Monday, June 23, 2014

June 21-23 Public Diplomacy Review

"A 12th-grader once even responded to a comment I made about World War II by asking: 'Does that mean there was a World War I?'"

--Christopher L. Doyle, who teaches history at Watkinson School in Hartford, Conn.; image from


Iraqi TV Uses Propaganda to Counter ISIS Offensive - Wall Street Journal: "Al-Iraqiya TV is full of patriotic programming and ads as the Iraqi Army struggles to counter an ISIS offensive. One TV ad portrays ISIS as a snake-handling ghoul."


Remarks at The Center for Strategic and International Studies Lecture and Roundtable on Advancing Policy and Programs on Global Women's Issues - Remarks, Catherine M. Russell, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, Washington, DC, June 18, 2014 - "A whole-of-government – in fact, a whole-of-international-community – approach is needed to advance the economic empowerment of women and girls. Such an approach will require a variety of partnerships, strategic dialogues, and public diplomacy outreach. We are working to develop toolkits that our embassies and forward-thinking governments or civil society groups can use to drive positive change."

In "Kazmedia Ortalygy took Place a Meeting with Reprsentatives of the U.S. Department of State - "Yesterday at 'Kazmedia ortalygy' took place a meeting with Macon Phillips, the coordinator of Bureau of the International Information programs of U.S. State Department, and Aylin O'Connor, the Deputy assistant state secretary concerning the Southern and Central Asia and the senior director of questions of communications and public diplomacy.

Participants of a meeting: Vice-chairman of Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan on communication and information Abibullayev A. I. and General Director of MC 'Kazmedia ortalygy' Sakhariyanov K.A. Within were discussed on a meeting the main questions of further development of the media sphere between Kazakhstan and the USA, including realization of media of projects. Vice-chairman of Agency for Communications and Information of the Republic Kazakhstan Mr. Abibullayev A. I. noted that, 'the USA is one of the main strategic partners, and relationship of our republic with America consistently develop in all directions, but one of the main is media the industry. And also I added, about importance of development of a national content'. The parties exchanged opinions in the field of development of digital technologies in modern society and agreed to begin cooperation on implementation of joint projects." Uncaptioned image from entry

US Senate set to hold hearing on nominee for ambassador to Seoul (and his prepared testimony) - "Testimony of Mark Lippert Ambassador-Nominee to the Republic of Korea Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 3 p.m. ... If confirmed, I will make public diplomacy a top priority and work to foster ... exchanges and bring more Korean education and tourism dollars to the United States."

TTIP Update XXIX - Glyn Moody, "[N]ot only is the US doing everything in its power to stop the public seeing the negotiating documents while TTIP [Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership] is being discussed, but it aims to keep them under lock and key for another five years after TTIP is agreed - or fails.

That really shows an extraordinary contempt for the US people who are not even allowed to see what their officials have done for many years after it is too late to do anything about it anyway. ... [From] a recent speech from Anthony L. Gardner, the US Ambassador to the European Union. ... [']I think our strategy has to change: I intend to take the debate to the critics, rather than accept speaking engagements only from the usual business federations where we preach to the converted. I intend to meet with representatives of civil society that have an open mind - including from labor, environmental and consumer groups; and I intend to focus in particular on rallying small and medium sized businesses because they struggle to spend the resources to deal with the bureaucratic red tape that we hope to reduce.['] And here's how he intends to do that: ['] I believe this public diplomacy has to be centered on stories, not statistics: simple language that ordinary people can understand.[']" Image from

US Embassy In Berlin Offering Cold, Hard Cash For People To Create Pro-TAFTA/TTIP Propaganda - "We've been writing about the big US/EU "free trade" agreement negotiations (which aren't really about free trade at all), variously named TAFTA or TTIP (negotiators prefer TTIP, to avoid comparisons to NAFTA) for quite some time now. If it were really about free trade, there might be some interesting elements to it, but it's much more about the standard issues like providing corporate sovereignty over national sovereignty, and other things like ratcheting up copyright and patent laws in secret. All this 'democracy' is all done very much behind closed doors that won't be opened until many yearsafter the agreement is already reached. ... The key negotiators have long been complaining about 'misinformation' being spread about this and other agreements -- but it often appears that the misinformation is actually coming directly from the negotiators themselves. Besides, it's pretty rich to complain about misinformation on a deal that you're negotiating in secret. Want to end much of that supposed 'misinformation'? Here's a simple suggestion: open up, show some transparency and release the negotiating positions you're taking, or even draft documents of the agreement to allow the public to comment. But instead of transparency, it appears that the US State Department has settled on another option: paying for propaganda.  No joke, the US Embassy in Berlin has apparently been tweeting out offers to give out between $5,000 and $20,000 to organizations willing to produce pro-TAFTA/TTIP propaganda. The document doesn't ask for proposals for unbiased analysis on the impact of any potential agreement, instead it starts out by simply declaring: ['] T-TIP will be a fair deal for Europeans and Americans that will build on an already existing strong friendship. ['] Now that's an interesting claim, given that there is no agreement yet, and what's been negotiated so far is (and will remain) entirely secret."

