Sunday, February 2, 2014

January 31-February 2 Public Diplomacy Review

"Today, the Catholic Church has 1.2 billion members, and so does Facebook."

--Peter Sealey, a former marketing director at Coca-Cola and Columbia Pictures, who joined Facebook's board of advisers a few years after its launch; image from


Sochi 2014 Video Series: Part II - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "Who said public diplomacy and charm offensives during the Olympic period are limited to the host? This time the update comes from the U.S. State Department itself. Uplifting music and diversity are yet again set to inspire wonder and awe."

China's Propaganda-Heavy New Year's Gala Fails to Impress Viewers -


PDcast #12: The Role of the Ambassador in Public Diplomacy - Images (Ambassadors Caroline Kennedy, Gary Locke) from entry


Michael McFaul -  [U.S. Ambassador to Russia via Facebook]: "Embarrassing photo but that was a fun concert [presumably at the Ambassador's residence]"

Grigoriy Dobromelov's photo.

Image from


 Post: Ambassador Don Beyer on American Public Diplomacy American Security Project February 11 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm: "2014 is a year of opportunity and challenges in public diplomacy. Join us as Ambassador Don Beyer discusses his experiences as Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and explores the role public diplomacy plays in shaping America’s security, foreign policies and relationships abroad."


Public Diplomacy and the State of the Union [January 28] - Tara Sonnenshine, "A State of the Union address is always a major public diplomacy moment. ... American leadership remains critical to bringing about a more peaceful 2014.

Tara Sonenshine is a distinguished fellow at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs. Previously, she served as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, as well as Executive Vice President of the U.S. Institute for Peace." Sonenshine image from entry

Using Public Diplomacy As A Foreign Policy Tool - Felix Baackhaus, Catholic Journal: "Earlier this January, President Obama gave his first-ever one-on-one interview on German television. The background of this rare interview was news reports originating last year that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) had monitored communications of European citizens – and thereby had seemingly even listened in on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s private phone calls. ... Choosing to sit down for a personal interview, Obama used the foreign policy tool of 'public diplomacy,' with the objective of trying to engage and inform the German audience about his take on the current NSA situation. He attempted to 'win over hearts and minds' of the people by stating that the US does, in fact, not seek to invade people’s privacy on unnecessary grounds. ... The risks of such an interview were that he [Obama] could be perceived as disappointing once again. Nations have always been spying on each other, and he could not give much information beyond what he had already said in his speech. Thus, it was clear from the very start that he could merely try to appeal to Germans in a personal manner. Nonetheless, I think President Obama made a good decision in choosing to do this unusual interview. While some people were disappointed once again and had hoped Obama would call for an international 'no spy zone,' the mere symbol of agreeing to an interview with a German news channel sent a strong message. ... With millions of people in Germany watching the roughly 16-minute interview that aired during prime time on one of the most popular TV channels, Obama unquestionably got the exposure he had hoped for. Thus, the interview was an important and effective step to assuage some concerns and helped to rebuild trust."

US silent on Saudi human rights abuses - "Radio VR's Justin Mitchell spoke with Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, about mass human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. ... [Coogle:] Obviously the US and Saudi Arabia have very long term economic and security relationship, there are a lot of geo-strategic concerns that play in U[S]'s relationship with Saudi Arabia.

I think public diplomacy is a tool that the US has underutilized in the Saudi case. But to be fair I do also want to mention to the US's credit, they did for the first time in January 2014 sent a representative to attend the trail of a political dissident in Saudi Arabia. I though that was a very important step forward and I hope it is something they'll make a habit of and I hope eventually they'll come to make more bold pubic statements about very clear human rights abuses that happen in Saudi Arabia." Uncaptioned image from entry

State Department Finally Releases List of ‘Special Government Employees’ - Justin Elliott and Liz Day, "The list of special government employees also includes many lifelong civil servants and the occasional celebrity, such as Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan. She was appointed in 2012 a senior adviser for public diplomacy."

The Power of The Narrative - "Keeping in mind the historical effects of the possibilities of change media can bring, public diplomacy (PD) and soft power resources should be prepared to continue that evolution as electronic media evolves, and be sure to keep pace with technology. This is how public diplomacy can capture these changes and use them most effectively. I have three main ideas for media use in public diplomacy efforts. First, the foundation of PD should focus on the power of visual media and the stories told through these channels. This is the world in which we live. As time goes on, more and more countries (and thus more and more remote regions) will have access to the Internet and television, and thus access to this treasure chest of cultural information.

