Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 28 Public Diplomacy Review

"Someone has to get the FSO’s under control. If they don’t like it, let them resign."

--Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, regarding Foreign Service officers (December 18, 1975), specifically in the Africa Bureau (AF) at the State Department; image from entry; image from; see also John Brown, "Letter of Resignation by John H. Brown, Foreign Service Officer," Common Dreams (March 10, 2003)


Thinking About Iran By Remembering South Africa - Shervin Malekzadeh, lobelog.com: "South Africa’s transformation and redemption during the 90s is instructive as relations between the United States and Iran improve–a thaw made possible by the surprise election of Hassan Rouhani to the presidency this past June. Rouhani and his foreign policy team, led by the indefatigable Mohammad Javad Zarif, have taken a two-track, 'high/low' approach to diplomacy, one that aims to deny US policy elites the moral high ground in the international realm, terrain ceded by Iran for most of the past decade to the Americans, while simultaneously seeking out direct dialogue with the broader American public through acts of online and public diplomacy. Planned and impromptu [sic -- see] exchanges in venues like Facebook and Twitter serve the strategic goal of improving Iran’s image abroad by helping Americans forget the Iran of Ahmadinejad and the Iran of Argo. ... More than 30 years after South Africa gave up its domestic nuclear program as a cost for being reintegrated into the world community, America will have to reconcile itself to an Iran that exists as a regional power with limited if not latent access to nuclear technology. The satisfaction of a cold peace will have to do. Power politics and the persistent violations of human rights will prevent a full reconciliation between the two countries, though these will not be significant enough to override the shared benefits of détente. The status of US-Iran relations is likely to settle somewhere between the turban and the crown, to borrow from Said Arjomand–between the animosity of the first three decades of the Islamic Republic and the close partnership of the Pahlavi regime during its final three decades of rule. That is, assuming that Americans are still paying attention. Nearly a quarter of a century after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, and less than 20 years since his election to the presidency, South Africa occupies little of the space that it once did in the public imagination of Americans. Such is the fate of 'rogue' states, current and former. Reputation and diplomacy will prove to be a mug’s game, subject to the fickle and distracted attention of an American public forever on the search for new demons and dragons to slay. In the end, Iran too will likely fade from view, relegated to the back pages of The New York Times alongside the latest, unnoticed outrage from some country in a lost corner of the world."

Indonesia as an Example of 21st Century Economic Statecraft - Anja Eifert, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "By encouraging U.S. businesses to invest in Indonesia and facilitating trade partnerships, the Obama administration has laid the groundwork for its vision of 21st century economic statecraft in Indonesia. However, the potential of added PD has yet to be fully explored. Initiatives such as the Innovation Fund for Public Diplomacy are a good start, but DoS could do more, such as: (1) create closer cooperation with the Department of Commerce in crafting, financing, and implementing sustainable economic PD that goes beyond short-term commitments and into building and sustaining communication and transportation infrastructure; (2) offer additional funding for entrepreneurs and start-ups through investment incentives for U.S. businesses; (3) implement increased grants and bilateral exchange agreements targeted at experts and professionals to work in Indonesia; and (4) create and sustain a network of public-private partnerships to finance internships and open professional training opportunities for future leaders in the U.S. and Indonesian business landscapes."

Exhibition: Art Inter[r]upted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy - redandblack.com: "In 1946, amid a Cold War conflict that emerged between the United States and the Soviet Union after World War II, the Department of State embarked on an innovative program of cultural diplomacy. At the heart of this initiative was a project known as Advancing American Art. 'Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy' examines the development and swift demise of this ambitious but ill-fated instrument of foreign policy. The story of Advancing American Art offers important clues to a better understanding of the unsettled period in American history immediately following World War II.

The public debate the project engendered-on the value of modern art, government's role in art patronage and what constitutes a truly American art form-addressed issues that are still worthy of discussion today. The curtailed tour in 1947 prevented a full consideration of what the paintings had to say about the artists and the period in which they were created. Nearly seventy years after the paintings were first assembled, the organizers of the present exhibition—the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma and the Georgia Museum of Art—have worked together to give the artists and the original State Department organizers their due acknowledgment. From a checklist of 117 oils and watercolors sold as war surplus in 1948, 'Art Interrupted' reunites all but 10 paintings, for which there are no known locations, in an exhibition that demonstrates again the great worth in freedom and diversity." Image from entry. See also (1) (2).

