"More people have 'top secret' clearances than live in the
District of Columbia."
--New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof; image from; see also "Ex-NSA man Edward Snowden gets web job in Russia," BBC News; below Snowden Russian visa image from
Eighth Annual Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership Conference - Remarks, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, state.gov: "I want to extend my warm welcome to all of you, especially those of you who traveled here from our Embassies and from AFRICOM. With us today, we have ambassadors, generals, aid mission directors, law enforcement specialists, and public diplomacy officers. I believe it is so important that we increase opportunities for this kind of strategic dialogue between those of us in Washington and those of you who came from the field. ... Earlier this year, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman
convened a working group of relevant Department of State and USAID offices to review our strategy toward the Sahel-Maghreb region. ... [Among them:] [W]e we must look for ways to push good governance, the rule of law, human rights, and inclusive economic growth across the region. ... We need to step up our efforts in the Sahel-Maghreb region to strengthen democratic institutions and processes, encourage outreach to marginalized groups and help establish the foundations for job creation to absorb the energy coming from the region’s youth. President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative can play a critical role in this process. Over the next five years we will bring thousands of the region’s most promising young leaders to the United States and work to support their leadership and creativity." Image from
Washington turns on itself - Andrew Hammond, timesofindia.indiatimes.com: "[A]mong the 22 countries surveyed by Pew Global in both 2009 (the first year of Obama's presidency) and 2013, approval of US international policies has dropped by around 20 percentage points or more in six states, including China, Indonesia, Argentina and Egypt. In many other countries (including Canada, Russia, Britain, Poland, France, Turkey, Jordan and Japan), the fall-off is over 10 percentage points over the same period. The public diplomacy challenge facing the US is particularly grave, right now, in the Middle East where support for the campaign on terrorism is key. However, only an alarming 11% of the population in Pakistan, 14% in Jordan, 16% in Egypt and the Palestinian territories, and 21% in Turkey, currently have favourable views towards the US, according to Pew Global. It is important that the Obama team begins to turn this climate of opinion around. This is because, in common with the Cold War, the challenges posed by the campaign against terrorism simply cannot be overcome by military might alone. Washington must redouble its efforts to win the battle for international 'hearts and minds'. This will help create an enabling (rather than disabling) environment facilitating both covert and overt cooperation and information sharing with US officials."
Outside View: The wrong war again - Harlan Ullman, istockanalyst.com: "[I]t is ... inconceivable that the United States hasn't put in place an effective public diplomacy campaign that supports moderate and peaceful Islam and attacks, discredits and delegitimizes radicalism and extremism. During World War II and the Cold War, propaganda was a powerful and effective weapon that was put to good use by the allies. This needs to be repeated across the full spectrum of black, gray and white propaganda and public diplomacy. But the most important first step is ridding ourselves of this promiscuous use of the term 'war on terror' and concentrate on dealing with the pathology of the political revolutions that rely, not on microbes, viruses and germs to spread disease, but on terror, violence and ideological rationale for achieving specific aims. If we are incapable of this understanding, the road ahead will neither be safe nor navigable."
Syria: What Chance to Stop the Slaughter? - Kenneth Roth, New York Review of Books: "Western governments have failed to use public diplomacy to expose Russia’s support of Assad’s slaughter. There have been too few public condemnations of Moscow by Western leaders—nothing like the repeated denunciations and rebukes that Russia deserves and that might make a difference. Part of the problem is that Washington now depends on Moscow to help carry out the chemical weapons deal.
The Obama administration evidently does not want to revive the difficult issue of enforcing the 'red line' by disturbing its working relationship with Moscow. ... Russia may be indispensable for reining in Assad, but the rest of the world is essential for convincing Russia to do so." Image from article, with caption: A pro-Assad poster in Damascus, Syria, September 29, 2013. The text reads: "Because we are Syrians, we love you. The conspiracy failed."
