Saturday, July 27, 2013

July 25-26 Public Diplomacy Review

--From; on the authenticity of this quotation, see


Maps As Propaganda, Ctd -


Contrasting Views on US Nobility - Paul R. Pillar, "[B]eing confident about the goodness of our own motives, we expect that people should like us, thank us and cooperate with us. It is a sentiment that former President George W. Bush once expressed at a press conference when, musing about anti-Americanism, he said, 'I’m amazed that there’s such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us. I am — like most Americans, I just can’t believe it because I know how good we are.' One problem with this outlook is that many foreigners see US 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 US 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?' We need to bear all of this in mind before embarking on any initiative overseas, even for humanitarian or other praiseworthy reasons. And we should not expect to win permanent friends and long-lasting gratitude no matter how confident we may be about our good intentions."

Anti-Americanism Is Here To Stay - [Andrew Sullivan],  "Marc Lynch observes that, in Egyptian politics, 'anti-Americanism is a surefire and cost-free political winner': [']Typically, this would be the time for me to call for renewed public diplomacy to try to combat anti-American misconceptions and convince Egyptians of American intentions. But let’s be real. American efforts to push back against the most outlandish allegations are certainly worthwhile, but have obvious limitations.

No, American battleships are not moving toward Egypt to launch an invasion. No, Ambassador Patterson did not conspire with the Muslim Brotherhood or offer to sell the pyramids to Israel. No, Obama is not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and isn’t going to be impeached over secret payments to them. All well and good, but entrenched opinion is unlikely to be moved.[']”  Uncaptioned image from article

Tools of imperialism - CouchTomato: "After the overthrow of the Egyptian government, Robert Fisk writing in the Independent asked [:] 'When is a military coup not a military coup?' His answer was 'When America says it isn't.' That hypocrisy is normal these days; Bradley Manning is in jail, awaiting a long prison sentence for whistle-blowing American atrocities in Iraq while John Kiriakou, a whistle-blowerand former CIA officer is the only person to be jailed as a result of the US torture programme. He has just started two and a half years in prison for revealing that a CIA officer destroyed the video evidence of the torture. She has since been promoted to head of 'operations'. With Julian Assange of Wikileaks holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy and Edward Snowden on the run for exposing the National Security Agency's spying, you could get the idea that the American government doesn't like whistle-blowing or internet activism. That isn't always the case; the American government finds the internet very helpful as a tool for propaganda as this quote from 'Radio Free Asia' shows: 'The Internet has emerged as a crucial platform for freedom of expression and the exchange of ideas and information. Access to an open Internet offers an opportunity for a global citizenry to freely communicate, collaborate, and exchange ideas.

Unfortunately hundreds of millions of individuals' online interactions are being monitored and obstructed by repressive governments. These government actions limit the ability for citizens to take full advantage of the powerful communications platform that the Internet has become.' America has two 'Public Diplomacy' programmes - these are the open, legal methods of destabilising governments and politicians that America doesn't agree with. It never does this directly, it uses a series of 'fronts' to hide the source of the money, although ... it isn't that hard to follow the trail of the money back to base. ... [T] he United States Congress recognised Radio Free Asia (RFA), through the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), as an engine to empower a global citizenry to overcome governments that illegitimately block, censor, and curb the potential of the Internet as a free speech zone. ... The targets change with America's foreign policy agenda - right now Cuba and the Middle East are top priorities while China is important too, which is where 'Radio Free Asia' comes in. The BBG has also embraced the internet with enthusiasm: 'The Internet has emerged as a crucial platform for freedom of expression and the exchange of ideas and inFformation. Access to an open Internet offers an opportunity for a global citizenry to freely communicate, collaborate, and exchange ideas. Unfortunately hundreds of millions of individuals' online interactions are being monitored and obstructed by repressive governments. These government actions limit the ability for citizens to take full advantage of the powerful communications platform that the Internet has become.' In order to expand its activities, the 'Open Technology Fund' was set up last year, to exploit the internet and the new media by directing and organising the many well-meaning people who want to do 'good', but don't look hard enough at the causes they are supporting. Right now, the fund is advertising for new ideas and proposals, money no object as usual." Image from

