"I spent 24 years working for the State Department, including one year in
--American diplomat Peter Van Buren, author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People; image from
International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust 2014, January 27th - parmionova.blogspot.com. Includes 2014 Calendar of Holocaust Remembrance Events.
And sometimes they let me speak! - Home is where the HHE is: I am a Foreign Service Officer working for the Department of State. My Anglo-American Wife (Lovely English Lass in my posts) puts up with me, for which I appreciate her even more. My daughter (Lovely Little Girl) is on the Autism Spectrum and is taller than your average child. My son (Crazy Little Man) has some developmental delays and is, as his name suggests, crazy. My posts are not a reflection of, nor should be construed, as official positions of the US Department of State: "[B]eing a Management Officer is sometimes hard, because you get type-cast . ... I say this because the Public Diplomacy Section just came out and asked for volunteers to speak at local High Schools on topics for
Black History Month. ... The first topic is 'The integration of Little Rock's Central High School in 1957.' ... The second topic will definitely be fun, but I'm sure will raise some eyebrows when I walk through the door. 'The origins of Hip-Hop and its influence on American Society.' Yeah, the 37 year old white dude is going to talk about Rap, where it came from, and how it influenced American Society. There are Foreign Service Officers here that want to go listen to this one. I think it'll be awesome. I'll have a slide show, and some music, and we'll have a great time. Plus, it'll allow me to talk about something I know about that doesn't get discussed all the time." Image from
Ambassador Ashe: Change is Urgently Needed at Broadcasting Board of Governors - Victor H. Ashe, ambassadorsperspectives.wordpress.com: "If you are like most Americans, you have never heard of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), so let me explain. The BBG is the agency of the U.S. international broadcasting effort. Through brands such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and Radio Martí among others, and with a budget of $722 million, the BBG broadcasts news of both local and international interest to those countries where independent media are either severely restricted or completely repressed. Unfortunately, despite this vital work, the BBG is an agency in major crisis. As former Secretary of State Clinton mentioned in her January 2013 testimony before a Congressional committee, the BBG is 'dysfunctional.' Indeed, even earlier in her term she had criticized it for being 'ineffective.' As a former three year Board member, I fully agree with Secretary Clinton’s criticisms. The BBG suffers from a lack of focus, insufficient accountability and management, poor morale and a complete lack of presence on both Capitol Hill and among policymakers such that it is often – except when a problem arises – the forgotten stepchild of American foreign policy. ... [G]iven the importance of public diplomacy and international broadcasting as a 'force multiplier' for our traditional diplomacy, and because the Secretary of State is after all an incredibly busy person, I propose four essential reforms to start the discussion to which I hope the Secretary, at the next or future meeting of the BBG, will lend his considerable prestige and authority. 1)Abolish the current part-time 9 Member Board and replace it with a single agency
head, confirmable by the Senate, with a status similar to the head of the Peace Corps. ... 2) Create an Ombudsman to address the concerns of contract (one third of VOA) and fulltime employees. ... 3) Sharpen the distinction between VOA and the surrogate broadcasters, especially in relation to Radio Free Asia. ... 4) Finally, bring Congress more closely into the process. Since Congress writes the checks, Congress should be consulted consistently and fully. ... [T]hese proposals would assure that the BBG bureaucracy is accountable to the Administration and Congress. It would give focus to the relationship between the government’s overall foreign policy objectives and its public diplomacy efforts." Image from
Pope Francis’s appeal for dialogue in Ukraine missed by VOA and BBC, reported by Russia’s RT - BBGWatcher, BBG Watch: "Vatican Radio, Russia’s RT and Voice of Russia, Canada’s CBC, Australia’s ABC, Christian Science Monitor, Boston Herald, New York Daily News, Fox News and numerous other international and U.S. media outlets all reported that at the Vatican on Sunday Pope Francis appealed for constructive dialogue between the authorities and civil society in Ukraine. U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) did not report on the papal appeal despite Ukraine being a major international news story for many weeks. ... Until very recently senior VOA executives failed to send a VOA correspondent to Kyiv. Resident VOA correspondent in
BBC and RT report protesters left Justice Ministry in Kyiv, VOA not reporting - BBGWatcher, BBG Watch
Russia’s RT reports U.S. Ambassador talked to Ukraine’s Interior Minister, Voice of America has not reported this news - BBGWatcher, BBG Watch
Faux pas and mis-step - Arnold Piggott, trinidadexpress.com: "Under these successive administrations, our consulates have operated with an absence of notoriety and adverse publicity. No one has been able to recall any local recruit being unfairly dismissed prior to the term of the present Government. Why this change now and ugly international publicity at the New York Consulate? ... If long standing staff at the New York Consulate are consequently without A2 visas, their status to remain in the US will be compromised. Any 'illegal' status arising therefore would have been created by our country — not the Host Country, the US mind you. Is this not contrary to the essence of the role of Consul General — to assist nationals abroad. Will Trinidad and Tobago not contribute to their loss of livelihood, deportation and the creation of new burdens for our republic?