Sri Lanka well ahead of the U.S. in accountability and transparency - asiantribune.com: "Does Sri Lanka's overseas diplomatic facility in Washington expect the US lobbying firms it has commissioned with a monthly payment of US$ 66,000 to highlight the presentation Sri Lanka's presidential emissary Lalith Weeratunga delivered while using the dismal record of the United States as a comparison to (1) create a political climate in the US more than conducive to enhancing Sri Lanka's long-term political economic aspirations (2) to create a platform where US decision makers receive clear and accurate information of Sri Lanka's current achievements? And, it has been reported that Sri Lanka has also separately hired a US lobbying firm (Majority Group) paying it US $ 50,000 to lobby the US Government to change 'its attitude towards Sri Lanka.' Mr. Weeratunga's presentation denote very clearly the trajectory of Sri Lanka toward transparency, accountability and truthfulness since the internal defeat of the separatist/terrorist Tamil Tigers in contrast to the track record of the United States in its 'Global War on Terror'. The question here is - do the handlers of external affairs for the Government of Sri Lanka have the competency to use more than the basics of public affairs, public diplomacy and strategic communication mechanism, understanding how the American polity works, the US strategy in its own handling of foreign affairs to engage in basic research and high-level of analyses with future projections to use Lalith Weeratunga- presentation to the UNHRC representatives in Geneva last week to enhance Sri Lanka's image globally and, most importantly, to negate the ongoing 'Global Diplomatic Insurgency' ,well oiled by the pro-separatist elements within the Tamil Diaspora, or allow that task outsourced to some Washington lobbying firms?"

Sochi Olympics To Raise Russia’s Credibility In International Arena –- Analysis - Penza News, eurasiareview.com: Xu Jin, Research Fellow at Institute of World Economics and Politics of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that due to the Olympics Russia’s international image will be improved a lot in one or two years. 'Based on the experience of Beijing Olympic Games, the country will get positive international image, and it is also a good platform for the diplomacy and public diplomacy,' the Chinese analyst said.' ... Edward Lozansky, President and Founder of the American University in Moscow, shared the view that this event will positively affect the development of several areas. 'Given the huge investments in the infrastructure of the region, Sochi, under good administration, can become a unique tourist destination for both summer and winter holidays, he said, noting that PR is highly needed to compete with European resorts. ... According to him, the Olympic Games are not only grand sport event, but an indicator of the significant changes for the better, which have occurred in the country over the past two decades. 'Unfortunately, the world’s attitude toward Russia has changed little since the Soviet era. Media still uses the stereotypes of the Cold War without neglecting to stress 'omnipresent KGB' or 'Dictator Putin.' Recently, there is too much black PR, predictions of new terrorist attacks and calls for a boycott of the Olympics by anti-Russian lobby in the West. It should be noted that in pursuit of sensationalism, Russian press also adds negative information in this muddy stream,' Edward Lozansky noted. According to him, the Sochi Olympics will show the face of new Russia, freed from the communist past." See also

Vedrine and Kinkel Visit Sarajevo: The Makings of a Public Diplomacy Distaster - Charles Crawford, Diplomatic Courier: We connoisseurs of the diplomatic public speaking art are fortunate to have one example of a high-profile public speaking occasion where everything that could possibly go wrong did indeed go wrong. ... My subsequent reporting telegram to London recorded this amazing scene: 'It also is striking how diplomatically ineffective our main European partners seem here. The Védrine [France’s Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine]/Kinkel [Germany’s Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel] visit here last week seemed to sum things up, in presentational terms at least. At the large Holiday Inn reception for the visitors with a top-level turnout of Bosnian, Serb, and Croat leaders, Védrine’s tame speech was the normal Dayton platitudes.

