Friday, January 31, 2014

A secret American plan to save the Sochi Olympics: Bring on the NFL!


FROM: The Directorate, CIA
TO: The President of the United States
SUBJECT: Sochi Olympics

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: By Executive Order, illegal or not, POTUS should reschedule the National Football League (NFL) Super Bowl (February 2) to Sochi, where the Winter Olympic Games are opening in that subtropical Black Sea city February 7.

--It is in the American national interest to hold the XLVIII Super Bowl in Sochi. Such an event would contribute to our country's short- and long-term world dominance for the following reasons:

--It would elevate the most-watched American sport, exhilarating for U.S. taxpayers in its brutality (it makes them forget the depressing state of the economy), to Olympic status, thereby producing a global audience (and huge potential advertising revenues -- no need to tax them, though) for the NFL;

--It would send a clear message to the Russian government that we are prepared to combat the threat of terrorism by cooperating with it (Mr. President! -- apologies -- by "it" we mean the Russian government!), as the presence of gargantuan USA football players would frighten the underweight, unmuscular, terrorists away, including their hooded female agents;

--More American security personnel would be deployed at Sochi, which would be welcomed by Russian officials fearing that they lack most elementary hardware/software (including fancy Secret Service sunglasses) to assure security;

--We all know that our U.S. military is overstretched. The NFL players -- if they will tolerate a pay cut for the sake of their country -- could be surrogate agents for a mission to protect The World, in this case around the unknown Black Sea. Doubtless the NFL pros ("hey, what's in it for me") would require much rhetorical inspiration to agree to this (after all, they do belong to the wealthy "one percent"). But we know, as our secret surveys show, Mr. President, how inspirational you can be, despite your Harvard law degree;

--Of course, NFL players could work in tandem with the Cossacks that have been drafted to Sochi: Strong men work well together, Mr. President, as you know so well from putting up with the vice president for all these years;

--Sochi officials, longing for cash despite their reported immense corruption, would benefit from freewheeling NFL players spending thousands of dollars on "entertainment" of various sorts, which on the plus side (from a U.N. perspective) could contribute to population growth in the area;

--Most important, holding the Super Bowl in Sochi would spare our long-suffering American football fans (paying thousands of dollars) to watch this XLVIII spectacle while enduring possibly freezing temperatures in a stadium near the Big Apple located in a state called New Jersey, governed by a pizza-eating Republican who wants to take over the White House, even if it means redirecting traffic to do so. Relocating the SB, in other words, would politically be a slam dunk for your administration, which we, the football-loving intelligence community, serve with utmost dedication, so long as it's not too cold outside (although we do know spies come in from the cold).

--And let's not forget our all-smiles near-naked NFL cheerleaders, whose energy and pro-USA enthusiasm would be another strong message that we average American government employees are strongly against the exploitation of women.

--Needless to say, our NFL players in Sochi would be forbidden to wear T-shirts with inscriptions such as: "Free the Circassians" and "Full Civil Rights for Gays." After all, the USG must not interfere in another government's internal affairs.

American Football Through Foreign ("Civilized"?) Eyes

If It Happened There: In Brutal Contest of Strength and Strategy, a Culture Is Revealed
- Joshua Keating, Slate

The latest installment of a continuing series in which American events are described using the tropes and tone normally employed by the American media to describe events in other countries.
EAST RUTHERFORD, United States—This Sunday, the eyes of millions of Americans will turn to a fetid marsh in the industrial hinterlands of New York City for the country’s most important sporting event—and some would say the key to understanding its proud but violent culture.
Despite decades of exposure to the outside world through trade and globalization, Americans have resisted adopting internationally popular sports like soccer, cricket, and kabaddi, preferring instead a complex, brutal, and highly mechanized form of rugby confusingly called football. (Except for in a couple of instances, feet do not touch the ball.)
The two finest teams from the nation’s 32 premier league squads meet each year in an event known as the Super Bowl. (There is in fact no bowl.) This year, the game pits a young upstart team from the Northwest Frontier Provinces against another from the mountainous interior region led by the aging scion of one of the sport’s most legendary families. The winner of the contest will claim the title of “world champion,” although very few people play the sport beyond the country’s national borders.
Although the rules are complex—this video offers a brief overview—in broad strokes the contest involves two large teams of large men wearing large amounts of protective padding attempting to move an oblong ball down a 91.44-meter field by either throwing it or running with it while their opponents attempt to knock them to the ground with maximum force.
While the competition can last for more than three hours, actual playing time is no more than about 11 minutes. The rest of the time is taken up by military-level strategizing, replays of the action, and providing medical attention to injured players. The game’s rules are so intricate that television networks employ teams of well-paid “analysts” to explain to viewers what happened in the play they just watched.
Despite its origins in the nation’s elite educational institutions, the game is today the nation’s most popular—and populist—form of entertainment. Players, mostly drawn from the nation’s rural areas and inner cities, are selected early in youth for their size, speed, and agility—sometimes as young as 8 or 9 years old—and work their way through youth leagues associated with secondary schools and universities. The vast majority of these players will never receive any compensation for playing, but a select few will become highly paid national heroes at the professional level.
The ethics of such an event can be hard for outsiders to understand. Fans, who regularly watch players being carted off the field with crippling injuries, are unbothered by reports of the game's lasting medical impact on its players. Nevertheless, fans and the national media can become extremely indignant if players are excessively boastful at the game’s conclusion.
Perhaps in homage to the country’s patriarchal culture, women are generally involved only as scantily clad dancers during breaks in the action. Minority rights groups have also criticized the owner and fans of one of the country’s most popular teams—the one representing the national capital, in fact—for referring to players using a racial nickname too offensive to be printed in this newspaper. Fans of the team, like those of Tottenham Hotspur, have defended the name, saying it is a term of affection.
But the spectacle of the Super Bowl—which can consume more electricity on its own than some small countries—involves more than just football. The nation’s largest corporations use the event to showcase their latest products in elaborately produced advertisements that some fans find as entertaining as the game itself. (American businesses, in defiance of normal economic logic, consider it worthwhile to spend $4 million on just 30 seconds of airtime during the event.) America’s premier recording artists are brought out to perform at the game’s midpoint. Millions of chickens are slaughtered to obtain only their wings—the traditional American delicacy consumed by fans at home. 
Foreign human rights NGOs have often found it difficult to reconcile their respect and appreciation for America’s rich cultural heritage with their shock at the violence, excess, and wastefulness of this event. But however problematic the international community may find the game, it is a rare unifying tradition that binds most segments of a society increasingly divided by class, culture, and geography. 
Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. Follow him on Twitter.