House fails to kill Pentagon’s foreign websites - Tom Vanden Brook, USA Today: "The House has failed to kill funding for websites the Pentagon uses to try to influence foreign audiences, an initiative criticized in a recent undisclosed government report. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., introduced a measure that would have slashed $19.7 million in funding for the Trans Regional Web Initiative. The legislation failed by a vote of 238-185. The 10 websites are run by U.S. Special Operations Command and are intended to 'highlight the positive aspects of region and host nation counterterrorism efforts that as well as highlighting the negative aspects of adversaries actions’, according to a report on Pentagon propaganda by the Government Accountability Office. ... The report concluded the websites are not well coordinated with such government agencies as the State Department, or even the Pentagon’s other propaganda programs. ... Pentagon spending on propaganda programs mushroomed in the middle of the last decade, coinciding with surge in troops and resources sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2005, the Pentagon has spent hundreds of million of dollars on what it refers to as Military Information Support Operations (MISO). These propaganda efforts include websites, leaflets and broadcasts intended to change foreigners’ 'attitudes and behaviors in support of U.S. Government' objectives, according to the GAO. Some of them, such as the Trans Regional Web Initiative, disclose the U.S. military as the source, although discreetly. Some broadcasts in Afghanistan, on the other hand, are silent about their U.S. funding. The GAO determined that the Pentagon had 'taken some steps to coordinate the websites with some State Department regional bureaus.' But some State Department Public Diplomacy officials and senior embassy officials told investigators 'that such websites have the potential to unintentionally skew U.S. policy positions or be out of step with U.S. government efforts in a particular country.'”

US Colleges Provide $5.6m Scholarships For 21 Zim Students - "Twenty-one academically talented but economically disadvantaged Zimbabwean students have received over $5.6 million in scholarships from various American colleges and universities where they will pursue studies over the next four years. U.S. Ambassador D. Bruce Wharton made the announcement during a sendoff ceremony for the students, all of whom are graduates of the United States Achievers Program (USAP), entering its fourteenth year of assisting academically gifted student leaders from economically disadvantaged backgrounds negotiate the application process to top US colleges and universities. 'This group represents over 300 USAP students who have received scholarships after successfully completing the United States Achievers program.

And their achievements represent the United States has committed over $70 million to provide quality higher education to Zimbabwean USAP students who have made an impact in various aspects of Zimbabwean life,' said Ambassador Wharton. When the USAP program was launched in 1999, Ambassador Wharton was serving as Public Affairs Officer during which time he supervised US Embassy education programs, among other public diplomacy initiatives in Harare. Since the establishment of USAP at the US Embassy in Harare in 1999, over 300 USAP students have earned full scholarships covering tuition and fees, room and board, books and other expenses for four year bachelor degree studies."

FaceLube Automotive Best Mens Skin Care Salutes the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles - "FaceLube Automotive, the new line of FaceLube and VO Victor Ortiz branded face cream and mens anti-aging skin care products supports the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles by helping to raise funds and awareness for its citizen diplomacy program. Since 1980, the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles has been arranging exchange programs

for nearly one thousand International Visitors from more than one hundred countries each year. ... About The International Visitors Council of Los Angeles – The International Visitor Leadership Program is one of the most effective public diplomacy activities of the U.S. Department of State. The program seeks to build international understanding through carefully designed visits that reflect the international visitors professional interests and support the foreign policy goals of the U.S." Image from entry

Full form of USIA- USIA - United States Information Agency - full name of USIA "About = USIA which existed from 1953 to 1999, was a United States agency devoted to 'public diplomacy' and often considered by critics to be a propaganda arm of the Central Intelligence Agency. In 1999, USIA's broadcasting functions were moved to the newly created Broadcasting Board of Governors, and its exchange and non-broadcasting information functions were given to the newly created Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State."

Remarks by Ambassador Laura E. Kennedy at Her Retirement Flag Ceremony - "Thank you for your kind words. Deputy Secretary Burns, you are simply an icon for the entire foreign affairs community. ... Undersecretary Gottemoeller, for whom I last worked along with our super team in Geneva, is our extraordinary leader of the ... family of arms control and international security.

Rose and I also shared the experience of working as exhibit guides in the former soviet union which gave me an enduring appreciation for public diplomacy. I’m delighted to see a number of the exhibit guide mafia here today." Image from entry, with caption: Ambassador Laura E. Kennedy at her Flag Ceremony

Murrow’s Farewell - Alvin Snyder, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Edward R. Murrow’s last broadcast on CBS occurred July 25, 1964, on 'FAREWELL TO STUDIO NINE,' a 55-minute special broadcast on the radio network commemorating the closing of perhaps the most famous radio news studio in all of broadcasting, at least up to that time 49 years ago. Studio Nine, at 485 Madison Avenue in New York City, was the anchor studio-news center for CBS before, during, and after World War II, until the move of all of us in late July, 1964 to the new CBS Broadcast Center across town." On Murrow, director of the United States Information Agency during the Kennedy administration, see.

