Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 17 Public Diplomacy Review

"The first page of Libraries and the Reading Public in Twentieth-Century America notes that there are more public library branches in the United States than there are outlets of McDonald's."

--Colin Higgins, The Times Literary Supplement (June 6, 2014) p. 26; top image from; below image from


Despite Ukraine, Exxon's Tillerson to Appear With Rosneft's Sechin - indian.ruvr.ru: "Exxon Mobil Corp.'s chief executive is set to speak at an energy summit in Moscow on Monday, even though the U.S. government has discouraged American attendance as it tries to isolate the Kremlin over its actions in Ukraine. ... Mr. Tillerson's appearance at the summit

'is an example of public diplomacy that's at cross-purposes with what the Obama administration would like to see,' said Jim Crane, a fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy. But the company 'can't pack its bags,' he said, citing Exxon's considerable investment in Russia." Uncaptioned image from entry

U.S. BBG pays for faulty, favoring Kremlin propaganda poll in Russia-annexed Crimea - BBG Watcher, bbgwatch.com: “Two top independent sociologists in Ukraine and Russia, as well as some American experts who have done extensive polling and analysis of polling data in Eurasia, have described a recent public opinion survey ordered and paid for by the United States government through the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) in Russia-occupied Crimea as questionable, while some political observers call it a major public diplomacy blunder for the U.S. According to Prof. Lev Gudkov, a prominent Russian sociologist from the Levada Center in Moscow, ‘the results of this study [IBB/BBG/Gallup poll in Crimea] may indeed be subject to some doubt.’ According to Prof. Volodymyr Paniotto, a prominent Ukrainian sociologist and General Director of the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, conducting a U.S. government ordered poll in Crimea legitimized the annexation of the territory by Russia in addition to producing results that ‘may be questionable and need deeper methodological analysis.’ Some American experts were ‘shocked’ by the IBB/BBG poll and the presentation of its results. ‘Conducting research in an occupied territory where people’s lives are in danger, and the United States government expects them to answer whether they think the U.S., Poland, etc. are playing a positive or a negative role is crazy, ‘ one expert observed. … In presenting the poll results, an IBB executive and a VOA reporter made no mention of any possible problems with gathering data in Crimea, such as a high level of intimidation and fear possibly experienced by Crimean Tatars (about 12% of the population), ethnic Ukrainians and even some ethnic Russians. The forceful termination of Ukrainian media channels in Crimea was euphemistically referred to in a BBG/IBB press release as a ‘cessation.’ The BBG press release also made no mention of powerful anti-Ukrainian and anti-Western Russian propaganda in Crimea.”

VOA May Soon Become “Public Diplomacy” or “Propaganda” Tool - pomed.org: "The potential summer passage of H.R. 4490 which passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee in mid-May, means that a ‘decades-old debate in foreign policy circles about the role of Voice of America’ may soon culminate in major change to the U.S.-funded news organization that ‘attracts 80 percent of the total U.S. international media audience.’ The New York Times summarized the current congressional conflict, with the proponents wishing to ‘enable the broadcast news service to counter Russian disinformation’ in contrast with opponents who complain that VOA

would become ‘an American propaganda tool.
’ A fact sheet published by supporters argues, ‘this legislation makes clear that the Voice of America mission is to support U.S. public diplomacy efforts.’ However, inside VOA, ‘the legislation has created widespread fear among staff members who have long considered themselves professional journalists rather than spokesmen for government policy.’ Journalists argue that turning VOA employees into the latter may cause a ‘mass exodus’ of journalistic talent from VOA and could even endanger their lives. Christophe Deloire, head of Reporters Without orders, condemned ‘attitudes of information warfare,’ explaining that VOA provides the ‘valuable service’ as ‘one of the very few sources of independent news’ in many countries. VOA correspondent Al Pessen elaborated, arguing that ‘using taxpayers’ money for objective broadcasts is the ultimate expression of confidence that people around the world will recognize the value of the United States — not because we as a nation tell them how right we are, but because Americans respect them enough to let them decide for themselves.’ But some inside and outside VOA have disagreed. Robert R. Reilly, a former director of Voice of America, emphasizes the need for VOA to be run ‘within the U.S. government in a command structure related to our national security,’ arguing that it is ‘better to win the war of ideas than have to win a war.’ Similarly, The Heritage Foundation insisted that ‘VOA should become an explicit arm of U.S.publicdiplomacy focused on promoting…U.S. policy.’ The VOA Union’s statement on the bill recommends passage, but with the caveat that ‘specific wording’ be included assuring ‘the news product remains objective.’ The statement explains that VOA has ‘[ignored] important statements by U.S. leaders’ over the past 12 years, stopped covering American news, and ‘stopped fulfilling’ the mandate to ‘present the policies of the United States.’” Image from

