Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Another example of the blind leading the not-so-blind?: Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine to fend off Putin-backed rebels

JB note to the below article: Here we go again ... More U.S. military "advisers" sent overseas at U.S. taxpayers' cost. I wonder how much these doubtless well-intentioned war professionals actually know about the country/its history/its language/its geography they are going to "advise" about ... Shades of Iraq, Afghanistan, Viet-Nam (immense number of lives and treasure tragically wasted).

Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine to fend off Putin-backed rebels

U.S. to help Kiev bolster military as pressure mounts on Vladimir Putin


Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

A team of Pentagon officials is heading to Ukraine to help the country rebuild its fractured military, a mission that lawmakers and analysts expect will result in recommendations for greater military assistance in the country’s fight against pro-Russia separatists amid international outrage over the downing of a commercial airplane.
Within the next few weeks, a group of Defense Department representatives who specialize in strategy and policy will head to Kiev to evaluate specific programs that the United States may want to help bolster, said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

Their objective is to work with Ukrainians to “shape and establish an enduring program for future U.S. efforts to support the Ukrainian military through subject-matter expert teams and long-term advisers,” he said.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, offered qualified support for the plan.
“Clearly, we have an interest in what happens in Ukraine and it’s far better to have an idea of where we can maximize any support we are willing to provide,” he said.
The U.S. is moving to bolster Ukraine’s defense infrastructure as Russian President Vladimir Putin faces increasing pressure to cut off support to separatists who have seized control of a swath of eastern Ukraine.
While the international community focuses on a response to the downing of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 over Ukrainian airspace, the country’s armed forces have continued to press a military campaign against rebels who have largely retreated to two eastern cities and issued increasingly desperate pleas to Russia for assistance.
Mr. Putin, who showed little inclination to come to the rebels’ aid with thousands of troops massed on the Ukrainian border before the airplane was shot down, has been preoccupied with publicly challenging the narrative that Russia carries some culpability for the assault on the Malaysian airliner.

The Russian president in recent days has called for a cease-fire in Ukraine and said he would press the rebels to cooperate with an international investigation into the incident, which resulted in the deaths of 298 people.

As U.S. officials disclosed Tuesday that they were nearly certain the rebels shot down the passenger plane with a Russian-supplied missile system, European Union officials went forward with increased sanctions on Russia for not acting decisively to de-escalate the Ukrainian conflict. Further and more severe sanctions were threatened if Russia does not quickly rein in the rebels.
While he continues to criticize Kiev for its counteroffensive against rebels in the east, Mr. Putin likely will “offer an olive branch” to deflect the political and diplomatic pressure his country faces, said Steve Ganyard, president of Avascent International and former deputy assistant secretary of state for plans, programs and operations in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.
“I think that Mr. Putin is going to look for a face-saving way to avoid an international investigation that is going to show Russian culpability,” he said. “And I think he’ll come in and offer a six-month cease-fire and lots of things that are going to calm down international anger, and then six months later he’ll be back at it again.”
Even as Mr. Putin is increasingly pressured to conciliate the international community over Russia’s support for the rebels, the Defense Department intends to begin looking for an innovative way to bolster the army of the former Soviet bloc country.
Steven Pifer, a national security analyst for the Brookings Institution, said the international incident should be a clear sign to the Obama administration that now is the time to supply lethal weaponry.
Mr. Pifer, head of Brookings’ arms control initiative who served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 1998 to 2000, said the Ukrainians need light anti-armor weapons and manned portable air defense systems to keep the Russians at bay.
“I want to make sure that the potential costs to the Russians in the event of a military incursion in Ukraine are as high as possible,” he said.
Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, has said the United States is past due in providing direct military support to Ukraine. In the hours after the downing of the Malaysian airliner, he criticized the “cowardly” Obama administration for failing “to give the Ukrainians weapons with which to defend themselves.”
Mr. McCain told Fox News that the deadly crash warranted a weapons delivery from the United States to Ukraine so that its security forces are properly equipped to “regain their territory.”
The Pentagon has provided Ukraine with radios, individual first-aid kits, sleeping mats, neck gaiters, jackets and body armor but stopped short of offering anything that the country’s defense officials have requested that could be perceived as direct military assistance.
Over the next weeks to months, additional items will move through the procurement process, including night-vision devices, thermal imagers, helmets, explosive-ordnance disposal robots, and additional radios, Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said.
Defense Department officials say the equipment request list that Ukraine provided to the United States earlier this year is dated and “conditions may have changed.” In addition, that list is not based on a coherent defense strategy, one Pentagon official said.
“It’s important to keep in mind that one of the reasons we’re sending people over there now to help them establish enduring programs is because they don’t have enduring programs,” the official said. “So two months ago, when they generated their request list, that list wasn’t a result of a well-established defense strategy.”
Paul Schwartz, a national security analyst who specializes in Russia and Eurasia studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Ukrainian defense capabilities “declined substantially after the Cold War” because of years of underinvestment. But he said the country’s forces still have the capabilities at least to engage the separatists.
“After a slow start, the Ukrainian military has proven sufficientlShay capable to make inroads on rebel-held territory in Eastern Ukraine,” he said.
Mr. Ganyard said it was unclear how successful the Pentagon team’s efforts might be. Before the United States can begin to rebuild Ukraine’s fractured military, he said, policymakers must decide what they want it to look like.
“What do we want them to be?” he asked. “Is it a force that stands on its own and can guard against all its borders? Or do we just want them to be able to defend themselves against Russia?”

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Putin’s Power: Why Russians Adore Their Bare-Chested Reagan: Notes for a Lecture: "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United."


Putin’s Power: Why Russians Adore Their Bare-Chested Reagan

The history of strongmen leaders helps fuel a passion for capitalism—even if there's a cost
By Josh Weil
July 22, 2014
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir PutinRussian Prime Minister Vladimir PutinAlexey Druzhinin—AFP/Getty Images
There he is, the President of Russia, riding bare-back and bare-chested astride a galloping steed; spending $50 billion on a resort town most Russians will never see; seizing Crimea, instigating unrest in Ukraine; maybe even making himself indirectly responsible for the murder of nearly 300 innocents aboard a downed passenger plane: Vladimir Putin, shaking his fist in the face of a West that often seems unable to do more than avert its eyes.
When we in The West do look, it can seem perplexing: How can Russians buy into such blatant bravado? How can a country that is (at least nominally) democratic support such near-authoritarian power? And why does Putin remain so popular?
“Why,” Russians might ask us in return, “do you support a system of government that is so weak?” In 2010, traveling through Russia to research a novel, I was asked this a lot. I’d press people on the way Putin had cowed political opposition, castrated the parliament, brought the media mostly under his control. Usually, they’d shrug. Then they’d tell me, “At least he does stuff, makes stuff happen. Unlike in America. Where your government can’t get even the smallest things done.” Yes, Putin goes big, they’d say—maybe even sometimes goes wrong—but we in America can’t manage to go anywhere at all. Heck, we can barely manage to fund our own government, let alone set aside our squabbling long enough for anyone to actually lead.
Everywhere in Russia that I traveled to research my new novel, The Great Glass Sea, I felt a yearning. Sometimes it took the shape of nostalgia: a man who’d made a fortune in the early ‘90s lit up talking about that wild time of unleashed, unfettered capitalism when millions could be made overnight; a school teacher spoke of the way, under communism, everyone knew their neighbors, shared what little they had—a birthday cake cut into dozens of tiny slices to serve the entire apartment block, an apartment block now filled with families too busy trying to make ends meet to even know each others’ names; I even spoke to young men who hungered for a return of the tsar. Sometimes the yearning was for a future for which they fiercely grasped: I saw a deep appreciation for the opportunities that the release from communism had afforded, the new paths capitalism had opened up.
But in all of it there was an undercurrent of aggrievement; a sense of having to restart after seven decades of the Soviet State, having to retrace steps back to the path the rest of the world had been on—and then struggle to catch up; a feeling that the chance for Russia to remake itself had been hampered by the hegemony of the West; a knowledge that the county was less than it could be, should be, that their individual lives were lessened too; or maybe just a knowledge—especially among the populace in poorer towns and villages outside of Moscow—that what wealth and success has come to the county has come only to a very few.
That’s a feeling a great number of Americans can relate to: not only the frustration with growing inequality, but the sense that our country is also somehow becoming smaller than it should be. Here, when our sense of self is threatened, we turn to historical mythology that buttresses our belief in who we are: The American Dream, our forefathers wrestling with what that would be, the presidents who, through our beloved democracy, shaped how we understand it now—FDR, JFK, Reagan. We look for the next in that mold.
But Russians don’t have that history. Theirs is one in which revolutionary uprisings led to instability before being channeled by a system of control; one in which democracy is associated with a time of devastating economic collapse. We all know the long history of Russian strongmen—from Ivan the Terrible to Joseph Stalin—but can you imagine having that history as our own, having those leaders to look back on? Can you imagine our own country collapsed, our own inequality increased, our own dreams squeezed? Maybe you can, all too well. Now imagine that we had a leader who not only gave us hope, promised us change, but delivered.