Propaganda Ban Reversal Draws Criticism: “Blowback is more likely,” says Shank - "Critics are warning that an amendment to an anti-propaganda law that will allow United States government-made news to be spread to Americans could lead to 'blowback' from our adversaries and inundate Americans with government propaganda. The change to the Smith-Mundt Act, which regulates U.S. public diplomacy, came on July 2 after being approved by Congress in January. U.S. government-funded media such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe is now technically available at broadcast quality to American audiences. Some are voicing concerns that the change in the law will not only expose Americans to more government propaganda than ever before, but fail to counteract terrorism, which is one of the implicit duties of outlets like VOA Somali. 'Ad hoc attempts to out-spin our adversaries — targeting American audiences in addition to foreign ones — is troubling because it will not lead to less violence or vitriol,' said Michael Shank, director of foreign policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

Blowback is more likely. The intended audiences — whether domestic or foreign — are smart enough to decipher what is, and what is not, material funded by the U.S. government. This is no time for smoke and mirrors.' 'Those in Congress who think the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act improves America’s ability to undermine extremism either do not understand diplomacy or do not want to prevent violence,' Shank said. 'This fallacy of influence, furthermore — the idea that American-centric marketing and media messaging will effectively communicate a counter-terrorism narrative — should be forfeited.' ... Matthew Hoh, a former senior State Department official in Afghanistan who resigned in protest of the war in 2009, said that if the change mirrors the State Department’s information practices in Iraq and Afghanistan, 'we have nothing to worry about.' Hoh described some of the 'inept' practices that misfired in Iraq and Afghanistan, like spreading newspapers to illiterate people. 'What they’d do in both countries is put together coffee table books, big picture books of mosques in the U.S. to show people we have mosques in the U.S,' Hoh said. 'They think that’s going to win hearts and minds.' These actions fall under the rubric of 'public diplomacy,' the section of the State Department responsible for promoting the United States’ image abroad. But the change to Smith-Mundt, Hoh said, probably won’t be noticed by the American public given the current media environment. ... 'I saw that quote from somebody at VOA saying, well, it’s all accurate information anyway,' said Lt. Col. Danny Davis, the whistleblower who challenged the Pentagon’s official public reports about Afghanistan. 'As you know, that’s not all there is out there. We shape environments, target audiences to make them think in a certain way. Some of these guys want to reach an American audience to shape American perceptions.' But the protections afforded by Smith-Mundt were largely 'no longer valid anyway because of the Internet,' Davis said. In this, Davis mirrored the official line from the BBG on Smith-Mundt. 'Some of these materials have been on the internet for years,' said Lynne Weil, spokesperson for the BBG. 'None of what’s on the internet is broadcast quality.' 'The difference is that before now Americans could not have accessed all of this material via TV and radio, now they can,' Weil said. Some of the most famous slip-ups involving U.S. propaganda have involved the Pentagon — including a smear campaign directed against two USA Today reporters who had investigated Pentagon propaganda contractors — but Weil specified that the change in Smith-Mun[d]t doesn’t apply to the military. The 'final misconception,' Weil said, 'is the question of whether this agency overseas is propaganda. It simply is not.' 'I can’t possibly speculate as to the reaction of viewers and listeners in the United States when they have the opportunity to see and hear these programs,' Weil said." Via LP on Facebook. Image from

Despite their statements that they will not propagandize Americans, IBB officials must be closely watched - BBGWatcher: "While BBG Watch would like to believe Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) assurances that it will not propagandize Americans and will not divert resources from international outreach to domestic outreach with the passage of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, we have little faith in the agency’s executives. We have no reason to believe that current BBG members have any intention to steer the agency in the wrong direction on this issue, but even they seem unable to control the dysfunctional bureaucracy. International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) executive staff currently in charge of the agency cannot be trusted and needs to be carefully watched unless it is replaced. Even then, risks to civil liberties to Americans are too great under the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act. The agency, particularly IBB management, will need far gr[e]ater public and congressional scrutiny than it has received so far. IBB executives have been resisting calls for transparency and accountability. The BBG board needs more powers from Congress to reestablish control over IBB to prevent possible abuses of the new law."

2013 NDAA Law Allows Obama to Take Over All Media - "Another bad law that the media of disinformation won't provide to the sheeple is the one that allows Obama to take over all media. Never heard about this? I'm not surprised. Those who only get their so-called 'news' from the alphabet soup BADministration propaganda machine will not learn of this. It's all by design, people! There are those who are fighting back against this rage of the O machine. Fox News often puts up a fight, but even they won't go so far as to tell the truth about Zero's 100% fake B.C.! Oh I know...the 'birther' issue again. However, when fraud is detected, discovered and proven, we have an additional crime at hand!"

Halt the Senate Rush to Fill Dysfunctional Broadcasting Board - Helle Dale and Brett Schaefer, "An untimely rush is on in the Senate to fill board positions in one of the government’s most dysfunctional agencies, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). Perpetuating non-functioning government structures is never the answer, though it admittedly is standard Washington practice. What’s more, rushing through the nominations will create a political imbalance on the bipartisan board, weighted in favor of the Democrats. At a scheduled business meeting on July 29, squeezed in before the August recess, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is planning to move on nominations for three new board members: former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, executive director of the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy Matt Armstrong, and Jeffrey Schell, president of NBCUniversal. A hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee in June exposed the deep and pervasive problems of managing the U.S. government’s broadcasting complex.