Public Diplomacy,” or The Arab World, Served up on a Plate - Assim Al Moussaoui, Morocco World News: "The Arab world has recently become the target of diverse foreign government owned-media outlets scrambling for political and cultural influence over the region. Major powers like America, Britain, Russia, Germany, France and China have established Arabic version satellite television channels to speak to Arabs and explain to them their viewpoints about their foreign policy in the Middle East. Al Hurra, DW Arabic, BBC Arabic, Russia Today, France24, Sky News Arabic, CNN Arabic etc, all of which are directed towards Arab audiences only. Spending millions of dollars on such projects cannot be considered an ordinary enterprise. There must be convincing reasons for the creation of these foreign outlets. Most of these channels broadcast news programs. Although there are private entertainment channels beaming western culture, akin to MBC4, MBC action, MBC Max, Fox series, Fox movies, Panorama, their goals of ‘perception-management’ are complementary with those under governments’ control.

The United States of America capitalizes more than any other country in the world on the power of its sophisticated media to launch its persuasion campaigns in the Arab world. After the 9/11 attacks in New York, the American Department of State launched a Rapid Response Unit. The task of this team, which works around the clock, is to gather any information about America being broadcast on major Arab satellite channels. Summarized reports and recommendations are sent to US embassies worldwide in the early morning instructing American diplomats on measures which should be taken to address current challenges. The goal of this unit is to counteract negative perceptions Arabs receive from other media outlets. This unit is a case in point of what is referred to as ‘public diplomacy. In short, Arabs in the MENA region should be aware of the foreign media blitz targeting their very existence and identity. Arab nations have become like a platter of food that contemporary powers sit around to eat from. The attack on the Arab and Islamic values is carried mainly through news and entertainment programs, which are part and parcel of the modern public diplomacy. So don’t sit around and allow yourself to become a tool of these powers–be aware of your media choices, and consume with care. Otherwise, one day the platter being served up will be you!" Uncaptioned image from entry

Truth about Effect of Social Media in Arab Spring - Dina El Sayed, eurasiareview.com: "During the Arab Spring, social media mobilized the supporters and provided new insights about social problems. Discovering the root causes of the problem is critical for the state. Policymaker in the post-revolution governments must understand why this occurred so as to prevent future radicalization. Policymakers interest in the Arab spring focuses on the new regime types that will rise. Will it lead to rise of democratic regime or bring Muslim parties? Will the rise of democratic regimes in authoritarian Arab states lead to more cooperation with the democratically formed governments and the use the social media as a tool for public diplomacy?"

HBO History Makers Series with Hillary Rodham Clinton - cfr.org: "Speaker: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Author, Hard Choices; Former Secretary, U.S. Department of State; Former Senator, U.S. Senate (D-NY); Former First Lady of the United States Presider: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations ... CLINTON: ... [W]hat I tried to do was to rebalance foreign policy. Defense, diplomacy, and development was not a slogan. It was a mission. We had to do development better. We made some advances, not enough, in my view. And on diplomacy, we had to modernize it. When I got there, most members of the State Department were not issued, you know, cellphones, BlackBerries. They were considered security risks. I'm laughing at Judith McHale, who was my undersecretary for public diplomacy, just to be able to equip our diplomats with modern tools so that they could go out and do the work that was necessary and to look at these trend lines. ... HAASS: What is -- how do you persuade Americans not to turn their backs on the world? CLINTON: I think you -- you have to start from a very simple premise, that America matters to the world and the world matters to America, that in an interconnected, interdependent world like the one in which we all live in, our jobs, our economic growth, investment opportunities are very much connected with what goes on in the rest of the world."

