Saturday, May 3, 2014

May 3 Public Diplomacy Review

"I know I'm becoming my father because I still don't understand what a 'hashtag' is."

--Comment by a Facebook friend; image from


Public Meeting in Washington, DC, May 8, 2014 - "The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy will hold a public meeting on 'Disasters, Wars, and Cultural Heritage Preservation: The Role of Arts and Culture in National Security' from 10:00a.m. until 11:30a.m., Thursday, May 8, 2014 in Lindner Family Commons (sixth floor) of The George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs at 1957 E Street, NW, Washington, DC."


Highlights of State Department and USAID Efforts to Support Press and Media Freedom - Fact Sheet, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC, May 2, 2014


What A Girl's Shoes Mean - JennaMarbles


President Obama’s Underreported Asia Strategy - Wenchi Yu, "President Barack Obama just returned from Asia after an eight-day, four-country visit to the region. International media coverage carefully examined the Obama administration’s 'pivot,' or 'rebalancing,' to Asia through trade, military, and other security issues and the reaction of China to the president’s visit. But given the United States’ complex diplomatic relations with the region, it is the president’s people-to-people diplomacy in Southeast Asia that is most likely to result in long-term goodwill from the region. ... In this vein, a core U.S. strategy has been and should be people-to-people diplomacy using non-security issues such as innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, gender equality, youth, and development as tools for engagement. In Southeast Asia, people-to-people diplomacy has manifested itself in strategic initiatives such as the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, the annual U.S.-ASEAN Business Summit, the Lower Mekong Initiative, and entrepreneurship and women-focused programs. The U.S. State Department underwent organizational changes to embed a senior (deputy assistant secretary) position in the regional bureau to carry out public diplomacy programs. Embassies and ambassadors are encouraged to use social media—popular in the region—to reach out to new and young audiences. For example, America’s popular ambassador to Thailand, Kristie Kenney, uses Twitter extensively to communicate with her nearly fifty-thousand followers. In Jakarta, the @america cultural center uses technology

to engage young Indonesians with American culture and values. Most of these people-to-people efforts are welcomed by this region’s governments and societies because they speak directly to citizens, bring new opportunities, and bridge differences. To the United States, investing in and influencing open-minded, innovative, and moderate emerging leaders is an important long-term strategy. The goal is simple—win the hearts and minds of the people and future leaders. This strategy is working on the ground and American diplomats are doing it more. During Obama’s visit to Malaysia—the first American presidential visit in forty-eight years—he held a town hall event with five hundred Malaysian university students. He also held a business signing ceremony for major U.S.-Malaysia commercial deals and spoke with young entrepreneurs from Southeast Asia to discuss challenges facing their societies. When young social entrepreneurs, with U.S. support, are given the opportunity to present their own solutions to community problems, they are much more likely to develop a positive impression of the United States. Although these efforts do not replace important security and military cooperation, Obama’s message was clear—people-to-people engagement is an important part of U.S. policy in the region. Still, winning the hearts and minds of the people is not just about unquestioning support."  Image from entry, with caption: U.S. president Barack Obama high fives a member of the audience as he leaves after the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Intiative (YSEALI) Town Hall inside the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur on April 27, 2014.

Let’s get the Asia rebalance right - Sen. Robert Menendez, "To improve the effectiveness and sustainability of the rebalance policy and increase civilian engagement, strengthen diplomatic partnerships, and empower U.S. businesses, the United States should: [inter alia] ... Redouble efforts to support U.S. students to study in the region, ensure faster processing for non-immigrant visas for tourism and conferences, and increase resources for public diplomacy."

Dealing with Russia: A Way Forward - Kenneth S. Yalowitz, "More effective public diplomacy will be needed to counter the Putin propaganda onslaught against the West. This means expanding Russian language information flows and quality radio and television programming through standard techniques as well as the internet to reach audiences in Russia. One target must be to shed light for Russian audiences on the massive corruption at high levels in Russia and the abuses by the security forces. ... In sum, the West needs to employ a containment strategy 'light' that aims to strengthen Ukraine and its neighbors, broadens the horizons of the Russian people and allows for the resumption of diplomacy."