The Conversation: America’s international broadcasters are losing the air wars - Markos Kounalakis, "Congress is taking baby steps to catch up and harness the public diplomacy power of America’s international broadcasters, but a future where Western values and interests predominate will also depend greatly on the survival and success of American private journalistic institutions. That outcome is far from assured.

In the meantime, China and Russia are investing heavily to win the information war and they are doing it right in front of our eyes." Uncaptioned image from blog

Al Hurra TV and Radio Sawa: Two Sides of the Same Coin - Assim Al Moussaoui, "In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, there have been hostile and racist acts perpetrated against the U.S. Arab and Muslim community as a vengeful and narrow-minded reaction. Compounded with this was the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and Iraq in 2003. These events bred extreme negative views in the Arab public towards the American administration and its foreign policy in the Middle East. To counteract such widespread growing detest, US officials resorted to “multimillion-dollar programs under a wide-scale public diplomacy plan to improve America’s image in the Middle East and win the minds and hearts of the Arab people” (El Nawawy, 2006). It is in this context that Al Hurra and Sawa were created. The two stations were supervised by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal entity entrusted with controlling all US international broadcasting, and funded by the US congress. ... Al Hurra’s goal ... is to beam favorable news about the United States’ policies and present American culture and values to Arab populations. Al Hurra runs programs and documentaries depicting the American lifestyle in order to bridge the cultural misunderstanding gap between Arabs and Americans.

Yet, Al Hurra is trapped into an 'existential dilemma,' Rugh (2004) claims. On one hand, Al Hurra cannot air news or voices critical of its own creator and, on the other hand, it must deliver free and open discussion of different issues if it is to fulfill its primary mission: winning the hearts and the minds of the Arab public. ... Radio Sawa is overseen by the BBG and funded by the US congress. Radio Sawa is headquartered in Springfield, Virginia, with offices in Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Jordan. Its regional broadcast center is located in Dubai. The official website of Radio Sawa defines its target audience as the 'youthful population of Arab- speakers in the Middle East.' For this purpose, and unlike Al Hurra, Radio Sawa’s content is primarily American and Arab pop music, interspersed with periodic news bulletins. Observers, such as Abuminah (2002), El Nawawy (2006), and Djerejian (2003), insinuate that BBG’s officials focused Sawa’s broadcast on entertainment (music) as a ‘bait’ to attract more Arab listeners to be exposed to America’s influence campaigns. El Nawawy wonders if the Arab youth would dismantle the American strategy regarding Radio Sawa: 'take the US sound and discard the US agenda.'” Uncaptioned image from entry

Department of State Public Shedule, June 20, 2014 - posted at "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS RICHARD STENGEL Under Secretary Stengel is on travel to Miami, Florida through June 20 to attend meetings of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)."

How They (Really) See Us: The impact of America's media exports - Sarah Ruden, In researching her book, Bayles also went to distant but important sources, including Islamists, foreign media professionals, and diplomats across eleven countries, and she delivers the hard news: We are presenting ourselves very badly abroad—especially now that commercial products are filling in for any concerted information policy on our government's part; normal life here, including our cohesive and idealistic institutions, gets little coverage out there, and many foreigners call the trashy backwash of our popular media on their shores a threat to their traditions and social stability.

