Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21 Public Diplomacy Review

"There is only one kind of love, but there are a thousand imitations."

--La Rochefoucauld; image from


Internal Report: State Department's Social Media Shop Is A 'Toxic' Hotbed of 'Cronyism' - John Hudson, "Best known as the bureau that blew $630,000 on Facebook 'likes,' IIP [International Information Programs at the State Department] finds itself at a crossroads, sources tell The Cable, as it prepares to announce a new coordinator next month.  This new technocrat will attempt to address a scathing Inspector General report from May describing a 'pervasive perception of cronyism' at the bureau where 'leadership fostered an atmosphere of secrecy, suspicion and uncertainty' and where staff 'describe the ... atmosphere as toxic and leadership's intolerance of dissenting views as non-existent.'

One might assume a massive overhaul is needed, but employees already complain of 'reorganization fatigue' from previous attempts to reorganize the bureau. Foggy Bottom spokespeople vigorously defended the bureau. IIP's many internal and external critics have a different view. The first among the bureau's many problems, they say, is the lack of a clear mission. The State Department defines IIP as the 'foreign-facing public diplomacy communications bureau,' but its role amid the U.S. government's sprawling diplomacy apparatus remains a mystery to many in Washington. ...  'We're constantly told we can't explain U.S. policy because that's for PA [Public Affairs],' said a current IIP employee. The result is the production of light, uncontroversial content, like videos of bald eagles in flight, National Donut Day in the U.S. or youth entreprenuership. [sic]  'We produce very soft content on things no one would disagree with,' said the employee. ... While accounts of disgruntled employees can be found at any agency, there's no question that IIP has lacked long-term leadership." Image from article

Pipeline Politics - Reza Sanati, "In May 2008, the Heritage Foundation released 'The Proposed Iran-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline: An Unacceptable Risk to Regional Security,' which provided a clear look at what had already become a bipartisan American policy. ... The Heritage Foundation’s advocacy

boiled down to mass public diplomacy against the IPI pipeline." Image from article, with caption: Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline, Chabahar, Iran, March 11, 2013.

The Fading Voice of Liberty: A dysfunctional Broadcasting Board of Governors hampers America's radio message just when the need for it is urgent - S. Enders Wimbush, Wall Street Journal: "Unable to tie broadcasting to U.S. foreign-policy objectives, it [BBG] invests where it should cut back, cuts back where it should invest, and does little to encourage targeting programming that serves U.S. interests. ... Incremental changes will never solve the BBG's built-in problems and contradictions. Starting over means eliminating the board, and putting all U.S. international broadcasting into a single nonfederal organization under professional management. The objective is a single organization, with professional leadership and management, and strong connective tissue to America's strategic center—logically the National Security Council—with strong input from Congress. There must also be a sturdy firewall against political interference in U.S. international broadcasting's journalistic mission. Though times have changed, much of this formula is what made U.S. international broadcasting so effective during the Cold War. It can work well again in the tumultuous world in which we now find ourselves."

Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting Rejects Recommendations in S. Enders Wimbush’s WSJ Op-Ed  - "As directors of a non-partisan, non-profit and independent citizen watchdog group (CUSIB – for U.S. international broadcasting, we agree with S. Enders Wimbush that radical reforms are needed ('S. Enders Wimbush: The Fading Voice of Liberty,' WSJ, July 18, 2013), but our organization believes strongly that none of his proposed solutions is good for the United States and for people deprived of freedom and free media overseas. U.S. international broadcasting is a critical national security asset focused on news reporting, free exchange of opinions, media freedom and human rights. It is too important for America and the American people to be 'privatized,' as Mr. Wimbush suggests. We adamantly disagree that the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) should be abolished. It provides critical public oversight. On the contrary, it should be strengthened. ... Ann Noonan, Executive Director Ted Lipien, Director The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting"

Transcripts show IBB official and others were not concerned with public reaction to Smith-Mundt propaganda ban repeal - BBGWatcher, BBG Watch

Is the Expiring Ban on America “Propaganda” Really a Problem? - Daniel Greenfield, "The VOA isn’t remotely in the same league as RT or PressTV or Xinhua. It’s not propaganda. It’s generic mainstream media news that’s hard to tell apart from CNN or NPR or the New York Times. It’s not particularly pro-American. It’s basically the same stuff as for-profit companies make which is why it’s really redundant. While broadcasting news that comes from the government is not a good precedent, these days it’s really hard to see the difference between that and the mainstream media. It’s not as if we have much of an independent media anyway so it’s hard to get agitated over the government version of CNN or CBS getting some airtime. Especially when Al Jazeera has its own cable news channel. As long as there’s a Democrat in the White House, every major American for-profit news channel, except for FOX, will shamelessly take the government line, run government talking points and defend the government position on everything. So as a former head of the State Department once asked, 'What difference does it make anyway?'”

