Saturday, June 28, 2014

June 27-28 Public Diplomacy Review

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EzhoFF Band - United States - Via IK on Facebook


State Dept: Egypt's Jailing of Journalists a 'Detour on the Path to Democracy' - Jeryl Bier, Weekly Standard: "In spite of a string of worrisome human rights and freedom of expression violations, the Obama administration is holding out hope that Egypt's government lead by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is still headed for democracy.  State Department official Richard Stengel, under secretary of state for public diplomacy, wrote a blog post this week titled 'Egypt’s Chilling Detour on the Path to Democracy,' where he expressed grave concern about the three Al Jazeera journalists convicted and sentenced this week for 'terrorism' by an Egyptian court, as well as other repressive actions." See also.

Is the U.S. Missing a Free Kick at the World Cup? - Stephen Kurczy, "The World Cup offers something of a free kick for soccer diplomacy, which some observers say U.S. President Barack Obama is failing to capitalize on. While many nations, from Germany to Russia, are sending their leaders to Brazil to make a diplomatic appearance, Obama is staying home.

So is First Lady Michelle Obama and their soccer-loving children, all three of whom attended the 2012 London Olympics. 'It’s a diminished opportunity,' says Derek Shearer, a former ambassador to Finland under President Bill Clinton and current director of the McKinnon Center for Global Affairs at Occidental University, where he teaches a class on sports diplomacy. 'Obama could have made more of it than he seems to be doing.'” Uncaptioned image from entry

Tourism Promotion Through Culinary Exchange - Media Note, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC, June 26, 2014, "As President Obama recently announced, the Department of State’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, in collaboration with Brand USA, supports the National Travel and Tourism Strategy goal of bringing 100 million international visitors to the United States by 2021. In July, five members of the American Chef Corps will travel to East-Asian markets to promote U.S. tourism and agricultural exports. The Office of the Chief of Protocol’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, together with the James Beard Foundation, established the American Chefs Corp, a network of more than 100 of America’s most renowned chefs, to participate in various public diplomacy programs. These programs engage foreign audiences at home and abroad by fostering cross-cultural exchange through the shared experience of food. Five talented and successful American chefs will promote American agricultural food exports, highlight regional American cuisines and tourism destinations, and participate in other high-visibility activities including U.S. Independence Day celebrations in China, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, and South Korea. July 4th activities will serve as a launch for an expanded, year-long BrandUSA-led global culinary tourism campaign that will culminate just before the 2015 World Expo in Milan, Italy. ... Brand USA is the public-private partnership responsible for promoting the United States as a premier travel destination and communicating U.S. visa and entry policies and procedures. Established by the Travel Promotion Act in 2010, the organization’s mission is to increase international visitation to the United States while working in partnership with the travel industry and Federal government to maximize the economic and social benefits of travel." See also.

FLEX Alumni Participation in the 2014 Presidential Election in Ukraine with Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe - "FLEX alumni assisted the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR)

to observe the May Presidential election in Ukraine. The OSCE deployed over 100 long-term observers and 900 short-term observers from participating States to assess the election process in terms of its compliance with OSCE standards for democratic elections and national legislation. Over 20 FLEX alumni worked as interpreters for the OSCE Election Observation Mission." Image from entry. with caption: FLEX Alumni Election Observers and Interpreters for the 2014 Presidential Elections. On the State Department FLEX program, see.

US Embassy Peru: The Ghost of Ambassador Past - Domani Spero, DiploPundit: "State/OIG recently posted its inspection report of the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru with 30 recommendations and 33 informal recommendations. ... [among the recommendation:] The public affairs section should establish clearer priorities and exert stronger missionwide leadership on long-term public diplomacy planning."

Russians target State Dept. spokeswoman for media assault - Lesley Clark, "Among the Russian bloggers and social media activists who are loyal to the Kremlin, there’s a favorite target when it comes to pillorying the United States. President Barack Obama and his chief diplomat, Secretary of State John Kerry, come in for a few licks. But for the unbridled ridicule particular to the Internet, there’s a bigger bull’s-eye: State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. Since the U.S. first began protesting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intervention in Ukraine, Psaki has been relentlessly mocked by a parade of bloggers and tweeters. She’s even the subject of a satiric song — 'There is nothing more competent than Psaki' — by a group of radio disc jockeys, and of a flurry of unflattering Photoshopped images."

