Sunday, June 1, 2014

May 30-31 Public Diplomacy Review

"we need to untether our employees from their desks"

--Heather Higginbottom, Deputy Secretary of State, U.S. State Department; image from


Teachers and the Transatlantic Relationship - "Historically speaking, the transatlantic relationship has been centered on two main components: security and economics. In the wake of recent events in Ukraine and the tentative Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, those two components are vital to the transatlantic renaissance. If we want to strengthen the relationship even more, however, we need to consider the role of public diplomacy at a more local level, and in particular, teacher exchanges. ... Based on my experiences as a teacher, I propose that one of the best ways to maintain and strengthen the transatlantic relationship is to increase the amount of teacher exchanges. Security and economics are definitely integral to our relations, but the people involved in these conversations are usually high-ranking political officials and diplomats. This means that 'ordinary' citizens on both sides of the Atlantic do not get the chance to connect and learn about each other. Having teachers go abroad, however, can exponentially increase our understanding of transatlantic history and culture. Let’s say the average teacher has 100 students per year.

In my case, that means 1,200 students have passed through my classroom, learning about the transatlantic relationship—including the European Union, NATO, Cold War foreign policy—and carrying that information with them into the future. If teachers come back from exchanges and share information with their colleagues, then we could reach even more students, thereby increasing interest in the transatlantic relationship and strengthening the transatlantic community. Official diplomacy measures are vital to the transatlantic relationship. We must do more, however, to increase opportunities for public diplomacy. Doing so will strengthen our historical bond, deepen our understanding and appreciation of each other, and lead to more cooperation across a variety of sectors." Uncaptioned image from entry

Tory McPhail of Commander's Palace to spend Fourth of July Down Under - “Tory McPhail, executive chef at Commander's Palace, will celebrate Independence Day in Australia. He's traveling down under in late June as a ‘culinary ambassador’ of the U.S. Department of State. ‘Australia has a big fever for Cajun and Creole food these days,’ McPhail said. ‘It's the most regional food in America.’ McPhail received a call from the Department of State earlier this year, after cooking a dinner in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

‘The dinner went really, really well,’ McPhail said of the event in D.C. Not long afterward, he received a call from a State Department employee, who told McPhail: ‘For the last couple of years, we've been doing culinary diplomacy around the world, and we've selected you to be among five American chefs to represent the country around the world.’  The program is a part of American Chef Corps, a partnership between the State Department and the James Beard Foundation. According to a State Department press release, ‘As part of this endeavor, chefs from across the country will serve as resources to the Department in preparing meals for foreign leaders, and will participate in public diplomacy programs that engage foreign audiences abroad as well as those visiting the United States.’" Image from entry, with caption: Chef Tory McPhail of Commander's Palace in New Orleans, Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Workshop on Generation Change Entrepreneurial Skills ends - "A select group of public workers, representatives of non-governmental organizations, and students have undergone a two-day Generation Change Entrepreneurial Skills Training Workshop to harness their skills to manage businesses. The workshop, which ended in Tamale on Wednesday, formed part of the Global Management Challenge facilitated by Sankofa Worldwide Limited with sponsorship from the United States Embassy in Accra with the aim to empower participants to start their own businesses and manage them (businesses) effectively for success. It was facilitated using the Generation Simulation Training module, which allowed participants to make immediate management decisions under given scenarios to maximise profit or increase their companies' share price." See also.

Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina: Who Is Maureen Cormack? - "On January 6, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Maureen Cormack, a career Foreign Service officer, as ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina. On March 6, 2014, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing to consider her nomination. ... Much of her career in the Foreign Service has been spent in public and cultural affairs. ... Cormack … was named

executive assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. In July 2011, Cormack became principal deputy coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs. On April 15, 2013, she was promoted to acting coordinator for international programs after a critical report by the State Department’s Office of Inspector General led to the resignation of Coordinator Dawn McCall. Cormack’s husband, William, is a construction engineer with the State Department.

Hillary Clinton’s Youth Office Gets New Home, But Will It Get Lost? - "A State Department office created by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that she touted as a direct channel to young people around the world is undergoing bureaucratic changes that could lead to the elevation of its mission -- or, one veteran of government red tape warned, its eventual demise. Founded in 2011 under the leadership of Special Adviser Ronan Farrow, now an MSNBC host, the Office of Global Youth Issues was established to change the way America engages with people under 30 around the world, Farrow said in an email to ABC News. As special advisers, Farrow and his successor Zeenat Rahman reported directly to the Secretary of State, first Clinton and then John Kerry -- unlike the structure of more permanent bureaus at the State Department, which are led by undersecretaries who focus on a particular issue or part of the world. But beginning in mid-summer, the Global Youth Issues office will become part of the Bureau of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, headed by newly sworn-in Undersecretary Richard Stengel. ... That’s despite the heavy praise Clinton levied on the office while she was Secretary, dispatching Farrow to speak with young

people around the world and praising him as 'a young 24-year-old activist…who is our adviser on global youth issues,' as she did in February 2012 at a town hall in Tunisia. ... Gordon Adams, who from 1994 to 1997 was the senior White House official for national security and foreign policy budgets, warned that such bureaucratic shuffles sometimes lead to a small office becoming obsolete. ... Adams also predicted that the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, founded by the late diplomat Richard Holbrooke, would eventually get folded back into the Near Eastern Affairs bureau. ... Adams acknowledged that even though sometimes offices get strangled by red tape when they enter a State Department bureau, it’s ultimately that bureau’s leader who has the final say in a new office’s prominence, or lack thereof. 'If the transfer was designed to make that topic more central as party of public diplomacy, [i.e.,] integrate it with social media, it could be a ‘promotion,’ rather than death, he said." Uncaptioned image from entry