The New Tribalism and the Decline of the Nation State: Notes for a Lecture, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United"

JB comment: What about Catalonia (not mentioned in this piece)?

The New Tribalism and the Decline of the Nation State -- Robert Reich. Via AA on Facebook

SUNDAY, MARCH 23, 2014

We are witnessing a reversion to tribalism around the world, away from nation states. The the same pattern can be seen even in America – especially in American politics.

Before the rise of the nation-state, between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, the world was mostly tribal. Tribes were united by language, religion, blood, and belief. They feared other tribes and often warred against them. Kings and emperors imposed temporary truces, at most.

But in the past three hundred years the idea of nationhood took root in most of the world. Members of tribes started to become citizens, viewing themselves as a single people with patriotic sentiments and duties toward their homeland. Although nationalism never fully supplanted tribalism in some former colonial territories, the transition from tribe to nation was mostly completed by the mid twentieth century.

Over the last several decades, though, technology has whittled away the underpinnings of the nation state. National economies have become so intertwined that economic security depends less on national armies than on financial transactions around the world. Global corporations play nations off against each other to get the best deals on taxes and regulations.

News and images move so easily across borders that attitudes and aspirations are no longer especially national. Cyber-weapons, no longer the exclusive province of national governments, can originate in a hacker’s garage.

Nations are becoming less relevant in a world where everyone and everything is interconnected. The connections that matter most are again becoming more personal. Religious beliefs and affiliations, the nuances of one’s own language and culture, the daily realities of class, and the extensions of one’s family and its values – all are providing people with ever greater senses of identity.

The nation state, meanwhile, is coming apart. A single Europe – which seemed within reach a few years ago – is now succumbing to the centrifugal forces of its different languages and cultures. The Soviet Union is gone, replaced by nations split along tribal lines. Vladimir Putin can’t easily annex the whole of Ukraine, only the Russian-speaking part. The Balkans have been Balkanized.

Separatist movements have broken out all over — Czechs separating from Slovaks; Kurds wanting to separate from Iraq, Syria, and Turkey; even the Scots seeking separation from England.

The turmoil now consuming much of the Middle East stems less from democratic movements trying to topple dictatorships than from ancient tribal conflicts between the two major denominations of Isam – Sunni and Shia.

And what about America? The world’s “melting pot” is changing color. Between the 2000 and 2010 census the share of the U.S. population calling itself white dropped from 69 to 64 percent, and more than half of the nation’s population growth came from Hispanics.

It’s also becoming more divided by economic class. Increasingly, the rich seem to inhabit a different country than the rest.

But America’s new tribalism can be seen most distinctly in its politics. Nowadays the members of one tribe (calling themselves liberals, progressives, and Democrats) hold sharply different views and values than the members of the other (conservatives, Tea Partiers, and Republicans).

Each tribe has contrasting ideas about rights and freedoms (for liberals, reproductive rights and equal marriage rights; for conservatives, the right to own a gun and do what you want with your property).

Each has its own totems (social insurance versus smaller government) and taboos (cutting entitlements or raising taxes). Each, its own demons (the Tea Party and Ted Cruz; the Affordable Care Act and Barack Obama); its own version of truth (one believes in climate change and evolution; the other doesn’t); and its own media that confirm its beliefs.

The tribes even look different. One is becoming blacker, browner, and more feminine. The other, whiter and more male. (Only 2 percent of Mitt Romney’s voters were African-American, for example.)

Each tribe is headed by rival warlords whose fighting has almost brought the national government in Washington to a halt. Increasingly, the two tribes live separately in their own regions – blue or red state, coastal or mid-section, urban or rural – with state or local governments reflecting their contrasting values.

I’m not making a claim of moral equivalence. Personally, I think the Republican right has gone off the deep end, and if polls are to be believed a majority of Americans agree with me.

But the fact is, the two tribes are pulling America apart, often putting tribal goals over the national interest – which is not that different from what’s happening in the rest of the world.

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21 Public Diplomacy Review

"You can’t trust what you’re hearing, but you can trust the metadata."

--Former NSA analyst Edward Snowden; image from


It’s All Diplomacy - "US Ambassador John Heffern [to Armenia] talks about public diplomacy, quiet diplomacy, his own efforts in Armenia to be public about policy and to welcome debate, US-Armenia relations – what they are and what they could be, and his own take on Armenia, Armenia’s development – especially in rural areas."


Diplomacy Fellows Program - "We are pleased to announce that the application period for the 2014 Diplomacy Fellows Program will open on Friday, August 1, and will close on Friday, August 29, at 11:59pm. The Diplomacy Fellows Program (DFP) is designed to advance eligible candidates to the Foreign Service Oral Assessment for the competitive selection of entry level Foreign Service Officer Candidates. ... We encourage all who are interested and eligible to apply to the Diplomacy Fellows Program to subscribe to our mailing list to receive email updates."


--Image/text from


‘My bad’: State Dept. official apologizes for #UnitedForGaza tweet - Jessica Chasmar, The Washington Times: "Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Richard Stengel gave a peculiar apology to outraged Twitter users on Sunday after he tweeted #UnitedForGaza to his 15,000 followers. In a tweet directed to the State DepartmentMr. Stengel said, ‘Critical for a full, credible and unimpeded intl investigation of crash. Urge Russia to honor it’s [sic] commitment,’ Twitchy first reported. After receiving swift backlash, the tweet was deleted, and Mr. Stengel sent out a terse explanation.

‘Earlier tweet with wrong hashtag was a mistake. My bad,’ he said. It wasn’t immediately made clear how Mr. Stengel tweeted the wrong hashtag. He would have had to type it incorrectly, or copy and paste it incorrectly, and he would have had to then press the ‘tweet’ button to send it out. Mr. Stengel sent out a subsequent, almost identical tweet, but instead with the hashtag #UnitedForUkraine. Twitter users weren’t buying Mr. Stengel’s apology. ‘Please, enlighten us as to how one incorrectly uses a hashtag like #UnitedForGaza. Maybe autocorrect changed #UnitedForGaga?’ tweeted Sean. ‘ ‘My bad.’ That’s something a 12 yr old would say. Shameful that you represent this country,’ said Rachel Ward. Mr. Stengel, who was the managing editor of Time magazine from 2006 to 2013, was sworn in on February 14 as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. He oversees the bureaus of Educational and Cultural Affairs, International Information Programs and Public Affairs as well as the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, according to the State Department’s website. See also (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6); image from

Neither US nor Palestinians will ever create peace. Only Israel can - Shlomo Avineri, [link no longer operative]: "Nothing can be expected from the United States or the Netanyahu government. The Obama administration has failed in every foreign-policy challenge, from Crimea and Ukraine to Syria and Iraq. The Netanyahu government is focused solely on public diplomacy enabling it to continue the status quo, which is disastrous."

Ballet leaders return from China after laying groundwork for future partnerships: Ballet representatives join John Kerry and others to foster relations between the two countries - Nathan Cushing, “Richmond Ballet Artistic Director Stoner Winslett and Managing Director Brett Bonda recently returned from China after taking part in the State Department’s 2014 Cultural Pillar Delegation for the US-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE).