Kinkel delivered an energetic address on the general lines of ‘We have done a lot for you! You shall be grateful! And cooperate!’ Stirring stuff, but not enough to enthuse the Bosnian audience, many of whom rudely carried on talking among themselves while it was delivered.' All in all, a grimly instructive diplomatic fiasco. ... In all public speaking, it is not what you say—it is what they hear. In war-weary Sarajevo in 1997 many of the leading personalities in post-conflict Bosnia did not hear from these two prominent European politicians an inspiring message of unity and shared purpose. They heard disjointedness, tedium, and perhaps even irrelevance. An expensive missed opportunity. Charles Crawford was British Ambassador in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Warsaw." Uncaptioned image from entry

Effective communication in the 21st Century - istitutodiplomatico.wordpress.com: "Public diplomacy is increasingly challenged by the transformative power of technology and the swift pace of digital progress: an effective online communication needs a careful and creative use of social medias. The UN foundation and the Digital Diplomacy Coalition have dealt with this subject at the end of October by hosting a half-day conference attended by people from all over the world, connected through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Livestream. Eight key – pieces of advice emerged throughout the conversation: 1) Meet people where they are, using multiple platforms to reach different audiences. 2) Listen: don’t just put out your messages, involve your audience.

3) Build a network of networks: a stronger community means a better exchange. 4) Tell stories: data are important but reaching the emotional level is crucial. 5) Tell your stories visually, images make words more powerful. 6) Be authentic, be accurate: being credible is even more important then being fast. 7) Engage your leadership to be active on line, thus helping to shape a social-media–friendly organization. 8) Spur action: specific and relevant reaction means your communication has been really effective. Read more on: http://bit.ly/IsTayB."  Image from entry


Far from Syria, the propaganda war rages - yorkshirepost.co.uk: Edward M Spiers, Lauched in Montreux, and then moving to Geneva, the negotiations over the Syrian civil war represent the first time that members of the Syrian government have met face-to-face with Western–backed members of the rebellion. Western delegations have repeatedly touted these talks as the only means of producing a transitional government in Syria, paving the way to peace.On all sides, it seems, the Swiss talks have provided a perfect platform for expanding the propaganda battle that is being waged just as vigorously between Assad’s forces, the rebels, and their external backers as the conflict on the ground.

While this propaganda battle reverberates around Geneva, little can be expected of the talks beyond the possibility of minor agreements on prisoner exchanges and on letting humanitarian aid enter disputed areas. Image from article, with caption: Syrians holding a wounded man

Neocons Take Aim at Syrian Peace Talks - Robert Parry, Consortium News: The Washington Post’s neoconservative editorial page is still beating the drums for U.S. military intervention in Syria, but its latest demand for violent reprisals against the Syrian government dropped a key element in the previous propaganda campaign: the claim that President Bashar al-Assad had “gassed his own people.”

Harry Reid earns an assist on Iran: The Nevada senator staved off new sanctions — for now - Doyle McManus, latimes.com: The Senate isn't likely to vote on new sanctions any time soon. But this was just one round in the ongoing Washington battle over how to deal with Iran, and the closer the nuclear negotiations bring us to a final agreement, the more intense the debate will become.

US arrest of Iran nationals propaganda campaign: Diplomat - presstv.ir: Tehran has slammed the apprehension of Iranian nationals in the US as part of a propaganda campaign against the Islamic Republic. “All the hype and traps against Iranian citizens abroad are merely propaganda and media speculation and no offense has been committed by Iranian citizens,” Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular, Parliamentary and Iranian Expatriates Affairs Hassan Qashqavi

told reporters on Friday. He pointed to the recent arrest of Iranian citizen Mozaffar Khazaei in the US under the pretext of circumventing the sanctions against Tehran and noted, “There have been similar cases in other countries before, and the Iranian citizens have returned to the country after acquittal.” However, the diplomat noted that no comment can be made about the incident until investigations into the arrest of the Iranian citizen are finalized. Image from entry, with caption: Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi

In Afghanistan, a war that has lost its purpose - Richard Cohen, Washington Post: Afghanistan is an arid Vietnam, a quagmire presided over by the petulant and unpredictable Hamid Karzai. For Obama, Gates wrote, “it’s all about getting out.”

