Thursday, July 11, 2013

July 10-11 Public Diplomacy Review

Abbreviated edition

"There were some wonderful foreign-service officers among the 1,300 people at the embassy, but they never left the compound, so they never met any Afghans. You can't do a one-year tour, as a military person or as a civilian, and expect to be competent."

--Andre Hollis '88, former Defense Department official and adviser in Afghanistan; cited in Princeton Alumni Weekly (July 10, 2013), p. 43; image from


Is all political propaganda bad? - BBC News: "When we think of propaganda many of us may think of the techniques used by the Nazi Party in Germany, or perhaps the spin tactics used by our political parties today. But what about governments who use television campaigns to encourage us to be careful when crossing the road, or warn us about the dangers of contracting HIV? Elizabeth Glinka reports on a exhibition at the British Library."

WATCH: North Korean propaganda video uses Edward Snowden to attack U.S. The NSA leaks highlight South Korea's "servile" relationship with America, the video claims - "Edward Snowden: Infamous National Security Agency leak source. Man on the run. And now, a propaganda video star."

British mock the Nazis with the Nazis’ own propaganda footage, 1935 - "A German propaganda film called 'Triumph of the Will'

was released in 1935 to bolster support for Hitler. When the British got a hold of it, they re-edited it and added a lighthearted dance tune to make the German military and Hitler himself look like silly wind up toys. Then they released it as their own propaganda. The British loved the humor of the simple mockery. In contrast, when the Nazi Minister for Propaganda Joseph Goebbels saw his work reappropriated to undermine his cause, he left the theater screaming curses…" Image from


Washington and Egypt's revolutions: As evidenced by its confused reaction to two popular revolutions, the US has repeatedly failed to anticipate and factor into its calculations what the Egyptian people are capable of - Mohamed El-Menshawy, "[T]he January 25 Revolution which put to the test claims by the Egyptian people of Washington’s double standards. On the one hand, Washington claimed it championed freedoms and democracy, but in reality it propped up a despotic dictatorship. Obama’s administration tried to sugar coat its position through public diplomacy. While declaring its support for the aspirations of the Egyptian people for freedom and democracy, it waited until it ascertained that Mubarak would leave before announcing its support for the demands of the Egyptian masses. After Mubarak’s ouster, Washington tried to maintain its traditional influence by containing these nascent democratic regimes and not allowing major shifts in policies. It sufficed with some changes of figures in power. ... The US’s performance so far has shown Washington

has miscalculated what the Egyptian people are capable of since the launch of revolutions that are unwelcome by the US." Image from

ElBaradei: A coupmonger liberal global elite - Levent Basturk, "[Footnote] 1 The Shabab April 6 Movement, which was at the inaugural summit of the Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM) in November 2008 in New York City, led to the creation of, a nonprofit organization dedicated to identifying, connecting, and supporting digital activists. The founders of include Jared Cohen, former advisor to both Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton and a director at Google. As is mentioned in a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks and cited this week in The Nation, Newsweek, the New York Post and ABC News, April 6 was able to connect with other grassroots activists - who they remain connected to - at this event. The US State Department’s Michael Posner stated that the 'US government has budgeted $50 million in the last two years to develop new technologies to help activists protect themselves from arrest and prosecution by authoritarian governments.' The report went on to explain that the US 'organized training sessions for 5,000 activists in different parts of the world. A session held in the Middle East about six weeks ago gathered activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon who returned to their countries with the aim of training their colleagues there.' Posner would add, 'They went back and there’s a ripple effect.' Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James K. Glassman, th[e] State Department said on November 24, 2008: 'And as a result of those conversations and the work that Jared has done, between December 3rd and December 5th [2008], ..., a conference is being held in New York City at the Columbia University Law School that will bring together 17 organizations around the world…. Also, a foundation will be created called the Alliance of Youth Movements. And a hub, an electronic hub, again, anyone will have access to it around the world. ... We are – we at the State Department are one partner. In fact, we take a back seat to what the private sector is doing, which is just fabulous. But we’re happy to have gotten this thing started, at any rate.'”

Has Snowden left international relations stuck in a transit lounge? - Sarah Logan, "Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s signals collection mechanisms and targeting of Americans, non-Americans and foreign governments (including US allies) have provoked a huge response in the global media and by those concerned about privacy rights. Snowden has built on Wikileaks’ adventures in diplomatic transparency, laying bare the highly classified skeleton of the most-powerful intelligence collection mechanisms available and their links to US foreign policy goals. ... The main effect of Snowden’s leaks lies rather in their impact on US internet policy coherence, by diluting the United States’ moral authority as a beacon of internet freedom.