Department of State Public Schedule, June 17, 2014 - state.gov: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS RICHARD STENGEL Under Secretary Stengel participates in various events related to the 'Our Ocean' Conference, at the Department of State. Please click here for more information."

“Multiple Benefits for All”: The EU Does Cultural Relations - Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence: "Last week a group of European ‘cultural operators’ put out, on behalf of the EU a report entitled Culture in EU External Relations: Engaging the World – Towards Global Cultural Citizenship, this is intended as a step towards the developing a role for culture in the EU’s external relations.   Not surprisingly these organizations, (which can expect to benefit from more funding for culture) are thoroughly in favour . ... I’ve blogged before about the rise of cultural policy and the way that this has affected the discussion of culture in external relations. The classical view of the relationship is expressed in this tweet from the French Foreign Ministry:

France Diplomatie ✔ @francediplo
L'#archéologie française à l'étranger est un outil de notre rayonnement à l'international : http://fdip.fr/ao4z3 

... There’s some appreciation of the difficulties that the EU will have in running a cultural policy as part of its external action but given the difficulties that the organization is already having funding and coordinating public diplomacy and getting buy in from different Directorates General (see Duke 2013) it’s really difficult to see coordination happening. It’s also noticeable that compared to a British Council concept of cultural relations or German Auswärtige Kulturpolitik culture in the report is understood quite narrowly education, science, development are mostly excluded and the focus is on arts and arts management with some reference to cultural and creative industries but the EU definition includes advertising which seems quite far from the core concerns of this document."

India pitches tourism for South Asian integration - news.oneindia.in: "After talks with the Bhutanese leadership, Prime minister Narendra Modi Monday proposed developing a tourism circuit combining India's Northeast region and the Himalayan nation. This came weeks after he conferred with other South Asian leaders and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj spoke about some 'new initiatives' that could be taken to build a new architecture of development cooperation among SAARC countries. One of those, she said, is tourism. ... South Asia is the world's most populous region. It is a region of overlapping ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity. However, it is one of the least integrated in terms of regional or cross-border infrastructure. What Swaraj was hinting at is that instead of wielding tourism as an instrument of political leverage, as it has often been, between nations, it can be used as an effective means of economic and public diplomacy to help improve interactions and peace and prosperity in the region that has been one civilizational unit and historically a single market. Tourism contributes to people's getting to know each other more closely and helps them find out their commonalities, reaching beyond the commercial dimension. As the prime minister said in Thimpu, 'terrorism divides, tourism unites'." See also

Indonesia's Post-Election Foreign Policy: New Directions? - RSIS, eurasiareview.com: For the upcoming presidential election, both Joko Widodo ('Jokowi’) and his rival Prabowo Subianto have been taking inspiration from the nationalist outlook of Sukarno. ... Despite his limited experience in foreign relations, Jokowi’s vision and mission recently published by the Indonesia National Election Commission (KPU) has much to say about foreign policy. The strong nationalist stance will not prevent Jokowi from projecting Indonesian activism in the Asia Pacific region. Several priorities have been set: resolving border disputes in the region; expanding middle power diplomacy; building up the Indo-Pacific regional architecture; enhancing the diplomatic infrastructure of KEMLU such as its research capacity; and enhancing public diplomacy especially to widen public participation in foreign affairs."