‘Scrap this broken agency’: Audit finds Broadcasting Board of Governors wasted $5M - Kellan Howell, Washington Times: "A new State Department Office of the Inspector General audit finds that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the agency that oversees U.S. international broadcasting, has wasted almost $5 million in taxpayer dollars on questionable and unapproved purchases. The State Department’s watchdog coined the BBGs mishap as a 'systematic failure' of acquisitions. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said that the BBG’s 'wasteful spending, non-competitive contracting practices, and violations of current law point to an organization without accountable leadership.'”

Bureaucrats gave listeners little time to learn about shortwave cuts by VOA, RFA, and RFE/RL - "Executives in charge of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), which operates radio transmissions for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), have once again shown their contempt for loyal radio listeners of many years, as well as for Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) journalists and broadcasters who prepare shortwave radio broadcasts, which IBB just announced it wants to terminate at the end of the day on June 30, 2014 in a massive and in most cases complete cut affecting many countries without free media: Belarus, Caucasus, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq (Kurdish), Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

At the very least, BBG members should intervene and tell IBB executives that they cannot give radio listeners only a day or two to adjust to such a major change. They should also demand that IBB executives show a little more respect for managers and journalists at VOA, RFA, and RFE/RL." Uncaptioned image from entry

USIB Suddenly cancels most of its shortwave radio frequencies to Asia. Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty have decided to suddenly pull the plug on shortwave radio to Asia - Jonathan Marks, "The US Congress has just approved major cutbacks to US international broadcasting using shortwave radio. ... Late Friday June 27th it emerged that Broadcasting Board of Governors proposed shortwave cuts for for the financial year 2014 have been approved by Congress. As of the end of the day on Monday, June 30th 2014, all shortwave frequencies for English News programs to Asia will dropped permanently. VOA will no longer be heard via shortwave in the morning (12-16 UTC), and the evening hours (22-02 UTC)…mostly in Asia. Shortwave frequencies for the following VOA language services will also be eliminated: Azerbaijani, Bangla, English (Learning), Khmer, Kurdish, Lao and Uzbek. Shortwave transmissions being used by services at RFE/RL and RFA are also being cut. VOA programming via FM/AM affiliates in Asia is not affected by these changes, it's purely that direct shortwave is being curtailed, reflecting a change in the lay audiences get their news. VOA will continue to supply services via the web and via podcasts. VOA is still using shortwave to the African continent. Several countries (e.g. Somalia, Northern Nigeria, and Sudan) still use shortwave as a way of reaching listeners outside the main cities."

Time to Shut Down the VOA - "Perhaps, it is now necessary to consider the closing of VOA. Since it is no longer a viable entity, and gives anti-Americans a voice in its content, there are many of us who feel that this doesn’t exemplify its original purpose: to educate the world in American life, including news, music and our Constitutional ideals.

It is costing us too much money to be castigated in this way. To sum up: it is time to close down the Voice of America. It is no longer our voice."

Letter: If it is on the news, it has to be true -- maybe - Karen Son, Pampa, "Did you know (in 2012) that Congress passed legislation making it legal to lie to us? Yes, our very own Rep. Mac Thornberry proposed the bill and it passed.

Prior to this bill, it had been illegal for the government to produce propaganda and feed it to the American public — like former President George W. Bush admitting the CIA had produced propaganda for decades and ran it on our newscasts." Image from entry

Military Cooperation with China: RIMPAC as a Model for the Future - Doug Bandow, "The Rim of the Pacific Exercise recently concluded in waters near Hawaii. For the first time China joined the drills. It was a small but positive step for integrating Beijing into more international institutions. RIMPAC started in 1971. This year there are 23 participants, including the People’s Republic of China, which explained that the maneuvers are 'an important mission of military diplomacy' and a means to strengthen 'friendly relations with countries of the South Pacific through public diplomacy.'”

Understanding Pakistan’ course participants get certificates - APP: "Pakistan’s embassy in Washington awarded certificates to participants of the third 'Understanding Pakistan' course, which has become an important public diplomacy initiative aimed at fostering and expanding people-to-people contacts between Pakistan and the United States."