Revelations about the extent to which key US technology companies including Google, Yahoo and Facebook may have cooperated with US surveillance agendas completely undermines any future value the United States might gain from trumpeting these companies as agents of internet freedom for its own public diplomacy agenda, as it did during the Arab Spring. As the People’s Daily puts it, this incident tears off Washington’s ‘sanctimonious mask’. But the ignominy goes even further. The Snowden revelations emerge just as Washington is attempting to assert its leadership on a range of internet governance issues, including cybersecurity. A recent Council on Foreign Relations task force notes that US decision-makers ‘do not have the luxury of pursuing Internet trade, freedom, and security policies in isolation’, and the window for US leadership on the full range of internet issues is now closing. European leaders have already indicated that the revelations may affect trans-Atlantic trade negotiations, and the issue feeds emerging US–European divergence on data protection and privacy issues ... Representative of an emerging granularity in international politics, Snowden is an international actor in his own right. Acting alone, he speaks to publics as well as states. ... As recent events show, Snowden may as yet be doomed by traditional power politics to life in a dreary embassy with a treadmill donated by Julian Assange. The reality is that the transit lounge at Sheremetyevo airport is bounded at either end by the presence of state actors, great power relations, and the enduring conventions of sovereignty. Let’s hope it contains some excellent duty-free bottleshops." Image from

2013 Global Agenda for Economic Freedom - The Heritage Foundation Economic Freedom Task Force, "Action Needed: Governments in the Americas need to institute or continue sound macroeconomic policies that lead to greater economic freedom. They need to liberalize further their economies, dismantle costly and inefficient bureaucracies, and forgo the frequent resort to over-regulation, as well as seeking more job-creating private-sector domestic and foreign investment. Because many of the region’s economies are committed to sound macroeconomic policies and eager to improve both integration into the global economy and overall competitiveness, these positive trends need to be continued and the return to protectionist practices avoided. U.S. Policy Recommendation: The U.S. Department of State should promote stronger protections for property rights and urge strenuous, ongoing efforts to fight the age-old problem of official corruption.

Private entrepreneurs must be able to make new investments in their businesses without fear of government confiscation. The U.S. should link development-assistance programs and votes in international financial institutions to countries’ commitments to the rule of law and respect for private investments and property. The U.S. must also work to gain advantage in the battle of economic ideas and overcome residual statist and authoritarian traditions in Latin America by directing public diplomacy attention to unsustainable economic policies and persistent failures—for example those associated with Venezuela’s 'Socialism of the 21st Century' and Cuba’s outdated and failed Marxist economic model." Image from entry

Pakistan Report: U.S. committed an ‘act of war’ with raid on Bin Laden compound - "In 2009, a report by Helene Cooper of the New York Times cast light on how much Pakastan [sic] actually hates the U.S. Cooper stated that Judith A. McHale, who was the Obama administration’s new under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs sat down with Ansar Abbasi, a Pakistani journalist, got more than she bargained for. Cooper said that after McHale gave her initial polite presentation about building bridges between America and the Muslim world, Mr. Abbasi thanked her politely for meeting with him. Then he told her that he hated her."

The State Department Isn't Great at the Internet - "Corny, inexplicable YouTube videos featuring low-rent animations. Expensive, unhelpful efforts to get attention on social media. The web marketing efforts of a mid-range Toyota dealership in Fort Worth? No.

This is apparently the outreach strategy employed by our very own Department of State. The latter tactic came to light last week with the release of an inspector general's report outlining the department's Bureau of International Information Programs' spending on trying to get Facebook likes. ... [T]he IIP's Digital Outreach Team, a group tasked with 'engag[ing] with Arabic, Persian and Urdu language Internet sites, including on blogs, news sites and discussion Forums.' Its mission? '[T]o explain U.S. foreign policy and to counter misinformation.' According to the Associated Press, the team employs 50 people. It's not clear if that number includes any trained in video production or improvisational comedy." Image from article, with caption: Cartoon from the Digital Outreach Team

I’m OK, You’re OK: State Department Spends $630,000 on Facebook “Likes” — Rick Cohen, "Social media strategies are important to nonprofits, as the NPQ Newswire has repeatedly covered. For those of us who may be less sophisticated social media users, the phenomenon of having to click a button to 'like' things sometimes feels a bit over the top, but we know that many groups actively try to attract 'likes' on Facebook. Now, word comes that the U.S. government wants to be liked, too. Between 2011 and 2013, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) spent $630,000 to get likes, according to an inspector general’s report.