Civil War Propaganda: The Young White Faces of Slavery

The Young White Faces of Slavery - MARY NIALL MITCHELL, New York Times

For Northern readers scanning the Jan. 30, 1864, issue of Harper’s Weekly for news from the South, a large engraving on page 69 brought the war home in an unexpected way. Drawn from a photograph, it featured eight recently freed slaves from Union-occupied New Orleans. At the back of the portrait stood three adults, Wilson Chinn, Mary Johnson and Robert Whitehead. In the foreground were five children — Charles Taylor, Rebecca Huger, Rosa Downs, Augusta Broujey and Isaac White — ranging in age from 7 to 11. Their gaze was trained on the camera, but in the context of the magazine, the effect was that they all seemed to be looking at the reader.
Instead of the coarse garments worn by most enslaved people in the South, they were well dressed, the men and boys in suits and Mary Johnson and the girls in dresses and petticoats. But it was not their attire that confounded readers. Rather, the pale skin and smooth hair of four of the children — Charles, Augusta, Rebecca and Rosa — overturned a different set of Northern expectations about the appearance of people enslaved in the South: that a person’s African-American heritage would always, somehow, be visible and that only “negroes” could be slaves. The caption beneath the group, like the portrait itself, was meant to provoke the armchair viewer’s unease: “Emancipated Slaves” it proclaimed, “White and Colored.”
Library of Congress“Rebecca, Charley & Rosa, slave children from New Orleans.” Charles Paxson, photographer, N.Y. Albumen print on carte de visite, c. 1864.
It was no accident that the young “white” slaves resembled the children of the magazine’s white middle-class readership, which is to say Northern children who were far removed from the threat of enslavement, or so their parents liked to think. The sponsors of the group from New Orleans anticipated precisely the kind of effect such children might have on Northern middle-class readers. As “the offspring of white fathers through two or three generations,” the Harper’s Weekly editors explained, “they are as white, as intelligent, as docile, as most of our own children.”
Historians have long noted that the New York Draft Riots of 1863 were a violent reflection of much public, yet very personal, opposition to the Civil War: that it was a “rich man’s war” fought by the poorest citizens, that it was a bloodletting on behalf of four million slaves with whom few white laborers wanted to compete. But less political weight has been given to the propaganda campaign centered on the group from New Orleans, begun by abolitionists and the Union military in the aftermath of the New York riots.
It was one of the most modern efforts at public persuasion to appear before the turn of the 20th century. Using the new “truth-telling” medium of photography and highly sophisticated personal appeals, the sponsors of the former slaves from New Orleans aimed to give white Northerners a renewed personal stake in the fight against slavery. (For those who want to see these images in their original format, a handful of them are part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s recent exhibition “Photography and the American Civil War,” which opens at the New Orleans Museum of Art Jan. 31.
In addition to the large spread in Harper’s Weekly, the campaign included a public tour of the group in New York and Philadelphia and the printing of dozens of individual and small group portraits on cartes de visite, a new, inexpensive way to reproduce photographs and an excellent vehicle for fund-raising. The individual portraits of the white-skinned slave children were clearly popular in their day, at a point in the war when slavery was both still an outrage and an institution on the wane. Scores of them survive in archives and private collections. Yet for nearly 150 years, historians took little notice of these fascinating artifacts of the Civil War.
The tour and photographs were the result of a joint effort by the Union military (specifically the Department of the Gulf under Maj. Gen. N.P. Banks) the American Missionary Association, and the National Freedmen’s Relief Association. The charitable organizations sold the cartes de visite to raise money for the education of former slaves in newly established schools in Louisiana. But their larger aim was to bolster white Northern support for the war and inspire sympathy for former slaves in the South. Indeed, the photographs appeared at a time when desertions, in the North and South, were frequent, and the population fatigued beyond measure. The photographic campaign was, it seems, a renewed call to arms.
What such a campaign implied, of course, was that images of formerly enslaved black children were not enough to spur many Northerners to boost their support for the war and aid freed people in need. Indeed, these images serve as a remarkable reflection of just how much race shaped many Americans’ stake in the bloody conflict.
Library of Congress“Isaac & Rosa, slave children from New Orleans.” M.H. Kimball, photographer. Albumen print on carte de visite, c. 1863.
In the view of the editors at Harper’s Weekly, the war had brought forth a long overdue exposé of Southern slavery, one that surely matched, the writings of the institution’s most incisive observers, from Thomas Jefferson to Fanny Kemble. In an editorial that appeared in the same issue with the engraving, the editors framed the arrival of the “slave children” in New York as an inevitable result of the war. After years of suppressing abolitionists and listening to Southerners and their political allies defend slavery as a benevolent institution, the nation was finally being confronted with “the secret history of the slave system in this country”: “The working-men of the Free States, now soldiers in the field, no longer owe their knowledge of [slavery]” to politicians and newspapers advancing political agendas. Instead, “they see it as no human pen can describe it … as it is in every State, in every city, on every plantation, a doubled-handed curse, smiting both slave and master.” Now, with the help of photography and the presence of this group from New Orleans in the North, far more people could see the effects of slavery for themselves.
Though they were a product of the Civil War, the portraits of “white and colored slaves” betrayed nothing of its ravages. Certainly, they were a far cry from Alexander Gardner’s battlefield landscapes strewn with the bodies of horses and men. In individual and small-group portraits, all of the children were well dressed in proper middle-class Victorian attire and posed to evoke the gentility common in photographic portrait studios of the day: Rebecca dressed in velvet and bows, kneeling in prayer; Rebecca, Charles and Rosa sitting together like siblings; or Rebecca, her head rendered in vignette surrounded by white space, a technique that turned young children into angels. Because the photographs mimicked the typical, middle-class family portrait, they distilled the threat that slavery still posed to the nation. If it were allowed to continue, they seemed to say, slavery could threaten the freedoms of white people.
Not surprisingly, the lightest-skinned children caused the most stir among Northern editors and audiences. The two lightest-skinned girls, Rebecca and Rosa, seemed to have the greatest appeal, judging from the large number of cartes de visite that survive of them. About Rebecca, Harper’s Weekly wrote: “to all appearance, she is perfectly white. Her complexion, hair, and features show not the slightest trace of negro blood.” With their fair skin and elegant dress, Rebecca and Rosa evoked for most viewers the “fancy girls” sold in the New Orleans slave market. The fate that awaited these girls as concubines to white men was clear to most viewers at the time. Their tender youth compelled Northerners to renew their commitment to the war and rescue girls like these.
Library of Congress“Oh! How I Love the Old Flag!, Rebecca, a slave girl from New Orleans.” Charles Paxson, photographer, N.Y. Albumen print on carte de visite, c. 1864.
This was not the first attempt at capturing the Northern public’s attention with light-skinned slaves. The Rev. Henry Ward Beecher was one of the first abolitionists to recognize the persuasive power of children such as Rebecca. Beecher brought several light-skinned enslaved children and adults before his congregation at Brooklyn’s Plymouth Church early in the war, with the goal of collecting enough money from the pews to buy their freedom. It is from Beecher, in fact, that we get the clearest sense of how 19th-century audiences read the portraits of Rosa and Rebecca. Of a former slave child from Virginia named Fanny Lawrence (of whom cartes de visite also survive), Beecher said from his pulpit, as she stood beside him:
“Look upon this child, tell me if you ever saw a fairer, sweeter face?” Beecher then made explicit the fate that awaited little girls like Fanny. “This is a sample of the slavery which clutches for itself everything fair and attractive,” he explained. “The loveliness of this face, the beauty of this figure, would only make her so much more valuable for lust.” Fanny seemed to represent the most vulnerable of all enslaved people: a white-skinned girl who could be sold in the slave market to a lecherous slaveholder. As Beecher pleaded to his congregation, “Let your soul burn with fiery indignation against the horrible system which turns into chattels such fair children of God! May God strike for our armies … that this accursed thing may be utterly destroyed!” In Beecher’s appeal, fighting slavery was a moral cause in which white Americans had a direct, not an indirect stake.
Disunion Highlights
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Explore multimedia from the series and navigate through past posts, as well as photos and articles from the Times archive.
Yet there is a great deal of ambiguity in these Civil War portraits. While so much of what we think we know about American attitudes during the war reflects either their breathless conviction or hard-edged despair, these images remind us about the uncertainty of the future in 1864.
The portrait of Isaac and Rosa perhaps demonstrates this most clearly. The dark-skinned boy and the light-skinned girl stood with arms linked, in clever clothes, ready to enter free society as educated “docile” children, to use the editors’ term. They represented all former slave children in the South who were ready to be “civilized.” But there were other ways to read this image.
Indeed, the outcome of emancipation remained murky at best for those who may have despised slavery yet clung to a belief in white supremacy. At first glance, for instance, Rosa and Isaac hinted at the so-called miscegenation that many whites feared would come from slavery’s abolition. Although Rosa seemed to be white, however, 19th-century viewers would have known that she was not: a white girl would never have been photographed this way with a black boy. But what if Rosa did not have Isaac at her side, and “slave” printed beneath her portrait? She could walk into the post-emancipation world a white child.
Still, for the war to be won and the Union preserved, sympathy had to become empathy. What better way to do this, their sponsors thought, than to put young white faces upon the institution of slavery? Perhaps none of the campaign’s images was more emphatic on this point than that of Rebecca, kneeling in prayer, surrounded by the American flag, with the caption beneath: “OH! HOW I LOVE THE OLD FLAG!” Rebecca’s portrait mirrored the nationalist message of Harper’s Weekly, distilling in one image the menace that slavery posed to American liberty. Yet rather than fostering racial inclusiveness, the image of an endangered “slave girl” who looked white may have only hardened, for some, their paper-thin faith that despite emancipation the United States could remain a white nation.
Mary Niall Mitchell is the Joseph Tregle professor in early American history and the Ethel and Herman Midlo chair in New Orleans Studies at the University of New Orleans.