Uzbekistan’s Cultural Diplomacy: A Effective Way to showcase its Ancestors’ Services - opfblog.com: "The Republic of Uzbekistan’s cultural diplomacy stands for dialogue between people, countries, and civilizations. It is complete education: the more you learn about the culture of other people, the more you understand them. It promotes mutual understanding which allows solving any problems that may occur. It is such an important asset for communication between people. Uzbekistan’s cultural diplomacy is now an increasingly important component of its diplomatic efforts nowadays.  ...  [C]ultural diplomacy ... is one of the

important and central aspect of new public diplomacy is cultural diplomacy, i.e. the use of a country’s culture to reach out to foreign audiences and to project a positive image in the international arena. ... Right from the beginning, Uzbekistan’s government under the immaculate leadership of his President H.E. Islam Karimov has been showcasing its splendid past in order to make bridges of better understandings, dialogues and conflict resolutions in the world. ... From centuries the Republic of Uzbekistan has been spreading light of knowledge, wisdom, research, logic and above all humanity in the every corner of the world. It is the sacred land of so many dignified personalities who changed the course of human history and civilization. ... Uzbekistan’s culture is vibrant and versatile and its gigantic cultural diplomacy wins the hearts and souls of the millions of tourists, researchers, academicians, diplomats and officials alike. Cultural diplomacy is the custodian of Uzbekistan’s galaxies of so many dignified personalities and their works in the fields of natural, pure, social, physical, medical, biological and astrological sciences. Cultural diplomacy has already proved effective in case of dialogue between civilizations. It is first giant step towards global integration." Uncaptioned image from entry

Premier's wife to bring a touch of soft power - China Daily: "When Premier Li Keqiang visits the United Kingdom and Greece this week, one of the most prominent members of his entourage will be his wife, Cheng Hong. Her presence on the trip suggests China is already reaping handsome rewards from her early forays — and those of Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping — into soft diplomacy. ... China observers said that Cheng, an English professor and researcher of American nature writing with the Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing, will likely meet young people and may even discuss Greek classics. ... Pierre Picquart, a China observer and professor at the University of Paris VIII,

said Cheng's presence on the trip gives China an opportunity to strengthen its soft power and enhance cultural exchanges, academic relations and humanitarian efforts. ... Shada Islam, policy director of the think tank Friends of Europe in Brussels, said in the West, leaders' spouses play an important role in public diplomacy by, for example, showcasing clothes made by their countries' couturiers. 'I think Xi's wife Peng Liyuan is an important messenger of China's soft power, Islam said. 'Diplomatically, the presence of Li and his wife will also be good for China's image.' Image from entry, with caption: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (C) and his wife Cheng Hong (R) arrive in London, Britain, June 16, 2014. Li arrived here Monday for an official visit to Britain.

E-magining public diplomacy - Lital Shemesh, israelhayom.com: "Students and social media activists launched the Bring Back Our Boys campaign soon after the news of the kidnapping broke. The name is very similar to that of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign that was set in motion following the recent kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls, and it has parallels: people taking pictures next to a sign with the slogan (often with a hashtag) and posting them on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The Facebook campaign page generated tens of thousands of 'likes' in just three days.

But unlike the Nigerian campaign, the Israeli campaign was all but ignored by the foreign media. ... I have worked on a number of Israel-advocacy projects for the past several years. I often lecture before American audiences on the complex situation in Israel. I can credibly say that grass-roots campaigns are often much more effective than a campaign led by the government or the IDF spokesperson using traditional media. ... In this day and age, public diplomacy is all about social media. Any grass-roots effort that could help shape public opinion on the world stage while condemning and rebuking the acts of terror should be encouragedShemesh image from entry

Arab MK upset by relative’s public call for return of teens - Ariel Ben Solomon, jpost.com: 17-year-old Mohammad Zoabi, a cousin of Balad MK Haneen Zoabi, made a video calling on 'terrorists' to return the three yeshiva students missing in the West Bank since Thursday night and presumed to have been kidnapped. ... His video was uploaded to Youtube on Saturday and as of Monday evening had accounted for over 25,000 views. The Balad MK was quick to unleash her displeasure. 'I am happy to see that Israeli hasbara [public diplomacy] is in such a dire state that it needs a stupid boy with a twisted identity who feels a continuous need to apologize to his strong masters,' Haneen Zoabi told Ynet."