Blaming the video for Benghazi highlights Hillary Clinton's weak defense of American values - Charles Hoskinson, "Clinton … risks revisiting the biggest public diplomacy mistake of her career. It's all about the video -- specifically, a promotional trailer for a planned film called ‘The Innocence of Muslims,’ which Islamist extremists fished from YouTube obscurity and used to fire up mobs across the Middle East and South Asia to facilitate planned terrorist attacks against U.S. interests.

By repeating -- and defending -- the now-debunked claim that the video was to blame for the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Clinton risks a renewed focus on the shameful manner in which she and President Obama handled the Benghazi disaster." Image from entry, with caption: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will need the help. Based on the excerpts from the leaked chapter published in Politico, she risks revisiting the biggest public diplomacy mistake of her career.

"Engagement" and public diplomacy - John Brown, Notes and Essays: "As is quite well known (see, item one) 'engagement' is (or at least was, for several years) the Obama administration's favorite buzzword to describe what the USA should to interact effectively with foreign audiences, replacing the arguably outdated 1960s-, Cold-War American-produced term -- further infected by the Bush II administration's 'why do they hate us war on terror' -- 'public diplomacy.' So, quite interesting how 'engagement' is defined in a business-oriented article that just appeared in the New York Times on "Why You Hate Work":

'A 2012 global work force study of 32,000 employees by the consulting company Towers Watson found that the traditional definition of engagement — the willingness of employees to voluntarily expend extra effort — is no longer sufficient to fuel the highest levels of performance. Willing, it turns out, does not guarantee able. '"

Taiwan's overtures toward Turkey - "The ultimate aim for Taiwan is a free trade agreement (FTA) with Turkey to better link the two economically and commercially. As World Trade Organization (WTO) talks to liberalize worldwide trade have failed, paving the way for the launching of a number of regional free trade agreements, Taiwanese officials have scrambled to catch up in order not to be isolated and prevent its exporters from becoming less competitive. They have signed an FTA with New Zealand and Singapore as they continue to negotiate with mainland China on follow-up treaties to the 2010 Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). It is very clear that the Taipei government has recalibrated its public diplomacy campaign to become more visible in international organizations."

The prospects for Indonesian foreign policy - Hadianto Wirajuda, "Prabowo Subianto and Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, the two presidential candidates, have published their programs for government. While the manifestos cover a wide range of issues, I am particularly interested in interpreting the foreign-policy sections by assessing the prospects for Indonesia’s foreign

affairs vis-à-vis their foreign policy agendas. ... Jokowi’s manifesto ... indicates his reliance on the Foreign Ministry in foreign policy-making by having it restructured, emphasizing 'internal capacity building with regards to, inter alia, economic diplomacy and public diplomacy to include public participation in the decision-making process.'” Widodo image from

Ezell named director of interfaith action at Claremont Lincoln University - "Claremont Lincoln University has appointed Darrell Ezell, an expert in interreligious affairs, conflict resolution and diplomacy, to oversee curriculum development and implementation as the inaugural program director for interfaith action. ... He is the author of 'Beyond Cairo: U.S. Engagement with the Muslim World' (2013), in which he explores the roles and impacts of U.S. public diplomacy in the Middle East during the Arab Spring. He has served in several capacities from working at the U.S. Department of State (Bureau of International Organization Affairs) to conducting research at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Arkansas, to understand better the communication process associated with interfaith dialogue and religion-based peacemaking."


The Wrong Afghan Friends - Anand Gopal, New York Times: The most effective weapon against the Taliban would be a strong centralized state, responsive to citizens’ needs. This would require Americans to sever unilateral patronage relationships with rural power brokers and militias, and direct all funding to the state. (To deter corruption, international donors and Kabul could manage disbursement jointly, through trust funds.)

The Afghan government should then absorb these forces into its ranks; with the strongmen stripped of American protection and independent revenue sources, integration should be easier. Image from entry, with caption: In September 2012, Afghans gathered around the bodies of people reported to have been killed during clashes with an anti-Taliban militia that attacked civilians in Kunduz Province.