Propaganda Ban Repealed As Government Made News Floods U.S. - DSWright," "Have you ever wondered what America’s official propaganda is like? You will not have to wonder much longer as the ban on the U.S. government propagandizing American citizens has been quietly lifted. You may soon be hearing and seeing government made news, though you might not always know it was government made. ... The law, the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, was passed as part of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. The repeal of the propaganda ban went into effect this month. The country has already gotten a taste of the U.S. propaganda efforts by the Pentagon."

Obama’s Government-Owned Propaganda Machine - "The MSM is no longer the only propaganda machine for the Obama regime. With the demise of the restriction on propaganda, broadcasting to citizens from our own government has been repealed.

The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, buried deep within the last National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2013, now allows our dissembler-in-chief to broadcast propaganda directly to American citizens." Image from entry

'Anti-Propaganda' Ban Repealed, Freeing State Dept. To Direct Its Broadcasting Arm At American Citizens - Tim Cushing, "While the BBG may provide a less-biased source of news for many foreigners (or at least provide a different bias), the purpose of its broadcasts to its new American audience are less clear."

U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans - "Comment by Jim Campbell, Citizen Journalist, Oath Keeper and Patriot. As a trained propaganda writer at the Defense Information School at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, this comes as no surprise to me.

In fact it’s worse, not only has the government admitting to use propaganda to send out their messages to we the people, but as I’ve repeatedly discussed with our readers, the Democrats are doing the same thing." Image from entry

"Nation Branding" takes on LDCs, with uncertain results - Ariel Bardi,  "'Every nation is a brand,' writes Thomas Cromwell, founder and president of East West Communications, a D C-based consultancy firm. Or it will be one soon. Nation brand consulting, the hybrid offshoot of public diplomacy and corporate marketing, has been gaining traction throughout the developing world, with republics as diverse as Afghanistan and Tanzania seeking counsel from branding gurus. Country-tailored campaigns promote trade and infrastructure, plug niche markets, and court foreign investment (or foreign tourists) When it comes to the developing world, nation branding has become a game of nation building. The stakes are especially high for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Cromwell tellsMediaGlobal News. Cromwell, who specializes in nation branding, says LDC countries ‘need branding more than those already well-known and successful.’  They also ‘have the greatest opportunity to establish a brand from scratch, he explains. This is where consultants come in. ‘Most nation branding efforts involve state actors (e.g., ministries, national tourism boards, etc.), which serve as ‘clients’ to various private service providers, such as international and national brand consultancies, advertising and PR agencies,’ Nadia Kaneva, a Media Studies specialist and contributor to the forthcoming book Images of Nations: Strategic Communication, Soft Power, and the Media, tells MediaGlobal News. In an era of creeping homogeny, national branders rely on specificities, sifting individualized countries out of the global sandbox while shaping their foreign appeal. ‘National reputations cannot be artificially constructed, they can only be earned,’ Simon Anholt, the British consultant credited with coining the term 'nation brand' in 1996, tells MediaGlobal News. ‘No country has ever succeeded in raising its profile by telling the world how successful or wonderful it is. It’s all about deeds, not words and pictures.’ According to Anholt, the benefits of nation branding surpass national monetary rewards, reaching toward a global good. Calling it ‘an entirely new and very powerful diplomatic lever,’ he sees nation branding as a tool of political reform, producing 'much better results' than either conventional diplomacy or pressure by the international community to enact legislative or governmental change. Why? Because ‘it appeals to the self-interest of national governments.’ ... While flashy slogans — ‘Cambodia Kingdom of Wonder,’ ‘Naturally Nepal,’ ‘Zambia Let’s Explore’ — can fall under the nation branding purview, top consultants strive to develop nation brand equities that derive more from substantive changes than stylish logos. As Anholt notes, 'My work is policy advice, not communications consulting.'

Others remain unimpressed with branding semantics. As Philip Seib, director of the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy, tells MediaGlobal. 'The publics throughout the world are not stupid; they will quickly perceive that mere branding does not benefit their own lives.' He credits exchange programs like the US Peace Corps as more sustainable, albeit incremental, alternatives to branding strategies, which rarely go beyond a year." Image from article, with caption:  Nosy Komba, a small island off the coast of Madagascar. The island nation, which has been working to brand itself an eco-destination, is one of several LDCs in Africa and Asia that has sought help from consultants to shape its national appeal.

