Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26 Public Diplomacy Review

Memorial Day image from


Of Proposed Fulbright Cuts, Reaper Drones and the American Fulbright University in Vietnam - An International Educator in Vietnam: Information, Insights and (Occasionally) Intrigue: "Here’s an item that’s been in the news recently ... [about]  a proposed cut of 13% or $30.5 million – from $234.7 to $204.2 million – to the US government’s 'flagship international educational exchange program', namely, the Fulbright Program.  ... To put this expenditure in perspective the cost of a MQ-9 Reaper Drone is $16.9 million, according to its manufacturer, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.  This means that the current worldwide Fulbright budget equals the cost of about 14 MQ-9 Reaper Drones, one of indication of just how much official USA loves its military hardware. ... As Ann Jones, the author of They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars — The Untold Story and a Fulbrighter herself (Norway 2012),  points out in her recent piece, Washington’s Pivot to Ignorance, it’s also a sign of how much Washington

'has come to rely on the ‘forward projection’ of military force to maintain its global position… the Fulbright Program may be the last vestige of an earlier, more democratic, equitable, and generous America that enjoyed a certain moral and intellectual standing in the world.' ... Tucked away in Ann Jones’ article is this paragraph, which refers to the creation of the American Fulbright University in Vietnam, which was discussed during President Sang’s meeting with President Obama last summer in Washington, D.C. [']The ECA also plans to spend $2.5 million next year in Vietnam on what seems to be a consolation prize: a new American Fulbright University, named in honor of Senator J. William Fulbright who created the flagship program that bears his name and ushered it through Congress back in 1946. ['] ... My question, dear reader, is this:  What will a paltry $2.5 million buy, given the exorbitant cost of establishing a new university or, in this case, building on the foundation of an existing program, the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP) in Ho Chi Minh City?  They would need at least tens of millions of dollars to get things moving.  Why not forgo a few MQ-9 Reaper Drones for sake of higher education and international educational exchange?  State says that the $2.5 million is earmarked to support 'academic freedom and autonomy in developing new curricula', whatever that means." Image from entry, with caption: A MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle prepares to land after a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The Reaper has the ability to carry both precision-guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles.

The Pitch of America’s Voice - Editorial, New York Times: "Vladimir Putin’s aggressive return to Cold War propaganda is feeding congressional momentum for a bipartisan overhaul of Voice of America, the federal broadcast outlet that has long jockeyed between providing independent, credible news and meeting its statutory mission as official supporter of the United States. This is not always an easy balance, and a measure approved last month by the House Foreign Affairs Committee would explicitly tighten the definition of the V.O.A.’s mission so that its news 'is consistent with and promotes the broad foreign policies of the United States.' The measure has strong support in both parties with a parallel Senate effort underway. It is critical that the sponsors guarantee the American public as much as the world that standards of professional journalism will not be sacrificed in favor of a simplistic propaganda megaphone. The V.O.A.’s credibility will not be put at risk, insist the committee’s chairman, Ed Royce, Republican of California, and its ranking Democrat, Eliot Engel of New York. They say a remake of the agency has long been needed to meet rapid changes in communication technology that find Russia and China seizing the initiative in the modern information arena. The V.O.A.’s nine-member board of part-time governors has been criticized repeatedly for mismanagement and dysfunction. While serving as secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton complained last year that the board was 'practically defunct in terms of its capacity to be able to tell a message around the world.' The House bill would downgrade the board to an advisory role and create a full-time chief executive to oversee a broadcasting agenda in 43 languages to an audience of 123 million people. Three Radio Free outlets would be consolidated. The proposed overhaul has understandably alarmed members of the V.O.A. news staff who fear that it will undermine a congressional mission enacted in 1976 that, far from a propaganda agency, set its role as an 'accurate, objective, and comprehensive” source of news. Sponsors insist there will be firm safeguards against the government dictating news content, which will ultimately depend on the ability of the new chief executive to thread between the needs of news and government policy.'"