The 'Tiger Mom' Superiority Complex: Notes for a lecture, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United"

Monday, Feb. 03, 2014
The 'Tiger Mom' Superiority Complex
By Suketu Mehta, Time, via MP on Facebook

From time to time, every Indian American finds an email in his or her inbox, wearing a font of many colors, like the one my grandfather once sent me: "Take a Pride--Being an Indian. 38% of Doctors in U.S.A. are Indians. 36% of NASA employees are Indians. 34% of MICROSOFT employees are Indians. India invented the Number System. Decimal Point was also invented by India. Sanskrit is the most suitable language for computer software ..."

On my desk now is a book-length version of such an email: The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld. You may remember Chua as the "Tiger Mom" whose 2011 memoir about the rigors of Chinese parenting set off waves of anxiety among aspirational American parents who had been raised with Dr. Spock's permissive child-rearing attitudes. Her new book, co-authored with her husband, widens its aim, purporting to explain why not just Asians (like Chua) but also seven other groups--Cubans, Jews (like Rubenfeld), Indians (like me), Nigerians, Mormons, Iranians and Lebanese--are superior when it comes to succeeding in America.

The book claims that these groups thrive because of three traits: a superiority complex, insecurity and impulse control. The ones lacking the "Triple Package" are African Americans, Appalachians, Wasps and pretty much everybody else.

Does such thinking shock you? If not, it may be because it has become so insidiously commonplace over the past decade as a new strain of racial, ethnic and cultural reductivism has crept into the American psyche and public discourse. Whereas making sweeping observations about, say, African-American or Hispanic culture--flattering or unflattering--remains unthinkable in polite company, it has become relatively normal in the past 10 years to comment on the supposed cultural superiority of various "model minorities." I call it the new racism--and I take it rather personally.

I am an American, Calcutta born. I'm writing a book about immigrants in New York, dedicated to my two American sons. I want them to know why we came here and how we found our place in this new land. I want them to know about the teachers at the Catholic school in Queens who called me a "pagan," and the boy there who welcomed me to the school by declaring, "Lincoln shoulda never let 'em off the plantations," and the landlord who welcomed us to the country by turning off the electricity.

I also want them to know why their family did well in the end. We worked hard, yes, and we read books and went to the right schools and are "well settled," as our relatives back in India describe us. But we also benefited from numerous advantages--from cultural capital built up over generations to affirmative action to an established network of connections in our new country--none of which had anything to do with racial, ethnic or cultural superiority.

When my family went to America, we left behind a system in which people are often denigrated because of their caste, religion, language or skin color. The U.S., of course, has its own deeply troubled history with regard to race, but its path has tended toward more equality.

Recently, though, the language of racism in America has changed, though the plot remains the same. It's not about skin color anymore--it's about "cultural traits." And it comes cloaked in a whole lot of social-science babble. The new racialists are too smart to denigrate particular cultures. Instead, they come at things the other way. They praise certain cultures, hold them up as exemplary. The implication--sometimes overt, sometimes only winked at--is that other cultures are inferior and this accounts for their inability to succeed.

The Rise of Groupthink

The U.S.--like Brazil or England--likes to think it has moved beyond race. After all, we elected a black President, twice. But in reality, the terrain of race-baiting has simply shifted. The condescension once aimed squarely at African Americans now also claims as its targets Latinos, Muslims and--in a novel twist--large swaths of whites. And the people doing the condescending might be black or brown themselves.

A Congolese immigrant whom I met in the course of researching my book told me about the African Americans she knows at the supermarket where she works. "We are really different," she said about her community, as opposed to African Americans. "They don't have African values. They don't have the values to be black."

I asked her what that means.

"To be black," she explained, "means you get married and you don't have children before." The American blacks at her supermarket, she said, need to go to college. "They ask if you want to have marijuana. It's just normal for them. It's easy for them to say that 'My ancestors were oppressed.'"

A book like The Triple Package, even if it takes pains to argue in nonracial terms, is an example of this sort of ethnocentric thinking writ large. And it is only the latest in a long line of books--spanning more than a century--arguing for the superiority of this or that American group over others. The roots of alleged superiority have changed over time from race to class to IQ to religion and now to culture.

In 1916 Madison Grant wrote The Passing of the Great Race, which purported to demonstrate the racial and cultural superiority of Northern Europeans over Southern Europeans. The book was influential in drumming up popular support for passage of the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act, which barred Asians from immigrating to the U.S. and established quotas for Southern and East Europeans, to keep out Jews. Decades later, an influential 1959 article by Bernard Rosen declared that "Protestants, Jews and Greeks place a greater emphasis on independence and achievement training than southern Italians and French-Canadians." They were more successful because of an "achievement syndrome"--which sounds suspiciously like the Triple Package. (Italians, particularly, were portrayed in these works as an immobile ethnicity. But by 1975, they had assimilated, and now, as the sociologist Richard Alba has demonstrated, young Italian Americans have higher than average levels of college and postgraduate education.)

This line of argument expanded in the 21st century. In 2004 Samuel Huntington, the Harvard professor who became famous for his book The Clash of Civilizations, warned against Latino culture in a Foreign Policy cover story bearing the title "José, Can You See?" In his book published the following year, Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity, he explained the differences between Anglo and Latino culture by quoting a Texas entrepreneur on "Hispanic traits ... that 'hold us Latinos back': mistrust of people outside the family; lack of initiative, self-reliance, and ambition; low priority for education; acceptance of poverty as a virtue necessary for entrance into heaven."

In 2009 an article by Jason Richwine, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, caught the attention of my people with its title, "Indian Americans: The New Model Minority." East Asians continue to excel in the U.S., he noted, but Indians are clearly the latest and greatest model. Why? "Exhibit A is the spelling bee." Success in spelling and other similar cognitive tasks, according to Richwine, proves that we are smarter than whites as well as Ashkenazi Jews--a happy finding for my father, who spent a lifetime in the diamond market, where they have a big presence. Richwine's conclusion: immigration policy should favor these model minorities over, say, Mexicans.

Then there is Stanford University's Thomas Sowell, who in Migration and Cultures: A World View identified six model "middleman minorities" who exemplify the entrepreneurial virtues he thinks the U.S. desperately needs. Last year he took the argument to another level, writing that there are some cultures that are just incompatible with Western values, primarily (surprise!) Muslim culture.

These bromides don't just come thundering down from the ivory tower. They're all around us in casual conversation about group accomplishment and group blame. Typical was a recent podcast by the comedian Adam Carolla, in which he interviewed San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Newsom noted that half of Latino and African-American families in California don't have access to a checking account or ATM.

"What's wrong with them?" asked Carolla. "I want to know why those two groups don't have access ... Are they flawed? ... Do Asians have this problem? ... They were put in internment camps. Are they at the check-cashing places?"

"Look at the history," Newsom responded. "It's naive to suggest that those things don't matter."

"How about the Jews?" asked Carolla. "No problems in the past? ... Why are the Jews doing well? ... Why do some groups do so much better? I'll tell you why: they have a family who puts an emphasis on education." He may have been speaking lightly, but Carolla's words show how easily the line can blur between cultural praise and cultural denigration.

Of Ethnicity and Reality

The one thing my sons are always amazed by when they visit India is the condescension displayed toward entire groups of people. They hate the way people speak to their maids, their drivers, their waiters--anybody Indians consider socially inferior. I try to explain to them that India has been independent for only 60-odd years and the U.S. for more than three times as long and that while India has made great progress in pursuing democracy, it hasn't yet translated into social and economic equality.

The new American racism, however, is turning the clock backward. While Chua and Rubenfeld are not the only ones peddling this pernicious line of thought, their book is likely to make them prominent spokespeople for it. So it's worth taking a close look at the "evidence" they marshal for their argument. Too often they--and their compatriots--ignore the realities of American history to make their half-baked theories stick.

