Monday, April 29, 2013

Outline & Notes for an Oral Presentation, "Should a Hot Potato Be Funded? Governments and Cultural Diplomacy."

Outline and Notes for an Oral Presentation 
"Should a Hot Potato Be Funded? Governments and Cultural Diplomacy." 
(John Brown)

1. There is not a universally accepted definition of the term "cultural diplomacy"
  • The first reference to it that I came across in the Library of Congress catalogue is in a State Department publication dated 1959. An early use of the words can also be found in the volume by Harvard scholar, The Soviet Cultural Offensive; the role of Cultural Diplomacy in Soviet Foreign Policy (1960)
2. Is "cultural diplomacy" an oxymoron?
  • (Just as "public diplomacy," for some traditional diplomats, cultural diplomacy can also be seen as a contradiction in terms: after all, how can diplomacy, traditionally held behind closed door and carried out by a small number of negotiators, ever be considered "public"?) 
  • To some "culture," while a difficult term to define, arguably should not serve in its adjectival form as a  type of diplomacy, as these two words cover arguably very different types of activities.
    • While both "culture" and "diplomacy" both involve communications, they are different types of communications.
      • To generalize dangerously, culture -- high, popular, even "anthropological" -- is essentially a declaration, whereas diplomacy is at heart negotiations. Culture presents a vision of the world; diplomacy shapes aspects of the world. A declaration  suggests boldness; negotiations suggests caution. 
      • Diplomacy is the art of letting someone have your way - Daniele Varè
        • Example of  artistic declaration: "I want [poetry] to be inconceivably astonishing to me. I want to encounter it as the most threatening and primitive freshness, I want to be so comprehensively confused by it that it takes me forever to learn to live with and to reconcile the world that I already know with whatever this poetry is and does" -- Keston Sutherland, "at the forefront of the experimental movement in contemporary British poetry" (The Times Literary Supplement, April 12, 2013, p. 40)
        • This is not the way a diplomat/negotiator talks with his colleagues/audience: "Bureaucrats are rarely celebrated for their aesthetic sensibilities. Indeed, the modern machinery of state seems to suffocate the creative spirit by design" -- Michael K Busch
3. Art and government are often at odds.
  • Art -- high or low -- is an expression of culture.  Diplomacy is a function of government.  
    • Since time immemorial art and goverment have been in a state of tension.  Plato wanted to expel poets from his Republic. History is rampant with examples of conflict between artists and the political elite.
4. American cultural diplomacy became an increasingly important part of U.S. government overseas outreach in the late 1930s, with the creation of the State Department's Division of Cultural Relations (1938), established to offset Nazi/fascist propaganda in Latin America.
    • While used by the USG in times of war, "cultural diplomacy" is at odds with traditional American suspicions/dismissal of government-sponsored "national culture."
      • No Ministry of Culture in the U.S.
      • Hollywood does the job
      • American identity based on political ideals, not high culture "achievements."
    • Nelson Rockefeller can be considered a father of American cultural diplomacy, thanks to his leadership as coordinator of the Office of Inter-American Affairs (appointed in 1940)
    • During the Cold War, cultural diplomacy became a key part of U.S. "public diplomacy" to offset Soviet propaganda depicting the U.S. as nekul'turnyi (not cultured; e.g., loud people in Hawaian shirts chewing gum)
    • Today, USG "cultural diplomacy," as implemented by the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, remains an part of American PD
5.  Thoughout its history as an instrument ("tool")  of U.S. diplomacy, cultural diplomacy at times "clashed" with diplomacy, both traditional and public. Examples:
    • Advancing American Art exhibit: pulled out of Europe because of its controversial display of modern art
    • Jazz Ambassadors: At odds with State Department "decorum"/scheduling/"target audiences 
    • Hip Hop artists: Sanitized versions sent overseas
      • During the early Cold War, cultural diplomacy was funded not only by the State Department and the United States Information Agency, but also covertly by the Central Intelligence Agency, in part to keep Congress in the dark about its potentially embarrassing, "shocking" artistic activities.
6. Governments must recognize that culture will not always serve its purposes.  It is a hot potato: 
"L'amour est enfant de bohème: Il n'a jamais, jamais, connu de loi." While it can enlighten and delight, it also questions, challenges, clashes with other cultures. 
    • Take, as an example of the disruptive nature of art, modernist painting/music, which shocked, and continues to shock, publics.
7. Only when cultural diplomacy presents culture as an activity of value in and of itself, rather than as an instrument of policy, will its support of it be worthwhile.
    • Consider "culinary diplomacy" (also known as gastrodiplomacy): What's most important to its "audience" is the quality of the food, not its being used as a "tool" of negotiations or persuasion. If it's a bad meal, it's a bad meal.
    • Goverments must take a risk with this hot potato -- otherwise it ceases to be himself and fails as a form of communication.
    • “Audiences are like dogs — they can smell what’s underneath the material, and that’s something you can’t plan or fake." Comedian Sarah Silverman
8. Art can masquerade as propaganda, but propaganda can't masquerade as art.


FROM: John Brown, "On Cultural Exchange," Notes and Essays

"No commodity is quite so strange/As this thing called cultural exchange."

--So wrote Dave and Iola Brubeck in their musical with Louis Armstrong, The Real Ambassadors.


Below a comment by yours truly to the following article: "Cultural Exchange and the Politics of Suspicion" - Robert Albro, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy:
Bob, Thank you for your article. In my view, what is particularly hard for congressional decision makers to accept is that cultural exchanges -- in and of themselves -- are worthwhile. Cultural exchanges are all too often seen by those in elected positions of influence as merely a "tool" for another, more "important" purpose, e.g., fight terrorism, convert the world to American "values," etc.
In other words, policy makers, concerned that the public could accuse them of wasting hard-earned tax dollars, are unwilling to "take the risk" that cultural exchanges, per se, are worth taking a risk, so these exchanges have to be "justified" politically by invoking a purpose other than themselves (see my piece at).
As Frank Ninkovich, U.S. Information and Cultural Diplomacy (1996) p. 58, puts it: "[C]ultural or informational programs cannot effectively promote narrow national interests (of which the United States has many). That sort of thing must be left to the traditional instruments of foreign policy. The programs themselves, like internationalism more generally, are based at bottom on an act of faith."  
"Act of faith" are the key words here, in my opinion; indeed, studying the liberal arts (and taking them seriously because what, in themselves, they have to offer) is "an act of faith."
(Of course, for all his good intentions, Ninkovich himself could be accused of seeing cultural diplomacy as a "vehicle" for promoting an agenda beyond cultural diplomacy -- laudatory "internationalism").
Still, his heart is in the right place, in my view -- that, as he puts it (pp. 58-59) "an open and human world can be constructed through dialogue. Without that assumption, there would be no need for such programs except as outright propaganda. But in that case Washington would be left with power as the only reliable medium for promoting U.S. national interests."
Image from

FROM: John Brown, "New Initiatives in Cultural Diplomacy: A Comment," Notes and Essays

Yesterday (January 7) I had the privilege to attend a one-hour forum, "New Initiatives in Cultural Diplomacy," presented by the University of Southern California Annenberg Center on Communications Policy and Leadership, the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, and the Public Diplomacy Council. The event's venue was the American Foreign Service Association in Washington D.C. Among the 80-person audience were key individuals from the diplomatic, media, and academic world.

The elegant and brilliant Adam C. Powell III, Senior Fellow, USC Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, and the equally charismatic Morris "Bud" Jacobs, President, Public Diplomacy Council, gave brief introductory remarks. Jacobs noted, quite astutely, that cultural diplomacy's importance was inversely related to the funding it received.

Speakers were (in order of their ten/fifteen minute presentations): Aluwani Museisi, First Secretary, Socio-Economic and Development, Embassy of the Republic of South Africa to the United States; Roger J. Whyte II, Director of Special Events, Washington Performing Arts Society; Anita Maynard-Losh, Director of Community Engagement, Arena Stage; Pennie Ojeda, Director, International Activities, National Endowment for the Arts. The moderator was Susan Clampitt, a consultant to nonprofit and foundations in organizational capacity.

Museisi said that although he, as a diplomat, was "paid" to speak, he personally strongly believed that cultural programs brought people together and thus underscored our common humanity. He outlined some of his embassy's cultural current and future initiatives. Whyte, whose bio includes "producing the logistics of the First Lady's trip to Haiti," spoke about his collaboration with the South African Embassy. Maynard-Losh, who (among her many activities) conceived and directed an Alaska Native-inspired production of MacBeth, summarized her cultural outreach activities in India. Ojeda, who provides expertise and guidance on international cultural policy issues with the U.S. Department of State, power-pointed the international activities of the National Endowment for the Arts, focusing on "Southern Exposure," a program to introduce North Americans to Latin American culture. (I am citing from the hand-out at the meeting).

The speakers admirably demonstrated their deep commitment to culture. But as they spoke I could not quite agree with what they perceive culture to be. Essentially, for them, it is an instrument for a purpose other than itself. At the risk of simplifying, their views on culture seemed to me to be, in a nutshell:
  • A tool in an embassy's efforts to present a positive image of a country (e.g., South Africa) as multicultural and diverse (Museisi)
  • Yet another "program" that has to be organized efficiently (Whyte)
  • A kind of social/political therapy that gives the oppressed/underprivileged (e.g.. young women in India), a chance to "speak out" (Maynard-Losh)
  • An activity -- gentle social engineering with international dimensions -- that constantly needs funding (Ojeda)
"Engagement" and "listening" were key words in the compelling speakers' presentations. I'm not quite sure what "engagement" exactly means; it reminds me of an over-priced ring for someone you might never marry. As for "listening," thank God Picasso created while not waiting for anyone to "listen."

