Monday, January 13, 2014

January 11-12 Public Diplomacy Review

"Effective public diplomacy is like motor oil; it may not fuel forward motion, however it greatly reduces friction along the way."; image from


Fulbright - National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship - "2014-2015 Competition Deadline: February 28, 2014 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time [.] The Fulbright - National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship is a new component of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program that provides opportunities for U.S. citizens to participate in an academic year of overseas travel and digital storytelling in up to three countries on a globally significant social or environmental topic. This Fellowship is made possible through a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society. The wide variety of new digital media tools and platforms has created an unprecedented opportunity for people from all disciplines and backgrounds to share observations and personal narratives with global audiences online. These storytelling tools are powerful resources as we seek to expand our knowledge of pressing transnational issues and build ties across cultures. Through the Fulbright - National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, Fulbrighters will undertake an in-depth examination of a globally relevant issue, comparing and contrasting how that issue is experienced across borders. Utilizing a variety of digital storytelling tools, including text, photography, video, audio, graphic illustrations, and/or social media, Fellows will tell their stories, or the stories of those they meet, publishing their work on National Geographic media platforms with the support of National Geographic’s editorial team.

In addition to receiving Fulbright benefits (for travel, stipend, health, etc.), Fellows will receive instruction in digital storytelling techniques, including effective blog writing, video production, and photography, by National Geographic staff prior to their departure. Fellows will be paired with one or more National Geographic editors for continued training, editorial direction and mentoring throughout their Fulbright grant period. Fellows will provide material for a blog on the National Geographic website on a frequent and ongoing basis throughout their grant term, and will have the opportunity to develop additional content for use by National Geographic and the Department of State. For the Fellowship’s inaugural year of 2014, applications will be accepted for the following themes: Biodiversity, Cities, Climate Change, Cultures, Energy, Food, Oceans, and Water." Image from


What America can learn from the Indian diplomat saga: humility -- Devyani Khobragade is headed back to India as tensions cool, but both countries believed they had the moral upper hand - Andrew Gawthorpe, "The withdrawal of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade from her country's consulate in New York means we are entering the final stages of a row which has done unfortunate damage to Indian-American relations. Americans have met Indian outrage over the case with a mixture of bafflement and anger of their own, but what they also ought to do is consider what the case can tell them about how their own actions and power might be misunderstood overseas. This is not to say that American officials acted wrongly in the case against Khobragade. If the allegations against her are true, then she broke US law by paying her housekeeper less than the New York minimum wage and, worse, lying about it in official documents. To Americans and indeed most Europeans, what is at stake is a simple matter of social justice – if Khobragade couldn't afford to pay her domestic help a humane wage, she shouldn't have had domestic help at all. Many Indians don't see it the same way. ... Because the US is so powerful and so ubiquitous in today's world, it is often taken for granted that America's motives and aims are understood throughout the world. In addition, because Americans tend to believe that their government acts in the world with aims that are basically moral (although this sense may have been eroded in recent years), it is often hard for Americans to understand how anti-Americanism can be such a potent force, especially in the global south.

But American public diplomacy today faces the problem of convincing people in many countries that American foreign policy is indeed a force for good in the world. President Barack Obama has certainly faced these problems. Things such as the ongoing drone campaign in Pakistan (and beyond) and the NSA's surveillance activities make it hard to construct a positive narrative about American activity in the world. If American officials believe these programmes are necessary, they must understand that cultural barriers and a lack of understanding about American society and its aims often impede understanding of American actions, just as India's actions in the Khobragade case seem baffling. For those who wish to see a strong, positive role for America in a world where information is increasingly available for all, and so judgement is democratised, then better explanations are in order. .... [comment  by] RipThisJoint 10 January 2014 5:18pm [.]

