Thursday, July 25, 2013

July 22-24 Public Diplomacy Review

Abbreviated edition, due to your PDPBR' s compiler's increased summer teaching obligations

"¿Qué es la vida? Un frenesí.

¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión,
una sombra, una ficción,
y el mayor bien es pequeño;
que toda la vida es sueño,
y los sueños, sueños son."

--Calderón de la Barca; Calderón de la Barca image from


--Still Doing Gangnam Videos at State? Social Media Fails - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well [more below]


World leaders are on Twitter, but they’re not using it - Brian Fung, Washington Post: "Although 78 percent of world leaders are on Twitter, with European leaders the most likely to be using it, their level of diplomatic engagement on the service varies. The award for best-connected world leader goes to Carl Bildt, the former prime minister of a country that gives its national Twitter handle to a different citizen every week. Bildt and 44 other global statesmen are mutual followers on Twitter. But Bildt is something of an anomaly. Few if any national leaders tweet using their own thumbs. ... If digital diplomacy were really taking off, we might expect it to help maintain relationships among world governments, or at least serve as a cheap way to engage in posturing amid international negotiations.

Instead, the State Department’s social media efforts are floundering. When Hillary Rodham Clinton stepped down as secretary of state in February, a lot of people wondered about the future of the geeky program she helped put together to make social media a new cornerstone of American diplomacy. Under Clinton, the State Department launched countless Twitter profiles and embassy Facebook pages, the better to engage with foreign publics. But the effort hasn’t all gone well. According to an inspector general’s report, the State Department spent more than $600,000 to increase Facebook ‘likes,’ buying the kind of achievements that public diplomacy is supposed to create organically. The new secretary of state, John F. Kerry, hasn’t done anything to diminish digital diplomacy in the wake of Clinton’s departure, as a lot of people feared might happen. But that’s largely because Clinton set the bar so low." Image from article, with caption: Then-Sen. Barack Obama checks his BlackBerry on the 2008 campaign trail in St. Louis

Jeez, Still Doing Gangnam Videos at State? Social Media Fails - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: "Measuring the effectiveness of the made-up concept of public diplomacy is indeed the problem with public diplomacy. If your goal is to sell tickets or increase attendance, well, you have a clear goal that you can obviously compare directly against actions taken and money spent (Google it; it’s called 'return on investment.') State latched on to things like Facebook and Twitter simply because they were cool and 'modern' without any idea what the real point was. But don’t believe me– see what the Inspector General had to say. Oh, says State, you can’t really measure the 'soft' benefits of social media. The 'we can’t measure it' thing is a convenient excuse not to try. It was the excuse used in Iraq and Afghanistan to allow billions to be spent on reconstruction projects that did not work. Here’s an idea– why not allow a fully-independent taxpayer organization to audit State’s social media, with a unredacted report to the public on how it furthers US policy aims? Or wait… how do politicians and organizations measure this stuff? Might be a clue there: they of course use unbiased, sophisticated, professional polling and surveys (even if they release jacked-up figures to the public later.)"

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Hearing - [speaker not identified] "[July 19] In 1999, the State Department disbanded the U.S. Information Agency, which played a prominent role in countering Soviet ideology during the Cold War. Today, no U.S. government agency has the lead role for countering al Qa'ida's ideology. The State Department has the lead for public diplomacy, but has not developed a comprehensive inter-agency strategy to counter al Qa'ida's ideology.

The CIA is involved in some clandestine activity, but most senior officials do not view undermining al Qa'ida's ideology as its core mission. The Department of Defense is also involved in some efforts, but they are dispersed among U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, and other organizations. Ultimately, it is the President and the National Security Staff's responsibility to appoint a lead agency and hold it responsible." Image from

$10,000 Funding Available for Public Diplomacy Programs [subscription] - "The U.S. Department of State's Mission to Trinidad and Tobago has announced that it expects to award a discretionary grant to support creative and sustainable projects ..."

People-to-People Activities in South and Central Asia - "Interested organizations are invited to submit applications for open competition for a grant to conduct people-to-people activities in South and Central Asia. This program is supported by The Office of Press and Public Diplomacy of the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs of the U.S.Department of State in Washington, DC. The mission of

this program is to support the development of long-term people-to-people ties that can help build a stable, prosperous and integrated South and Central Asia." Image from

Heritage Foundation’s Helle Dale, others call for greater scrutiny of officials in charge of U.S. broadcasts - BBGWatcher, Cites, among others, the two articles mentioned immediately below.

