Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 10 Public Diplomacy Review

"News and truth are not the same thing, and must be clearly distinguished. The function of news is to signalise an event, the function of truth is to bring to light the hidden facts, to set them into relation with each other, and make a picture of reality on which men can act." 

--Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion; cited in César García, "Rethinking Walter Lippmann’s legacy in the history of public relations, "PRism 7(1), p. 6; image from; see also


The Achilles Heel of U.S. Public Diplomacy: Race Relations and Police Violence - Bethany Pullen, "If racism in America was an international problem in the 1950’s, it is that much more pertinent in the digital age of Facebook and Twitter.

American public diplomacy practitioners should develop a strategy for addressing these concerns externally, but real solutions must also be pursued internally." Uncaptioned image from entry

Barack Obama’s Social Media Flame War Against ISIS - Alex Altman, "Th[e] digital battlefield has become a vital theater in the war on terrorism, and for the U.S. government, the front lines are the digital outreach team in a small State Department office, the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), which began operation in 2011 on orders from President Obama. With a budget of only $6 million, and about two-dozen staffers, the group is spearheading the campaign to combat the sophisticated propaganda ISIS is spreading on social media and Internet bulletin boards. Working in Arabic, Urdu, Somali and now English, its analysts comb the Internet for radical material, wading into everything from Twitter to Yemeni tribal forums to counter and rebut jihadist claims.

What these State Department staffers are looking for is an opportunity to 'engage in our very particular brand of adversarial engagement,' says Alberto Fernandez, a former ambassador to Equatorial Guinea who serves as coordinator of the CSCC. (The center reports to the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Richard Stengel, who is a former managing editor of TIME.) Staff try to cast extremist activity in a negative light, tamping down the lure of jihad for ordinary people whose political grievances might draw them toward to groups like ISIS. Sometimes this entails direct confrontation, but such confrontations are not the group’s goal. 'Our target audience is not the extremists,' Fernandez says. 'It’s the people the extremists are talking to, trying to influence. It’s people who have not yet become terrorists.' ... Fernandez acknowledges that it is difficult to calculate the impact of his cyber-warriors. 'You can’t prove a negative,' he notes." Uncaptioned image from enntry

Defeating ISIS: An Integrated Strategy to Advance Middle East Stability - Brian Katulis, Hardin Lang, and Vikram Singh, "As with efforts to counter extremism elsewhere, defeating ISIS will require a concentrated effort over time. Any successful U.S. strategy must be built on a foundation of regional cooperation that requires coordinated action from U.S. partners—a central concept of the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund that President Barack Obama

proposed earlier this year. The strategy will be multifaceted, involving intelligence cooperation, security support, vigorous regional and international diplomacy, strategic communications and public diplomacy, and political engagement." Image from entry, with caption: Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, are seen in Raqqa, Syria.

State Department Enters Propaganda War With ISIL - "The State Department is launching a tough and graphic propaganda counteroffensive against the Islamic State, using some of the group's own images of barbaric acts against fellow Muslims to undercut its message. While the department since 2011 has operated a small unit devoted solely to the task of analyzing and countering terrorists' messaging around the world, that unit – the 50-member Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications -- has shifted gears in recent months to concentrate more on the Islamic State threat. The social media presence – on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and beyond – has started using some potentially risky tactics to go after the militant network, also known as ISIS. The item grabbing the most attention lately is a shock factor-heavy YouTube video set up as a fake recruiting ad for the Islamic State."

State Dept Touts Anti-ISIS Propaganda Campaign: Senators See Parody Video as 'Bizarre' - Jason Ditz, "The State Department is touting what it believes is a 'vital' stage in its propaganda campaign against ISIS recruitment, releasing a new video attempting to parody the ISIS online recruitment videos. The 'Think again, turn away' campaign is aimed at discouraging Westerners from going off to join ISIS, showing images of mosques blowing up and people being decapitated, something Sen. Ted Cruz (R – TX) called 'bizarre.' Some Congressmen are pushing for a propaganda campaign that is a bit more focused and a lot more serious than the parody-style video, which ends by declaring 'travel is inexpensive, because you won’t need a return ticket.'