Distant from the distinguished speakers' minds seemed that culture:
  • Provides a magic moment, in and of itself, that goes beyond national/state/bureaucratic/political/gender-focused interests
  • Is not merely about social events that from a PR perspective have to "look great"
  • Doesn't necessarily mean making discriminated-against persons in poverty-stricken countries feel good about themselves, an attitude reflecting a kind of missionary condescension from citizens in a "homeland" where children get murdered in an elementary school
  • Is not a state/corporate program, needing millions of taxpayers' dollars to administer, that supposedly "brings people together"
In response to such utilitarian views on culture, I could not help but think of La Fontaine:
Ô douce Volupté, sans qui, dès notre enfance,/ Le vivre et le mourir nous deviendraient égaux.
But, as the flip side of the same "pleasurable" coin, the unique treasures of culture (please, please don't call them "new initiatives" -- since when do "initiatives" need the adjective "new"?) can be terrifying and unsettling, produced by often thank-God mad outsiders who question everything, including culture itself.

This "dark" side of culture (think of Burroughs or Céline) -- part of our human condition here on planet earth -- was totally missing from our speakers' memorable wonder bread presentations.

FROM: John Brown, “Arts Diplomacy: The Neglected Aspect of  Cultural Diplomacy,” in   William P. Kiehl, ed.  America’s Dialogue with the World

The  neglect of arts diplomacy by the U.S. government reflects certain  long-term traits of the American national character: it is puritanical, democratic, void of a national culture, yet it influences the world through  its mass entertainment. It is, of course, an oversimplification to reduce  America’s national character to being “puritanical.” But it is undeniable,  as the respected art historian Lloyd Goodrich noted, that in America,  thanks to “a survival from our pioneer and puritan past,” art has been  “considered a luxury and non-essential—an attitude that still persists.” Hard work, not arts appreciation, is the Puritan’s priority, even if he did  tolerate church music.

A second element in our national character that makes our government historically disinclined towards arts diplomacy is the political—specifically, democratic—nature of American society, for which culture—specifically, the high arts—is far less important as a means of national self definition than in countries with older, more established cultures in continental Europe or Asia (France and China immediately come to mind). To  be sure, from its very first days the Republic included citizens who had  an admiration for the finer things in life (John Adams and Thomas  Jeerson among them), and by the end of the nineteenth century wealthy  American industrialists were well on their way to accumulating great  art collections.

But, despite this minority interest in the high arts, it  was not artistic achievements or standards, but universal political ideals  stressing the dignity of the common man, which made the United States  what Americans consider it to be: “democratic,” not “cultured.” “We the  people” see little need for a unique national high culture that should be promoted at home or abroad; as Sumner Welles, the under secretary of state during the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration, remarked,  “The concept of an ‘ocial culture’ is alien to us.” We are e pluribus unum, as reading Tocqueville’s Democracy in America suggests, by our sense of  belonging to a community or communities, often local, ephemeral ones  that do not have the range, permanence, or country-wide magnetism of a state-supported “national culture.” !is is true today more than ever. “We live in a multicultural nation, and no scholar would think of writing as confidently about a single ‘American mind’ or ‘American culture’ as did  the postwar historians,” Professor David S. Brown recently noted.

But if we Americans, like the British, do not feel we have a national  culture that should be promoted abroad as France did with its mission  civilisatrice or Germany with its Kultur, we certainly have a superficially ever-changing popular culture that has seduced (some critics of cultural  imperialism would say violated) the world since WorldWarI: our B-films, pop music, fashion, best-sellers. This culture—essentially entertainment or “relaxation” that provides biological rather than aesthetic satisfaction—is the product of the profit-seeking private sector, and its global expansion provides intellectual ammunition to American citizens, both inside and outside of government, who see no reason to promote arts diplomacy abroad at the taxpayer’s expense. The planetary dominance of Hollywood—while increasingly under challenge—is a third long-term reason why the American government neglects arts diplomacy. ...

With this kind of meager legal authority for the promotion of American  high art abroad, the U.S. government became haphazardly and often  reluctantly involved, as the Cold War unfolded in its zigzag fashion, in  promoting American high culture overseas, largely in reaction to what  it perceived as Soviet cultural attacks showcasing the USSR’s artistic
achievements, mostly in classical ballet and music. “Cultural,” however, did not entirely vanish from the vocabulary of American foreign policy. In 1958, the U.S. government signed a “cultural” agreement with the  USSR, but the agreement focused on educational exchanges.

In 1961,  during the administration of John F. Kennedy (a White House interest in high culture is what helps set JFK’s tenure apart from other presidencies in American history), an act consolidating various exchanges, the Fulbright-Hays Act (Public Law 87-256), was passed by Congress under the title of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchanges Act.

But  this occasional resurfacing of the “cultural” label during various periods of the Cold War did not mean that the U.S. government had overcome its traditional discomfort with using the arts as a tool of foreign policy.  Indeed, Kennedy’s appointee to the new post of assistant secretary of  state for educational and cultural aairs, Philip H. Coombs, had this to say about his uneasiness regarding “cultural” as a way to describe his operations:
It is, for one, even more ambiguous in English than the word “educational,”  meaning for some the fine and performing arts alone; and meaning for others,  among them the sociologists, all the folkways, techniques and values of a given  society. Secondly, the term “cultural relations” has long been used to connote an  aspect of diplomacy practiced by European nations which is considerably narrower  in outlook than the educational component … and I should like to dierentiate  the two. Finally, there is the unhappy fact that in our society this excellent word  “culture” is in some quarters its own worst enemy, as anyone will agree who  has ever sought funds for “cultural aairs” from a  congressional appropriations  committee. There are still those who find it a less than manly word and deride the  notion that anything wearing the label could possibly have important bearing on  the serious business of foreign policy. (Even the British have their troubles with it. The  London Times in 1934 congratulated the founders of the British Council for avoiding “culture” in its title. It was a word, the Times observed, which “comes clumsily and shyly o the Englishman’s tongue.”)
Despite the State Department’s reservations about culture as a tool of  foreign policy, a small minority of ocials, together with their allies in the  private sector, were of the strong opinion that high American art could  play an important role in foreign policy, and particularly in winning the  hearts and minds of the intelligentsia in Cold War Europe. Among these  true believers, as recent studies have pointed out, were cultivated elitist agents in the Central Intelligence Agency, who for some fifteen years from the early 1950s to the mid-1960s covertly used agency funds to promote American high culture abroad supposedly without the Congress knowing about it. This considerable CIA support was not limited to the display  of avant-garde exhibitions with paintings by groundbreaking artists like  Jackson Pollock, but to music and literature as well. The CIA’s secretly underwritten high-brow operations were facilitated in large part by the agency’s front organization, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, many of whose distinguished members, intellectuals from Western Europe and the United States, later claimed they had no idea their freedom-loving organization was subsidized by art-admiring agents well connected with  eastern establishment types like Nelson Rockefeller. The credo of these  culture vultures is perhaps best summarized by the Cold War guru George Kennan, who noted that “[t]his country has no Ministry of Culture, and
the CIA was obliged to do what it could to try to fill this gap. It should  be praised for having done so.”

But the CIA’s game—it is not unfair to call it that—was up by 1967, when its covertly funded arts diplomacy was  disclosed by the media and then liquidated by Congress, thereby leading  to the continuing neglect of cultural diplomacy.

T.S. Eliot defined culture as “that which makes life worth living.” Cited in Robert Taylor, “Cultural Diplomacy: The Future” (n.d.),

FROM: Cultural Diplomacy: The Linchpin of Public Diplomacy Report of the Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy U.S. Department of State September 2005

Cultural diplomacy is the linchpin of public diplomacy; for it is in cultural activities that a nation’s idea of itself is best represented. And cultural diplomacy can enhance our national security in subtle, wide-ranging, and sustainable ways. Indeed history may record that America’s cultural riches played no less a role than military action in shaping our international leadership, including the war on terror. For the values embedded in our artistic and intellectual traditions form a bulwark against the forces of darkness. The ideals of the Founding Fathers, enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and the Bill of Rights, take on new life in the vibrant traditions of American art, dance, film, jazz, and literature, which continue to inspire people the world over despite our political differences. But in the wake of the invasion of Iraq, the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, and the controversy over the handling of detainees at Bagram and Guantánamo Bay, America is viewed in much of the world less as a beacon of hope than as a dangerous force to be countered. This view diminishes our ability to champion freedom, democracy, and individual dignity—ideas that continue to fuel hope for oppressed peoples everywhere. The erosion of our trust and credibility within the international community must be reversed if we hope to use more than our military and economic might in the shaping of world opinion. Culture matters. Cultural diplomacy reveals the soul of a nation, which may explain its complicated history in American political life: when our nation is at war, every tool in the diplomatic
kit bag is employed, including the promotion of cultural activities. But when peace returns, culture gets short shrift, because of our traditional lack of public support for the arts. Now that we are at war again, interest in cultural diplomacy is on the rise. Perhaps this time we can create enduring structures within which to practice effective cultural diplomacy and articulate a sustaining vision of the role that culture can play in enhancing the security of this country. And if, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice suggests, America’s involvement in Iraq requires “a generational commitment,” then our cultural diplomacy efforts require a similar commitment of funds, expertise, courage, and time.

