Friday, May 23, 2014

May 22 Public Diplomacy Review

"St Anthony's, Oxford -- known at the time as a 'spy college, because of its Fellows' reputed links with British intelligence -- considered that Russian history has ceased with the Revolution: everything that followed was merely political science."

--Wendy Slater, "Letters from Moscow," The Times Literary Supplement (May 16, 2014)


Video of the Week: “But we’re speaking Japanese” 日本語喋ってるんだけ - Domani Spero, DiploPundit


The “Fun House Mirror” and “Moribund” Public Diplomacy [Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy, and America’s Image Abroad, by Martha Bayles, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014] - Donald M. Bishop, American Diplomacy: "Professor Bayles examines how American culture is presented to other societies. ... In her view, it is now the entertainment industry, not Public Diplomacy that communicates American society and values. ... Through a Screen Darkly addresses another vital question: why is U.S. public diplomacy 'moribund'"? Image from entry. See also John Brown, "Reflections on the Declining Global Influence of American Popular Culture, " Notes and Essays.

Lincoln in the World [review of Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power by Kevin Peraino, New York: Crown Publishers, 2013] - John Brown, American Diplomacy: "Peraino’s book is, in essence, a refutation of th[e] Lincoln-didn’t-make-a-difference in-foreign-policy view. ... [B]ut [t]o suggest that [Lincoln] developed (and went so far as to implement) a fully planned strategy on how to deal with the outside world exaggerates how his policies led to the dawn of American global power." Image from entry


The Ukrainian Evolution - Richard Stengel, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, "Sunday’s elections are the best route to political healing in Ukraine. Polls show that more than 70 percent of Ukrainians want to stay intact as a nation. The elections should be an antidote to the mayhem created by Russia and the separatists who seem more intent on tearing the country down than raising it up.

Everyone I spoke to in Kyiv wants a nation that includes minority voices, a nation that looks both westward and eastward. They reject the notion that they must choose one or the other." Image from entry, with caption: Graffiti on the side of a building near the Maidan in Kyiv symbolizes Ukrainians’ desire to turn their struggle for change into the evolution of their country, May 2014.

Can Public Diplomacy Help Bridge the Gap Between Reality and Perceptions? - Arturo Sarukhan, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Social media in general, and particularly digital diplomacy, have started to play an increasingly important role in relations between the U.S. and Mexico. Nowadays, government officials and diplomats have a new and unique—albeit still rather untested— tool for putting relevant information out into the public arena, and to try and engage public perceptions. The ability to articulate ideas via social media platforms, such as Twitter or Facebook, is very useful in trying to impact public perceptions on challenging issues, particularly in two nations with broad—and in the case of Mexico, growing digital interconnection.

Both our respective embassies in Washington and Mexico City, as well as most of our vast network of Consulates in either country, are using Twitter accounts to communicate, to listen, to correct narratives, and increasingly and gingerly, to engage, connect, and interact. ... Properly designed and orchestrated, U.S.-Mexico public diplomacy efforts can help develop a template for strategic communications that so far has escaped both governments. And in terms of public perceptions, it can help convey the three most simple, but radically important and powerful, notions that both societies need to comprehend and assimilate: 1) a common rising tide will lift boats on both sides of our border, b) we can become partners in success instead of accomplices to failure; and c) both countries will either succeed or fail together." Image from entry

Jewish state law will only harm Netanyahu: Netanyahu should take a lesson from Menachem Begin, whose insistence on passing the Basic Law on Jerusalem only harmed the very thing he sought to protect - Shlomo Avineri, "There is no need to enshrine Israel’s being the state of the Jewish people by some act of legislation: It already exists as such, de facto and de jure. Any attempt to enshrine this status in a Basic Law, as the prime minister is now doing, will only cause damage and disagreement, both within and outside the country. In the international arena such a bill is liable to form the basis of criticism derived, at least partially, from a misunderstanding. Many people in the world see in the term 'Jewish state' an expression of religious identity and reject it, just as they reject terms such as 'Christian state' or 'Muslim state.'

Historically, liberals and Jews always objected to the branding of countries in such religious terminology. The debate that will arise in Israel when such a bill reaches the Knesset will only deepen anew this opposition – and all of Israel’s attempts at public diplomacy, which will try to explain that the issue is not religious identity but national identity, will not help. The proposed Basic Law will also draw international attention to the not-simple question of the status of Israel’s Arab citizens, and will definitely serve as a weapon in the hands of the Palestinians in their objection to any wording that recognizes Israel as the Jewish nation-state." Netanyahu image from entry

The PR war front - MK Nachman Shai, "In the classic battle for information, the media tends to quickly endorse the Palestinians, not the credibility of the IDF. On this battlefield, the IDF must not wait. It must bring forth the information as soon as it has it and fight for the top of the news. The IDF's media monopoly is over. The public diplomacy arena has become complex and complicated. Non-government organizations have taken the place of countries or international organizations. They can leverage events without any diplomatic restrictions on the Internet and beyond it, embarrassing Israel."