Obama Flirts With Losing the 'Must Win' War: Withdrawal from Afghanistan will be a defeat for America and a victory for al Qaeda - Frederick W. Kagan, Wall Street Journal: Withdrawal from Afghanistan, whether financial or military or both, will be a defeat for the U.S. and a victory for al Qaeda. It really is that simple.

What the West Must Do for Ukraine - John E. Herbst, William Green Miller, Steven K. Pifer, William B. Taylor Jr., New York Times: Ukraine is on the verge of spinning out of control. Western influence in Ukraine is real but limited and could fade. The United States and European Union should apply it now, lest the West find itself watching Ukraine succumb to widespread violence that it cannot stop.

Why the West Must Join the Ukraine Protesters: What the Ukraine protests are really about: Western freedom vs. Putin's vision of a restored Russian empire - Mikheil Saakashvili, Wall Street Journal: In Kiev, the future is being decided. A triumph for the protesters would mark the end of Mr. Putin's dream of a restored Russian empire. In August 1991, President George H.W. Bush told Ukrainians and other Soviet Republics, in a speech quickly dubbed "Chicken Kiev,"

not to seek independence and integration with the West. Now, more than two decades later, the West must not send a similar message to people who have shown so much commitment to freedom. Too much is at stake. Let's hope Washington, Paris, Brussels, Berlin and London grasp that fact before it's too late. Image from

The Security Leadership Void - Clemens Wergin, New York Times: The United States remains an unrivaled power, with military resources and economic prowess that no other nation can match. The risk is not so much that another country might take its place; in a way, it is that no one will. The situation would be less dire if Europe showed more ambition to take over some of America’s balancing functions. But so far that seems to be a vain hope, both in practical and political terms. Further American disentanglement from the Middle East is not good for the region, or for the West as a whole.

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 Egypt’s first democratically elected president, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi, led to his ouster six months ago by the military. Now many Egyptians are supporting for the military again as its leaders authorize their commander to run for president. Is a military government actually the best recipe for stability and progress in Egypt

Propaganda and the media war in South Sudan - sudantribune.com: Media war and Propaganda is not good to be use in the South Sudan because we are one people with one objective that is peace and prosperity, propaganda is not good to be use at this particular period of time where people minds focuses still remembering the pasts like tribalism, corruption.

India movie banned in Pakistan citing "anti- Pakistan propaganda" - Malaysia Sun (ANI): An Indian movie based on the 1971 war has been reportedly banned in Pakistan following claims that it allegedly contains "anti- Pakistan propaganda." It is alleged that the movie 'The Bastard Child', depicting events of 1970-1971 in East Pakistan, shows atrocities committed by Pakistan Army personnel in East Pakistan, leading to its separation. According to The Nation, the movie attempts to show Pakistan and its security forces in a bad light and is being released at a time when the key institutions are engaged in large-scale counter-terrorism operations to end extremism and bring peace in Pakistan and across the world.

N. Korea suspends propaganda leaflets to South - Yonhap: North Korea has temporarily stopped flying propaganda leaflets to South Korea near its western border since the communist state offered a series of peace gestures earlier this month, multiple sources said Tuesday.

A Chinese Tourist in North Korea: A Firsthand Experience - [U.S. government funded] rfa.org: North Korea, a last bastion of Stalinism and one of the most secretive regimes in the world, is open to foreign tourism on a very limited basis. Foreigners applying to travel to North Korea are subjected to rigorous review, and once inside the country, their personal freedoms are limited and their actions closely monitored. But as an RFA Cantonese Service reporter found on a recent visit,

Chinese and non-Chinese visitors to the "Workers' Paradise" get rather different treatment: At the airport downtown, the view is in sharp contrast to the bustling and prosperous scenes one sees in other countries. There are only a few foreign visitors going through immigration, and many are tourists from China. There is just one flight a day from Beijing to Pyongyang. Passengers on the plane are offered some North Korean propaganda materials to read, or they can read the Workers' Daily, the newspaper of the North Korean central government, which is printed in monochrome across four pages. Image from entry, with caption: A North Korean staff member sells souvenirs to Chinese tourists at the monument to the Chinese People's Volunteers in Pyongyang, September, 2013.

