Monday, June 30, 2014

June 29-30 Public Diplomacy Review

"[...]tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne pas savoir demeurer en repos dans une chambre."

--Pascal; image from


Special VOA Newscast on PCJ Radio Int.  [satirical]- "As you might be aware the Broadcasting Board of Governors have taken the very wise decision to end all Radio Liberty, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and VOA English broadcasts. On June 29, 2014 at 1230UTC PCJ Radio International broadcast a Voice of America newscast that the VOA management pulled from it's [sic] schedule.

It includes the spokesperson for the Broadcasting Board of Governors and an interview with David Ensor the director of the Voice of America. MP3 Studio Version (Right click to download) Off air recording." Via TL on Facebook, Image from


Systemic political lying - "Today, we offer two comments on lying, spin and propaganda, the first from politician scientist Sheldon Wolin, the second from investigative reporter Robert Parry. ... Parry paints a portrait of a practitioner of the form, Richard Stengel, under secretary of state for public diplomacy. Perhaps viewers of 'Morning Joe' will remember 'Rick' when he was a top Time Magazine editor presenting the Time cover of the week. Butter doesn't melt in Stengel's mouth. ... [Parry:] The U.S. State Department, which has been caught promoting a series of false or dubious stories about Ukraine, is trying to give some substance to Secretary of State John Kerry’s counter-complaint that Russia’s RT network is a 'propaganda bullhorn' promoting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 'fantasy.' In a 'Dipnote' of April 29, Richard Stengel, under secretary of state for public diplomacy, made some broad-brush criticisms of RT’s content – accusing the network of painting 'a dangerous and false picture of Ukraine’s legitimate government' by citing examples of fascism, anti- and terrorism surrounding the Kiev regime.

Stengel claims he knows the difference between news and propaganda because he spent seven years as managing editor of Time. He defines propaganda as 'the deliberate dissemination of information that you know to be false or misleading in order to influence an audience' and asserts: 'RT is a distortion machine, not a news organization.' But Stengel offers no specific citations of the supposedly propagandistic stories done by RT, making it impossible to ascertain the precise wording or context of the RT content that he is criticizing. One basic rule of journalism is 'show, don’t tell,' but Stengel apparently didn’t learn that during his seven years in the top echelon of Time magazine. Nevertheless, Stengel accuses RT of 'disinformation' ranging from 'assertions that peaceful protesters hired snipers to repeated allegations that Kiev is beset by violence, fascism and anti-Semitism, these are lies falsely presented as news.'” Image from

Social Media: How Twitter is making diplomacy more open and public -- Twitter is changing how diplomats interact and influencing how we see global leaders. From embarrassing tweets and international spats, the public is getting to see a different side of diplomacy, says a new study - "For politicians, Twitter has become a ‘very powerful channel to broadcast messages,’ says Matthias Lüfkens, author of the ‘Twiplomacy Study 2014,’ which examines how foreign ministers, their offices and heads of state are using the social networking and microblogging service. ‘It has become an indispensable channel for digital diplomacy,’ he adds.

Barack Obama ✔ @BarackObama
Four more years.
11:16 PM - 6 Nov 2012

US President Obama, Twitter's most ‘popular’ leader, has more than 48 million followers. He was one of the world's first leaders to join the social network in 2008, and since then, many more leaders have jumped on the bandwagon. More than two-thirds of heads of state and government in the world are on Twitter, according to the Twiplomacy study. ... The growth of diplomacy via social networks like Twitter allows the public to get a better view of how diplomats interact with each other - via mentions, retweets and replies. ... But it doesn't mean the public will be getting tweeted updates from their private meetings and negotiations, says Lüfkens. 'It just makes [diplomacy] more public, more visible and more accessible for us,' he says. But not everyone is so enthusiastic about that. 'It's a problem for heads of communication if the foreign minister tweets without consulting their staff,' Lüfkens says. And that can lead to an international spat. ... It can be embarrassing to have to admit that you were wrong in public, but it is probably worse if you are a high-level diplomat. But whether it's international friendship or a public spat, diplomats on Twitter are allowing the public to see their interactions in a different light."

Entry from June 26, 2014 Twiplomacy (Twitter + diplomacy) - "Twitter Joel Whitaker ‏@joelwhitaker I hereby invent 'Twiplomacy' =Twitter as public diplomacy tool. Google backup: 5:18 PM - 10 Jan 2009"

Needs more hashtag: State Department announces expansion of social media campaign against terrorism - Blake Seitz, "As conflict in the Middle East intensifies, the U.S. State Department is sticking to what it knows best: hashtag activism.