Diplomat who used sex to sell Israel advises top EU lobby group - David Cronin,
- "Spindoctors occasionally try to add a new layer of gloss, hoping that it will conceal the cruelty with which Israel has become synonymous. One such effort was a photo shoot for Maxim, a magazine popular among certain types of men. It featured a number of scantily-clad women, all of whom had apparently served in the Israeli military. that 2007 feature was reportedly the brainchild of David Saranga, a ‘rebranding’ specialist then working for Israel’s consulate in New York. During an investigation for Spinwatch, an organization monitoring the ‘public relations’ industry, I learned that Saranga is now advising a leading pro-Israel group in Brussels.

Saranga can often be seen hanging out with the main figures in European Friends of Israel (EFI). That group was formed by members of Britain’s Conservative Party, who felt that there should be a strong Zionist lobby within the European Parliament. EFI has arranged for Saranga to train its staff and supporters about how to ‘sell’ Israel on ‘social media’ websites. The group appears to have paid close attention. Its Facebook page brims with hasbara, as Israeli ‘public diplomacy’ is called. A particular emphasis is placed on Israel’s technology industry, which is busy inventing things that ‘could save your life,’ as one post claimed.” Image from entry, with caption: An image of a photo-shoot reportedly organized by Israeli propagandist David Saranga (Maxim). See also John Brown, "Public Diplomacy Goes 'Pubic,'" PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

What does the superfluous Diaspora Affairs Ministry have to do with Iran’s nuclear program? Naftali Bennett should do us all a favor and close the ministry - Barak Ravid, "When Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last week, he presented a severe 'indictment' of the way that the Israeli government runs its foreign policy. He claimed that because of Jewish infighting and the division of political plunder, there are no fewer than six different government agencies, some of them superfluous, that do work that is supposed to be under the Foreign Ministry’s purview. One of the groups that Lieberman mentioned was the Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry, which is headed by Naftali Bennett, who also serves as economy minister and religious services minister.

A statement that Bennett issued to the press on Tuesday, entitled 'Bennett launches public relations campaign against ‘bad deal’ with Iran,' was a perfect demonstration of how right Lieberman was. Bennett’s statement announced the existence of an animated video in English about the Iranian nuclear project that had been produced by the Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry and uploaded to YouTube. According to the statement, the purpose of the video was 'to expose Iran’s true intentions in its talks with the West.' The video is effective and entertaining, and its purpose truly is important. But what does all of that have to do with Jerusalem or the Diaspora? Well, according to the statement Bennett issued, this is the first in a series of videos to be produced by the Diaspora Affairs Ministry to explain essential issues concerning Israel to the world in general, and to the Jewish world in particular. 'This video was produced to increase awareness among world Jewry of the danger of a nuclear Iran and distinguish between a good deal and a bad deal, in addition to ongoing work [of the minister] on the issue such as talks with ambassadors and world leaders of foreign countries,' read the statement issued by Bennett’s bureau. Public relations throughout the world? Briefings for ambassadors? Talks with foreign leaders? Iran’s nukes? To me it sounds just like the tasks for which a fairly large ministry, known as the Foreign Ministry, already exists. To tell the truth, there are several other agencies that deal with this − the Prime Minister’s Office’s national public diplomacy headquarters, the National Security Council (also under the Prime Minister’s Office), and the Strategic Affairs Ministry (a superfluous agency in itself) − and that is only a partial list. But apparently, none of this matters when it comes to keeping a superfluous agency such as the Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry in existence and wasting its budgets and public funds on public-relations videos." Image from entry, with caption: Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett heads a superfluous ministry that has tied up hundreds of millions of shekels over the past 15 years.

Recent Report on the French Cultural Network - Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "I’ve just come across a September 2013 report by the French Cour des Comptes on Le réseau culturel de la France à l’étranger  (France’s Foreign Cultural Network). I haven’t been through it at in detail yet but If you read French this looks like a really useful picture of the state of things in France."

Netherlands Film Fest to be Held in the City - Express News Service: "Ila Singh, Policy Advisor, Political, Public Diplomacy and Cultural Dept, embassy of the Netherlands, New Delhi will inaugurate the festival."


UC President Napolitano in Mexico to expand exchange programs - Larry Gordon, UC system President Janet Napolitano on Wednesday began two days of meetings in Mexico about expanding academic and research cooperation with Mexican universities and scientific and cultural organizations. Among other steps, Napolitano was meeting with officials from Mexico's departments of education and foreign affairs and was expected to sign an agreement that extends cooperation in exchange of graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty, UC officials in the system's Oakland headquarters said.