Yet past efforts at propagandizing that the US has carried out during the global war on terror have been similarly unsuccessful,  and enormously expensive. The US government simply isn’t very good at these sort of marketing campaigns that try to manufacture a positive view for US war efforts, or a negative view for their enemy of the moment. Uncaptioned image from entry

The State Department’s plan to spark a global SOPA-style uprising around Internet governance - Nancy Scola, "For years now, there has been a fight brewing over whether Internet governance should rest with the 16-year-old California-based nonprofit called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or be shifted to a United Nations-affiliated body.

ICANN and the 150-year-old International Telecommunications Union, which has long acted as the traffic cop of global non-Internet telecommunications, might be headed to a crucial face-off next month. And so, the U.S. State Department, which wants ICANN to retain control of Internet governance, is making a bid to broaden the debate and engage an audience all over the world with a simple proclamation: 'The Internet belongs to everyone.' ... Tweeted Macon Phillips, who directs public diplomacy for the State Department, 'Strategic assumption of @KeeptheNetOpen [is] that nerds in every country care about [the open Internet].'" Image from

Op-Ed: Propaganda war in which Voice of America helps Putin - Ted Lipien, "In an incredible display of naiveté, Voice of America executives agreed to do a discussion program with a Russian business television channel just as President Putin was moving more Russian troops and heavy equipment into Ukraine. It would be extremely foolish for anyone to assume that this project was not carefully coordinated and is overseen by top propaganda advisors to the Kremlin. They saw an opportunity to embarrass VOA and the United States while scoring points for Putin with domestic and perhaps also some international Russian-speaking television audiences. The two programs with a Russian TV channel so far have been an absolute disaster for the United States and a great win for the Kremlin's propaganda, according several Russian scholars, journalism, and propaganda experts from the United States and Europe, all fluent Russian speakers."

Daily news updates on AudioNow - Isah V. Red, "As part of the Embassy of the Philippines’s efforts to serve better Filipinos in the United States of America (USA), DZBB, now offers daily five-minute news headlines on any kind of phone in the US through its partnership with AudioNow, the world’s leading call-to-listen platform. GMA Network joins other industry leaders, such as Veritas 846 AM, Catholic Media Network, and People’s Television Network, as a part of a Philippine Embassy initiative to give Filipinos in the US access to media. The pioneering initiative also features Radyo Tambuli, a virtual radio station created by the Embassy.

Its programming includes news, interviews, folk music and opinion polls. ... 'We applaud GMA’s initiative to join in our efforts with other leading Filipino broadcasters to serve the diaspora. This is another great step towards a digital public diplomacy for the Embassy,' said the Honorable Ambassador Jose L.Cuisia, Jr." Image from

Not everyone is against us; some might even like us if... - Yossi Beilin, "[S]ome good people took part in European rallies against the Gaza war. Some were well-informed, others apparently not. They were exposed to images of suffering and refused to remain indifferent. They were not convinced by the rhetoric of Israeli officials, just as we don’t buy the accounts of Michael Brown’s killing by Missouri police. Investing more in public diplomacy won’t help, either (though one assumes the defense budget will be increased precisely at the expense of public diplomacy, or 'hasbarah' in Hebrew)."

The (il)logic of Israel’s land grabs as a form of punishment - Yossi Mekelberg, "Nothing more clearly conveys to the Palestinians that the Israeli government is not sincere in negotiating the two state solution with them than the constant expansion of settlements. ... This recent episode of settlements expansion is also indicative of the shortcomings of the Israeli decision making process. In the face of U.S. anger at the announcement of the expropriation of the settlements, a number of the Israeli prime minister’s advisors claimed that he was not informed about the announcement by the Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in advance.

The latter responded that he did not have to do so because this was discussed and agreed upon in the government, following the murder of the Israeli teenagers and in any case it was within the minister’s authority to do so without informing the prime minister. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was quick to jump into the fray. He claimed that the thinking behind the expropriation of land was to consolidate settlements blocs. It was actually nothing to do with punitive measures towards the. This latest charade exposes a government which is in complete disarray, without a coherent policy or the slightest understanding of handling public diplomacy." Image from

Public seek chances to thaw ties - "A latest poll unveiled on Tuesday that tapping public diplomacy to repair bilateral relations continued to attract public support from both China and Japan. ... Among the Japanese public who supported public diplomacy, 70.7 percent of them believed that 'mutual understanding between the two peoples will be deepened through exchanges', compared with 66.2 percent last year. Similarly, 56.7 percent of those in China who supported public diplomacy believed that people-to-people interactions 'expand the foundation for the shared interests of both nations'."