Let’s not be meek - Letters to the Editor, jpost.com: "Sir, – According to Reuven Ben-Shalom ('Hasbara, public diplomacy and propaganda,' Observations, June 13), Israel, as it states its case, should avoid sloganeering, harping on old news and preaching in general. It should instead project modesty, admit imperfection and 'balance threats and defense with softer issues.' But notice that the other side, which has been successful in turning much of the world against us, has done so exactly by the methods that Ben-Shalom rejects: sloganeering, harping on old news and preaching in general. It shows no modesty, admits no imperfection and never mentions softer issues. So maybe the source of Israel’s problem is elsewhere. I suspect that the source is the huge, committed, well-funded and long-standing anti-Zionist campaign

in the world’s universities, media and international forums, where the uninformed are deceived and the uninterested are bribed. Israel will never have the funding that its opponents have, but it should devote what funds it has to stating its case assertively, not meekly. MARK L. LEVINSON Herzliya [.] Sir, – I enjoyed and for the most part agreed with 'Hasbara, public diplomacy and propaganda.' Israelis and their government certainly can use some pointers on how to better present their situation to the world. However, the article overlooked one shining fact: Neither Israels nor their government really know exactly what they want. If one were to ask three ministers from the same party (no matter which) how they envision the country’s future, you’ll receive four different answers. The Arabs in general, and the Palestinians in particular, give answers that are hard to disagree with. They want 'peace with justice,' 'the right to return to where my grandparents lived' or other such platitudes. Not until Israelis know what they want can their government properly articulate a stand. I’m not holding my breath. STUART KATSOFF Tel Aviv [.]" Image from

[Panel Discussion] Cultural Diplomacy in 2020 - i-house.or.jp: "Date: Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 6:30-8:30 pm Venue: Iwasaki Koyata Memorial Hall, International House of Japan Co-organizers: Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation, La Maison franco-japonaise Supported by: Institut français du Japon, French Embassy ... In this fast-changing global environment, the role cultural diplomacy plays is growing more than ever. In a world with styles of communication transformed and actors of cultural engagement diversified, what will the essence of cultural diplomacy in the future be like? What possibilities and challenges does Japan have with the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo approaching in six years?

Commemorating the 90th anniversary of the cultural partnership between Japan and France, experts and practitioners of cultural diplomacy will discuss these timely issues. Panelists [include]: ... Saiki Naoko[,] Director-General for Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After graduating from the University of Tokyo, Ms. Saiki joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Following her career as Director, International Peace Cooperation Division; Director, Second North America Division; Director, Legal Affairs Division; Director, Financial Affairs Division; Deputy Press Secretary; and Deputy Director General, Public Diplomacy Department, she assumed her current position in 2013." Image from

Networks, Practices and Dynamics of Socialization in European diplomacy - humanisme.hypotheses.org: "Call for papers – RICHIE Conference Brussels, Royal Academy of Belgium 19-21 March 2015 Networks, Practices and Dynamics of Socialization in European diplomacy from 1919 to today 1. Disciplines involved Trans-disciplinary conference favouring an historical perspective. Contributions in History and all social sciences are welcomed (Political Science, Anthropology, Sociology). ... 3. Main Themes / Research Questions ... Development of a European diplomatic milieu within the institutions of the ECC/EU and in their delegations abroad. The rise of public diplomacy and new proactive forms of commercial and economic diplomacy."

These generals want you... to join the fight against climate change - knprnews.org: "American Security Project [:] ... The nonpartisan, nonprofit Washington, D.C., think-tank leverages the clout of retired admirals, generals and other high-level government officials, such as Cheney and Seip, to spread its message about national security, which it tackles from several perspectives: American competitiveness, energy, public diplomacy, the oceans, space and ... climate change."