Cultural diplomacy:

• Helps create “a foundation of trust” with other peoples, which policy makers can build on to reach political, economic, and military agreements;
• Encourages other peoples to give the United States the benefit of the doubt on specific policy issues or requests for collaboration, since there is a presumption of shared interests;
• Demonstrates our values, and our interest in values, and combats the popular notion that Americans are shallow, violent, and godless;
• Affirms that we have such values as family, faith, and the desire for education in common with others;
• Creates relationships with peoples, which endure beyond changes in government;
 • Can reach influential members of foreign societies, who cannot be reached through traditional embassy functions;
• Provides a positive agenda for cooperation in spite of policy differences;
• Creates a neutral platform for people-to-people contact;
• Serves as a flexible, universally acceptable vehicle for rapprochement with
countries where diplomatic relations have been strained or are absent;
• Is uniquely able to reach out to young people, to non-elites, to broad audiences with a much reduced language barrier;
• Fosters the growth of civil society;
• Educates Americans on the values and sensitivities of other societies, helping us to avoid gaffes and missteps;
• Counterbalances misunderstanding, hatred, and terrorism;
• Can leaven foreign internal cultural debates on the side of openness and tolerance.

John Brown, “The Backlash against Cultural Diplomacy,” Huffington Post (November 8, 2009)

As I compile, for my sins (which are many), the Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review, I have noticed, in recent weeks, a backlash against what is known as "cultural diplomacy," often defined as government-supported promotion of a country's artistic achievements overseas.

These critical reactions are, in my view, worthy of serious consideration, as they underscore the importance of not turning art into propaganda.

But I would not go so far as to say the US government should not, openly and visibly, sponsor cultural events overseas.

The initial salvo in the recent anti-cultural diplomacy mood came from Michael Kaiser, President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in a posting in the Huffington Post. He asks:
But does traditional cultural diplomacy work? Do we need state-supported tours by American performing arts groups when without federal funding so many of our performers and performing arts groups are appearing all over the world?
Instead of traditional cultural diplomacy, Mr. Kaiser suggests:
We can teach how we use marketing to expand the reach of our arts organizations. We can teach the importance of long-term program planning for building new sources of support.
The distinguished intellectual Benjamin R. Barber, in an article for the British Independent, writes:
[C]ultural diplomacy cannot pretend to change how countries do business and probably should not even try.
From across the pond, the most convincing, articulate case against cultural diplomacy is made by Tiffany Jenkins, in her thoughtful, but factually inaccurate, article "Artists: resist this propagandist agenda":
[T]he arts have been used by leaders throughout history to bolster their status and authority, and to lend weight to concepts such as 'the nation'. Artists, in turn, have used their talents to promote different agendas and to take sides in conflicts and revolutions. But, in recent times, this relationship has been formalised, made more explicit and prescriptive.
Cultural Diplomacy was recently the object of a spoof, The Embassy, a multi-disciplinary group show being held during Frieze Art Fair [in October in London]. A parody of outmoded cultural diplomacy, The Embassy is that of an anonymous country, a dystopia whose tyrannical government has tested the patience of its people and brought them to tipping point. ... Globalisation has rendered the sometime patronising kind of cultural exchange once conducted by embassies dated.

Critics of cultural diplomacy (and there are others) are, and good for them, questioning its suppositions.

But, based on my experience as an American diplomat for more than twenty years, an indispensable way for the U.S. to reach foreign audiences is to present who we Americans are by means of USG-supported cultural presentations -- you name it: concerts, exhibits, poetry readings (and, of course, spoofs on cultural diplomacy). While it can always use rejuvenation and must avoid becoming propagandistic, cultural diplomacy remains as important as ever.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 28 Public Diplomacy Review

“I get it -- these days I look in the mirror and I have to admit, I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist I used to be."

--President Barack Obama, joking at the White House Correspondents' Assn. dinner; image from


(a) One Day With A Diplomat - Один день с дипломатом

(b) Transcript (and Video) of Pressing for Freedom: The State of Digital and Media Repression Worldwide in 2013[:] Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Tara D. Sonenshine; Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights & Labor, Uzra Zeya --Foreign Press Center, Washington, D.C. -

(b) An anthem to mark the accession of the new king and queen of the Netherlands has been withdrawn after critics likened it to North Korean propaganda -


Russia cracks down on U.S.-linked NGOs - Kathy Lally, Washington Post:

"Two months ago, a civic-minded history professor in the picturesque city of Kostroma invited a U.S. diplomat to take part in a roundtable about Russian-American relations. The event was open, the conversation spirited — and Monday the professor’s organization goes to court, accused of being a foreign agent. ... The U.S. Embassy saw the visit differently, telling Russian media it was the kind of public diplomacy practiced around the world to increase mutual understanding." Image from

Student guest post: The role of editing in public diplomacy - andybechtel, "Melissa Tolentino is a senior double major in journalism (editing and graphic design) and Japanese studies. As a former intern at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, she has a passion for public diplomacy, particularly with youth. ... [Tolentino:] There’s ... [an] aspect of government that the media has to deal with every day, and it doesn’t carry the same stiff reputation. It’s called public diplomacy, which is a more grassroots form of diplomacy that relies on fostering mutual understanding among countries through international communication. Rather than do this through bureaucratic channels, though, public diplomacy relies on the people, which is why it’s often called 'the people’s diplomacy.' The most important word in that definition is communication. Any form of international relations would not exist without it, and the media is the perfect channel through which such communication should occur. No matter the region or the culture, newspapers, blogs and news broadcasts carry the same purpose: to inform. ... I want journalists to strive not only to inform their main audience, but the global audience beyond, in a way that really and truly promotes people-to-people communication rather than blind bias. Luckily, the U.S. Department of State is helping local and international journalists with that, as they have several journalism-oriented exchange programs, one of which — the Edward R. Murrow Program — is partly held at UNC’s own j-school."

Goiânia: The Nashville of Brazil - Paul Rockower, Levantine: On Keola, Moana and Jeff's Brazilian tour

under the "American Voices," a State Department funded cultural program. Image from entry

Revisiting Colour Revolutions - Carlos González Villa, “'Public diplomacy' initiatives had started with the creation of the NED, a bipartisan NGO founded by Ronald Reagan in 1982."

European Union’s U.S. Public Diplomatic Counselors Press Lunch (Photos) -
"The European Union Center of Excellence, a group based at both the University of Miamiand FIU organized a lunch media event at the newly re-designed Coral Gables Country Club.

Aside from the basic networking function of the event, a set of short presentations by Event Organizer U of M Professor Joaquin Roy, Journalism Professor and Media Professional Leonardo Ferreira and Silvia Kofler Spokesperson and Head of Press and Public Diplomacy for the European Union elicited an animated question and answer session at the end of the lunch portion of the meeting." Image from entry

Strategist and architect of the Eurasian integration - Anatoly Spitsin. "The world’s leading politicians and experts say that the most important outcome of the 'Eurasian strategy' of Nursultan Nazarbayev was the formation of the Kazakh nation on the basis of friendship and harmony among ethnic groups. According to V.Putin, 'Kazakhstan today shows the world an example of inter-ethnic and inter-faith harmony.' The idea of creation of the Assembly of Kazakhstan’s People was first proposed by President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 1992 at the First Forum of Peoples of Kazakhstan. Since then the KPA has covered the path of its own development, received its deserved institutional content, accumulated consolidating and intellectual potential and became the institute of public diplomacy."

Should We Even Be Studying Public Diplomacy? - Anna-Lena Tepper: “Former NBA player Dennis Rodman’s recent visit to North Korea came to many as a surprise. Along with an entourage of fellow basketball players from the performance group Harlem Globetrotters, Rodman went to visit the most oppressive country in the world, but his intentions weren’t politically motivated. His mission was simply to share the joy of basketball with the North Korean people. ... [M]aybe American scholars are sometimes overanalyzing public diplomacy and therefore, often miss their set goals (or can’t detect it). Many argue that Dennis Rodman’s visit was just staged and now that he has gone nothing has changed.

Those people have a point. Kim Jong Un has just threatened the United States with a nuclear war again. Politically, Rodman’s visit hasn’t changed anything. However, he still managed to open North Korea to an American visitor for a friendly encounter with the leader for first time in decades, and that is something neither politicians nor scholars have been able to achieve. Fact is, public diplomacy needs to be very targeted in order to be successful, but at the same time, PD scholars and practitioners should also keep in mind that sometimes intuition is a good indicator of what is a good approach and what is not. Especially in the case of North Korea, maybe a mix of intuitive steps and targeted PD programs is going to lead to a change in the near, or not so near future." Image from entry

Darko Brizic, Latvia - GSPIA Interns’ blogs: "Since my last posting, I took part in a few events where the Embassy of Canada to Latvia was involved, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to delve into more detail on those happenings. These events continued to reflect the great variety of tasks previously mentioned, as one of them was a presentation I did on Canada. ... As my work has mostly related to the Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy section at the Embassy, it is true that most of our target audiences are so-called ‘influential’ people, whether they are elected officials, part of the business community or any group that could be identified as a stakeholder for that matter. However, this is not always the case, as I was involved in promoting Canada at a local international children’s school during an activity they call ‘international awareness day’."

