Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July 6-9 Public Diplomacy Review

Abbreviated PDPBR edition 
due to an increased summer teaching schedule for its compiler

"I really think I can protect myself from the Swiss."

--Lucile Atcherson, the first woman U.S. Foreign Service officer, reacting to the suggestion of Joseph Grew, chief of the Foreign Service Personnel Board, advising her to take a chaperone with her to Berne where she was posted in the 1920s; cited in the Foreign Service Journal (July-August 2013), pp. 43-48; Atcherson image from


US State Department: Daily Press Briefing - July 8, 2013 - Tuesday, 9 July 2013, 3:14 pm Press Release: US State Department - "MS. PSAKI [Jen Psaki, Spokesperson]: ... I don’t want to speak for any other country, but it’s clear that there are many countries in the region who have a stake in the stability of Egypt, and that’s what our focus is on as well. QUESTION: And about the perception of – among some Egyptians about this 'Mother America' story [see] which appeared on New York Times, I mean, the involvement – about the U.S. involvement on this incident ["As President Mohamed Morsi huddled in his guard’s quarters during his last hours as Egypt’s first elected leader, he received a call from an Arab foreign minister with a final offer to end a standoff with the country’s top generals, senior advisers with the president said. he foreign minister said he was acting as an emissary of Washington ..."] -- MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. QUESTION: -- but how did public diplomacy of U.S. with the Egyptians will be affected from in near future after this incident? MS. PSAKI: Well, we just have to keep conveying what’s accurate, which is that we’re on the side of the Egyptian people. We’re not taking sides, but we are in touch with all parties and our interest is in moving towards a stable Egypt, and that’s why we’re so engaged. QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about this perception within Egyptians about the U.S. involvement? I mean, is it fair, or how do you see it? MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re just working to convey what is accurate."

Facebook Advertising and Public Diplomacy and the Blogosphere ... Oh My! - Joe Johnson, "Stories about $650 thousand spent by the State Department’s International Information Programs (IIP) bureau on Facebook advertising have proliferated, prompting extensive discussion ... The report praised IIP’s support of official American Spaces around the world, which are critical outlets for public diplomacy now that embassies have become inaccessible to the public. It also recognized IIP’s embrace of social media and other technologies like Adobe Connect video conferencing. Of course, news media can’t really carry a positive lead. And the poor management of contracts that take most of the bureau’s budget, well that’s boring, isn’t it?"

State Department Spends $630,000 on Social Media Campaign - Brian Koenig, Betting the farm on an exorbitant social media campaign, the State Department doled out more than $630,000 to boost Facebook ‘likes’ for four of the pages on its website, according to a new report by the agency’s inspector general (IG).

The program was launched after the department ramped up its presence on social media by writing blogs, setting up Twitter accounts, launching Facebook pages, and utilizing other Web-marketing efforts to lure attention from foreign audiences. A post on the State Department’s official website acknowledged that the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), which blueprinted the strategy, was not designed to engage domestic users, but to provide the ‘places, content, and infrastructure needed for sustained conversations with foreign audiences/ to bolster the country’s reputation abroad . ... State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki noted July 3 that the agency has greatly reduced spending on the social media campaign and that it plans to implement many of the IG’s recommendations. Psaki added that the IIP now spends only $2,500 per month on its online marketing efforts: 'I think that’s a clear indication we’ve taken the recommendations seriously and put changes in place.' Still, regardless of the efficacy of the State Department’s Web-marketing endeavors, the question remains: Should federal agencies be spending any amount of taxpayer dollars on social media? One might suggest that, in the scheme of things, the dollar amount and effectiveness of these programs are irrelevant, due to the fact that the role of government does not entail boosting its prestige in the social media world. Image from article