The Senate should follow up with probing investigations of its own and not simply rubberstamp the Obama Administration’s choices. Among the issues that need to be aired: -- Is the Smith–Mundt Modernization Act working as intended, allowing U.S. broadcasters to access programming produced by BBG entities such as Voice of America? The modernization took effect on July 2 and has been the center of controversy, as some suspect the government of trying to propagandize Americans. --Should Voice of America be de-federalized, as is currently under legislative consideration in the House? What would be the consequences for production quality and current staff? -- Is the trend away from radio (specifically shortwave) toward satellite television and social media appropriate or premature, given the global digital divide? --Should the BBG itself be replaced with a more efficient management structure to oversee the $730 million broadcasting complex of the U.S. government? As the broadcasting agency is the center of a number of controversies and potential legislative reform, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should hold off on confirmations and seek thorough hearings to question the proposed members on where they stand on the future of international broadcasting, a critical tool of U.S. outreach to the world." Image from entry

Senate Appropriations Committee opposes reductions in Voice of America services - BBGWatcher,

Pentagon Spokesman: Public Affairs Must Change With Times - Karen Parrish, American Forces Press Service: "The Defense Department is facing a once-in-a-generation change, and its public affairs practitioners around the world need to communicate that change clearly, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman said today. George Little, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, spoke to commissioned, enlisted, civilian and contract employee defense public affairs professionals gathered at the Defense Media Activity’s headquarters on Fort Meade in Maryland. Little’s remarks also were webcast. 'Public affairs is an absolutely critical component of our military and our department,' he said. 'We operate in a world so tightly connected that every world event, big or small, can be felt in real time.' Little noted that thanks to the Internet, social media and smartphones, the walls between citizens, journalists and the military have never been thinner. He challenged his audience to consider three factors that argue for a new approach to public affairs: -- Changes brought about by war and the media’s evolution; -- An expanding toolbar of essential skills for public affairs professionals; and -- Military and civilian defense leaders’ responsibility for effective communication. Little pointed out that the widespread embedding of reporters in Iraq and Afghanistan forged close bonds between military members and the Fourth Estate. As deployments wind down and the services return to a more garrison-centered public affairs environment, he said, 'we must look for new ways to enhance these bonds. Little said new approaches should include engaging more with nontraditional journalists such as bloggers and tweeters, who sometimes break news but also may report gossip and rumor. 'We must be constantly listening for new voices on defense issues,' he said, 'and develop those relationships as well. … We must engage with anyone and everyone who is interested in what the department is doing. … In order to effectively communicate our message, we must be communicating across all platforms, new and old. By creating richer, more interesting content, we can create a deeper connection with the American public, and nourish the growing news appetite, on our terms.' Little said DOD’s public affairs professionals have done a stellar job over the past 12 years. In the face of new challenges, he added, they must push themselves to be even better, both in their individual skills and in collaborating as a community. 'We must all think creatively on how best to communicate with the American people. … We must be ready to experiment with new and less expensive ways to connect with the nation,' he said. In any medium, he added, public affairs professionals must be effective communicators. 'Leave the jargon and acronyms to the planners and operators. … We must communicate with the American public in crisp and memorable lines that deliver a clear and accurate message,' he said. He urged each member of the workforce he leads to 'truly become a student of writing and media.' Those who excel in the profession, Little said, 'are hungry for information. They are always reading articles, journals, fiction, [and] even reading The Duffle Blog and watching ‘The Daily Show.’' The better that public affairs practitioners understand the media business -- 'not just the military media business' -- the better they will be at their jobs and the more successful they will be in communicating with the American people, Little said. Intellectual curiosity, added to professionalism and craft, provides a basis for sound work in a career that requires an inside-out knowledge of issues, he noted.