A Government Official from Singapore Wins ‘Quiz on Korea’ - "A government official flying over from Singapore won the top prize on ‘Quiz on Korea,’ a quiz show in which foreigners around the world compete against one another about facts or knowledge relating to Korea. Cohosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), the final round of the third ‘Quiz on Korea’ was held at the KBS station in Seoul on September 5 with 21 finalists.

The 21 finalists went through the local quiz shows where 1,500 contestants took part at the Korean embassies around the world. ... An official at MOFA said, 'We will make this quiz show as an annual event. The contestants who show a keen interest in Korea are playing a significant role in spreading the Korean wave Hallyu across the world. Likewise, we will keep promoting our public diplomacy through this event.'” Image from entry, with caption: The final winner turned out to be Su-mei Tan, a Singaporean government official.

‘Tourism needs structured financing to rehabilitate’ - "The tourism sector needs structured financing to rehabilitate, re-tool and re-kit the infrastructure to enhance its competitiveness, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi has said. 'This enhances our competitiveness in meeting international standards demand by our clientele,' Mzembi said at a seminar on tourism investment at the United Nations in New York on Monday. ... The seminar was organised by the Spanish Permanent Mission to the UN together with Casa África, Spain’s main public diplomacy institution dedicated to the African continent, and Real Instituto Elcano, one of the most prestigious think-tanks."

From gunboats to cultural diplomacy - Nicky Gardner, "[I]ssues of nationality, identity and territory are rarely neat and unambiguous – especially in the Barents region. ... In the mid-19th century, the District Commissioner for the Finnmark region worried about the movement of goods and people over the river at Grense Jakobselv. ... The District Commissioner was anxious that there be a visible marker at Grense Jakobselv, something that would deter cross-border forays into Norwegian waters. He suggested that having a Norwegian gunboat permanently positioned at the estuary would be a good idea. It was a military officer who countered the District Commissioner’s proposal with an alternative plan.

The officer noted that gunboats are expensive to maintain and so too are their crews. He indicated that building a Norwegian church at Grense Jakobselv would be a far better option. The church proposal was accepted. Cultural diplomacy won out over the gunboat. ... Borders are regions of opportunity rather than fracture lines on the map of Europe. Cultural diplomacy has achieved more in the Barents region than military muscle ever could. Therein surely lie a few lessons for the rest of Europe – particularly at a time when nations in our divided continent are perhaps becoming a little too confrontational." Image from

Cultural diplomacy an underused instrument - Gillian Jakab, "The U.S. government has gone through phases of pushing cultural diplomacy programs during periods of tension, and then letting them slip in importance alongside its self-interest in cultural influence. Sometimes, privately funded exchanges take up the slack without government sponsorship (though visas can be an issue). This summer, New York’s Lincoln Center Festival presented the Bolshoi Ballet and Opera amid another tense time in U.S.-Russian relations. Though non-governmental organizations make their own curatorial choices and certainly do not take it upon themselves to represent American diplomatic interests, the exchange is nonetheless influential. Sharing art and culture gives soul to perceived national strangers, or enemies. Though these can help to some small degree when troubles arise, the power of cultural diplomacy doesn’t lie in its ability to provide instant strategies for conflict resolution. It lies in building ongoing collaborations and exchanges to facilitate mutual understanding that can prevent future prejudice and violence born of misinformation and misunderstanding."

'Thai Kitchen to the World' exchange - "The Australia Thailand Institute and the Thai Embassy in Australia partnered with Tasmania’s Guilford Young College in August, to deliver an imaginative culinary program in the north and south of the state, aimed at enhancing skills in preparing Thai cuisine. Local chefs, apprentices and hospitality students in secondary colleges received first-hand tuition from three senior Thai cooking instructors. 'Thai Kitchen to the World' culminated in a reception catered and served by students from the course, attended by the Thai Ambassador to Australia Maris Sangiampongsa, Tasmanian Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockcliff.

'Establishing strong people-to-people links is one of the main foundations in any bilateral relationship,' Ambassador Sangiampongsa said. 'My officers will continue to look for opportunities to support cultural exchanges, particularly in regional parts of Australia.'” Image from entry, with caption: Students Remo Glendinning(l) and Lily Evans (r) are joined by Thailand's Ambassador to Australia, Mr Maris Sangiampongsa, as they learn from master chef Miss Chachaya Raktakanista, Manager and Director of Suan Dusit International Culinary School, and Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, Bangkok, in the GYC commercial kitchen on the Hobart Campus.