The ballet representatives joined Secretary John Kerry, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong, and representatives from other organizations to promote cultural understanding between the US and China . … The trip comes before the Richmond Ballet, the State Ballet of Virginia, will hold its ‘Road to China and Beyond’ series during the company’s 2014-15 season. The ballet’s program will foster cultural exchange programs between the two countries.” Uncaptioned image from entry

Hip-Hop Diplomacy - "This photo essay on hip-hop diplomacy depicts the first Next Level program in India that recently came to a close after a three-week tour in Patna and Kolkata... The Next Level program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in association with the University of North Carolina's Department of Music, uses hip-hop as a tool to foster cross-cultural creative expression and exchange in diverse communities around the world. It promotes understanding and conflict resolution and supports the professional development of artists." [Among the images:]

Hannah Koenig - "I’m happy to finally report that last week was my first full week of work at the Collaboratory! On my first day, I successfully navigated the maze of buildings associated with the U.S. Department of State (DoS) in the Washington D.C. humidity and was officially sworn in as a Franklin Fellow. This was a pretty cool experience, as I took an oath to the U.S. Constitution itself alongside another Fellow. Here’s a nerdy picture of me (middle, trying not to mess up the words)

by the American flag taking the oath. Three cheers for public service! ... My time so far has largely been spent doing research and data-gathering, where I’m getting up to speed on the work and culture at the Collaboratory, the ECA Bureau, and DoS at large. I’m swimming in an alphabet soup of acronyms; for example, depending on the context, PD may mean Position Description, Professional Development, or Public Diplomacy. ... The Collaboratory can be a little difficult to understand at first, and that’s partly because it is iterating so quickly that its self-understanding is sometimes changing month to month. In November 2013, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) announced the launch of the Collaboratory, a new shop that was to be focused on virtual exchanges. ECA runs the Department’s 150+ cultural and educational exchange programs for Americans and foreign nationals, of which one of the most famous is the Fulbright program. This is part of a larger mission of public diplomacy, where education diplomacy has been a major focus and strategy to reinforce mutual understanding across cultures. In this context, the Collaboratory quickly grew from a team dedicated to virtual exchanges—which use technology to augment in-person exchanges by connecting people virtually—to a team equally interested in collaborative techniques and innovative approaches to government. The Collaboratory also wanted to serve as a network, connecting people within ECA to one another, to other bureaus at DoS, to other government agencies, and to organizations outside government, like NGOs, tech companies, and higher education institutions. Today, we are active on all of those fronts, and continuing to grow and 'rewire,' as my boss frequently says. ... Prior to my onboarding, the Collaboratory team (of which I am now the sixth member) drew a chart to express their latest take on their mission within ECA.

It’s in all of our workspaces (you can see it in mine below) and also in our studio, a former conference room built from big dreams, donated decor, and no budget."

VOA radio listener in Asia to BBG: bankruptcy without even a proper good bye - BBGWatcher, BBG Watch Commentary: "A longtime Voice of America (VOA) shortwave and medium wave listener in Asia has written this letter after VOA shortwave transmissions were abruptly cut last month without any warning to VOA listeners or even VOA radio program hosts. ['] Dear Chairman Shell and Broadcasting Board of Governors Members, On the 1st of July barely 3 days before American Independence, the airwaves fell silent of VOA broadcasts to millions of people in Asia. For a country like the USA to go off so abruptly after nearly 75 years of bringing every major event in the USA to us, this was unimaginable. Listeners started to call me to ask what was happening. These are loyal people, who valued the USA and above all friends of the USA.

In Sri Lanka, we followed Britain as a former colony, but the powerful signals of the VOA which once ruled the airwaves turned even our English to American English, from the day we heard the word 'Program Schedule' pronounced the American way. The daily editorial reflecting the views of the Government of the USA spoke directly to the people of the world, be they friend or foe. In that backdrop listeners cannot understand why the VOA left when it still has so many listeners. ... What the BBG did was akin to breaking diplomatic relations with Asia and the English speaking world. The VOA should have been the last international broadcaster to leave shortwave. Without doing so it abandoned the world of faithful listeners. BBG seems to be like the French Queen Mary Antoinette asking, why are people asking for shortwave? When the Internet is there? So out of step with the pulse of the world. The USA has to have a link with the masses of the vast Asian continent, get at least English back on the airwaves and show them that America cares and has the resolve and is not a bankrupt power. Sincerely, Victor Goonetilleke[']." Uncaptioned image from entry

Murder, Mayhem, and Meditation - "[Comment by] BradfordVonDaserdyly carrie • 2 days ago ... FYI: In 2012 when all of the US was distracted by the Trayvon Zimmerman race baiting the `Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012' was passed. The Smith-Mundt Act, which established public diplomacy and international broadcasting as activities of the U.S. government, has been in force since 1948. One of its provisions prohibits U.S. citizens from accessing the public diplomacy products of the U.S. government, whether in print or on the airwaves. The purpose of this provision was to prevent domestic government propagandizing. The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 effectively nullified the prohibition of domestic propaganda making domestic propaganda targeted at the US population legal. VoA and other programs are now produced by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which shares a 'strategic communications budget' with the State Department and has an annual budget of more than $700 million. $700 million a year for propaganda, that works out to about 2 million a day. That couldn't be influencing the production of documentaries, movies, and the rest of the media, naaaa, couldn't be. Not with the 'most transparent administration in history' ...... hope and change and propaganda."

Building Diplomacy Through Art: Fast Forward Exhibit at Meridian Center - Chris Herman, " 'In our country, we don’t just measure progress by the height of our buildings, the size of our airports, or the impact of our investments. Art has always been at the heart of Emirati society.' These were the opening remarks by UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba at the unveiling of Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates, a one-of-a-kind exhibition of Emirati artwork, at a reception on May 21st at the Meridian International Center.

The exhibit, a collaboration between the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, DC and the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy, features twenty-five artists representing all seven of the nation’s emirates across a variety of artistic genres and styles. It is the first major exhibition of Emirati art to tour outside of the UAE." Uncaptioned image from entry

The Surprising Duo Behind The Hamas Missile Map - A new computer tool showing the trajectory of Hamas rockets fired at Israel from Gaza is not only getting traction on social media, but constitutes an example of Jewish-Arab public diplomacy coexistence in action. The brainchild of 18-year-old Samuel Lespes Cardillo and 22-year-old Farid el-Nasire, the program – 'Israel Under Attack' – is a map of incoming red alerts, showing both their target in Israel and their point of origin. Cardillo is a Jew from Belgium who immigrated to Israel six months ago. El-Nasire is a pro-Israel Muslim from the Netherlands, whose family is originally from Morocco. The two met on Facebook, in a group called Innovation Israel, a mere week before launching the tool on the morning of July 20.


Realizing through chats that they shared a similar idea for faster and more precise Red Alerts, they collaborated via Skype and phone between Hoorn and Herzliya, spending what Cardillo described to ISRAEL21c as 'many white nights' to get the tool ready and up and running as quickly as possible for the safety of the Israeli public. ... El-Nasire [admitted]that it was unusual for someone of his background, both Muslim and European, to be embarking on a campaign to help the Jewish state’s public diplomacy efforts by showing the world that it is Israel under attack by Hamas and not the other way around. ... For more information, see Uncaptioned image from entry

10 ways Israel justifies killing Palestinians whenever it likes and however it likes - "Modern War is rarely limited to the ‘battlefield’ or war zone. Today’s wars are also waged in tv news studios, chat shows and op ed columns, in what the Pentagon calls ‘public diplomacy’ or ‘information warfare’ that attempts to shape the way that war is perceived, and enlist the active support or passive acquiescence of the wider public for one side or the other.

The Israeli assault on Gaza is no exception. ... [Its]narrative devices have combined, once again, to transform Palestinians into the equivalent of killable minor characters in a violent Hollywood movie or tv drama, who can be shot and blown to bits with impunity so that Israel can make itself feel better, while Western governments wring their hands and make lazy calls for ‘restraint on both sides’ or extend their solidarity to the government that is killing them." Image from entry, with caption: The father of three-year-old Palestinian child, Mouid al-Araj, carries his son’s body during his funeral in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, 13 July 2014.

Foreign Service Journal Features Public Diplomacy Award Winners -
"The July-August 2014 Foreign Service Journal reports on this years winners of PDAA Award for Achievement in Public Diplomacy, on pages 11 and 12. The 2014 awards went to: - Attia Nasar, International Information Program, Department of State - Ajani Husbands, Public Affairs Officer, Islamabad, Pakistan - Rachel Goldberg, The Phillips Collection."

A Day in the Life of a Political-Economic Section Intern - Abby Gadbois, "6:00 AM: Wake up, turn on electric tea kettle, grumble about the lack of good coffee in China. ... 1:30 PM: Reply to PAO (Public Affairs Officer) call for volunteers for an English language movie night attended by local students, add event to calendar, remember that you also wanted to schedule a meeting with a Management Officer to learn more about the Management Cone (there are five career tracks in the Foreign Service: Management, Political, Economic, Public Diplomacy and Consular). ... 3:20 PM Head down to the Consulate’s Information Resource Center (IRC; basically a small library) to help with set up for this week’s college chat, double the number of chairs because we have no idea how many students will show up. 3:30 PM Begin presenting to a room stuffed with students, feel nervous, but excited because everyone seems pretty interested. 4:00 PM: Open chat session with the students, other interns grapple with questions on admissions processes, entrance exams, and sports teams, you work with random eight year old and find major U.S. cities on the map. 5:00 PM: Reluctantly escort students out of the Consulate as official hours are over, and all of the interns can finish for the day. ... 10:00 PM: Message Mom for a while, reassure her that I am still alive and well. 11:00 PM: Go to sleep, because tomorrow will bring a whole new set of challenges and adventures."