U.S. International Broadcasting Finally Accessible for Americans - Helle Dale - "This month, Americans finally got the opportunity to watch and listen to news programming that the U.S. government has been broadcasting to the rest of the world for decades. This is a good thing. Americans should benefit from and be informed about the news that their tax dollars pay for — to the tune of $730 million annually. This change in international broadcasting policy was made by the Smith–Mundt Modernization Act, signed by President Barack Obama in January. The revision took effect on July 2. Provisions in the original Smith–Mundt Act, which authorized U.S. public diplomacy including international broadcasting, had prohibited the domestic dissemination of any public diplomacy products aimed at foreign audiences. A relic of the Cold War, the restriction produced a bizarre distortion in the age of the Internet and global mass media. Americans could watch programs produced by Russia’s state-owned Russia Today, China’s CCTV, Qatar’s Al Jazeera, and Britain’s BBC World Service on their televisions, but not the actual broadcasts of Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia (RFA), or any of the other U.S.-funded broadcasters. Americans could access them only via their websites. Much commentary has focused on the fear that the U.S. government will now be able to propagandize its own citizens, with some opinions bordering on hysteria.

These reactions ignore several important facts: --Americans have free media and a vast number of news sources. They are free to judge for themselves what they trust. -- The programming produced by U.S. international broadcasting in 59 different languages is not Stalin-style propaganda, but world news collected and written by credible, dedicated professionals—although they are certainly not above criticism. -- Many American news organizations have cut back on international bureaus for budgetary reasons. Taking advantage of international broadcasting that we have already paid for makes a lot of sense. -- The revision specifically prohibits the government from requiring domestic stations to carry its programming or even pitching it to them. According to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), domestic stations have already expressed some interest, but it has hardly been an avalanche. This week, a report about Burma appeared on The NewsHour on PBS. It included exclusive video from Radio Free Asia of the mob violence in Meiktila last March. The NewsHour had read about the video, contacted RFA, and broadcast the video with a chyron on-screen crediting RFA for the tape. Some 20 requests for broadcast materials have come in from independent stations in Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, and other locations. These are under contract negotiation. The most salient caution has come from Ted Lipien, a former VOA senior employee and producer of the BBGWatch website: I trust Voice of America journalists, but I don’t trust some of those in charge of VOA. This is just a warning, but the American public and Congress need to pay close attention to how Voice of America news operation is managed by those in charge and demand from them full transparency and accountability. Otherwise, things can and will go wrong. Given the management problems that tend to beset the BBG, transparency is essential as it embarks on a new era in broadcasting." Image from

Propaganda? No. Bringing ‘Voice of America’ To America Is Good for Transparency - Josh Stearns, "Legal changes going into effect this month mean that, for the first time, U.S. audiences can access the news and information programs produced by the Broadcasting Board of Governors – the independent agency that manages U.S. international broadcasting operations. The change has brought with it a remarkable amount of handwringing about the ability of the U.S. government to supposedly inundate Americans with propaganda. However, those concerns have little grounding in reality. In fact, the changes at the Broadcasting Board of Governors are a positive step in government transparency and could provide new voices and viewpoints for American audiences. ... The BBG isn’t the only federal agency to produce media and journalistic content. NASA has invested heavily in its media operations, from iPhone apps to celebrated video channels and more. The National Science Foundation funds a newspaper in Antarctica — The Antarctic Sun. Even the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has created interactive tools not much different from data journalism projects produced down the road at the Washington Post. Even the BBG, which still broadcasts on shortwave radios in many parts of the world, has funded some groundbreaking work on digital innovation and online storytelling. And yet, most of these other projects have escaped the handwringing about 'government-funded media' that has plagued PBS and NPR.  ... While commercial media in the U.S. has been closing foreign bureaus the BBG has been putting more journalists on the ground around the world and broadcasting in more languages than any broadcaster in the U.S. For many in the U.S., BBG content is the only place in America they can hear news coverage of their homelands, in their native language. As the BBG opens its doors to U.S. audiences it joins a wave of new journalism projects from other nations. Next month Al Jazeera’s new American cable news channel -– funded entirely by the government of Qatar -– will be launching and the New York Times reports that 'News channels financed by Britain, China and Russia are especially hungry for American cable deals.' At its best, all these changes could bring diverse new voices and viewpoints to U.S. media.

The BBG could be serve as an R and D lab, pushing new digital ideas and projects for a global audience that media here in the U.S. can learn from. The shape of international news is changing dramatically, and we should assess each of these new entrants carefully. But we should apply the same skepticism to our commercial media, which has too often been partners in propaganda themselves." Image from article, with caption: VOA correspondent Sharon Behn reporting Sunday, July 7 from Tahrir Square in Cairo, where protesters gathered to celebrate what they call the “Second Revolution” – the military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.