Second, all forms of media have tremendous potential beyond its current use as a means of access to information or mere entertainment and we should be looking to move beyond the vast wasteland of the news, information, and variety shows that dominate PD programming on the web and in traditional visual media efforts. Third, while having a social media component and using it effectively are important, Facebook and Twitter are not going to render current PD efforts obsolete anytime soon. Internet communication and media are vitally important, but social media networks are tools. The content is where the PD communicator should focus. ... It is important to distinguish public diplomacy from propaganda. Propaganda presents only one aspect of an issue or idea, and is not limited to governments. In contrast, public diplomacy is diplomacy by other means, and must necessarily acknowledge other viewpoints in a given issue or situation so that the government’s policy or cultural perspective can be explained in context and thus, better understood. By this definition, advertising is more propaganda than a government news outlet. The goal of the communication is the same: to persuade. ... In the end, public diplomacy is about selling an idea; it’s almost a continuous advertisement for a country – and advertising is nothing but storytelling. ... There is an overabundance of theories, guides, and experts on its “best practices.” Yet, communications experts in the US have 80+ years of television programming experience, research, and theory and seem to use none of it. Television in the United States is primarily a commercial medium, but the United States government does not broadcast with the intent of making a profit, of course. US public diplomacy deals in hearts and minds. Nevertheless, it operates with the similar rules and production criteria, i.e., time constraints, duration, format, etc. ... Current public diplomacy theory is akin to working modern jobs with obsolete tools and concepts. Twitter and Facebook are incredibly powerful tools to aggregate content and organize masses of people, but in the end, these are just tools, means to an end, but not the end. ... The problem with current US public diplomacy efforts is taking time and effort required to properly do so. ... The job of public diplomacy is communicate our values, our policies, our reasoning to people of different cultures and different ideals. Providing access to information and news of the world is not enough to gain and hold an audience’s attention or to make that audience receptive to public diplomacy’s message. News and information programming will just be lost in a sea of media stratification and competition. Public diplomacy has to convey a message and make its audience care about that message. Winning global hearts and minds is a process that has a beginning, a middle, and an end." Image from

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State planned visit to Ukraine reported by Russia’s RT, not by Voice of America - BBG Watcher, BBG Watch: "Upcoming visit of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland to Ukraine was announced by the State Department on Thursday and reported a few hours ago by Russia’s RT international media outlet on its English-language news website. U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA), on the other hand, has not reported this news to its worldwide English audience and audiences in more than 40 other languages. The only VOA language service reporting about the planned trip of a high-level U.S. official to Ukraine appears to be VOA Ukrainian Service."

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Tweeted about Kerry’s phone call with Ukrainian opposition leaders -- no reporting from Voice of America - BBG Watcher, BBG Watch

China’s Charm Offensive: Beyond Appearances - Chenzhuo Gong, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: [U]nder the centralizing

structure of the Chinese government, formidable PD projects are nothing new. ... In terms of its output, China’s PD program appears to be a booming success. ... However, when it comes to the outcome of China’s PD, the result may be more disturbing than reassuring." Image from

‘EU can contribute to protecting human rights in Pakistan’ - Maleeha Aleeha Hamid Siddiqui, "In his presentation titled ‘leveraging human rights progress in Pakistan and how EU maybe of help’, he [Antoine Madelin of the International Federation for Human Rights] said: 'The issue of human rights is the heart of all matters relating to EU treaties. Consequently, over the years this has resulted in a policy toolbox comprising public diplomacy in which EU leaders are urged to make statements on human rights progress in other countries, pass human rights-related resolution in the European Parliament. For instance the European Parliament has condemned the state of minorities in Pakistan. It also awarded the 2013 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and this led to a thorough discussion on the level of discrimination and intolerance faced by minorities and other groups of people in Pakistan.'”

Diplomacy: 45 years a diplomat - Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post: "In an interview with the 'Post' Gideon Meir sums up his decades long career with the Foreign Ministry; says Israel works wonders with its limited hasbara resources, but should be spending millions to fight the public diplomacy battle. ... Too many people both in and outside the government, Meir argued, equate good hasbara with a fluid and knock-out appearance by an Israeli spokesman on CNN.