First Catalonia Diplomatic promotion graduates - "After ten months enroled in the Executive’s Master Degree in Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs (MDAE, in Catalan acronym), the first promotion graduated successfully yesterday. With the aim of building capacities in Catalan institutions in the field of foreign affairs, the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia

and the Secretariat for Foreign and EU Affairs agreed to launch a supplementary study program in the field of diplomacy and external affairs, intended for employees of Catalonia’s civil service with international experience." Uncaptioned image from article

New trends in Taiwan politics research - "Under the guidance of Professor Gunter Schubert and his team, in the space of six years or so the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan at the University of Tubingen has become one of the major centres of excellence for Taiwan Studies in Europe (disclaimer: I am an ERCCT Fellow). The ERCCT recently celebrated the solidification of its relationship with the Taiwan-based Chiang Ching Kuo Foundation, officially becoming the CCKF’s fourth overseas centre. ... On July 14, the day after Germany became football world champions bathing the country in euphoria, the great and good of European Taiwan Studies (plus several scholars from the US and Taiwan) congregated in Tubingen to celebrate the signing of the new ERCCT-CCKF agreement. ... Gary Rawnsley of Aberyswyth covered Taiwan’s public diplomacy."

CFP: Popular geopolitics in Russia and post-Soviet Eastern Europe - "You are invited to submit papers for a two-day research workshop entitled 'Popular geopolitics in Russia and post-Soviet Eastern Europe' which will take place from 19-20 February 2015 at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies. Understandings of the world held by ordinary citizens affect political dynamics both between and within states. In Ukraine, the popular appeal of a ‘European’ future and antipathy towards the Moscow-oriented alternative helped to draw thousands onto the streets during the ‘EuroMaidan’ protests of 2013–14. In Russia, popular mistrust of the West has persisted since the end of the Cold War and has lately been exploited and encouraged by the authorities to justify domestic and foreign policy decisions. Western and non-Western states alike engage in public diplomacy with the aim of enhancing their image in the eyes of foreign populations and thereby increasing support for their international agendas. Yet popular perceptions of foreign ‘others’ and their relationship to the national ‘self’ tend to have deep roots in a complex nexus of influences, including education, personal experience, popular culture and the mass media. This workshop is intended to advance research into the societal or ‘popular’ dimension of geopolitics in Russia and post-Soviet Eastern Europe. Participants are invited to tackle the following interrelated questions: ... [among them:] How are geopolitical narratives sustained and/or challenged by domestic and transnational media, popular culture, government policies (including education and public diplomacy) and processes outside state control (such as travel and increasing internet use)?"

Tony Blair's Role as Special Envoy for the Middle East Quartet - "This blog is mostly about the New Great Game for resources in across the globe the impact of oil dependency upon both Britain and the oil rich nations, the purported interconnections between foreign policy and terrorism, the growth of Islamism and the mendacious nature of much 'Public Diplomacy'."

Poster Project: Symposium - "The event I have chosen for my project is the Syracuse University Public Diplomacy Symposium. My project evolved on the idea of international problems and solutions. The target crowd is people interested in international issues, more specifically conflict resolution. Initially I wanted to create a poster focused on progress and dialogue. Some of my sketches involve earths, teleprompters, and microphones. Due to the fact that I kept seeing the two words 'solution' and 'problems' on multiple websites, I decided to go with a poster than fostered those ideas. ... Initially with the text, I chose a font resembling a hand written picturesque.

It was decided that the font was not strong enough to relay the message and the lettering was too bright to fit the overall concept. I settled on Stencil STD Bold because of its practicality and boldness. This creates the idea of practicality and strength that, in turn, was reflected into the motto 'Practical Solutions for Rough Problems.'” Uncaptioned image from entry

Settling into the Medina - "Eric ... about me [:] Consulting. Traveling. Learning Arabic. Interested in public diplomacy and role of US as superpower. Seeking answers through RSS feeds.

All views my own, unaffiliated with any institution." Eric image from entry


US Embassy Ghana’s Errant Tweet Sparks Social Media Rumpus, Demo on July 25 – Domani Spero, DiploPundit: Apparently, some in the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) [of Ghana] are now even calling for sanctions against Ambassador Gene A. Cretz and the embassy staff over that spectacular, albeit errant tweet containing 73 explosive characters: “@JDMahama and what sacrifices are you making? Don’t tell me that pay cut.”

According to, the response was in reference to a much criticized decision by the Dramani administration of slashing the President and his ministers’ salaries by 10% to demonstrate their sacrifices as the country faces economic hardships while ignoring “other huge unconventional sources of funds.” Image from entry

Dim views of Hillary Clinton’s time at State - Maggie Haberman, A majority of voters are unimpressed with Hillary Clinton’s performance as secretary of State, according to a new POLITICO poll. Just 14 percent described her time at State — she served four years ending in February 2013 — as “excellent,” while another 28 percent defined it as “good.” Another 21 percent called it “fair” and 32 percent rated her performance “poor.”

Six percent weren’t sure or declined to answer. Image from entry, with caption: Clinton’s ratings did not vary meaningfully across income levels or age.

In court of public opinion, Putin goes on trial - Anthony Faiola, Washington Post:
Investigators are still far from an official judgment of what brought down a Malaysia Airlines flight in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew onboard. But in the global court of public opinion, the verdict appears to be rendered. Vladimir Putin is guilty. The Russian president could once claim a semblance of a role as a global statesman. But with the downing of a commercial airliner by what U.S. and Ukrainian officials suggest was a Russian missile, supplied to pro-Moscow rebels, Putin was facing a personal barrage of worldwide condemnation that threatened to result in further sanctions on Russia if it did not rapidly change course in Ukraine.

If Putin doesn't back down on Ukraine, the world should impose more sanctions - Editorial, Los Angeles Times: In announcing new U.S. sanctions Wednesday, Obama said that Russia hadn't taken steps to halt the flow of weapons and fighters across the border into Ukraine. On Friday, speaking after the destruction of Malaysia Flight 17, Obama reiterated his call for an end to Russian support for the insurgents, which he said would end the violence and lead to the political accommodations inside Ukraine that Putin himself has called for. Perhaps the shock and horror at Thursday's tragedy will cause Putin to reconsider his slow-motion destabilization of Ukraine. But if he doesn't, other nations — particularly in Europe — should follow the U.S. in imposing additional sanctions.

The Suns of August -- Flight 17: Ukraine’s War and Europe’s Passivity - Roger Cohen, New York Times: Russia would veto any United Nations Security Council Resolution authorizing force for a limited mission to recover the bodies and the evidence. But Ukraine, on whose territory the debris and dead lie, would support it. The American, British, Dutch and Australian governments should set an ultimatum backed by the credible threat of force demanding unfettered access to the site. Putin’s Russia must not be permitted to host the 2018 World Cup. A Western priority must be to transform the Ukrainian army into a credible force. It won’t happen. Europe is weak. Obama’s America is about retrenchment, not resolve.

Russia's Anti-West Isolationism - Maxim Trudolyubov, New York Times: The virulent, anti-American, anti-Western rhetoric emanating from the Kremlin has been one of the main drivers of Moscow’s support for the Ukrainian conflict. This antipathy has its roots in the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the dashed hopes and disillusion that fueled an unprincipled scramble for wealth and power in the anarchy that followed. While efforts by Washington — such as President Obama’s push for tougher sanctions — are understandable, they feed into Putin’s hands, enabling him to play the patriotic card, gaining political traction at home as he inveighs against foreign powers hostile to Russia and scores points against his domestic critics — Westernized middle class urban dwellers who see his authoritarian demagoguery for what it is.

In Ukraine, the US is dragging us towards war with Russia: Washington's role in Ukraine, and its backing for the regime's neo-Nazis, has huge implications for the rest of the world - John Pilger, The Guardian: For the first time since the Reagan years, the US is threatening to take the world to war. With eastern Europe and the Balkans now military outposts of Nato, the last "buffer state" bordering Russia – Ukraine – is being torn apart by fascist forces unleashed by the US and the EU. We in the west are now backing neo-Nazis in a country where Ukrainian Nazis backed Hitler.