Sponsors of a bill to overhaul Voice of America should guarantee that journalistic standards won’t be sacrificed.
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  • Marie Ciliberti Balanced editorial. In the past, it would be included in an overview of the issue of a U.S. press opinion (pro & con) segment of VOA. If the VOA news-gatherers are serious about being a credible global news source, they would not be late in reporting ...See More
  • Marie Ciliberti One of the best comments so far on the legislation by Morris Jacobs, retired FS officer: Whether the good folks in VOA Central News accept it or not, reporting accurate, verifiable news and information to foreign audiences is a key component of U.S. public diplomacy, and has been for decades. The appropriation for international broadcasting is part of the Department of State’s public diplomacy account, and absorbs a goodly portion of that budget. To judge from posts on this website and others, it appears that VOA is not doing a credible job of justifying those expenditures. By contrast, journalists at RFE/RL, RFA, and MBN don’t appear to worry about their independence or the “firewall.” Instead, they mostly just get on with the job of providing accurate, credible, verifiable news and information to their audiences. VOA staff — especially those in Central News –would do well to emulate that mindset.

Another opinion on the work of my former Agency: the VOICE OF AMERICA which, because of a crushing bureaucracy, is on life support....
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  • 4 people like this.
  • Mike Ryan Growing up in the years after wwii, I remember, as a kid of 6 or 7, trying to hear VOA on a shortwave radio. Sometime it was there,, other times not. The broadcasters always seemed to have a passion for what they were doing. I ahve to wonder if that passion has been lost in today's climate.
  • Edite Lynch The passion has been lost because of the man who became America's President twice just recently.
  • Bill Golden Mismanagement is nothing new at VOA. As a VOA employee from 1975 to 1995. and a two term union president and contract negotiator for the union which represented the VOA-Wahington and VOA-New York Radio Broadcast Engineers....I had the opportunity to be part of a large group of very professional broadcasters and journalists. Sadly, I also observed many very unprofessional VOA managers and some almost useless VOA bureaucratic directors. For many years VOA has needed a complete overhaul, from the top down. Bureaucracy and broadcasting never have and never will "mix".
    19 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Marie Ciliberti Never as bad as now, Bill Golden. Back then, when we were at VOA, the highest grade in the place was the Program Director/Manager at a GS15. Now, the number of 15's as well as 14's and SES positions have exploded. VOA Director's office had a GS-10 secretary and himself/herself as the Schedule C political appointment. Now it's a maze of special assistants, chiefs of staff, consultants, special projects officers, innovation technique officers, liaisons to Lord-knows-what while the ranks of the broadcasters who do the actual work of the Agency are cut every year.

Change to VOA’s mission draws “intense debate” - "It is a conundrum: will this legislation save the VOA from budget cuts, or will it rob the broadcaster of credibility and objectivity? ... Many would argue that it’s impossible for a taxpayer-supported broadcaster to 'present the policies of the United States' without being somewhat biased. Still, in the past, I’ve heard a number of reports from the VOA that are critical of life here in the US; reports I’ve never heard the likes of from, for example, the Voice of Russia or China Radio International. If HR 4490 becomes law, perhaps the proof–VOA’s integrity–will be in the pudding. This is certainly a complex and multi-faceted issue. Regardless: we will be listening."

Many thanks to Dan Robinson for pointing out this article by Ron Nixon in the New York Times. Here's a clip: "A bill to overhaul Voice of America has prompted an intense debate among supporters of...
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  • Marie Ciliberti Broadcasters in the VOA language services don't necessarily share the same opinion. Or the hundreds of broadcasters thrown out of the Agency in RIFs because of the exploding number of people added to the bureaucracy. Rumor is that VOA has more SES positions (highest graded) now than the State Dept. Doing what? No one seems to know.