Did North Korea Really Claim to Land a Man On the Sun? Here's the Full Story - Where the joke originated: Did North Korea really claim to put a man on the sun or do people just like making Kim
Jong-un look like a super-duper extra sillypants? Despite outlandish North Korean propaganda like

Kim Jong-il's vaunted all-time golf scoring record and the supposed discovery of a unicorn lair in Pyongyang, this one would already be sending up red flags even if it wasn't easy to track down the original source. This article originally appeared on the Waterford Whispers News, a satirical Irish site (think The Onion) that runs headlines like "Ground-Breaking WIT Study Finds Link Between Obesity and Over-Eating" and "World Leaders Renew International Lie-To-People Pact." Believing this story was genuine propaganda would require an assumption that North Koreans are either blindingly stupid or all carbon copies of Winston Smith at the end of Nineteen Eighty-Four, both of which are clearly untrue. North Koreans aren't scientifically illiterate enough to believe you can land on the sun.  Image from entry

Propaganda: “The Dominant Grand Narrative Of Our Time” - Media Lens, dissidentvoice.org:  Today, it is clearer than ever to a growing number of people that there is something seriously wrong with ‘the news’. The current system of planet-crushing propaganda relies on a mere façade of overall ‘balance’, ‘reasonableness’ and ‘range of views’. In the UK, BBC News is the crucial foundation stone of this propaganda system.

Hollywood, propaganda and liberal politics: What's considered propaganda depends on who's in the White House - Jonah Goldberg, latimes.com: Hollywood has never been opposed to propaganda. When Hollywood's self-declared auteurs and artistes denounce propaganda as the enemy of art, almost invariably what they really mean is "propaganda we don't like."

Muere actor de propaganda de Marlboro por cáncer de pulmón - rpp.com.pe: El actor Eric Lawson, que interpretó al reconocido vaquero

de las propagandas de los cigarrillos Marlboro, falleció a los 72 años víctima de cáncer de pulmón. Image from entry, with caption: Eric Lawson falleció a los 72 años víctima de esta penosa enfermedad. Su esposa dijo que el ´Marlboro man´ fumaba desde los 14 años y solo dejó el vicio cuando le diagnosticaron el mal.


8 Things About Americans That Might Surprise Visitors - Among them: 1. Uber-Friendliness: Americans are, apparently, much friendlier than most people around the world.

It's not uncommon to chat up a stranger while waiting on line or traveling on public transportation. Image from entry. Via GG on Facebook

Aides Advise Obama To Avoid Any Mention Of America During State Of The Union Speech -
theonion.com: Ahead of Tuesday night’s highly anticipated State of the Union address, top White House aides reportedly sat down with President Barack Obama and advised him to maintain a positive and optimistic tone throughout the speech by avoiding any mention of the United States of America.

“We feel it’s best to steer clear of topics that may cast the administration in an unfavorable light, so we urged the president to gently skirt the issue of America and any related subjects for the duration of his address,” said White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, adding that they hoped to deny Republican opponents of any ammunition for their rebuttal by instructing Obama to refrain from talking about the U.S., any one of the 50 states, or the American populace at all. “The country has been a really thorny issue for the president, so given the importance of this occasion and the number of people watching, we recommended that the president just stay away from using any loaded terms that might stir up negative associations with listeners, such as ‘the United States,’ ‘our nation,’ or ‘my fellow Americans.’” White House sources later confirmed that Obama’s State of the Union speech is estimated at seven minutes long and will focus largely on The Rolling Stones’ widely popular 1972 album Exile On Main St. Via AC on Facebook. Image from entry


“Street Cleaning Tomorrow — Absolutely No Parking: not even on the sidewalks.”

--Italian sign; image from


Queen down to her last million due to courtiers' overspending, report finds: Report by the Commons public accounts committee finds the Queen’s advisers are failing to control her finances while the royal palaces are “crumbling” - telegraph.co.uk.

Image from entry, with caption: A report by the Commons public accounts committee found that the Queen’s advisers were failing to control her finances while the royal palaces were “crumbling”

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