$630K To Buy Facebook Fans — Is That Really Such a Sin? Only If There’s Nothin’ But Strategery - Domani Spero, DiploPundit: "The recommended management review in 2004 [for State Department’s IIP Bureau] did not happen under Margaret D. Tutwiler (2003-2004) not under Karen Hughes (2005-2007) not under James K. Glassman (2008-2009) or Judith McHale (2009-2011). And it did not happen under Tara D. Sonenshine (2012-2013)."

USIA Films and the Smith-Mundt Act - "We have a couple of films in our

library (Himalayan Awakening and Arts of Japan) produced by the U.S. Information Agency which was the 'public diplomacy' (aka, propaganda) arm of the State Department from 1953-1999. So I’ve been intrigued by the recent news about the fresh loosening of the The United States Information and Exchange Act of 1948, which prohibited domestic distribution of propaganda created for international audiences. The USIA made hundreds of films and very, very few were ever seen in the United States before the Act was first revised in 1987. Unfortunately, however, because U.S. distribution was effectively illegal for so long, very few copies of the films have survived, at least as far as I’ve been able to find so far. The National Archives holds the records of the USIA’s Motion Picture and Television Service, but few of the films are available for viewing outside of NARA. The word 'propaganda' gets people all worked up because it seems inherently manipulative and deceitful. Arguably, the USIA’s mission was an ideal non-violent alternative to the Cold War arms race against the perceived Communist threat. Show movies! Of course the movies were infused with an ideological agenda to promote the so-called American way of life; ahem, 'to understand, information and influence foreign publics in promotion of the [U.S.] national interest, and to broaden the dialogue between American and U.S. institutions, and their counterparts abroad.' And thanks to the Hollywood- and auteurist-minded George Stevens, Jr., who ran the the Motion Picture Services unit from 1962-1967, several notable filmmakers got their start working for the USIA, including Carroll Ballard (O how I long to find a copy of his Beyond this Winter’s Wheat, shot in eastern Oregon in 1965!), Charles Guggenheim, Bruce Herschensohn, and University of Oregon alum James Blue (go Ducks!). Like the best (read: most insidious) propaganda, these films are an aesthetic pleasure; the dogma is muted by the skill of the filmmaking. James Blue’s The March walks an especially tricky line as it tells the story of the pivotal 1963 March on Washington for a foreign audience. Amidst the gross injustices and inequality that made the march necessary, Blue had to convey how awesome the United States is for allowing such a peaceful demonstration to occur at all. Fortunately, there is a growing amount of scholarship on the USIA’s film production." Image from, with caption: Himalayan Awakening Posted on Jul 12th, 2011 in Archive Footage, Knight Library Himalayan Awakening Describes the social, cultural, economic, and historical background of modern Nepal, and its accomplishments through a planned program of economic development with assistance from India and the United States.

“Anti-Russian Propaganda in the UK”: The PR Wars - Stanislav Budnitskiy, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "After the incoherent and neglectful public diplomacy efforts of the 2000s, Russia has enthusiastically embraced all things soft power. And now it just can't get enough of it. The latest initiative, reported by the pro-Kremlin daily Izvestia, is a UK-based Positive Russia fund. The non-profit organization, registered in London at the end of June, is tasked with improving Russia's image among the British public. ... The Positive Russia initiative is likely to face the challenge inherent to Russia’s contemporary public diplomacy: the all too evident dissonance between the country’s sleek communication, targeting international audiences, and the much less positive news stories frequently coming out of the country."

TUSAB receives award from AUSA chapter - Michael Norris, "The U.S. Army Band, "Pershing's Own," received the 2012 Commander-in-Chief Award from the George Washington chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army July 17 at an Army Navy Country Club luncheon. ... Attending Wednesday's ceremony was ... Commander Col. Thomas H. Palmatier, ... In remarks accepting the award, Palmatier thanked the AUSA chapter for the Soldier morale programs it helps fund; the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army Sherwood 'Woody' Goldberg, who was instrumental in finessing the band's trip to China; and also the working Soldiers in the U.S. Army Band. 'I think the Army and the American people value what the Soldiers of Pershing's Own do each and every day,' Palmatier said after the ceremony.