Showdown over Ukraine sparks Cold War-style propaganda battle - Stars and Stripes: "Fed up with the Russian government’s false claims early in the Ukraine crisis, the State Department issued an unusual, point-by-point takedown along with a cheeky note that said not since 19th-century novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky had the world seen such 'startling Russian fiction.' The jab didn’t seem to hurt in Moscow. A pro-Kremlin newspaper columnist mocked the Obama administration’s 'excellent knowledge of Russian literature.' And an undeterred President Vladimir Putin spent the next several weeks polishing his narrative of a strong Russia standing up to Western imperialism in order to protect a vulnerable ethnic Russian population from an illegitimate, Nazi-infiltrated new Ukrainian leadership.In retaliation, the State Department fired off a second literary-themed fact sheet: 'Russian Fiction the Sequel: 10 More False Claims about Ukraine.' Such calculated repartee is familiar to historians and analysts of the Cold War, who’ve noticed a resurgence of that era’s disinformation and propaganda tactics in Russia’s showdown with the United States and Europe over its military activities in and near neighboring Ukraine. ... Richard Stengel, a former Time magazine editor who’s now the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, used a State Department blog this week to rattle off evidence that Moscow is subjecting 'the rest of the world to an intense campaign of disinformation that tries to paint a dangerous and false picture of Ukraine’s legitimate government.' Stengel noted how Russia’s RT network, which Kerry described last month as a 'propaganda bullhorn,' manipulated a leaked telephone call to suggest that a former Ukrainian prime minister was advocating violence against Russia. He also noted the 'ludicrous assertion' that the United States has invested $5 billion to foment regime change in Ukraine. 'These are not facts, and they are not opinions,' Stengel wrote. 'They are false claims, and when propaganda poses as news it creates real dangers and gives a green light to violence.'”

Richard Stengel contradicts Victoria Nuland’s remarks - "Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (tantamount to propaganda) Richard Stengel posted a 'dipnote' on the State Department’s official blog, labelling the work of as propaganda, that is to say of 'deliberate dissemination of information that you know to be false or misleading in order to influence an audience.' The Under Secretary of State makes fun of the 'constant reference to all Ukrainian opposed the Russian grip on the country as a terrorist and blind repetition of the ridiculous assertion last week that the United States has invested $ 5 billion in regime change in Ukraine. These are not facts or opinions. These are false allegations, and when the propaganda presented as news, it creates real dangers and gives the green light to violence.'

However, Russia Today was not alluding to the numerous accounts of direct funding that the Maidan protesters have received from the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, but to the address delivered by Victoria Nuland herself, before the US-Ukraine Foundation in the middle of the crisis EuroMaidan. On that occasion, speaking on behalf of the State Department, the diplomat stated that 'Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, the United States has supported Ukrainians as they build democratic skills and institutions, as they promote civic participation and good governance, all of which are preconditions for Ukraine to achieve its European aspirations. We’ve invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine.' [1] At first glance, the U.S. propaganda chief appears to contradict Victoria Nuland’s remarks. Taking a closer look, he changes the version by simply switching speakers." Image from entry; via BB on Facebook; see also.

New Bill Would Return ‘Voice of America’ To Propagandist Roots: A long-time and historic voice of journalistic integrity is set to become a mouthpiece for the federal government
- Frederick Reese, "Despite its role in promoting American interests internationally, VOA has always held itself to the highest journalistic integrity. Much of the organization’s journalistic code — including the use of two sources when reporting third-party, taking care to present a story in an unbiased and balanced way, and not using special privileges or access in reporting on an issue — has been embraced by the news industry as part of journalistic integrity. ... Some in Congress, however, feel that this sense of editorial freedom and integrity compromises VOA’s function as America’s mouthpiece. On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will vote on a bill that will significantly reform the Broadcasting Board of Governors, VOA’s sponsoring agency.

The changes will make it clear that VOA and other BBG-backed broadcasts are not neutral news platforms, but messaging devices for the federal government. ... The recent move by the Congress to control VOA has raised comparisons to Russia and its use of its foreign-facing mouthpiece, the television network RT, to denounce Western involvement in Ukraine and to attack the Kiev government as right-wing fascists. With Congress passing a bill last month to expand VOA and Radio Free Europe in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, what was one of the greatest founts for journalistic integrity is slowly being returned to what it once was: a propaganda weapon." Uncaptioned image from entry

Overhaul of U.S. International Broadcasting Proposed - Randy J. Stine, "A newly drafted bill introduced and referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week would reform U.S. international media outreach. Bill sponsor California Republican Rep. Edward Royce says the objective of H.R. 4490 'United States International Communications Reform Act of 2014' is to improve efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility of United States international broadcasting and calls for the creation of the United States International Communications Agency. ... The move comes at a time of criticism of the current management and structure of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the bipartisan federal entity that sets funding and gives direction to its various broadcast organizations, which include Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio TV/Marti and the Middle East Broadcast Networks and Radio Free Asia. BBG critics say they find the agency’s patchwork of network services outdated and inflexible at a time of increasing global competition. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the organization 'practically defunct' during congressional testimony in 2013. More recently, the BBG has said the organization believes it will become more nimble and streamlined under its FY2015 request of $721.26 million. Its five broadcast networks reached some 200 million people per week in 2013, according to BBG estimates."