USC Annenberg Releases Results of Eighth GAP Study Assessing PR Industry Trends and Practices: Profession Enjoying a Multi-Year Period of Expansion in Budgets and Staffs Findings Suggest that Championing Collaboration Benefits the PR/Communication Function and the Organization - newswise.com: "Located in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is a national leader in education and scholarship in the fields of public relations, communication,

journalism, and public diplomacy." See also John Brown, "The kind of "Kommunications" report you want to read to your lover at a candlelit dinner :) " Notes and Essays. Image from

Manuel Castells – Life - helpdesksurvival.com: "Castells was dogmatically energetic in the scholar anti-Francisco Franco|Franco motion, an teenager governmental vigorous action that enforced him to run away Spain for France. ... In 2003, he joint the University of Southern California (USC) University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication|Annenberg School for Communication, as a Professor of Communication and the foremost Wallis Annenberg-endowed Chair of Communication and Technology. Castells is a establishing associate of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy."

Converse student studying Scottish independence debate - goupstate.com: "A Converse College student majoring in professional writing and political science will get experience in her chosen fields during her summer travels in Scotland. Brandy Blanton, who will be a senior this fall, left for Scotland earlier this month to study the country’s independence movement. ... Blanton says her time in Scotland will be a perfect test run for what she plans to do after graduation. 'I want to be a public diplomacy officer and work in international politics,' Blanton said."


Iraq: How to distinguish between real news and propaganda - reliablesources.blogs.cnn.com: News organizations depend on a start up called Storyful. It calls itself a social media news agency. Here's a sign how important this work is becoming: last year, Rupert Murdoch acquired Storyful for $25 million. They have been busy, debunking insurgent propaganda from Iraq.

Blame America: The United States tried to build a stable state in Iraq. We should've known better - Gordon Adams, Foreign Policy: We cannot remake other countries, build their militaries, make them behave, and guarantee their security, either through occupation or by training and equipping their militaries.

The story of Iraq is a microcosm of American experience intruding in the security affairs of other countries and being humbled. Uncaptioned image from entry. See also John Brown, "We're Gonna Train 'em: The Fallacy of American Total Make-Over in Iraq,"Huffington Post

Why America Can Never Win in Iraq - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: The reason why America can never win the war in Iraq, et al, is because to win the war you have to somehow win all the layers of wars, and to win all the wars involves impossible to resolve paradoxes such as siding with the Iranians here while opposing them there. Here and there are often in reality the same place, such as along the Syrian-Iraqi border. It can’t be done. It is a trick, like a carnival ring toss game. The only way to win is not to play. Otherwise, you’re just another sucker with a fist full of quarters to trade for a cheap stuffed animal. - See more at: http://wemeantwell.com/blog/2014/06/16/why-america-can-never-win-in-iraq/#sthash.c5p5n0Tq.dpuf

Who Will Win in Iraq? ISIS Will Fail in Iraq, and Iran Will Be the Victor - Steven Simon, New York Times: Despite the rapid success of the Sunni campaign, it is a kamikaze attack that will make the Shiite hold on the Iraqi state stronger, not weaker. American policy makers might anticipate that the insurgency will burn itself out before it presents a real threat to American interests. But they can’t relax too much, because to the extent that this sectarian brawlproduces something resembling a winner, it won’t be in Washington, Mosul or Baghdad — but in Tehran.

Take Mosul Back - Roger Cohen, New York Times: President Obama should use targeted military force to drive back the fanatics of ISIS. If the jihadis cement their hold, the blowback will be felt in Europe and the United States. Such action will not resolve Iraq’s problems, or the region’s. But the alternative is far worse. It would be a betrayal of the thousands of American lives lost since 2001 and of the millions in the Middle East who view the Middle Ages as over.

Our war in Iraq will be won by Iran - Steve Deace, Washington Times: By urging “Iraq’s neighbors” (see that as Iran) to bear at least some of the responsibility for squashing the Al Qaeda-inspired rebellion against Iraq’s fledgling government, the President of these United States continues to elevate the legitimacy of the enemy regime in Iran for reasons known only to Allah. Of course, the Iranians have gotten the message they’re now at the big boy table loud and clear

A Plan to Save Iraq From ISIS and Iran: Baghdad can be protected with American help and a counteroffensive launched to retake captured territory - Jack Keane and Danielle Pletka, Wall Street Journal: Yes, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has failed dismally to include Sunnis in Iraq's government, military and economy—with disastrous effects. Nonetheless, President Obama's formulation—that the U.S. will provide assistance only if Mr. Maliki makes necessary reforms—assumes that we have some leverage over Baghdad. To the contrary, Washington will earn far more leverage if it is willing to step in and provide the kind of support that should have been there in the years after victory. Only then will Mr. Obama have the influence and the trust to bring together Iraqis to reconstitute a foundation that can withstand the predations of ISIS, Iran and others.