I just noticed this article was under a 'Lessons for America' header. Fuck me purple [see]." Top image from entry, with caption: Devyani Khobragade is to leave the US after her diplomatic immunity was confirmed, allowing her to sidestep fraud charges in New York; below image in commenter's entry

Voice of America Seeks Farsi Language 'Hollywood News' TV Show to Air in Iran - Jeryl Bier, "The federal agency that oversees the Voice of America is seeking someone to produce a TV entertainment show to be broadcast in Iran in the Farsi language that includes 'Hollywood news' and 'other interesting aspects of life on the West Coast of the United States.' The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), whose board members include Secretary of State John Kerry, is looking for a contractor to produce a 'weekly entertainment show that must be aesthetically and musically appealing to VOA’s [Voice of America] audiences in Iran.' ... The State Department declined to comment about whether or not such a program would enhance its diplomatic efforts in Iran, but rather deferred to the BBG for comment.  The BBG responded to a similar request for comment with the following from the public relations office of the VOA:  [‘]  California is home to a large and active Iranian diaspora community, and the lifestyle of these new American immigrants is of natural interest to Iranians living in Iran, especially the young people there who make up a large portion of the population. California is also home to the multi-billion dollar US entertainment industry, which exports movies, TV programs and other entertainment products that are of interest around the world, including Iran, where the government frequently bans them.  The VOA Charter, under which we operate, mandates that we not only report accurate and balanced hard news but also ‘represent America’ to foreign audiences.  During the Cold War, VOA was highly regarded for its jazz programs, which showcased one aspect of America’s vibrant cultural life, and drew huge audiences to our news programs.  Cultural programs that showcase our music, arts, entertainment and language are among the ways in which we show different aspects of our society and what makes us uniquely American. In public diplomacy terms, these cultural programs are often a reflection of a nation’s 'soft power,' and they are one of the ways we attract the attention of our audience, which in Iran was most recently estimated at more than 20 percent. It is also worth noting that the solicitation was designed to be open as well to Persian language production houses in L.A. because we want to know who is out there and what they might offer. [']"

Digital Diplomacy in the Middle East and North Africa: A Review of 2013 - Samantha Manniex, "Yeni Diplomasi recently released its comprehensive Digital Diplomacy Report, identifying key players in digital diplomacy on a global scale. Developing a report on the Middle East and North Africa was a logical next step. State of the Year - Iran [:] Iran made the biggest splash in the region with its digital diplomacy in 2013. This is especially notable considering that Iran still suffers from decades of strained relations with the Western world.

In terms of public diplomacy Iran has come a long way, especially via its digital channels. A thaw is on the horizon and Iran is our choice for MENA State of the Year 2013. ... Best digital engagement by foreign embassy - UK in Lebanon [:] It’s not just home-grown digital diplomacy efforts that have caught our attention. Foreign embassies in the MENA region have also made great strides in their digital diplomacy engagement.In particular, the UK is running some excellent initiatives through its network of embassies across the Middle East. One of the best examples is UK in Lebanon. ... Instagram User of the Year [:] Instagram is a relative newcomer to the digital diplomacy game. But it’s beginning to gain traction. A few MENA governments have ventured boldly onto this new medium. Israel in particular has achieved impressive results with its ‘Once in a Lifetime’ campaign. Conducted by international organisation Stand With Us, the campaign brings the world's best Instagram photographers to Israel. ... Twitter Skirmish of the Year - US embassy in Cairo vs. Egypt [:] The reach and risk of digital diplomacy were well demonstrated back in early 2013 when the Mohammed Morsi government was still in power in Egypt. Following the arrest of political satirist Bassem Youssef, the US embassy in Cairo expressed its concern on Twitter. Debate erupted when the embassy tweeted a link to an episode of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, featuring a discussion of Youssef’s arrest. The Egyptian government jumped on Twitter to blast the embassy for spreading ‘negative political propaganda.’ Morsi’s party joined in, lambasting the tweet as ‘undiplomatic and unwise.’  The debacle ended when the embassy took down its Twitter feed and removed the offending link before bringing the account back to life. This situation illustrates the power of digital diplomacy to produce immediate effects. Tweets are no longer trivial. ... Cultural Diplomacy Project of the Year - Turkayfe [:]  Despite recently appearing in the international news for less positive reasons, Turkey remains a popular place for foreigners to visit and reside. Widely viewed as one of the Middle East’s most stable nations, Turkey has managed to retain its appeal amid a backdrop of regional instability. Nevertheless, every nation brand can benefit from a boost every so often, and that is the aim of Turkayfe.  The long history and rich culture of Turkey make it perfect for imaginative cultural diplomacy projects. Turkayfe is one such project. This online cultural diplomacy hub draws on the concept of Turkey’s famous coffeehouses to create a virtual ‘coffeehouse’ where visitors can learn about Turkey and share experiences." Image from entry