Little said some public affairs professionals may think their job largely is simply to link reporters with experts. He disagrees with that notion. 'It’s important for us … to gain a firm grounding in the substance,' Little said. 'You must all aim to be experts of your beat, whether it’s the aircraft carrier you’re stationed on, the [forward operating base] where you’re deployed, or the issue that you’re covering in my press ops office.' Little advised his audience to strive to know more than the reporter who’s asking the questions. 'You must always be willing to be the spokesperson, and to shape the story yourself,' he said. 'Part of the job in public affairs is to provide context -- [to] help the public understand what we are doing, and why we are doing it, and how it fits into our larger strategy. … Expanding our reach is meaningless if we are not explaining our issues in a clear way, and in terms the public can understand.' Since they are a strategic resource for their commanders and senior civilian leaders, Little said, public affairs officers must maintain a close and trusted position, 'helping your leadership navigate a complex media landscape and an equally complex set of issues surrounding national security.' Little said commanders must be open and honest with the media. The department can’t hide bad news stories, he noted. 'When bad things happen, the American people should hear it from us, not as a scoop on the Drudge Report,' he said. This requires all commanders to be open and honest with the press and to rely on their public affairs officer’s strategic advice in developing communication strategies, Little said. Commanders also bear some responsibility for community outreach, he added, calling military-civilian interaction a key component of long-term public affairs planning. 'No matter what the issue -- veterans or the budget, personnel or weapons systems -- we must engage the public through all channels, … not only with the press, but also with community leaders and stakeholders, to deliver our message as many ways as possible,' he said. While public affairs work will become more difficult as the department grapples with funding issues and conflicting priorities, he said, the public affairs community has a duty to provide Americans with clear, accurate and timely information. 'We are going to have to be a steady hand at the helm through some rough waters,' Little said. 'I’m confident we can rise to meet this challenge. With the support of military and civilian leadership, I know we can play a critical role in delivering the department’s message to the American people. That, after all, is our mission.'" Via ACP III on facebook; Little image from

About Those Israel Academic Study Trips… - Jon Western; guest post by Kavita Khory, Professor of Political Science at Mount Holyoke College - duckofminerva: "Last spring the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) of Boston invited me to participate in a weeklong study tour to Israel. Designed for scholars of international relations, political science, and public policy, the purpose of the educational tour was to provide an 'in-depth firsthand exposure' to Israel and promote a 'deeper understanding' of its politics and society. The faculty study tour, now in its fourth or fifth iteration, is billed as the cornerstone of the organization’s public diplomacy initiative and its program for Israel advocacy. ... Conversations with colleagues, including past participants in CJP tours, convinced me of the educational benefits of the program, despite its obvious drawbacks. So I set aside my reservations and signed up. A week before our departure, the CJP informed me that I (the only member of the group and a US citizen) would need to carry a separate identification document at all times—a 'card' certifying that I had been 'prescreened' by the Israeli Consulate in Boston. While 'technically traveling with a U.S. passport is sufficient in Israel,' additional documentation, I was told, would ensure a 'smooth' trip. As I began reading the consular official’s questions, I realized that the only issue was my place of birth—Pakistan. Because of the circumstances of my birth, over which I had no control, I was being singled out for “special” treatment that did not in any way make me feel confident about my own safety and security while traveling in Israel. The assumption that individuals with any connection to Pakistan would immediately be seen as a potential threat is infuriating. Equally if not more troubling, the Israeli government, as I discovered, employs a two-tier system to screen U.S. citizens. I no longer felt I was part of a group of my peers, having already been assigned a different—and subordinate—status without any regard for my professional accomplishments, which I assumed was the reason I was invited in the first place. I couldn’t choose my place of birth, but I could choose not to acquiesce to the Israeli government’s discriminatory practices toward U.S. citizens. So after mulling it over for a day or so, I decided against traveling to Israel and declined the CJP’s invitation. At first I was ambivalent about sharing the saga of my aborted trip to Israel beyond a close circle of friends and colleagues. My experience was hardly unique. The Israeli government’s 'entrance exclusion' of U.S. citizens on the basis of national origin and ethnicity is well documented, and a U.S. State Department travel advisory warns of Israeli authorities’ discriminatory practices toward U.S. citizens 'suspected of being of Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim origin.' Over the past few weeks, I have had a chance to get over my initial disappointment and to think more about the inherent contradictions of such tours and the questions these raise for us as scholars and teachers of international politics. What is our professional responsibility when colleagues are treated differently because of national or ethnic origin?

How should we respond when faced with such examples of exclusion and discrimination? What are the implications of our involvement in academic programs with an obvious political agenda, despite claims of fairness and nonpartisanship? How should we address concerns that our participation in such initiatives amounts to a tacit approval of brutal regimes—a controversial but nonetheless important argument? Someone asked me the other day what advice would I give colleagues considering similar opportunities. Given my experience, would I advice them against going? I don’t think so. I do believe these are individual choices and should not be seen as a litmus test of one’s political beliefs and values. But before signing on, I would urge colleagues to examine closely the organization’s aims, program itinerary, featured speakers, etc. What sort of 'firsthand exposure' do we gain by traveling in a highly controlled environment, where every activity and event is thoroughly choreographed? How much do we learn when exposure to ordinary citizens is fairly limited? As a scholar of international politics, I genuinely value and appreciate the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of areas of the world that I am deeply interested in and teach about in my courses. And who can resist the allure of an 'all-expense paid' trip? But sometimes, as I have learned, it is simply not worth it." Image from