The money did expand the State Department’s fan club, increasing the likes on its English-language Facebook page from 100,000 to more than two million, and to 450,000 on its foreign-language pages. The IG, however, intimated that the Bureau typically got young people to like it, rather than the desired 'target audience, which is largely older and more influential.' The IG also criticized the Bureau for an 'absence of a Department wide PD (public diplomacy) strategy tying resources to priorities [that] directly affects IIP’s work.' The IG report further noted that the State Department has more than 150 social media accounts that it suggested were uncoordinated. Do strategies to 'buy fans' on Facebook work for nonprofits? Under what circumstances, and with what kinds of strategies? Does it make sense of a federal government agency to be buying Facebook fans? What advice would you give the State Department with its social media strategy?" Image from entry

Defending Foggy Bottom over Digital Diplomacy - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "A story broke last week from an OIG report about the State Dept's Bureau of International Information Programming (IIP) spending $630,000 to promote content on Facebook. In short, the article that brought it up (OMG! State Department Dropped $630,000 on Facebook 'Likes') was none to kind, and the story became a political football to bash State Department for wasteful spending. Except it wasn't wasteful. Due to the way Facebook is jiggered these days, it is how you get broader outreach. ... Digital diplomacy outreach represents an important part of public diplomacy, and if you want more people to see what kind of cultural diplomacy program you are doing in country, you need to bring people into the community that is your Embassy Facebook page. ... [I]f it is about promoting facebook posts related to real cultural diplomacy done by embassies or other things of pd value, then it is not wasted money but rather pretty well spent. ... There is a great picture and story that was posted on the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia's Facebook page:

That is a great picture and a powerful story of sacrifice by American Muslim youth, who are both fasting for Ramadan and preparing food for those less fortunate. That picture and story communicates both American tolerance and American values of service. And no one would have seen it or 'liked' it if digital diplomacy groundwork had not been laid. You can't just post something on a page, and expect the world to like it. You have to build your outreach, and unfortunately, that requires a bit of investment. But the quantity of 'likes' and number of people in your network community that is your Facebook page leads to more impressions and better quality interactions." Image from entry

ACCESS 2013 Graduation Ceremony: The addresses - "Access Welcome address ... We are extremely honored to have the chance to address you on this special day when our institution, SCHOOLING PLUS, celebrates its first Access Graduation Ceremony. ... Today, we are honored with the presence of Katherine Hall, the Cultural Attaché Officer, and Hafedh Zanina, the Public Diplomacy Assistant at the US Embassy, Tunisia. ... Over a period of two years during which we had 360 hours of English language classes and cultural enhancement activities that gave us a feel of American culture in all its aspects, the Access program was a life-changing experience for all of us.

Through culture, we learned how close we are, how similar we are and how tolerant and loving to one another we can be. We stand here to express our heartfelt gratitude to the US Embassy for setting up this program in Tunisia and for extending it to other regions beyond Tunis." Image from entry

The U.S.-Russia Peer-To-Peer Dialogue Program - "Award Ceiling: $100,000 Award Floor: $0 CFDA Number(s): 19.040 -- Public Diplomacy Programs ... Agency Name U.S. Mission to Russia Description [:]Recognizing the need to make a fresh start in relations between the U.S. and Russia, the Presidents of both countries created the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission in July 2009 to improve coordination between our governments and societies to address shared challenges and to explore new opportunities for partnership in areas of mutual interest. To help foster greater contacts between Americans and Russians, the State Department is announcing the U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program, which will provide small grants to support meetings, virtual interactions, exchanges, and internships between American and Russian organizations. Applications from any kind of non-commercial organization will be welcome, including scientific groups, student associations, academic collaborators, and civil society organizations. American or Russian organizations can submit applications, but must clearly demonstrate in their application a proposed collaboration with a peer organization in the other country. This program is not intended to support core funding for applicants, but rather to provide new opportunities for greater dialogue, interaction, and collaboration between Russian and Americans organizations. Projects must be non-political in nature and focus on Russian-American peer-to-peer dialogue or people-to-people engagement on themes of mutual interest. Applicants are encouraged to incorporate innovative ways to foster interaction including the use of social media, video conferencing, short-term academic exchanges, and internships. Successful projects will include an outcome or product that enhances greater interaction and understanding between our two societies. The maximum amount of each grant will be $100,000."

When a “Private Blogger” Isn’t – International Broadcasting Bureau – The Standard For Dysfunctional and Defunct in the Federal Government – Information War Lost - The Federalist,   "Recently, our editors posted a commentary regarding the blog of Kim Andrew Elliott, an employee of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB). ... The IBB is a discredited bureaucracy. Writing about and seemingly in support of this discredited bureaucracy raises issues of objectivity, credibility and balance for someone employed there in a higher level position no matter what kind of disclaimer that person uses when we know that others in the agency can’t do the same and express views critical of the management."