Israeli embassy minister to speak in Virginia Beach - "Noam Katz, minister for Public Diplomacy for the Embassy of Israel will speak as a part of the World Affairs Council’s Great Decisions lecture series at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach. Katz oversees the public diplomacy efforts for Israel’s missions in the United States and Canada, including outreach to religious, academic, special interest and cultural organizations. Prior to his role in Washington, Katz served as director of the Public Affairs Department for the MFA. Katz has also served as the Ambassador of Israel to Nigeria, Ghana, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Under his leadership, his embassy won the MFA’s “Outstanding Embassy” award. Katz is the recipient of several awards and medals: IDF Citation, MFA Award of Excellence, and the MFA Commendation for Excellence."

Dutch embassy hosts book exhibition - "The Embassy of the Netherlands launched a Dutch book exhibition at the Seoul Metropolitan Library near City Hall, Tuesday, in collaboration with the library. ... A total of 182 books are on display to help give people a better understanding of the European country. The books cover architecture, the arts, economy and tourism in the Netherlands. Public diplomacy officer Sophie Park told

The Korea Times that the embassy donated the books, as well as CDs and other publications upon the request from the library. ... On Friday, a free waffle event also took place on the sidelines of the book exhibition. A Dutch waffle stand near the front gate of the library attracted hundreds of visitors who happened to pass by the area. Those who hit the 'like' button on the embassy’s Facebook page were treated to a free waffle. Our waffle stand has attracted many visitors today partly because of the sweet fragrance and partly because of its location near the Seoul Plaza Ice Skating Rink,' Park said." Image from entry, with caption: People line up at the Dutch waffle stand in front of the Seoul Metropolitan Library near Seoul Plaza on Friday to taste free “stroopwafel.” The Embassy of the Netherlands treated people to Dutch waffles in return for their hitting the “like” button on the embassy’s Facebook page.

China and Nation Branding: Beijing’s “all-culture” focus is delivering a poor return on its soft power investment - Nicholas Dynon, thediplomat.comEnshrined in the concept of 'national cultural soft power' (guojia wenhua ruanshili 国家文化软实力), Beijing’s cultural diplomacy

approach has sprouted deep roots. ... Culture is indeed benign and safe, but as the above evidence suggests, international audiences already have a high regard for Chinese culture. ... [R]ather than keeping politics out of the soft power frame, should China’s policymakers look to widen the frame to meaningfully incorporate issues of governance and domestic and foreign policy? Richard Conniff, writing for the Smithsonian Institute, suggests tongue-in-cheek that the best strategy may be to manage expectations: “China: Now 55 Percent Less Communist!” Image from entry, with caption:
Beijing opera via Tan Kian Khoon

Facing our war history: “Some time, the hating has to stop” - “Memories of th[e] past war [World War II] are being turned into weapons in a new war of global public opinion. China’s Ambassador to Britain wrote a letter to the British newspaper the Telegraph on 1 January 2014, placing the international community on ‘high alert’ because PM Abe is attempting ‘the resurrection of Japanese militarism’. .... 'Some time, the hating has to stop' ... is a sentiment notably absent from China and Japan’s latest efforts at public diplomacy. I draw two conclusions from this: (1) This suggests the link China is making between Japan’s wartime aggression and the present disputes is most probably disingenuous, and therefore offensive to the memories of men like Eric Lomax; and (2) Japan is neglecting its history of reconciliation (stories like Takashi’s) as a source of soft power."

