Friday, September 12, 2014

September 11-12 Public Diplomacy Review

"Perhaps propaganda is the most dangerous drug of all."

--Leonid Bershidsky,; image from


U.S. Department of State To Host Google+ Hangout on Music Diplomacy on September 15 - Media Note, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC, September 11, 2014 - "Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan will participate in a Google+ Hangout on September 15 to discuss the impact of music diplomacy with participants from the State Department’s Center Stage and American Music Abroad programs. Representatives from the New England Foundation of the Arts and the Association of American Voices will also join the conversation. Interested musicians, practitioners, and the general public are encouraged to tune in and participate by submitting questions in advance. Cultural exchange programs, in music, dance, film, visual arts, and the humanities, connect the United States with new audiences, foster cross-cultural understanding, and demonstrate shared values. The State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs’ music initiatives, including the Center Stage, OneBeat, American Music Abroad, and Next Level programs open dialogue, encourage collaboration, create economic opportunities, and empower youth. The Hangout will be broadcast live at 3:00 p.m. EDT on the U.S. Department of State’s Google+ page and YouTube channel. Questions can be submitted in advance on the Google+ page and via Twitter by using #MusicDiplomacy."

U.S. Navy Band bringing country shows to Tulsa - "The Navy Band acts as a outreach arm of the Navy as it travels to perform concerts in communities across the country, as well as at international events. 'Today, Navy bands are still performing around the world, acting as agents of public diplomacy for the American government, improving relations with our allies and winning the hearts and minds with the universal language of music,' said Capt. Brian O. Walden, commanding officer for the Navy Band." See also, which notes the statement by Walter Pincus of the Washington Post that there are "more military band musicians in the Defense Department than the State Department has Foreign Service officers." See also John Brown, "A Modest Proposal: Make the Pentagon Our Very Own Ministry of Culture!" Huffington Post

Broadcasting Reform: Time to Rearm, and Fight Enemy Propaganda - Helle Dale, "On July 28, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4490, the United States International Communications Reform Act. The bill eliminates the dysfunctional Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the agency that oversees U.S. civilian international broadcasting. Its decisions have for years been marred by strategic errors—like eliminating broadcasting to Russia and Ukraine. ... While

there is time, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should consider the following changes to improve H.R.  4490Remove the new broadcasting advisory broads from any role in selecting a director. Directors should be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Support continued shortwave broadcasting, which is being eliminated by the current BBG in favor of Internet messaging. Vast areas of the world are not on the Web, or even have electricity. Move the Office of Cuba Broadcasting in with the other surrogate radio broadcasters, such as Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, whose mission is to promote democracy and broadcast news to countries under authoritarian regimes. The Senate must move quickly to consider its bill. The United States needs strong messaging to troubled regions of the world. This no time for complacency or delay." Dale image from entry

Yigal Palmor steps down after six years as Foreign Ministry spokesman. Media overexposure, he says, ‘is not good for anyone.’ - Jerusalem Post: “'People always say there is not enough hasbara [public diplomacy],' Palmor

said, repeating a common complaint. “But the real problem is that there is not enough diplomacy.” And the reason for this, to a large extent, is due to lack of means." Image from entry, with caption: Yigal Palmor: ‘Everything needs interpretation. Everything needs to be explained.’

The war in Gaza: Canards (continued): Unless we extricate our policy-making mechanisms from the destructive influence of these corrosive canards, our goose may be well and truly cooked - Martin Sherman, Jerusalem Post: "With respect to supposed pressures from the international community and the US administration, reference to these actually constitutes more of an excuse to justify the outcome than a motive that explains Israel’s military restraint.

In large measure, ‘pressures’ tend to come from Israel’s incompetence and impotence in the conduct of public diplomacy." Image from entry, with caption: Islamic Jihad digging new tunnels in Gaza

Army opens criminal probe of IDF strike on Gaza beach that killed 4 kids and attack on UNRWA school: "[W]hile the IDF has provided large amounts of material on a public diplomacy basis to combat broader allegations

that it fired artillery indiscriminately during the fierce Battle of Shejaia in eastern Gaza City, such as that it warned civilians to leave, Hamas systematically used human shields to prevent evacuations and huge areas were booby-trapped, it has not yet addressed the broader allegations there legally." Image from entry, with caption: Man carries child on Gaza beach after Navy shelling.

Asean media urged to practice ‘peaceful, constructive journalism’ - Dennis Atienza Maliwanag, "Beijing seeks to allay fears in Asean as it strengthens its economic and military clout in the region. One way to do this, an official said, is for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to engage in what it calls 'e-public diplomacy.' From August 30 to September 6, 20 Southeast Asian journalists and media executives and two officials of the Asean Secretariat joined the China-Asean Journalists Exchange Program held in Beijing and Zhejiang.

The eight-day study tour saw Asean journalists exchanging views with prominent members of the Chinese media, academe, local government officials and executives of leading business groups. The program was facilitated by Zhu Xiaozhong, deputy director of E-Public Diplomacy Division; Wu Shenghao, first secretary of the Public Diplomacy Office; and Tian Qi, information staff of the Public Diplomacy office, all from the foreign affairs ministry. The Asean member nations—Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam—are formally integrating as an economic bloc in 2015." Image from entry, with caption: Asean journalists listen to Ash Sutcliffe (center), public relations officer of Geely, during a meeting at the Chinese automaker’s head office in Hangzhou City.

