Saturday, July 20, 2013

July 20 Public Diplomacy Review

"Is the statement that 'VOA news will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive' propaganda for the view that 'VOA news will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive'?"

--Question from a student; image from


Crash Chronicle 020113 HR 5736. On the Modernization of the Smith-Mundt Act.

U.S. Government Lifts Domestic Propaganda Ban #N3

Both items via TL on Facebook


From Egypt With Love - Maria Golia, New York Times: "Egyptians love conspiracy theories, and many believe that Mohamed Morsi, the ousted president, spied for the Americans, who helped his organization into power on certain conditions, namely keeping the peace with Israel. U.S.-Egyptian relations are closely watched here, and Patterson’s remarks during a June 18 speech on America’s belief in 'universal rights and values' fell on skeptical ears: If the United States cared about democracy in Egypt, it wouldn’t support authoritarian regimes. The U.S. Embassy compound near Tahrir Square admittedly is a poor advertisement for universal anything. The surrounding streets have been barricaded since U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq in 2003. For the last year, the entire area has been walled off by huge concrete blocks, forcing pedestrians like me to tramp an extra half-dozen blocks through epic traffic jams to get around it. Right now, Egyptians want to be recognized as principled defenders of democracy, not victims of a military coup. America long ago stopped funding the cultural outreach centers offering films, concerts, language classes and lectures that were an integral part of its public diplomacy effort. The heavily guarded embassy bunker, with its lines of weary visa-seekers, is the only direct contact most Egyptians will ever have with the United States. Although they have no illusions about their country’s shortcomings, in their estimation Americans live in a dangerously unquestioning and self-congratulatory myth. ... Since 2011, Egyptians have learned that winning the right to choose their own government is hard but holding it accountable for how it administers power is harder still.

That’s why their beef is with U.S. policies, not U.S. citizens: They have been excluded from political decision-making long enough to know that governments don’t always reflect the will of their people." Image from article

They Hate Us, They Really Hate Us - Marc Lynch, "Public diplomacy isn't going to solve America's Egypt problem, I'm afraid. This emphatically does not mean that Washington should ignore Egyptian voices or give up on efforts at broader, deeper engagement, though. Washington should pay close attention to what it is hearing from the Egyptian public, even while recognizing the politics driving those messages. It is never a good idea for U.S. policy to hunker down, convinced by its own messaging or dismissive of widely circulating ideas or critiques. The overwhelming lesson of the last few years should be that publics matter, in all their variety and internal contradictions, even if it is difficult to predict exactly how or where their impact will manifest.

Public diplomacy should be seen here as a long-term strategic investment, not as a quick fix. The Obama administration should certainly engage more broadly with a wide cross-section of Egyptian opinion and craft a more compelling narrative to make sense of its seemingly contradictory policies. It should do so even as it understands that little it says or does will make any immediate difference in Egypt's highly polarized, intensely politicized public sphere, where anti-Americanism is a surefire and cost-free political winner." Via MC (on another link) on Facebook; image from entry

Ingratitude in Afghanistan and Elsewhere - Paul R. Pillar, "The latest in an escalating series of disagreements between Washington and Kabul as the U.S.-led military expedition winds down concerns customs duties. The coalition never paid any taxes on all the equipment it brought into Afghanistan over the past decade. Under the terms of the agreement by which it did so—and similar to the rules tourists sometimes encounter when they bring an expensive camera or other gear with them to a foreign country—there was supposed to be paperwork to provide an accounting and an assurance that the same stuff the came in is also going out. But most of the paperwork was never filed as coalition forces were busy ramping up their war effort. Now the Afghan government is saying that without papers, it wants a fine of $1,000 per truckload. Equipping a war that has gone on for this long involves a lot of truckloads—70,000, according to the Afghans' estimate. ... [T]his latest dispute is one more reflection of the inevitable frictions and resentments that arise from a sustained military occupation and its associated operations. ... [A] recurring pattern in U.S. foreign relations and Americans' outlook toward them ... [is] being confident about the goodness of our own motives, we expect that people should like us, thank us and cooperate with us. ... One problem with this outlook is that many foreigners see U.S. motives as much different and less noble, no matter how much effort the United States puts into public diplomacy to convince them otherwise. Another problem is that even foreigners who take a more benign view of U.S. objectives still have to worry about their own interests, which are never identical with those of the United States. Moreover, even when genuine gratitude is felt it tends to be, as a function both of psychology and of the imperatives of statecraft, short-lived. The operative question more often is, 'What have you done for me lately?'”

Ardaiolo: Poster Project - "As a Public Diplomacy student, I chose the keynote lecture for which to design a poster. The title of the panel, 'The Role of the Individual in Foreign Policy,' immediately made Washington, D.C. jump to my mind. Like most of the U.S. government, the establishment in charge of deciding foreign policy is a bloated bureaucracy, a significant chunk of which are me-first politicians. So, I used the 'i' in 'individual' to create the shape of the Capitol building. I then made one of the black i’s red to signify the individual and used the same color for the word 'individual.'

The viewer can immediately recognize the shape, see the one red i, and then make the connection between the lone i and the word individual.

