Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 12 Public Diplomacy Review

"Finishing second in the Olympics gets you silver. Finishing second in politics gets you oblivion."

--Richard M. Nixon; image from


The February 11 edition of the Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review mistakenly identified New York Times pundit/vulgarisateur David Brooks (but probably paid him an indirect compliment) by confusing him with "Peter" Brooks, the distinguished scholar of Comparative Literature at Yale University. Your compiler is grateful to an erudite reader of the PDPBR for pointing out this oversight. The erratum has been corrected on the PDPBR homepage.


Belgrade Initiative for Public and Digital Diplomacy


Feds Block MOOC Access in Sanctioned Countries - Ashley Bateman, "Last October, the U.S. Department of State announced a partnership with massive open online co[u]rse provider Coursera to 'expand learning opportunities worldwide.' In January, that partnership experienced some alterations. The State Department began requiring MOOCs, including Coursera, to block IP addresses in certain sanctioned countries. Students seeking access to Coursera in Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria are now blocked from the site’s free online classes. Apparently, the State Department feels that 'worldwide' doesn’t include all countries. ... 'Material support traditionally was understood to mean financial donations, equipment,' said Cato Institute scholar Julian Sanchez. 'This isn’t material support, this is sanctions on entire countries.' ... Cutting off educational services in oppressed countries imitates the work of those regimes in being hostile to information, said Atlas Network CEO Brad Lips. Atlas is an international network of some 400 free-market nonprofit organizations. 'Even if you were to think that economic sanctions were helpful in some circumstances…cutting [free online classes] off would be doing what the regimes do, Lips said. 'Toward the end of the Cold War, countries talked about how important it was to have access to radio; our public diplomacy is much less effective these days, but the hunger in countries for educational services gives us an opportunity as a country to present our values as a society. These are services you think you would want to protect.' Savvy internet users can easily route communications through a foreign IP address, making this an ineffective means of restricting information, Sanchez said. Instead, the restriction penalizes people who can’t get around the IP restrictions. Elsewhere, the State Department is 'trying to promote internet freedom but…we’re requiring U.S. organizations to block certain countries,' Sanchez said. 'There’s an uneasy fit between those two messages.'”

Senate Confirms Former Time Editor as US PR Czar - Greg Hazley, "The U.S. Senate, 90-8, on Tuesday confirmed former Time magazine managing editor Richard Stengel as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, the country's top foreign propaganda slot. President Barack Obama nominated Stengel in September for the post, following the exit of Tara Sonenshine, a former ABC News producer and State Department PR hand. Stengel told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in November that his job at Time was 'to help explain America to the world – and the world to America.' He said America's 'unalienable rights' aren't just to be cherished: 'We must promote them. That's where public diplomacy comes in.' Stengel, in his senate testimony, outlined to challenge to counter 'attacks and misstatements about America and American foreign policy,' amplified by social media.

'Even though it is easier than anytime in human history to find information to rebut lies, less of that seems to be happening,' he said. 'But we cannot resign ourselves to this; we need to fight it. That is public diplomacy in the 21st century.' Stengel, who held the top Time post from 2006-13, previously led the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and helped Nelson Mandela pen his autobiography, 'Long Walk to Freedom.' He was also a speechwriter and top advisor to Bill Bradley's 2000 presidential bid. The State Department's public diplomacy operation handles communications with international audiences, cultural programming, academic exchanges and other outreach beyond U.S. borders. Stengel's purview includes PA and strategic counterterrorism communications." Uncaptioned image from entry

Rick Stengel confirmed to State Dept. post - Dylan Byers, Politico: "Richard Stengel, the former managing editor of Time magazine, was confirmed as Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy on Tuesday. Stengel, who was nominated for the post late last year, was confirmed by the Senate in a 90-to-8 vote. The eight senators who voted against his nomination were Republicans John McCain, David Vitter, Richard Shelby, Pat Roberts, James Risch, Mike Lee, Jim Inhofe, and Mike Crapo. Stengel, 58, will now be responsible for leading 'America’s public diplomacy outreach, which includes communications with international audiences, cultural programming, academic grants, educational exchanges, international visitor programs, and U.S. Government efforts to confront ideological support for terrorism,' according to the State Department’s website. Capital New York's Joe Pompeo and I broke the news about Stengel's nomination (and departure from Time) last September. That piece can be read here. Nancy Gibbs, a Time veteran and Stengel's deputy managing editor, took the helm at the magazine after his departure." See also (1) (2) (3) [scroll down for item] (4) (5).