Fox's Baseless Attack On State Department Online Outreach - Ellie Sandmeyer, "Fox News criticized State Department spending on public engagement through Facebook, though experts say that social media is a key component of public diplomacy in the 21st century and the State Department's Facebook presence has produced a level of engagement that exceeds industry standards. Fox cited a May 2013 Inspector General (IG) report on the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) in order to criticize the bureau for spending $630,000 on two advertising campaigns to increase the bureau's Facebook audience. ... “[E]xperts contend that social media outreach is an important part of modern diplomacy. American University professor Craig Hayden noted in a Fall 2012 Global Media Journal article that 'social media technologies are increasingly inextricable from strategic formulations about US foreign policy, its methods, and objectives,' and that 'it is increasingly evident that such claims are more than unsubstantiated valorization of technology.' Similarly, a February 2013 American Security Project report asserted that social media has a role in public diplomacy and advised that 'these tools should be components of an integrated strategy' [emphasis original]. And a 2013 Aspen Institute report cited two former US ambassadors who urged the State Department to utilize social media 'as a means to strengthen public diplomacy.' Moreover, a 2010 Pew Internet poll found that a majority of Americans do not think that that government engagement through social media 'is a waste of government money.' 79 percent of Americans also agreed that social media 'helps people be more informed about what the government is doing,' while 74 percent said it 'makes government agencies and officials more accessible'. Though the IG report on the State Department's Facebook outreach noted that 'just over 2 percent' of the bureau's followers like, share, or comment on the bureau's Facebook posts per week, according to research by the Chief Marketing Officer Council, two percent exceeds industry standards for the level of engagement that most brands can expect when seeking increased publicity on Facebook: 'Only 1.3% of 'fans' actually engage with the brands they 'like'."

No tweeting, just talking, at a columnist lunch today - Guy W. Farmer, Nevada Appeal: "Face-to-face conversation is becoming a lost art in the age of the Internet and so-called 'social media,' where you never have to interact with a real human being. ... Today ... the emphasis is on technology. When I went to Canberra, Australia, in 1992 as the U.S. Embassy public affairs officer (PAO), our Washington headquarters was proposing to replace an American officer in Perth — who covers the western half of Australia — with some kind of an electronic kiosk. 'No way!' I responded, and managed to defeat the proposal with an assist from my ambassador. But these kiosks, now called 'American Corners,' are replacing Foreign Service officers at U.S. diplomatic outposts around the world. Would you rather talk to a real person, or to a machine? Many young people will choose the machine, but not me."

Farewell and thank you to the gracious Julie Jacobson - Julie, wife of US Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson, chats with Ottawa At Home about her time in Canada, the role she played, the friends she met and the impact the country has left on her. The dynamic woman shares her personal style and considers the pros of having a staff to look after the fine details while she and David have graciously welcomed visitors into the residence that they have called home for the past four years. ... [Q:] What has your role been, within the Embassy, here in Ottawa? [A:] I work primarily with the public affairs/public diplomacy officers.

The current head of public affairs calls me their 'rainmaker', i.e. I’m out in the community meeting people and hearing about interesting projects. I’ll often bring these ideas to the Embassy and if I get the green light I help facilitate the programming. A recent example of this is the screening of the documentary 'Girl Rising  ' at the National Gallery of Art. I heard about the film, and worked with the Embassy to bring the producer, director and two of the writers to Ottawa. We had a full house for the screening, and the audience included about 100 educators and students from local schools and many government officials and representatives from NGOs. We also took the film team to local schools and arranged media opportunities for them. I also spend a lot of time hosting receptions and meals, on my own or with my husband, for a myriad of different groups; cultural and charitable organizations, government and military groups, and leaders in business and education." Image  from article

Embassy in US hosts ADU students - "The Embassy of the UAE in the US has hosted a delegation from Abu Dhabi University’s (ADU) International Business Management Course in Washington, DC and New York this week to explore economic, social, political, and cultural issues that result from globalisation, partnerships and collaboration.