Israel opens a 'virtual embassy' to Gulf states: The Foreign Ministry's Twitter account is akin to the U.S. State Department's websites for communicating with Iranians and Syrians - Barak Ravid, "The Foreign Ministry last week opened its first 'virtual embassy' – a Twitter account through which it hopes to conduct a dialogue with the people of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain. The new account is called Israel in the GCC – the Gulf Cooperation Council, an umbrella group for every Arab state in the Gulf except Iraq. These six Sunni Arab countries have a mutual interest with Israel: coping with the Iranian nuclear threat. The account was opened four days ago and had four tweets as of Sunday morning. 'Our hope is to reach out and open lines of dialogue #KSA #Oman #Bahrain #UAE #Qatar #Kuwait,' says one tweet. The virtual embassy was the initiative of veteran diplomat Gary Koren, a special projects coordinator at the ministry’s director general’s office who has handled relations with the Gulf states. Koren will soon take up a new post as ambassador to the Czech Republic. The ministry’s public diplomacy department, headed by Yoram Morad, will operate the Twitter account, under the guidance of the director general’s office. The U.S. State Department made a similar move a few years ago when it opened virtual embassies to Iran and Syria. These 'embassies' are websites providing Iranians and Syrians information on the United States and its policies, and about consular issues like visas. America’s virtual embassy for Iranians is operated from the U.S. Consulate in Dubai by a Persian-speaking U.S. diplomat. The virtual embassy in Damascus is operated from State Department headquarters in Washington by Arabic-speaking diplomats."

Letter to the Editor - Norman and Lola Cohen, writers who chair the British Israel Group (BIG) [scroll down link for item] - Jerusalem Post: "Israel has waited far too long to get its act together in the hasbara (public diplomacy) field, and missed so many opportunities to promote its good image to the world and combat the misinformation and downright lies that circulate about our country ('Waking up,' Letters, July 16). ... [There] are the 114 grassroots hasbara groups in Israel and around the world operating under the umbrella of CoHaV (Coalition of Hasbara Volunteers), of which our organization, the British Israel Group, was a founder member. These groups have been laboring away for years – in the main without any funding – to disseminate positive information and fight the lies. We give talks abroad, write letters and articles for newspapers all over the world, meet with visiting politicians, offer hospitality to visiting groups (especially Evangelical Christians), and provide information for pro-Israel activists abroad to use in talks, seminars and conferences. Sadly, our efforts to work with the Foreign Ministry largely have been ignored, and where useful contacts have been made there has been a complete lack of continuity. Good luck to Danny Ayalon and his group, The Truth about Israel. Even with the huge amount of funding it has at its disposal, it is going to be fighting a tough battle. We, the members of existing hasbara organizations, wonder whether he will work alongside us instead of duplicating what is already being done."

Cartoon: On Security Challenges in #Sochi2014 - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "So, Russia Behind the Headlines published a piece on 'Challenges and cooperation for Sochi 2014 security' (which I just saw), talking about how Russia will need to impress the world and demonstrate that it is not only a fully 'modernized' country, but also one that can put on a good show and ensure security during such a major event. But it's not the 'Russian image' or public diplomacy aspect of the article that got my attention. I almost fell off the chair when I saw the cartoon.

It's hilarious (and tragic at the same time). It just had to be re-shared. Enjoy... As for Russia's stereotypes of Caucasians (the real ones; not the WASPs) -- I'll cover that in my next post..." RBTH image from entry

Bhutan all set to host The Mountain Echoes Lit Fest '13 - Richa Shukla, TNN: "The Mountain Echoes Literary Festival, 2013 is recognition of culture, traditions, art and everything in between. It is about getting together and celebrating everything that brings one pleasure - books, music, art, photos, drama, movies, sports etc. An initiative by the India - Bhutan foundation, Mountain Echoes is produced by Siyahi, the festival takes off with Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck and Namita Gokhale, as they look back on her life as the Queen Mother of this mystic Himalayan nation. Speakers from across the globe will debate, discuss and read from their works. ... For those interested in the fields of art, photography and history there will be a photographic exhibition Bhutan: An Eye to History showcasing the evolution of photography in Bhutan. Exhibition Kalpana: Masterpieces of Figurative Indian Contemporary Paintings will be showcased at the Nehru Wangchuck Center. Tarayana Center, Thimphu will host an art exhibition VAST Summer Show 2013. Also at the Nehru Wangchuck Centre, films from various genres will be screened with the support of the Public Diplomacy Division [of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs]."

Ramadan in Egypt at KAA Museum - "Welcoming the holy month of Ramadan, 2013, Asia Africa Conference (KAA) Museum in collaboration with the Embassy of Egypt to Indonesia and LayarKita Bandung Movie Community, will be held during a month (07/17-08/17/2013) a public education program called Ramadan in Egypt at the Bandung KAA Museum with the theme Egypt a 1000 Towers State. ... On Thursday, 07/18/2013, 14.00-18.00GMT will be preceded by the appearance of typical desert art by senior artists De Seng Tan.