Members of Afghan media, military meet during luncheon - "Several public affairs officers and members of the local Afghan media participated in a luncheon at Kandahar International Airport Feb. 9, 2014, to meet one another and share contact information. Wayne Crawford, a public diplomacy officer for the U.S. Department of State, organized the event along with Lt. Col. Armando Hernandez, chief public affairs officer for Regional Command (South).

It was the second meeting of the sort, but first with public affairs representatives from both the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police present. 'We just want everybody to know who is who,' Hernandez said as he kicked off the meeting. 'When something happens – when it’s security related – it’s very important for us to share information with you so you can have it as accurately and as quickly as possible.' Image from entry, with caption: Zia Durrani, a spokesperson for the Afghan National Police in Kandahar Province, speaks during a luncheon between public affairs representatives and members of the local media at Kandahar International Airport, Feb. 9, 2014, as Lt. Col. M. Mohsin “Sultani,” head of the Afghan National Army’s 205th Hero Corps press office, middle, and Lt. Col. Armando Hernandez, chief public affairs officer for Regional Command (South), listen. The luncheon was the second meeting of the sort, and was organized to help the participants connect with each other and improve the communication process between them.

Sacrebleu ! At 2,500 calories, state dinner menu is triple Michelle’s ‘healthy’ lunch - Dave Boyer, Washington Times: "The fattening state dinner served at the White House on Tuesday night for the president of France might prompt first lady Michelle Obama to tell guests afterward, 'Let’s Move.' They’ll need to burn off a few of the estimated 2,500 calories they’ve just consumed. Rep. Rodney Davis, Illinois Republican and a critic of the administration’s school lunch requirements, called the high-calorie State Dinner menu 'the height of hypocrisy.' 'Even if you’re estimating a small cut of steak, this is a menu where you’re talking 2,500 calories, which is almost three times as much as what the first lady and the USDA allow our school kids to eat in the school lunch program,' Mr. Davis said.

The menu for the dinner honoring French President Francois Hollande featured a main course of dry-aged ribeye beef served with blue cheese, 12 varieties of potatoes and quail eggs. The first course was American Osetra caviar, farmed from sturgeon in estuaries in Illinois, followed by a 'winter garden salad.' Dessert was a selection of sweets: a chocolate malted cake that combined bittersweet chocolate from Hawaii and tangerines from Florida, served with vanilla ice cream made in Pennsylvania. Also on the menu were fudge made from Vermont maple syrup, lavender shortbread cookies and cotton candy dusted with orange zest. A selection of wines priced from $30 to $65 was offered from California, Washington and Monticello, Va., where President Obama took Mr. Hollande for a tour Monday. Image from entry, with caption: Bo and Sunny Obama were decked out early for Tuesday night's State Dinner.

Suspicious role of the university in the U.S. spread chaos in Egypt [Google "translation"] - James Glassman [Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs during the Bush II administration] the view of public diplomacy 2.0, which introduced the principle of the use of technology to achieve the goals of American foreign policy American public diplomacy 2.0 nutshell, is the use of social media and technology in the battle to change the hearts and minds and the war of ideas to achieve the strategic objectives of the United States by communicating with a base of people and listen to them and understand and explain U.S. policy to them and decorate it in their eyes and the impact on their ideas for busy people in the world of difference with each other and fight each other in a clash of civilizations rather than criticism and anger to the United States, meaning the healthiest public diplomacy like you gave all the tools of a small child does not understands how to use these tools and drenched to busy himself and destroys himself soft power as an alternative to direct military intervention .... [JB -- this lengthy article is also critical of the American University in Cairo]

From Queens to Red Sox Nation, via Jerusalem: Yehuda Yaakov takes up his job as Israel’s consul general in Boston - Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post: "Yaakov bewails that the sanctions on Iran have been rolled back, saying 'You can see the bricks coming out of the wall.