Putin Has Exposed Europe's Cracks: Poland's friends have gone missing as Russia threatens NATO's Eastern flank - Matthew Kaminski, Wall Street Journal: Over half of Germans claim to "understand" Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea and the bloody conflict it is fomenting in Ukraine—in part blaming America's support for Kiev's democrats for provoking the Kremlin. The Poles are banking their future security on NATO and the U.S., and they are increasing their defense spending as a sort of down payment. After Ukraine, the thinking goes, forget the faith in a fully Westernized Germany. Bring back the old Cold War-era definition of NATO: An alliance that keeps the Russians out, the Germans down and the Americans in Europe.

Russian ambassador to U.S.: Two nations must work together - The Russian ambassador rejected the idea that there is a new Cold War developing, even while acknowledging that the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has disagreed with the U.S. on several topics. The Russian leadership viewed the uprising in Ukraine as an “unconstitutional armed overthrow of the government,” he said. Likewise, U.S. support of Syrian opposition fighters combating President Bashar Assad made Russians believe the policy would only fund terrorism and give Islamist militants areas to operate in, Mr. Kislyak said. But, at the end of the day, U.S. and Russia must work to find common ground.

Let North Korea Collapse - Sue Mi Terry, New York Times: The United States and its allies must revise their approach to North Korea. Rather than continue to prop up a government they worry might topple over on its own, they should pursue a tougher version of containment, knowing that that may accelerate the collapse of the Kim regime.

Obama's Priorities - Allysia Finley, Wall Street Journal: Over the weekend, Sunni insurgents reportedly mass murdered Iraqi Shiite soldiers and captured another key outpost in the country's North. Kremlin-abetted fighters shot down a Ukrainian military plane as Russian tanks entered Eastern Ukraine. The Taliban killed 68 Afghans in an unsuccessful effort to obstruct the fledgling democracy's presidential election. And Somalia Islamists gunned down 50 soccer fans at a Kenyan hotel. Where was President Obama while the world was set aflame? He was in sunny California, campaigning and working on his golf handicap.

The result of Obama’s do-nothing policy? Iraq - Richard Cohen, Washington Post: Other than avoiding war, it’s hard

to know what Obama wants. Cohen satirical image from

The Pace of Obama's Disasters: Bergdahl one week. Then Ukraine. Now Iraq. What could be next? - Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal: U.S. strategic blunders and international disasters are accumulating at an unsustainable pace. This is what the real post-American world looks like.

Did George W. Bush Foresee What’s Happening in Iraq? - Andrew Rosenthal, New York Times: Mr. Obama did his best to clean up a huge mess left by his predecessor (and Iraq was far from the only one). To heap all the blame on him now is partisan hackery.

ISIS jihadists put out Hollywood-style propaganda film - observers.france24.com:
Aerial shots, slow-motion explosions, scenes filmed through a rifle’s crosshairs… You might think this is footage from a new summer blockbuster, but you would be wrong. It is, in fact, a new propaganda video produced by Sunni jihadists from the armed group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The extremely violent hour-long film was published online just days before ISIS launched a massive offensive in northern Iraq. The film is called “The Clanging of the Swords IV”. The Roman numeral is there because, much like with Hollywood blockbusters, the film is part of a series. This one was first published on Internet forums heavily frequented by ISIS members, and was then reposted on the group’s official Twitter account on May 17, 2014.