Mitchell: "What is great in Great Britain?" [Google translation] - James Mitchell, "James Mitchell is Professor of Public Diplomacy at the University of Edinburgh. In his scientific work, the political scientist who specializes in the Scottish question."


Can Washington Tame France's New Tart-Tongued Ambassador? - Colum Lynch, A glib remark or an uncomfortably frank statement can go viral, fueling a major diplomatic crisis and ruining an otherwise distinguished career in government. Consider the public skewering of Matthew Barzun, the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, when he expressed disdain for Britain's national cuisine. Asked by Tatler magazine what he would serve for his ideal meal, Barzun quipped: 'I'll tell you what I would not serve -- lamb and potatoes.

I must have had lamb and potatoes 180 times since I have been here.' Or consider Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, whose every word and tweet was scrutinized by the Russian Foreign Ministry and often used to fuel public attacks against him." Image from

Gut check time on Iraq - David Ignatius, Is America walking into a trap that has been constructed by the Islamic State — launching attacks that will rally jihadists around the world? From everything the jihadists proclaim in their propaganda, we can sense that they have been dreaming of this showdown. This is why America needs to make sure that, with every step it takes, it is surrounded by Muslim friends and allies.

Washington's seedy propaganda campaign: Satellite Images of Alleged Russian Artillery in Ukraine Come A-Cropper - Dave Lindorff, In the ongoing propaganda campaign mounted by the Obama administration to claim that Russia has "invaded" Ukraine from the east, it offered up some grainy black-and-white satellite images purporting to show heavy Russian military equipment inside the Ukraine.

Now an alert reader from the agricultural state of Texas (Laredo, TX to be precise), has sent a note suggesting out that what the incriminating images most likely show are combines in a field of grain or some other crop planted in rows. He sent along photos showing harvesters, which of course feature a long, straight "cannon-like" tube which is used to shoot the harvested grain up and into an accompanying truck to be hauled off to market or to a storage silo. Image from entry

ISIL Stealing Upwards of $1 Million a Day to Fund Its Terror Regime: ISIL could strike ‘here at home with no warning,’ top counterterror official warns - Adam Kredo, The United States’ top counterterrorism official warned that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) is stealing some $1 million dollars a day to fund its operations and could have the ability to convince its American sympathizers to conduct terror strikes “here at home with no warning.”

Matthew Olsen, director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, recently delivered a candid and at times surprising assessment of ISIL’s capabilities and threat, concluding that the group “poses a direct and significant threat to us,” according to a transcript of his remarks before the Brookings Institution. Image from entry, with caption: Demonstrators chant pro-al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as they carry al Qaeda flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul.

Al-Qaida battles ISIS to lead global jihad: ISIS has captured imagination of new generation of jihadists - Tim Lister, CNN: ISIS has captured the imagination of a new generation of jihadists -- from Arab and European states alike -- with its ruthless pursuit of a Caliphate, dramatic territorial gains and relentless propaganda machine.

Opinion: ISIS and Arab Unity - ISIS does not pose a serious threat to Arab states’ political systems, but it is winning the propaganda war by broadcasting misleading news to parts of society that lack political awareness and tools to process and analyze information.

ISIS Uses One-Eyed Baby For Apocalyptic Propaganda [Video] - ISIS is spreading apocalyptic warnings by using a picture of a one-eyed baby depicted as the Dajjal or the Islamic Antichrist. The propaganda is aimed at spreading fear about the coming end of the world and that Muslims are the only people to be saved.

If Putin's actions in Ukraine aren't an invasion, then what is? - Trudy Rubin, In 1949, George Orwell published "Nineteen Eighty-Four," his famous portrait of a totalitarian regime whose "Ministry of Truth" spews rank propaganda called "Newspeak" that turns historical facts on their head. Newspeak has been alive and well these past weeks in Moscow, where President Vladimir Putin flatly denied any Russian presence in Ukraine, even as thousands of Russian troops and heavy weapons invaded that country.