The real reason North Korea threatened to 'mercilessly destroy' Seth Rogen - Zack Beauchamp, "Seth Rogen and James Franco are making a comedic movie about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Shortly after the trailer premiered on Wednesday, the North Korean government information ministry threatened to 'mercilessly destroy anyone who dares hurt or attack the supreme leadership of the country even a bit.' It certainly looks like yet another case of North Korea being crazy and aggressive. But this may actually be a pretty canny bit of public diplomacy by Pyongyang — and one that many Americans, by laughing at 'crazy' North Korea, are unwittingly playing right into.

According to North Korea expert Jennifer Lind, spewing apparently non-sensical threats at Hollywood funnymen is part of a larger, deliberate strategy to manipulate the West's view of North Korea. The more Americans point and laugh at those crazy North Koreans, the more we help them in that project. ... North Korea wants the world to think it's crazy, according to Lind, as a negotiating tactic. 'We are so convinced [of their insanity],' she says, 'that I think it stays our hand in many crises.'" Image from entry, with caption: Kim Jong Un Looking At Things

Nigeria hires U.S. lobby firm for N195 million to launder image over handling of Chibok abduction - Nicholas Ibekwe, "The Nigerian government has come under local and international condemnation over its far-from-impressive handling of the Chibok abduction. In order to whitewash its inept handling of the kidnap of over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the terrorist group, Boko Haram, the Goodluck Jonathan administration has awarded a N195 million ($1.2 million) contract to U.S. Public Relations and lobby firm, Levick, to help change 'international and local media narrative' surrounding its efforts to rescue the girls, Washington DC based newspaper, The Hill, is reporting. ... Details contained in the contract document obtained by The Hill, an American newspaper specialising in covering parliament, show that the firm will also be 'assisting the government’s efforts to mobilize international support in fighting Boko Haram as part of the greater war on terror'. The firm also promised to assist the government in effecting 'real change' in the country.

'A more comprehensive approach using vehicles such as public diplomacy and engaging outside experts to enact real changes is how the advocacy industry is evolving,' Phil Elwood, a Vice President at Levick, told The Hill. 'A communications strategy alone is not enough to solve the complex and multifaceted problems facing some of the more controversial nations.' “For me, after talking to him, the priority for President Jonathan beyond any is finding and bringing home the girls,” said Lanny Davis, an Executive Vice President at Levick. See also (1) (2). President Goodluck Jonathan image from

The Politics of Panic Mongering in the Middle East: Israel’s Existential Threat - Andrew Levine, "Israel thrives on what it calls 'existential threats,' fabricated perils that are just plausible enough to be believed. As social divisions mount, they help hold Israeli society together. They also keep 'diaspora' Jews on board. And they keep Western, especially American, diplomatic, military and economic support coming. ... [A] smooth talker with an American accent, and a state sponsored hasbara (public diplomacy/propaganda) campaign led by deceivers skilled in the dark arts of public relations, popularized the concept and the term. One result is that words that could be helpful, when used without meretricious intent, are now tainted, perhaps irreversibly so."

World Cup Broadcasts: The Middle East's Opportunity to Miss an Opportunity - James Dorsey, Hufffington Post: "Israel ... seems ... incapable of capitalizing on the fact that many in countries that border on the Jewish state tune into Amos, the Israeli satellite station that grants free access to World Cup matches. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's spokesman for Arab media, Ofir Gendelman, initially welcomed Arab viewers in remarks on social media. 'I hear that many football fans in neighbouring countries are watching the World Cup live on Israeli channels. We welcome you,' Mr. Gendelman said on Facebook and Twitter. Access to a massive Arab audience constituted an opportunity for Israel to subtly attempt to forge links where peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan have failed to build cultural and public diplomacy links. Instead, Mr. Gendelman provoked a torrent of abuse several days after his welcoming comment by publishing Hebrew soccer slogans written with the Arabic alphabet that he hoped would prove useful to Arab fans. Responses by Egyptian fans on social media reflected conflicting feelings of on the one hand favouring a boycott of Israel because of the Jewish state's occupation of Arab territory for almost half a century and its attitude towards the Palestinians and on the other the desire to take advantage of the free access Israel grants."