Voice of America more than 4 hours behind BBC in reporting on death of Jaruzelski - BBG Watcher, BBG Watch: "Despite VOA’s mandate to report U.S. news and report on U.S. policies, the VOA news on the death of General Jaruzelski did not mention President Reagan’s role in, not only contributing to the downfall of Jaruzelski’s military junta, but also Reagan’s and Vice President George H.W. Bush’s role in encouraging talks between Jaruzelski’s regime and the Solidarity trade union. The VOA news report also failed to mention that in just a few days, President Obama is planning to visit Poland to take part in commemorations of the 25th anniversary of the first post-World War II democratic Polish elections which resulted in a victory of candidates supported by Solidarity and in eventual replacement of Jaruzelski by Walesa as Poland’s president. VOA’s failure to mention President Obama’s planned trip to Poland to mark the anniversary of 1989 democratic elections that led to the removal of Jaruzelski from power was especially glaring considering U.S. support for those elections and the VOA Charter which requires VOA to report news related to U.S. policies. VOA also failed to provide any U.S. reactions to Jaruzelski’s death, although it could have tried to ask for comments such American political figures as former President George H.W. Bush or former National Security Advisor Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski."

Western Media Coverage of the Ukraine Crisis Is as Distorted as Soviet Propaganda: Why is the Western press so invested in expounding the highly unconvincing narrative of the official line? - Vladimir Golstein, "Growing up in the Soviet Union, I used to approach words like ‘Voice of America’ (Golos Ameriki), BBC, Deutche Welle (Nemetskaia volna) with a certain reverence: they meant hidden, clandestine and therefore precious truth. Truth and news were not found in Pravda or Izvestia, regardless of the explicit claims of these newspapers’ titles; truth and news dwelled in the little short-wave radio, which would tell its eager audience what was really happening in the world. Official Soviet press was notorious for its manipulation of facts, and even more so for its tendency to ignore particular issues altogether. Dissident activity, Israel, unrest in socialist countries—these stories were off-limit, unless the most vicious vitriol was thrown at them. This policy bordered on the ridiculous.

I learned since then that these radio stations were government-sponsored, that they rarely reported ‘the whole truth,’ but still, the facts that they reported were sufficient to break through the all-encompassing fantasies created by the Soviet media.  With the recent crisis in Ukraine, and much to my dismay, I've begun to experience an eerie sense of déjà vu. It is as if I'm observing the good old days of the Cold War but through some distorted mirror. Too many major news organizations believe, rather naively, that simple echoing of their government lines will somehow work in the West, even though it failed in the Soviet Union. It is rather ironic that Secretary John Kerry has decided to make RT the subject of his criticism, by calling it the ‘propaganda bullhorn’ echoing the accusations that good old Soviet apparatchiks would hurl at Voice of America.” Image from entry, with caption: A protester in Simferopol waves a Russian flag in front of a statue of Lenin on March 17, 2014.

The US-German Relationship at a Critical Public Diplomacy Moment - Tara Sonenshine, "I just returned from a week in Berlin ... My trip was an opportunity to practice public diplomacy, which involved meeting with national security experts, academics, and a large contingent of students from multiple countries spending a semester in Berlin. It reinforced for me the importance of face-to-face contact and person-to-person dialogue to listen to the point of view of others. Virtual diplomacy is great; E-exchanges are useful. But nothing beats sitting around a table, handing a physical business card to a new colleague, and chatting at coffee breaks about family and friends.