Computer Hacking, publicdiplomacycouncil.org: "The New Public Diplomacy Tool - As the practice of public diplomacy increasingly moves online, more malevolent practices are doing the same. I'm thinking in particular of the so-called Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), a mysterious group that has attracted worldwide attention by hacking into the websites of such high-profile targets as The New York Times, BBC, Twitter, Reuters, and the U.S. Marine Corps, to name just a few. The computer attacks are ostensibly in defense of the Syrian government, with the goal of influencing public opinion in support of its national interests, which is one of the definitions of public diplomacy. Yet respectable diplomats wouldn’t engage in such activities. So who would? And, even more important, whose national interests are they promoting? If you were to ask computer experts where the best hackers are around the world, nobody will mention Syria. Two countries they will mention, however, are Russia and Iran, which both happen to be deeply invested in the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime."
‘Shop-And-Get-Frisked’ When You Spend $350 At Barneys - paulbarksdale.com: "I’m Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now it’s time for our weekly visit to the Barbershop where the guys talk about what’s in the news and what’s on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week are writer Jimi Izrael with us from Cleveland. With us from Pittsburgh, Lenny McAllister. He’s host of 'The McAllister Minute' on American Urban Radio network. In Chicago, Arsalan Iftikhar. He’s senior editor of the Islamic Monthly and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com. ... IFTIKHAR: Well, you know, when I first heard the reports that the NSA was spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel my first thought was, could we have picked a more boring world leader to spy on? You know, I think that spying on a bushel of asparagus, which I enduringly refer to as asparagi, would probably yield more results. But what’s interesting to me is the fact that, you know, here are many world leaders that we consider allies. I mean, you know, in our public diplomacy with these countries, how can we refer to countries as allies when we’re secretly taping and spying on their elected leaders? And, you know, it reminds me of the famous quote attributed to Mae West, you know, with friends like these, who needs enemies? IZRAEL: You know, Merkel is – she’s kind of spooky, man – physicist and with that spooky thing she does with her hands, the triangle of power. I don’t know. Maybe we need to keep an eye on her. Mario, you weigh in on this, man. ... MCALLISTER: ... [W]hen President Obama came into office in the election of November 2008, the promise that came with him was that he would restore the global esteem of the United States of America. This is the type of sloppy story that you would expect in the second term of George W. Bush IZRAEL: Uh-oh. MCALLISTER: …Not the second term of Barack Obama. And therefore, it looks horrible globally, which is why you’re seeing the optics from a new standpoint that you’re seeing. And unfortunately, this is another disappointing story on the Obama administration."
Arctic Fulbright Workshop in Abisko - Brzezinski Blog: Ambassador and Mrs. Brzezinski shares their thoughts, experiences and adventures in Sweden: "On October 31, 2013, in Sweden [.] I am just now leaving the Arctic Fulbright Workshop, which was held 200 kilometers above the Arctic Circle at the Abisko Scientific Research Station in northern Sweden. The US Embassy organized this workshop with the Fulbright Commission, the Department of State, the Government of Sweden, the WWF and the Stockholm Environment Institute. The conference convened Fulbright Scholars from universities in Canada, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden and the United States. Some of our Canadian participants traveled for more than 24 hours to get here.
That is awesome commitment to this important challenge! ... I am so thrilled that Tom Healy, the Chairman of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, was able to be present. Tom was appointed to the Board by President Obama in 2011 and very ably oversees the Fulbright Program worldwide, the U.S. Government’s flagship program of educational exchange and public diplomacy. The Fulbright program is renewed by engaging in the challenges of our time, like the future of the Arctic. The Arctic and climate change will be among the greatest global challenges that we share in the future. The expertise that took part in this Workshop is a catalyst for developing a global approach, which is what we will need to responsibly address the challenges of the Arctic." Image from entry, with caption: Ambassador Brzezinski kicking-off the Arctic #Fulbright Workshop in #Abisko, #Sweden
U.S. Embassy In Australia Promotes Anti Drone Movie - Josh Rogin, thedailybeast.com: "Do you want to see Dirty Wars, the movie exposing and criticizing U.S. drone policy and secret military operations around the world? If so, the American Embassy in Australia has got you covered with some free tickets. ... The film is a documentary based on the book of the same name by journalist Jeremy Scahill of The Nation, which documents in detail secret operations conducted by Navy SEALs, Delta Force, former Blackwater and other private security contractors, the CIA’s Special Activities Division and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).