Finally, within the context of this fiasco, other disturbing questions about the new practice of appointing non-career diplomats as Consuls General have arisen. If the well tried, tested and internationally accepted practice of appointing senior career diplomats as Consuls General were followed then the ensuing diplomatic embarrassment, poor image and bad local, regional and international press could have been averted. Shouldn’t the Minister not now intervene, although belatedly, to ensure that not ... only must justice be done, but must indeed appear very clearly to have been done? Minister, please put on a diplomatic cap, demonstrate benevolence and reverse the turbulence. Consider whether local legal opinion should trump measured and internationally accepted public diplomacy. Many are waiting to applaud you at this time for treating your nationals with decency, dignity and respect." Image from
Rouhani's Calculated Focus on Shattering Iranophobia Project - Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh, payvand.com: "Although the White House is apparently doing its utmost to prevent adoption of a new sanctions resolution by the Congress [against Iran], it should not be forgotten that the interpretation that the US Executive offered of the Geneva agreement immediately after its signing, was the main factor which led to more distrust between Iran and the United States. There is no doubt that nobody, whether in Iran or among the member states of the P5+1 group, expected nuclear negotiations and the conclusion of an agreement to be simple and easy. However, for any negotiations to bear fruit, both sides need to settle for a minimum degree of goodwill while taking care not to treat the opposite party with a condescending approach.
At present, the true meaning of a number of concepts has been blurred in the negotiations. They include goodwill, mutual trust and commitment which are considered as the main pillars of any important negotiation. There is no doubt that in any negotiation both negotiating parties are aware that the negotiating table is no less than a real battlefield. Therefore, they should do all in their power in order to achieve their goals and protect their national interests, and should not be satisfied with apparent smiles and promises given by the opposite party. Despite the above facts, there is a subtle difference between negotiations and conflicts in that a minimum degree of commitment, trust and goodwill is needed for any negotiation to begin and continue. The question is do the American statesmen really imagine that if they continued with such dual behavior, they would be able to convince the public opinion that Iran has been the main reason behind a possible deadlock in nuclear negotiations? Here, the value of the active and purposive public diplomacy pursued by Iranian foreign policy team, especially the president and his Foreign Minister [Mohammad Javad Zarif], whose main goal is to shatter the false and unreal wall of Iranophobia, becomes more evident." Image from entry, with caption: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
Iran sanctions threat ties U.S. hands - Tyler Cullis and Jamal Abdi, CNN: "[Comment by]: Jorgen Tanaka, Ph.D.] Time shall tell if Mr. Rowhani is able to deliver on his well choreographed public diplomacy. So far, so good as he gets excellent marks on effort and execution. The odds however are likely against the cleric winning the Lombardi trophy as the all-mighty Iranian Revolutionary Guard ('Sepah') is the real dark horse whose allegiance (to its own super Imperial ambitions) may ultimately prove to be more supreme and consequential, trumping even that of the 'supreme' (in name only) leader, Ayatollah Khamenie's [sic]."