The authors attempt to barricade themselves against charges of racism by protesting that the Triple Package has nothing to do with race or IQ; it's about ethnicity. So not all blacks are losers--look at Nigerians and Liberians! They are so well represented in the Ivy League! But the authors fail to acknowledge that Africans and Afro-Caribbeans are beneficiaries of affirmative action, won through the civil rights struggles of African Americans. What's more, African Americans are not in a bad way because of lack of racial pride or a problem with their impulses. Their challenges as a community trace back centuries; they were brought here in chains, their women raped and their families deliberately broken. This is what President Obama was talking about in his remarks after the Trayvon Martin verdict, when he said, "I think it's important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away."

Time and again, when examining the claims of the new racialists, we find other, deeper, often more complex explanations for why the children of some groups do better than others.

As Nancy Foner, a leading immigration scholar, points out in an essay, "Today, the way East Asian--as opposed to black or Hispanic--immigrants fit into New York's racial hierarchy makes a difference in the opportunities they can provide their children." Because they are not black, she notes, "East Asian (and white) immigrants face less discrimination in finding a place to live and, in turn, send their children to school." That translates into greater access to heavily white neighborhoods with good public schools. Moreover, even if they attend school with native-born blacks and Latinos, they do not feel a bond of race with native minorities--making them less likely to become part of a peer culture found among some disaffected inner-city black and Latino youth.

Cubans, meanwhile, are in favor over other Latinos among the new racialists, since they appear to do better in America than groups like Mexicans. But as City University of New York's Philip Kasinitz, an expert on ethnic assimilation, notes, "If Mexicans threw out the top 10% of their population into America, you'd be singing a different tune about Mexicans." And among Cubans, there's a subset that hasn't done well: the "Marielitos," who immigrated in 1980 when Fidel Castro emptied the island's prisons and told the inmates they were free to head to America. They were much darker in complexion than the first wave of Cubans, and they have not done anywhere near as well as their light-complected compatriots. What does this suggest? First, that if you were doing well in the country you're leaving, you'll do well in the country you're going to, and vice versa. Second, that lighter-skinned people tend to fare better than darker-skinned people when they immigrate to the U.S., even if they're from the same country.

What about Jews? Scholars like Stephen Steinberg in The Ethnic Myth have pointed out that the success of immigrant Jews was largely due to the fact that they arrived in the U.S. with "industrial experience and concrete occupational skills" well suited to the booming urban economies of the new world. Not, as Chua and Rubenfeld posit, because "Jews maintained for millennia the idea that they were God's chosen people."

Perhaps somewhat uniquely, Chua and Rubenfeld single out Mormons for model-minority status as well. They attribute Mormon business success, for instance, to the group's principles of child rearing. "Mormon teenagers," they write, "are less likely to have sexual intercourse, consume alcohol, smoke pot, or watch X-rated films than teenagers of any other faith." The authors overlook one small point about Mormons, however: they have their own state. Eighty percent of the Utah legislature is Mormon; its entire congressional delegation is Mormon. Utah has had only three non-Mormon governors in its history. This translates to tremendous political and financial clout for the religion, which is an indispensable part of Mormon business success.

Lastly, what shall we make of Indians--who, aside from Chinese, are perhaps the new racialists' favorite model minority? Indians in America are, as Chua and Rubenfeld note, "by any number of measures, the most successful Census-tracked ethnic group in the country."

Well, if Indians are so great, what explains India? The country is a sorry mess, with the largest population of poor, sick and illiterate people in the world, its economy diving, its politics abysmally corrupt. For decades, those who could afford to get out did. The $1,000 that it takes to purchase a one-way ticket to the U.S. is about a year's salary for the average Indian. If India shared a border with the U.S. and it were possible for its poorest residents to cross over on foot, we would fast cease to be the model minority, and talk-show hosts would rail against us just as they do against Mexicans.

The groups Chua and Rubenfeld and the other new racialists typically pick out as success stories are almost without fail examples of self-selection. Forty-two percent of Indians in the U.S. ages 25 and older have a postgraduate degree. But only about 20% of those they've left behind in the motherland even graduate from high school, and 26% of the population is illiterate. It's the same with Nigerians: the ones who are here represent a vastly richer and better-educated subset of the country's population as a whole.

Further, the authors pay almost no attention to the role of networking, which accounts for so much of the success of groups like Jews, Cubans and Indians. Part of the reason so many immigrant groups thrive is that when they arrive in the U.S., they already have an uncle who runs a store and cousins who are tutors, doctors or lawyers who can help them negotiate the new country.

When my family immigrated in 1977, we didn't do well because of delayed gratification or cultural superiority or a chip on our shoulder. We did well because my uncle in Detroit, an engineer, brought us over on the family-reunification bill, not in shackles or in steerage. When my father started his diamond business on 47th Street in Manhattan, there was a network of Indian diamond merchants who could show him the ropes. My sons, in turn, will benefit from my connections.

Much of The Triple Package focuses, naturally enough, on immigrants in New York City--then and now the immigrant capital of the country, if not the world. So you could profitably browse a gold mine of a book just put out by the NYC department of city planning, The Newest New Yorkers, a compendium of figures about the diverse groups that make up my hometown.

Chinese Americans in New York City, it turns out, earn less than other groups lacking the Triple Package. The median household income of Chinese in the city ($42,766) is lower than that of Ecuadoreans ($46,126), Haitians ($48,175) and Pakistanis ($50,912). The New York City group with the highest percentage of high school graduates isn't Chinese or Indians; it's Ukrainians (94.4%). But rarely are we treated to encomiums about the cultural superiority of the Borscht Mom.

America's Real Exceptionalism

The pity is that this book, and this entire line of argument, is taken seriously--among my relatives, for instance--when all the scholars I've consulted laugh at it. "Every one of the premises underlying the theory of the Triple Package is supported by a well-substantiated and relatively uncontroversial body of empirical evidence," the authors assert. "Give me a break," said Foner, who is one of the authorities cited in the endnotes. "There is a large body of literature showing that the most important factor predicting success among the children of immigrants is parents' human capital." That is: skills and education, from family to family and individual to individual.

Which is not to say culture is meaningless--even if "bad culture" is a convenient way to throw blame at struggling groups, as opposed to dealing with the structural causes behind those groups' disparate outcomes. We all have a linguistic, religious, racial, ethnic or national culture that shapes much about us. The cultural values of a group are an important part of the answer to the question of why certain groups seem to do better, at particular times, than others.

But cultural values are never the whole answer--even as we've come to privilege them over all other explanations for success and failure, such as political and economic ones. And culture is rarely either an unambiguously good force or an unambiguously bad one. Thus, Confucian values of education and family fealty certainly are one factor in explaining why Chinese students from low-income backgrounds do better than their peers. But as we've seen, that's not the whole story. Meanwhile, many in China would like to see less conformity in their culture, believing that it inhibits much of the freethinking that powers creativity and innovation in America and that it results in a citizenry that passively tolerates suppression of dissent and censorship of the Internet.

Chua and Rubenfeld make another mistake when they try to set up a hierarchy of good culture vs. bad culture--in which good culture invariably means getting rich. They take their definition of success from that of Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.: "the gaining of money and position." Nowhere are cultural traits like kindness, community and public service or martial valor given any value.

Immigrants, claim Chua and Rubenfeld, are wary of "an excessively permissive American culture"--the bogeyman that haunts the dreams of so many who see the U.S. as losing the vigor of a former age. But isn't that permissiveness exactly what makes America work: this messy mix, this barbaric yawp, this redneck rondeau, this rude commingling? Isn't that what permeates its films, movies, books? And isn't that the principal product it can still export? It is American culture's permissiveness, its new world energy, that still attracts the masses to the "golden door."

As it did with my father, who in college in 1950s Calcutta was first exposed to the great rock-'n'-yell of Chuck Berry and Elvis--music the Jesuit deans of St. Xavier's tried to ban because they couldn't stand to see students gyrating their pelvises. My father had never heard such an awesome caterwaul before, and--along with America's decadent movies and books--it seeded the young man's desire to go live there someday.

It's not conformity that makes this country great; it's an individual striking out against the expectations of his culture, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropping out of Harvard, Miles Davis coming out of heroin addiction to produce 'Round About Midnight, the 14-year-old Billie Holiday turning the pain of her childhood into the bluest beauty, Sylvia Plath taking on death with pills and poetry, William S. Burroughs writing from the bowels of his addiction in Naked Lunch; it's Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Cheever and Carver drinking and writing, writing and drinking through their demons. Imagine what American culture would be if American artists had kept a tight check on their impulses.