The book also details the targeting of an American citizen for death by the U.S. government. ... Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, ... said there was no political motivation behind the move. 'U.S. Mission Australia’s public diplomacy outreach programs include supporting and promoting both U.S. independent and Hollywood films in Australia. For several years, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Australia have issued small grants to the major film festivals in Australia, with the goal of engaging Australian audiences through the diversity of U.S. film culture, and American values such as public debate and freedom of speech,' she said. “Dirty Wars is one of 16 U.S. films that will be screened at the Canberra International Film Festival (CIFF) this year. For its support, the Embassy was allocated tickets to give away to the public (via social media platforms) for seven of the American films screened at the Festival.'”
"Your government murdered far more people than Stalin" - Wired State: "You know, if I could do just one thing to fix US 21st century public diplomacy a[n]d counterintelligence, whatever it takes, it would be to fix this: make it so that the world's Internet idiots get some pushback at the very highest and deepest levels on this notion that 'the US has killed the most people in the world'. The US has never killed "the most people in the world" -- not in the past, not now. That dishonour belongs to the Soviet Union."
Presidential Nominations and Withdrawals Sent to the Senate - whitehouse.gov: "Alfredo J. Balsera, of Florida, to be a Member of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy for a term expiring July 1, 2014, vice Elizabeth F. Bagley, term expired."
The U.S. Has Lost the Moral High Ground on the Internet - Joshua Keating, Slate: "I’m currently in China with several other U.S. journalists on a reporting fellowship sponsored by the East-West Center and the Better Hong Kong Foundation. ... It’s only the first day, but I find it somewhat telling that I’ve already heard the name Edward Snowden several times. At a meeting this morning with officials from the recently established China Public Diplomacy Association, I brought up
as pushed by the
From Dog’s Breakfast to Effective Communication: Can the BBG Transform Itself? - [Helle Dale, Heritage Foundation], posted at untrashed.net: "After years of dysfunction,
Voice of America’s audience in 2013 is nearly the same as in 1989 - BBG Watcher, BBG Watch: Image from entry
VOA fails to report on death of Poland’s first post-communist prime minister, ignores White House statement - BBGWatcher, bbgwatch.com. Image from entry
Letter from illegally RIFed OCB [Office of Cuba Broadcasting] employee reveals personal hardships - BBG Watcher, bbgwatch.com
China's grand strategy for media - Anne Nelson, thehoot.org: "As China rolls out its grand strategy to advance its global political and economic position, there are signs that it is making media a critical part of the package. In this integrated approach, media infrastructure is married to investment in the developing world, and news and entertainment content is distributed through channels designed to further public diplomacy. International news may be a linchpin in this effort, and it is one in which China’s Western competitors work at a disadvantage.