In addition, Bayles, a conservative expert on American pop culture (her previous book was entitled Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music), is large-minded about our potential for good influence. In her prologue to Part 1, she sets the scene in a McDonald's in Shanghai, where, to her initial distaste and embarrassment, an articulate and cultivated Chinese video artist has arranged to meet her for an interview. But Bayles herself is good at what she lists as an essential part of public diplomacy—listening—and she quickly understands why her informant is genuinely attached to the place, having often studied there as a teenager. ... I wasn't ... sure I understood correctly her views of media's power to make the rest of the world see us the way we want to be seen, until I came to her conclusion and read this: [']Why, then, does US public diplomacy remain feeble? I have argued that it was a serious mistake to cut back on government-sponsored diplomacy and entrust America's reputation to the entertainment industry (and to the various nonprofits analyzed in Chapters 8 and 9). ['] Excuse me! In the aggregate and over time, we create our reputation through what we do; and if we pile on top of offensive acts a floorshow of our unique virtue we only worsen resentment . ... Bayles assumes that we can purvey our culture selectively and not be frustrated, first of all, by what is wrong at home; she warns, for example, about exporting our culture wars. But essential in whatever we purvey must be an affirmation of foreigners' right to know the truth. We do have culture wars, and hardly should—we hardly could—be working through them in secret. ... We would be hard put to work against certain things that have already happened, and against certain situations on the ground overseas—and Bayles does note many. But our government didn't just lay down important public-diplomacy functions, some of which it could pick up again (not, alas, the large, well-stocked, quite open reading rooms attached to U.S. diplomatic complexes in countries like Turkey and Egypt); we also, in quite solid ways—legal, political, cultural—devolved so many resources and so much latitude onto multinational corporations, that foreigners look to these (when they don't look to our military) to say who Americans 'are.' Public policy has little or no control over what is projected as our 'soft power,' and government efforts to project something else can look puny and ridiculous, when people notice them at all." Image from entry

Why this Minnesota farmer went to Iran to talk about organic food - "Jim Riddle was surprised when he got an email from Iran. The Minnesota farmer, and former chairman of the US National Organic Standards Board, says he was invited to speak at the Second International Organic Agriculture conference in Tehran. 'The organizing committee was looking for a speaker knowledgeable about the United States organic regulation and organic markets and the situation here,' he says. Since Riddle had never been to Iran before, he says he wasn't sure if his trip would conflict with US sanctions against Iran.

So he checked with the USDA and State Department and he says they told him about some cultural, sports and academic exchanges that are going on. '[It's] kind of like soft diplomacy,' he says. After Riddle got the green light from the State Department, he was on his way to Tehran. As you might imagine, his trip was met with some raised eyebrows from his friends. 'Some of them were like 'are you crazy? Why would you want to go there?' But Riddle says he learned a lot from his trip to Iran. 'I thought it would be much more repressive and controlled,' he says. 'I also learned that Iran has over 3,000 certified organic farms already, producing organic products such as pistachios, pomegranates, grapes, figs, dates.' Riddle says now Iranians want to strengthen their access to the international organic market and focus on improving their local, domestic infrastructure. But Riddle also discovered it's difficult to find blueberries in Iran." Image from entry, with caption: Jim Riddle in Iran with his sponsor and guide Reza Ardekani.

Forms of Diplomacy Conference - Molly Bettie, Student Exchanges: Possibly the first study of the Fulbright Program to be conducted by someone who isn't affiliated with it in any way... - "I've just returned from the Forms of Diplomacy conference at University of Toulouse II--Le Mirail.

It had such an interesting assortment of perspectives, from 17th century Anglo-French peacemaking in Scandinavia to America's jazz cultural diplomacy in 1960's Kabul." Image from entry

Ukraine Unspun: Russian Media Claims About State Spokesperson Appear To Be Fantasy - Glenn Kates, RFE/RL: "An article about a U.S. State Department spokesperson in the official newspaper of the Russian government appears to be completely made up. On June 20, 'Rossiyskaya Gazeta' reported that Jen Psaki had rejected claims that Ukrainians were fleeing to Russia's southern Rostov region. According to the newspaper, AP's diplomatic correspondent, Matthew Lee, then asked her to explain 'all the women and children arriving in Russia's regions.' 'It's tourists' who come for Rostov's 'beautiful mountains and curative air' she reportedly responded 'without hesitation.' The first problem with the statement? Rostov is generally flat, with no land more than 253 meters above sea level. The second problem? The conversation apparently never took place."

On regime change in Russia - Mychailo Wynnyckyj, "Yesterday, I met with a group of analysts from Europe and the US brought to Kyiv by the Public Diplomacy Division of NATO. My remarks were deliberately provocative (I voiced the idea of “regime change” in Russia as a viable NATO policy objective) because I am convinced that actual policies implemented by bureaucracies are generated as compromises between extreme positions.

I presented an idea that represents an extreme in the hope that the real policy will perhaps not be as radical as my proposal, but at least will be more proactive than the status quo." Image from entry, with caption: A picture shows an armoured personnel carrier (APC) flying the Ukrainian flag at the headquarters of the Ukrainian army's Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) near the eastern Ukrainian city of Izyum, near Donetsk, on June 20, 2014. Poroshenko announced on June 20 that a week-long unilateral ceasefire would begin in the separatist east later in the day to give the pro-Russian rebels a chance to disarm.