The State Department announced Wednesday that it will expand efforts to counter Islamist terrorist groups on social media platforms like Twitter and YouTube. It will spend $575,046 on a 6-month contract to JTG, Inc., a Virginia-based company that researches extremist websites and tests pilot content to persuade terrorist sympathizers to disavow violence. This contract is part of a larger social media campaign called Think Again Turn Away, which seeks to reach English-speaking individuals who are in the 'antechamber of al Qaeda' -- those who may, but have not yet, taken up arms for jihad. The campaign is run by the State Department's Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, an agency created by an executive order in 2011. It commands a budget of $5 million." Via ACP on Facebook. Image from

Department of State Public Schedule June 27, 2014 - posted at UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS RICHARD STENGEL 3:30 p.m. Under Secretary Stengel

participates in a reception and discussion on leadership for J-1 Exchange Visitors, at the U.S. Mission to the UN. Image from

US losing the broadcasting wars  - MCT, "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."

IBB ends long-term partnerships with rebroadcasters in two-sentence emails and no thank you - BBG Watch commentary: "Officials of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) in Washington are ending long-term partnerships with rebroadcasters of programs sponsored by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) with a two sentence, impersonal emails without any thank-you for years of loyal contracting service to the U.S. government.

These foreign broadcasters have been rebroadcasting Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) programs and often took risks vis-a-vis their governments and regulatory agencies to provide this service for American taxpayers. These terse cancelation emails were sent out by IBB because of IBB-initiated major cuts to BBG shortwave and medium wave transmissions to Asia, Middle East, and Belarus, many of which are to take effect on June 30. IBB emails do not include any thank-yous for years of excellent rebroadcasting services." Image from entry

WhiteWashing A Dilapidated Building: A Nigerian Story - ini Etok, "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.

On Wednesday, the U.S. government told Nigerians to hold the government accountable for the failure to rescue the girls more than two months after they were kidnapped. Details contained in the contract document obtained by The Hill 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.'” Uncaptioned image from entry

Anti-Americanism rampant, fringe conspiracy theories take hold in Russia: Feelings drive rising popularity of Putin, poll shows: Marc Bennetts - The Washington Times: "An opinion poll published this month by the independent Moscow-based Levada Center indicated that just over 70 percent of Russians currently view the United States in a negative light — the highest figure since the collapse of the Soviet Union. About the same percentage of respondents described U.S. policy toward Russia as 'hostile.' ... This explosion in anti-U.S. sentiments has its roots in the unprecedented protests against Mr. Putin’s long rule, which broke out in late 2011 and continued through 2012.

As demonstrators filled the streets of central Moscow, Mr. Putin alleged that then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had 'given a signal' to opposition figures. State television claimed the protesters were being paid 'cookies and cash' by the State Department to attend anti-Putin rallies. The controversial appointment of Michael McFaul, a Stanford University professor and author of 'Russia’s Unfinished Revolution,' as U.S. ambassador to Moscow just weeks later raised tensions to near fever pitch. ... Meanwhile, U.S. expatriates in Moscow say that while there has been no sign that anti-Americanism is about to turn violent, they have noticed a definite hardening of attitudes. ... Still, the Kremlin’s policy of demonizing the United States could come back to haunt Putin, says Belkovsky, the analyst [Stanislav Belkovsky, a political analyst who is head of the Moscow-based National Strategy Institute]." Image from entry, with caption: Russian President Vladimir Putin enters the Alexander Hall to attend a ceremony of presentation of credentials by foreign ambassadors in the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Friday, June 27, 2014.

Business groups and scientists need to see the larger picture on Russia - Editorial, Washington Post: "We were also disturbed to read an editorial in this week’s Science magazine calling on scientists to 'lead a reversal' in deteriorating relations with Russia. Certainly, scientists played an important role in bridging the gap during the Cold War. But then, as now, science diplomacy cannot be isolated from politics. If scientists are to play such a role, they must carry the message to Russia that its behavior matters in the same way that nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov challenged the authorities as a voice of conscience in Soviet times."

