policy is in formation. It means circulating ideas to a wider group of individuals even at the risk that inclusion leads to disclosure.It means more video, imagery, photographs and story-telling. We have to move away from the innate, unspoken notion that governments alone change lives. Civil society groups, corporations, research institutions, elementary schools, summer camps and media have as much to do with how a society evolves as policymakers. And they can't operate without each other. Basic assistance that goes through large bureaucracies on the U.S. end, for example, and through foreign government bureaucracies often don't resonate with ordinary citizens. They can't fathom how they are helped by these relationships or often don't know that their education or health or energy or security is partly based on a bilateral relationship between governments. Without a trickle down proof of concept, the response to diplomacy by citizens is often muted or negative. By "broadcasting" those relationships - and doing the same for policies - we can achieve and demonstrate greater impact, and even help to mitigate hostility and mistrust, opening up new channels of support and appreciation in the U.S. Congress and among our own citizens for the work we do. More and more, citizens want to know why governments participate in their lives and to what avail. Public diplomacy can make policies tangible, real, and positive if we fully leverage the skill set. Truly integrated outreach, communications and public engagement planning has to include public affairs, media, education, social media, outreach to religious groups, women, and business leaders and aspects of society that never make it into the capitals and halls of power but move policy with their feet and their voices in the public square. Public diplomacy can no longer be an afterthought or a "nice to have" element of diplomacy. Nor can it be relegated to the message of the day or the official statement or a simple tweet. There must be a concerted effort to add a layer of public engagement that builds out the circle of government-to-government ties and ensures that while the President or Secretary of State is doing the official work of international policy, that a representative of the government is doing the work of building public support for the same policy. In an ideal world, public diplomacy both "sets the table" for policy and amplifies the policy through the connective tissue of real people. Without that, public diplomacy remains a long-term ideal without immediate impact in a world of instantaneous reaction and its marginalization will undermine its truest value. The response to State Department's public diplomacy work has been enormously positive. I thank both Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry and the leadership at State for their support. And I leave knowing that the work goes on and that individuals like you will keep us moving ahead.


Mexican amusement park offers fake border-crossing attraction - Jessica Chasmar, Washington Times: A new amusement park attraction in the Mexican state of Hidalgo is offering the thrill of crossing the United States-Mexico border without the risk, complete with fake smugglers and fake Border Patrol agents, PBS reported Monday. The Parque EcoAlberto is offering the attraction as a way to dissuade people from attempting to cross the border. For three hours, tourist groups endure sirens, dogs, chases and the fake Border Patrol yelling threats, PBS reported.


Via NR on Facebook

Friday, June 28, 2013

Fun and profit in pulverizing Washington

The ‘terror porn’ of ‘White House Down’: Fun and profit in pulverizing Washington

By Ann Hornaday, Published: June 27, Washington Post

It seems like just yesterday that filmgoers were being guided worshipfully through the halls of the White House in “Lincoln,” wherein Steven Spielberg lovingly re­created the lively, crowded, raucously dignified people’s house of 1865 Washington.

Well, goodbye to all that: With the arrival of the action thriller “White House Down” in theaters Friday, audiences are being invited to witness the promiscuous, unrelenting destruction of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. — which, over two incendiary hours, is vandalized, shot up, bombed and otherwise abused before a climactic set piece in which the executive residence is engulfed in fire.

What just a few months ago was reverently portrayed as the repository for American ideals and optimism has now been reduced to rubble and cinders.

At the Oscars ceremony in February, Washington and its institutions were being celebrated by way of three best-picture nominees (and a surprise appearance from the first lady). In “Lincoln,” Spielberg paid tribute not just to the 16th president but also to a Congress that still functioned despite its flagrant flaws. In “Argo,” director and star Ben Affleck told a little-known story from the 1970s in which CIA operatives were actually the good guys. Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” about the manhunt for Osama bin Laden, was a gripping testament to the agency’s old-fashioned legwork and newfangled data mining, as well as the courage and smarts of Navy SEALs.

“Zero Dark Thirty” fans might remember that Jason Clarke starred in that film as a CIA interrogator in charge of a brutal detainee program in Afghanistan. Clarke also plays a crucial role in “White House Down,” but not as an avatar of America’s troubled legacy of torture — rather, as an unambiguous bad guy who’s not above slapping a cute little girl around or gleefully putting a bullet through George Washington’s forehead.