But that is not enough. Such an appearance provides Israeli supporters with a fleeting 'feel good factor,' but that is only a minuscule part of public diplomacy. What is really needed, he argued, is millions and millions of shekels to engage, educate and provide people with an 'Israel experience.' ... Meir served twice as head of public diplomacy in the ministry, once during the height of the intifada from 2000-2006, and a second time from 2012 after he returned from a stint as ambassador to Italy.” Image from entry, with caption: Gideon Meir (left) and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visit Italy, where Meir served as ambassador from 2006 to 2012.

Ministers split on strategic plan over how to counter boycott threats: Yuval Steinitz advocates PR counteroffensive, but Foreign Ministry says this would play into activists' hands - Barak Ravid, "Government ministries are sharply divided on how to handle the increasing threat of international boycotts and sanctions against Israel over the West Bank occupation and settlements. The Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Ministry, headed by Yuval Steinitz, advocates a public relations counter-offensive, but the Foreign Ministry, led by Avigdor Lieberman, argues that this would play into the hands of boycott activists. ... Steinitz and [director-general of The Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Ministry Yossi] Kuperwasser contend that what they call Israel’s 'delegitimization' is a grave, widespread trend, and they are in favor of an aggressive public campaign against the boycott organizers. The two maintain that the campaign requires considerable resources. In recent weeks Steinitz and Kuperwasser have drafted a plan for the campaign, which they intend to submit for approval at the discussion Netanyahu plans to hold next week. Steinitz is demanding 100 million shekels (about $28.5 million) to implement the plan, which consists mainly of public diplomacy as well as legal measures against the groups encouraging the boycotts. ... Diplomats in the Foreign Ministry, however, have a completely different approach. They believe Steinitz and Kuperwasser have overblown the threat and branded as 'delegitimization' the legitimate criticism from foreign governments and NGOs of Israel’s policy in the territories, especially settlement construction."

EL AL Ambassadors - "StandWithUs is the leading partner with EL AL, the national carrier of Israel, on its EL AL Ambassadors Program, together with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and The Jewish Agency for Israel.

This unique program trains top EL AL flight crew in preparation for public diplomacy missions around the world." Image from entry

Re-defining cooperation in the Mediterranean - Cihan: "Germany helped Poland to get into the EU in exchange for a stronger position in Eastern Europe; now France can do the same with Turkey for the east Mediterranean. This is, naturally, only an expectation; nothing is guaranteed. People often say that no matter what, it is the public opinion that counts and European public opinion is, at least for now, against Turkey's accession. When there is political will, however, public opinion can be reshaped; this is what public diplomacy is about."

What is Turkey's 2015 strategy? - Orhan Kemal Cengiz, "We should ... take note of what Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, spokesperson for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), said about 2015: 'It is the 100th year of both the Dardanelles and the claims of an Armenian genocide. We are working seriously. There is work being done via symposiums, conferences, panels, publications and documentaries. But we are also engaged in very special public diplomacy activities that could affect the entire world.'”

ABC doesn't need to apologise, says Mark Scott - Nick Leys, "The managing director of the ABC, Mark Scott, has hit back at accusations its journalists have failed to practice editorial rigour in the wake of recent asylum-seeker claims and maintains he has 'strong support' from the ABC despite a deteriorating relationship between the broadcaster and the government. ... Scott's comments came as Foreign Minister Julie Bishop last night repeated calls for the ABC to apologise to the Navy for the asylum-seeker story. ... An investigation by The Australian in Kupang, West Timor, has found the ABC reports cannot be corroborated and that several of the asylum-seekers who originally claimed their hands had been severely burned as a direct result of abuse from navy personnel have now changed their stories. ... Ms Bishop told Sky News's Viewpoint program that the

ABC should apologise to the navy for the 'torture' story, and questioned whether the broadcaster was fulfilling its contractual obligations for the Australia Network. 'It's now evident that within the ABC there are concerns that they were not reporting the facts, but they were embellishing, or indeed promoting a particular view that could not be substantiated,' she said. 'In those circumstances, I would expect the ABC to do the right thing and apologise to the navy, because they were terrible claims that were broadcast into the region and this brings me to the question of the Australia Network. The Australia Network is meant to be promoting Australia. The ABC has a contractual agreement to produce quality content that will promote Australia and promote Australian values and our image. It's meant to be a tool of public diplomacy.'" Image from entry, with caption: ABC managing director Mark Scott says the broadcaster is 'overwhelmingly Australian.'