Stay neutral in Sino-US rivalry to resolve border issue: Swamy - "India should remain neutral in the China-US rivalry in order to develop a political understanding with Beijing to resolve contentious issues like the border dispute, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said on Sunday. ... China says it has settled border disputes with 12 of its 14 neighbours except with India and Bhutan. ... Both US and China are important to India and Swamy said Indian neutrality is acceptable to China. Prominent Chinese diplomat, Ma Zhengang, who heads the China Public Diplomacy Association said India and China must not let the border dispute come in the way of developing closer ties."

China swims against soft power tide - Tim Kumpe, Asia Times: "Chinese firms need to become better corporate social responsibility practitioners to win greater public acceptance. China should intensify public diplomacy, too."

Is the Dalai Lama bad for the West? – A Round Table Discussion [includes video] - "Could it be that the Dalai Lama being bad for Western economy is itself a myth that is generated by Chinese public diplomacy and uncritically accepted as common sense by international media?"

Gastrodiplomacy for the Middle Kingdom - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Essentially, gastrodiplomacy is an understanding that you do not win hearts and minds through rational information, but rather through oblique emotional connections to influence long-term sentiments. Hence, a connection with audiences is made in the tangible sensory interactions as a means to engage more implicit public diplomacy via soft power and cultural connections that ultimately shape long-term public diplomacy perceptions in a manner different than targeted strategic communications. ... Gastrodiplomacy

is becoming a beneficial tool for countries seeking to enrich their nation brand by promoting cuisine as a medium to better understand culture. China already has a strong edible nation brand but it is shallow in actual understanding compared to the rich complexity of Chinese cuisine. China could conduct a number of gastrodiplomacy campaigns to strengthen both its nation brand and edible nation brand as a means to enhance its public and cultural diplomacy efforts. ... Paul S. Rockower ['s] favorite meal is spicy Chengdu-style frog hotpot." Image from

Media conclave comments - "[T]he first Jewish Media Summit has convened in Jerusalem and will run for three days.  ... Prime Minister Netanyahu was excellent in his presentation but before him, the head of the JNF [?] spoke and I found out that that organization is also in the forefront of Israel’s public diplomacy battles and not only because trees supply paper."

Interesting Times In Iraq - Corwin, "In Canada religion is a fairly well-domesticated beast, but in parts of the world – the Middle East and Africa in particular – it seems to retain its power to fuel conflict of the most uncompromising kind. ... Canada could conceivably intervene in the deepening mess in Iraq, but I hope Stephen Harper has the sense to follow Jean Chretien’s excellent example and steer clear.

Bubba Kincaid on June 18, 2014 at 6:46 pm said: Why do you think Harper should 'steer clear' of using public diplomacy to shame all outside contributing parties to the bloodshed? Is it because you fear some of the retributions it might incur from our allies? Don’t you think, at this point, Harper should put Canada’s interests ahead of other countries’ interests?" Image from

Turkey’s Armenian Initiative: Rhetoric or Confidence Building? - Senem Cevik, "On April 23, 2014, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdoğan issued a statement to the descendants of Ottoman Armenians, expressing empathy towards their ancestors’ suffering during World War I. ... Overall, the statement indicates Turkey’s dedication to a more open society and its determination to normalize relations with the Republic of Armenia through reforms . ... But if Turkey does not follow through and translate Erdoğan’s words into action, skepticism around the statement will persist. Turkey should make the most of this opportunity to magnify the effects of its initial public diplomacy coup, which would also provide Armenians with an opportunity to respond constructively."

Make ‘hasbara’ a household word - James North, In the print edition of the New York Times today, Robert Mackey writes about a global twitter campaign undertaken by Israelis to highlight the case of the three teens who disappeared in the West Bank last week and are thought to have been abducted: ['] a group of Israelis trained to promote their country online started a#BringBackOurBoys campaign last week after three teenagers disappeared on their way home from religious schools in the occupied West Bank… #BringBackOurBoys was started by graduates of the University of  Haifa’s Ambassadors Online program, which was set up to train students to use the web for 'hasbara,' a Hebrew term for public diplomacy. Part of their instruction, The Jerusalem Post reported in 2012, was learning how best 'to use social networking sites to defend government policies' and 'utilize online platforms to convey a pro-Israel message.' ['] Robert Mackey is an excellent reporter, but his definition of hasbara is incomplete. 'Public diplomacy' makes it sound like Israelis are just encouraged to defend their country overseas– engage, speak out, advocate. Like Avi Mayer, who likes to say: 'Just some guy living in Israel, trying to help advance the Jewish people and repair the world. No big whoop.' But there’s a lot more to hasbara than that, and the practice deserves to be scrutinized. Hasbara, which comes from Hebrew for 'explaining,' has come to mean chiefly propaganda: concerted and tireless efforts to pressure newspapers and governments whenever they say a word in favor of Palestinians or Arabs, efforts to swarm websites that make the same mistake. The activity is concerted, organized, and subsidized; and the organized component is partly concealed.