There was a time in American cinema when political dramas like “Lincoln,” “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty” would have been conceived as indictments of America’s dark side — expressions of deep disillusionment with ruthless lust for power and institutional rot. What was remarkable about last year’s Washington movies was their utter lack of cynicism: The most negative pushback, against “Zero Dark Thirty” and its depiction of torture, accused the filmmakers of not being skeptical enough.

No sooner had awards season rolled up the red carpet than the tone radically changed. A new crop of D.C.-set movies arrived, led by “Olympus Has Fallen.” The president-in­jeopardy tick-tock, starring Aaron Eckhart and Gerard Butler, featured a Sept. 11-style attack on the Washington Monument and the protracted, indiscriminate strafing of the White House and its surrounding neighborhood. (Just a week later, in “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” the dastardly Cobra Organization was hanging its flag from the South Portico.)

In “White House Down,” another prez-in-jep flick, director Roland Emmerich seeks to one-up his predecessor with lavish shots of the Capitol dome exploding, Air Force One being felled by a missile and the title character — a present-day model of the White House, every bit as meticulously re-created as Spielberg’s — being subjected to all manner of “Die Hard”-esque indignities. Although some viewers are likely to be cheering Emmerich on as he brings the pain, just as many might feel as though they’re watching an uncanny impersonation of a beloved, nonpartisan public figure, only to see her gruesomely murdered. The Capitol and the White House may only be buildings, housing politicians who invite their share of scorching criticism. But watching them blown apart in the name of fetishistic pleasure is tantamount to seeing a historical-landmark version of “Saw.”

Before my e-mail inbox is barraged with “Get a grip” messages, let me assure you: I do get it. Movies like “White House Down” are the beer and hot dogs of the summer movie diet, the guilty pleasures we allow ourselves once or twice a year in the name of seasonal fun and escape. The over-the-top carnage in “White House Down” clearly announces that it exists in the realm of fantasy. No less than Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was working the red carpet with a big smile at the film’s Georgetown premiere on Friday night.

But even Napolitano would concede that, as far-fetched as the events depicted in “White House Down” are, we’ve learned not to scoff at the incomprehensible. We live in a time, after all, when memories of planes flying into iconic structures are all too vivid, when Washingtonians go to work every day with security badges around their necks and evacuation plans in their heads, and when the man occupying the real White House — who, like the one Jamie Foxx portrays in the film, is an ex-smoker, an enthusiastic basketball player and a deeply polarizing figure — has been a target of death threats that started even before he became a presidential candidate.

Part of the problem with “White House Down” is a radical tonal disconnect: The movie seeks to thrill with hyperbolic action, occasionally shifting gears into goofy, even slapstick comedy. But the filmmakers also clearly took their research seriously, making an impressive effort to be as detailed and accurate as possible in depicting the White House and its environs. Thus viewers find themselves whipsawed uneasily between fantasy and glib humor one moment, pulverizing violence and sobering verisimilitude the next.

The implications become even more discomfiting when one considers that “White House Down” will most likely have its biggest audience not in America but overseas, which now accounts for up to two-thirds of a film’s box office revenue. The producers of “Olympus Has Fallen” were canny enough to make their villains North Korean, a surefire hedge against offending the international viewers movie studios now so cravenly covet. In “White House Down,” the bad guys are all homegrown, vaguely based on President Obama’s actual opponents (white supremacists, a young hacker, “patriots” who want their country back). One of the film’s tag lines is a quote frequently attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

That pious tone is almost completely missing from a film that luxuriates in scenes of wanton destruction which — hewing so closely to our most palpable anxieties, then leeched of meaning and reduced to pure spectacle — may define a new genre: terrorism porn. As conflicted as some viewers might feel witnessing Washington being obliterated for fun and profit at home, their misgivings may deepen even more when they consider that these images comprise some of our most instantly recognizable exports. There’s no doubt that “White House Down” can charitably be seen as a shining example of a culture that is open, free and resilient enough to brazenly destroy the symbols of its finest principles. But watching the Lincoln Bedroom go up in flames, sacrificed on the altar of the global entertainment industrial complex, one can’t help wonder whether Hollywood isn’t bombing our village to save itself.

Image from article, with caption: A scene from “White House Down.”