When U.S. has no agenda for Sri Lanka, collateral damage follows: Like birth of Pol Pot - Daya Gamage, Asian Tribune: "[M]ostly due to Sri Lanka's utter lack of understanding of the strategic communication and public diplomacy mechanism, the West has come closer to accuse Sri Lanka of genocide and war crimes." See also.

Community Lecture on Saturday, Feb 8- Urban Community Development: A Muslim American Perspective - "Saafir Rabb II has long worked with members of the US and international communities to promote an effective interface between profitable business and corporate social responsibility. ... He served as a consultant to the Obama administration’s transition team for public diplomacy."

Middle East expert speaks at Oseh Shalom March 23 - Shibley Telhami ...

Professor Telhami has served ... on the US Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World. Telhami image from entry

Benjamin Day: PhD Candidate, School of International, Political and Strategic Studies at Australian National University - "Ben has a Master’s Degree in International Studies and undergraduate degrees in Economics and Arts (Geography and Literature) from the University of Queensland. Outside of international development assistance policy, his research interests include soft power, public diplomacy and middle powers."


A Strategy to Counter Democracy's Global Retreat: Produce inexpensive, good translations of Burke, Locke and other thinkers, and spread the texts widely - Walter Russell Mead, Wall Street Journal: Democracy advocates can address one of the biggest fault lines in our allegedly flat world: People who don't read English or a handful of other languages live in a different information universe.

John Locke, Edmund Burke, Thomas Macaulay, Montesquieu, Thomas Paine, Adam Smith, Benjamin Franklin —the works of these thinkers need to be well-translated and widely available. People who read only Urdu, Burmese, Arabic or Punjabi need readily accessible editions (cheap print or Web-based) of important books in their own languages so that people beyond elite circles have access to the ideas and the histories that matter. Smart people from different cultural backgrounds should be commissioned to write introductions and other materials that can give readers in nondemocratic countries the context they need to make sense of these crucial texts. Image from; See also.

Obama, the Reluctant Realist: With emphasis on the reluctance - Justin Raimondo, Individuals make history, but sometimes the process reverses itself and history makes individuals. President Barack Obama may have wanted to bomb Syria, and he certainly did want to meddle in Libya – where the results of his disastrous "humanitarian" intervention backfired badly – and yet his presidency will go down in history as a moment when American imperialism hit the pause button. This is not to negate his interventionist record or ambitions: it is only to say that the ability of the United States to intervene massively has run up against the inherent limitations of such a policy. This is underscored by the foreign policy section of President Obama’s State of the Union speech.  President Obama’s decidedly realist policies are being driven by circumstances outside his control. As the chief executive of a global empire, one that has no rivals in world history in its scope and rapaciousness, an American president inevitably embraces what is the default foreign policy position of our political elites: e.g. an unsubtle interventionism that assumes America’s hegemonic role in world affairs. Unless, that is, he or she is forced to do otherwise – which is precisely the position in which Barack Obama finds himself. Since foreign policy is just an extension of domestic politics, it’s easy to see – granted my premise – why Obama is signaling a grand retreat. Americans are sick to death of the "perpetual war footing" the President referred to in his speech, and he has no real choice but to at least appear to be backing off from America’s post-9/11 rampage. Support for the Afghan war has long since polled in the upper teens: failure to acknowledge this would have split his own party, marred his legacy, and distracted attention away from his domestic agenda.  Via LH on Facebook

Time for a Deal in Ukraine - Editorial, New York Times: Though the opposition rightly rejected Mr. Yanukovych’s offer of two government positions, it should take his concessions seriously and join him in seeking a suitable compromise. The West could help by seriously considering emergency aid and by proposing to actively mediate. A popular revolt that began with hope in the West should not end in disillusionment with the West.

Americans Can Be Proud of What Was Achieved in Iraq: A brutal dictator who supported terrorism is gone. Al Qaeda's resurgence doesn't change that fact - Stephen J. Hadley, Wall Street Journal: Debates about the origin and conduct of the Iraq war will go on. But Americans who served there can be proud of their service: toppling a brutal dictator, defeating al Qaeda in Iraq in 2007-08, and giving the Iraqi people a chance to build a nation unique in the history of Iraq and the Middle East. Washington and its allies must do all they can to make sure that this opportunity is not squandered.