Anyone who’s seen the regular shift changes in commenters at this site knows what I’m talking about. New York Times readers are apparently not aware of this term, and they should be. Thanks to Mackey, we want Americans to start using the word hasbara with all its cynical implications. After all, other foreign words have entered our language because we need them– schadenfreude, apartheid, chutzpah, glasnost, to name a few. We need hasbara too. It describes a concerted form of propaganda that no one word in English captures. Everytime Americans read a pro-Israel comment, we want them to think this might not just be some innocent soul moved to comment– though yes it may be that– but it could well be part of a propaganda campaign on behalf of the Israeli government. ... Daniel Rich says: June 19, 2014 at 6:32 pm Q: 'hasbara,' a Hebrew term for public diplomacy. R: Hasbara is as diplomatic as my Chihuahua is a guard dog. Lots of noise and that’s about it. ... just says: June 20, 2014 at 9:42 am From a 2011 article 'Hasbara represents only one side of propaganda, as it is mostly aimed at foreign audience. The use of the Hebrew term Hasbara in a critical context, rather than 'propaganda' or 'public diplomacy' (the title of the Wikipedia entry on the issue), is necessary, because Hasbara efforts are wider and their goals much more ambitious than any similar activities taken by all democracies and most non-democracies. Hasbara targets political elites, opinion makers and the public simultaneously; it includes traditional advocacy efforts as well as more general appeals made through mass media, and it is carried out by government agencies, non-governmental organizations, lobbying groups, private citizens, students, journalists and bloggers. [']" Image from

Hasbara: how the New York Times refuses to use the word "propaganda" when it comes to Israel - As'ad AbuKhalil, " 'hasbara,' a Hebrew term for public diplomacy'.

'One of the lecturers in the Haifa University program, Neil Lazarus, a communications expert who has advised the Israeli prime minister’s office and the ministry of foreign affairs on public diplomacy'.  You get the feeling that the Times is more protective of the propaganda of Israel than of the propaganda of the US." Image from

Internet Governance at NetMundial: Public Diplomacy and the Perception Gap - Sarah Myers West, "In April, a unique group of over 600 Internet founders, geeks, civil society advocates, government officials, corporate lobbyists, and academics gathered in São Paulo to debate the future of the Internet. Out of the discussion came the NetMundial Multistakeholder Agreement of Sao Paulo, a set of principles and road map for the future of Internet governance. Ostensibly catalyzed by Edward Snowden’s revelations of U.S. government surveillance (though capitalizing on longer-term discussions about the need for open and transparent participation), the meeting was a lesson in public diplomacy in action. ... Public diplomacy will be centrally implicated in a process that involves a multitude of stakeholders speaking different languages, with different technical backgrounds and different views of the future of the Internet."

The Perils and Potential of Visa Diplomacy: An Immigration Practitioner’s Perspective - Nicholas Dynon, "Visa liberalization policies, such as the broadening of visa waiver programs, can often enhance a nation’s public diplomacy strategy.

But this same strategy can be severely undermined by the security-driven imposition of visa red tape. ... This is the first post in a series of blogs exploring the connection between visas and public diplomacy." Image from

A Muslim Love Story – Bridging Differences to Make a Marriage - "Sehreen Noor Ali worked for the State Department as a public diplomacy strategist for five years and recently moved to NYC to pursue a career in technology and education. She worked with the White House on President Obama’s Muslim engagement strategy and also led an effort to increase science and technology outreach."

Blanchard to be honored at Lighthouse gala - "Former Gov. James Blanchard ... is anything but retired. ... In addition to his work

at the firm DLA Piper, Blanchard is chairman of the Meridian International Center, a public diplomacy organization." Image from


UNHCR: Refugee numbers highest since World War II - Scott Martelle, What’s clear is the world needs to do more to deal humanely with those fleeing inhumane acts and violence, and to blunt the violence before it reaches crisis proportions. Military responses might squelch uprisings, but peace established at the barrel of gun is an uneasy peace, at best. From the ethno-centric clashes that followed the collapse of Yugoslavia to what’s unfolding now in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, we can see what happens when political issues fester. While the UNHCR struggles to deal with the displaced, the smart solution is to try to find ways to stop the flows before they begin.