When people dream of moving to America, it's not just so that they can be prudent, studious, restrained. My uncle Vipinmama would tell me a story about his parents, my grandparents, who had emigrated from Ahmedabad in India to Nairobi in the 1920s. All their lives, they denied themselves luxuries in the new country in order to store them for their retirement. They had rented a room in Ahmedabad, which they filled with refrigerators, washing machines, steel cupboards, juicers--all the goods and furnishings of life they abstained from in Nairobi. When they retired they were going to buy a house in Ahmedabad and stock it with their hoarded treasure.

As the room in Ahmedabad bulged with the goods sent from Africa, the ranks of appliances waiting to be turned on one distant day, their lives in Nairobi continued in great simplicity and thrift. One day in her 50s, my grandmother had a heart attack and died--she "went off," as the Gujaratis say. My grandfather left Nairobi then and went to Ahmedabad and bought a house. But he could not bear to live in their dream without the one who was to share it. So within a month, he sold both the house and all the goods they had so patiently saved up, without ever having used them, and left for London.

This had a powerful influence on Vipinmama, and he lived every day of his life in the pursuit of happiness. Every good bartender in Bombay, New York and Antwerp knew him. He played the guitar. He played cricket for his college. He went on vacation, even when it wasn't good for his business. He too went off, following a heart attack at 34 from congenital heart disease--but it was not after a life postponed. Whatever he purchased, he brought home and turned on immediately. If it was a stereo, he danced to its music; if it was a VCR, he invited all his friends over to watch movies that very evening. You might think my grandfather would have wanted my uncle to be more prudent, more restrained. But in fact, my grandfather was very proud of his son--prouder than any of the fabled Indians in the email he sent around--because his life was not spent deferring happiness, waiting for power.

Mehta is the author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found and teaches at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 30 Public Diplomacy Review

A note to readers who receive the Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review  (PDPBR) via buzzfeed (email): "Hotmail" is currently relegating the harmless PDPBR to "junk mail." Such is the reality of our modern world of universal interconnectivity --cyberutopia at its most transparent and censorship-free best; image from

"Individually, we are a little bit Neanderthal."

--Joshua M. Akey, a population geneticist from the University of Washington; cited in Geoffrey Mohan, "Neanderthal DNA lives on in modern humans, research shows: Some of the DNA acquired by human ancestors who mated with Neanderthals is found in some people today, including genes that control the development of skin and hair, studies find," Los Angeles Times; image from


Press Releases: Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board Elects New Vice Chair, Re-Elects Chairman for 2014 - “The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board has re-elected Tom Healy for a third term as Chairman for 2014. The Board elected Betty Castor as Vice Chair, succeeding Susan Ness. President Obama appointed Healy and Castor to the Board in 2011. The U.S. Congress established the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board in 1961 to select participants, set policies, and publish an Annual Report for The Fulbright Program, the U.S. Government's flagship international exchange program, sponsored by the Department of State. Through Fulbright grants, more than 325,000 participants in over 180 countries have studied, taught, conducted research, and found solutions to shared international challenges. Tom Healy is a writer and poet. His books include ‘Animal Spirits,’ ‘What the Right Hand Knows,’ which was a finalist for the 2009 L.A. Times Book Prize, and two forthcoming books of essays: ‘Not Untrue and Not Unkind’ and ‘The Rest of the World: Smart Power and Public Diplomacy.’"

Navy band coming to West Monroe - "'America's Navy has only recently adopted the motto, 'Being There Matters,' but it's been a part of what we do for many years - through music - and therefore Navy bands are integral to our national security,' said Capt. Brian O. Walden, the Navy Band's commanding officer.

'Today, Navy bands are still performing around the world, acting as agents of public diplomacy for the American government, improving relations with our allies and winning the hearts and minds with the universal language of music.'" Uncaptioned image from entry. See also Walter Pincus, "Vast number of military bands may not be music to Gates's ears," Washington Post: "'There are about 6,000 FSOs,' or Foreign Service officers, he told an audience in San Francisco this month. He drew laughter when he added that former secretary of state 'Condi Rice used to say, 'We have more people in military bands than they have in the Foreign Service.' She was not far wrong.'"

Bayles Releases New Book On American Image, Pop Culture - Soo Jung Rhee, "A cultural critic in numerous publications and a faculty member of the Arts and Sciences Honors Program, Martha Bayles recently published her fourth book, Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy, and America’s Image Abroad. In her book, Bayles expands her arguments about the decadent image of American pop culture and the lack of a general sense of constructive criticism against it. 'It’s about the way American popular culture is shaping the perceptions of people around the world and of life in the United States,' Bayles said. '[American popular culture] seems to have become the main influence in how people see America, and it’s good in some ways, but in other ways it’s not so good.' After travelling to 11 different countries and interviewing many experts in various fields, Bayles compiled what she learned from the process into a 340-page book in which she applied her critical lens to certain misleading images created by popular culture. 'Our pop culture flooded into the rest of the world at a time when the U.S. government was no longer really trying to communicate what’s good about the country,' she said. 'That takes you to looking at pop culture, and what does it say about America.' Although she began her writing career as a great admirer and defender of popular culture against cynical critics who would dismiss it as a mere commercial product, she started to develop her doubt about America’s reputation in the world following Sept. 11. 'I would defend what I thought was good stuff and that was my main purpose in writing about pop culture, to sort of defend it, particularly music,' she said. 'That was my starting point but then came 9/11, and it turned out that a lot of the world really doesn’t love America or naturally gravitate toward America.' While she expressed her grief over the overly optimistic and naive outlook on the cultural character of America in the world, she recognized certain aspects of it as worthwhile to be widely spread in the global popular culture market. 'I call that the American ethos, and I would describe that as a kind of hope for peoples’ ability to flourish and thrive under conditions of political liberty in a free society with democratic institutions, but combined with a kind of caution and prudence about human nature and the limits of how wonderful you can expect people to be,' she said. Using The Wolf of Wall Street as an example, she pointed out that American popular culture has become a distorted image of Americans, which exaggerates the faults in U.S. society and creates it simply as a source of entertainment and laughter. The problem, she states, is that many parts of the world may take a mere 'funhouse mirror image'

as the reality facing America and misunderstand the playful portrayal of social phenomena in America. 'I would like to see some awareness on the part of the entertainment industry of some of the messages they’re sending out there, and I would like to see more criticism of it,' she said. 'I think we need to offset those images with something that … gives them an accurate picture.' Bayles also argued that mending the U.S. image abroad could not be more appropriate in the current state of the world when savvy, authoritarian regimes still suffocate citizens with little or no political rights and nominal cultural freedom. 'I think the one thing that America should stand for in the current world is notions of people having political freedoms and rights there that the government cannot tap on,' Bayles said. 'And that’s just not true in a lot of countries. We talk about it, but then we project all these images that say ‘Well, you know, America’s really not that different from all these other countries,’ so it is extremely pertinent to today’s world. That’s why I wrote it.' Bayles image from

Helping ‘Till It Hurts [review of Aid Dependence In Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy By Sophal Ear New York: Columbia University Press, 2012] - John Wilcox, Small Wars Journal: "Using Cambodia as an example, both independent and national donors and program directors would be wise to heed the warnings in Aid Dependence in Cambodia. From a military perspective, the reliance on programs like the commander’s emergency relief program (CERP) to support military activity remains important. The danger is that poorly planned, but well-intentioned development and aid programs can lead to short-term tactical successes, but long-term strategic failures. Certainly, aid has a role in public diplomacy and international cooperation. However, aid must be applied judiciously, lest the lessons of Cambodia are lost in the well-intentioned effort by well-meaning donors to 'make a difference.'”

Politically incorrect film reviews – The long walk to freedom - Robert Henderson, "There are two films currently on release with a very high pc approbation quotient: 12 Years a Slave and Mandela: a long walk to freedom. The latter is a better film simply as a film, both because it had a male lead who imposed himself on the film and because it possesses something resembling a plot rather than a repetitive series of scenes of brutality and contempt. But being superior to 12 Years a Slave does not make it a good film let alone a great one and this Mandela biopic has serious flaws. ... [comment by:] Paul Marks (@paulvmarks) | 28 January, 2014 at 10:24 pm ...The book the film is based on, the 'Long Walk to Freedom' is not really Nelson Mandela’s autobiography (the actual work, written in prison, still exists – and one can compare 'Long Walk to Freedom' to it) it is an altered thing written by Rick Stengel (now Barack Obama’s, another man who has hidden his Communist past, undersecretary for public diplomacy)."