Historical Acts of Cultural Diplomacy - "Through the medium of art, music and sport, countless individuals and groups have employed cultural diplomacy

throughout history; drawing attention to issues of universal concern through cultural expression to ease conflict and promote international cooperation." Image from entry

The Daily: The Influence of Culture in All Its Forms - Michael Ardaiolo,

50 Years Ago: Lyndon Johnson’s First Foreign Crisis - On January 9, 1964, a new president’s foreign policy skills were put to the test by a crisis in Panama - Alan McPherson, "Johnson had been a prodigious Senate leader on domestic issues, but his foreign-policy mettle had yet to be tested. As vice president under JFK, Johnson was kept on the margins. Johnson’s first test came fifty years ago today, in tiny Panama. On January 9, 1964, high school students from the Republic of Panama marched into the U.S.-controlled Canal Zone with their nation’s flag and clashed with U.S. teens trying to hoist a Stars and Stripes on their high school’s front yard. In the scuffle, the Panamanian flag was torn and a full-scale riot took off. ... The result: an international incident falling into Lyndon Johnson’s lap barely six weeks into his presidency.

By this point, Johnson was already consumed with civil rights issues at home and was preparing to launch his 'War on Poverty.' In foreign policy, the new president was debating whether to send U.S. combat troops into Vietnam, which still looked salvageable. But on that day, Vietnam could wait, while Panama could not. Johnson’s response would telegraph what kind of world leader he was to be. Most U.S. citizens were against negotiation: 56% supported a 'firm' stance against Panama. 7 out of 10 letter writers to the White House were described as ‘Hard Line’ (Send the Marines, Remember the Alamo, etc.)' by the State Department. Johnson, a former schoolteacher in southern Texas, seemed to agree. 'I know these Latin Americans,' he once privately told reporters. 'I grew up with Mexicans. They’ll come right into your yard and take it over if you let them. And the next day they’ll be right up on your porch, barefoot and weighing one hundred and thirty pounds and they’ll take that too. But if you say to ‘em right at the start, ‘hold on, just wait a minute,’ they’ll know they’re dealing with somebody who’ll stand up. And after you can get along fine.' One day into the riots, the new president confided to his mentor, Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, then-chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, that he was 'damn tired of packing our flag and our embassy and our USIS [public diplomacy centers] every time somebody got a little emotional outburst…They better watch it.' Johnson demeaned the Republic of Panama as 'no larger than the city of St. Louis.'” Image from

Green Hero: Sonita Lontoh - More Asian Americans than ever before are becoming pioneers in the sustainability movement. Because of this, we are running a series to recognize all the Asian American 'Green Heroes' in our community. This month, we are recognizing Sonita Lontoh, an Asian American green tech executive who is passionate about encouraging a green economy between Asian and Western countries. Lontoh received a Masters of Engineering from MIT and has been recognized with a 2012 contribution to American Public Diplomacy by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton." Uncaptioned image from entry

If You Are a Strong Constitutionalist... - "Today, Project Fellow and Fox News Contributor Ric Grenell offers his valuable perspective on the new book to be released Tuesday called 'Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.' For roughly eight years, Ric served as the Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy for the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations."


The misuse of American might, and the price it pays: The United States no longer knows how to win wars, but it continues to start them - Andrew J. Bacevich, The truth is something few people in the national security establishment are willing to confront: Confusing capability with utility, the United States knows how to start wars but has seemingly forgotten how to conclude them.

Yet concluding war on favorable terms — a concept formerly known as victory — is the object of the exercise. For the United States, victory has become a lost art. This unhappy verdict applies whether U.S. forces operate conventionally (employing high-tech "shock and awe" tactics) or unconventionally ("winning hearts and minds"). Image from

Only Obama can fix his broken foreign policy - David Ignatius, Obama needs to own his foreign policy. He needs to be more strategic and less political. He needs to set a vision and articulate it to allies and adversaries. His national security adviser needs to help him focus and communicate policy decisions. An example of how Obama can drive policy is his approach to Iran. In dealing with Tehran, Obama has been strategic and disciplined, opening the door to negotiations on the nuclear issue and forming a U.N. coalition for tough sanctions to pressure Iran into dialogue.