“China is Alright”: a Summer Camp for Overseas Chinese students from Laos - "China Radio International‘s Mandarin service renders a newslet by China News Service (中国新闻社), China’s second-largest state-owned newsagency after Xinhua, on the field of public diplomacy. Original title: Ethnic Chinese Laotians go to Yunnan to experience Chinese culture [.] CRI Online news: according to China News Service, the '2013 China is alright – the perfect Yunnan summer camp' has started in Kunming, with fourty campers and group leaders from Chinese schools in Laos. It is scheduled to go on for ten days. Apart from developing [an awareness or knowledge of, apparently] Yunnan ethnic culture, knowledge of China, and exchange, the overseas Chinese students will also experience Yunnan province’s local conditions and customs. ... With Chinese-Laotian cooperation growing closer and the surging 'Chinese language fever' in Laos, more and more

ethnic Chinese and Laotians want to understand the Chinese way of life and traditional culture. Luo Bailan, a teacher and group leader with the camp, says that the Chinese schools in Laos are continuously adjusting their educational methods, to allow the students to learn by experience. ...  Chinese Language and Culture Education Foundation of China deputy secretary general Li Xianguo says that 'China is alright' is an important part of the foundation’s 'Young Ethnic Chinese Chinese Culture Heritage Project'. ... The State Council Information Office (SCIO) is more elaborate, adding that most of the students haven’t been to Yunnan before. Even though it has been rainy for days, and temperatures in the spring city [i. e. Kunming] are a bit low, this hasn’t affected the campers’ high spirits in the least. They are reading the course schedules of the camp reader, excitedly discuss the coming lessons and the tourist attractions. A student tells the SCIO reporter that he is most interested in poetry recital and calligraphy, and in touring the Stone Forest, the birthplace of Ashima: 'We also want to experience the culture of national minorities in the Yunnan Nationalities Village I don’t know a lot about national minorities and hope to experience a lot of interesting things', Lin Yingcai says in fluent Chinese. Many Laotians and Burmese and Cambodians and North Koreans see China as a promised land, Joshua Kurlantzick wrote in his 2007 book Charm Offensive (p. 137). And America, he warned, had earned itself a bad image in the past, and was still doing so: [']For decades, the United States still did not grant Laos normal trading relations, though Laos’s human rights record was no worse than the record of China, with whom America traded vigorously. American sanctions on Laos infuriated Lao officials, who didn’t understand why such a big country like the United Stateswould punish a minnow – especially since during the Vietnam War, America had dropped more bombs on Laos than it dropped on Germany and Japan together during World War II, leaving Laos riddled with unexploded ordnance. ['](Kurlantzick, p. 59) Jiang Zemin visited Laos in November 2000, reportedly the first visit by a Chinese head of state. In November 2006, Jiang’s successor Hu Jintao followed up, and moved China Radio International (CRI) one step ahead of the BBC and the VoA, by pushing a button for a rebroadcasting FM station – the inauguration ceremony was reportedly broadcast live, as the rebroadcaster’s first program ever." Image from

Leaders reach out before S and ED - Liu Yunlong, Global Times:  "The China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S and ED) kicked off Wednesday in Washington DC with US Vice President Biden saying in the open talk that the relationship between the two countries is and will continue to be a mix of competition and cooperation. Biden also voiced hope that the annual dialogue would build trust between the US and China. ‘We both will benefit from an open, secure, reliable Internet. Outright theft that we are experiencing must be viewed as out of bounds and needs to stop,’ Biden said, calling for cooperation with China. The US has been accusing China of waging a hacking campaign against its government and companies, with a study saying that the theft of trade secrets was costing American corporations hundreds of billions of dollars a year. China has hit back that it too is a victim of hacking, charges that gained ammunition when US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden  said the US had broken into the Internet routing network in China. ... Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang published an article in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, saying the S and ED is an important step forward taken by the two governments in their efforts to build a new type of major-country relationship. Wang stressed that business is the anchor of China-US relations, but pointed out that the expanding business ties have also led to disagreements and doubts. The Washington Post Tuesday also posted an article by State Councilor Yang Jiechi pointing out that the dialogue is an important platform for conducting high-level communication on long-term, strategic and overarching issues. ‘Both articles in US publications are part of public diplomacy,’ Wang Fan, professor with the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times, adding that this tactic would help ordinary Americans know more about China. ‘Apart from the US government, China also needs to communicate with the US public and let them know what China is thinking,’ Wang said."