'There were seven funerals today. The day-to-day business is valued, but I think it's just assumed. And that's fine, that's our job. But the trip to China was an example of where we got to be used as an instrument of public diplomacy at the national level, where we truly got to be a strategic tool. That clearly made this year different than other years in terms of what we were able to donate to the nation." Image from entry, with caption: The U.S. Army Chorus was on hand to provide light entertainment at the conclusion of the luncheon where the George Washington Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army awarded The U.S. Army Band with the Commander-in-Chief Award at the Army Navy Country Club July 17.

Managing Expectations: Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference - Stefan Wolff, "With hopes ranging from better living standards and a more open and fair society, to improved public services and higher levels of security, Yemenis have justifiably high expectations of the country’s National Dialogue Conference, underway since March 18, 2013. The conference, part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) plan for the Arab Spring’s only negotiated transition so far, is of great significance not only for Yemen, but also for the wider region and beyond. Making a success of the conference is vital for the continued existence of Yemen as a state . ... The GCC countries are well-placed to facilitate the success of the National Dialogue because of their long-standing involvement, for better or worse, in Yemen, their ties with key political players in the National Dialogue, and their links to members of the Yemeni, and especially Southern, diaspora, including some who do not currently participate in the conference. Important as they are as influencers and stakeholders, however, they are not the only ones, and if greater alignment of external stakeholder objectives is to be achieved, more clarity of what the GCC countries’ priorities and red lines are will eventually be necessary. As an exercise in public diplomacy and publicity, expectation management, finally, also requires responsible engagement with and through different media—from public meetings, to print and electronic media and a range of social media and networking. It means that media professionals and civil society activists are recognized as stakeholders in the process and that they assume the concomitant responsibilities this entails for ensuring that the National Dialogue does not end in failure. It means that participants in the National Dialogue Conference visibly maintain, and as necessary publicly underline, their commitment to its established principles, including inclusiveness, effectiveness and transparency. In turn, external stakeholders must demonstrate unity in their commitment to the National Dialogue as the only way to begin addressing Yemen’s complex challenges, and they need to do so in word and deed, including by providing adequate resources and political support."

Quello che il mondo pensa quando parla di Europa [Google translation available at link] - Dario Sabbioni, "Che cosa viene in mente al mondo intero quando si parla di Europa? In Cina pensano la stessa cosa che in Africa? Pakistan e Australia la vedono uguale? E’ un interrogativo molto interessante, che ha trovato risposte più o meno sensate, più o meno scientifiche. Tra le meno, quella di Mark Leonard, fondatore dello European Council of Foreign Relations, che in un pamphlet di qualche anno fa prediceva la vittoria su tutta la linea della potenza europea. Con il suo potenziale in termini attrattivi verso gli altri paesi, avrebbe fatto sfracelli. Si è visto. La politica estera europea ha sicuramente un impatto in termini di immagine che viene spesso sottovalutato. E’ quella che viene definita public diplomacy, ovvero la capacità di fare diplomazia attraverso l’aspetto esteriore di una paese, gli incontri, la comunicazione."

Suhoor Ambassador Ambassador Together Entrepreneurs and 9 Other Countries in Doha [Google translation] - Sukma Beautiful Permana, detikRamadan: "Jakarta - Indonesian ambassador to Doha, Qatar with 9 fasting ambassador. The event was held on Friday (07/19/2013) and was held at the Ramadan Tent. Sembilan ambassador, among others from Brunei Darussalam, China, Costa Rica, Poland, Palestine, South Korea, Bangladesh and the U.S. Embassy DCM. Ramadan Tent is a special tent that is usually owned and founded by the Qatari citizen who is capable enough economically such as officials or big business. event was held at the Ramadan Tent set up by a businessman leading contractor in Qatar that Al-Jaber family.

The ambassador was gathered at Wisma Duta Indonesia first before leaving together to the Ramadan Tent. The event was held in a festive and warm. Families Al-Jaber and the ambassador expressed his appreciation for each other on an event of this facility. This activity is also part of an effort 'public diplomacy' between the citizens of Qatar Indonesia with foreign citizens living in Qatar [Keluarga Al-Jaber dan para dubes saling menyampaikan penghargaannya atas fasilitas dari acara silaturahmi ini. Kegiatan ini juga menjadi bagian dari upaya 'public diplomacy' Indonesia baik antara warga Qatar dengan warga negara asing yang tinggal di Qatar.]" Uncaptioned image from entry

Ethiopia Desires Egypt to Heal Off Its Crisis - Zeryhun Kassa, "Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told special envoy of Cairo to Addis Ababa that his country craves for Egypt to come to normalcy resolving its crisis through amicable process and means. Hailemariam met at his office special of Envoy of Cairo led by Ambassador Mona Omar. He expressed Ethiopia's interest to help Egypt return to normal political and social life. 'Ethiopia will soon send public diplomacy delegation to Cairo to advance the relations between the two peoples,' Hailemariam told the envoy. Ambassador Mona's visit to Ethiopia is missioned to explain the current situation in Egypt to the government of Ethiopia."