Emotional setbacks in relationships have real consequences and they are best dealt with in human settings as opposed to on line. The U.S.-German relationship is at a critical inflection point. We need one another to confront the situation in Ukraine and to find common ground so that American-European-Russian relations do not lead all of us down a dangerous path. ... In the end, I think US-German relations can weather the storm. Pragmatism tends to prevail in both countries. A crisis often brings partners closer together, and for us, decades of close relations. But this relationship, like all relationships, takes commitment on both sides and a willingness to meet, talk, debate, discuss and disclose on the public side to deepen diplomacy. Tara Sonenshine ... served as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs." Image from entry, with caption: The U.S. and German flags

The Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership: BuildingPartner Capacity to Counter Terrorism and Violent Extremism in the Sahel and Maghreb - Lesley Anne Warner, "A few months ago, I published the study I had been working on during my IPA Assignment at the Center for Complex Operations at National Defense University – The Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership: Building Partner Capacity to Counter Terrorism and Violent Extremism. The study discusses the origins of TSCTP, which is rather unique by U.S. government standards, for its regional and interagency focus. It dissects the 'anatomy' of the program (including which U.S. government agencies are involved, what their roles are, and who their partner nation counterparts are), and derives six functional areas of TSCTP engagement in order to better understand the program’s lines of effort across the various agencies. These are: Military Capacity-Building, Law Enforcement Anti-Terrorism Capacity-Building, Justice Sector Counterterrorism Capacity-Building, Public Diplomacy and Information Operations, Community Engagement, and Vocational Training." 

US names Kathleen Stephens as interim Ambassador to India - "According to US ... State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, Kathleen Stephens will serve as the charge until a new permanent Ambassador is nominated and confirmed by the Senate. Stephens will arrive in New Delhi in early June. It seems that Stephens will be a delicate balancing act as she will serve on an interim basis till a new permanent Ambassador to India is confirmed by the US Senate. ... Kathleen Stephens has earlier served as US Ambassador to South Korea from 2008 to 2011 and was Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in 2012. There is still no confirmation from US on the name of the permanent new Ambassador to India but if some reports are to be believed, Rajiv Shah, who is the head of USAID, is doing the rounds as the front runner for the post."

How the US indictment of Chinese military hackers will change cyberespionage - Zack Beauchamp, "P.W. Singer: You ask an American official what an 'information attack' means, and they'll say it's 'someone cracking into a computer network going after secrets.' You ask a Chinese official what an information attack is, and they will start speaking about the spreading of rumors and false information that is 'disruptive to societal stability' such as posting bad news on Facebook. The bottom line is that it's an incredibly tough, complex challenging issue in the relationship between the two states that are most crucial to world stability in the 21st century. Not to overstate it. ... ZB [Q]: Is there any way to put the brakes on this kind of cyber-espionage? An agreement the sides can come to? A treaty?

What exactly can be done about this going forward? PS [A:]: It's all about incentives, cost versus benefits. This indictment is almost a signal to American business to be getting serious about their own cybersecurity. Not just the cyberterrorism fears, but particularly when they're engaging with China or Chinese companies on business. So make it tougher on the attacker, raise their costs. In turn: there's attempts to signal to China that cost-benefit dynamics are not going to be the same. So far, it's been relatively costless to you and there've been great benefits. We're going to try to limit that. Taking it public, exacting some public diplomacy costs; taking it to forums like the WTO. That may now be the road for this." Image from entry, with caption: Critical Cycles

Should China Declare a War on Terror? Beijing and Washington's very different response to the latest deadly attack in Xinjiang - Isaac Stone Fish, Tachel Hu, Foreign Policy: "The term ‘war on terror' entered into wide circulation from there, and in many ways defined Bush's foreign policy -- prioritizing crackdowns on violent extremists through legal and extra-legal methods. But Bush's war on terror also helped improve ties with China. China's then President Jiang Zemin condemned the attacks, and pledged to cooperate with the United States in its fight against terrorism. 'China's ostensible support for U.S. retaliatory strikes on Afghanistan constituted a significant break from its standard foreign policy line,' Nicholas Dynon, a PhD candidate studying China's public diplomacy, wrote in the magazine The Diplomat. It was 'the first time since the Cold War that Beijing had condoned U.S. military strikes in another country.'"