How China is seen in Afghanistan Posted: July 5, 2013 in Oriental Morning Post - "Aside from having a low visible public diplomacy presence, China’s contribution to Afghanistan’s security (300 police trained after Zhou Yongkang’s visit last year) is low and there is a strong sense that China prefers perennial enemy Pakistan to Afghanistan. China’s soft power in Afghanistan is in a very low state. ... A quick fix solution to this is difficult to see. But some ideas exist that could help raise China’s profile. The ... security contribution ... should be developed further – more police should be trained and China should offer to help foot the costs of maintaining the Afghan security forces post-2014. Focusing this money towards specific areas where China’s companies have made investments would be a way to link this money to specific Chinese interests. Secondly, China should undertake a soft power push into Afghanistan. Other rising Asian giant India provides somewhere in the region of 2,000 scholarships a year to Afghan students to come to India – China provides far fewer. Increasing this number is an easy way to start to develop a new cadre of young Afghans with a stronger feeling towards China. And finally, China’s companies that are invested in Afghanistan should do more to help develop the nations infrastructure. Chinese companies are amongst the best in the world at doing such work in difficult environments – they should deploy this ability into the Afghan context."

Caribbean Sunshine for China-Xi Jinping’s Historic Visit to Trinidad and Tobago - "Just after Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa left China concluding a four day official visit in late last May, Chinese president Xi Jinping embarked on an official trip to the Americas. This would take him to four countries including Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States. But his first destination was the small Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. ... The president of the most populous country in the world chose to visit a geographically distant nation of just over 1.3 million people because of one crucial factor: Energy. Trinidad and Tobago is different from all other small Caribbean island nations due to its large deposits of oil and natural gas. ... Little Trinidad and Tobago

has also risen in importance for the Chinese. In the last six years, trade between the small island nation and the Asian giant has grown from US $ 174 million to US $ 450 million. China is increasingly asserting herself in the ‘backyard’ of the United States. ... China has understood that trade is not the only tool in diplomacy. She has granted a loan to Trinidad and Tobago government to build a new children’s hospital. Meanwhile, a branch of the Confucian Institute would be opened with the aim of propagating Chinese culture in the island nation. With these acts of public diplomacy, China has made her intentions clear. She is there to stay. Do not be surprised if you see some Chinese cultural items in the famous carnival of Trinidad in a few years time." Image from article, with caption: Trinidad and Tobago, CIA World Factbook

Gen. Luo Yuan owes India a favour - M K Bhadrakumar, "The latest report on fresh Chinese 'incursion' in the border region in Ladakh seems synchronized, because it has simultaneously appeared in the national dailies and is obviously based on official briefing. Which agency of the government is indulging in this ‘public diplomacy’ is the intriguing detail . ... But is anyone really listening out there in Beijing? The leaders who matter in the leadership have their eyes trained on Washington, DC, where the China-US Strategic Dialogue is taking place later today. It is a defining moment in the New Type of Relationship between China and the Obama Administration. Hopefully, PLA’s ‘reasonable hardliner’ Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan who warned of “new trouble” would ... take note that after all, it takes two to tango."

Tweeting the Bomb: Netanyahu and the New Public Diplomacy - Kristine Bergstrom: "About twenty-five minutes into Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly last September, the Israeli prime minister took out a crudely sketched diagram of a cartoonish bomb, drawing a red line near the top of the figure to illustrate his claim that Iran is in the final stage of being able to make a nuclear weapon. ... Netanyahu’s speech attracted not just the attention of journalists but also that of the wider public. As evidenced by multiple social media analytics, his bomb went 'viral.' Discussion of the presentation started to trend very rapidly on Twitter, meaning it was one of the most popular subjects on the site at the time. Internet 'memes'—words, images, videos, and other vehicles for spreading a concept from person to person online in a humorous way—mocking the Israeli leader’s bomb diagram surfaced, and Twitter users began labeling tweets with #BibiBomb and #netanyahu hashtags—symbols used for categorizing messages on the site. ... The Israeli leader’s theatrics were wildly successful in attracting broader public interest and media attention to his cause. ... [M]ore and more, Twitter is not just setting the agenda for what qualifies as news but is also becoming the news. As social media grows more ubiquitous, politicians like Netanyahu are learning how to take advantage of the medium to try to shape the debate by becoming a Twitter 'trending topic.'... Netanyahu's approach, while effective in drumming up interest on social and traditional media, had its drawbacks. His prop was designed perfectly to garner attention, but because it seemed to lack seriousness, some of that attention was negative. ... However, his speech was undeniably effective in shaping the broader public debate."

Washington watch: Israel’s dysfunctional diplomacy - Douglas M. Bloomfield, Jerusalem Post: "One ambassador says, 'Henry Kissinger was right when he said, ‘Israel has no foreign policy, only domestic policy,’ but I’d add to that Israeli leaders are actually afraid of foreign policy.'