What's more disturbing is that NATO leaders meeting in Wales last week to discuss Ukraine refused to denounce Putin's aggression as an "invasion." Image from

Russia and the Menace of Unreality: How Vladimir Putin is revolutionizing information warfare - Peter Pomerantsev, There is one great difference between Soviet propaganda and the latest Russian variety. For the Soviets, the idea of truth was important—even when they were lying. Soviet propaganda went to great lengths to ‘prove’ that the Kremlin’s theories or bits of disinformation were fact. In today’s Russia, by contrast, the idea of truth is irrelevant. On Russian ‘news’ broadcasts, the borders between fact and fiction have become utterly blurred.

Azov fighters are Ukraine's greatest weapon and may be its greatest threat: The battalion's far-right volunteers' desire to 'bring the fight to Kiev' is a danger to post-conflict stability - Shaun Walker, The Guardian: Russian propaganda that claims Kiev's "fascist junta" wants to cleanse east Ukraine of Russian speakers is overblown.

The Azov are a minority among the Ukrainian forces, and even they, however unpleasant their views may be, are not anti-Russian; in fact the lingua franca of the battalion is Russian, and most have Russian as their first language. Indeed, much of what Azov members say about race and nationalism is strikingly similar to the views of the more radical Russian nationalists fighting with the separatist side. Image from entry, with caption: An Azov battalion soldier stands next to an armoured personnel carrier at a checkpoint in Mariupol on 4 September.

Russian Parents Want Topless Dolls Banned for 'Sexual Propaganda' - A parents’ committee in the Urals has expressed outrage over what it sees as “sexual propaganda” put shamelessly on display in several of the region’s toy stores: scantily clad dolls.

Members of the Urals’ Parents Committee sounded the alarm after discovering a risqué doll in a “Children’s World” store in Nizhny Tagil, UralInformBureau online news agency reported Tuesday. The group says they intend to file a complaint against the store owners with the children's ombudsman and local prosecutors after a thorough check of all children's stores in the area. Uncaptioned image from entry

The Problem with Al Jazeera - David Andrew Weinberg, Oren Adaki, Grant Rumley, Few Americans realize

how faithfully the channel has parroted the propaganda of terrorist groups. Uncaptioned image from entry

North Korea to put US national on trial - Critics claim that North Korea's 'show trials' of American citizens are more for propaganda reasons than punishment.

Three US nationals are presently held in the communist country. Image from entry, with caption: The regime wants legitimacy, claim critics.

Israel Must Put Security First - Isi Leibler, Mr. Netanyahu displayed determined leadership, resisting demagogic public demands from security cabinet ministers who called for an all-out invasion of Gaza. He understood that, had Israel proceeded to “crush Hamas” with a full-scale land invasion and occupation, it would have incurred further casualties, and also, most likely, global pressure to withdraw under humiliating circumstances — thus providing Hamas with a propaganda victory.

'Night Will Fall': Film Review - Stephen Dalton, A mere 70 years in gestation, German Concentration Camp Factual Survey was a powerful Holocaust documentary that spent decades in limbo for politically dubious reasons. Filmed at the end of World War II, it was only recently completed in a painstaking full-length restoration by London's Imperial War Museum. The project has long been part of movie folklore, partly because directing legends Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder were both briefly involved in shaping it. This British-American-Israel documentary adds extra star power, with Brett Ratner and Stephen Frears serving as producers. The director is André Singer, whose own production credits include multiple Werner Herzog projects plus last year's prize-winning Oscar contender The Act of Killing. Following its U.S. launch in Telluride last month, Night Will Fall opens theatrically in the U.K. next week. The combination of grimly compelling subject matter and fabled Hollywood names should add up to healthy audience interest.

An incredible photo from the time when Nazis walked freely on US soil - This is the LZ 129 Hindenburg being moved into a hangar in Lakehurst, New Jersey, on May 9, 1936.

A year later—on May 6, 1937—it would be destroyed by fire in one of the most famous air accidents in history. It just seems fascinating to me that Nazis could freely prance around the world like that—even while it was clear that it was a military regime shrouded in racist and imperialistic propaganda.

Dew House display tells the story of family during World War I - Rick Weber, The exhibit features panels containing photos, local news articles,

reproductions of original posters and timeline information. Image from entry, with caption: This poster of World War I Belgian Rescue Dogs is one of the many colorful posters that is displayed at the Historic Dew House/DeWalt Heritage Center through Sept. 28.


Street painting of Russia's President, Vladimir Putin. From

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