Case for a federal foreign policy? - Saurabh Chandra, broadmind.nationalinterest.in: "Even in the current pro-federalism debate, one area has been strictly reserved for the central government: foreign policy. However, in a diverse country like India we are selling ourselves short by not taking advantage of our states’ ability to directly engage with the world at large. Obviously, New Delhi is the only competent authority when it comes to opening consulates, embassies, visas or in signing treaties. But the central government does much more and states can play a constructive role. For example, the new ministry of overseas Indians is perhaps an ideal one to be devolved. Kerala or Punjab government could engage the Malayalis or Punjabis abroad a lot better than a one-size-fits-all attitude that a Delhi based ministry takes. Or take public diplomacy as another opportunity: central government will tie itself in knots trying to figure an equivalent of the Confucius centres that the Chinese have created all over the world.
It is far better for West Bengal government to open Tagore centres, UP or Rajasthan opening Sufi centres without raising political opposition and also allowing multiple good ideas to compete. It also allows us to customise our engagement approach, for example Yoga in the west, Vipasana in the east may work better and Middle-East or Central Asia would prefer Bollywood over exercise. ... Many policies in the 50s were (rightly) created by a nation unsure of itself and even its abilities to stay together. In 2014, we can now be a little bold and try the unconventional by encouraging each state to have a Foreign Engagement (to distinguish it from External Affairs) department. Involving these as consultative partners for relevant departments or committees in MEA will help and having them engage the world directly will give the much needed boost that our skeletal foreign service needs. We should also not under-appreciate the focus looking outwards gives by making internal disputes look petty in comparison." Image from
India Sides With Japan in Air Zone Row - Devirupa Mitra, newindianexpress.com: "The visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has led to an even closer strategic embrace between New Delhi and Tokyo, with India for the first time taking a public stance on China’s expanded air defence zone, extending invitation for naval exercises with the US and starting a new national security dialogue. ... The joint statement
released on Saturday night said that Singh and Abe 'underscored the importance of freedom of overflight and civil aviation safety in accordance with the recognised principles of international law and the relevant standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).' ... Officially, both sides deny that China is part of their equation. 'Importance of rule of law is increasing maybe because of ADIZ or some other activities, but the joint statement does not specifically mention anything or any specific country either... It is not targeting the activity of any country,' said Japan foreign ministry’s director general for press and public diplomacy, Kuni Sato." Image from entry, with caption: Prime Minster Manmohan Singh with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe and their wives Gursharan Kaur and Akie Abe respectively. Sato also mentioned at.
Why public affairs does not equal lobbying - András Baneth, europeanpublicaffairs.eu: "[T]here is no clear definition of what ‘public affairs’
really means since it is often used as a synonym for ‘public diplomacy’ or a term to describe a governmental institution’s relations with citizens. In the corporate (and to some extent, NGO) world, the term also differs whether it is used in Europe, the US or other parts of the world. The American interpretation is usually the broadest, and I very much agree with this approach: public affairs includes the management of all areas and issues that can affect a company’s [external] business environment, except for the classic sales and marketing functions. Government affairs is certainly a crucial part of that, but a lot more is expected of public affairs professionals. Let’s take a look at a few areas that are just as important." Image from
Checklist Which Will Make Your Public Speech The One To Remember - Arturas Jonkus: "Arturas Jonkus Arturas Jonkus@jonkus. Communication and PA Professional with more than 20 years experience in Public Diplomacy, Public Affairs and Corporate Communications."