Europe wants to return to business as usual with Iran.' He also bewails, as someone who has been intricately involved in Israel’s public diplomacy efforts on Iran, how Israel’s reservations on the recent interim agreement with Iran have been portrayed in the public sphere. 'Israel was portrayed as the party-pooper,' he said. 'That is not a very sophisticated response to some serious contentions from our side. We can demand a bit more credit when looking at an issue that has a direct bearing on us.' Even though he is looking forward to getting away from total immersion in the Iranian issue, that message, surely, is one of the main ones he brought with him to Boston." Uncaptioned image from entry

The Age of Public Diplomacy: How It’s Done, and How It Could Be Done Better - "The second discussion panel focused on the 'instruments of public diplomacy.' The panelists spoke about their experiences of public diplomacy from a variety of perspectives. Professor Watanabe Yasushi of Keiō University was moderator. ... Ogoura Kazuo (former Japanese ambassador to France, president of the Japan Foundation, and head of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic bid committee) ... went on to admit: 'I don’t really like the term ‘public diplomacy.’ Japanese culture should not be the exclusive property of Japanese people alone. It should be something that belongs to the whole world.

I believe that cultural exchange should aim to enrich the world as a whole—it should not be carried out with the narrow aim of promoting Japan overseas.' ... Feldman [Lily Gardner Feldman, senior fellow at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, Johns Hopkins University) ... gave an account of the three main strands of Germany’s public diplomacy since the end of World War II. ... Holger Finken [director of the Tokyo branch of the German Academic Exchange Service] ... spoke of the role of Germany’s academic exchanges in the context of the country’s public diplomacy. ... Syrian journalist Najib El-Khash spoke about public diplomacy between Japan and the Arabic-speaking world from an Arab perspective. ... After the panelists’ presentations, the discussion broadened to focus on how Japan might successfully pursue public diplomacy in the future. ... In closing, Ogoura spoke of the advantages of nongovernmental actors in public diplomacy. 'They are able to act at a distance from the national government and pursue universal values,' he said." Image from entry

Mikael Holmström: Better to be direct and honest about supporting the Yes side: Seven Swedish ministers will be briefed denies knowing Sweden's secret plan to support the Yes side in the Swiss referendum on JAS Gripen. The deal does not surprise SvD's Mikael Holmström, who argue that the issue is sensitive in Switzerland and that it can be the cause of "the Swedish ministers seem to have been tongue-tied about the matter" [Google "translation] - "Today reports echo that classified documents must show that Sweden made ​​up a plan to support the Yes side in the Swiss referendum about buying JAS Gripen. Svenska Dagbladet's defense political reporter Mikael Holmström answers three questions about the plans. ... [Q:] Yesterday it became known that Saab supported the Yes side in the vote financially, and that following criticism in Switzerland got the money back. Is Jas Gripen deal a sensitive issue in Switzerland? -  [A:] ... Arms exports Questions [a]re often sensitive.

But in this business seems to have been fair play from Swedish side. If so, is it better to be straight and honest and say: Yes, of course we want to make it a yes vote. - It would be quite remarkable if not Sweden and Saab tried to contribute to a positive result. What I can see of the classified documents that echo come over, so is there nothing inappropriate. After all, [that is] the open advocacy, ‘public diplomacy’ with public appearances and interviews. Uncaptioned image from entry

Having a ‘whale’ of a time in Iceland - The Roaming Scribe: A Luxury Travel blog: "Icelanders find it shocking that they are judged for whaling and for eating whale. ... I met and spoke with the Head of Public Diplomacy on a trip to the Faroe Islands about three years ago. This person vehemently defended The Grind (the mass killing of entire pods of whales at one time).

A pod of whales is driven into a bay by small fishing boats and then harpooned by the fishermen in the boats and the people on shore. 'Our people have hunted like this for centuries', he stated. 'How can the rest of the world criticise us when they have killed off their own indigenous animals?' I understood his argument. In the United States, buffalo herds that roamed the Great Plains in their hundreds of thousands were nearly hunted to extinction. The same was true of the Pacific Coast’s Southern Sea Otters which have still not recovered, as a species, from intensive hunting. In the 1920s, they were thought to be completely extinct. But the bloody pictures of The Grind are hard to shake and hard to forget." Image from entry, with caption: Whale spotting