'It seems that the fear of our leaders is of any foreign policy,' he added, 'which will require the country to consider other interests than our own. Thus it would be better to avoid listening to professionals and just blame everything on lack of hasbara [public diplomacy].'” Image from article, with caption: Netanyhau arrives for weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusaelm, May 26, 2013

Yesh Atid MK calls for government to coordinate public diplomacy messages - Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post: "Israel needs a more unified public diplomacy policy, Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee chairman Yoel Razbozov (Yesh Atid) said Tuesday. Following a meeting with government offices and NGOs dealing with hasbara (public diplomacy), Razbozov appointed MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid) to coordinate with them ways to work together to improve Israel’s image in the world. Representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office pointed out that they are responsible for coordinating between the many government agencies that deal with public diplomacy – Foreign Ministry, Diaspora Affairs Ministry, IDF Spokesman – but Razbozov expressed doubt about their effectiveness. ... Hasbara NGO StandWithUs’s Israel director Michael Dickson left the meeting optimistic: 'We are engaged in a daily and global battle against divestment motions on campuses and boycott attempts. The Knesset initiative to bring groups together in this fight is to be welcomed.'”

Blue Ocean - Ana Marie Pamintuan, The Philippine Star: "There are currently eight direct flights per week between Tehran and Bangkok. Iranians add to the huge number of foreign visitors in Thailand, which ranks behind only Malaysia in terms of tourist arrivals in Southeast Asia. We should have been ahead in this region in forging closer people-to-people exchanges with Iran, since we’re marking the 50th year of official relations with that country. But we tend to go where Uncle Sam takes us. Also, perhaps Thailand has a keener appreciation of the world’s so-called Blue Oceans – untapped markets where competition is not yet stiff, where rules of the game have yet to be written and demand created, and opportunities for business growth can be greater.

Iran, now under new leadership, is promoting its Blue Ocean image and opening its arms to the world. Even Uncle Sam and its western allies are welcome – as long as they don’t tell the Iranians what to do. 'In the coming months, you will see,' Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Mohammadi said yesterday. 'The western countries are in line to rush to Iran.' ... Ambassador Mohammadi visited The STAR yesterday together with Ramin Mehmanparast, head of the Office of Public Diplomacy in their Ministry of Foreign Affairs, his deputy director Mohsen Shamsizadeh Ravandi, and female Iranian reporters Farzaneh Shokri and Zeinab Haj Hosseini. Mehmanparast is the first top-level Iranian official to visit Manila in a long time. ... Mehmanparast noted that Iran could serve as a facilitator for business and travel between Southeast and Central Asia, and help generate jobs for overseas Filipino workers." Image from

Back to blogging: Column on CGI on Russia's soft power - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos, The UNdiplomatic blog on public diplomacy and international communication: "[L]ast month, I received an invitation from the Center on Global Interests to contribute a piece on Russia's soft power, so I decided to give it a try [see]. ... I rediscovered - yet again - while doing all this thinking on 'soft power', was how much I dislike that term (I was warned against using stronger language on this one). But I guess it's a hot topic now, and indeed, it does sell like hot cakes. Will have to live with that for now... Finally, while I'm on the subject on Russian 'soft power', here's a piece from ITAR-TASS published yesterday. Apparently Russia's getting pretty desperate about its failure to decisively win over hearts and minds -- particularly in the West (surprise-surprise!). It's so desperate, in fact, that they're announcing the establishment of a 'Positive Russia Foundation' based in London (whoever came up with this name! Clearly, not the best start for a PR consultancy...). I'd also ask you to note that all this money is being channeled into image making -- branding, PR, media promotion... Yet, despite all the failure (and yes, they have noticed it's not really working as much as they'd want to), the funding doesn't seem to stop. I'll leave the speculation on possible reasons to you. Here, one just needs to reiterate that the problem is that they are tackling only a part of the issue, which is much greater and much more complex than mere commercial-style brand operations can handle. (Seriously now, whatever happened to learning from others' mistakes?) This is where I'll suggest they switch gears from 'soft image making' to reading up on public diplomacy. Perhaps that will help...?"

Newly Elected Parliamentarians At NATO HQ and Shape - "July 2013 - Some 15 members of parliament from 10 NATO member and partner nations concluded a three-day orientation programme at NATO Headquarters and the Alliance’s military headquarters in Mons, Belgium, organised with the support of the NATO Public Diplomacy Division and the Swiss Government. From 1-3 July, the lawmakers met with some of the Alliance’s top civilian and military officials to examine NATO’s processes and policies.

The meetings focused in particular on NATO’s ongoing operations, the Alliance’s adaptation to 21st century challenges, the impact of the financial and economic crisis on Allied capabilities, and the Alliance’s evolving relationships with its many partners." Image from entry

The War on Tusks - Tara Sonenshine,  "The world is waking up to the plain fact that we are losing elephants fast.  National Geographic’s  2012 cover story on 'Blood Ivory' detailed a decade of poaching that hit a high in 2011, having the greatest impact in the central Africa region.  According to experts at Columbia University, we have only 400,000 elephants left in the wild.  30,000 elephants are killed each year. A public education awareness campaign must be waged worldwide to target the demand side of the elephant equation. ... In the end, this war will be won through changing hearts and minds—or in other words, public diplomacy.