Tipping and Sequestration - Sizani Weza, "Sequestration and tips. These two subjects have preoccupied my mind during my second visit in eight years to Washington. I have traveled on business to learn the current issues that preoccupy our public diplomacy engagement

across the globe religion, human rights, budget cuts, women’s issues, social media e.t.c.- all topical issues in Zimbabwe which has just endorsed a new constitution. ... I am travelling to Worcester, Massachusetts and my guide says i have to reserve no less than $35 for tips over five days. No negotiations about the practice and this seemingly challenging minimum. My consolation: it’s part of learning a culture and, a bit of thought and extravagance is necessary to appreciate a people’s way of life. It’s called learning by doing. I will do it!" Image from entry, with caption: Nonentities stride past famous structures.

Richland County Foundation annual meeting is May 6 - "Richland County Foundation’s 68th annual meeting and luncheon will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 6 at the Mid-Ohio Conference Center, 890 West Fourth St. Heather Tsavaris, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at North Central State College, will be guest speaker. ... Tsavaris served a decade in the U.S. State Department in a number of capacities, most recently as a communications adviser to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications and senior adviser to the secretary’s Special Representative to Muslim Communities."


Judgment Not Included - Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times: We must ask a question only Muslims can answer: What is going on in your community that a critical number of your youth believes that every American military action in the Middle East is intolerable

and justifies a violent response, and everything Muslim extremists do to other Muslims is ignorable and calls for mostly silence? Image from

A 'red line' on Syria: If the Assad regime has indeed used chemical weapons, the U.S. must honor its commitment to actc - Editorial, Los Angeles Times: President Obama has followed a commendably restrained policy in refusing to intervene militarily in Syria's civil war. But if the U.S. confirms that the regime of President Bashar Assad has used chemical weapons, the president should adhere to his insistence last year that such conduct would be a "red line" justifying action by this country, alone or in concert with other nations.

For Israel, tranquil days - David Ignatius, Washington Post: Tensions in the U.S.-Israeli relationship have eased after Barack Obama’s very successful visit here last month. Israelis wanted Obama to show the love, and when he finally did, it dispelled much of their anxiety. Indeed, in many ways, Israel’s current passivity in the region is arguably a local version of “leading from behind.”

China's Middle East footprint: Despite concerns about stability, oil and Islamism, Beijing will continue to let Washington underwrite security in the gulf region - David Schenker, Los Angeles Times: China recognizes that America's commitments to Japan and South Korea — states dependent on gulf energy — will long oblige Washington to underwrite security in the Middle East.

Daily Kos: Tsarnaevs Worse Than Osama, Left Out the Anti-American Propaganda - Tim Graham, The Boston bombers Tsarnaev engaged in what used to be called propaganda by deed, but left out the propaganda says former sociology professor Milton Mankoff. Photographers in the U.S. military do more than just take pictures—they also assist in providing images that can be used to promote propaganda objectives. Below image from

Officials: Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev read jihadist websites, extremist propaganda - AP, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an ardent reader of jihadist websites and extremist propaganda, U.S. officials said Tuesday, adding another piece to the body of evidence they say suggests the two brothers

were motivated by an anti-American, radical version of Islam. Image from

U.S. Military Photographers Help Counter Enemy Propaganda and Support American Propaganda - David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff, An updated doctrine for combat camera (COMCAM) personnel claims that photographers play important roles in helping win any war. They can “potentially achieve national, theater strategic, and operational level objectives in a manner that lessens the requirement for combat in many situations.” Furthermore, COMCAM “can counter adversary misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda.”

When local insurgents in Afghanistan used photo of civilian casualties to promote hostility against U.S. forces, Pentagon photographers were ordered to provide images of Americans treating injured Afghans. Images collected by military photographers also play a role in identifying key combatants and “support special reconnaissance,” and can “help commanders gain situational awareness on operations in a way written or verbal reports cannot.” Image from entry

The Kremlin and the Marathon Bombing - Judy Bachrach, "Here’s a question.

Who benefits most from the finger-pointing after the Boston Marathon bombings? If you answered 'Russia' or 'Vladimir Putin,' I’m with you." See also Facebook comment on this piece at. Image from entry

Palestinian children’s art exhibit postponed after allegations of propaganda - Laura Brown, Global News: A Palestinian children’s art exhibit that was scheduled to open in Fredericton [Canada]
last week was postponed due to public pressure stemming from allegations that the work is propaganda and was done by adults. The exhibit, a Child’s View from Gaza, has travelled across North America and was setting up to open at Charlotte Street Arts Centre for April 19. The art was submitted by Gazan children depicting their lives and experience during the 22-day Israeli attack on Gaza in 2008-2009, during which over 1,100 Palestinians died including hundreds of children.

However one Fredericton resident says he believes the exhibit’s pieces are inauthentic and fraudulent. “This would appear to have been done by adults certainly not by six year olds, and/or done by children under the direction of adults,” said Israel Unger, a protestor of the exhibit. He says the drawings are propaganda, anti-Israeli, and too sophisticated to be drawn by children. The allegations, along with letters and calls from other protesters, led the Centre’s board of directors to postpone the opening and review the situation. In 2011 the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland, California cancelled the exhibition after pressure from the Jewish Community Relations Council and Jewish Federation of East Bay. Image from entry, with caption: A piece in the Palestinian children’s art exhibit, A Child’s View from Gaza.

Netherlands' National Anthem Scrapped in North Korean Propaganda Row: Composer John Ewbank withdraws Koningslied homage for accession of Crown prince Willem in face of 38,000 complaints - Ewan Palmer, An anthem to mark the accession of the new king and queen of the Netherlands has been withdrawn after critics likened it to North Korean propaganda.

Obama’s Ministry of Propaganda or: How I Came to Love the New Normal - Michael Oberndorf, Ever since the horror at the end of the Boston Marathon, we have been witness to Obama’s Ministry of Propaganda at its absolute despicable worst. The Ministry of Propaganda, euphemistically self-named the “mainstream” media, includes the major TV networks and their radio news versions, big-city newspapers, and of course, the source of most of their “news,” the AP (Associated Press). In spite of the growth of the “alternate” media – the Internet and talk radio – it’s still the source of most people’s knowledge of what’s going on in the world.

This helps explain the phenomena of what Rush Limbaugh has dubbed the “Low Information Voter,” among other things, since what they all put out is a mixture of lies, intentional distortion – called by them “spin” – and opinion disguised as fact. All of it is designed to brainwash the public into believing the Enemy’s version of reality. We’ve seen this repeatedly, with every mass murder in recent years. The Ministry immediately tries to blame it on “right-wingers” – read, conservatives – with every outlet using the same terms, over and over, making it crystal clear to anyone with an IQ over room temperature that they are being fed their “spin” from a single source. Image from

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cui Bono? Vladimir Vladimirovich? - Re Boston Bombing

ITEM 2a: Ken Jensen: Cui Bono? Vladimir Vladimirovich? Unpublished, April 20-21 (via ACFR NewsGroup No. 2143, April 27, 2013)

Cui Bono? Vladimir Vladimirovich?

When it comes to terrorist events like the Boston Marathon bombings, it often pays to think in speculative ways and to ask oneself obvious questions.  As with murders, the first and best one of these, adapted to current circumstances, is “who benefits most from what transpired at the Boston Marathon and subsequent mayhem?” Here follows one such exercise of answering that question.

In the case of Boston, an experimental answer to “cui bono?” might be “Vladimir Putin.”  If nothing else, he certainly got a nice boost from events by the Tsarnaevs’ being Chechen, something he hardly deserves given Moscow’s past and present antics in the Caucasus. It leads to the further question “What if the Boston bombing was Putin’s (or the FSB’s or “Russia’s”) doing?”  How could that have happened and why?
The Sochi Winter Olympics are coming up in 2014, and Putin will have to put on a major effort to keep anything untoward from happening in the greater neighborhood, which is, as we know, full of anti-Russian and Islamist elements. Putin’s effort is very likely to involve extremely ugly incidents of Russian repression.  The Russians are not known to be quiet and tidy repressors, after all. It will not do for the international community of nations coming to Sochi to become upset about what Putin feels compelled to do.  Some may pull out, either in fear of getting caught in the crossfire or in protest against atrocities. Others may back the “rebels” and embolden them.

So what better could happen for Putin than a terrorist incident in the U.S. involving, ostensibly, dissident elements from the Caucasus? Wouldn’t that make the crackdown easier and create a certain amount of international sympathy for Moscow?  Not an overwhelming amount, maybe, but perhaps enough to get the Russians through Sochi.

We know that in 2011 some foreign state inquired of the U.S. regarding the “political” activities of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.  If that state was Russia (which is pretty much assumed now), why, then, did it allow Tsarnaev to enter and stay on Russian territory for six months in 2012? Family said it was to renew his Russian passport.  Six months to renew a passport? Of course, Moscow could have let him in to tail him as a known anti-Russian and Islamist of Chechen origin and see what he did, with whom he met, etc.
On the other hand, it may have crossed the FSB’s mind that Tsarnaev, as a relatively recently convert to Islamist, could be turned to an even more useful purpose. He had immediate family in Dagestan (mother and father) and in the U.S. (a wife and child and brother). Threats of harm to those family members could have been used to make Tsarnaev pliable.  Alternately, FSB agents who had infiltrated certain Chechen or Dagestani circles in the “Caucasus Emirate” could have convinced him that it was in the interests of the cause to do something in Boston.