The twenty-first century free market has been tough on international news production. Foreign reporting–especially television–requires money, and China is among few countries that are expanding their investment in the field. The small group of countries that maintain a strong investment in international broadcasting include Qatar, whose al-Jazeera network has become a familiar player on the international broadcasting scene and is currently rolling out a massive new U.S. operation with former ABC newswoman Kate O’Brian at the helm. Another example is Russia, whose RT (the network formerly known as Russia Today) was founded in 2005 to improve the country’s image abroad. It is financed by the Russian government and currently broadcasts in Arabic, English, Russian, and Spanish. Iran’s Press TV, launched in 2007, presents a highly politicized English-language 24-hour news service. (Sample headline: 'Zionists seek clash of civilizations.'... TeleSur, based in Caracas, is available in Spanish and Portuguese. It is owned by a consortium of Latin American governments, the largest shareholder of which is Venezuela. It has served as a mouthpiece for the policies of Hugo Chavez, and its future will depend on the direction of post-Chavez Venezuela. Many Americans are familiar with U.S. international broadcasting, which are managed by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the best-known of which are the Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe (RFE). Some European nations have their own international information services, notably France 24 and Deutsche Welle. The BBC’s World Service, long considered the gold standard of international broadcasting, has undergone massive cutbacks in recent years. (The BBC encompasses both the national broadcaster, which has an independent board of governors and a budget based on license fees for radio and television sets, and the BBC World Service, which is underwritten and directed by the British Foreign Office.) Within this crowded field, [China's] CCTV is unique in its extensive resources and its ties to the Chinese government: the most dynamic economic power in the world today, and one with an ever-growing appetite for global influence." Uncaptioned image from article
Cashing in on pastoral life - Li Ying, Global Times: "[T]he first World Agritourism Development Forum (WADF) from October 24 to 28 ... , sponsored by The China Association for Public Diplomacy, and organized by Hunan Qianlong Lake Investment Group and Beijing Shiji Xiandao Culture Development Center, was held
at a time when China has seen a rise of leisure agriculture and rural tourism, and the local governments are making efforts to explore productive urban-rural integration models to boost the local economy." Image from entry, with caption: Foreign visitors sample rural produce at the first World Agritourism Development Forum.
Participates [sic] of political participation through microblog [scroll down link for item] - ukessays.com: "The following charts shows the ranking of government miroblog’s social influence Ranking of government miroblog’s followers (top 5) ... 5 Informed diplomacy 3288163 Public Diplomacy Office of the MFA."
Hasbara has a dictionary - loralucero.wordpress.com: "Since the beginning, the Zionist colonial project had a huge challenge on its hands — to convince the world that its goals were pure, its new state was legitimate, and its impact on the indigenous population of Palestinians was benevolently benign. They gave this public diplomacy effort a name — hasbara. ... I finally understand why
Yeshiva University map removes the Green Line - Philip Weiss, mondoweiss.net: "Several days ago Yeshiva University held the 8th Annual Medical Ethics Society Conference called 'Prescribing for a Nation' and the flyer for the conference had a large map of Israel with no Green Line, no West Bank and Gaza, no Palestinian Authority, no Palestinians at all. Greater Israel– par excellence. ... pabelmont says: October 25, 2013 at 2:05 pm Dickerson: Well, yes, the constant barrage of Israeli government (or right-wing, comes to the same thing these days) propaganda, called HASBARA, 'explanation', and 'Public Diplomacy' (hmm, inside Israel some of the hasbaristim are honest gentlemen sent to lie at home for the good [sic] of their country (apologies to Henry Wotton) is itself a form of TALK ANTI-THERAPY.
Question: who gets there first — the MDs or the government? JustJessetr says: October 25, 2013 at 1:43 pm And the map looks exactly like a placard I saw during a march that said: 'Palestine: One Nation from the River to the Sea.'" Image from, with heading: 1920 - Original territory assigned to the Jewish National Home
Window on Eurasia: Sochi Countdown – 15 Weeks to the Olympiad in the North Caucasus [scroll down for item] - Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia: "Russian Nationalist Calls for Moscow to Counter Foreign Criticism of Anti-Gay Law. Aleksey Pankin, a nationalist historian, says that the Russian government has failed to respond adequately to Western criticism of the law imposing penalties for 'homosexual propaganda' directed toward young people. He calls the Western campaign [']a form of information homo-colonialism' and says that if Russia launches a major public diplomacy effort, it will find that it has many sympathetic supporters of the law in Western countries (stoletie.ru/politika/informacionnyj_gomokolonializm_268.htm)."