St Andrews Foreign Affairs Conference: A Review - Michelle Ryan, "Michelle Ryan is a third year student of international Relations, currently on exchange at the National University of Singapore. Michelle

is primarily interested in the intersection of international economic policy and human rights, and has worked in several related areas; including NAFTA and immigration policy with the Nationalities Service Center in her native Philadelphia; and financial regulatory policy with Better Markets in Washington DC; most recently completed an internship with the office of Economic Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy at the US Department of State." Ryan image from entry

Job: Country Team Lead, dTS, Arlington, VA - "Job Description: Country Team Lead [:] dTS is recruiting Country Team Lead to provide direction, leadership, and technical oversight for a country level evaluation. ... Roles and Responsibilities: ... A Masters degree in international relations, economics, survey/statistical methods, international development, public diplomacy, sociology or related fields. ..."


U.S. Center for Russian Studies to Shut Moscow Office - Andrew Roth, New York Times: The Kennan Institute, a research center co-founded by George F. Kennan, the seminal Cold War theorist, that has fostered the study of Russia and the former Soviet Union since 1974, will shutter its office in Moscow this spring. News of the closing, confirmed by the head of the Kennan Institute, comes as a number of large United States aid and academic programs here that flowered after the collapse of the Soviet Union have been plagued by budget cuts and frigid relations between the two countries recently.

Obama's Chance to Earn His Nobel Prize - Dmitry Trenin, Moscow Times: A U.S. president's powers are greatest outside the United States. President Barack Obama was awarded, much in advance, the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. His second term should become the vindication of that high award. There are several things he needs to do to fully deserve the Nobel apart from withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan. He should craft a very careful course on Iran, be wise on China and become strategic on Russia. Via JM on Facebook

A French dalliance: Obama’s growing infatuation with France [subscription] - Dana Millbank, Washington Post

U.S. Plummets in Global Press Freedom Rankings - Josh Stearns, Huffington Post: According to a new report from Reporters Without Borders, there was a profound erosion of press freedom in the United States in 2013.

After a year of attacks on whistleblowers and digital journalists and revelations about mass surveillance, the United States plunged 13 spots in the group's global press freedom rankings to number 46. Reporters Without Borders writes that the U.S. faced "one of the most significant declines" in the world last year. Image from entry

10 Unlikely Candidates to Replace Michael McFaul (Photo Essay) - Justin Lifflander, Moscow Times: Among these unlikely candidates the outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Russia: Madonna. Via IK ; image from entry

Sochi Olympics: Propaganda and Theft Amid PR “Disaster” for Putin - Alex Newman, It appears that a clever operation aimed at enriching Putin cronies while building up the image of Putin’s government via propaganda has been a mixed success. Yes, huge amounts of taxpayer resources were embezzled by kleptocrats.

And yes, critics say NBC and other establishment media outlets have been playing their pathetic role as Putin “cheerleaders” fairly well. At the same time, though, anybody following the news about the games can see that Sochi has become what countless analysts are now referring to as a “disaster." Perhaps Pyongyang or Havana 2018 would work well? Uncaptioned image from entry

soviet propaganda turned into pride propaganda posters - In response to russia’s controversial gay propaganda law, adopted in 2013, the series of ‘pride propaganda’ posters has been repurposed from original soviet propaganda images. Among them:

‘Rejection of State of Palestine Patients’ Story is a Propaganda Ambush the Media Played Along With - As usual, instead of dealing with Israel directly, the PLO is passive aggressively using the media to demonize for it. And, as usual, the media is happy to play its part in this charade.

The role of Arabic-language Nazi-era propaganda - Edy Cohen, Jerusalem Post: There are compelling (but not isolated) examples of the open embrace of Nazi lore and factless, hate-based rhetoric in officially- linked Palestinian publications. The Nazi propaganda directed at the Arab world, in Arabic, before and during WWII was aimed at both winning support from the leaderships of Arab states and influencing the sentiments of Arab populations.

Propaganda gets Saturday night show on Xfm - Mayer Nissim, UK alternative nightclub Propaganda has partnered with Xfm for a weekly Saturday night radio show. Image from entry


--From: Jessica Phelan, "The world’s most imaginative insults: For when ‘yo mamma’ just doesn’t say enough," Via PL. Among them: 13. Dutch: "Volgescheten palingvel" ... "Eel skin full of sh*t." Wait, eels have skin? Image from entry


Open thread for night owls: Americans increasingly think astrology is science - Image from entry

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