Tsarnaev could have been trained in bomb-making and terrorist trade-craft, given money, and sent on his way.  Such training could have been done in Moscow, or the Caucasus, or even Afghanistan or Pakistan (where affiliates of the Caucasus Emirate has strong connections), depending on his handlers’ connections and abilities to appear convincing dissidents.
If Moscow proceeded even less than skillfully, Tsarnaev could have been set up in such a way that would leave very few FSB fingerprints on the operation.  Recall that the explosive devices used were primitive and well within the abilities of a “lone wolf” to create. Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev made no attempt to disguise themselves, nor did they have either an escape plan or assistance in escaping.  The latter may have been promised, which might explain the mayhem that ensued once their photographs were made public. They may well have felt they had to fight it out for martyrdom’s sake. All the better for the FSB.

Keep in mind that Putin’s offer to cooperate with U.S. authorities in investigating the bombing (in the form of a phone conversation with Barack Obama) came Friday morning and was reported in the media before noon.  Accordingly, Putin’s offer came after Tamerlan was killed. Watertown was locked down and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was still at large. On the (unsure but possible) assumption that Dzhokhar knew less (possibly MUCH less) than his older brother, the timing of the call after Tamerlan’s death would have been the most beneficial for Moscow.  (Putin might also have been assured that Dzhokhar would not allow himself to be taken alive. Or, if he was, that deniability wouldn’t be problem.)

All of this does not in the slightest convince this writer that the aforementioned was what REALLY happened. The notion is plausible, nothing more.   In things like this, every lead has to be followed.  We saw only the other morning that the Tsarnaevs’ Uncle Ruslan has claimed that he was told by someone that Tamerlan was “brainwashed” into becoming a jihadi by a Muslim convert of Armenian descent, and also that Tamerlan’s radicalization occurred in the United States, not during his stay in Russia.  Lots of Armenians in Watertown, Massachusetts, what?  Of course, Uncle Ruslan may have a thing about Armenians.  The Wall Street Journal, this morning, contains a well-researched piece on the Tsarnaev family that suggests that Mrs. Tsarnaev was radicalized either before or at the same time as her son Tamerlan, and that this occurred while both were in Boston.  Was it “do-it-yourself” or assisted?

It will be important for all sorts of reasons to know how Tamerlan Tsarnaev was radicalized, where it occurred and when. Clearly, it would be most troubling if he had been radicalized in the U.S. The scant current evidence is rather more suggestive of that than an international conspiracy.  But most important is finding out what he did for six months in Russia. 

Here follows something received from one of my best “informed sources” that helps explain why one might consider the “theory” above:

“Regarding your ‘cui bono’ theory: The possibility of provocation or manipulation by the Russian FSB or other government-backed actors is not necessarily quite as far-fetched a scenario as it might at first appear. For example, in his recent book on the Moscow apartment bombings of 1999, Hoover’s John Dunlop explores the possible connection of contemporary political upheavals in Russia to possible FSB complicity in the apartment bombings, blamed by the government on Chechens. The subsequent "Riazan incident," in which a bomb was found and defused, was later explained by the FSB as having been their own training exercise. The head of the FSB at the time? Vladimir Putin, who soon after vaulted to power. (Reichstag fire, anyone?) The famous and horrific episodes at the Nord-Ost Theatre in 2002 and at the school in Beslan in 2004 have raised serious questions about possible FSB complicity from no less serious figures than the late journalist Anna Politkovskaia and the (also horribly late) former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko.”
An Aside: Another, less bizarre theory, is that Chechen dissident elements were egregiously offended by the deal the U.S. cut with Russia on terrorism on May 26, 2011.  Not only was anti-terrorist cooperation agreed to, but the U.S. at the same time listed Chechen Doku Umarov of the Caucasus Emirate as a “specially designated global terrorist” and specifically called him a danger to both the U.S. and Russia.  See U.S. Executive Order 1322.  Was this enough to inspire a terror attack in the U.S. in the Chechen and/or Islamist cause? Perhaps it was.

April 25-27 Public Diplomacy Review

"When I take action, I'm not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It's going to be decisive."

-- George W. Bush; image from, with caption: George W. Bush stares at a portrait of George W. Bush.


a) George W. Bush, Catapult The Propaganda - YouTube

b) Practical Challenges for the Future of Public Diplomacy -

c) N. Korea Propaganda Video: Dogs Attack Effigy Of South’s Defense Minister -

d) Facebook Home Propaganda Makes Selfishness Contagious - Evan Selinger, "Let’s examine the most egregious Facebook ad of them all: 'Dinner.' On the surface, it portrays an intergenerational family meal where a young woman escapes from the dreariness of her older relative’s boring cat talk by surreptitiously turning away from the feast and instead feasting her eyes on Facebook Home."


Public Diplomacy in Context: Past and Present of National Image Management among the Small Nations of Northern Europe --- Conference in Helsinki and Turku, Finland 26-27 April, 2013


Rebalance to Asia II: Security and Defense: Cooperation and Challenges - Testimony, Joseph Yun, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Statement Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Washington, DC, April 25, 2013 - U.S. Department of State: "United States’ policy toward East Asia and the Pacific reflects the profound recognition that the future prosperity and security of our nation will be defined by events and developments in the region. ... Our cooperation with the region is not limited to top-level engagement.

It also extends to ordinary citizens, including young people. Public diplomacy initiatives, such as educational and cultural exchange programs with citizens from across the Asia-Pacific region, are increasing grass-roots support for partnering with the United States. In addition, we are utilizing new outreach platforms such as social media and the innovative American cultural spaces in Rangoon and Jakarta, to reach younger audiences, highlight the multi-dimensional nature of U.S. foreign policy, and foster direct and long-term relationships with broader and more diverse populations." Image from

Good Service - Scott Moore, Foreign Affairs: "The country’s objectives would be ... served by expanding opportunities for national service through voluntary programs, particularly those that expose Americans to the outside world. The Peace Corps was established by President John F. Kennedy to make Americans return from abroad 'better able to assume the responsibilities of American citizenship and with greater understanding of our global responsibilities.' The value of the Peace Corps has only increased over time, and expanding the program would be a sound investment in U.S. public diplomacy. Currently, the Peace Corps provides fewer than 10,000 positions total despite receiving thousands of applications every year. The United States can and should encourage more Americans to serve their country both at home and abroad. But targeted investments in voluntary programs would advance U.S. interests far more effectively than compulsory national service."

More State Department senior officials exiting - Al Kamen, Washington Post: "Undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs Tara Sonenshine is leaving

in July after 15 months in the job, likely headed to an academic or media gig.The Emmy Award-winning former editorial producer of ABC News’ Nightline also worked on the Clinton National Security Council and was more recently executive vice president at the U.S. Institute of Peace." Image from

Sonenshine Travel to Ethiopia: Under Secretary Sonenshine Travel to Ethiopia - Media Note, Office of the Spokesperson, U.S. Department of State: "Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara D. Sonenshine will travel to Ethiopia to meet with government officials, local media, students, and activists to advance shared goals in the areas of press freedom, education, youth development, and conservation April 27-30. In Addis Ababa, Under Secretary Sonenshine will meet with officials from the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the African Union; join a discussion on press freedom at a roundtable with the Association of Private Publishers; and mark Global Youth Service Day and Earth Day by participating in a tree-planting event with Ethiopian National Green Service Volunteers. April 30, Under Secretary Sonenshine will travel to Ethiopia’s second largest city, Dire Dawa, where she will speak to students at Dire Dawa University, one of Ethiopia’s newly established universities."

Public Schedule: Public Schedule for April 26, 2013 - U.S. Department of State: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 11:30 a.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine meets with U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Booth, at the Department of State. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)"

Public Schedule for April 25, 2013 - U.S. Department of State: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS TARA SONENSHINE 9:00 a.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine delivers remarks on wildlife conservation at the School Without Walls, in Washington, DC. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE) 2:30 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine joins Acting Assistant Secretary Zeya to launch the World Press Freedom Day, at the Foreign Press Center, in Washington DC. (OPEN PRESS COVERAGE) 6:00 p.m. Under Secretary Sonenshine attends a reception in honor of the 65th Anniversary of the U.S.-UK Fulbright Commission, at the British Ambassador’s residence. (MEDIA DETERMINED BY HOST)

Pimm’s Cup [scroll down link for item] - Amanda Gordon and Stephanie Green, "Celebrating the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission last night in Washington, Bay Fang, a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, sipped a Pimm’s Cup. After Harvard, she went to Hong Kong and Beijing as a Fulbright scholar, studying international affairs.