Ukraine gets short shrift from mismanaged Voice of America - Ted Lipien, Digital Journal: Mismanaged and underfunded Voice of America failed to highlight in English and most other languages Obama's State of the Union remark on Ukraine. Its oversight board needs to reform the taxpayer-funded media outlet and get more money from Congress. ... Failure to point out Obama's Ukraine remarks in the State of the Union speech was not an isolated incident. Due to insufficient funding, aggravated by mismanagement at senior executive level, Voice of America has been failing to report adequately on many important U.S. and international news for a long time. VOA journalists are just as helpless against the uncaring management as are outside observers who value U.S. international media outreach. The federal Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which has oversight responsibilities, must undertake immediate management reforms to solve this news reporting crisis."

Voice of America not reporting on U.S. Congressman’s threat to journalist – BBC, Russia’s RT, Iran’s Press TV are -

Last call for the Australia Network? - Alex Oliver, "And now the news: the Australia Network (described in The Australian's story as the 'Asian broadcasting service') is ‘likely to be scrapped in the May budget’. ... It has been difficult for successive governments to embrace international broadcasting as a useful (and for Australia, almost its only) public diplomacy tool. International broadcasters such as the Australia Network can help win over foreign publics in ways that support the national interest.  As a tool of public diplomacy, international broadcasters can inform the public in other countries about a nation's values, political systems, people, lifestyles and businesses.

For Australia, public diplomacy helps ease the way for Australia to conduct its foreign affairs, and promotes Australia as a place to visit and invest in. Australia's public diplomacy budgets have been whittled dramatically over the last decade, to the point where the Australia Network is about the only serious exercise in public diplomacy that remains. ... To be effective, international broadcasters need to be independent. They shouldn't just 'play for the team'. As Nicholas Cull concluded in 2010, the BBC, 'through its telling of bad news – as well as good – throughout the Second World War effectively reversed the reputation for creativity with the truth that Britain had earned in the First World War'. Likewise, it was their ability to criticise the US which gained Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty standing in the eyes of Soviet bloc listeners. It is a government's ability to allow criticism of itself which gives it credibility in the world. The converse is also true. Government control of the media nullifies its credibility. There are plenty of examples of this from nations which few admire for their freedoms." Uncaptioned image from entry

ABC may lose Australia Network: Growing signs that Abbott government will strip the ABC of international broadcasting as a concession to conservative critics - Katharine Murphy, The Guardian: Another signal has emerged that the Abbott government intends to strip the ABC of its international broadcasting service – the Australia Network – in a significant concession to Rupert Murdoch and to conservative commentators critical of public broadcasting. The foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, has been preparing the public ground since opposition for the ABC to lose its Australia Network regional broadcasting service, which it was awarded by the previous Labor government after a bitterly contested process.

In January Bishop criticised the quality of the programming on the Australia Network, and argued it was not serving Australia’s regional interests as 'a tool of public diplomacy'. The Australian newspaper reported on Thursday that the service was likely to be scrapped in the May budget as a savings measure. The commission of audit established by the government will also run the ruler over other ABC services." Image from entry, with caption: Julie Bishop argues the Australia Network is not serving Australia’s regional interests. See also.

EU not ready for compromise on political prisoners - "The Belarusian authorities should release the political prisoners for establishing a dialogue with the European Union. This statement was made in Minsk on January 29 by Rodolphe Richard, the head of the Political, Press and Information Section at the EU Delegation to Belarus. ... Aleh Shloma, the Head of the EU Desk of the European Cooperation Division at the Belarusian MFA, said about the

problem of political prisoners: 'We're aware of the issue.' ... Shloma also commented on the information on behind-the-scene talks between EU diplomats and the Belarusian authorities mentioned by Lukashenka on January 21 during a meeting with heads of the Belarusian media. 'This is a common practice in the world. Many things are not discussed in public. Belarus is not an exception. There are several levels of discussions. Look at other countries that have had huge problems with the global centers of power until recently, for example, Iran. Nevertheless, we see serious progress made not only due to public diplomacy,' Shloma said. There are 11 political prisoners in Belarus. European and American politicians have repeatedly called to release them immediately." Uncaptioned image from entry

Europe’s relations with Cuba should require improvement on human rights - Martin Palous,"[H]uman rights should remain at the heart of the relationship between the European Union and Cuba and constitute an essential element of a new treaty. And all 28 member states of the European Union must agree. Several among them were trapped for decades behind the Iron Curtain before 1989 and returned to Europe after the revolutions during that annus mirabilis. They went through post-communist transitions and will use their own experience in the upcoming Cuba discussions. Whatever happens in Brussels in a few days, the negotiations that are to start on a governmental level between the European Union and Cuba will take time — it can be a couple of years — and there will be a space for public diplomacy and the participation of Cuban civil society."

The Turkish Al-Jazeera? TRT - Omar Al-Ghazzi and Marwan M. Kraidy, “'Turks and Arabs,' intoned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, one spring evening in April 2010, 'are like the fingers of a hand.

They are as close as the flesh and the nail of a finger… We belong to the same history, the same culture and above all the same civilization.'  Erdoğan was speaking in the launching ceremony of TRT-al-Turkiyya, Turkey’s Arabic-language satellite television channel . ... Clearly, TRT-al-Turkiyya’s raison d’être was to bolster Turkey’s 'zero problems with neighbors' policy with a mediated charm offensive towards the region’s 300 million Arabic speakers. However, the channel has been facing a daunting challenge: it has to compete not only with hundreds of Arab channels but also with the foreign-funded channels. The managing director of TRT-al-Turkiyya, Sefer Turan, an Egypt-educated Arabic speaker, acknowledged the challenge: 'There are 750 satellite channels in Arabic,' he said. 'We are going to be the 751st. ['] Reflecting his channel’s embroilment in larger geopolitical dynamics, he added: 'We want to show our country’s industry, politics, culture and art, and leave the decision to the audience.' Turan’s words reflect the style and tenor of Turkey’s public diplomacy: it promotes the country and its regional interests in a soft sell stylistically emblematic of Neo-Ottoman Cool." Image from entry, with caption: Erdoğan and Al-Turkiyya: From Turkey with all its love

Food for thought - Jessie Thompson, "Mary Jo A. Pham has done research into the concept of ‘gastrodiplomacy’ – the idea that food can facilitate communication in a geopolitical arena. Not only is gastrodiplomacy, as Paul Rockower suggests, ‘the act of winning hearts and minds through stomachs’, but it also allows a country to promote its national identity and encourage economic investment.

When Thailand decided to use Thai restaurants around the world as informal meeting places for public diplomacy, they had a target of raising the number of Thai restaurants around the world from 5,000 to 8,000 – something they massively surpassed, there now being in the region of 20,000 Thai restaurants." Image from entry

Some Insight on the Valuation of a Non-Market Good (Wetlands) to Achieve the Social Optimum or “Greatest Good” - Jesse Backstrom, "Non-consumptive use values relate to the natural benefits that wetlands provide, and can be monetary or non-monetary. Existence values are those non-monetary and non-consumptive values that one has for simply knowing that a wetland is in existence, giving a satisfaction that a wetland is still in full health and aiding the organisms and other systems dependent on it. Bequest values, or the satisfaction one gets from preserving an ecosystem for future use, are also recognized as non-consumptive and non-monetary. Other non-consumptive and non-monetary values include landscape aesthetics, and the potential for education and research. This provides opportunities for developing knowledge on wetland functions and allows for more public diplomacy."

Diplomacy and Its Practice III - Luis Ritto, "In the past two articles of mine, I wrote about the evolution of diplomacy and how it developed from a bilateral instrument in the relations between nations to a multi-functional and multi-purpose tool of foreign relations of countries, as it is the case today. In fact, diplomacy nowadays does not only comprise the direct official relations between countries, as we come to know it for several centuries, but consists also of new forms of diplomatic actions, such as multilateral diplomacy, economic diplomacy, public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, educational and science diplomacy and so forth."