Uzbekistan, China Step up Mutually Advantageous Cooperation - "The President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov and President of the PRC Xi Jinping met in Shanghai in the residence of the Chinese leader. During the conversation, the two sides highly appraised the current state of relations between our two nations and stressed the importance of such meetings in defining the prospects in the further development of cooperation. ... The further development of cultural and humanitarian relations, cooperation in science and technical development, tourism are also priority areas.

It is noteworthy that the opening of China’s first Center for Research of Uzbekistan and Education Exchanges at the Public Diplomacy Research Institute at Shanghai University took place in Shanghai on 15 May 2013. Sister city ties have been established between Tashkent and Shanghai, Navoi and Zhuzhou (Hunan province), Tashkent region and Hunan province, Samarkand and Sian (Shensi province), Samarkand region and Shensi province." Uncaptioned image from entry

Chile’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Juan Gabriel Valdés? - allgov.m: Juan Gabriel Valdés Soublette

presented his credentials as Chile’s ambassador to the United States to President Barack Obama on May 21, 2014. It’s the fourth ambassadorial posting for Valdés. ... In 2007, Valdés organized and was director of Chile’s public diplomacy program. Uncaptioned image from entry

Papal propaganda poker: I’ll see your grave and raise you a wall: The Israelis were a nose ahead in the political graphics war until they handed the Palestinians a propaganda gift in the shape of the separation barrier - Matthew Kalman, "I’d like to shake the hand of the Israeli official who came up with the brilliant new protocol requiring the pope to lay a wreath at Herzl’s grave. You’d think the finely honed minds in the several ministries that now seek to co-ordinate Israel’s public diplomacy might have stopped and thought for a while before imposing this pointless new pit-stop on the pontiff. ... Was it any wonder that the Palestinians retaliated with an extra stop of their own: a silent prayer offered by Pope Francis next to the

hated separation barrier in Bethlehem? Perhaps by coincidence, perhaps through ignorance, perhaps with carefully planned offence, Palestinian and Church officials decided that Francis should stop at a section of the wall sprayed with graffiti comparing Bethlehem’s plight behind the wall to the Warsaw Ghetto. ... I know it’s mostly chain-link fence and not a wall at all, but the West Bank separation barrier must count as one of largest, most expensive planning disasters in modern history. Like so many of the security measures employed by the Israelis to defeat Palestinian terrorism – checkpoints, midnight arrest raids, Palestinian profiling, cluster bombs, white phosphorous shells – the Israelis have achieved their immediate military aim, but the collateral diplomatic damage has been near-fatal. The wall, combined with a radical shift in the political climate and pinpoint real-time intelligence, has basically stopped the Palestinian suicide bombers who in their heyday a decade ago were killing more than 100 Israelis a month, but it has entrenched the image of Israel as a military ghetto, a fortress state. Image from entry, with caption: Pope Francis prays at Israel's separation barrier on his way to a mass in Manger Square next to the Church of the Nativity, West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday, May 25, 2014.

Closer to the people! Civil diplomacy diplomats new trend [Google "translation"] - "Today, it is clear that non-state actors appropriated the area of ​​diplomacy. Civil diplomacy, public diplomacy significance far effects on the European Union's internal policies , as each country's foreign policy."

Need for Global Network and Gumii Oromiyaa - Asafa Jalata, "Although it was more or less ignored, this proposal was forwarded a decade ago to Oromo activists in the Diaspora. The current Oromo struggle led by the Oromo students in Oromia has fundamentally changed the attitudes and behaviors of the Oromo in the Diaspora. So I believe that the ongoing debate on how to continue the struggle in the Diaspora can benefit from this piece. Hence, without revising it, I reproduce the article below. At the turn of the twenty-first century, our nation and its national movement are at a crossroads just at the moment when capitalist globalization and the Ethiopian empire state are facing their deepest crises. Despite the fact that Oromummaa and Oromo nationalism have been developing and that the Oromo national struggle has achieved an ideological and moral victory over Ethiopian colonialism and the Tigrayan-led fascist Ethiopian government, the Oromo national movement faces serious ideological, political, and organizational crises coming from two main sources. ... The survival of the Oromo nation and national movement without strong organizational and military power is doubtful. ... Since the Oromo national movement is facing a danger from all directions, leaders and we Oromo nationalists must take pragmatic collective actions to save ourselves and our nation from total humiliation, defeat, and destruction. ... [among them:] The Diplomacy Committee ... shall engage in public diplomacy to win sympathizers, friends and supporters for the Oromo national cause and struggle."