Also in attendance at the residence of the British ambassador: John Jeffry Louis, incoming chairman of the U.S.- U.K. Fulbright Commission and an American venture capitalist living in London, and Tara Sonenshine, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs." Image from

United States Consul In Merida Visits Valladolid - The Yucatan Times: "The U.S. Consulate General in Merida celebrated U.S. National Library Week with a significant event at the Valladolid English Library (VEL), housed at Casa Hamaca in Valladolid. Consul Sonya Tsiros along with

Ms. Tricia Olivares, the Consulate Public Diplomacy Assistant, made the celebration memorable by bringing a wonderful collection of children’s English language books, a set of 24 DVDs featuring English language lessons through the use of video games, and a stunning book with dramatic color photos from around the world titled, Global Women’s Issues: Women in the World Today." Image from article, with caption: Ms. Tricia Olivares, U.S. Consulate Public Diplomacy Assistant

Apply for US grant before May 5 - The New Indian Express: "The US Consulate General, Chennai, has invited proposals for its small-grants program. Through this program, the Consulate provides partial support for public diplomacy programmes that further priority areas of the US Mission to India. The last date for applying for the grant is May 5 and the public diplomacy programmes must occur in South India. Proposals can include projects, seminars, conferences, workshops, cultural programmes, exhibitions and outreach campaigns, and should focus on one of the following areas: promoting better US-India bilateral relations with an emphasis on business ties; encouraging regional and global roles for India; and enhancing security cooperation. The proposals should be submitted via email or mail and should include a written narrative in English. This competition is open only to individuals, NGOs and other legally-recognised non-profit institutions. For details, visit"

Brazil's Orwellian Islamabad - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Keola and company finally made our way out of limbo, and headed south via Miami to Brasilia. Nothing to report or speak of on the way down, and we arrived redeyed to Brasilia. ... Keola and company

headed out last night for dinner with my contact at the Embassy, Ramona the ACAO. We took a taxi to meet her and her husband Ted (who also works at the Embassy)." Image from PR Facebook, with caption: Prior to heading out on tour, Keola Beamer, Jeff Peterson & Moanalani Beamer were hosted by a local halau in Virgina for an afternoon of Hawaiian food, hula, music and talk story. Mahalo to Paul Ruden for sharing his pics from the lovely afternoon.

25 Steps towards a Smarter U.S. Foreign Policy - Brett Daniel Shehadey, "China and Russia are strictly engaging in increased bilateral diplomacy with smaller states to increase their influence, and these countries’ propaganda and public diplomacy initiatives are far more advanced than the US’s ability to counter it. In search of a new US grand strategy that fits the current international model, this article offers recommendations for fundamental redesign of US foreign policy. ... [Among them:] 16. Large-Scale VIP Public Diplomacy Initiatives [:] The State Department should take in highly experienced, influential, outsiders and director level government retirees, and ask them to be 'roving diplomats'

as 'direct commission' FSO appointees. These experts can represent critical needs or special positions in a given field, and set up foundational political networks, partnerships and programs of Americanism abroad, working with influential foreign leaders in all sectors. As overt intelligence operators, they will be responsible for sharing political knowledge, exchange, understanding, and negotiating the American interest (i.e. political assimilation, not cultural, or economic manipulation). ... 24. Indirect Methods of Public Diplomacy [:] Redirect the intelligence community to Americanization and the usage of massive [black] propaganda (i.e. information operations deniable to American sponsorship). Wage massive long-term covert strategic, regional and key state ideological warfare appropriate for each situation." Image from

Reconceptualizing Diplomatic Norms in the Digital Age - PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "[T]he U.S. will need to decide whether to align its digital platforms as a voice for promoting our values abroad, or simply conduits for engaging foreigners through other, less controversial, public diplomacy programs. Both options could lead to success, but I believe in the long run the former will be the better course of action. .. [T]he United States must embrace its values over all digital media. ... Alex Laverty is a graduate student pursuing a Master's degree in Public Diplomacy from USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism."

Why travel needs to have a bigger seat at the table in U.S. immigration debate - "As the immigration reform debate is in full swing in U.S. Congress, all relevant parties are making sure their voices get heard. As part of that, tourism, a big stakeholder with thousands of jobs at stake tied to easing of the immigration and visa policies, has so far had a smaller voice at the table. Megan Smith, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, gave her testimony earlier this week, and made the case why the lawmakers should consider the economic value of travel and tourism as part of these reforms and work on making it easier for tourists to come to

U.S. ... [Smith:] Surveys have shown that foreigners who have the opportunity to visit the U.S. are 74 percent more likely to have a favorable view of our country; and that 61 percent are more likely to support the U.S. and its policies. Moreover, the mere agreement itself to establish a visa waiver relationship reinforces bilateral goodwill. While its explicit mission is to enhance security and encourage travel, the Visa Waiver Program has also demonstrated significant public diplomacy value as a 'soft power' tool that complements our formal foreign policy mechanisms. By strengthening our alliances and enhancing our nation’s global image, the VWP has helped to keep us safer." Image from entry

Top Bush advisers debate former president's legacy - [Comment by
thkr:] "Public Diplomacy - Did we find ways to convince others not to bomb us, but join with us to make a safer or better world by embracing democracy?"

Remembering 43: 'Bush tended to... follow strong people' - John King, CNN: In conjunction with Thursday's dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, CNN circled back with several key players in the big debates and moments of the 43rd president's two terms. Here are some of their reflections and recollections:

KAREN HUGHES, longtime Bush communications adviser dating back to his days as Texas governor, who served in the Bush White House and later the State Department: ... On the government's response to Katrina, and its impact on the second Bush term: 'I was just at the beginning of my tenure as under secretary for public diplomacy. And people around the world, they didn't believe the United States of America, our powerful country, couldn't do anything. Therefore, they felt we were choosing not to do anything. And I think that's the most unfortunate perception; that somehow the government was choosing not to help its own people. And of course, that's not true. I think they felt their hands were tied. But that's the unfortunate perception that developed.'" Image from

‘Some Stirred-up Moslems’ - CTuttle, "eCAHNomics April 20th, 2013 at 9:03 pm 91 In response to donbacon @ 85 ... I think ayatollahs are as despicable as cardinals, popes, heads of Anglican denomination, etc. But this Iranian Khamanei is one clever SOB. Unlike his scowling predecessor, he knows just how to stroke world opinion. Karen Hughes should be jealous."

Great Women - "Condolezza [sic] [Rice] is the second woman to ever be named U.S. Secretary of State, she also has the noted distinction of being the first African-American woman to hold the position. ... Quotes by Condolezza [sic] ... [']I’m a huge proponent of exchanges, student exchanges, cultural exchanges, university exchanges. We talk a lot about public diplomacy. It’s extremely important that we get our message out, but it’s also the case that we should not have a monologue with other people. It has to be a conversation and you can’t do that without exchanges and openness.[']"

Propagating China to the World: China’s “Public Diplomacy through Media” Strategy in the Age of Globalization - Shi Li, gnovis [nō'vĩs], n., Georgetown University’s peer-reviewed Journal of Communication, Culture andTechnology (CCT): "Abstract [:] In order to improve its global image and cultivate an international environment that would facilitate China’s continuous rise in the world, the Chinese government has developed, in recent years, an aggressive public diplomacy program. The extension of the global outreach of its media has become an essential component in the effort to propagate

the country’s international image. This paper maps out such undertakings by examining developments among four major media organizations: Xinhua, China Central Television, China Radio International, and China Daily. At the same time, in analyzing existing literature and online discussions, it appears that three factors have the potential to compromise China’s efforts: an absence of government and media credibility; a lack of proper understanding on the part of the authorities of China’s public diplomacy audiences; and the Chinese government’s reluctance and inability to develop social media tools that directly engage the foreign public as well as encourage people-to-people public diplomacyAlthough China disposes of considerable soft power resources, the strategy of 'public diplomacy through media' might well be trapped in its own repressive political system." Image from

Beijing Film Festival: Technically Dazzling, Ultimately Disappointing - Adam Clayton Powell III, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy:  "The 3rd Beijing International Film Festival was a public diplomacy showcase this week for Chinese cinema at its best. ... The problem was not with the production technology or the performers: the problem was with the script. ... [T]his suggests lessons for CCTV at it prepares to launch a major daily television program service in America – five hours a day, starting in September (see more here): To be effective public diplomacy, CCTV America will need to attract an audience. And to attract an audience, expensive production and glitzy effects will only go so far. They will need content."

Responsibility doesn't end at profit - Meng Jing and Sun Yuanqing, China Daily: "Corporate social responsibility has always been a gray area for companies that operate in diverse nations and across various environment. But for many others like Mao Qiping, who looks after the international operations at one of the biggest Chinese oil companies, it is the calling card for sustained engagement and lasting relationships in Africa. 'What it really means is that CSR is something that needs to be handled with care.

Failure to do so can be disastrous,' he says. Mao's company, China National Petroleum Corporation, the largest integrated energy company in China, has been making steady progress with its CSR initiatives in Africa after expanding its oil business to Sudan in 1996. 'The real challenge initially was to find the best way to utilize the allocated budget for CSR activities, especially in the overseas markets,' he says. CNPC has to date spent more than $50 million in Africa on public welfare activities such as digging 160 water wells, building four hospitals and 35 schools and numerous roads and bridges. The jewel in its crown is undoubtedly the Sino-Sudan Abu Ushar Friendship Hospital, ranked by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as one of the best public diplomacy programs in 2011." Image from

Brand Australia’s brand new portal - "A new Government-only web portal has been launched by Austrade’s Brand Australia to bring together free and subscription information that can be used to formulate key messaging about Australia’s reputation. Project Manager of Brand Australia, Catherine Hill said Insights Unlimited was a single-source web portal that offered access to rich information on Australia's perceived and actual performance across a wide range of economic and social indicators. ... Ms Hill said Insights Unlimited was a valuable reference tool for presentations, policy documents, messaging for public diplomacy efforts, speeches, media statements, marketing collateral and country briefings."