Using Diplomacy as an Effective Tool of Economic Development - Joynal Abdin, "We can classify diplomacy based on the objective and nature of tasks like peace-making, peace keeping; trade negotiating, war, partnership in economic development, cultural exchange, environment, and human rights etc. issues. From other aspect we are observing aggressors/allies to boycott aggressors, soft power diplomacy based of relationship and respect, gun board/military power diplomacy, public diplomacy and nuclear diplomacy in practice. From all the above types and forms of diplomacy ... economic diplomacy ... can be used as a tool of economic development."

5 social media tips from diplomats - "Social media is emerging as an increasingly potent tool for public diplomacy, and the methods used by institutions such as the U.S. State Department should prove useful to any looking to build their international reach, Kara Hadge writes. Knowing what platforms work best for your target audience, having a measurement plan and having a strategy for moving from online discussion to offline action are critical, Hadge writes. Full story at SmartBlog on Social Media by SmartBrief."

Sept. 24: Mapping the International Sales Landscape in the Defense & Homeland Security Markets - "Vangala S. Ram Office Director Bureau of Political-Military Affairs/Office of Region Security and Arms Transfers U.S. Department of State [:]

Mr. Ram has served in the NEA, AF, EAP, EUR and SCA bureaus with previous postings in Amman, Seoul, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Cologne, Banjul, Herat, Tunis and Riyadh in addition to Washington DC. During his nine consecutive overseas tours Mr. Ram served as Vice-Consul, First Secretary in the Management and Public Diplomacy cones, besides his assignment as Senior Civilian Representative to Regional Command (RC) West in Afghanistan and Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) in The Gambia." Ram image from entry

Oh, Lorde! Grammy Hypocrisy Exposed - Helene Imperiale, Helene Imperiale is currently a second year student in the Master of Public Diplomacy Program at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. Additionally, she is the Blog Manager at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Public Communication Division Director, Tenured - "The Public Communication Division of the School of Communication at American University is seeking applicants for the position of Division Director. High-level professional experience in strategic communication is required, along with academic experience. A PhD in Communication or a related field is preferred but not required (a master’s degree is required). All candidates should be qualified for appointment with tenure at the rank of Associate or Full Professor at American University. The ideal candidate will have worked in an academic environment and will have high-level professional experience in at least one of the following types of organizations: communication agencies; corporations; nonprofit organizations; associations; or local, state, or federal government. ... The School: The School of Communication has four Divisions: Communication Studies, Journalism, Public Communication, and Film and Media Arts. ... The Public Communication faculty has a national reputation for work in the areas of political communication, public affairs, advocacy communication, social media, and public diplomacy."


In change of tone, Afghanistan's President Karzai welcomes Obama's State of the Union - Afghan President Hamid Karzai has welcomed President Barack Obama's State of the Union remarks on his country, striking a friendlier note after weeks of anti-American rhetoric. Relations between the two nations have been strained, with Karzai refusing to sign a security agreement which would allow some American troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014. Obama said during his Tuesday speech that a small U.S. military force may remain in Afghanistan next year — but didn't say how many.
Karzai noted in a statement Wednesday that Obama had not set a timeline for signing any deal, calling that "positive." He urged an end to "negative propaganda" against Afghanistan and said he now believes the two countries can work together to help restart Afghanistan's peace process. Image from

Karzai Gambles with the Taliban: Karzai is sounding more like the Taliban in his public statements and recycling their propaganda in his criticisms of the U.S., but he’ll never make peace with the terrorist group - Bill Roggio, Daily Beast: Just when you thought Afghan President Hamid Karzai couldn’t distance himself further from the US and the West, which have propped him up for over a decade, he surprises you. The exact reasons for Karzai’s drift from the West remain murky but one thing is clear: his anti-U.S. rhetoric may sometimes echo the Taliban but it won’t put him in their good graces.

State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf responds to LWJ - Thomas Jocelyn and Bill Roggio, In her initial email, Ms. Harf accused us of "cherry pick[ing] quotes from one of my briefings to criticize me ...." We responded that we in fact used the reporter's questions, and her responses, in full. In a follow-up email, Ms. Harf outlined her criticism of our piece. Here is Ms. Harf's response: "You are correct, you pasted the whole quotes in the article - your analysis just completely misconstrued or entirely misread them. Comments highlighted below in response to your two accusations [LWJ note: Ms. Harf's comments are not highlighted but are included under the block quotes from her briefing. She begins by quoting herself from the press briefing. We included these quotes in our article.]:" MS. HARF: Okay. I'll take a look or a listen to that when I get back.
And look, this is not new rhetoric we've heard from Zawahiri. He's - core al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, besides Zawahiri, has essentially the entire leadership been decimated by the U.S. counterterrorism efforts. He's the only one left. I think he spends, at this point, probably more time worrying about his own personal security than propaganda, but still is interested in putting out this kind of propaganda to remain relevant.

A Middle Eastern Primer - Roger Cohen, New York Times: Nobody controls the new Middle East. Foreign policy is a posh term for managing contradictions.

With Iran, Israel, Kerry is master of the interim deal - David Ignatius, Washington Post: For Secretary of State John F. Kerry, diplomacy has centered on what might be called the art of the interim deal. He has tackled two of the world’s toughest issues — the Iranian nuclear program and the Israeli-Palestinian problem — and has fashioned tentative formulas outlining the shape of a final accord, even though the parties are far from such comprehensive settlements. The success of this approach requires that the interim version becomes permanent — which is still a very long bet in both cases.

Israel Needs to Learn Some Manners - Avi Shlaim, New York Times: The simple truth is that Israel wouldn’t be able to survive for very long without American support. America poses as an honest broker, but everywhere it is perceived as Israel's lawyer. America gives Israel money, arms and advice. Israel takes the money, it takes the arms, and it rudely rejects the advice. America is going nowhere in the Middle East until it makes the provision of money and arms conditional on good manners and, more importantly, on Israeli respect for its advice.

A Press Corps Full of Snowdenistas: Utterly paranoid about their own governments, strangely trusting about the aims of the Kremlin - George Lucas, Wall Street Journal: "Most of my media colleagues seem to think Edward Snowden is a saint and proto-martyr.

Their Hollywood-style story line is that the fugitive National Security Agency contractor has bravely exposed American spy agencies' tricks and mischief.  ... But the media's sensationalist and misleading interpretation of the stolen documents has weakened security relationships among Western allies; it has corroded public trust; it has undermined the West's standing in the eyes of the rest of the world; and it has paralyzed our intelligence agencies. ... Anti-Americanism in Germany and other European countries is now ablaze." Uncaptioned image from entry

Why tech companies and the NSA diverge on Snowden - Peter Swire, Washington Post: The leader of a Silicon Valley company said, regarding the whistleblower-vs.-traitor debate, that more than 90 percent of his employees would call Snowden a whistleblower. Fundamentally, the traitor-or-whistleblower debate comes down to different views of what values should be paramount in governing the Internet we all use. The Internet is where surveillance happens to keep our nation safe. It is also where we engage in e-commerce and express ourselves in infinite ways. The goal is to create one communications structure that safeguards diverse, important values.

President Karzai’s Perfidies - Editorial, New York Times: President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan seems to have decided that there is nothing lost, and maybe something to be gained, in destroying his relationship with the United States. While such behavior may serve his interests, it does not serve his long-suffering country’s. The candidates running to succeed him owe voters a vision of how they will improve governance, reduce corruption and work more productively with the United States and its allies, who have spent billions of dollars to underwrite Afghanistan’s economy and will be asked to continue the aid, at reduced levels, in the years to come.

Falling short on Afghanistan - Editorial, Washington Post: The president is communicating the wrong message to Americans with speeches proclaiming “the end of America’s longest war.” If a continued U.S. mission is to be supported by the public and funded by Congress — which just slashed this year’s Afghanistan funding — Mr. Obama must make the case why it is in the national interest for troops to remain. That he does virtually the opposite makes him complicit with Mr. Karzai in undermining a major national security interest.