Propaganda Flying On Both Sides In Malaysian Airliner Shootdown: These are dangerous times indeed - L. Todd Wood,

Russian media is covering up Putin's complicity in the MH17 tragedy: In Russia, errors like shooting down a Malaysia Airlines jet could not have happened, so they simply won't have happened - Masha Alekhina, Pussy Riot/Zona Prava,

Image from article, with caption: A pro-Russian fighter holds up a toy found among the debris at the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Friday, July 18, 2014

U.S. Anti-Russia Propaganda Machine Rushing to Judgment -– Facts Needed on Malaysian Plane Shoot-Down - Ray McGovern,

Will Russia shoot down West’s lies? - They don't call it the "gutter press" for nothing. But Western so-called news media sunk to new toxic depths over the weekend in their coverage of the Malaysian airliner downed over Ukraine - and the death of all 298 people on board. It was a veritable media-orgy of lies, propaganda and vilification spewed out by American and European corporate news outlets.

Mark Gregory Hambley: Coverage of the Arab–Israeli conflict is biased on both sides -

Israeli Crisis Propaganda Thrives On Social Media; Pro-Palestinian Hashtags Dominate Twitter Conversation - Jeff Stone, Image from entry, with caption: An example of the propaganda Israelis and Palestinians have to wade through to find the truth online.

The propaganda war over the Gaza crisis: Palestinians struggle to get their version of events heard - Richard Falk,

The Air Strike Propaganda Video Israel Doesn't Want You to See - Ben Makuch,

Objectivity Shot Down: The Holes in the Propaganda - Stephen Winspear. CounterPunch: "I am a life-long Pacifist, and that means that I cannot accept any attempt to justify War or premeditated violence. ... I am not bound to provide any knee-jerk rhetorical or material support, to one side or another in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nor am I obliged – much less expected by those who know me – to provide factional support to one side or the other in the current conflict in Ukraine."

Propaganda poster display offers look back to earlier Hong Kong strife - Lana Lam, As the electoral reform debate rages, Hongkongers will have a timely chance to relive an earlier age of strife when Chinese political propaganda posters - including anti-colonial messages - go on display on Thursday in a Central gallery. The posters date as far back as the 1950s and include some issued during the 1967 riots to stir Hongkongers to fight British rule. Among the posters, with caption: "People do not tolerate waste of food!"


From; via DR on Facebook

July 16-20 Public Diplomacy Review

Abbreviated Edition



Perry, Obama Meet for Border Security Discussion - Ed Sterling, "In a July 11 speech broadcast from Austin, Obama said he was waiting on Congress to approve his June 30 request for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the population influx. The president asked that those funds be used for [inter alia] ... Addressing root causes of migration, paying for public diplomacy and international information programs."

Russia faces the power of embarrassment - Robert A. Pape, "If, as now seems likely, Russian-supported Ukrainian separatists used a surface-to-air missile to shoot down a civilian airliner killing nearly 300 innocent people, Washington now has a major opportunity to achieve what sanctions could not — namely, compelling Putin to distance Russia from the separatists in Ukraine. The strategy is 'the politics of embarrassment,' which is as simple as it is powerful. For months U.S. intelligence has been using all varieties of satellites and other means to monitor eastern Ukraine. Over the next week, the United States should release the detailed information it surely collected about the missile that shot down the airliner, the command structure of the missile system, and links to both the Ukrainian rebels and Russia itself. This would put Putin in the embarrassing position of choosing to support an ally who committed mass murder or distance himself and Russia from that atrocity. There is good reason to think that the politics of embarrassment would change Russia's behavior. Last summer, Syria used poison gas against its own people. Rather than bomb, the United States pursed a public diplomacy campaign based on the release of detailed information connecting the gas attack to the government of Assad and embarrassing Assad's main military ally, Russia. Indeed, Russia ultimately joined the United States and other Western countries in support of an international effort to eradicate chemical weapons in Syria, which did more to punish Assad than any contemplated bombing campaign. The politics of embarrassment should be the main response toward Russia following the airliner disaster."

Hillary Clinton’s Bizarre Critique of U.S. Foreign Policy: Is patriotic storytelling really the solution to America's international relations problem? - Peter Beinart, "Tuesday night on The Daily Show, Hillary Clinton showed why she gives a great interview. When Stewart mocked the pretense that she’s not yet decided to run for president, Hillary didn’t stiffen or get flustered.

She impishly played along with the gag, displaying a relaxed self-awareness rarely evident during her 2008 presidential run. On style, she was terrific. It was when the conversation turned substantive that the problems began. Near the end of the interview, Stewart asked a broad question that ended, 'What is our foreign policy anymore?' Here’s the key chunk of Hillary’s reply. [']What I found when I became secretary of state is that so many people in the world—especially young people—they had no memory of the United States liberating Europe and Asia, beating the Nazis, fighting the Cold War and winning, that was just ancient history. They didn’t know the sacrifices that we had made and the values that motivated us to do it. We have not been telling our story very well. We do have a great story. We are not perfect by any means, but we have a great story about human freedom, human rights, human opportunity, and let’s get back to telling it, to ourselves first and foremost, and believing it about ourselves and then taking that around the world.

That’s what we should be standing for. ['] As a vision for America’s relations with the world, this isn’t just unconvincing. It’s downright disturbing. It’s true that young people overseas don’t remember the Cold War. But even if they did, they still wouldn’t be inspired by America’s 'great story about [promoting] human freedom, human rights, human opportunity.' That’s because in the developing world—where most of humanity lives—barely anyone believes that American foreign policy during the Cold War actually promoted those things. What they mostly remember is that in anticommunism’s name, from Pakistan to Guatemala to Iran to Congo, America funded dictators and fueled civil wars. Barack Obama has acknowledged as much. He begins the foreign policy chapter of The Audacity of Hope by discussing his boyhood home of Indonesia, a country that for much of the Cold War was ruled by a 'harshly repressive' military regime under which 'arrests and torture of dissidents were common, a free press nonexistent, elections a mere formality.' All this, Obama notes, 'was done with the knowledge, if not outright approval, of the U.S. administrations.' Hillary Clinton, by contrast, in her interview with Stewart, painted the Cold War as a glorious freedom struggle through which America inspired the globe. For Hillary, America’s current problem is that once the Cold War ended, we 'withdrew from the information arena.' As a result, across the world, a new generation no longer remembers the great things we supposedly did in the past, and America has stopped telling them about the great things we are still doing today. Her answer: 'get back to telling' the story of America’s greatness, not only to the rest of the world but 'to ourselves first and foremost.' Is America’s biggest post-Cold War foreign policy problem really that we’ve failed to adequately remind others, and ourselves, how good we are? Really? Is America’s biggest post-Cold War foreign policy problem really that we’ve failed to adequately remind others, and ourselves, how good we are?" Top image from, with caption: Hillary Rodham Clinton gave Jon Stewart no hints about whether she will run for president during Tuesday's taping of "The Daily Show"; below uncaptioned image from entry

State Department Official Tweets #UnitedforGaza: Was it a typo, a Freudian slip, or a statement? - Paula Bolyard, "Richard Stegel [sic], under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs at the U.S. Department of State, took to Twitter on Saturday night and appeared to take sides in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Stegel, appointed to his post at the State Department by President Obama last year and confirmed by a 90-8 vote along party lines in April, used his personal Twitter account to call for an investigation into Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The former managing editor of Time prefaced the tweet with the State Department’s Twitter handle and ended it with the hashtag #UnitedForGaza, indicating his solidarity with the Palestinians. Not surprisingly, many Twitter uses were offended by the hashtag." Below images from entry

  1. .@StateDept. Critical for a full, credible and unimpeded intl investigation of crash. Urge Russia to honor it's [sic - JB] commitment.
@stengel @StateDept Please explain the hashtag? Is this an order from the President? Are you being paid by a foreign power? Qatar?
U.S. Department of State selects Zappold Advisors LLC and SnappyTV in Support of Cloud-Based Social Media and Web Video Publishing - Press Release, "Zappold Advisors LLC, a leading cloud-based and IT services consulting firm, announced it was awarded a contract to support the U.S. Department of State's web-video programming to share programs on social media platforms. In collaboration with industry leader and partner SnappyTV, Zappold Advisors LLC increase the awareness of news and current events that will serve and benefit both regional and functional bureaus within the State Department. 'The web-video workflow and low level integration of social media sharing can be improved by incorporating new technology that increases the value of both video and social media products.' ... 'We’re humbly honored to have the opportunity to support the U.S. Department of State in their continued efforts in communicating and creating public awareness of both their public affairs and public diplomacy news to an ever increasing global audience on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr to connect to,' said Jan Zappold, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Zappold Advisors LLC."