Why US Airstrikes Won't Stop ISIS: The Propaganda War in Baghdad - Patrick Cockburn CounterPunch: The government is trying to maintain morale in the capital by downplaying Isis successes, emphasising patriotism and stressing that Baghdad can never fall. Crude propaganda like this frequently leads viewers to switch to al-Arabiya, based in Dubai but Saudi owned, or a medley of other channels that have film of events. Ammar al Shahbandar, who heads the Institute of War and Peace Reporting in Iraq, says: “Iraqi state TV is always playing catch-up. They never have film. They pretend things are normal and as a result people watch al-Arabiya. This is a visual culture and people get their news from television channels that show them what is happening.” By way of contrast, Isis shows sophisticated planning in producing a visual record of everything it does, thereby multiplying its political impact. Its militants dominate social media and produce well-made if terrifying films to illustrate the fanatical commitment of their fighters as they identify and kill their enemies. Sometimes pictures of Isis successes are fabricated and film is used of events that took place in Syria or Libya. But film of genuine Isis successes starts appearing on television screens across the world within hours of them occurring. The Iraqi government response has been to close down some “enemy television stations” as well as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other internet services, although Iraqis are quick to find ways around official censorship. Overall, the government succeeds only in creating a vacuum of information that its enemies are swift to fill. More ambitious use of air power by the US is likely to show diminishing returns because Isis leaders are careful to hide their movements. It is important to recall that much greater air power than is now available, notoriously failed to win the war in Iraq for the US from 2003 to 2011 when it had air bases all over the country along with 150,000 soldiers. The same is true of US air strikes in Afghanistan, which often turned out to have mistakenly targeted wedding parties and other social gatherings.

'We love you ISIS': From USA to Rome to Australia - Mia de Graaf, Simon Tomlinson, Lizzie Edmonds, John Hall - Disturbing notes from EVERY continent show support for Islamist Jihadis terrorising Iraq after group's Twitter charm offensive Members of the Sunni militant group vow to 'spread the truth' in storm that cannot be moderated or blocked. Using specific hash tag, they will answer questions, lambast allegations, and promote the extremist group's actions.

Last night, President Barack Obama announced plans to unleash air strikes on militants and strongholds. ISIS fighters man checkpoints around refinery despite claims by Iraqi troops they were in 'complete control' of plant.

They took chemical weapons facility built by Saddam Hussein, one of former leader's advisers is 'key member' of ISIS. Zuhair al-Nahar claims the ISIS insurgency gripping the country is 'a catastrophe of unprecedented scale.' PM Nouri al-Maliki facing growing pressure to resign over claims he has alienated Iraq's Sunni minority. Peace Brigades held to protect shrines in holy Shiite city of Najaf following calls from cleric Muqtatda al-Sadr  Images from entry

The Two Faces of Jihadist Propaganda - Frances Martel,  Members and sympathizers of the jihadist terror group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have become notorious for the dedication they have to using social media and online resources to further their cause. As the jihadists topple city after city in Iraq, they have been posting photos of the brutality online. Among them:

Isis hijacks World Cup hashtags for propaganda: Jihadists have used hashtags such as #Brazil2014 and #WC2014 in tweets to spread their recruitment messages -

Islamists leading the jihadist advance in Iraq are using the World Cup and leading British football clubs to seek recruits and spread their propaganda via social media - Cahal Milmo, Tweets sent from the accounts used by the propaganda operation of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) and its supporters are being labelled with hashtags such as #Brazil2014, #ENG, #France and #WC2014 to try to hijack the World Cup tournament to spread their message. The tactic, which allows Isis to access millions of World Cup Twitter searches in the hope that some will click on links to its propaganda material, was being deployed this weekend to disseminate a video showing British and Australian jihadists trying to persuade other western Muslims to join their ranks. The use of hashtag links also extends to English Premier League clubs.

In recent weeks, Isis accounts have used #MUFC, #WHUFC, #LFC and #THFC, among others, on tweets promoting vile “public relations” material showing atrocities and beheadings committed by the extremist group’s fighters in Syria and Iraq. The use of Twitter hashtags is just one part of an increasingly sophisticated social media campaign by ISIS as it seeks to capitalise on its dramatic territorial gains in recent days and establish a puritanical Islamic state or “caliphate” across a swathe of Sunni-majority Iraq. Image from entry, with caption: Islamists leading the jihadist advance in Iraq are using the World Cup and leading British football clubs to seek recruits and spread their propaganda via social media.