We need education to reinforce the principle that killing animals is not cool and that the crime of poaching will lead to serious consequences.Whether it is good luck, wisdom or patience, elephants are vital to our planet and must stay front and center in the global mindset until their slaughter is stopped. Tara D. Sonenshine is former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and helped lead the anti-poaching efforts at the State Department." Image from entry

World Trade Center Utah Named to OPIC’s Partners Program - "World Trade Center Utah was named as the newest member of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s Partners Program, a public diplomacy initiative designed to expand knowledge of OPIC’s role as the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. The designation was announced in Salt Lake City at OPIC’s Expanding Horizons seminar for Utah’s small businesses which was cosponsored by the WTCUtah.

Through the Partners Program, OPIC works with selected trade, business and foreign policy organizations nationwide to increase public knowledge of OPIC’s work. By utilizing the resources of geographically-diverse organizations with different memberships, information about OPIC is disseminated to a larger audience. WTCUtah will join the eighteen other national and regional organizations which are members of the program." Image from entry, with caption: OPIC - World Trade Center Utah Executive Vice President and COO Elizabeth Goryunova joins Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Director of Public Affairs Dr. Larry Spinelli at an Expanding Horizons seminar for Utah's small businesses. At the seminar, World Trade Center Utah was named as the newest member of OPIC's Partners Program, a public diplomacy initiative designed to expand knowledge of OPIC's role as the U.S. Government's development finance institution."

Lesson 172 Context in Global Politics - "What we need is a powerful spokesman to emerge with a new vision for an expanded definition of public diplomacy."


US diplomats cry foul as Obama donors take over top embassy jobs: Former ambassador likens practice to 'selling of public office' as figures show average amount of cash raised is $1.8m per post - Dan Roberts, Obama has made a clutch of foreign appointments recently. The 16th century Villa Taverna in Rome has just gone to John Phillips, a Washington lawyer who raised at least $500,000. John Emerson, a Los Angeles fund manger, will get to meet future contacts as ambassador to Germany after he raised $1.5m. Jane Stetson, heiress to the IBM fortune, is tipped as frontrunner for Paris after she raised $2.4m for Obama. In total, nine sought-after postings in Europe, the Caribbean or Asia have been given to major donors in recent weeks, with a further three in France, Switzerland and Hungary earmarked to come soon. Of these 12, the precise bundling data is available for 10. According to a Guardian analysis, using the figures leaked to the New York Times, the average amount raised by each donor is $1.79m. Many of the capitals have grown resigned to the process. "All that really matters is that the ambassador is close to the White House – and his top fundraiser usually is," said one British diplomat. One factor cited by defenders of the practice is that private means are needed to fund the lifestyle led by ambassadors, but the importance of this is disputed by State Department veterans. The Foreign Service Act of 1980, states that "contributions to political campaigns should not be a factor in the appointment of an individual as a chief of mission." At at time when the US is reaching the limits of its "hard power", career foreign service staff argue it is time for professional diplomacy to mount a comeback.

US Corporate Media shown to be Rank Propaganda Arms: Snowden Affair exposed more than NSA spying - Dave Lindorff, The national corporate media to be little more than unofficial propaganda arms of the US government.

Is the 'China Dream' Real? Or Just Empty Propaganda? Xi Jinping's slogan now forms a part of the country's ideology. But what does it mean? - "Stein Ringen: I'm coming to the view that the 'Chinese Dream' is a signal from the leadership of great import that has much to say about the nature of the Chinese state. It is striking, in my opinion, how effectively and rapidly the system swung into action to interpret and give content to the leader's signal and flesh out its implications in ideology and practice. Here are some of the things I've noted: Study and discussion groups organized throughout the Party and government system; research projects launched in Party schools and research institutes; newspapers and magazines running educational and commentary articles on the concept; state television, in both national and international services, staging learned debates; universities introducing the Chinese Dream into their political training of young academics.... Jeremy Goldkorn: I hope that the notion of the Chinese Dream is a signal that the Party recognizes that China ought not to be merely the world's biggest factory, largest market, and most significant creator of pollution. I hope it is a recognition of the dignity and the aspirations of ordinary Chinese people. Unfortunately, I have seen nothing to convince me