Sudanese-Japanese Friendly Wrestling Match on 25th October 2013 - "At the presence of Japanese Ambassador, Ryoichi Horie and his staff of the Embassy, a friendly wrestling match between a Japanese Diplomat, Mr. Yasuhiro Murotatsu, Head of Culture and Information section, known as Barefoot Diplomat Muro, and a Sudanese wrestler, Mr. Saleh Omar Bol Tia Kafi Known as Al-Mudiriya, took place on 25th October, in Haj-Yousf in the outskirt of Khartoum. 'Al-Mudiriya' defeated 'Muro' again. ... Mr. Muro said about the reasons behind his challenges as follows: I believe that sports could boost good relationship between Sudan and Japan on the grassroots level. In this context, Japanese-Sudanese friendly wrestling matches can be considered as one of the successful examples of public diplomacy that create and foster great impression among Sudanese people toward Japan and the Japanese people. This is one of our missions as a diplomat. Sudanese audience welcomed me very warmly whenever I entered into the Sudanese wrestling ring.
I hope my participation showed my great respect for them and I am thankful of the enthusiastic welcome I received from Sudanese people. Tokyo, Japan, will host the Olympic and Paralympics games in 2020. I, personally, hope my challenges to the Sudanese wrestling could encourage Sudanese wrestlers to challenge to the modern wrestling internationally. I have experienced and witnessed that Sudanese wrestlers are strong and I believe they have enough potential to compete with wrestlers in the world. Furthermore, I wanted to attract attention from the public to the precious Sudanese traditional wrestling and its culture. Sudanese wrestling is originated from the Nuba Mountains in the South Kordofan. It has been practiced, preserved and respected for thousands years and is regarded as one of the oldest styles of the wrestling in the world. Due to this cultural value and Sudanese people’s support and enthusiasm, now even international media as well have started covering the event. I think Sudanese wrestling is worth earning reputation and being supported for further development as one of the precious Sudanese cultures. My role here is to make my challenges a chance for that purpose." Uncaptioned image from entry
Cyrus Cylinder, First Human Rights Declaration, Honored - Video by Rex Lindeman, ATVN: "It's known as one of the first declarations of human rights - and it's on display at the Getty Center until December. On Wednesday, USC Annenberg and the Center of Public Diplomacy paid tribute to the iconic Cyrus Cylinder. Bearing Akkadian cuneiform script, the clay cylinder was discovered in Babylonian ruins. USC experts like Prof. Nicholas J. Cull say the cylinder stands as a testament to multiculturalism and tolerance."
Sandwell leader steps into HS2 row - sandwell.gov.uk: "Sandwell Council leader Darren Cooper has stepped into the rumbling row over high-speed rail – with a ticking-off for his Birmingham counterpart, Sir Albert Bore. And he has questioned the benefits to the Black Country of the proposed HS2 link between London and the North. ... Sir Albert has warned that such a negative message on HS2 will mean a 'protracted public conflict' between the party leadership and Labour-led core cities like Birmingham. But Councillor Cooper today hit out at Sir Albert and said: 'Aggressive public diplomacy by big city leaders is neither helpful nor productive. The public has a right to question the advantages and disadvantages of such a large investment of taxpayers' money.'"
Public Diplomacy Speaker Series with NY Times Journalists Stephan Kinzer and David Sanger - korbeladmissions.wordpress.com:
Social Media Within the Military and Defence Sector - socialmediaportal.com: "SMi present the 3rd Annual Conference... Date: 20-21 November 2013 Location: The Marriott Hotel, Regents Park, London UK ... Expert speakers include: ... Steven Mehringer, Head of Communication Services, Public Diplomacy Division, NATO Headquarters."
October 29, 2013 [scroll down link for item]- CREES: Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies postings: "Job: Assist. Prof. History, HSE Moscow/St. Petersburg 18.12.13 Deadline: December 18, 2013 The Higher School of Economics invites applications for full-time, tenure-track positions of Assistant Professor, or higher, in the Faculties of History at both its Moscow and St. Petersburg campuses. We welcome candidates in all sub-fields and notably in economic history and 18-20th century world history, post-colonial theory and historiography, history of international relations, diplomacy and public diplomacy, social and technological history, global, comparative, and transnational history."