Obama's Avoidance Doctrine - Dov S. Zakheim,  While the prospects for an outcome in Iraq that would be favorable to American interests are becoming increasingly dim, in a sense, the administration is acting consistently with its national-security strategy. This strategy can best be described as one of avoidance and minimalism. Implicitly taking its inspiration from George Washington’s farewell address, the administration is doing its utmost to avoid being drawn into another conflict.

At the same time, it is funding a minimalist defense posture that effectively limits its ability to conduct large scale operations simultaneously in regions where American interests could be threatened. Like Washington, the administration seeks to focus on nation-building at home. Unfortunately, it confronts a very different international reality from that which obtained in 1797. America has global political, economic and strategic interests that George Washington could hardly have begun to envisage. Uncaptioned image from entry

Who had the worst week in Washington? President Obama - Chris Cillizza, Washington Post: Six years ago, Barack Obama ran for president promising to end what he described as a “dumb war” in Iraq. And in 2012, he campaigned for reelection by declaring that he’d achieved that goal. But this past week, Obama decided to send 300 troops back into the country — one deeply riven by sectarian violence and teetering on the edge of chaos. “American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq, but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region and American interests as well,” Obama said at a news conference Thursday announcing the decision. It was immediately greeted with skepticism. Hawkish conservatives insisted that Obama needed to be more aggressive; liberals fretted that the commander in chief might be headed down a slippery slope of further troop commitments.

War lite -- Obama's limited Iraq goals - Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times: If there's an Obama Doctrine in foreign policy, it begins with one rule: no more large-scale military intervention. But the rule comes with a major exception: terrorism. Obama withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq, is withdrawing from Afghanistan, and has repeatedly rejected proposals for using military force against the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria. But he has shown no such hesitance when it comes to striking terrorists who have a history of plotting attacks against U.S. citizens. He presided over a massive increase in the U.S. drone war against extremist groups in northwest Pakistan, a similar battle against extremists in Yemen and a smaller campaign in Somalia. Obama and his aides are planning a long-term effort to try to stabilize Iraq — or, failing that, at least to keep ISIS from growing stronger.

The High Price of Obama Fatigue: The IRS isn't Watergate; it's worse than Watergate - Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal: If there's one Obama foreign-policy decision that sticks in anyone's mind it is the "red line" in Syria. It was Mr. Obama's decision last September, at Vladimir Putin's invitation, to step back from his own criteria for punishing Syria's Bashar Assad if he used chemical weapons against his own people. The voters now tanking Mr. Obama's foreign affairs number don't think it's just random bad luck that Russian tanks ended up in Ukraine and some al Qaeda group they've never heard of took over half of Iraq in two days. The world is slipping beyond President Obama's control, or interest. From here on out, it—and we—are in God's hands.

It’s not too late to reengage with Iraq - Ryan Crocke, Washington Post: Once you are in, you are in. You cannot undo an invasion. You can, by contrast, undo an unfortunate disengagement by reengaging forcefully before it’s too late. History will be unforgiving if we allow this exceptionally virulent manifestation of al-Qaeda to take root across northern Iraq and begin planning its next phase of operations.

This is a determined enemy, and it will not stop where it is now. Image from entry, with caption: Former U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, shown here with Iraqi tribal leaders in 2007, says we should resume high-level diplomacy in the country.

Robert Ames and the CIA's history of back-channel talks with 'the bad guys' - Kai Bird, Los Angeles Times: Since 9/11, the CIA has invested heavily in paramilitary operations and technical intelligence, leaving proportionally fewer resources and time available to cultivate high caliber intelligence officers. That can only be another intelligence failure.

An American Passion for Tyrants [Review of The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor by William Easterly] - David Rieff, New York Review of Books: It is one of the great merits of Easterly’s book that he documents in great and convincing detail the tyrannical and repressive record not just of other regimes that have long been and remain the darlings of the development world. In doing so, he uncovers some extraordinary facts, such as that the World Bank is, by its own account, not legally allowed by its charter to use the word “democracy.” If we assume this is right, the question is why. Easterly’s preferred explanation is that from its inception, the development project took the wrong path, choosing authoritarian rather than democratic development, investing its hopes as well as its money in autocratic rulers advised by technocrats to provide centrally planned solutions, and ignoring the promise of the ingenuity and knowledge of free individuals and the spontaneous solutions they could have provided. Reflecting on the history of development since its inception, Easterly writes angrily that “the Tyranny of Experts defeated the rights of the poor,” adding, “it did not deserve to win.” The history of development, far from being as seamless as Easterly argues it has been, is actually the story of boom and bust. There have been moments when it seemed that the methods that would durably reduce poverty were at last in place; and such moments were followed by pessimism about what could be done after the apparent failure of particular economic strategies. Were the development world a human being, one might describe that person as having been prey to a lifetime of extraordinary mood swings. At present, that world is experiencing a period of unprecedented optimism about the efficacy of aid