"España es una potencia en golf": El secretario de Estado de Cooperación Intenacional ha participado en el II Encuentro Internacional de Embajadas en La Herrería y ha asegurado que "Escocia inventó el golf pero en España es donde mejor se juega" - "Jesús Gracia Aldaz, secretario Estado de Cooperación Internacional, ha destacado esta iniciativa que organiza el Real Club de Golf de La Herrería. 'Creo que es una magnífica iniciativa el traer a uno de los lugares más emblemáticos de España, La Herrería, a un gran número de embajadas extranjeras en Madrid y sirve, por un lado, para que los representantes de embajadas y las empresas se conozcan mejor y, por otro lado, también sirve para poner de manifiesto todas las cosas buenas que tiene España. Y creo que esta es una de ellas'.

Para Gracia Aldaz, 'en la diplomacia hay una parte formal (acuerdos, reuniones...) pero también una parte, la public diplomacy, que es necesaria para tener una imagen del país distinta de la que puedes obtener en una reunión formal. Y eso es muy bueno porque, al fin y al cabo, el entendimiento es entre personas y cuando tienes un encuentro en un entorno y unas condiciones favorables, como es este club y este evento, es mucho más fácil llegar acuerdos o preparar el terreno para futuros posibles acuerdos de relevancia'." Image from entry, with caption: Jesús Graia Aldaz, secretario de Estado de Cooperación Internacional

Diplomatic Academy of the Caribbean takes off - "The first Diplomatic Academy of the Caribbean has already graduated its first cohort of 23 students in an inaugural module on contemporary diplomacy. The Academy, a joint project between the government of Trinidad and Tobago and its ministry of foreign affairs, and the University of the West Indies (UWI) through its Institute of International Relations was successfully launched at the St Augustine campus of the UWI on May 6. ... Participants at the inaugural module were guided through the fundamentals of public diplomacy and the balancing of national, regional and global interests as well as contemporary challenges diplomats face.

There was also a session on digital diplomacy and ‘Twiplomacy’ (Twitter diplomacy) along with practical training including a simulated United Nations meeting. According to Professor Andy Knight, director of the UWI’s Institute of International Relations, 'Unlike other diplomatic academies, the Diplomatic Academy of the Caribbean was envisioned as a training facility that would give prospective and current Caribbean diplomats the competence to practice a new form of diplomacy that would be relevant to the changed condition of the 21st century'." Image from entry, with caption: Closing Ceremony of Diplomat Programme

IRF Roundtable in Brussels – Europe - First meeting - "The IRF Roundtable (IRF = International Religious Freedom) is an informal group of individuals from non-governmental organisations who gather regularly to discuss IRF issues on a non-attribution basis. It is simply a safe space where participants gather, speak freely in sharing ideas and information, and propose joint advocacy actions to address specific IRFissues and problems. ... An IRF Roundtable has already operated in Washington DC for more than 3 years with good results with an average attendance

of over 70 participants from civil society and government (see addendum). The Roundtable in Brussels will be the second of its kind to operate in the world. The primary purpose of the Roundtable is to advance IRF by: [inter alia] ... Religious freedom issues are fully integrated into European policies, including democratic promotion, public diplomacy, counterterrorism, and multilateral strategies." Image from entry

Gathering at UNL will examine Middle East water security - "The future of peace in the Middle East and the world depends on access to water and water management. While water security is a complex issue, there are numerous examples of teamwork and work toward fair solutions. A May 28-29 gathering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln aims to examine those issues and lend insight into how water security will affect global political and cultural discourse in the future. ... Presentations begin at 9:30 a.m. May 28 with Jerome Delli Priscoli of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with 'Water and Public Diplomacy: Reflections on Personal Cases.' As one of the original members of a U.S. delegation to the Middle East peace talks on water, Priscoli has been directly involved in water policy development."