How to Win the Information War against Vladimir Putin: The best antidote to propaganda isn't counterpropaganda. It's access to accurate information - Christian Caryl - "U.S. lawmakers apparently now believe that the way to counter Russia's information offensive is by supplying propaganda of our own. The code for this is ‘messaging’ -- in other words, the priority should be on ‘getting America's message out.’ That seems to be the idea, for example, behind the recent reforms proposed for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the supposedly independent public corporation that oversees Radio Free Europe, Voice of America, and other government-financed broadcasters. The logic behind this thinking is clear: ‘Why are we paying all this money for overseas news when the journalists we're paying for sometimes say things we don't like?’ The reason is simple.

The people who live in these countries already spend a lot of their lives listening to news pumped out by governments with an axe to grind. And that's precisely why accurate, professional journalism can have a profound impact -- especially when it's not trying to persuade them of some particular viewpoint (such as ‘messaging’ about the inherent superiority of the American system). The model of surrogate journalism practiced by journalists  ... at RFE (and their sister broadcaster, Radio Free Asia) is exactly the right one. (For the record: I'm also a big fan of the BBC World Service and the BBC's various foreign-language arms, which have long wooed listeners and viewers in repressive societies like BurmaIran, and China with their high, professional standard of reporting.) If you stick to this model, you'll sometimes end up broadcasting criticism of the United States and its policies. And that's all for the good -- because it will show audiences that the reporters aren't beholden to a particular line. And, lest we forget, criticizing the government is a fundamentally American value, too. But we do need to tweak the model a bit. To compete effectively with Putin's Russia and other autocracies, the United States needs to beef up its efforts dramatically. What the U.S. government currently spends on international broadcasting is a joke. (RFE/RL's current annual budget is about $95 million, the price of a couple of helicopters.) We need to spend a lot more money, and we need to spend it much more effectively -- perhaps by getting the private sector involved. (Looking at you, Google.) The trend in recent years has been more money for bureaucrats and less for journalists, which is, needless to say, getting it ass-backwards. And, to be sure, U.S.-sponsored journalism efforts should use social media far more aggressively, but we also need to find creative ways to challenge the autocrats' hold on national TV networks, which is usually their most effective tool. Above all, we need to find ways to let audiences get involved and active, to speak up about the problems of their own societies. That's important not only because it's precisely what Putin and other dictators don't want to allow. It's also important because this is one of the most elementary ingredients of democracy. If we're really serious about convincing people of the virtues of our system, you'd think we'd be serious about this.” Image from

GOP Lawmakers Wicker, Schock Aim to Restore Cuts to Radio Free Europe - Andrea Billups, "Lawmakers are pointing at Russian aggression in Crimea as they call on a federal agency to cancel proposed funding cuts for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's news coverage in the Balkans. 'The timing of this decision by the [Broadcasting Board of Governors] just seems unbelievable,' Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, who wrote the BBG in late February, told Newsmax. ... The Radio Free Europe's Balkans service has been in place since 1994 and extends its message via Internet, radio, and television to Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro. More than 150 station affiliates distribute the news service programming, and supporters say the voice of freedom must remain strong there as Russian aggression grows. Wicker said he is concerned the cutbacks have been done with little input from Congress."

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts - "President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts: ... Dana Shell Smith, Nominee for Ambassador to the State of Qatar, Department of State [:] Dana Shell Smith, a career member of the Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is currently Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, a position she has held since early 2014. Previously, Ms. Smith served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Public Affairs at the Department of State from 2011 to 2014. She was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Media in the Bureau of Public Affairs from 2010 to 2011, and Regional Arabic Spokesperson for the Regional Media Hub in Dubai from 2009 to 2010. ... She was a Public Affairs Officer at the American Institute of Taiwan from 2003 to 2006 and a Press Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan from 1999 to 2002. From 1996 to 1999, she was a Public Diplomacy Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel and was Assistant Cultural Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt from 1993 to 1996."

Rethinking US public diplomacy and digital engagement - Craig Hayden,  "I had the pleasure of speaking with Mike Ardaiolo of the Public Diplomat, a podcast and website produced by students and scholars at Syracuse University’s public diplomacy program. Here is the link: U.S. Public Diplomacy in a Digital Context [.] I speak about my research into how digital platforms have been incorporated into US public diplomacy, and how this reflects broader institutional shifts in the practice and discourse of PD. Basically, I argue that technology is not driving change by istelf, but rather serves as a context for reconceptualizing PD and the larger field of diplomatic practice. I also talk a bit about the US strategy toward Ukraine and other programs."