Fab, 40 and on fire for the arts: Artistic director Ismail Mahomed chats to Eugene Yiga about the world's second-largest arts festival as it celebrates four decades in Grahamstown - "[Mahomed:] It is crucial to note how the festival positions South Africa internationally.

In recent years, international participation at the festival has increased. The number of South African productions from the festival that have travelled abroad has also increased. These productions have contributed hugely to South Africa’s public diplomacy and cultural diplomacy campaigns abroad." Mahomed image from entry

A Lesson in Cultural Diplomacy: The 2014 IST. Festival - Ann Binlot, "Istanbul may be rich in cultural history, with 18th-century mosques, sultans’ palaces and Byzantine relics, but its global contemporary art offerings are nowhere near that of London, Paris and New York.

So Demet Muftuoglu and her organization Istanbul’74 decided to do something about it and bring the world’s most renowned creatives to the city where east meets west through the Istanbul International Art and Culture Festival, also known as the IST. Festival and Istancool, a three-day event filled with discussions, film screenings, performances and more." Image from entry

Does Copying In Fashion Keep It Fresh? - "Johanna Blakley is managing director and director of research of the Norman Lear Center focusing on how entertainment interacts with our political, commercial and social habits. She especially interested in the impact of intellectual property rights on innovation, organizing conferences around the lack of creative ownership in fashion, and technology's role in ownership of creative content. She is a lecturer at USC who helped develop their masters program in

public diplomacy." Blakley image from entry

More Rhode Island Politicians React to Buddy Cianci's Candidacy - Mark Curtis, "A Friday morning transportation event was a who's who of Rhode Island politics, but the person who was not there is still getting most of the attention. So how are the state's leader's reacting to Buddy Cianci on the ballot, trying to become mayor for the third time. 'It's America. Sure I see the national press and that's unfortunate, but people have a right to run if they get the signatures and get on the ballot,' said Gov. Lincoln Chafee, (D) Rhode Island. ... The artful public diplomacy over Cianci, was probably best summed up by the state's senior Democrat. 'I have great faith in the common sense of the voters in Rhode Island, about going forward and making wise choices and ultimately it is in their hands. This is there choice,' said Senator Jack Reed, (D) Rhode Island."


Things Fall Apart: Iraq - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: While American interest in Iraq seems to parallel American interest in soccer, popping up when world events intrude before fading again, the other players in Iraq have been planning moves over the long game. In the blink of an eye, U.S. efforts in Syria have been exposed as fully-counterproductive toward greater U.S. goals, the U.S. has been drawn back into Iraq, with troops again on the ground in a Muslim war we thought we’d backed out of.

The U.S. finds itself supporting Iranian ground forces, and partnering with militias well outside of any government control, with Special Forces working alongside potential suicide bombers who only a few years ago committed themselves to killing Americans in Iraq. What appears to be the U.S. “plan,” some sort of unity government, belies the fact that such unity has eluded U.S. efforts for almost eleven years of war in Iraq.  Image from

Now Is the Moment for Kurdish Independence: Middle East borders are vanishing, and the U.S. should adjust its diplomacy accordingly - William A. Galston, Wall Street Journal: The highest and best use of America's remaining influence in the Middle East would be to work toward a new security order with national boundaries that all the major regional players can endorse.

While Iraq Burns - Editorial, New York Times: Although President Obama has wisely ruled out a return of American ground troops, he has deployed 300 advisers (plus private security guards to protect them) to help the Iraqi Army and to develop targets for potential military strikes against the militants. Obama administration officials have said any strikes will depend on factors like support from Iraq’s political leaders and intelligence that identifies precise ISIS targets. But military advice and support won’t accomplish much if Mr. Maliki and other Iraqi leaders refuse to join together to save their state.

Propaganda back in the USSR - Mark Feeney, Boston Globe: A revolution, to succeed, requires imagination and energy. A dictatorship, to endure, requires their suppression. These sadly parallel truths have no clearer demonstration than the course of Soviet visual culture. During the 1920s, film, photography, and graphic design were as radical in the Soviet Union as the political ideology — and vastly more influential. All too soon artistic ferment gave way to conservatism and fear, then careerism and kitsch. Actually, considering the rote drabness of Soviet-era fine and applied art, kitsch rather flatters.