Diplomatic Reporting In The 21st Century By Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, MFR, Honourable Minister Of Foreign Affairs - "For a nation’s foreign policy exertions to be fruitful, there must be a critical mass of consensus from the public in support of these policies. This is the essence of Public diplomacy, which, in the opinion of Edmund Guillon [sic](Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University) in 1965, '… deals with the influence of public attitudes on the formulation and execution of foreign policies; … the cultivation by governments of public opinion in other countries…', and I must say, also in our domestic environment; '…the interaction of private groups and interests in one country with another; the reporting of foreign affairs and its impact on policy; the communication between those whose job is communication as diplomats and foreign correspondents ; and the process of inter-cultural communications... . Yet it must be recognised that an increasingly inter-dependent and globalising world, no nation can be an island on itself. Events in one part of the world have extensive ramifications in other parts. The advent of the social media has also raised the bar of public diplomacy. With the internet and introduction of Face-book, Twitter, Black Berry Messenger, Skype and others, have also increased the speed and ease of communication such that information becomes viral in a matter of minutes. The social media, like we are all aware, is perhaps the media of choice for young people to express themselves. Arising from its global reach, it has the capacity to shape opinions and trigger events, on a scale far wider than the conventional media. Its largely unrestricted, unregulated and anonymous use gives room for abuse. Thus, debates on blogs and interactive websites are, often times, abusive and uncivil. This, therefore, highlights the imperative for journalists to cross-check their facts thoroughly before sending out news items, because these days, the social media amplifies news and events, factual or incorrect, as soon as it breaks. There is also the need for balance and objectivity, to uphold the popular axiom that recognises two sides to every story. Irreparable damage can be caused where the social media indulges in recklessly pushing out stories that have not been fact-checked."

Luo Yuan’s US-style military report, and difficulties for Dai Xu -  'Luo Yuan’s think tank, the 'China Strategy Culture Promotion Association' (中国战略文化促进会), yesterday released separate reports on the 'military power of the US and Japan'. ... This is the second year the think tank has released these reports. Copies of last year’s report carried the term ‘public version 间版’ on the cover, as pictured at the top, which seems to suggest

there also exists some kind of restricted-circulation government version. If so, the China Strategy Culture Promotion Association looks like a good analogue of Luo Yuan’s own roles, at the intersection of military intelligence gathering, public diplomacy, propaganda work, and Taiwan affairs."  Image from entry, with caption: Press conference launching China Strategy Culture Promotion Association’s 中国战略文化促进会 2011 reports on US and Japanese military developments.

Africa: South African Solutions for Africa's Problems? - Alexander Beresford, "Pretoria's strategy comes at a cost: by being seen to make deals with some of Africa's worst dictators and denying their victims retributive justice, South Africa undermines its credentials as a human rights champion. ... [T]he abject failure of South Africa's public diplomacy means that officials seldom communicate ... effectively."

Rising Africa, the hopeful continent - Clayson Monyela, "The role of South Africa as a strong investor has increased over the past decade as it is placed fifth on the list of top 20 countries that source FDI projects in Africa. This makes it the largest African source of FDI projects with a compounded growth of 57 percent, in South African-originated projects into Africa, since 2007. The pessimistic view of Africa as a dark, hopeless continent is being challenged by concrete stories of economic development and a general improvement in the standard of living of Africa’s people. – by Clayson Monyela. Monyela is the deputy director-general: public diplomacy in the Department of International Relations and Co-operation."

Just War Moral Philosophy and "Operation Cast Lead," the 2008-09 Israeli Attack on Gaza: Two Criticisms and My Response - "Michael L. Gross and Tamar Meisels write ... : [O]f all contemporary national liberation movements, none comes close to embracing terrorism the way the Palestinian movement has. Guerrillas in East Timor and Eritrea rejected terrorism entirely. Guerrillas in Kosovo, Indonesia, the Western Sahara, and even Ireland used terrorism sparingly, alongside public diplomacy and nonviolent resistance. Even in Chechnya, terrorism accounted for no more than 3 percent of all casualties. In contrast, no less than 70 percent of all Israeli casualties are attributable to terrorism."

Musée Marmottan Monet - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I had a gauche French cultural diplomacy thought: France should totally do a Painter's Idol type reality show program.

Gauche, I realize and very trite, but it could be a bit of acrylic fun and cultural diplomacy to find the next Top Impressionist in real, reality time. Forgive me, Monet for such gauche cultural diplomacy thoughts..." Image from entry, with caption: Nympheas et Agaphanthes

MDC-T losing social network ‘battle’ to Zanu-PF - "The MDC-T is losing the social network ‘battle’ to Zanu-PF and the internet is now awash with strong campaigns from the Revolutionary Party. ... The pictures, audio files and videos from Zanu-PF Star Rallies are quickly uploaded onto Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, while the MDC-T is lethargic and resigned to show their Star Rallies, which have not attracted the scale of success as Zanu-PF’s.

