Saturday, July 12, 2014

July 12 Public Diplomacy Review

"Journalism appeals to our relatively new awareness that facts don't 'speak for themselves', least of all in war."

--Author Jeremy Treglown, "Revolving Door," The Times Literary Supplement (July 4, 2014), p. 7;  image from


Hamas releases Hebrew propaganda jingle vowing to 'kill all Zionists' - Jerusalem Post: "The propaganda clip begins with images of Hamas men preparing rockets and missiles presumably aimed at Israel. It then goes into a song with Hebrew language lyrics and Arabic subtitles."

Israeli Propaganda and the Politics of Revenge against Gaza -- Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal discuss how the Israeli government manipulated the public into accepting an escalated military operation against Gaza after the murder of three Israeli teenagers -; image from


Inauthenticity and the Tweet Tweet of Digital Diplomacy - Robert Albro, CPD Blog: "Most often associated with Alec Ross’s stint at the State Department as Senior Advisor for Innovation, diplomacy’s rush to better leverage the advantages of social media and mobile technologies by investing in ediplomacy and PD 2.0 is no secret. On his first day as new Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs last February, Richard Stengel made his position clear: social media are 'transformational tools' and the State Department needs to move toward a 'digital-first strategy.' Ambassadors nowtweet regularly. … [A]t a moment of attempted stealth cuts to the Fulbright program, the uncritical celebration of social media hipness, embraced by practitioners as an attractive opportunity for more direct communication with public diplomacy’s critical subject populations, is puzzling.

The breezy elision of social media with greater self-authenticity, in particular, advances a deeply flawed account of social media’s potential for diplomacy. Left unconsidered were the ways that social networking sites, or the next trending social app, are in no way direct forms of communication but instead technologically mediated platforms with parameters that significantly determine the possibilities for social interaction and the performative choices for self-construction.  … And social media can be manipulated in non-transparent ways. Examples abound. … Meanwhile, the State Department’s Digital Outreach Team does not simply debate America’s critics on Twitter, but also hijacks hashtags and spoofs propaganda videos. Lines between hacking, trolling, and debating get fuzzy. … Social media effectively amplifies propagandistic reportage of contentious events and conceals ulterior motives because there is typically little context accompanying content, but also because the particular source behind a given cybercampaign is not immediately identifiable.  ... We are better off, as the anthropologist Daniel Miller has put it, remaining attentive to the ways in which 'authenticity is created out of fakery' in social media.Image from entry; see also John Brown, "Twittering; or, Where are the Emily Dickinsons at the State Department?" (Huffington Post, 2009) and "Remember When Social Media Was the Solution to All Our Global Problems?" (Huffington Post, 2014)

Joe Bruns on radio and new media at BBG and at VOA under USIA - BBG Watcher, bbgwatch: "IBB bureaucrats like to refer to anyone who supports radio as 'traditionalists' and to radio as 'legacy medium.' They have often implied that supporters of radio are against new media. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the following commentary from Joe Bruns clearly shows. Supporters of radio are some of the strongest advocates of new media because they know that serious radio journalism provides some of the best online news content.

We would add just one point to Mr. Bruns’s excellent arguments. IBB claims that the latest shortwave cuts will save about $1.6 million. $1.6 million is nothing compared to the multimillion dollar cost of the nearly 40% growth in IBB bureaucratic positions in the last several years while numerous broadcasts and journalistic positions were also cut. Millions of dollars were spent by IBB on developing new media, which is essentially free and where success or failure are determined largely by the quality of content. VOA English News Twitter has now nearly ten times fewer Followers as the U.S. State Department Twitter account and is even behind UN Peacekeeping in the number of Twitter Followers. But the most disturbing fact is that this large and constantly growing bureaucracy is cutting a lifeline to the most vulnerable individuals and groups: the poorest, the most oppressed and the most fearful — those who have no other means of getting uncensored news and information. IBB is taking $1.6 million from these groups rather than from its overblown budget and personnel. Radio audiences in countries without free media should be the last places for making cuts." Image from

The Man Behind the Anonymous Critiques of U.S. International Broadcasting - Charles S. Clark, "The headlines scream of government dysfunction: 'Bad Management Threatens Voice of America’s Future,' and 'Broadcasting Board of Governors Has Let America and Obama Down,' are among the most recent and tactful. Such blasts appear daily on, a three-year-old online compendium of mostly anonymous critiques of how the Washington-based BBG bureaucracy handles digital innovations, personnel cuts and shifting U.S.-sponsored media roles in overseas conflict zones.