Why Obama has changed his mind on Syria - Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times: esident Obama's foreign policy speech at West Point last week was in large part a list of all the things he doesn't want to do. He doesn't want to withdraw from the world. At the same time, he doesn't want to use military force to solve every problem. Above all, he doesn't want to get stuck in another war in the Middle East, or anywhere else, for that matter. But there's an exception to the Obama Doctrine of restraint: terrorism. Obama is ready and willing to use U.S. military power — indirectly if possible, directly if needed — against terrorists who pose a threat to the United States. [President Obama] has approved a gradual but significant escalation of U.S. action on the most complicated and dangerous battlefield of all: Syria. That's why, even as he has withdrawn troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, the president has sent military advisors to Africa. And that's why, almost unnoticed, he has approved a gradual but significant escalation of U.S. action on the most complicated and dangerous battlefield of all: Syria. Tt's the alarming growth and reach of extremist Islamist groups in Syria — some allied with Al Qaeda — that is driving Obama's decisions. It's just possible, incongruous though it sounds, that Al Qaeda — by drawing the United States into the fight — might yet save Syria's democratic opposition from utter defeat.

Obama’s Afghanistan pullout may end domination of drones: Counterterror officials worry about revival of al Qaeda - President Obama’s call to cut the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan to 5,000 troops in 18 months will end an era of American drone superiority over the region and jeopardize hard-fought gains against al Qaeda just as the terrorist movement’s original core is rising again, former senior defense officials and national security sources say.
One U.S. official told The Washington Times that Mr. Obama’s plan has prompted frustration in the administration’s national security and intelligence circles and triggered a heated fight inside the Pentagon over what specific units will remain inside Afghanistan, as well as the extent to which they can remain at all “counterterrorism-relevant.”

The prudent commander: Obama can end a war but still can't silence his critics [subscription] - Colbert I. King, Washington Post

Libya's general in his labyrinth - Frederic Wehrey, Los Angeles Times: The ultimate solution for Libya's security woes resides in the political realm — specifically, the drafting of a constitution, reform of the congress, and a broad-based national reconciliation under the auspices of the ongoing "national dialogue" process.

This is an area where the United States and other outside actors can lend advice and measured assistance, but where the ultimate burden must be borne by Libyans themselves. Most important, Washington must not turn a blind eye to the country's authoritarian drift. Image from entry, with caption: A Libyan man is seen last week carrying a portrait of Khalifa Haftar during a rally in Benghazi in support of the rogue former general whose forces have launched a "dignity" campaign to crush jihadist militias.

The Opinion-Makers: How Russia Is Winning the Propaganda War - Moritz Gathmann, Christian Neef, Matthias Schepp and Holger Stark: The Kremlin invests around €100 million ($136 million) a year in Russian media abroad in order to influence public opinion in the West. This effort also helps explain why Putin addressed Germans directly in his speech on the annexation of Crimea. Putin's greatest propaganda success is the fact that the majority of Russians now believe that Kiev is ruled by fascists. The Kremlin also deftly exploits the anti-American sentiment of many Western Europeans, by claiming, for example, that American mercenaries and consultants have been deployed in eastern Ukraine.

Even today, there is still no evidence to back any of these allegations. But America's credibility isn't helped by the fact that Washington also disseminates its own anti-Russian propaganda. Image from entry, with caption: With the help of news services like RT and Ruptly, the Kremlin is seeking to reshape the way the world thinks about Russia. And it has been highly successful: Vladimir Putin has won the propaganda war over Ukraine and the West is divided. Image from entry

Why Putin Says Russia Is Exceptional: Such claims have often heralded aggression abroad and harsh crackdowns at home - Leon Aron, Wall Street Journal: To Mr. Putin, in short, Russia was exceptional because it was emphatically not like the modern West.

There is ample precedent for this sort of rhetoric about Russian exceptionalism, which has been a staple of Kremlin propaganda since 2012. In Russian history, the assertion of cultural uniqueness and civilizational mission has often served the cause of political, cultural and social reaction—for war and imperial expansion, as a diversion from economic hardship and as a cover for the venality and incompetence of officials. Image from entry

The Ghosts of Europe: Why fascism is back in fashion from Athens to Paris - Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal: A decade ago it was

conventional wisdom to observe that Europe had become a zone of perpetual peace, an agent of soft power and international law, Venus to America's Mars. But history is coming back to Europe, and not just at the far margin in places like Donetsk. The European Parliament may be mostly toothless as a political institution. But now there's no blinking at the fact that fascism is no longer just a piece of Europe's past but also a realistic possibility for its future. Image from entry, with caption: National Front leader Marine Le Pen and her father, Jean-Marie, in 2012


Hugging presidential style [video] -


"The NYT seems to be making a lot of mistakes recently Today Correction: May 31, 2014 This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: An earlier version of this article misstated Chuck Hagel’s title. He is secretary of defense, not secretary of state."

-Via a respected Facebook friend

OVERHEARD (via Facebook)



"fornication (bad) or football (good)"

--The warning that sermons, heard in Texas by Christian Wiman, who teaches at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, tended to give as part of moral imperatives


Image from, with caption: Jacques Tati as Monsieur Hulot arriving at the office in Playtime, 1967


Articles in the Washington Post have become near-inaccesible on the Internet except through paid subscription, a financial obligation I can't assume for this non-funded blog. So I regret to say that I cannot provide summaries of such articles on the PDPBR.

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