Edible Nation Branding for the Netherlands - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Dutch nation branding and could benefit from a bit of gastrodiplomacy to highlight all the various flavor that contribute to the Dutch palate."

Statecraft and Foreign Policy From Machiavelli To Digital Diplomacy - Andreas Sandre, "As technology and innovation are quickly transforming our daily life, our routine, and how we all interact with the world, foreign policy is now focusing on what comes next and how social media can impact statecraft itself, as well as the way governments talk to each other and to citizens, both at home and abroad. ... According to P.J. Crowley, professor at the George Washington University and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, the challenge today involves the disconnect between traditional diplomacy – say as little as possible in public and as much as possible in private – and the bowing demands on public and digital diplomacy through two-way conversations rather than monologues.

'There is a growing gap between the two,' said Crowley stressing how digital diplomacy and the use of social media in foreign policy have to often face new challenges and the way secrecy has been affected by real-time tools. 'The way information circulates on the Internet potentially eliminates what governments have relied on for the longest and that is plausible deniability,' Crowley explained. 'What in traditional diplomacy has always occurred behind closed doors is now sipping out in to the open, making public diplomacy an increasingly important dimension of diplomacy. This presents a conundrum for policy as they now have to not only assess what the policy should be but also how the policy is going to be received by domestic audience and by target audiences around the world.'" Image from entry

Response to Guy Golan’s “The Case for Mediated Public Diplomacy,” 19 July 2013 - "[T]he Diplomatic Courier published 'The Case for Mediated Public Diplomacy,' an article by Guy J. Golan, Associate Professor of Public Diplomacy at Syracuse University. ... Golan makes the mistake of attempting to measure the effectiveness of public diplomacy programs based on short-term outcomes. He’s attempting to evaluate the programs based on outcomes they weren’t designed to achieve. ... Public diplomacy programs play the long game, not the short game. That’s why we can’t ever drop the ball just because complicated regions where we’ve been active still present a complex of problems."

Willnat, Yang take on additional duties - SoJ Web Report [Indiana School of Journalism]: ""[A]ssociate professor Sung-Un Yang will serve as director of research and grants, overseeing the school's research program and chairing the internal research committee. Both positions are 10-month appointments. ... Yang

will oversee grants and the research activities at the school.  ...  He joined the school in 2012 after serving as the Newhouse Endowed Chair of Public Communications at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. His research focuses on relationship and reputation management between organizations and the public, social/digital media and communication effectiveness and public diplomacy. He has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles in academic journals." Yang image from entry


The U.S. ‘zero option’ in Afghanistan makes zero sense - Editorial, The notion that the United States might entirely withdraw encourages the Taliban to fight on and refuse further negotiations; it also motivates Pakistan to maintain its support for the insurgents as a hedge. It sows insecurity among Afghans, including in the U.S.-built army, during a critical time of transition.

Trying again in the Mideast: Secretary of State John Kerry deserves credit for his effort to reopen peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. We hope it works - Editorial, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who has engaged in his own version of shuttle diplomacy in recent weeks, deserves credit for bringing the two sides back to the bargaining table. It's a truism that the United States can't dictate a peace agreement to the Israelis and Palestinians. But this country possesses unique leverage that administrations of both parties have exerted in the cause of a lasting peace. Kerry's initiative is in that tradition. We hope it succeeds.

An Opening in Iran - Cliff Kupchan, New York Times: Within the next one to two years, Iran will probably acquire the ability to make a bomb faster than the United States could detect and attack the breakout.

Egypt’s Three Revolutions - Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times: This is no time for America to be punishing Egyptians or demanding quick elections.

Our job is to help the new government maximize the number of good economic decisions it makes, while steadily pressuring it to become more inclusive and making it possible for multiple political parties to form. If that happens, Egypt will have a proper foundation to hold democratic elections again. If it doesn’t happen, no number of elections will save it. Image from

Guantánamo Rulings Change Little - Juan Nocera, New York Times: Despite decrying the Guantánamo prison, the president has refused to do anything but stand by and watch the military inflict needless pain and suffering, much of it on men who simply shouldn’t be there. Indeed, in many of the legal briefs filed on behalf of Guantánamo prisoners, the defendant is Barack Obama.

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