Quick Take: What’s the Significance of Ukraine/Russia So Far? -"Benjamin Zyla [:] "One interesting (yet I am not sure if it is the most significant) outcome to date of the Ukrainian crisis is that it has led to a rapprochement between the Europeans and America. ... Until now have they not ratcheted up the sabre-rattling. Rather, their foreign ministers were jetting between Washington, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Geneva, Warsaw and Kiev to keep diplomatic channels and possibilities open and to stress principles of de-escalation. ... The only person who currently torpedoes this strategy of de-escalation is NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Some observers note that he is now experiencing a resurgence of his commonly-perceived weak tenure at the helm of the alliance. He certainly pushed the escalation by suggesting in an op-ed piece for the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that NATO’s doors for Ukrainian membership are 'open in principle', and lamenting that sovereign states are principally free to decide their own destiny and to join international alliances if they so desire. Again, a restrained public diplomacy in an intensifying crisis sounds different, and so it is little surprising that he was snubbed by Germany’s Foreign Minister, who noted that NATO membership for Ukraine is not on the agenda at the moment. This, however, is hard to believe as one hears from NATO’s International Staff. The next Summit in September apparently has only one point on the agenda at the moment: a new NATO strategy. Military planners across European capitals are already discussing the resurrection of Leopard panzers." Zyla image from entry

Numerous visitors welcome 2014 Tehran intl. book fair - "Many local and international book enthusiasts have flocked to the 27th edition of Tehran International Book Fair (TIBF) during only two days after opening gala. ... Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati along with a number of international diplomats attended the opening ceremony. 'The international book fair is a kind of public diplomacy and a place for cultural exchanges and interactions,' Rouhani stated.

Some 600 foreign publishers from Germany, France, Turkey, Japan, Lebanon, Syria, China, Qatar, and several other countries have presented about 160,000 of their latest publications at the event." Uncaptioned image from entrysee also.

Koreans are hospitable - Hilary Ogbechie, "Penultimate weekend, I was in Seoul, the Capital City of South Korea on the invitation of the Korea Foundation as a guest of the foundation and the Korean government. The visit which was under the auspices of the Korea Foundation invitation program for prominent and distinguished guests in culture for the year 2014, had invitation extended to eleven (11) countries from different parts of the world including Nigeria. ... In all, my Korean experience was thrilling and rewarding, as I developed a network of accomplished art and culture practitioners, ready for meaningful and beneficial collaborations to involving parties.

I now know more about the Korean culture and its very widely acknowledged successful approach for reaching and influencing other parts of the world. I can safely say that the Korea Foundation public diplomacy initiatives of helping develop expertise while building solid foundation of cooperation and friendship is working very well and worthy of emulation by others, especially those from the developing countries. Hilary C. Ogbechie is Director – Extension Services, National Council for Arts and Culture, Abuja, Nigeria." Uncaptioned mage from entry

'David the Nahlawi' sparks viral protest in Israel - Mazal Mualem, "David Adamov, a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Nahal Brigade, nicknamed 'David the Nahlawi' ... was filmed in the West Bank town of Hebron cocking his rifle at a Palestinian youth who confronted him while holding brass knuckles. ... As of May 2, the number of likes on the Facebook page titled 'I, too, am with David the Nahlawi' had reached 122,000, with more to come. The Nahal Brigade soldier has become a hero.  ... People assumed that Adamov, who was sentenced on the same day to 20 days in jail for violent behavior toward his commander, was punished because of the filmed incident. From that point it was only a short period of time until the IDF experienced its first outburst of digital protest. ... [T]he power of the protest generated by David the Nahlawi  ... places a mirror in front of the Israeli leadership, and especially in front of Netanyahu’s face, by enabling us to see the difficult and ugly reality that we force on our young soldiers by the hour. The fancy words about diplomatic negotiations, the public diplomacy campaigns and the security quiet come crashing down with one documented incident, in which death or injury is not even needed to sum up the explosive nature of the conflict."