Government reveals scale of online fight against jihadist propaganda: David Cameron condemns 'extremist poisonous narrative' and has asked YouTube to take down video of Cardiff man in Syria - Patrick Wintour, As many as 15,000 items of "jihadist propaganda" have been taken down

from the internet due to government pressure since December 2013, Downing Street said on Monday. Image from entry

US Propaganda “Accidentally” Exposes Nazi Crimes in Ukraine: US State Department propaganda witlessly confirms Right Sector Nazis are operating in eastern Ukraine, kidnapping journalists, and working directly for the regime in Kiev - The Interpreter Magazine is a “special project” of the Institute of Modern Russia. By “Modern Russia,” its creators mean, Russia as imagined by Wall Street and London. The “institute” is run by disgraced Russian billionaire oligarch, convicted criminal, and long-time Western proxy Mikhail Khodorkovsky,his son, and Washington lobbyists. It includes contributors such as Catherine A. Fitzpatrick who literally worked for the US State Department’s propaganda arm, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The Interpreter is overtly a clearinghouse for anti-Russian propaganda and ceaselessly promoted by corporate-funded and directed faux-rights advocates like the Neo-Con lined National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Freedom House – both of which are funded and perpetuated by the US State Department itself.

The Art of Propaganda [subscription] - Wall Street Journal: During World War I, propaganda posters held unique power in mobilizing the public. Without the Internet, radio and television, they were one of the few ways to spread messages. A new online exhibit by the Cincinnati Museum Center ( showcases some of the museum's collection of more than 200 wartime posters. Though many of the placards were meant to sway public opinion, encouraging enlistment or support for the war effort, others were simply notices for events like fundraisers. "Propaganda isn't necessarily a bad thing," says curator Scott Gampfer.

A study in propaganda filmmaking, North Korean style - Lotta Haegg,  Where in the world would you go to pick up tips on how to make a successful propaganda film? Filmmaker Anna Broinowski cast her eye towards North Korea to learn how to make a propaganda film about stopping a gas mine near her home in Sydney. The next challenge was how to gain access to the North Korea and it's stable of filmmakers, something that took her two years and many rejections.

"Most journalists when they go into North Korea go in as tourists, take hidden cameras and grab whatever footage they can when the minders aren't looking," she told Robbie Buck. "Which isn't very often." Broinowski's film Aim High in Creation is a study in North Korean propaganda filmmaking. Image from entry

The Glories of America’s Wars: “Made in Hollywood” by the Pentagon’s Propaganda Machine - Joachim Hagopian, mind control methods for decades to mesmerize, desensitize, brainwash and blind young Americans to the savagery of war and violence by glorifying it through Hollywood propaganda films, the US government has been effectively manipulating multiple generations to do its dirty bloody bidding as sacrificial lambs at the geopolitical Masonic altar where no one wins but the bloodthirsty 1% war profiteering vampires who have been getting away with bloody murder for centuries. Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing.

Propaganda posters heat up Cold War at Museum of Russian Icons -
Chris Bergeron, Like Joseph Stalin’s ghost, a collection of Soviet propaganda posters brings alive the specter of communist ideology in a fascinating exhibition at the Museum of Russian Icons. Ranging from World War II through the Cold War, these 55 striking posters of Party chiefs and model factory workers, patriotic soldiers and capitalist exploiters create a parallel universe of Socialist iconography that provides a revealing contrast to the sublime religious icons that fill the Clinton museum.

Courtesy Photo/Museum of Russian Icons

At a time Russian nationalists meddle in Ukraine’s affairs, this show, "Darker Shades of Red,’’ provides a chilling reminder of the power of cynical art to promote the "Big Lie’’ of false promises to an uninformed citizenry. Replacing the imagery of the Orthodox Christianity embraced by millions of Russians, Soviet propagandists represented Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Friedrich Engels as a new Holy Trinity in the equivalent of a state religion that promised a workers’ paradise on Earth. Image from entry 

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