The current debate splashed to the website’s global readership is a split between some professionals in the Voice of America newsroom and the American Federation of Government Employees over the union’s support of a BBG management reform bill (H.R. 4490) by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., that would replace the BBG with a new communications agency and alter VOA’s charter to make it more an expression of U.S. policy. The man behind the assemblage of anonymous BBG kibitzers is Ted Lipien, 60, a Polish-born veteran of the Voice of America, now retired, who now runs the site from his home in Truckee, Calif. “It started in response to many crises at VOA, and functions as a watchdog, a useful tool for the public as to whether the organizations within BBG are effective,” he told Government Executive." Lipien image from entry

Voice of America Should Start Reporting on U.S. Marine Imprisoned in Mexico, Voice of Russia Does - BBG Watcher, "Yet another U.S. news story not covered by the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) in English and nearly all of more than 40 of VOA’s other language services — the arrest in Mexico and detention of U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi and numerous attempts by the U.S. State Department, key U.S. lawmakers and other Americans to obtain his release. Even Voice of Russia had an online factual but not completely balanced news report on Sgt. Tahmooressi, Florida Governor Rick Scott Asks Kerry to Help Former Marine Jailed in Mexico, Voice of Russia [not Voice of America] June 28, 2014."

No Lessons Learned at the NYT - Robert Parry, "Besides ... neocon and otherwise hawkish opinion pieces ... – while publishing virtually nothing from a more dovish perspective – the Times’ 'news' columns have read like propaganda sheets for the U.S. State Department. It’s as if the Times had joined one of the department’s 'public diplomacy/information warfare' campaigns."

Flanders builds image abroad [Google "translation"]- Dirk Rochtus, "Flanders needs more evidence of an 'international' mentality and close ties to the international community in Brussels. Both government and citizen support those 'public diplomacy' (a term such as 'public diplomacy' is coming over from the Anglo-Saxon world). Plays a major role in this knowledge of foreign languages ​​and cultures.

But the acclaimed multilingualism of Flemish belong to the past. Knowledge of pidgin English is widespread enough, but what about our knowledge of French and German?  ...  Knowledge of German is, from the viewpoint of public diplomacy, is also important because Germany simply the main trading partner of Belgium and especially Flanders, but also because there is a sound at a particular segment of the Germans as citizens of a federal state curiosity alive to the sailing and workings of federal Belgium. ... If we want our neighbors know us, let them win with our knowledge of their language and culture. 'Great cultures are not interested in small,' says Yvan Vanden Berghe, emeritus professor of international politics. That means we can not expect our neighbors, larger nations are eager to advance Flanders to know. (more) If we want to draw the attention of the great ones, we must go to them. In Germany and France to begin, countries which act as a bridge to the wider world. ... What do we need to pay off? Public diplomacy fruits Language skills, openness, dignity in language and behavior, rational arguments. Also self-awareness: Flanders is not as unknown as being trumpeted by some." Image from entry

Language lessons for diplomats cost €170k in one year - Gordon Deegan,
[O]utgoing Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore confirmed his department spent over €300,000 on third-level and training programmes for staff between June 2013 and the end of May this year. ... [F]ormer Minister Gilmore said: 'Given the nature of diplomatic service, my department also makes a significant investment in language tuition. Other courses and training programmes regularly delivered include a comprehensive training programme for those members of my department taking up foreign postings, with modules on trade promotion, economic themes, provision of consular services, personal safety, public diplomacy and human rights.'"