The Lieberman fear factor - Uri Misgav, "Israel's Foreign Ministry is patiently waiting for Avigdor Lieberman to finish up his legal affairs . ... The decision to keep the foreign minister's post empty and hold it in trust for Lieberman is an allegory. ... It is first of all an allegory of Lieberman's formidable political power. His deterrent force is impressive. The dread he strikes in the prime minister is paralyzing. We all know how insistent Benjamin Netanyahu is to defend the righteousness of Israel's actions. In his previous term he even set up a 'public diplomacy' ministry.

In response to the UN Assembly's declarative gesture to recognize a Palestinian state, Netanyahu raised a huge commotion. He postponed the ceremonial reconciliation with Turkey for three years and finally did it only when he had no choice - after Obama ordered him to. The excuse Netanyahu's office made for the prime minister's unnecessary trip to Margaret Thatcher's funeral was that it presented an opportunity to meet world leaders and 'explain Israel's policy.' Given Netanyahu's concern over Israel's image abroad, it is inconceivable that he accepts the idea of the government and state going without a foreign minister. ... Israeli society wants to deal only with itself. The craving for internal repairs, after years of neglect, is understandable and justified. But the inability to maintain interest in international affairs and strategic issues, at the same time, is a sign of a severe national attention disorder." Lieberman image from article

Syria, Iran, and terrorist connections - Anne's Opinions: "lialands says: 24 April 2013 at 13:38 pm Hi Anne, I am an intern for an interpersonal communications firm in Ramat Gan. Together with the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, my company, Debate Co, is working on an Israel advocacy app called Israelight.

The website enables users to register for free access to Hasbara tips and techniques. Using the Israelight app, anyone can access to the interactive tool assisting them in public diplomacy for Israel! We provide powerful, short videos on various case studies as well as the key principles of Israel advocacy. We hope to empower people to become more effective ambassadors for the State of Israel. Would you consider registering for Israelight at and perhaps mentioning the site in your blog posts? The faster we spread the word, the more advocates we can create for Israel, the more truth will be told!" Image: heading of blog

Israel’s top anti-BDS man [scroll down link for item] - Tony Greenstein's Blog: "Amir Sagie, the director, civil society affairs department, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs was the Keynote Guest speaker at Sunday’s overwhelmingly successful Israel Advocacy Seminar in Joburg. This speech, by the man at the forefront of combatting the global BDS movement, was extremely informative and useful to all present – given that it was an Israel advocacy seminar. ... Amir Sagie has been involved with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) since 1998. During his time there he has served as the Spokesman and head of the Public Diplomacy department in the Israeli Embassy in Beijing, China; he supervised the China, South Korea and Mongolia Desk in the North-Asia Department; he worked as the Deputy Director of the Information and Internet Department. ... Currently Amir holds the position of Director of the Civil Society Affairs Department in the Public Diplomacy Directorate."

Confession - Nurit Greenger, Doc's Talk: "I was born in British Palestine approximately nine months before Ben Gurion declared, on 14 May 1948, the state of Israel an independent state. ... Without the Jewish people there is no Israel and without Israel the continuation of the Jewish nation is at a great doubt. In my later years, when I realized that Israel can do with any and all help, I have joined the unofficial Public Diplomacy-Hasbara camp with the hope that even one percent of what I have to say or I do makes a slight difference and helps Israel."

'Full Spectrum Diplomacy and Grand Strategy' [Review of Full Spectrum Diplomacy and Grand Strategy: Reforming the Structure and Culture of U.S. Foreign Policy By John Lenczowski, Lexington Books, 212 pages] - Wes Vernon: "In 'Spectrum and Diplomacy,' Mr. Lenczowski proposes a sweeping reorganization of that entire range of government disciplines. A nerve center of such massive reorientation would be the U.S. Public Diplomacy Agency, whose portfolio is so extensive that its significance could not be ignored, and which would spur a culture of influence enough to be felt within the department and other relevant agencies. The agency would be in the State Department but not really of it. Basically, it would be removed from the department's culture and 'would operate at a greater effectiveness.'

The author notes the department's structure and culture of diplomatic policymaking were formulated before the arrival of the modern mass media. Mr. Lenczowski would supplement formal government-to-government diplomacy with public diplomacy's people-to-people approach. In that endeavor, he would enlist the assistance of Americans in and out of government. That would include visiting lecturers or scholars at educational institutions, performing artists and others who befriend the local populations. ... In an interview with this writer, Mr. Lenczowski said there is much yet to be learned about the recent debacle in Benghazi, but if reports are accurate that 'our people, CIA people were there to get arms, to get Libyan arms to the Syrian resistance,' then with the benefit of more information, we might determine if public diplomacy could have averted the crisis. ... Mr. Lenczowski would create agencies to see that disinformation about the United States conveyed to foreign populations is met with an effective response. Another agency would be responsible for 'ensuring a sufficient counterintelligence protection against foreign political influence operations and against the infiltration of U.S. public diplomacy programs by foreign agents of influence.' He cites the documented fact that during the Cold War, 'protection against infiltration at such institutions" as Radio Free Europe and Voice of America "was always weak.' This agency could also counter 'attempts by Islamists to secure a foothold of Shariah law' in the United States." Image from entry

One Day’s News Shows Effects of New Media - Philip Seib, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "The availability of information contributes to a sense of empowerment among the public."

Bring Your Kid to Work Day! - Yo Ali, "Yesterday was we celebrated Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day (you know any excuse for a party in this neck of the woods!), I thought it was Bring Your Kid to Work Day but maybe that didn't sound fancy enough. Whatever the name, the Embassy went all out and organzied a lovely little afternoon for all children of the Embassy. I think there was something like 18 kids signed up. They visited several sections of the Embassy to learn what each one does: Meet and Greet - with the Ambassador [;] Consular Section - they got a passport and an entry stamp [;]  Public Diplomacy - how to speak in public (I can just guess how O did in this section) ... The afternoon ended with snacks and certificates!

Image from entry, with caption: Certificate of Appreciation - notice the cut out of Obama in the background!

Ann Coulter says 'hijab' statement on Hannity was meant to be a joke - Michelle Breidenbach, "When Ann Coulter took the stage at Syracuse University Wednesday night, her friends and enemies visibly split into the people who jumped to their feet in applause and those who sat quietly in their seats. ... Earlier this week, on the show “Hannity,” she [Coulter] said the wife of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsnarnaev should go to jail for wearing a hijab. Wednesday in Syracuse, she said the quote has not been taken out of context. 'But it was a joke,' she said. ... Hadeel Al Haddadeh, 26, a public diplomacy student who is Palestinian, said she heard about the hijab statement earlier in the week and posted it on social media with the comment 'I think she’s crazy.'”

APDS Conference: Public Diplomacy at the Front Lines Annual Conference - May 3, 2013 8:45 AM - 4:00 PM Venue: USC; Tutor Campus Center, Franklin Room [.]

The USC Center on Public Diplomacy is pleased to co-sponsor the Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars (APDS) annual conference on the new and traditional frontlines of public diplomacy." Image from entry

Diplomatic Forum of Seoul 2013 for Middle and High School Students: “International Approaches to Peace Building” (July 19-21, 2013) - EmanuelP, "Activities of participants [:] Creation of short film clips regarding world peace and international developments.

Exhibition of film clips as practice in effective messaging and public diplomacy for peace ..." Image from entry

Public Diplomacy in Total War: Estonian efforts to guide opinion in Sweden, Britain and the United States, 1940-45 - Kaarel Piirimae,

Expert from Duke University to present on Asian values - University of Delaware "Liu Kang, director of the China Research Center at Duke University, will present

'China Model, Universalism and Asian Values,' the third lecture in the China Forum series hosted by the Confucius Institute at the University of Delaware, on Tuesday, April 30 . ... His current projects include global surveys of China’s image, Chinese soft power and public diplomacy, and political and ideological changes in China." Kang image from entry

Around the World, Mayors Take Charge: Leaders of major cities are increasingly taking on diplomatic and inter-state roles - Michele Acuto and Parag Khanna, "Michele Acuto is a research fellow for the Oxford Program for the Future of Cities, a fellow at the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy, and author of the forthcoming book Building Global Cities (Columbia University Press)."

Forgotten Errands: Put Policy Before Politics to Reform American Immigration - Michelle Ryan, "Michelle Ryan is a second year undergraduate student of International Relations, Economics, and Philosophy . ... Michelle enjoys traveling, live music, and her involvement with the St Andrews Hip Hop Society, and looks forward to studying abroad at the National University of Singapore and working with the Office of Economic Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy at the United States Department of State in the coming months."


The Guantánamo Stain - Editorial Board, New York Times: Guantánamo is essentially a political prison. It stains America’s human rights record.