I hope the poster is effective in its simplicity. The message should especially appeal to the speakers and potential audience of the symposium, most of whom are critical of the current government policies." Top image from entry; below image from

Presentation by Laurent Fabius of France’s new cultural diplomacy (Lille, July 17, 2013) - "July 17, in Lille, at the end of the Cooperation and Cultural Action Network meetings, Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, presented France’s new cultural diplomacy. Mr. Fabius notably reaffirmed the need, in the context of increased international competition, to ensure that the diplomacy of influence conducted by our cooperation and cultural action network is consistent with all of our diplomatic efforts. This is now contributing to our country’s economic recovery by supporting the international expansion of companies, by promoting our country’s attractiveness, by encouraging the teaching of our language and the spread of our culture, and by supporting efforts to host foreign students in France, for whom the process of issuing visas will be simplified. The methods used to exercise influence must be coordinated based on the need for economic recovery and must support the sectors that are of strategic importance to France, such as tourism, research and development and the promotion of heritage and arts and crafts. In order to address this challenge, France has many advantages that can be even more widely promoted: the cultural and creative industries which already represent 5% of our exports, the audiovisual sector which must have strategies that are tailored to every region of the world, the digital revolution which is providing new opportunities for investment and the academic and scientific exchanges supporting the international development of our universities. France also has the largest cultural network in the world, the boundaries of which will be redefined, notably in order to allow us to have a greater presence in the emerging countries. Lastly, our language is a major asset, notably in Africa which could soon have more than 700 French-speaking people. Laurent Fabius confirmed our attachment to an ambitious policy to promote the French language."


Egypt's second chance at democracy: As long as the military's goal is democracy, U.S. aid should continue - Chuck Freilich, For the sake of U.S. interests in the Mideast and its ability to affect regional developments, from the changes set in motion by the Arab Spring to the prospects for containing Iran's nuclear program and the prospects for an Arab-Israeli peace, the U.S. must do everything it can to help Egypt through this trying time.

An Egyptian aid package, stuck in a D.C. labyrinth - An Egyptian aid package, stuck in a D.C. labyrinth
- David Ignatius, Washington Post: After the Egyptian revolution in February 2011, the United States had a good idea: Why not create an an "enterprise fund" to make loans to small and medium-size Egyptian businesses? President Obama announced the plan “to build networks of entrepreneurs” in Egypt in a speech on May 19, 2011. More than two years later, the fund has yet to make a single investment.

Easing the way toward democracy for the people of Burma - Paula J. Dobriansky, Washington Post:
The political thaw in Burma demonstrates that the Obama administration’s decision to lift U.S. sanctions was correct. But U.S. engagement in Burma has to be sustained, with full buy-in from our allies, international institutions and human rights organizations.

For Cuba, a torch of freedom - Editorial, Waashington Post: When blue rental car skidded off the road in rural Cuba on July 22, two men riding in the back seat were killed: dissident Oswaldo Payá, 60, and Harold Cepero, 32, the head of the youth wing of Mr. Payá’s Christian Liberation Movement. Mr. Payá and Mr. Cepero were among the hardy band of dissidents who have remained committed to fighting for democracy in Cuba despite threats and intimidation from the Castro regime. On Wednesday, Mr. Cepero posthumously was one of four recipients of theNational Endowment for Democracy’s 2013 Democracy Award.

Europe's continental drift: You think the U.S. is dysfunctional? Get a load of the Eurozone - Doyle McManus, Europe's unending recession is holding back a global recovery. And when the United States wants European allies to share its burdens, from counter-terrorism to Syria, the continuing economic and political crisis gets in the way. Meanwhile, though, a look at Europe offers Americans at least one consolation: the pleasure of schadenfreude.

Yes, the food is superb, the culture is sublime and they even have healthcare systems that work. But when it comes to political gridlock, Europeans are just as bad off as we are — probably even worse. Image from article, with caption: Unemployment in the 17 countries that share the euro is higher than 11%, and it's still heading up. Image from article, with caption: People wait in line outside an unemployment office in Madrid, Spain.

Fixing the Chinks in Immunity’s Armor - Room for Debate, New York Times: A housekeeper in New Jersey has accused her employers, one of whom works at Peru’s mission to the United Nations, of forcing her into a “life of involuntary servitude.” So far, the employers have been protected by diplomatic immunity. When international law can protect drunk drivers but simultaneously get pushed aside at the behest of powerful countries, is it time to reform or update it?


Who had the worst week in Washington? Rep. Steve Cohen - Chris Cillizza,  Washington Post: It started out as a surprising and sweet story. During the State of the Union address in February, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) tweeted a message to a 20-something woman named Victoria Brink in which he said he missed and loved her. Ever suspicious, the press corps — shame! — hounded Cohen, asking how he knew this woman. He said that she was his long-lost daughter, something he had found out a few years back. A happy ending, right? Not so much. CNN commissioned a paternity test to make sure that Brink was indeed Cohen’s daughter. And ... wait for it ..she isn’t.

Her dad is John Brink, who raised her as his own from birth. Record scratch. Why didn’t Cohen ask for a paternity test when he found out this alleged daughter existed? “I didn’t have children. I was thrilled to have a daughter,” the Tennessee Democrat told CBS on Friday. And so he didn’t order DNA tests immediately. “I didn’t want for her to think in any way that I was somehow questioning the relationship or trying to avoid the relationship,” Cohen said. “For 31 / 2 years, I had a daughter, and it was nice to care about somebody and share.” Now, contrary to popular belief, the Fix does have a heart. Simply because the daughter you thought was yours isn’t doesn’t mean you had the worst week in Washington. What does? When you, as Cohen did, say this to a female reporter asking about the incident: “You’re very attractive, but I’m not talking about it.” Um, what? Cohen later apologized, saying he had had a rough week. We agree. Steve Cohen, for turning yourself from sympathetic to slimy, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something. Cohen image from article



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