Poor Angry Magnetic Europe - Roger Cohen, New York Times: In some ways Europe’s mood resembles America’s. Focus has narrowed and solidarity atrophied. Europe, like America, does not want to die for anyone else. It has turned inward, wanting its own problems solved, and damn the Libyans and Syrians and Ukrainians and whoever else may be making demands through their plight. Anyone who believes the spread of freedom, democracy and the rule of law matters is a “warmonger.”

The sharing economy is in vogue because it affords a better deal on a car ride or a room. Sharing politics is not because it may involve sacrifice for faraway people with strange names. So the National Front in France, and the U.K. Independence Party in Britain, and Jobbik in Hungary and Die Linke (the Left) in Germany — parties from right and left that have expressed varying degrees of admiration for President Vladimir Putin and his homophobic irredentism. Europeans of different stripes see him standing up to America, incarnating “family values,” countering a loathed European Union, and just being tough. Germans in surprising numbers are discovering their inner sympathy for Russia, a complex emotion in which anti-Americanism, romanticism, guilt and gratitude for Moscow’s acceptance of unification all play a part. The old temptation in Germany to look eastward is not entirely overcome after all. Europeans would do well to lift their gaze from the small world of their current anger toward those blue and gold flags fluttering on the Maidan, the better to recall what freedom means and with what sacrifice it has been attained. Image from

Open a Middle Road to Mideast Peace - Dennis B. Ross, New York Times: America’s options regarding the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace must not be narrowed to a choice between a permanent deal or doing nothing. If that’s the only choice, we know the answer: Nothing will be done. And a vacuum will be created and filled by the worst possible forces. Instead of setting up a false choice, the administration should declare that it is not walking away from the conflict. Mr. Kerry should privately go to both leaders and tell them he’s planning to issue the following public statement: “I am prepared to work with both sides to produce a permanent status agreement provided I know that each of you is ready to take on the political opposition that you will surely encounter. If you are not, I won’t force the issue. Nor will I walk away. Rather, I will focus with both sides on conflict management, instead of conflict resolution.”

A Military Brat on Okinawa - Sarah Bird, New York Times: Though the prefecture of Okinawa (which includes Okinawa Island as well as a number of smaller islands) constitutes less than 1 percent of Japan’s total landmass, it was forced to host nearly three-quarters of our military bases in Japan. Okinawans have protested our presence for decades.

They’ve decried the crime, environmental degradation, economic stagnation and loss of prime real estate, as well as the fact that we’ve made their homeland an inevitable military target. We must undo the grave injustice committed in 1951, and relocate the bulk of our bases. Image from

The Thai Military's Writ - Sam Zarifi, New York Times: Since Tuesday morning, when the military took power in Thailand — for at least the 11th time since 1932 — confusion has reigned. The newly created Peace and Order Maintaining Command, composed of the commander in chief of the army and the commanders of the Royal Thai Navy, air force and police, took control by imposing martial law. Even as the army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, declared himself the “supreme commander,” the P.O.M.C. denied that it had, in fact, carried out a coup d’état. At the same time, the P.O.M.C. has been careful to invoke only a few of its powers under the law, in order to bolster its assertion that its actions do not constitute a coup. If the events of Tuesday were construed as such, it would set off a powerful internal political backlash and possibly provoke international sanctions — including from the United States, the Thai military’s main backer.

#BokoHaram Doesn't Sing: America fine-tunes its values, while Boko Haram fine-tunes its bombs - Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal: The tweeting has subsided. That tends to happen in a trending world. Now what for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls?

U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said: "You know, I think it's now become our girls, not just Nigeria's girls, it's the world's girls." Well, we are the world, and they want to blow us up. Like it or not, we're living in a Manichean world. Good versus evil. Us, them. Nigeria's 276 kidnapped schoolgirls are the latest. Image from article, with caption: An image from a Boko Haram video of the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls.

Bill, Hillary and the Haiti Debacle: Haitians are upset by the reconstruction effort managed by the Clintons - Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Wall Street Journal: Four years after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake toppled the capital city of Port-au-Prince and heavily damaged other parts of the country, hundreds of millions of dollars from the State Department's U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), allocated to the IHRC, are gone. Hundreds of millions more to the IHRC from international donors have also been spent. Left behind is a mishmash of low quality, poorly thought-out development experiments and half-finished projects.


The round, sweaty man, whose name turned out to be Vasily, sat down next to us.

 “You’re from America?”


 “Is it true that, in America, the people who lost their houses in the housing crisis live in tents outside the cities?”


 “Have you been to Detroit?”


 “Is it true that Detroit is totally destroyed?”

 “I don’t think it’s doing too well, no…”

 “Have you ever been to Las Vegas?”

 “No.” ...

 “I like America,” Vasily said.

“It’s the biggest self-proclaimed country in the world. And you know how to raise good patriots. Americans are very patriotic.”

 --Julia Ioffe, The New Republic (via MT on Facebook); image from

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