Syria and the perils of proxy war: Saudi Arabia and Iran use the conflict to vie for power in the Arab Mideast - Doyle McManus, President Obama has said he would like to devote less of his attention to the Middle East. But now is not the time.

Image from entry, with caption: A rebel fighter gestures as he walks towards a checkpoint close to Jabal al-Zawiyaa in Idlib province. The United Nations and the United States hope to launch a peace conference for Syria on Jan. 22.

Fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq is in U.S. interests - James M. Dubik, Certainly the violence in Iraq is an Iraqi problem. But it is a problem in which the United States has a stake. Years ago, our country sought to have Iraq as an ally in the war against al-Qaeda and to prevent al-Qaeda from establishing a sanctuary in Iraq. Those aims remain legitimate. No one wants another surge of U.S. troops to Iraq. But for not too great an investment of troops and diplomatic attention, and within reasonable risk, the United States can help itself and Iraq. Wishing Iraq were in a better position merely wastes time. We are at a point where we can only choose the best of bad options.

How Saudi hate propaganda empowered Iran - James Lewis, American Thinker: In foreign policy every government in the world has been watching Obama's high wire juggling act in the Middle East in horrified fascination. And the Saudis are now reaping the just harvest of anti-American and anti-Israel hatred they have sown throughout the Middle East and the world since 1973. If Iran conquers the Arabian Peninsula the Saudis will have no one to blame but themselves.

A millennial's Rolling Stone rant offers up some tired old 'solutions': A fashionably rebellious young writer revisits some ancient ideas: guaranteed work for everybody and communal ownership of property - Jonah Goldberg, One of the wonderful things about America is that both the left and right are champions of freedom. The difference lies in what we mean by freedom. The left emphasizes freedom as a material good, and the right sees freedom as primarily a right rooted in individual sovereignty. For the left, freedom means "freedom from want."

Belgian museum celebrates the immigrant experience: The Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp explores the stories of some of the 2 million Europeans who left for America on ships operated by the company. Among them: Golda Meir and Irving Berlin - Jane Levere, One became a prime minister. Another a songwriter whose compositions included "White Christmas."

And a third became an Angeleno who married, raised a family and became a social worker. All extraordinary in their own ways, all on an extraordinary journey poignantly recounted at the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp. The emigration experiences of Golda Meir, Israel's first female prime minister; Irving Berlin, whose song Bing Crosby famously crooned; and Bessie Cohen, who moved to East Los Angeles in 1937, are among those of the 2 million immigrants who came to the United States from Europe from 1878 to 1934 on ships operated by the Antwerp-based Red Star Line. Their stories come alive in the newly opened museum in the harbor of this port city.
Image from entry

The war that made Orwell: In 1937, George Orwell found himself in the middle of the Spanish Civil War. What he saw changed him forever - Robert Colls, Salon: "Orwell increasingly adopted Julien Benda’s argument that, as they were drawn into politics, intellectuals would find that if they told the truth they would

not be able to go on being political, and if they went on being political they would not be able to tell the truth." Orwell image from entry

German propaganda poster - Scanned from Michael Berenbaum’s The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust as Told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Revised Edition, (Washington, D.C.: USHMM, 2006) where it appears with following caption: “UPPER LEFT German propaganda poster explaining the development of the United States, Uncle Sam kicking out the Indians and then a Jew kicking out Uncle Sam. The poster states that a Jewish historian predicted in 1885 that a “great powerful Jewry will arise in the 20th century” and then comments that the

Jews have achieved their goal in the United States, where they have pushed the American people into war in order to expand their power over Europe and the rest of the world. Germany, 1942. USHMM, COURTESY OF DEUTSCHES \HISTORISCHES MUSEUM, BERLIN, GERMANY.” In 2013 a copy of the original poster sold for over $5,000 on the auction site The following is an extract and partial translation from their listing: “Reproduces a 1909 drawing labeled,”History of the United States,” showing a Native American Indian being pushed off a cliff by Uncle Sam, who is in turn supplanted by a Jew.