UAE diplomats held a roundtable talk with the students over lunch at the embassy discussing ongoing public diplomacy programme initiatives to inform Americans on the deep UAE-US bilateral relationship and improving on positive trade relations between the two countries." Uncaptionedimage from article

Eradicate American 'Japan skeptics' through PR - Hiroshi Fuse, "Distrust toward Japan is apparently on the rise among Americans. ... Tsuneo Watanabe, a senior fellow at the Tokyo Foundation, attributes this state of affairs to Japan's lacking public diplomacy efforts. Watanabe points to the 2001 dismantling of the Washington D.C.-based Japan Economic Institute, which had been established in 1957 with funding support from the Foreign Ministry, due to budget cuts, as representative of this tendency. Meanwhile, a similar South Korean think tank is still in operation in Washington D.C., with former U.S. government officials serving on its board. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Watanabe says Japan has been continuously slashing budgets for projects that would help Japan function as a source of information for the rest of the world. Indeed, the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) closed its Washington D.C. office in 2009."

Greece’s Ottawa Embassy Highlighted - Margarita Papantoniou, "The French channel TV5 broadcast a one-hour documentary about the work of 10 diplomatic missions in Canada on July 4, aiming at shedding light on the role that Embassy officials play at all levels, and included Greece’s representation in Ottawa along with France and Sweden.

Press Counsellor Athanasia Papatriantafyllou talked about the role of a contact person in an Embassy in Canada. She had the opportunity to refer to Greece, Canada and the Greek community, its integration into Canada and the public diplomacy’s human dimension. ... The dimension that concerns the Greek participation was enriched with information and photographic material from Greece and the Ottawa Greek Festival, which is the most popular festival and has the biggest participation in the city." Image from article

Australian funding for an 'Asia ready' workforce - "The Australian Government has announced funding for a major new initiative aimed at building an Asia-capable workforce, as the country continues to integrate further with the region. =Australian funding for an 'Asia ready' workforce. ... The government will provide $35 million over ten years to part-fund the National Centre for Asia Capability. The centre, jointly run by the University of Melbourne and University of New South Wales aims to combine expertise from government, business and universities as well as training programs to help Australia's workforce prepare for the so-called Asian century. ... MARLES [Richard Marles, Australian Trade Minister]: ... I absolutely think there is a role for the way in which we broadcast into Asia, to tell people about the way Australia works and to give, if you like, Asia and Australia capability to understand what makes us tick. And in my previous role as Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs and also Foreign Affairs, I've seen the way in which Radio Australia and news coming from Australia has an enormous public diplomacy impact on the populations of those countries. And when you provide a product like that, which talks about Australia and the sorts of challenges that we face each and every day, it is a product that will be listened to and will be watched. And so I think there is a huge role in terms of projecting our country, out there through the ABC and our international broadcasters doing what they can to tell the Australian story in Asia and that can only help in terms of building those links and if you like bridging the cultural divide."

Turning Up the Volume on Human Rights in Europe [subscription] - New York Times: [From Google entry:] "Mr. Löning has been a consistent advocate of public diplomacy."

IBA News in English to be free abroad - Greer Fay Cashman, "While many print media outlets with Internet sites are charging surfers to read all or certain articles, the Israel Broadcasting Authority News in English is going in the opposite direction, cancelling payment for distribution of its broadcasts abroad. Up until now, the IBA English News was made available to several foreign networks for a fee, but after realizing that revenues from English language broadcasts were relatively meager, IBA chairman Dr. Amir Gilat proposed to the IBA plenum that broadcasts be distributed gratis in order to reach a wider audience around the globe. ... There is no reason to deprive viewers around the world from the possibility of seeing IBA News on every possible platform, said Gilat, adding that the IBA is not in the business of public diplomacy. 'We’re simply talking about television news from Israel,' he said."

Muslim Brotherhood says 'we must raise the stakes' as clerics try to contain violence: Morsi supporters fear return of persecution as dozens die and hundreds are injured in street battles across Egypt - Martin Chulov, "The clashes in central Cairo erupted after a crowd of around 4,000, carrying banners of Morsi, crossed the '6 October' bridge just before sunset. They were met on an overpass near Tahrir square by anti-Morsi demonstrators, who had been celebrating at the site of both of Egypt's latest revolutions. ... Battle lines have not yet been drawn and nor is there yet a consensus among leaders about what to do next. ... An army colonel, who declined to be identified, said there was confusion in Brotherhood ranks about whether to stick with public diplomacy, or to take their anger to the streets."