Why Obama remains cautious about Syria - David Ignatius, Washington Post: Administration officials believe that although Obama is facing growing domestic political pressure to intervene in Syria, there is also a strong public desire for convincing, detailed evidence that will provide a reliable basis for military action, in contrast to the Bush administration’s misfounded allegations about “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq. Image from

Obama should remember Rwanda as he weighs action in Syria - Anne-Marie Slaughter, Washington Post: The distrust, cynicism and hatred with which the United States is regarded in much of the world, particularly among Muslims across the Middle East and North Africa, is already a cancer. Standing by while Assad gasses his people will guarantee that, whatever else Obama may achieve, he will be remembered as a president who proclaimed a new beginning with the Muslim world but presided over a deadly chapter in the same old story.

Why John Kerry could be a better secretary of state than Hillary Clinton - Aaron David Miller, Washington Post: The president’s need to delegate more of his global portfolio as he focuses on domestic issues, the sheer variety and magnitude of international problems to manage, and the fact that Kerry, unlike Clinton, has taken the job at the end of his political career, when he can afford to take greater risks — all these forces come together to give Kerry a chance to shine that Clinton never had.

How to build a second American century - Richard N. Haass, Washington Post: What stands in the way of the next American century is American politics. To paraphrase Walter Kelly’s Pogo, we have met the problem, and we are it. Special interests often crowd out the general national interest. The alternative to a U.S.-led 21st century is not an era dominated by China or anyone else, but rather a chaotic time in which regional and global problems overwhelm the world’s collective will and ability to meet them.

NT Welcomes our Marines - U.S. Ambassador to Australia Bleich on Facebook: Michael Scott, the owner of Crocosaurus Cove, called to offer a discount to any Marine who wants to experience a face-to-face

croc encounter from the "Cage of Death." Image: Ambassador Bleich in "the Cage of Death." Via

Outside Radio Broadcasts Undermine Domestic Propaganda: Source: More and More North Koreans Are Turning to Outside Radio As a Source of Information - North Koreans are increasingly turning to outside radio broadcasts for news and information, following weeks of increasingly hyperbolic rhetoric produced by North Korean state media. The seriousness with which outside observers took Pyongyang’s aggressive rhetoric notably declined as the “crisis” continued into April, fizzling out over the last few weeks and, according to reports by Seoul-based website the Daily NK, a similar process occurred domestically.“

In the absence of the Internet, radio remains the best way to send information into the DPRK because it’s the only technology that can cover the entire country,” Martyn Williams of North Korea Tech and NK NEWS Pro said. “Broadcasts are being scaled back to other parts of the world because people have largely moved on from shortwave broadcasting, but that’s not the case with North Korea.” Many North Koreans keep easily-concealed short wave radios in their homes to secretly listen to outside broadcasts. Officially sanctioned radios are pre-tuned or restricted to state frequencies, and are periodically inspected by the authorities for signs of tampering. Some citizens therefore keep an extra, secret, device in their homes. “Short wave radios are perfect because receiving the information is completely anonymous. Unlike the Internet, radio doesn’t require any feedback or signals from listeners. They just switch on their set and receive broadcasts over the air, which makes it much more difficult to track listeners,” Williams said. Image from article

Cyber Propaganda: Iran-funded Hezbollah building a media empire - Adam Kredo, The Lebanese terror group Hezbollah has positioned itself as the most influential extremist group on the Internet in recent years and operates more than 20 websites in seven different languages across the globe, according to an Israeli intelligence organization. Hezbollah’s efforts are directly funded by Iran and its expanding reach is a sign the group’s global influence is swelling as other terror fronts like

al Qaeda see their influence wane, according to a recent report issued by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, an Israeli research organization that investigates terrorists. “For Hezbollah, its cyberspace presence is of great importance and is considered by both Hezbollah and Iran as an important weapon in the battle for hearts and minds,” the report stated. Iran’s involvement in Hezbollah’s migration to the Internet is evidence the regime is continuing its efforts to exert control over anti-American and anti-Israeli terrorist groups across the world, the report continues. Image from

Approaching Israel-Palestine conflict without propaganda - Brendan Lyman, (Tulane University): Tulane University for Israel showed a video outside McAlister Auditorium on Monday in objection to Israel Apartheid Week, an annual series of talks and events meant to portray Israel as an apartheid nation. The language was inflammatory. More importantly, the language elicited an emotional response. If Tulane University For Israel had hoped to start a constructive dialogue on the Israel-Palestine issue, they failed miserably. If we truly want to start a conversation on the Israel-Palestine issue, then we must do so by considering the humanity of the issue. We must discontinue the use of propaganda as portrayal of fact. We cannot proceed with the hateful rhetoric on both sides.

AA Milne may not have liked MI7, but propaganda played a vital wartime role: We should not condemn the great writers who joined the secret services – the alternative was to leave history to the liars - Alan Judd, Propaganda is probably as old as government itself, and so we shouldn’t be too surprised to read that A A Milne, creator of the immortal Winnie-the-Pooh, was part of MI7B, a secret First World War propaganda outfit. He was by no means the only writer to wield his pen in war. Milne’s MI7B was established in 1916 to help counter the effects of mounting war losses, industrial discontent, peace activists and German propaganda abroad. In fact, this was really the bureaucratic incorporation of an existing propaganda outfit set up by the journalist and Liberal Party politician, Charles Masterman. Formally called the War Propaganda Bureau, it was better known to those on the inside track as the Wellington House operation. In a brilliant exercise in improvisation, Masterman made effective use of his pre-war literary and artistic contacts to counter German propaganda in the US. He secretly sponsored books by reputable academics to send to influential Americans, and recruited writers such John Buchan, HG Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle. Within a month of the outbreak of war, Masterman had commissioned a book by his novelist friend Ford Madox Ford (who was in fact half-German), which was published six months later as When Blood is their Argument (a quote from Henry V – “For how can they charitably dispose of anything when blood is their argument”). This was not the crude German-bashing and flag-waving that seems to have made Milne unhappy, but a balanced and informed argument to the effect that the admirable German culture had been turned on its head by the ascendance of militarist Prussia. Ford followed it with another propaganda book, Between St Dennis and St George, a more discursive work stressing the value of French culture in opposing Prussian militarism. Unsurprisingly, it was picked up and translated by the French government.

Masterman’s activities extended beyond such relatively esoteric propaganda, however. He did much to publicise the German atrocities in Belgium in late 1914 and early 1915. These, attested by refugees, contributed significantly to anti-German sentiment both here and abroad, though lurid stories of babies being bounced on bayonets proved counter-productive in the longer term. For much of the 20th century, tales of the Belgium atrocities were written off as exaggerations – overshadowed anyway by what came later in the Second World War – but recent research has shown that they happened. The shell-shocked refugees did not make them up. Masterman also ensured that the German execution of nurse Edith Cavell on the spurious grounds of spying caused widespread outrage, evidence of which is her statue facing Trafalgar Square. His operation helped Kitchener mobilise the population, too, originating the famous poster of two children posing the awkward question to their father, “Daddy, what did you do in the Great War?” It wasn’t only writers that were involved with Wellington House, but painters such as Paul Nash and Francis Dodd, too. Masterman also incurred the lasting enmity of successive Turkish governments by publicising the Armenian genocide. Effective propagandising throughout much of the 20th century by totalitarian regimes – the Nazis, the Soviet Union and the Chinese communists – has of course given the practice a bad name. But before rushing to judgment on those who, in the eyes of their literary and artistic successors, might have compromised their integrity by arguing on our side, we should ask ourselves what we would do if we were facing an existential threat and believed our cause to be right. Milne seems to have been involved in the cruder end of wartime propaganda, found it distasteful and later became a pacifist. What we call jingoism nearly always is unpleasant, but propaganda doesn’t need to be emotional rabble-rousing. It is, surely, legitimate to try to ensure that the truth will out – especially when the alternative is to leave history to the liars. Image from article, with caption: A A Milne, pictured with his son Christopher Robin, was conflicted over his work for military intelligence. See also: (1) (2).

Facebook Home Propaganda Makes Selfishness Contagious - Evan Selinger, The new ads for Facebook Home are propaganda clips. Transforming vice into virtue, they’re social engineering spectacles that use aesthetic tricks to disguise the profound ethical issues at stake. This isn’t an academic concern: Zuckerberg’s vision (as portrayed by the ads) is being widely embraced — if the very recent milestone of half a million installations is anything to go by. Critics have already commented on how the ads exploit our weakness for escapist fantasy so we can feel good about avoiding conversation and losing touch with our physical surroundings. And they’ve called out Zuckerberg’s hypocrisy: “Isn’t the whole point of Facebook supposed to be that it’s a place to keep up with, you know, family members? So much for all that high-minded talk about connecting people.” However, the dismissive reviews miss an even deeper and more consequential point about the messages conveyed by the ads: that to be cool, worthy of admiration and emulation, we need to be egocentric. We need to care more about our own happiness than our responsibilities towards others.

More Pacific Rim Poster Propaganda Pops Up - Ryan Turek, Pacific Rim's propaganda campagn continues to keep the public informed in the battle against the kaiju.  This one has a very Starship Troopers-esque vibe.

Check it out inside. The film, directed by Guillermo del Tor, opens in theaters July 12th. For more posters, pics and more, click here. Image from entry

What isn’t Propaganda? – Day 370 - Propaganda in the hands of our elite is a study in near-perfection. Orwell might have called it “a matured totalitarianism” – a sophisticated matrix that has deformed our humanity… we bought their story and we have forgotten our ability to challenge tyranny. The antidote to propaganda is Truth: to stop telling lies – lies about ourselves, lies about the world.