The 53 posters in “Darker Shades of Red: Official Soviet Propaganda From the Cold War” are from the four decades following World War II. They make plain just how distant a memory those first heady years had become. Image, words, message — the whole package — it’s all so . . . inert. Propaganda can be predictable. Propaganda can be simplistic. Propaganda can be derivative. In fact, propaganda is probably most effective when it’s predictable, simplistic, and derivative. Those qualities make it reassuring (an unspoken end of propaganda) as well as rousing. It shares those qualities with pornography — and, as with pornography, inertness is death to propaganda. The similarity doesn’t end there. Both propaganda and pornography flirt with the ridiculous: Excess is the path to success. But if either becomes outright ridiculous, the jig is up. Image from entry, with caption: O Savostuyk, "He Who Guards the Nation Deserves Our Veneration," 1968

World War One propaganda: A look at wartime ads from 1914-1918 - As Saturday 28 June marks 100 years since the start of World War One, we take a look back at some of the most famous propaganda ads from the time. Among the images:

U.S. diplomatic facilities may be at risk because of security problems, GAO report says - Josh Hicks, U.S. diplomatic facilities abroad may be at risk because of problems with their security standards and practices, according to a report this week from federal auditors. The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan investigative wing of Congress, found inconsistency in the way the State Department prepares for evolving threats and the potential dangers to temporary facilities that operate longer than anticipated.

We’re Sending This ‘We Meant Well’ Career Diplomat as Ambassador to Qatar – Domani Spero, Diplopundit: "So, back to Ms. Smith, the State Department nominee as ambassador to Qatar. We think she will eventually be confirmed.  Her ‘Certificate of Competency' posted online says: Dana Shell Smith, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the Department of State. Known as a linguistic, cultural and policy expert on the Middle East, she understands the region well and can effectively present major U.S. policy issues to diverse audiences. Her leadership, management and public affairs expertise, as well as her interpersonal skills and creativity, will enable her to advance bilateral relations with the Government of Qatar, an important U.S. partner in managing the problems of the Middle East. Dang! That is impressive but it missed an important accomplishment. Until her nomination as Ambassador to Qatar, Dana Smith Ms. Smith served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Public Affairs (2011-2014).  Does that ring a bell?  Oh, how quickly we forget. Ms. Smith was the PA official who told Peter Van Buren’s book publisher, Macmillan, that the Department has 'recently concluded that two pages of the book manuscript we have seen contain unauthorized disclosures of classified information' in We Meant Well. (See 'Classified' Information Contained in We Meant Well – It’s a Slam Dunk, Baby!). What did she actually tell MacMillan?  Let’s take a look:

click here to see entire letter (pdf)  This boo! strategy may be creative but also oh, so…. so… amateurish. Who thought Macmillan would buy this scaredy tactic?  Perhaps they should have threatened to buy all the copies and burn them all.  The really funny ha!ha! part about this is despite the charge that the book contained “unauthorized disclosures of classified information” the formal State Department charges filed against Mr. Van Buren did not mention this and he was officially retired with full benefits. (See After a Year of Serious Roars and Growls, State Dept Officially Retires FSO-Non Grata Peter Van Buren). We Meant Well is now on second edition on paperback and hardback.  We understand that the book is also used as a text at colleges and at various US military schools but not/not at the Foreign Service Institute.  This past April, Mr. Van Buren also published his new book, Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99PercentAs Iraq falls apart, we thought we’d check on Mr. Van Buren. He told us there is no truth to the rumor that he will retitle WMW to 'I Told You So.'”
See also. For a review of We Meant Wellsee.


"How many PRT [Provincial Reconstruction Team] staff members does it take to screw in a light bulb? One to hire a contractor who fails to complete the job and two to write the press release in the dark.

--Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well

[T]oday's MPs should perhaps be thankful that the Standards and Privileges Committee is unlikely to recommend that a member's face be shoved into a horse's anus, the sentence passed on Sir Giles Mompesson in 1621 (though the fled the country to avoid it).

--Chris Skidmore, The Times Literary Supplement (June 13, 2014), p. 30


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