MEA grand plan: Diplomacy for masses - "In a unique and pioneering effort, the ministry of external affairs reached out to the non-English speaking audience to explain various facets of Indian foreign policy through a Hindi news channel on Saturday. Among those involved in the exercise called 'Foreign Policy Classroom' was external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai apart from senior officials of the ministry. In the programme lasting three-and-a-half hours, officials from the MEA discussed not just foreign policy issues but also the public services of the ministry. They also provided a peek into the making of India’s diplomats as well the plans for the expansion of the diplomatic establishment. While Mr Khurshid, fluent in chaste Hindi, held forth at length on the challenges that confront India, other senior diplomats, including Mr Mathai, chipped in with their inputs in 'Hinglish' as they explained the nuances of India’s relations with the US, Russia, China and the neighbours as well as the challenges of economic diplomacy. The innovative public diplomacy effort to explain all aspects of the working of India’s foreign office was in six 30-minute segments during which senior Indian diplomats candidly and publicly responded to all questions directed at them on such a platform."

Briefs... [scroll down link for item] - "The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has urged the government to ensure transparency in the selection of commercial councillors and trade ministers. Recommendations made in the first meeting of the FPCCI Standing Committee on foreign affairs include: Pakistan should promote social trade, stop the brain drain and use public diplomacy to improve trade relations, said a statement issued Monday."


Somali American caught up in a shadowy Pentagon counterpropaganda campaign - Craig Whitlock, Two days after he became a U.S. citizen, Abdiwali Warsame embraced the First Amendment by creating a raucous Web site about his native Somalia. Packed with news and controversial opinions, it rapidly became a magnet for Somalis dispersed around the world, including tens of thousands in Minnesota. The popularity of the site,, or United Somalia, also attracted the attention of the Defense Department.

A military contractor, working for U.S. Special Operations forces to “counter nefarious influences” in Africa, began monitoring the Web site and compiled a confidential research dossier about its founder and its content. In a May 2012 report, the contractor, the Northern Virginia-based Navanti Group, branded the Web site “extremist” and asserted that its “chief goal is to disseminate propaganda supportive” of al-Shabab, an Islamist militia in Somalia that the U.S. government considers a terrorist group. The contractor then delivered a copy of its dossier — including Warsame’s Minnesota home address and phone number — to the FBI. A few days later, federal agents knocked on the webmaster’s door. Although he did not know it, Warsame had been caught up in a shadowy Defense Department counterpropaganda operation, according to public records and interviews. At a time of intense focus on the targeting of Americans’ communications by the National Security Agency, Warsame’s case also illustrates how other parts of the U.S. government monitor the material that some Americans post online.  The Pentagon is legally prohibited from conducting psychological operations at home or targeting U.S. audiences with propaganda, except during “domestic emergencies.” Defense Department rules also forbid the military from using psychological operations to “target U.S. citizens at any time, in any location globally, or under any circumstances.” Last year, however, two USA Today journalists were targeted in an online propaganda campaign after they revealed that the Pentagon’s top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan owed millions of dollars in back taxes. A co-owner of the firm later admitted that he established fake Web sites and used social media to attack the journalists anonymously. Image from article

Washington's Mideast Thicket - Given the rapid developments in the Middle East, veteran diplomat Edward P. Djerejian, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Israel and Syria and also headed the Near East Bureau at the State Department, says the United States needs to formulate "a coherent and comprehensive strategic policy toward the region" rather than just react to events. In Egypt, he says, the United States should support the goals of democracy, but refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. As for the broader region, Djerejian believes that "U.S. policy can play a role in addressing the demands of the Arab Awakening, which are not only for political freedom but also for economic and social development--development of a civil society."


"I have a large tattoo of Bill Clinton on my butt. Should I have it removed?  

Not before you post it on Facebook."

--Advice given by Renee Fisher in her article, "Dating After 50: Should Secrets Be Revealed?," Huffington Post; image from

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