U.S. enforces strict surveillance on NGOs for national security - Daya Gamage - Asian Tribune: "It is interesting to note that while the United States has taken measures, in the interest of its national security to enact legislation to have a closer scrutiny and tab on NGO's based in the U.S. and foreign-connected INGOs and their officials, manner in which they expend and handle funds, whether the NGOs and INGOs operate contrary to U.S. foreign policy and national security interests, Sri Lanka has initiated steps to have a closer scrutiny of the locally-based NGO's receiving funds from foreign sources in its national security interests especially concerned about its sovereignty and territorial integrity at a time former professionals and activists of the now-defunct separatist/terrorist movement Tamil Tigers are operating within the Tamil Diaspora to bifurcate Sri Lanka the Tamil Tigers failed to achieve with an armed struggle for more than two decades. Further, while the Obama administration sponsored legislation to a have a firm grip on the NGO and INGO organizations now before the House of Representative which is expected to take effect in the new Fiscal Year commencing October 2014, the administration's public diplomacy agency, Department of State, has already issued a statement critical of the Sri Lanka move to scrutinize the NGOs and INGOs operating in that country."

Musical diplomacy building bridges between the U.S. and Pakistan - "(Vatican Radio) When you think about diplomacy and the U.S. State Department, you probably don’t think about jazz singers or pop idols. Yet cultural, and specifically musical diplomacy, is not a new phenomenon – way back in the 1950s Louis Armstrong was described as America’s most effective ambassador. What American diplomats could not do, the New York Times said, Armstrong and his jazz music managed to do. Fast forward 60 years and meet Phillip Assis, who’s just concluded a year as cultural affairs officer at the US Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan.

Formerly on the staff of the US embassy to the Holy See here in Rome, Phillip Nelson – to use his stage name – made his mark on the cultural scene in Karachi after a guest appearance on the popular TV show Pakistan Idol, singing alongside the three semi-finalists. But that performance, as he told us while passing through Rome on American Independence Day, was just one of many opportunities he discovered to forge friendships and promote understanding between the people of Pakistan and his homeland." Image from entry, with caption: Phillip Assis' musical diplomacy

To Brazil, with love from Pakistan - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Connecting Brazil with Pakistan via Della Mae. The online progressive Pakistani magazine Let Us Build Pakistan reported on Della Mae's performance of 'Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua' in Brazil and previous American Music Abroad tour through Pakistan and Central Asia. I'm on the board of the Pakistan Israel Peace Forum, which has connected Let Us Build Pakistan in an ongoing dialogue and article cross-posting with the online progressive magazine in Israel +972 Magazine."

Meet the State Department’s Next Executive Secretary: Ambassador Joe Macmanus – Domani Spero, Diplopundit: "Ambassador Macmanus entered the Foreign Service in 1986 as a Public Diplomacy Officer at the United States Information Agency (USIA).

From 1986 until 2003, he served in various Public Diplomacy positions in Mexico, El Salvador, Poland, Belgium, and at the U.S. Information Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C. Image from entry, with caption: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Vienna Office Joe Macmanus – who is the State Department’s incoming Executive Secretary – before addressing staffers from the three Department missions in Vienna, Austria, during a break in the Iran nuclear talks on July 14, 2014."

A propaganda-free Voice of America: Congress must prevent U.S. tax dollars from helping America’s enemies - Ted Lipien, "A bipartisan bill in Congress, the U.S. International Broadcasting Reform Act of 2014 (H.R. 4490), is designed to return VOA and the rest of U.S. government international broadcasting to its core foundation. The bipartisan reform legislation should be enacted by the Congress and signed by the president. ... I do not believe Congress wants U.S. propaganda. That would be completely counterproductive. ... As someone who had worked at VOA as a journalist when it was part of the old U.S. Information Agency, I do not see H.R. 4490 proposing a link between VOA and public diplomacy that would be anywhere as strong as it was then. Still, I would make minor changes in the bill’s text and include in full the VOA Charter, which guarantees news independence, but also gives VOA its Washington and America news beat that Congress wants. ... VOA and Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty have completely different missions and do not belong together. Merging them under centralized management will not save money. H.R. 4490 offers the best solution in making surrogate broadcasters independent from the dysfunctional International Broadcasting Bureau bureaucracy."

Voice of America accuses Ukraine of inflaming rhetoric over downing of Malaysian airliner - BBG Watcher, BBG Watch: "VOICE OF AMERICA NEWS: 'Ukrainian officials have further inflamed the rhetoric over the downing of the Malaysian airliner, claiming that a Russian crew was operating the anti-aircraft system that was allegedly used.' With editorial direction and oversight almost nonexistent these days at the mismanaged Voice of America, more and more often some VOA news reports sound like pro-Kremlin editorials.

The latest example of such inappropriate editorializing by Voice of America in its news reporting — which by the way almost always favors the Kremlin and its propaganda line — was noted by World Media Watch. U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America has accused Ukrainian government officials of inflaming the rhetoric over the downing of the Malaysian airliner. The VOA editorial comment would make a perfect headline for Russia’s RT or Voice of Russia. These Putin’s propaganda media outlets would be foolish not to report that even U.S. government-funded Voice of America believes that Ukraine officials in Kyiv are guilty of inflaming the rhetoric over the downing of the Malaysian airliner with presumably false accusations. Image from entry

CUSIB Director Meets with BBG Chairman Shell - BBG Watcher, "BBG Watch has learned that Ted Lipien, Director of the independent NGO Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB –, met in Washington this week with Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Chairman Jeff Shell to discuss issues related to U.S. international broadcasting and other media outreach. The meeting was part of an ongoing dialogue between CUSIB and BBG board members. This was a fourth such meeting between CUSIB directors and Chairman Shell who welcomed public input into discussions about U.S. international media outreach." See also.

What The Downed Flight MH17 Means For Russia - Tom Nichols, "The Soviet Union – Putin’s first love – ... never escaped the stain of the downing of a Korean passenger jet in 1983. Just as the Russian separatists are doing now, the Soviets tried to prevent access to the crash area, lied about their own actions, and then blamed others. Although the West imposed some nominal sanctions, the real price was paid in public diplomacy, because the Soviets never recovered an ability to push any further propaganda about their commitment to peace after an act of such savagery. Indeed, when the world erupted in anger, Soviet leader (and former KGB chief)

Yuri Andropov was genuinely shocked. Like Putin, he and his comrades lived in a bubble in Moscow, and the public outcry only cemented the Soviet leadership’s paranoid conviction that the world was out to get the USSR. Putin, a typical and mediocre product of Andropov’s KGB, will likely react the same way." Uncaptioned image from entry

Your voice -- We love Israel: Things we can all do to help - Shahar Edry, "All around the country, pro-Israeli organizations are taking action to stand for Israel; here are some of the things that you can do here in Phoenix: ... 3. Educate: Hasbarah (or public diplomacy) is accomplished by sharing the truth about Israel and trying to explain the real situation in Israel to your friends, co-workers and anyone that may have an interest or does not understand what is going on. Do not waste your time and energy trying to explain the facts to those who will use them against you or will just drag you into a pointless argument."

CNN's Cuomo Frets Over Image of 'Strong Israel Killing Civilians in Gaza' - Connor Williams, "Michael Oren CNN Mideast analyst [:] ... You can imagine if hundreds – literally hundreds of millions of Americans, more than 200 million Americans under would be under shell fire, the people of the United States would expect their government to do something about it and do something about it very forcefully, even if there weren't a large number of casualties. Israelis, you can ask the average Israeli on the street, they’re not gonna apologize for the fact they haven't had more of their citizens killed. Israel invests very, very heavily in civil defense and invested very, very heavily in the iron dome. On the Palestinian side, on the Hamas side, they've invested only in offensive capabilities. That's why there's been such a widespread – a much more higher level of casualties on the Palestinian side. So there's a disparity, it's going to cause a public diplomacy challenge for Israel. But better to have the public diplomacy challenge than to have hundreds of casualties, including fatalities." See also.