Propaganda pushes Karzai to sign pact - Tom Vanden Brook, USA Today: Every day in Afghanistan, the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan broadcasts unattributed propaganda. Much of itconsists of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of feel-good messages that encourage Afghans to support their cops, troops, or government. Reuters, however, recently reported that an ad campaign aimed at Afghan President Hamid Karzai isn't the sort of thing that friends generally do to one another. The broadcast spots call on him to sign the bilateral security agreement. That's the pact that would allow U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014. The Afghan government isn't too pleased about the ads. Nobody claims credit for them. An investigation into the source of funding for the ads is under way, according to a spokesman for the Afghan attorney general. The U.S. military declined to comment on the ads. "We have seen the media coverage, but have nothing to provide on this," a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command said. Below image from
Karzai doubles down on anti-American propaganda: Could it be time to take Karzai's words and actions at face value, and give him what he appears to want? - Dan Murphy, csmonitor.com: On Saturday, Karzai's government distributed a dossier of pictures and videos purporting to demonstrate a US war crime, the sort of decontextualized pictures and videos of broken bodies and wailing mourners at funerals that are often offered up by the Taliban as evidence of American evil. What's going on here? Karzai and his allies have been refusing to sign a security agreement that would allow US and other NATO combat soldiers to remain in the country beyond the end of this year, when their current mandate runs out. While Karzai constantly expresses skepticism that foreign troops are of any value in accomplishing much but killing civilians, his aid-dependent government is also well aware that without foreign troops, much of the promised civilian aid to Afghanistan will also dry up. Without them, it will be too dangerous to administer, and already rampant pilfering and central government corruption will also grow.
Keep Tweeting, Ambassador Kennedy - Nancy Snow, Huffington Post: Japanese lined up by the thousands to watch the horse-drawn carriage with JFK's daughter as she arrived at the Imperial Palace in November to present her ambassadorial credentials to the Emperor. Now U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy
knows how long a honeymoon period in Japan lasts. Her alleged overstep? The following tweet heard round the political world: [']Deeply concerned by inhumanness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG opposes drive hunt fisheries.[']Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, thank you for raising this issue and tweeting your conscience. We call it democratic discourse in Japan and the United States. As Senator J. William Fulbright said, "In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects." Image via NS on Facebook
Don’t Undermine the Iran Deal - Carl M. Levin and Angus S. King, New York Times: The potential upside of legislating further sanctions is the hope that increased pressure might elicit more concessions or push Iran to conclude a more favorable deal. But this is unlikely. The potential downside is more likely and more dangerous: Iran’s decision-makers could conclude that the United States government is not negotiating in good faith — a view which Iranian hard-liners already espouse.
Stability Versus Democracy in Egypt - Room for Debate, New York Times: Almost three years ago, Egyptians celebrated the end of six decades of military rule. But fury at the autocratic governance of
‘The Wolf of Wall Street’: Martin Scorsese’s cynical global ploy: US sees graphic take on Wall St., but it’s a different film overseas - Martha Bayles, Boston Globe: In evaluating a film these days, it’s crucial to consider how it will be adapted and marketed overseas — where studios make more than twice the profits they make at home. Case in point: Martin Scorsese’s three-hour extravaganza “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which was released on Christmas Day and is now a Best Picture nominee.
Scorsese pads “The Wolf of Wall Street” with soft-core porn — which many Americans would defend as a crucial form of artistic expression — then scraps most of it when shipping the product overseas. Not only that, but after the titillating bits are cut, what’s left will be a lurid caricature of American economic liberty, achieved through a voluntary sacrifice of artistic liberty. This may play well in authoritarian countries of Asia and the Middle East, but it looks like a con. Image from entry, with caption: Director Martin Scorsese pauses on the set of “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
From: Drew Guarini, "The Biggest Stereotype Of Every State In America In 1 Map," The Huffington Post
The average NFL game has just 10 minutes and 43 seconds of televised gameplay. Most of the time
is spent with the players standing around (67 minutes), while on average only 3 seconds is spent toward showing the cheerleaders. Still, sometimes there's plenty of action even when the ball isn't in play.
--From: Todd Van Luling, "21 Very American Things You'll Be Surprised You Didn't Know," The Huffington Post; image from
VATICANIA, OR PROOF ORIGINAL SIN EXISTS
Birds of pray: Doves released in the Vatican as a gesture of peace are immediately ATTACKED by vicious seagull and crow - Hannah Roberts and Mark Duell, dailymail.co.uk
Hitchcock image from