They also have a disorganized way of disseminating their information which is incomparable to that of Team Zanu-PF Live 2013. This is probably the reason why they are trying as much as possible to discredit the elections. They are losing the public diplomacy game. Social networks are dominated by Zanu-PF." Image from entry

Announcing the Inaugural Class of Pacific Security Scholars - "The Emerging Science and Technology Centre (ESTPC), Pacific Islands Society (PacSoc), and Center for Australian, New Zealand, and Pacific Studies (CANZP) at Georgetown University are pleased to announce the selection of the 2013/14 Pacific Security Scholars. ... Patrick Maloney is currently an International Development doctoral candidate with the University of Southern Mississippi. Additionally, he holds a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from Regis University in Denver, Colorado. His research focus has been on the cultural and political impediments to economic development in Micronesia, where he spent his formative years. Presently, he works as the Public Diplomacy Assistant at the U.S. Embassy in the Federated States of Micronesia."

Michelle Morris - "South Florida doesn’t exactly bring to mind a young, deaf African-American who’s obsessed with everything Asian. From the time I matriculated into Gallaudet University to the time I graduated with my B.A. in International Studies, I have had the opportunity to travel to India, Korea, Costa Rica and China.

My travels have taught me the meaning of diversity, respect for cultures divergent from mine, and public diplomacy skills. For the past year I have worked at Gallaudet University in their International Relations Office in a position which allowed me to be a part of projects that impact deaf people around the globe." Image (presumably of Morris) from entry


Afghanistan deal faces many hurdles - Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington Post: Most Afghan leaders, like the Afghan population generally, favor a bilateral security agreement with the United States. As long as Afghanistan’s presidential election occurs on schedule in April, Washington could sign the deal with Karzai’s successor without significantly altering the U.S. drawdown schedule.

Afghan election will be a bellwether - Ronald E. Neumann and Vanda Felbab-Brown, Washington Post: The 2014 Afghan election seems distant amid our domestic politics and crises in the Middle East. Yet it will have a major impact on what becomes of 12 years of U.S. sacrifice and expenditure. Publicity, coordination on Pakistan, limited troop reinforcements and fielding election observers would significantly increase the chances for a positive result. All of these measures will require time for decision-making, organization and implementation. We need to get to work.

Crisis in Kabul: Security at U.S. Embassy in disarray, diplomats at risk -- In wake of Benghazi attack, internal probe finds Afghanistan posts vulnerable - Sara Carter, Washington Times: U.S. diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan have serious security lapses that pose “unnecessary risk to staff,” including poor emergency preparedness and inadequate protections that might allow classified materials to fall into the hands of attacking enemies, according to an internal report that raises fresh questions about the State Department’s commitment to safety in the aftermath of the Benghazi tragedy.

SIGAR’s Sopko re $50 Million Sole Source Rule of Law Contract: “You Can’t Make This Up” - The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has discovered that the State Department has awarded a sole source contract for nearly $50 million to provide training on the rule of law in Afghanistan. Remarkably, the State Department ignored its own rules for contracting and provided no mechanism for verifying spending under the contract. SIGAR also has found that the International Development Law Organization, which was awarded the contract, is particularly ill-equipped to manage such a large contract and is refusing to cooperate with SIGAR’s investigation.

Inching Forward in the Mideast - Editorial, New York Times: While crucial details remain secret, Mr. Kerry has used six trips to the region to pursue a sensible strategy to nudge the two sides to the table. One sign of Mr. Kerry’s optimism is his plans to name a full-time envoy to oversee negotiations.

Caroline Kennedy nomination as envoy to Japan points to larger trend: President Obama's ambassador nominations have been political more often than not in this term, outpacing other recent administrations. Some criticize the trend, which continues with Caroline Kennedy - Paul Richter, Since the beginning of his second term, President Obama has appointed campaign fundraisers, party allies and other political figures as ambassadors at a level that is now almost double what has prevailed in the last few administrations.

More than 56% of Obama's 41 second-term ambassadorial nominations have been political, compared with an average of about 30% for recent administrations, according to U.S. government figures compiled by the American Foreign Service Assn. Of the political nominees, at least half have had fundraising roles. The trend has emerged as the nomination of Caroline Kennedy to be ambassador to Japan, announced Wednesday, could renew the debate about selecting political allies who may have little diplomatic or country-specific expertise. Kennedy image from article, with caption: Caroline Kennedy speaks at a 2008 election rally in Los Angeles for then-Sen. Barack Obama. If the Senate approves her nomination to be ambassador to Japan, it will be her first formal political post.