Masa Participants from Around the World Join Online Public Diplomacy Effort - "Masa Israel Journey and the National Information Directorate within the Prime Minister’s Office have launched a joint effort to raise awareness of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in both traditional and new media. The goal of the effort is to show that Israeli civilians are under attack from Hamas in Gaza and explain to the world that Israel embarked on a defensive operation under the banner, 'Israel Under Fire.' Volunteers from several Masa programs have contributed their time out of a desire to show the world what is really happening in Israel and out of a sense of attachment to the country.

The volunteers are helping translate materials into their native tongues, adapt the messaging to their specific national audiences, and contribute their own unique perspectives based on their experiences in Israel. They post on Facebook and Twitter, respond to falsehoods, expose Hamas lies, share explanatory YouTube videos, and attempt both raise awareness and challenge the discourse on social media." Image from entry

Is an Israeli Official Spreading Propaganda on Tinder? - Eli Clifton, “'Operation Protective Edge,' Israel’s self-named “defensive” operation in Gaza, is killing a lot of Palestinians in response to rocket fire from Gaza. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza puts the latest casualty toll at 174 killed Palestinians and over 1,100 wounded. The UNRWA commissioner general in Gaza told The New York Times, 'Women and children make up a sizable number of victims of the current strikes.' As of yet, no Israelis have been killed during the latest Gaza offensive. One hundred and seventy-four to zero is a tough ratio to explain. Especially for an operation that Israel claims is being taken in self-defense against terrorists in Gaza. But the Israeli Prime Minister’s office may have found an answer to this minor public-diplomacy challenge: Tinder, a popular online smartphone dating/hookup app. A friend who uses Tinder logged on yesterday and was swiping through profiles when he came upon 'Israel,' age '34' (?!).

Israel said it (he? she?) was five miles away, but seemed to have one thing on its mind: sharing images justifying Israel’s bombing campaign of Gaza. ... One of the images advises viewers to visit #IsraelUnderFire, a Facebook site full of Israeli Defense Forces meme-style images. Several of the images on the Tinder profile had been posted on #IsraelUnderFire. The administrator for the page is Yair Eddie Fraiman, 'Director of Interactive Media and Public Diplomacy at Office of the Prime Minister of Israel,' according to his LinkedIn profile. Fraiman hasn’t responded to a request for comment (I’ll update this post if he does)." Image from entry

Young Israelis Fight Hashtag Battle to Defend #IsraelUnderFire - Robert Mackey, New York Times: Confronted with an outpouring of sympathy on social networks for Palestinians killed or wounded in Gaza in an eight-day military confrontation, a group of young Israelis is pushing back, using the hashtag #IsraelUnderFire to rally support for what they say is an unavoidable, defensive war provoked by rocket fire from Islamist militants. As The Jerusalem Post reports, the effort to make Israel’s case is being spearheaded by 400 college students posting comments, memes, video clips, images and explanatory graphics on Facebook and Twitter from dozens of computers in a 'Hasbara war room' at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv. Hasbara, a Hebrew euphemism for propaganda, literally means 'explanation,' and the organizers of the campaign promise to equip like-minded volunteers who visit their website, Israel Under Fire, with 'everything you need in order to properly inform about and advocate for Israel,' in 19 languages."

Israel and Hamas clash on social media: As in the field, Israel deploys superior strength and resources as both sides attack each other on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube - Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian: In recent years Israel has recruited hundreds of students to assist in its hasbara, or public diplomacy campaign. These individuals – some of whom are paid – act openly and covertly, many engaging in below-the-line online discussion threads to promote Israel's interests.

Israel's media strategy: What lies beneath - Marwan Bishara,
"Do you wonder why official Israeli spokespersons sound so calm, smiley and kind when their popular base sounds so angry, so aggressive, and so racist? How they are likely to say something like, ‘thank you it's nice to be with you’, even after being grilled by a probing frustrated anchor. Why, when asked about the expansion of illegal settlements, Israeli spokespersons speak of the need for a peace settlement, and when asked about bombing civilians, they speak of a better future for all children, Israeli and Palestinian? Wonder no more. This is all part of a well-thought, well-orchestrated media strategy to mystify, mislead and even misrepresent the reality. And much of it can be found in The Israel Project's 2009 Global Language Dictionary.  … ... Chapter six of the 18-chapter, 117-page guide focuses on the lessons from the last Gaza war and proposes a more effective public diplomacy for the next time around, i.e. this round. One of the first recommendations goes as follows: 'Israel made painful sacrifices and took a risk to give peace a chance. They voluntarily removed over 9,000 settlers from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, abandoning homes, schools, businesses, and places of worship in the hopes of renewing the peace process.' And 'Despite making an overture for peace by withdrawing from Gaza, Israel continues to face terrorist attacks, including rocket attacks and drive-by shootings of innocent Israelis. Israel knows that for a lasting peace, they must be free from terrorism and live with defensible borders.'

Needless to say, much of the formulation is misleading. Most of the illegal settlers had already moved out because of mounting Palestinian resistance, pushing Israel to finally redeploy its military without any coordination with the Palestinian Authority. The decision was motivated by the need to disengage demographically from 1.5 million impoverished Palestinians and was based on cost-benefit analysis, not peace strategy. All of which partially explains why Israel has being laying siege to Gaza and reckons it has the right to intervene militarily at will ever since. At any rate, the guide suggests that defenders and promoters of Israel's war need to use the kind of language that 'may be hard for some of you to say, but every result of research confirms that an approach like this is the best way for an Israeli spokesperson to truly be heard and therefore make a difference'.  ... The guide advises the pro-Israel camps to 'use rhetorical questions to gain permission from the audience for Israel's actions'. For example: 'What should Israel do? Imagine, if thousands of rockets were fired into your community every day and every night? What would your country do? What would you want them to do? Don't we have a duty to protect our citizens?'" Uncaptioned image from entry

Governing the play store - Sibi Arasu, "MEA India [:] This nifty app by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is meant to be a 'single window source for all information related to the ministry’s citizen-centric services.' From passport, visa and consular services to addresses of Indian missions in various countries and information on pilgrimages like Kailash Yatra and Haj, the app covers considerable ground. It also has a ‘public diplomacy’ section that offers a primer on the MEA and India’s foreign affairs machinery. Launched in May, the MEA app has hit over 10,000 installations already."

Lords debate the conclusion of the negotiations on the future of Cyprus [subscription] - According to Google search, mention of public diplomacy

Armenia Trapped Politically - Edmond Y. Azadian, "Recently the representative of the NATO’s public diplomacy division, Despina Afentouli, visited Armenia and stated bluntly, 'NATO is now increasing its military presence in all countries having a shared border with Russia and declaring that Russia should reconsider its foreign policy.'”

Baseball diplomacy: Bravehearts to host Taiwan - Corey Keenan, "The Worcester Bravehearts, the city's Futures Collegiate Baseball League team, will host the Taiwan national team later this month, but it's more than just a game. It's also about building educational and economic relationships with the country formally known as Chinese Taipei. ... 'I've come to learn from

partnering with the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, as well as Worcester State University — who are both tremendous partners for this project — that Taiwan is a huge trade partner with the commonwealth of Massachusetts,' Bravehearts owner John Creedon Jr. said. 'So we're trying to make this into a baseball diplomacy summit, and try to hit on a couple different aspects.'" Image from entry


Kerry Accuses Senate Of Hobbling American Diplomacy - Secretary of State John Kerry argues the Senate confirmation process is broken, leaving the administration without ambassadors to about 50 countries. Most of them are career foreign service officers. Via IK on Facebook

Ban the Bundlers! - Charles Kolb, Huffington Post: What has happened to the quality and prominence of our diplomats? Why have both Democratic and Republican presidents tended to reward their top political fundraisers with key ambassadorial positions? An ambassador is neither a social secretary nor a socialite. We need men and women posted in all of our embassies throughout the world who understand what ambassadors do, why diplomacy matters, and the key role they play as links between the host country and its interests and the United States. It is, quite frankly, embarrassing that so many of our key diplomatic positions are now considered commodities for sale to the highest bidder or bundler.