Russian Power - Soft, not Hard - in Ukraine? - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "Yes, there is a strong military -- i.e. 'hard power' -- aspect to Russia's involvement in the current conflict in Ukraine. However, had it not been for a solid 'presence' of Russian soft power in the country -- even if we assume that it's been limited to its Eastern regions -- none of this would be possible. I don't like the term 'smart power', not only because it's even more conceptually shallow and unspecified than 'soft power', but also because it does not account for the various proportions of the

'hard' and 'soft' powers supposedly constituting it. That said, it might be the best 'Western' term to describe what is currently happening regarding Russian public diplomacy and soft power, particularly in its near abroad. On the other hand, as we know, even soft power is rarely entirely 'soft', so clear black-and-white separations are most certainly bound to be overly simplified." Image from entry, with caption: Original image from Valdai Club

History book on Ukrainian Neonazism released in Belgium - "A presentation of a book investigating the bloody events in Kiev, that resulted in an armed power shift in Ukraine and started in February this year, took place in Belgium today. The title of the book is 'Neonazis and Euromaidan: From Democracy to Dictatorship'. Its authors are political analyst of the CIS-EMO international organisation for elections observation Stanislav Byshok and the president of the Public Diplomacy Foundation Alexey Kochetkov. They submitted their book at a seminar of members of communist parties held in the Belgian town of Louvain-la-Neuve near Brussels."

Is Chinese Propaganda Invading Our Schools? | China Uncensored - Epoch Times: "The Confucius Institute’s presence can be found at many universities in the United States and other countries. Sure, the Confucius Institute sounds like a harmless language program being offered at your university. But it’s also been accused by a U.S. House foreign affairs committee of engaging in industrial and military espionage, has been called 'an important part of China’s overseas propaganda setup,' by the former head of China’s Propaganda Department, and is controlled by Chinese embassies and consulates.

China has spent over $10 billion in four years on the Institute. The Toronto District School Board in Canada almost got its very own Confucius Institute—until a massive outcry by parents unleashed a storm of protest, revealed some very shady dealings, and may have lead to the sudden retirement of Chris Bolton, the TDSB chair. Most of the trustees at the school board didn’t really understand what the institute was about. An informed parent alerted the board and other parents about it. It wasn’t even on the agenda to discuss in a board meeting originally, but after the concerns were raised, they talked about it for two hours. The communist propaganda is not always veiled in the language classes offered at the Confucius Institute. Lyrics of a song used in the classes read, 'Our mighty leader Chairman Mao, leading us all forward!'" Uncaptioned image from entry

China’s Taiwan Experiment - Brett Daniel Shehadey, In Homeland Security: "Taiwan’s prideful democracy and growing economy receives 3 million mainland Chinese tourists. What is often called a 'charm offensive' by Beijing towards Taipei is a little more complicated than that. It is really economic enticement, but certainly there are elements of 'charm' observed in positive spinning public diplomacy and overall programs utilizing greater attractive power. Moreover there is also a concern at this point that China plays a large stake in Taiwan’s dependent gross domestic product; wher[e]as China is not threatened with the loss of such trade relationship."

Through a Lens Darkly (24): Captured Chinese Swords and Traditional Weapons - "It is not uncommon to find postcards of 'Chinese life' mailed in the 1940s that show images of China from before the 1911 revolution. The persistent yearning for an 'oriental' and eternal China is portrayed in many of these images. The inexpensive and widespread nature of the medium also made postcards a useful tool of public diplomacy and educational propaganda. The Japanese, in particular, produced large numbers of postcards that featured scenes of daily military training and camp life to be sent back to the families of soldiers in the mainland. Other 'educational' images seem to have been produced with the soldiers themselves in mind.

These might carry useful bits of information, or show something about the forces that they were engaged with. The two postcards that we will be examining today, both taken from longer series, seem to fall into this category." Image from entry, with caption: A postcard showing Chinese weapons captured by the Japanese in Manchuria during WWII.

Pt. 2. Why Anthropologists Must Boycott: Israeli Attacks on Academic Freedom - "Increasingly, Israeli academic institutions are also mobilizing to justify Israeli violations of human rights to the world. During the 2009 Gaza war, the Herzilya’s Interdisciplinary Center in close coordination with Israel’s foreign ministry set up a 'war room' in order to defend Israel’s military actions on the internet. Since the war’s conclusion, these programs have become more widespread.