Sochi, the Circassian factor - Maria Elena Murdaca, Many Circassians are calling for a boycott of the Sochi Olympics, saying the Games will take place on the same grounds where their people was ethnically cleansed by Russian troops in the XIX century. Interview with Fatima Tlisova, journalist. It is not the first time that a country with a history of conflict with the indigenous population organises the Olympic Games. It happened in Vancouver, and before that in Sydney. Canada and Australia saw in this event the opportunity for national reconciliation. Russia did not. Fatima Tlisova, among the first Russian journalists to obtain political asylum in the West in the Putin era: [Q:] For Canada and Australia, recognising the extermination of indigenous peoples was not an insurmountable problem, while Russia seems to lack the will.

It is not just a matter of will. If we speak of the masses, they are victims of propaganda. A propaganda made of dangers, threats, and enemies. It may be that, at the subconscious level, knowing all that the peoples of the North Caucasus have suffered by the Russians, they expect nothing but hatred, and so we are perceived as a threat. There has to be a part of the historical memory, of genetic memory, which blocks the recognition process. But sooner or later it will happen. Image from entry

Hong Kong Media Becomes Propaganda Battlefield for Beijing - Li Lingpu and Lin Yi, Epoch Times: Those in Hong Kong who favor increasing democracy are worried that the city’s freedom

of the press is in jeopardy, as a faction in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has increasingly been using Hong Kong’s media outlets to spread propaganda.

S. Korea holds live-fire drill despite North's warning - Kim Eun-jung, South Korea on Tuesday carried out a live-fire drill on its northwestern islands despite North Korea's warning of "grave consequences," but the closely-watched exercise ended without clashes with the communist state. South Korea has carried out live-fire exercises on the frontline islands every two or three months to improve Marine Corps' readiness. The drills have often been met by protest from Pyongyang. The routine drill was closely watched amid rising hope of thawed inter-Korean ties as the two Koreas are seeking to hold reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War in mid-February. Following Pyongyang's recent peace gestures, Seoul officials have been analyzing the intentions behind the unpredictable regime's recent move, while keeping close tabs on the North Korean military. The North Korean military has been carrying out its winter drills since early December, but it has temporarily stopped sending propaganda leaflets through the border since earlier this month, according to multiple sources.

BBC to broadcast anti-Gaddafi documentary as Green Resistance progresses - Linda Housman, The perfect time to pour in some more anti-Gaddafi propaganda and to start another round of outright lies! Thus, amid the ongoing struggle of the Green Resistance for true democracy as it were before NATO invaded the country, BBC Four's Storyville announces the documentary "Mad Dog: Gaddafi's Secret World", to be broadcast on February 3.

Top secret plan drawn up by Field Marshal Montgomery reveals how he wanted the Boy Scouts to help rehabilitate Germany from Nazism - A fascinating plan drawn up by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery to rehabilitate the German people from Nazism has emerged nearly 70 years later. Montgomery came up with a strategy to win the hearts and minds of the German people after the Allies took control of Germany following the end of World War Two.

He said: "The church is possibly one of the few bridges of confidence between the two countries that is not down. Among the first things to be suppressed by Hitler were the church's youth work and the Boy Scouts. Every encouragement will be given to chaplains to start Boy Scout Troops, clubs and classes. We want to encourage juvenile organisations for the purpose of religious, cultural, health or recreational activities." Image from entry, with caption: Field Marshal Montgomery, centre, with Colonel I.P. Gorshkov, Soviet Military Attache in London, before leaving Bassingbourne Aerodrome for Moscow, drew up detailed plans for rebuilding German society

Russia's leading state television company fires ENTIRE department after its Facebook page lauds top Nazi Joseph Goebbels as a 'great' - Russia's leading state television company fired an entire department today after its facebook page lauded Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels as a 'great' figure alongside Winston Churchill."We apologise to our readers for the unethical publication," said VGTRK media group after a public outcry. The scandal erupted after Kremlin-controlled Vesti-24 news channel on Monday published a montage of quotes about Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, to mark the 90th anniversary of the death of the Soviet Union's founder this month.

Goebbels, the Third Reich's fascist ideologue, was cited as praising Lenin for 'leading' the Russian people 'from suffering' - and to freedom. Other 'great men' on the list included British wartime leader Churchill as well as Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein. Lenin's successor Josef Stalin was also included. The inclusion of Goebbels led to a furious backlash readers of the Facebook page which is followed by 1.1 million people. By Tuesday night, the Nazi had been dropped from the list, though Stalin - a figure revered by some older Russians - remained. Image from entry, with caption: Russian TV station Vesti 24 posted this picture of Nazi Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels on its facebook page today on a list of 'great men'

The return of ‘Mein Kampf’: As e-book sales surge, we must not censor, but explain - Abraham H. Foxman, E-book sales of “Mein Kampf” have boomed, grabbing the top spot on Amazon’s propaganda and political psychology chart and entering the top 20 bestselling iTunes politics and events titles. Though the number of downloads may illicit initial shock — “Mein Kampf,”

after all, is full of the twisted thinking that would later form the basis of Nazi and National Socialist ideology and chock full of anti-Jewish themes — we should not conclude that it reflects a rise in anti-Semitism. That said, it is disturbing that so many people are downloading a book with such a sordid history. (Hitler, who notoriously used many forms of propaganda, never imagined the power of 21st-century technology.) Image from entry

Holocaust museum representatives train future teachers - The training will help pre-service teachers understand the workings of propaganda, the conditions that make genocide possible and the pedagogical strategies to promote conversation about these difficult topics in the classroom.

Image from entry, with caption: Associate professor Pam Bettis, right, explains some of the materials she received from the holocaust museum to graduate assistant Nicolas Manuel.

Obama’s State of the Union Goes PowerPoint - "What with our White House “Photo Access” Salon scheduled for February 9th, what has been on my mind these days is how much the White House communications product can be termed political propaganda and how much it’s genuinely informational and fostering constructive engagement. If nothing else, last night’s online State of the Union broadcast by the White House, combining slides and live video, opens the door to still one more way technology is modifying and expanding political communication. What you see below are The Bag’s live tweets with screen shots I took from the White House feed. Let me say up front that the tweets — with the exception of the guy in the cornfield and the Iran nuke threat — run to the cynical and the propagandistic. Still, I have to say there’s a lot to like about this new delivery. Above all, I admired the Administration’s effort when it came to information that can quickly make eyes glaze over that was suddenly enlivened." Among the images included in the entry: What with our White House 'Photo Access' Salon scheduled for February 9th, what has been on my mind these days is how much the White House communications product can be termed political propaganda and how much it’s genuinely informational and fostering constructive engagement. If nothing else, last night’s online State of the Union broadcast by the White House, combining slides and live video, opens the door to still one more way technology is modifying and expanding political communication. What you see below are The Bag’s live tweets with screen shots I took from the White House feed. Let me say up front that the tweets — with the exception of the guy in the cornfield and the Iran nuke threat — run to the cynical and the propagandistic. Still, I have to say there’s a lot to like about this new delivery. Above all, I admired the Administration’s effort when it came to information that can quickly make eyes glaze over that was suddenly enlivened.

Caption: WH feed patronizes “son of a bar keep” with this family photo. #sotu #teamrhetoric
9:35 PM - 28 Jan 2014

Caption: Remember the troops … when you can pull the heart strings that hard #SOTU #teamrhetoric

American Painter Bernard Perlin Dies at 95 - Perlin's career as an artist stretches over a period of seven decades, which he spent exploring a multitude of subjects and places. Perlin started off working for the government, creating propaganda posters to help gain support for fighting in World War II. 

Eventually, he was sent overseas as an artist and reporter for Life and Fortune magazines. After witnessing the horrors of war firsthand, Perlin returned the the United States more socially aware, finding many similarities between war-torn cities and the abandoned lots and gritty lifestyle of his native country's cities. It was around this time Perlin began painting what 
Art News calls "romantic realist" works. His most well-known piece Orthodox Boys, pictured above, was first shown at Knoedler and Company—and now it sits inside Tate Gallery in London. Perlin painting image from entry


From the exhibit, The American West In Bronze, 1850-1925, Metropolitan Museum of Art Through April 13


--Sant' Eustachio. Fountain of the Books. Via YA on Facebook