S40M Learn Spanish in Asia: Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations - "The Institute of diplomacy and Foreign Relations, or more simply known as the IDFR, was established in 1991 under the tutelage of the Prime Minister’s Department, housed on the former site of Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj’s, the first Prime Minister, residence. It was in 2004 that it became the training arm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ... The institute

is intended for the Ministry’s officers as well as for officers from other government departments. They offer programs including diplomatic training courses, pre-posting orientation courses, public diplomacy and media skills courses, high level workshops, as well as Arabic, French, Malay, Mandarin and Spanish language courses." Image from entry, with caption: Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations

Lesson 215 NGOs as Public Diplomacy - "NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) range from disaster relief, to healthcare, to conservation and cause-promoting organizations. Most are non-profit and international in their outlook. If 'strategic communication' is defined as planning and implementing communication initiatives to achieve specific outcomes, and 'public diplomacy' is defined as people communicating directly with people in other cultures the basic elements of their beliefs and values, then NGO’s are clearly using strategic communication tactics to carry out basic public diplomacy. There are many varieties of public diplomacy carried out each day by thousands of governments and NGO’s. One would think we would be making much greater progress toward world peace. And while many of these organizations also have education programs, we might just have to call upon education institutions to complete the job. Higher education potentially is the purest form of public diplomacy. People gather to learn about each other’s way of life, the elements of global leadership, and how to use research and knowledge skills to solve world problems. Maybe as this industry becomes even more international, we will finally have the groundwork in place to achieve a true community of nations."


Congressional scrutiny puts propaganda plan on hold - Ray Locker, Increased scrutiny by Congress has led the Pentagon's Special Operations Command to shelve a plan to pick potential targets for propaganda, according to a command spokesman. SOCOM announced this week it was halting its plans to seek bidders for its planned Global Research Assessment Program, which involved hiring contractors not conducting military propaganda programs to have them select and monitor the effectiveness of those programs around the world.

"We are currently working to answer congressional questions concerning the program and have voluntarily delayed the release of the [plan] until the committees involved are satisfied with the response," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Allen, a SOCOM spokesman. Uncaptioned image from entry

The International Flavor of Kremlin Propaganda - Jamestown Foundation Blog: That Russia should be trying to sway international public opinion is not surprising, given the magnitude of international norms its president broke by ordering the annexation of Crimea and promoting instability in eastern Ukraine. The vision of Europe that the Kremlin projects is one that promotes the importance of ethnicity in international relations. This is hardly unexpected given the contentious debates over the place of ethnicity in the multi-ethnic Russian Federation and the fact that Russia experienced a different historical development of nationalism to the Western European states.

Why Neocons Seek to Destabilize Russia - Robert Parry, Any propaganda war starts by planting stories that your target is getting rich, whether he is or isn’t, the latest move in demonizing Vladimir Putin. But the larger question is what might happen if the neocons succeed in destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia.

Ukraine – The US and Russia Propaganda - Those who keep attributing everything to the CIA have greatly harmed Ukraine.

America's Peace Crisis: The U.S. diplomatic corps is underfunded, overstretched, and set up to fail. Here's how to fix it - Christopher Holshek, America's foreign policy and national security establishments simply aren't structured for success in peacemaking.

As Alexis de Tocqueville observed, Americans know well how to get into wars and fight them, but not how to end or prevent them. Image from entry

Arrests, Censorship and Propaganda: China's Tiananmen Anniversary Dance -- As the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown approaches, Beijing’s censors and security forces are kept busy - Tyler Roney, While the dreaded anniversary of the crackdown itself

isn’t until June 4, there are a number of anniversaries and events surrounding the protests that give Beijing an itchy propaganda finger. Image from entry, with caption: Image Credit: Hong Kong 2011 Tiananmen remembrance image via Jess Yu

North Korea: Binding minds [susbcription] - The Economist: Dear Leader. By Jang Jin-sung. Random House. A fascinating inside account of how the Kims used propaganda to cement their hold on power.

Nazi Girls Are Easy: Porn In Left-Wing Political Propaganda - Angel Millar, Porn has a political message. At least at times. Partly because the center-Right claims to stand for “family values,” and to oppose sex out of wedlock and other “sins” (including, often, pornography), political propaganda of the pornographic type has tended to emanate from the Left-wing.

More than just an open rejection of the center-Right’s values, certain theories on the Left tied sexual liberation to anti-fascism, anti-racism, anti-sexism, etc. The “authoritarian personality” could be stamped out of society through promiscuity, “polymorphous perversity,” and so on. Image from entry, with caption: Anti-fascist entertainment: The Night Porter (left), and Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols wearing his controversial trade mark swastika t-shirt


"[C]onnoisseurs of the Athenian democratic punishment of rhaphanidosis (forcing a radish up the anus) will not be disappointed."

--Paul Cartledge, reviewing (in The Times Literary Supplement, April 25, 2014, p. 25) David Phillips, The Law of Ancient Athens, which mentions the abovementioned punishment; image from


--From Julia Ioffe, "Of Course The Ousted President of Ukraine Commissioned a Nude Portrait of Himself," New Republic

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