Gaza Rockets and “Brand Palestine” -- A View from a Jerusalem Café - Neal Rosendorf, CPD blog: "If Palestinian leaders think they can make an end run to statehood around the U.S. and Israel via the U.N., the E.U., the ICJ, or just via eroding Israel’s will to stand pat for the foreseeable future with an unpleasant but sustainable status quo, they are woefully mistaken, indeed deluded.

The calculus is simple, blindingly obvious, and ineluctable: persuade the Israelis and Americans via thought and deed that Palestine will be viable, peaceful, stable, unified, well-governed and above all non-threatening, and the Palestinians will possess the positive brand — and the reality underpinning it — to get a state and make of it what they will. Until then, 'Brand Palestine; will be a millstone to Palestinian aspirations, not an asset." Image from entry

Five Trends to Look Out For at the International Summit on Strategic Communications in London - Roger Hayes, I’m looking forward to the International Summit on Strategic Communications on September 11-12 at the University of Greenwich campus in London. The conference will bring together leaders in corporate, military and government communications, public relations and public affairs as well as academic experts and colleagues working in NGOs globally. As co-curator of the conference I will have the pleasure of moderating a dialogue on the convergence of strategic communications, public relations and public diplomacy with government and corporate practitioners from Washington, D.C., Brussels and London. My hope is that delegates attending the Strategic Summit will take away key insights on these five trends in communications: … [among them:] 2. Finding new ways to engage with stakeholders: As organizations broaden their approach from communicating messages to audiences to engaging with individual stakeholders, we are experiencing the convergence of strategic communications, public relations and the emerging field of public diplomacy, with its emphasis on relationships and responsibility. Before we would issue releases and launch campaigns. Now communications people are tasked with finding new and better ways to listen to their stakeholders—often across cultures and geographies—and take those views into account when formu­lating strategy. Being interactive is now seen as the best way to build deep and mean­ingful relationships with key stakeholders globally.


The Palestinian Rocket and Propaganda Offensive - Joseph Klein, Here is the perverse logic of the Palestinian propaganda offensive in a nutshell: Hamas and its co-jihadists can launch long-range rockets aimed indiscriminately at Israeli civilians in major population centers and try to precipitate a nuclear disaster with impunity, but when Israel strikes back selectively to take out military targets in Gaza used to launch or support the

rocket firings, Israel, according to Abbas, is committing “genocide.” Not surprisingly, the Palestinians are successfully pushing this outrageous, truth-challenged narrative in their favorite venue, the United Nations. Uncaptioned image from entry

"Paper Dome" and Israeli/US propaganda - As'ad AbuKhali, The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: "For more on the rockets now used by Hamas and Hezbollah, Robert Siegel speaks with Ted Postol, a professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Postol also comments on Israel's pursuit of an upgraded defense system. SIEGEL: They say it was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. How would - how successful is that system, in your view? POSTOL: We can tell, for sure, from video images and even photographs that the Iron Dome system is not working very well at all. It - my guess is maybe 5 percent of the time - could be even lower."

Vietnam’s Overdue Alliance With America - Tuong Lai, New York Times: The key ally for Vietnam today is the United States — an alliance that the Vietnamese liberation hero Ho Chi Minh ironically always wanted.

Our country must dispose of the myth of friendship with China and return to what Ho Chi Minh passionately advocated after World War II: an American-Vietnamese alliance in Asia. Image from entry