Taliban spreads the propaganda of fear - Editorial, National: Murder and amputation is in no way indicative of the “pure” Islam that the Taliban purports to represent. It is an instrument of propaganda in a campaign of fear. By cutting off fingers that have or will be used to register votes, the Taliban is crudely warning others to stay away from the polling booths. It is an attempt to subvert the democratic process that promises some kind of hope for that desperate, war-ravaged country. The Taliban do not have anywhere near the popular support they need to retake control of Afghanistan by any legitimate means – and they know it. ­Instead, they are hoping to frighten the people into bending to their will. There are parallels here with the actions of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – an Al Qaeda offshoot with such a reputation for cruelty that it has been disowned by its parent.

The Propaganda War About Ukraine: How Important It Really Is - Eric Zuesse
Recently, Germany's Der Spiegel featured a lengthy editorial damning Russia regarding Ukraine; it was titled "How Russia Is Winning the Propaganda War," and it made many allegations, none with documentation, and not a single one with a link to assist the magazine's online readers to reach easily the presumed (but unidentified) sources. They don't want to facilitate a reader's checking out the veracity. It was the type of propaganda for which Fox "News" in the U.S. has become famous, though Spiegel is centrist (not "right wing").  The 2,500-word Spiegel article ignored Obama's lies about Ukraine, and ignored the solid and voluminous evidence that the February 22nd overthrow of the democratically elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was engineered in Washington with assistance fromrabidly anti-Russian Polish officials, and with the additional assistance of some fundamentalist far-Right Israeli-Ukrainian Jews who were willing to work with Ukrainian neo-Nazis to get this done. The May 2nd massacre in Odessa that started Ukraine's civil war was masterminded by the person (Ihor Kolomoyski) who was appointed by the person (Yulia Tymoshenko) whose ally (Arseni Yatsenyuk) was chosen by Obama's agent (Victoria Nuland) to lead the post-coup government, as the interim Prime Minister. None of that interested the editors at Spiegel.

Truth or Propaganda? Hollywood to Produce Film on Six-Day War Called ‘Jerusalem 67’ - Timothy Alexander Guzman, globalresearch.ca: Hollywood gave the green light to begin the film production of Israel’s Six-Day War in 1967 based on Abraham Rabinovich’s ‘Battle for Jerusalem’ An Unintended Conquest’.

The film will be called ‘Jerusalem 67’. The Times of Israel reported that Hollywood is onboard to shoot the film in Israel and that it would not be “Sugarcoated” according to Joseph Schick and Jacob Septimus who are the producers of the film. Image from entry

Iranian Journalist Put on Trial for Propaganda Against State - payvand.com: The lawyer representing Hossein Nouraninejad, the Iranian journalist and member of the now-banned reformist political party the Participation Front, told ILNA News Agency that his client was put on trial on June 9, 2014, at Branch 15 of Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Salavati. Hossein Nouraninejad was charged with “propaganda against the regime” and “collusion and assembly against national security” according to his lawyer, but no evidence of conduct that would warrant these charges was offered in court.

Baltics mull TV channel to counter propaganda -- Aim to curb pro-Kremlin influences - leaderpost.com: The three Baltic nations watched with alarm as Russia took over Crimea and mobilized its military along Ukraine's eastern border, pledging to protect all Russians abroad. Now the Baltics are moving to curtail Moscow's influence through the airwaves, heedful of the need to prevent pro-Kremlin agitation among the million Russian speakers who stayed after the Baltics regained independence following the Soviet collapse.
Latvia and Lithuania have temporarily banned some pro-Russian TV stations, including

Moscow-based RTR Rossiya and RTR Planeta. They are now planning with Estonia to set up a joint Russian-language channel to counter Russian propaganda, hoping for financial assistance from the European Union. Image from entry, with caption: Latvia and Lithuania are now planning with Estonia to set up a joint Russian-language channel to counter pro-Kremlin propaganda from the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The countries are hoping for financial assistance from the European Union.

Seven decades of Soviet propaganda -- in pictures - theguardian.com: As the Minsk History Museum in Belarus holds an exhibition celebrating the USSR, we look back at some of the best Soviet poster art.

Image from entry, with caption: A Soviet aviation propaganda poster from the 1920s.


“We are the closest neighbor of the United States after Mexico and Canada."

--Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak

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