Today, students at Tel Aviv, Ariel, and Haifa Universities can receive credits for taking courses in hasbara, learning slick social media strategies designed to justify the Israeli military occupation under the guise of 'public diplomacy.'” Image from

Cabinet Approves 300 Million NIS for Development of Jerusalem: Program aimed at curbing violence in eastern Jerusalem - Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency: "[I]n recent years there has been a sharp increase in acts of violence and stone-throwing in the eastern part of the city. ... These displays of violence are being perpetrated in the capital of the State of Israel, close to the holiest sites of the three major faiths, which have considerable tourist and public diplomacy significance and which draw pilgrims from around the world."

NCPO urgently needs better media relations - Kavi Chongkittavorn, "The latest move by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to micro-manage the traditional and new media after the May 22 power seizure could seriously tarnish or even paralyse the NCPO's public diplomacy within Thailand and abroad. ... Thai media is colourful, dynamic and uneven. It is still the country's biggest asset. Spare it.

Given the NCPO's desire to transform Thailand into a truly democratic country, Thai media must continue to serve as an impartial watchdog as well as an agent and a platform for debate and public learning." Image from

Hyenas vs. Rhinos: Who could the NYT get to write an Op-ed on Iraq? Hmm… - Juan Cole, "5. John H. Brown , a career Foreign Service Officer, resigned from the State Department on March 12, 2003, to protest the plans to aggressively launch a war on Iraq. He went on to head a project and a newsletter on public diplomacy. Knowledgeable, experienced and worldly people like Brown who put their career and their lives on the line for principle deserve to be treated as 'wise men' and 'wise women' by the American press, rather than being consigned to obscurity

because they no longer are close to power." Image from

Communications Manager Job At The British High Commission - "Main elements of the job: Design and oversee a communications/public diplomacy strategy (including public advocacy campaigns) that helps to deliver HMG’s objectives in Ghana and the region. Engaging with HMG teams represented in Ghana, including DFID and the British Council, to project the UK in Ghana."


Blame The Obama Doctrine For Iraq - Stuart Gottlieb, With Iraq now in flames, and the entire Mideast at risk, perhaps President Obama and his national security team will finally rethink a doctrine they like to informally describe as “leading from behind” and “not doing stupid shit.”

Sometimes an excess of caution is the most careless approach of all. Image from

ISIS propaganda campaign threatens U.S. - The cam­paign, “Warn­ing to the Amer­i­can Peo­ple,” is being orga­nized on social media around the hash­tag #Calami­ty­Will­Be­fal­lUS and is being directed through one of the many Twit­ter han­dles pur­port­edly belong­ing to ISIS. Par­tic­i­pants are encour­aged to tweet using that hash­tag in Eng­lish or Ara­bic, although “tweet­ing in Eng­lish is pre­ferred.” Par­tic­i­pants are also encour­aged to repost offi­cially sanc­tioned tweets that appear on the ISIS “union page” and use “pho­tos of signs or designs with warn­ing to Amer­i­cans” when possible.  A num­ber of images and slo­gans were pre-released begin­ning on June 24. These include images of the falling World Trade Cen­ter, quotes by the Amer­i­can Al-Qaeda pro­pa­gan­dist Anwar al-Awlaki, and pic­tures of advanc­ing ISIS fighters. The offi­cial slo­gans fea­ture threats against Amer­i­can inva­sion and a range of par­tic­u­larly inflam­ma­tory mes­sages, including: “If the United States bombs Iraq, every cit­i­zen is a legit­i­mate tar­get for us.” “This is a mes­sage for every Amer­i­can cit­i­zen. You are the tar­get of every Mus­lim in the world wher­ever you are.” “For every drop of blood shed of the Iraqis, Amer­i­cans will shed a river of blood.” “Every Amer­i­can doc­tor work­ing in any coun­try will be slaugh­tered if Amer­ica attacks Iraq.” “Don’t come to Iraq unless you want another 11th Sep­tem­ber to happen.” See also.

Iraq’s Sunni Militants Take to Social Media to Advance Their Cause and Intimidate - Rod Nordland, New York Times: The extremist group battling the Iraqi government, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, may practice a seventh-century version of fundamentalist Islam, but it has demonstrated modern sophistication when it comes to using social media, particularly Twitter and other sites like WordPress and Tumblr. On Twitter, ISIS has hijacked World Cup hashtags, flooding unsuspecting soccer fans with its propaganda screeds. It has used Facebook as a death-threat generator; the text-sharing app JustPaste to upload book-length tirades; the app SoundCloud for jihadi music; and YouTube and Twitter for videos to terrify its enemies.