The Spies Who Loved to Damage Our Reputation - Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times:
Since 9/11, our security policy has been on autopilot: If we can spy on Merkel, let’s do it! If we can use a drone to kill a suspected terrorist, go for it!
If we can keep people indefinitely in Guantánamo, why not? Our hubris has undercut America’s greatest foreign policy advantage: our soft power. Image from
U.S. spying scandal straining ties with Europe: Experts say the cascade of disclosures on NSA surveillance has affected U.S.-Europe intelligence and diplomatic relations - latimes.com: U.S. officials say privately that they believe they can manage the issue without serious damage to relations. But, in a shift, they have been signaling this week that they intend to set new, if narrow, limits on spying on national leaders.
Top Ten Reasons the US should Stay out of Iraq and put Conditions on Arms Sales - Juan Cole, Informed Comment: 1. The US caused the civil war and guerrilla war in the first place, and can’t fix it now. If both kinds of war could get started when the country was under US occupation, with as many as 160,000 troops in country, why would things be different? Under US rule, sometimes 3,000 Iraqi civilians were dying a month. why does anyone think a small force of US troops could make a difference at the moment?
Endless War, Endless Suffering - Editorial, New York Times: An analysis by Oxfam America, the international aid agency, says that relative to their wealth, France, Qatar, Russia and the United Arab Emirates have donated far less than they can afford. The United States, at more than $1 billion, is the largest contributor, but it can still do better, Oxfam said. Because of the difficulty of obtaining comparable numbers, China was not part of this analysis. The best way to help the Syrians is to end the war. The next best thing is to mitigate the suffering by contributing generously and by pressuring both sides in the conflict to allow aid workers to deliver essential supplies.
Pitfalls of a ‘realist’ Middle East strategy - David Ignatius, Washington Post: The new Middle East strategy is Susan Rice’s first big initiative as national security adviser. Conceptually, it marks her as a “realist” who wants to help the president make clear decisions in a world in which the limits of U.S. power are obvious. Conceptually, it makes sense.
By cautioning that the United States can’t solve every problem, Obama is rejecting the region’s “contradictory standard,” as Rhodes put it. “People want us to resolve all conflicts, and they also oppose our intervention. It’s our fault, no matter what happens.” But foreign policy is about the execution of ideas as much as their formulation. And here, Rice’s touch has been less sure, especially in messaging with allies. Image from
Israel Gets a Mixed Message on American Jews - Shmuel Rosner, New York Times: The director general of the Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry, Dvir Kahane, said that dealing with American Jewry is an issue as “strategic” as Israel’s dealings Iran, asserting that the changing character of America’s Jews poses as grave a challenge for Israel as Iran’s attempt to acquire nuclear weapons.
Siberian education officials: Halloween is "propaganda of the cult of death" - Agence France-Presse, rawstory.com: Officials in a Siberian region on Wednesday banned Halloween parties from school classrooms, warning that they foster extremism and encourage children to dabble in a “cult of death.” The education ministry of the Omsk region in Siberia
sent out a letter telling schools that “holidays that are propaganda for extremist moods will not be celebrated,” its website said Wednesday. Halloween, a pagan holiday celebrated widely worldwide on October 31, has become increasingly popular with young Russians who hold fancy-dress parties and go to themed club nights. The Omsk education authority said it reacted after a warning from the regional Parents’ Assembly, a conservative lobby group. Image from entry
China: Photoshop Propaganda Explained - globalvoicesonline.org: Offbeat China explains why the Anhui government produced this photoshop image in which four giant officials were surrounding a tiny elderly woman:
due to limited space at the lady's home, it’s impossible to put everybody in the frame so they “had to put together two separate pictures.”
Via MT on Facebook
The illusion of choice... - i.imgur.com. Via DM on Facebook