Seven WKU students have been honored by the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the most in WKU’s [Western Kentucky State] history - "Allison Feikes, daughter of Nancy Robinson and Mitchell Feikes, is a spring 2014 graduate in international affairs and political science. The Honors College at WKU student received an English Teaching Assistantship to Turkey.

Her areas of interest include international affairs, cultural affairs, and international peace studies. She has completed a faculty-led study in the Czech Republic, a volunteer abroad experience in Tanzania and a public diplomacy internship at the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Belgium." Feikers image from entry

“A stinking filthy race of people inbred with criminality” - "Something about alyssawrites [:] Upon graduation from Penn State University, I started a career in International Relations for a nonprofit called World in Conversation Center for Public Diplomacy.

I was in charge of the global programming and social media for WinC, and stayed there until my hearts' calls to move back to Baltimore, could no longer be ignored." Uncaptioned image from entry

Excepted Service; March 2014 - "The following Schedule C appointing authorities were approved during March 2014. Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Staff Assistant[.]"


US Department of State: Presidential elections in Ukraine disproves Russia's propaganda on dominance of far right forces - Assistant Secretary of U.S. Department of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski has congratulated Ukrainians with successful presidential elections adding that right parties obtained less votes than it happened during the elections in the Western Europe on the same day.

The State Department’s Ukraine Fiasco - Robert Parry, American diplomacy, by definition, is supposed to advance the national interests of the United States, not contribute to international crises that undermine those interests. Yet, by that standard, the U.S. State Department and Secretary of State John Kerry have failed extraordinarily during the current Ukraine crisis. Besides ripping Ukraine apart – and getting scores of Ukrainians killed – the U.S.-supported coup in February has injected more uncertainty into Europe’s economy by raising doubts about the continued supply of Russian natural gas. Such turbulence is the last thing that Europe’s fragile “recovery” needs as mass unemployment now propels the rise of right-wing parties and threatens the future of the European Union.

Any new business downturn in Europe also would inflict harm on the U.S. economy, which itself is still clawing its way out of a long recession and needs a healthy Europe as an important trading partner. But the crisis in Ukraine, spurred on by Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and other anti-Russian hardliners, is now complicating the U.S. recovery, too. Image from entry, with caption: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses Yale University graduates on Class Day in New Haven, Connecticut, on May 18, 2014. Kerry himself is a 1966 Yale graduate.

Public Apathy Plays Into Kremlin Propaganda - Andrei Malgin, Moscow Times: For the last several months, state-controlled television stations have been bombarding their viewers with the message that the radical right-wing political group Right Sector and other "fascists" have seized power in Ukraine. Moderate Petro Poroshenko's landslide victory over Right Sector in Ukraine's presidential election on Sunday should make viewers more skeptical of state media, but they are likely to keep believing in the Kremlin's line. State-controlled television channels

had completely given up even the semblance of plausibility in their coverage of the Ukrainian crisis even before the results of the Ukrainian presidential election. A recent "news" broadcast on the Rossia channel used footage filmed a year before in the Caucasus in a segment on atrocities committed by Ukrainian forces in the country's eastern regions. Only last week, Channel One reported on a major pro-Russian demonstration in Rome. However, viewers who know Italian were probably surprised to see that the posters demonstrators were holding made no reference to Russia, but complained of cuts to social benefits by the Italian government. Image from entry, with caption: A woman walks past an election poster of businessman, politician and presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko, a day after Ukrainian presidential election.