Why have there been so few openly gay ambassadors - Dennis Jett, Washington Post: The choice of five openly gay nominees for ambassadorial positions is undoubtedly historic. To what extent it represents a true move toward respect and equality, or more the slicing and dicing of the electorate and a reward to those who helped in the cause of reelection, remains an open question. Via PVB on FacebooK

Hard on Obama - [Review of The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat
by Vali Nasr ] - Steve Coll, New York Review of Books: The Dispensable Nation proceeds from the premise that the United States can still decisively influence fractious, violent, poor, crisis-ridden nations like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Iran. Of course, the United States spends more on its military than most other nations combined, and its economy remains the world’s largest, even if China’s is on a trajectory to surpass it. Yet America’s experience in Iraq and Afghanistan reminded both American voters and the world’s nations about some of the limits of American hard power. The State Department’s indirect influence campaigns since September 11—to win Muslim cooperation, for instance—have faltered, too. In Nasr’s winkingly provocative formulation, the evidence of the last decade is that while the United States is not dispensable, neither is it indispensable; American power is in transition. Yet Nasr sidesteps the arguments by foreign policy specialists such as Fareed Zakaria about how American influence may have changed or been diminished, at least in relative terms. In criticizing the administration, Nasr avoids an essential assumption of Obama’s foreign policy: that to revive global leadership in future decades, the United States must fix itself.

Snowden Dispute Sparks Deeper Fallout in U.S.-Russia Relationship: Stung by Vladimir Putin’s refusal to return the NSA leaker, a frustrated Obama administration is pulling back from cooperating with their Russian counterparts - Josh Rogin, Daily Beast: The Russian immigration ministry granted Snowden a document this week that would allow him to leave the transit area of the Moscow airport, where he has been confined for a month, and live in Russia for up to a year. In response, Secretary of State John Kerry phoned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Wednesday and informed him that a planned meeting of foreign and defense ministers set for August in Washington—known as a 2+2 meeting—was now in jeopardy of being canceled, officials told The Daily Beast.

Dominant Countries, Lost in Transition - Room for Debate, New York Times: The Chinese economic model “is about to hit its Great Wall,” according to Paul Krugman. And yet a new Pew Report reveals that a growing number of people believe that China “will eventually supplant the United States as the world’s dominant superpower,” despite the U.S. being the preferred “partner” among most other countries. The debate about China’s rise and the decline of the U.S. continues. But is there perhaps space for two dominant players on the world stage?

The Arabs Will Have Their Gettysburgs - Leon Hadar, Egyptians, Syrians and other Arabs should resolve their domestic political problems without U.S. intervention. Eventually, in the Arab version of the Battle of Gettysburg, one side will win and the other side will lose.

North Korea Still Gets Propaganda Mileage Out Of U.S. Spy Ship - North Korea's most famous museum exhibit, the captured American spy ship USS Pueblo, has been painted and polished for display as part of Saturday's "Victory Day" ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended hostilities in the Korean War. The Pueblo, captured off the coast of North Korea in 1968, "is expected to be unveiled this week as the centerpiece of a renovated war museum," The Associated Press says. The lightly armed Pueblo was on a mission to listen in on North Korean communications when it was intercepted and commandeered in the Sea of Japan.North Korea held the entire crew — more than 80 Americans — for nearly a year before they were forced to sign confessions of espionage and released.

North Korean gives Heil Hitler salute in video of roadside propaganda - DJ Pangburn, It’s no secret

that North Korea, a veritable kingdom of genetic mutants, loves its fascist, Orwellian imagery. Image from entry

The Rebellious Rousseau: Grand Pere Of Propaganda - France's transformation came not through the imposition of force or the misjudgments of a well-meaning democracy. It came from the spread of propaganda among large groups of people, a secular sort of faith that sought to "possess men in all their powers." It was a propaganda in which the state was glorified above the individual and all state actions were justified. Propaganda made it possible for a poorly informed people longing for democracy to embrace just the opposite. The originator of such indoctrination, in fact, was a Frenchman — Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), the enlightenment philosopher whose state-over-individual ideas employed propaganda as a tool for reshaping human nature, and whose writing amounted to propaganda in itself. "Those who control a people's opinion control its actions," he believed.


“No, sir…. Not wittingly.”

--James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, answering the question at Senate hearing in March on whether “the NSA collect[s] any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans." Clapper image from

"[MIT neuroscientist Steve] Ramirez next wants to try to implant pleasurable memories in mice, such as thoughts about rodents of the opposite sex."

--Meeri Kim, "MIT scientists implant a false memory into a mouse’s brain," Washington Post; image from


Image from


Cossacks to Patrol Sochi Olympiad. Three hundred Kuban Cossacks will be paid 25,000 rubles (800 US dollars) a piece to patrol Sochi during the Olympics, something their leaders say is appropriate because in their words the Cossacks are “representatives of the indigenous population” (

--From Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia; image from

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