ISIS militants produce slick weekly magazine packed with English language Islamist propaganda designed to recruit and radicalise would-be extremists in the West - John Hall, "Weekly Islamic State Report is published by ISIS' AlHayat Media Center; Attempts to justify Sunni militants' brutal campaign in the Middle East; Blames Allied forces after First World War for political problems in region;

Magazine just the latest attempt by ISIS to radicalise young Westerners; Already have a large presence on social media - even selling merchandise. Image from entry, with caption: Communications: The professionally designed and edited Islamic State Report is published by the AlHayat Media Center - ISIS' propaganda wing. It is put out once a week, with four editions already released in June.

Militants In Iraq Are Surprisingly Brilliant On Social Media - Paul Szoldra, "In addition to seizing key towns in Iraq, Sunni militants in the country have demonstrated a remarkable ability to control and amplify their message far beyond the Middle East. ... With sophisticated social media campaigns, slick graphics, and professional video production, the propaganda campaign from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has helped bring in new recruits and terrified its enemies long before they came under attack."

Invading Iraq 2.0: ISIS Propaganda, Proxy Wars and US-NATO’s ‘Blitzkrieg’ - Shawn Helton, We’ve learned that much of Iraq has ‘fallen’ into the hands of Sunni militants, as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has pushed their way through to Iraq five months ago, while both Britain’s MI6, as well as the CIA, had prior knowledge of the well-funded terror group’s movements - allowing their apparent death march to continue after being warned well in advance.

The U.S. Tells Ottawa: O Canada, Stop Pouting -- An ex-Goldman Sachs bundler for Obama is starting to look like a diplomatic bungler - Mary O'Grady, Wall Street Journal: Mr. Obama's latest step in the image makeover is to tell Canada—the U.S.'s largest trading partner, largest supplier of energy and most loyal ally in war and peace—that its long-nurtured special relationship with the U.S. is not so special after all. To carry out the mission, Mr. Obama has sent a new U.S. ambassador to Ottawa.

Mr. Heyman made his debut in Ottawa earlier this month with a dinner speech at the National Gallery followed by a Q and A with former Canadian ambassador to Washington Frank McKenna. Mr. McKenna used the event to raise what Canada sees as troubling "irritants" in the bilateral relationship. Mr. Heyman used it to explain to Canadians how insignificant they are in the eyes of Washington. Image from

Kyoto Uses Its Many Charms to Attract Foreign Students - Miki Tanikawa, New York Times: A growing number of international students who are opting to study in Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, surrounded by historic temples and shrines, traditional art and crafts industries, and an abundance of nature. The number of foreign students in the city rose to 7,017 last year from 5,157 in 2009, according to an interuniversity body in Kyoto that compiles statistics. The figure of foreign students in Kyoto rose even as the number for Japan as a whole slipped to 135,000, from a peak of 141,000 in 2010. According to another agency, the Japan Student Services Organization, Kyoto, despite its relatively small size, had the fourth-largest population of foreign students in Japan last year, behind Tokyo — which was host to nearly half the total — Osaka and Fukuoka. Kyoto’s lure is a mix of its geography and its unique place in Japan’s cultural, historical and educational landscape, students say

Time to Evict Nazi-Looted Art From Museums: Some institutions still cling to paintings sought by the descendants of Hitler's victims - Ronald Lauder, Wall Street Journal: After decades in which this issue was conveniently ignored, the U.S. State Department sponsored an international conference in Washington, D.C., in 1998 to resolve the many and complicated issues surrounding the repatriation of Nazi-looted art. The conference introduced 11 protocols, known as the Washington Principles. The U.S. and the 43 other countries that adopted the principles agreed to look for Nazi-looted art in their public art collections and to resolve restitution claims in a just and fair manner. The Washington Principles amount to these two truths: Art museums and their collections should not be built with stolen property. Passion for art should not displace respect for justice.

The Dishonest Diplomat: How a Critical Profession Got a Bad Rap - Matthew Palmer, Time: The reality is that diplomacy — good diplomacy, at least — places a premium on honesty, defined here as credibility and trustworthiness. Do you mean what you say? Do you deliver on what you promise?

If not, why would anyone give you the time of day? Matthew Palmer is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, currently serving as political counselor at the American embassy in Belgrade. Image from


--Via SH on Facebook


--Russian movie posters for Ice Age: Continental Drift, Surrogates, Terminator 2: Judgment Day; from Awkward Movie Posters from Russia; via MP

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