Despite Its Crudeness, Putin’s Propaganda Campaign Works Where He Needs It, Polish Study Says - Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia: The essential dishonesty of the Kremlin’s propaganda message is so blatant and so easy to unmask given the Internet and the ugliness of the ideas Moscow is pushing are “not appealing” to the West. But Vladimir Putin’s “ideological newspeak based on disinformation falls on fertile socio-cultural ground in the East,” a new Polish study says.  In a 38-page case study entitled “The Anatomy of Russian Information Warfare: The Crimean Operation,” Jolanta Darzcewska argues that this distinction explains why Putin’s campaign works where he needs it to now but may not work more in the broader world:

Media Propaganda and the Ukraine Crisis - Paul Rogov, Global Research: Western journalists write for corporate interests. It does not really matter who it is --The New York Times, The New Republic, The Economist, USA Today, CNN, or Fox --  but the Western media itself is the entity that is aggravating the situation in the Ukraine.

By appealing to Western-led Eastern European, Eurasian and Russian scholars and American think-tanks and universities in hopes of the establishing lesser known “facts” about the Ukraine, corporate journalism often pounces on every opportunity or rumor or idea, so it can get its story out for the U.S.’s own benefit, having had met its deadlines. Image from entry

Obama’s Just Right Foreign Policy - Daniel Wagner, In a multi-polar world with a multitude of problems, and with financial resources and political will limited, the U.S. cannot solve every issue and right every wrong. The most it can do is attempt to steer the general direction of the ship.

That is exactly what the Obama administration is doing. Mr. Obama may be rightly criticized for establishing red lines and not following through, but there are times when not following through is exactly the right thing to do. Image from entry, with caption: President Barack Obama speaking during a town hall

The Banality of Anger - Roger Cohen, New York Times: Europe was a bold idea, a counterbalance to the United States, a vehicle for a new form of national ambition that was significantly French in genesis. A medium-sized power, much diminished, France could yet dream through Europe. It could opine. It could even change the world. Then along came that great surprise, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. France preferred two Germanys; suddenly it faced one. It wanted to deepen Europe; suddenly it had to widen it. It wanted to be sure of a united Germany’s fealty to Europe and a single currency seemed the surest guarantee; suddenly it was bound to the euro just as momentum toward European political integration evaporated. It wanted to be a counterweight to Washington; suddenly that ambition became risible. It wanted at least to offer a countermodel to hypercapitalism; not so suddenly its economic system, for all its virtues, just looked tired, like those French villages drained of youth and vitality.

Why Europe works: Mobility is everything in a region where nations live in fruitful proximity - Simon Kuper, Financial Times: Most Europeans – excluding young people in Mediterranean countries – still enjoy the safest, fairest and most comfortable daily life on earth. High quality global journalism requires investment. The European dream appears quite stable. China may be heading for a bump in the road if its population ever demands democracy. Russia had a period of fast growth (with precious little benefit for most Russians) but what happens if Vladimir Putin is becoming a military adventurer? Europe looks to have those traumas behind it. Nor has it become an American-style plutocracy.

Books: Propaganda powered Parnell's political life: Mr Parnell's Rottweiler, Myles Dungan, Irish Academic Press, €25.15 - J P O'Ma'ley, In his new book, Mr. Parnell's Rottweiler, historian and RTE broadcaster Myles Dungan gives a brilliant analysis of how Parnell

used United Ireland as a propaganda tool to reel in both the disenfranchised agrarian peasant vote, and the hard-line nationalists, around to his conservative and constitutional form of politics. Parnell image from entry


"In those days, all Japanese news was propaganda, and all American propaganda was news."

--Foreign Service officer Robert Janz, characterizing the 1930s while working at the State Department at that time; image from


--Lisa Marcus, Soviet Anti-Alcohol Propaganda 1929-1969,

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