Putin, Cuba and Propaganda Ploys - Capitol Hill Cubans: Under international scrutiny for his illegal incursions and hostile acts against the Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Havana yesterday, where he was warmly received by Cuban dictators Fidel and Raul Castro. The first propaganda ploy of the trip was to announce that Russia would forgive 90 percent of Cuba's $32 billion debt to the former Soviet Union. That's nice, except the Castro regime has never recognized that debt and it was never going to be paid. Thus, Putin has forgiven a whole lot of nothing. The second propaganda ploy was to announce that Russia would re-invest the remaining 10 percent ($3.5 billion) into development projects in Cuba. That's nice also, except for the caveat: That Castro's bankrupt regime would have to first pay Russia the $3.5 billion, plus 10% interest. Not going to happen either.  Yet, Reuters writes that "both measures inject much-needed foreign investment into Cuba." How exactly? Apparently, Reuters knows. The third propaganda ploy was to announce that Putin would help Castro revive his defunct offshore oil exploration ambitions. Just like former Vice-President Dick Cheney warned of the Chinese drilling for oil off Cuba's shores last decade -- and thus advocated for U.S. companies to do the same -- former U.S. Senator Bob Graham and others will pick up a similar mantle warning of the Russians.  And the choir of anti-sanctions lobbyists will follow. Never mind -- as we correctly predicted then and do so again -- that it remains commercially and logistically unfeasible. Bottom line: This trip is about propaganda and a sobering reminder that the world's rogue regimes stick together (and do harm together).

Countries spending the most on the military - Thomas C. Frohlich and Alexander Kent, USA Today: The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) measures annual military spending for most of the world's armed countries. According to SIPRI, the U.S. spent $618 billion on its military last year, more than three times the $171 billion budget of second place China. Based on SIPRI's 2013 data, these are the countries with the largest military budgets.

Russia: Opera Lauding Crimea Annexation Makes A Splash In Petersburg - On July 10, the St. Petersburg Opera theater debuted "Crimea," a new production based on a 1946 opera called "The Sevastopolians" by Marian Koval. Koval, who died in 1971, was a laureate of the prestigious Stalin Prize who is also known for actively participating in the Stalin-inspired campaign against fellow composer Dmitry Shostakovich.

The new production is billed as an "opera-rally." According to the publicity, it is "an operational meeting with the public" in which the audience takes an active part and, in one scene, viewers are asked to "express their civic position." In the finale, a choir of Crimeans turns to the audience and sings "Take us with you!" "This is not just propaganda material," says theater critic Yevgeny Khakhnazarov." It is also a work of art. I think that it will enjoy success." Via JD on Facebook; image from entry, with caption: The production has been billed as an "opera-rally."

The Return of George Orwell and Big Brother's War: Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi propaganda film “Triumph of the Will” set the model for modern mass propaganda, but the finest practitioners have always been in America - John Pilger, "The other night, I saw George Orwells’s 1984 performed on the London stage. Although crying out for a contemporary interpretation, Orwell’s warning about the future was presented as a period piece: remote, unthreatening, almost reassuring. It was as if Edward Snowden had revealed nothing, Big Brother was not now a digital eavesdropper and Orwell himself had never said, 'To be corrupted by totalitarianism, one does not have to live in a totalitarian country.' Acclaimed by critics, the skilful production was a measure of our cultural and political times. When the lights came up, people were already on their way out. They seemed unmoved, or perhaps other distractions beckoned.

'What a mindfuck,' said the young woman, lighting up her phone. As advanced societies are de-politicised, the changes are both subtle and spectacular. In everyday discourse, political language is turned on its head, as Orwell prophesised in 1984. 'Democracy' is now a rhetorical device. Peace is 'perpetual war'. 'Global' is imperial. The once hopeful concept of 'reform' now means regression, even destruction. 'Austerity' is the imposition of extreme capitalism on the poor and the gift of socialism for the rich: an ingenious system under which the majority service the debts of the few. In the arts, hostility to political truth-telling is an article of bourgeois faith. 'Picasso’s red period,' says an Observer headline, 'and why politics don’t make good art.' Consider this in a newspaper that promoted the bloodbath in Iraq as a liberal crusade. Picasso’s lifelong opposition to fascism is a footnote, just as Orwell’s radicalism has faded from the prize that appropriated his name." Image from entry


"Государство пытается рассматривать историков как пропагандистов." [loose translation: The state tries to consider historians propagandists]

--Historian Ivan Kurilla; Kurilla image from; on Kurilla, see,

IMAGE (from Facebook)

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