that the Chinese Dream is anything but a shoddy ripoff of the American Dream, a propaganda campaign imposed from above as an ideological framework to justify continued Party rule, and to find a euphonious way of talking about China's place in the world. ... Robert Kapp: Given the fantastic, shibboleth-corroding diversification made possible by the Internet (even with China's official intrusions into it), and the pulsating, surging appetite for new wealth, it remains to be seen whether 'The China Dream' will effectively help China secure its moorings, or whether instead, like 'Morning In America,' or the 'Contract With America,' (or -- wasn't there something about a "New Covenant" a couple of Administrations ago? I can't quite recall) -- it will be quietly retired in favor of something newer and catchier five, or at most ten, years down the line. ... Robert Kapp: ... As an American, it's hard to separate the rhetoric of a national 'dream' from the forms it has taken in the United States: the soaring evocative message of Dr. King's 'dream,' or the far tawdrier invoking of 'the American Dream' in too many cheap present-day political speeches. Let's hope that whoever coined the term 'The China Dream' late last year, as Mr. Xi stepped into the highest political office in China, wasn't simply borrowing an overused phrase from the American political lexicon." Image from entry, with caption: The 'China Dream' is central to Xi Jinping's presidency."

22 Employees Resign From Al-Jazeera, Call Network "Propaganda Channel" For Muslim Brotherhood - Jonathan Wolfe, Twenty two employees from the media company Al-Jazeera resigned on Monday

after they accused the company of airing “biased coverage” of the on-going political upheaval in Egypt. Image from entry

More North Korean Children’s School Propaganda Art - "In 2013 I became a partner and guide with Young Pioneer Tours.

I spend my 5 months of vacation a year working the cutting edge of experimental travel, not only in North Korea, but in Iran, Eastern Europe, and remote parts of Asia - places your parents wished you stayed away from!" Image from entry

The TT that became a Nazi propaganda coup - Steve Farrel, It’s been described as motorcycle sport in its purest form. But the Isle of Man TT hasn’t always been just about sport. In 1939, the world’s most spectacular motorsports event became a propaganda exercise for the Nazis. With Czechoslovakia and Austria already under German control, and war with Britain looming, the Nazi propaganda machine viewed sporting victory as a means of demonstrating international dominance. A victory at the TT, at the time the pinnacle of motorcycle sport, would be a coup.

In the official TT database of race records, the entry for the year says: ‘As war clouds gathered in 1939, the German government was determined to boost national prestige by dominating every international sporting event, and the TT races were no exception.’ Less than three months before the start of war, German riders with Swastikas on their leathers arrived in Douglas to stamp their dominance on the annual races. Read the full story of The Nazi TT in Roger Willis' book of the same name, available at Uncaptioned image from article

Propaganda: artifice by design - Roland Elliott Brown, The word “propaganda” derives its modern use from the name of a 17th-century Roman Catholic institution, the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide, or Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. Established during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648, a sectarian conflict that devastated Europe following the Protestant Reformation), it housed a college that trained priests to advance Church dogma on a divided continent. The role in contemporary quarrels of a term linked to early modern religious strife is disconcerting because it suggests that even secular politics are, in alarming measure, faith-based. Two exhibitions in London, “Propaganda: Power and Persuasion” (at the British Library from May 17 to Sept. 17) and “The Art of Influence: Asian Propaganda” (at the British Museum from May 30 to Sept. 1) probe this anxiety and, by presenting national styles of persuasion in juxtaposition, reduce antique arguments to examples in the study of a phenomenon.

Much of the exhibition’s framing is American, with Uncle Sam appearing on the promotional material, and a 1949 U.S. instructional film, “propaganda techniques” screening at the entrance. Disappointingly, the Middle East — ground zero for so many incompatible narratives — gets light treatment. By contrast, Asia is well covered. The most compelling aspect of tradition in propaganda, however, may be the tendency of observers to superimpose it. A Vietnamese poster promising conversion of tanks to agricultural equipment, for example, reminds Mary Ginsberg, the show’s guest curator, of the biblical line, “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares.” Elsewhere, a Chinese scholar explains the resonance of pictures of the boat on which the first congress of the Chinese Communist Party met by remarking, “If a Westerner sees a man and a woman riding a donkey under a star, he immediately thinks [...] about the birth of Jesus. When a Chinese sees this boat, it’s about the birth of the Communist Party.” Image from article


Brazil’s ‘Happy Prostitute’ Slogan Gets a Chilly Reception: “I’m happy being a prostitute" didn't have quite the right ring to it - Anjani Trivedi, "With the Soccer World Cup headed to Brazil in 2014, the prostitution business is expected to boom, TIME reported earlier this year, so much so that Brazilian prostitutes

are being offered free English classes to get up close and personal with their foreign clients during tournaments." Image from article, with caption: Brazil's anti-STD campaign poster on International Prostitute Day: "I am happy being a prostitute"; via PR

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