More Now See Failure than Success in Iraq, Afghanistan: Little Partisan Gap in Views of Whether U.S. Has Reached Goals - people-press.orgAfter more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the public does not think the United States has achieved its goals in either country. About half of Americans (52%) say the U.S. has mostly failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan while 38% say it has mostly succeeded.
Opinions about the U.S. war in Iraq are virtually the same: 52% say the United States has mostly failed in reaching its goals there, while 37% say it has mostly succeeded. In both cases, evaluations of the wars have turned more negative in recent years. Image from entry. Via MS on Facebook

Losing the Propaganda War - Hirsh Goodman, New York Times: In this day and age, brands are more powerful than truth and, inexplicably, blindly, Israel is letting itself be branded an apartheid state — and even encouraging it. The “apartheid wall,” “apartheid roads,” colonization, administrative arrests, travel restrictions, land confiscations and house demolitions are the clay apartheid comparisons are made of, and cannot be hidden or denied, for as long as Israel continues with the status quo. Military occupation comes with checkpoints, antiterrorist barriers, military courts, armed soldiers and tanks. That’s the reality, no matter what your politics, and just the ammunition the Palestinians and their supporters need in their new war.

Renaissance revisited with political propaganda - New Delhi: In a pop-art inspired painting, the finger tips of Mahatma Gandhi and Mao Zedong do not touch, as in Michelangelo's famous "The Creation of Adam", but elements like tanks and a wedding entourage lend political colour to the image at the ongoing India Art Fair. Singapore-based artist Ketna Patel has reinterpreted famous classical Renaissance paintings in her collection

"Heterotopia", where she pokes at the collective global bewilderment of political leadership, at war and peace, and geo-political tussles between India and China. In "The Creation", homage to Michelangelo's famous painting, Gandhi sends a wedding entourage to Mao to discuss freedom of Tibet, whereas Mao sends tanks in return. With fingers not touching, one is left wondering whether the two are making up, or breaking up. Image from

Statue is propaganda to serve national self-acquittal - Krisztián Ungváry, Everything seems to point out that the ones who are working on the planning of the national statue are not at least disturbed by the historical facts. Their efforts are understandable to an extent because there is in fact a demand for it. However, if this kind of historical remembrance receives official status in Hungary we are officially back to the dark practices of the Kádár era: the falsification of historical facts by the state.

Vintage soviet Russia propaganda - Among them (untitled):

The Young White Faces of Slavery - Mary Niall Mitchell, New York Times: Historians have long noted that the New York Draft Riots of 1863 were a violent reflection of much public, yet very personal, opposition to the Civil War: that it was a “rich man’s war” fought by the poorest citizens, that it was a bloodletting on behalf of four million slaves with whom few white laborers wanted to compete. But less political weight has been given to the propaganda campaign centered on the group from New Orleans, begun by abolitionists and the Union military in the aftermath of the New York riots. It was one of the most modern efforts at public persuasion to appear before the turn of the 20th century.

Using the new “truth-telling” medium of photography and highly sophisticated personal appeals, the sponsors of the former slaves from New Orleans aimed to give white Northerners a renewed personal stake in the fight against slavery. The campaign included a public tour of the group in New York and Philadelphia and the printing of dozens of individual and small group portraits on cartes de visite, a new, inexpensive way to reproduce photographs and an excellent vehicle for fund-raising. The individual portraits of the white-skinned slave children were clearly popular in their day, at a point in the war when slavery was both still an outrage and an institution on the wane. What such a campaign implied, of course, was that images of formerly enslaved black children were not enough to spur many Northerners to boost their support for the war and aid freed people in need. Indeed, these images serve as a remarkable reflection of just how much race shaped many Americans’ stake in the bloody conflict. Image from entry, with caption: “Isaac and Rosa, slave children from New Orleans.” M.H. Kimball, photographer. Albumen print on carte de visite, c. 1863


"The famous saying from German General Marshal Maximilian von Weichs comes to my mind. Asked how much time his troops would need to occupy Hungary, he said: 'Twenty-four hours.' The puzzled questioner inquired how long the action would take in case of resistance. Weichs answered simply: 12 hours, because in that case the welcome speech would not be held."

--Historian Krisztián Ungváry


--From; via JMc by email

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