Then Egypt on Documentary Movie that will be present as an introduction talk show in theme Egypt in General After the 2011 Revolution. After the talk show, Egypt a 1000 Towers State exhibition is planned to be launched in jointly by Ambassador Mr. Bahaa El Deen Desouky, Foreign Ministry’s Director General for Information and Public Diplomacy A.M. Fachir and Foreign Ministry’s Secretary General for Information and Public Diplomacy Diah Wulandari M. Rubianto." Image from entry

InfowarCon 2014 - "January in DC- cold weather,the possibility of an inch of snow, and we have a city that can quickly shut down. If you are looking for something to do and are public diplomacy, Information Operations, Cyber Security professional- head south for a few days. This January Infowarcon will be held in Nashville, TN. Infowarcon’s website describes this year’s convention as 'three actionpacked days consisting of seminars, hands on training, and demonstrations. Infowarcon is all about innovation- innovation in the various forms of non-conventional warfare.'"

Lesson 174 Look Back…Then “Onward” - Larry D. Lauer, Strategic and International Communication Lessons: "On these pages I will continue to explore the impact of new media, the critical need for media literacy, the future of the academy, advancing institutions, and the cross-cultural understanding potential of US public diplomacy and international higher education."


War on terror: Life, death and drones: President Obama, like Bush, has defied the Supreme Court - John J. Gibbons, When campaigning for office, then-Sen. Barack Obama criticized Bush's abandonment of basic checks and balances in the so-called war on terror. Yet today, President Obama has taken his predecessor's assertion of executive fiat even further. His administration says it has the power not just to detain suspected terrorists but also to kill them without any judicial oversight or accountability.

U.S. military drone surveillance is expanding to hot spots beyond declared combat zones - Craig Whitlock, As the Obama administration dials back the number of drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, the U.S. military is shifting its huge fleet of unmanned aircraft

to other hot spots around the world. This next phase of drone warfare is focused more on spying than killing and will extend the Pentagon’s robust surveillance networks far beyond traditional, declared combat zones. Image from article, with caption: A U.S. Air Force MQ-1B Predator drone sits on the flightline at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

Next Steps With Iran - New York Times: The closer the world gets to serious diplomatic engagement with Iran on its nuclear program, the more hard-liners in Washington and abroad will push military action if the effort fails. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, for one, has tried to goad the Obama administration to show Hassan Rowhani, Iran’s newly elected president, that “the military option which is on the table is truly on the table.” Until the United States and Iran invest in diplomacy, there is no way to know if a deal is possible.

The Pipe Dream of Easy War - H. R. McMaster, New York Times: American forces must cope with the political and human dynamics of war in complex, uncertain environments. Wars like those in Afghanistan and Iraq cannot be waged remotely.

World War Z criticised for 'Israeli propaganda': Hollywood blockbuster depicting zombie invasion of earth receives harsh criticism from Arabs for idolising Israel and normalising West Bank separation walls - AP and Ahram Online: In the film, Israel is praised for its savvy survival instincts and peaceful intentions. It is credited with predicting the zombie invasion and preparing proper defenses, making it one of only two nations to prevent a lethal outbreak.

The other, North Korea, adopts a more draconian solution: It extracts the teeth of all its citizen to prevent people from biting each other and spreading the deadly zombie virus. The movie depicts the Israeli military as courageous and resourceful, the Israeli people as inviting and humane. Even Israel's often criticised system of West Bank checkpoints is portrayed as an effective tool to protect both sides. "If it weren't for the zombies in the background, you'd think this was an engineered campaign of the Defense Ministry to strengthen Israel's status in the world," Israeli movie critic Chen Hadad wrote in City Mouse magazine. The movie opened in Israel last week. Image from article

Israel's answer to Al Jazeera vows to avoid propaganda: Editors of i24News, which was launched this week in English, French and Arabic, vow to give an Israeli take on current events - Gili Izikovich, The establishment of i24News was announced in April 2012. The press release spoke of an initiative by Patrick Drahi, the Franco-Jewish businessman who owns the HOT cable company, reporting that he planned to donate money to start a trilingual news channel with an Israeli flavor. Haim Slutzky Communication Channels is the content producer, and editors were appointed for each of the three languages: French, English, Arabic.

First Look: 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' Sentinels & Propaganda Posters - Ethan Anderton, Here at Comic-Con, 20th Century Fox has only confirmed that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and The Wolverine will be part of the big panel in Hall H. But the studio also teased a bit of a surprise. While there's the chance an X-Force movie might be officially announced, there might also be a treat for those waiting to see some footage from X-Men: Days of Future Past. Why do we say that? Well, it's Comic-Con, and we just spotted Trask Industries outside of our hotel. For those unaware, in the X-Men universe, Trask Industries is the company responsible for creating the Sentinels, tasked with keeping mutants in control, and they've brought part of their robot creation to show off, along with some propaganda posters. Look!

Image from entry, with caption: And here's the cool propaganda posters (the first one is being handed out in front of the Hard Rock)

Chart: How Booz Allen Hamilton Swallowed Washington - Via LJB

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