The poster declares that the Jews are the true masters in the United States, and pledges to fight until the Jews are overcome: “They have driven the American people into war to take over Europe and to rule rest of the world. We will defend ourselves against them! We will not lay down our weapons until we get rid of the Jews and destroy their influence completely. We will put an end to the reign of the Jews!”” Images from entry

Why is Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' an e-book bestseller? - Hector Tobar,  On Amazon, the Kindle version of “Mein Kampf” ranks No. 1 in the category of Propaganda and Political Philosophy. “‘Mein Kampf" hasn’t made the New York Times' nonfiction chart since its U.S. release in 1939, the same year Germany invaded Poland, and its print sales have fallen steadily ever since,” Chris Faraone wrote for the website Vocativ. Faraone compared the Hitler book surge to the sales of "Fifty Shades of Grey." "These are things that people would be embarrassed to read otherwise," Faraone told ABC News. "Books that people would probably be a bit more embarrassed to read or display or buy in public, they are more than willing to buy on their Kindle, or iPads. California-based Elite Minds Inc. which publishes the 99-cent version, said that the sales were due primarily to “academic interest,” but Jewish leaders disputed that argument.

Power, Corruption And Propaganda: A Quotation Sampler - Russ Baker,

Among them: When smashing monuments, save the pedestals. They always come in handy - Stanisław Jerzy Lec. Lec image from


During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama’s senior thesis, “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community,” was exhumed from the archives of the university and fueled the perception that she detested it. “My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my ‘Blackness’ than ever before,” she wrote. “I have found that at Princeton no matter how liberal

and open-minded some of my White professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don’t belong. Regardless of the circumstances under which I interact with Whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be Black first and a student second.”

--Robin Givhan,"Five myths about Michelle Obama," Washington Post


Perhaps because Russians, typically unceremonious about sex, had to endure an official Soviet culture of extreme prudery, a Russian sex scene tends to be a lot more fun to read than an American one, earthy and comic rather than earnest or violent: “And I want so much . . . to run the end of my tongue from one end to the other of the little seam you have down there,” Sasha writes to Volodya, adding “I read somewhere that the smelliest parts of the body are closest to the soul.”

--Boris Fishman, "Dear Sasha, Dear Volodya" [Review of ‘The Light and the Dark,’ by Mikhail Shishkin], New York Times


Gossip magazine Closer reported Hollande had been slipping out of the back door of the Elysee Palace and hopping on a motor scooter

driven by a bodyguard to Gayet's apartment. The magazine also reported the bodyguard brought

croissants to the apartment one morning.

--Ralph Ellis, "France's first lady hospitalized after report of Hollande's affair," CNN; top image from; below image from


Dialect group's word of the year: Because. Because oh brother - Carolyn Kellogg, The American Dialect Society has named "because" its word of the year for 2013. What makes because special is its evolving usage.

Where once "because" needed to be followed by "of" or a full clause, now it can be followed by a noun or other fragment.  
The organization allows that any "vocabulary item" can be its word of the year. Previous winners include "#hashtag" in 2012, "occupy" in 2011, "app" in 2010, "bailout" in 2008, "subprime" in 2007, "truthiness" in 2005, "metrosexual" in 2003, and "chad" in 2000. In 2009, "tweet" was word of the year and "google" named word of the decade. Image from


(from: source: Sona S. Hoisington, "Soviet Schizophrenia and the American Skyscraper," in Russian Art and the West (2006); via IK on Facebook


"No more U.S. lives, limbs, or treasure."

--tommythek50 at 6:02 AM January 11, 2014, reacting to Doyle McManus, "Syria and the perils of proxy war,"


"The secret of intelligence is to recognize the intelligence of others."

--A valued PDPBR subscriber

No comments: