“We go to Europe to be Americanized.”
―Ralph Waldo Emerson; image from
Department of State Public Schedule, July 9, 2014 - posted at rockycoastnews.blogspot.com: "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS RICHARD STENGEL - Under Secretary Stengel accompanies Secretary Kerry on travel to Beijing, China to participate in the U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE). 10:45 a.m. (LOCAL) Under Secretary Stengel delivers closing remarks at the pillar meetings of the 5th annual U.S. – China High-level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, in Beijing, China. 2:30 p.m.
(LOCAL) Under Secretary Stengel meets with U.S. Journalists, in Beijing, China. 6:00 p.m. (LOCAL) Under Secretary Stengel meets with U.S. Government Exchange Alumni, in Beijing, China." Image from
Dissidents and Diplomacy in Beijing: The illegal detention of Liu Xia should be on the U.S. agenda - online.wsj.com: "John Kerry and other senior U.S. officials are in Beijing this week for the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which involves private jousting over matters such as currency policy and cyberespionage, along with public diplomacy such as Tuesday's tour of the Great Wall. Unfortunately not on the agenda: a U.S. visit to the Beijing home of ailing artist Liu Xia, who is under illegal house arrest for the apparent crime of being married to imprisoned Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo."
Chinese president seeks closer ties with South Korea - Ben McGrath, World Socialist Website: "The developing relationship between China and South Korea has led to questions about Seoul’s relations with Washington. The United States is wary of any of its allies deviating from the provocative course it has set. ... US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel
arrived in Seoul on July 7 in what is almost certainly a trip intended to remind Seoul to remain fully committed to Washington’s 'pivot.'" Image from
U.S. president nominates new ambassador to Azerbaijan - news.az: US President Barack Obama has nominated Robert Francis Cekuta as a new ambassador to Azerbaijan. ... From 2000 to 2002, he was Director of Economic Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs."
ISIS' Allies - dailykos.com: "The Sunni allies ISIS has been able to attract are exactly the disenfranchised Sunnis that fought together with Al Queda throughout the Iraq war. The 'end' of the war has often been credited to Gen Petraeus and the surge, but this played a far smaller role than the real explanation. It was described in Seymour Hersh’s March 5, 2007 New Yorker article, 'The Redirection [,]' a name given within the White House to what was in effect a radical change in our policy. To quote that article: 'In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy… To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration
has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East.' Urged by Saudi Arabia to make this change it brought the war to a rapid de-escalation. Convinced that our redirection, our radical shift in priorities was real, the Sunni’s soon turned on their Al Queda allies and became our friends. This shift is often mistakenly attributed to their wanting the money we were offering, or to their suddenly being disgusted by Al Queda’s violence, but it is really very simple. Shiite Iran and Sunni Iraq fought a ferocious war not long before our invasion. Historically, they have been enemies. The Iraq Iran war left them exhausted and willing to live with the status quo. But then we upset this balance of power by overthrowing the Baathists and putting the Shiites in charge. To the NeoConservative then catching Bush’s ear, as the majority, they were the legitimate rulers of Iraq. Only after the Redirection, after we designated Iran as our primary enemy, did our Sunni enemies lay down their arms and become our allies." Image from
Does sex have a purpose? On the answer to this question depends the future of marriage and the family - G. Tracy Mehan III, mercatornet.com: “In his new book, Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything, Robert Reilly poses this question: 'Is sodomy reasonable?' He believes this question can only be answered by enquiring into the Nature of sexual acts. He frames his arguments rejecting homosexual behavior, not persons, and same-sex marriage in terms of reason, Nature and the teleology of sex. ... The second part of Reilly’s book looks at the march of homosexual ideology through America’s institutions - psychiatry, elementary and secondary education, the military, the Boy Scouts, and, remarkably, diplomacy and foreign policy.
Most Americans may not realize that their embassies around the world are outposts of neo-colonialism preaching the 'gay rights' gospel to the great unwashed in Muslim lands and elsewhere. In Pakistan, Kenya, El Salvador and elsewhere local populations have expressed outrage at American presumption in trampling on what have been social norms universally recognized by all the great religions. 'If we wish to make ourselves not only irrelevant, but an object of derision in the Muslim world and in other parts of the globe, all we have to do is openly promote the rationalization of homosexual behavior, which is explicitly taught as inherently immoral by Islam and, in fact, by every minority religion in those Muslim-majority countries, including Christianity and Judaism,' says the former director of the Voice of America. 'If we wish to make this part of American public diplomacy, as we have been doing, we can surrender the idea that the United States is promoting democracy in those countries, because they are already responding, ‘If this is democracy, we don’t want it, thank you; we would rather keep our faith and morals.''" Image from entry
First Chinese government delegation to commemorate China’s WW1 dead in France - Patrick Boehler, scmp.com: "In a landmark visit, senior Chinese diplomat Li Zhaoxing is set to travel to France to attend a first world war memorial event, ending a century of oblivion about the fate of thousands of Chinese labourers sent to Europe during the conflict. Thousands died and little remains known about those who went to work for Tsarist Russia and for Britain in the Middle East.
Over the last years, however, the 140,000 Chinese workers who worked for France, Britain and the US on the Western front have been rediscovered by historians as well as the Chinese government. ... While China remained neutral in the war until 1917, Chinese government front companies and private recruiters hired hundreds of thousands of workers to work for Russia, Great Britain, France and the United States – in work sites in Europe and the Middle East – starting in 1915. ... François Godement, professor of political science at Sciences Po in Paris, said China’s renewed interest in that war had was sparked by present-day objectives. 'This will resonate with the new accent put by the Chinese government on history as a tool of public diplomacy and propaganda, as it uses them against today’s Japan,' he said. 'The main historical lesson from some Chinese participation in the conflict would be about being hostage to the senselessness of militant nationalism,' Godement said." Image from entry, with caption: British recruits of the Chinese Labour Corps in WW1. Photo: Weihai Archives
Chinese expert calls for sustainable lifestyle in urbanization process - Xinhua, english.cntv.cn: "A Chinese expert called here on Tuesday for the incorporation of a sustainable lifestyle into the current urbanization process across the world. Dr. Patrick Ho Chi-Ping, deputy chairman and secretary general of the China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC), made the appeal at the high-level panel discussion and luncheon on Sustainable Urbanization in China, jointly organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and CEFC at the UN headquarters. ... CEFC is a non-governmental, non-profit civil organization. It also serves as a high-end strategic think tank engaged in energy strategy research, energy and public diplomacy, as well as global energy cooperation and cultural exchanges. Registered in Hong Kong, the Committee is an NGO of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)."
Behind the Propaganda Wars—7 / Ministry promotes trips to change perceptions abroad - the-japan-news.com: "In propaganda battles to win third-party support, the fact remains that Japan cannot afford to spend as generously as China.
Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has a keen interest in bolstering Japan’s ability to disseminate information overseas, Japan’s budget for public diplomacy amounts to ¥19.9 billion in fiscal 2014. This marked the first year-on-year increase since fiscal 2001, when comparative figures were first available, but was nearly 30 percent lower than a decade ago. ... Japan needs to exercise its wisdom and ingenuity as it decides how best to respond to propaganda battles." Image from entry
Joint statement on the EU Conclusions on the 10th Anniversary of the Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders - fidh.org: "[O]rganisations working with and for human rights defenders (HRDs) welcome the adoption by the Council of the European Union (EU) of the 23 June 2014 Conclusions on the 10th Anniversary of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. We express satisfaction with the renewed commitment of the EU and its Member States to the implementation of the Guidelines. ... In order to facilitate the fulfilment of the
EU renewed commitment, we make the following recommendations for concrete actions to be taken by the EU and its Member States at field and capital levels, and we encourage the Council of the EU to include these recommendations in the soon-to-be revised EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy: Coherent EU policy on HRDs: [inter alia:] ... Actively support HRDs through a flexible combination of concrete actions and public diplomacy, on the basis of effective consultation with concerned HRDs." Image from
Rethinking Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points - David Ignatius, Washington Post: As U.S. policymakers ponder the future shape of the Middle East, they should perhaps recall that the United States was opposed to the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement, the famous “line in the sand” that is now said to be dissolving. The United States’ opposition back then was based on its rejection of the secret diplomacy between Britain and France that produced the plan to divide the Ottoman Empire after World War I.
The United States opposed this neo-colonial carve-up of the region and called instead for the right to national self-determination. The tragedy of the U.S. role in the modern Middle East is that it became, without entirely intending or realizing it, the protector of the very post- imperial order it once resisted. Image from
Putin’s three choices on Ukraine - Zbigniew Brzezinski, Washington Post: Regarding the future of Russo-Ukrainian relations, as well as growing international costs for Russia, Putin faces three basic choices: 1. He could pursue an accommodation with Ukraine by terminating the assault on its sovereignty and economic well-being. 2. Putin could continue to sponsor a thinly veiled military intervention designed to disrupt life in portions of Ukraine. 3. Putin could invade Ukraine, exploiting Russia’s much larger military potential. The obviously correct choice is to find a formula for accommodation, which must involve the abandonment of the use of force against Ukraine by Russia. Image from
Putin's Ukraine Assault: In a Shambles but Far From Over - Adrian Karatnycky, Wall Street Journal: Having wreaked havoc and death in eastern Ukraine, Mr. Putin could be retreating from the path of war, returning for the time being to soft power in the battle for Ukraine.
U.S. Embassy Kabul Construction Bulge: From $625M to $773M, Est. Completion Now Moved to 2016 – Domani Spero, DiploPundit: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently evaluated the construction of U.S. Embassy Kabul due to “broad congressional interest” in the oversight and accountability of U.S. funds used in Afghanistan. The GAO reports that contract costs for construction have increased by nearly 24 percent, from $625.4 million to $773.9 million as of May 2014.
The original construction completion was to be the end of summer 2014; the contractual delivery date for all permanent facilities is now anticipated for July 2016. Embassy Kabul’s permanent facilities—both older and newly-constructed office and apartment buildings—will eventually contain 1,487 desks and 819 beds. The projected embassy staffing for 2015 is approximately 600 U.S. direct hires and 1,100 locally employed staff. Without the military support, State would once more end up with potentially contracting its own security and life-support contractors as it did in Iraq. Image from
Darpa studies Facebook to hone its digital propaganda skills - Katie Collins, wired.co.uk: The US Department of Defense's research unit, known as Darpa, has been pouring millions of dollars into funding studies to analyse social media use. Throughout the studies, Darpa has used data from social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest as well communities such as Reddit and Kickstarter. You might be wondering why the US military is so interested in what items you are pinning to your "Crafts!" Pinterest board -- well, fortunately it is willing to explain.
In a post on Darpa's website, the manager of the "social media in strategic communication" (SMISC) programme, Rand Waltzman, outlines the purpose of the research. Not only does the understanding garnered from the research help Darpa to fulfil its mission of preventing "strategic surprise", but it also helps the unit to "support the efforts of human operators to counter misinformation or deception campaigns with truthful information", he says. Image from entry
China's propaganda infiltrating our shores - Paul Monk, brisbanetimes.com.au: Over the past decade or so, something disturbing has been happening in the Chinese community media in this country. The Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda bureau has been buying up radio stations and newspapers across the country and channelling the voice of Beijing into them from editorial offices in China.
Increasingly, topics on which press discussion is forbidden in China have vanished also from the Chinese language media in our own country. Image from entry
Maybe Chicago’s death toll will help stop the madness on gun access - Editorial, Washington Post: In the course of 84 hours this past [July 4th] weekend, 82 people were shot in Chicago, 16 of them fatally.
One person an hour, not in some far-flung war zone but on the streets of a major U.S. city. Image from
Terror Alert! Teenager Arrested for Online Jihadi Romance - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: The FBI arrested a Colorado teenager on suspicion of attempting to support al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The young woman was busted at the Denver International Airport as she attempted to board a plane for Frankfurt with an onward ticket to Turkey. Germany and Turkey are members of NATO, and allies of the United States. It is not a crime to fly there. Image from