As World Tensions Mount, State Dept.'s Psaki Tweets on Being 'Smart, Savvy and Fashionable' - Tom Blumer, Yesterday, on a day when Israel invaded Gaza, pro-Russian forces shot down a passenger airliner with almost 300 aboard, and diseases this country hasn't seen in decades continued to be carried over the U.S. Mexican border by "Unaccompanied Alien Children" (that DHS's term), State Department spokesman Jen Psaki tweeted on the dreadfully important topic of how you can be "informed" and fashionable (HT The Blaze):

Parting shot: "Smart, savvy" Psaki is now a shorthand verb in Russia for "when someone makes a dogmatic statement about something they don’t understand, mixes facts up, and then doesn’t apologize." Image from entry

U.S. needs a discussion on when, not whether, to use force - Robert Kagan, Washington Post: The willingness of the United States to use force and to threaten to use force to defend its interests and the liberal world order has been an essential and unavoidable part of sustaining that world order since the end of World War II. It is also an essential part of effective diplomacy.

An Exceptional Decline for the Exceptional Country? The Empire as Basket Case - Tom Engelhardt, Recent history is clear: that military has proven incapable of winning its wars against minor (and minority) insurgencies globally, just as Washington, for all its firepower, military and economic, has had a remarkably difficult time imposing its desires just about anywhere on the planet. Though it may still look like a superpower and though the power of its national security state may still be growing, Washington seems to have lost the ability to translate that power into anything resembling success. Today, the U.S. looks less like a functioning and effective empire than an imperial basket case, unable to bring its massive power to bear effectively from Germany to Syria, Iraq to Afghanistan, Libya to the South China Sea, the Crimea to Africa. Just what kind of decline this represents remains to be seen. What does seem clearer today is that the rise of the national security state and the triumphalism of the corporate sector (along with the much publicized growth of great wealth and striking inequality in the country) has been accompanied by a decided diminution in the power of the government to function domestically and of the imperial state to impose its will anywhere on Earth.

Kerry's Finest Hour An Afghan election deal averts a conflict but needs U.S. follow up - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: John Kerry has little to show for his diplomatic exertions across the Middle East, the Russia-Ukraine border or in East Asia. But the election compromise brokered by the Secretary of State represents a potential breakthrough for Afghanistan and an example of what effective American diplomacy in a disorderly world might look like. The election deal is all the more important because U.S. influence will wane as Mr. Obama pursues his goals of withdrawing all combat troops after this year and a complete withdrawal by the end of 2016. The danger is a repeat of the chaos in Iraq since Mr. Obama's 2011 withdrawal. It's not too late to undo Mr. Obama's mistake and commit America's support and troops to Afghanistan as we have in Europe and South Korea.

Germany's Choice: Will It Be America or Russia? - Markus Feldenkirchen, Christiane Hoffmann and René Pfister - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already abandoned hope that the United States will come to its senses and rein in its intelligence agencies. During Merkel's last visit to Washington, US President Barack Obama wasn't even willing to commit to a no-spy agreement guaranteeing Germany a modicum of security. On the one hand, Germans are disappointed by the Americans and their unceasing surveillance activities. At the same time, they have demonstrated a surprising level of sympathy for the Russians and their president, Vladimir Putin, in the Ukraine crisis. This raises the fundamental question of Germany's national identity. In the long run, Germans will have to decide which side they prefer. Image from

Why Germany feels dissed - Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times: The United States hasn't offered what Germany really wants: a "no spy" agreement that would exempt Germany from being a target. The sensible thing for Washington to do would be to impose voluntary limits on its intelligence activities against its most valuable ally in Europe, especially when they have proved so counterproductive once exposed. But the U.S. also needs to learn a larger lesson: Alliances, even long-standing ones, need careful tending. They can't be taken for granted.

U.S. Spying on Germany: Breaking the Rules for What? - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: In the world of spying in general, and especially when you’re spying on allied nations, Rule No. 1 is “Don’t Get Caught.” Rule No. 2 is “Make Sure the Juice is Worth the Squeeze.” The U.S. broke both rules, several times, in Germany.

The Real Putin: Samantha Power says what Obama won't about the Russian threat - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: Russia is arming the separatists and fomenting war, Obama said, but Ukraine must still join a ceasefire. He should have announced that the U.S. will provide arms to Ukraine until Mr. Putin stops arming the separatists. Obama's own U.N. Ambassador, Samantha Power, said that "this war can be ended. Russia can end this war. Russia must end this war." Her boss should tell the truth so plainly.  Image from

Putin's Latest Escalation: Russia's support for Ukrainian separatists may lead to a bigger war - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: The Obama Administration failed to hit Russia with wide financial sanctions that would hurt the Russian economy, as opposed to individual firms. The White House also continues to spurn Ukraine's requests for lethal military aid. The West's wavering may yet invite Mr. Putin to overreach in a way that leads to a hotter war between Ukraine and Russia.

The Meaning of Russia's Military Campaign Against Ukraine: Moscow has broken the trust that many worked long to build. Now NATO must adapt to this new security threat - Phil Breedlove, Wall Street Journal: Russia's actions in the Ukraine crisis represent a series of wrong steps in the wrong direction and move Europe further away from its original post-Cold War vision of being whole and free. They have also clearly moved NATO further away from realizing the vision of a strategic partnership with Russia in resolving European and global security challenges. Gen. Breedlove, a four-star general in the U.S. Air Force, is NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe and commander of U.S. European Command. The Obama administration should reject any attempt by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to obtain concessions, such as increased oil sales, in exchange for an extension. And it should begin seriously preparing for the moment when time runs out — and when, as seems likely now, Iran refuses to yield.

The Malaysia Airlines crash is the end of Russia’s fairy tale - Anne Applebaum, Washington Post: It is insufficient to state, as President Obama now has, that there must be a “cease-fire” in Ukraine.

What is needed is a withdrawal of Russian mercenaries, weapons and support. The West — and the world — must push for Ukrainian state sovereignty to be re-established in eastern Ukraine, not for the perpetuation of another frozen conflict. Image from entry, with caption: A woman walks at the site of a crashed Malaysia Airlines passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne, eastern Ukraine Friday, July 18, 2014. Rescue workers, policemen and even off-duty coal miners were combing a sprawling area in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border where the Malaysian plane ended up in burning pieces Thursday, killing all 298 aboard.

An Air Disaster a Long Time in the Making: At every crucial moment in recent months, Putin saw the West losing its nerve - Matthew Kaminsky, Wall Street Journal: The only solution acceptable to Kiev is defeat for Mr. Putin's rebels and their departure from Ukraine. Their military gained momentum on the ground in recent days and shouldn't stop firing. As for Russia getting a negotiated exit, Mr. Obama can take another look at his own policy choices the past six weeks alone and one hopes draw the appropriate lessons.

BRICS host sports events to boost prestige, just don’t call it ‘soft power’- Michiel Foulon, Today the BRICS are aspiring great powers at the start of the 21st century, and are outsiders to the established, Western dominated social order.

The observation that they are hosting two thirds of all the World Cups and Olympic Games from 2008-2018 is not an example soft power, but rather a manifestation of the use of international diplomacy to enhance prestige. For this trend to be described as soft power, the other dimensions of attractive domestic political values and foreign politics would need to be fulfilled. Uncaptioned image from entry

Don't worry about the deadline and keep talking with Iran - Editorial, Los Angeles Times: A nuclear-armed Iran would be dangerous and destabilizing, and the U.S. was right to impose sanctions to bring it to the negotiating table. But now that talks are taking place and making progress, Congress should stand back. If it's necessary to extend the negotiations past Sunday, President Obama must be prepared to defend the process and the prerogative of the president to conduct diplomacy with other countries — with his veto pen, if necessary.

Nuclear talks with Iran should be given more time - Editorial, Washington Post: The public outlining by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of his government’s negotiating position in the ongoing talks on its nuclear program was a tip-off that Tehran isn’t aiming to conclude a deal by the July 20 deadline. The Obama administration should reject any attempt by Mr. Zarif to obtain concessions, such as increased oil sales, in exchange for an extension. And it should begin seriously preparing for the moment when time runs out — and when, as seems likely now, Iran refuses to yield.


"About 4,000 unidentified corpses turn up in the U.S. every year, of which about half have been murdered."

--From the headline of a review by Edward J. Epstein of "The Skeleton Crew By Deborah Halber" in The Wall Street Journal

Florida city: Pull up your pants or face up to six months in prison - Via JJ on Facebook

Which American Accent Do You Actually Have? - Benny Blanco, Do you say y'all or you guys? Have you ever heard of a "Roly poly"? Ever been to a "beer barn"? Do you drink cola, pop, or soda?

Find out what American accent you have! Via GG on Facebook


From, with caption: Highway to hell: Soldiers gingerly make their way across a path made of wooden duckboards in Chateau Wood near Ypres, Flanders, during the battle of Passchendaele in 1917. Shelling has reduced the wood's trees to gaunt skeletons