'Independencia!': Protesters demand Catalonia vote - Kim Hjelmgaard and Katharine Lackey, USA TODAY: "About 55% of Catalans support independence from Spain, according to the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, a government-supported group that seeks to raise awareness about the region."

Image from entry, with caption: People wave independence flags as they celebrate Catalonia National Day on Sept. 11in Barcelona, Spain. Red and yellow flags filled the streets as Catalan nationalists rallied to demand a vote on breaking away from Spain

Media and foreign policy in the digital age: New information and communication technologies have now entered the realm of foreign policy, and they have a direct impact on international relations in the 21st century - "How will the new, expanded media landscape and active participation by members of civil society influence decision-makers’ scope of action? What role do (international) media have as ambassadors and mediators? Is digital diplomacy a harbinger of global media democracy? Should international organizations rethink their diplomatic strategies? What consequences will access to new communication technologies have for rapidly growing economies in developing countries? How can new media be integrated into conventional forms of public diplomacy?

Experts from around the world will explore these and related questions at the 2015 Global Media Forum." Image from entry


How Obama Learned to Love the Bomb - Daniel McCarthy, The American Conservative: Obama resorts to bombing because our pundits demand that he “do something.” Leaving Iraq to its own devices, to suffer, burn, and ultimately rebuild, is too cruel, and ISIS with its spectacular propaganda videos makes a great cable news bite and social-media campaign.

It’s evil, it’s scary, it’s on YouTube, so what are we going to do about it? Obama would be weak and callous if he did nothing. That he can’t actually do much that matters in the long run is unimportant—our humanitarian urges and Islamophobic fears will be satisfied as long as we get some kind of action right now. So we bomb. Uncaptioned image from entry

ISIS has mastered high-end video production in its new propaganda wing - Bruce Wallace, The terrorist group ISIS is known for its sophisticated social media outreach. Now it seems they are bringing that sophistication to their video propaganda, too.

The videos are notable for their high production values and for their apparent target audience: Westerners. Not only are the videos more sophisticated than ones produced by other Islamist groups, there are more of them and they come out faster. Image from entry, with caption: A man purported to be Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the miltant group ISIS, during what would have been his first public appearance at a mosque in Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet.

Germany bans Islamic State symbols, propaganda - German authorities have banned all activity on behalf of the Islamic State extremist group, including the distribution of propaganda material and the display of its symbols. The decree issued Friday closes a legal gap that made it difficult to prosecute Islamic State supporters in Germany. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in a statement the group represents a "threat to public security in Germany" and its recruitment efforts need to be stopped. Security agencies estimate at least 400 people from Germany have joined the Islamic State group and similar organizations.

Propaganda Army Speaks Fluent Kremlin - Oleg Sukhov, Russia doesn't have the highest standard of living or the best democratic institutions, to say the least, but many believe it is a world leader in one field - propaganda.

Since President Vladimir Putin began consolidating the country’s news media under his control in 2000, the Kremlin’s indoctrination machine has not stopped growing. The pursuit of truth is not on the agenda. Demonization of Ukraine is now the main focus of the Kremlin’s propaganda, with Ukrainian events accounting for the bulk of news coverage. Entry lists members of the "propaganda army" including, among others, Alexander Prokhanov (and the only American on the list, Stephen Cohen). Prokhanov image from entry.

Russian activist proves lie of Kremlin's propaganda (Video) - Activist Aleksei Sidorov published a video refuting statements of the Kremlin's propaganda that Russian soldiers do not fight in eastern Ukraine. He checked a news article published in Novaya Gazeta saying that Russian soldier Anton Tumanov of Kozmodemyansk, 20, died in the Donbas region, Obozrevatel writes. The investigation confirmed this information. Details can be found in the video taken by Aleksei Sidorov.

Video Game Fan Art Mistaken for Historic WWI Propaganda - Benjamin Sutton, A video game fan’s vintage-style artwork claiming that “Soldiers Eat Babies” was sufficiently convincing to fool the makers of the Russian documentary series “World War I” into including the image in a segment on US propaganda during WWI. An artist who goes by the name of TankTaur originally posted the image—which shows a monster-like soldier about to ingest a crying baby accompanied by text urging viewers to join a clan in the wildly popular multi-player video game Team Fortress 2—on DeviantArt in 2009, but Russia’s Channel One took the image to be much, much older. “My third and final poster for the TF2 Propaganda contest,” the artist wrote in 2009.

“The message is rather outrageous, but that’s what propaganda is for, to make your enemies look bad.” The artist added an update to the listing recently: “Apparently this was featured on Russian television as an example of actual historical US propaganda. It’s an easy mistake to make, I’m sure.” Apparently so. As the Channel One documentary has it, the poster was one of the crude works of propaganda art created at the behest of the United States Committee on Public Information. The documentary’s narrator explains: “The American public had to firmly acknowledge that Germans are evil…Britain was virtually drowning in the ocean of posters and leaflets. Its horror-propaganda would churn out new and heartbreaking accounts.” Image from entry, with caption: Team Fortress 2 poster by TankTaur. Courtesy TankTaur, via DeviantArt.

When war meant getting people to sign up - Kevin Hartnett,
Long before robot planes ruled the skies, the only way to wage a war was to get citizens to sign up. That’s one takeaway message from a new exhibition of World War I propaganda at the Boston Athenaeum called “Over Here: World War I Posters from Around the World.”

Many of the posters feature stark illustrations of soldiers accompanied by slogans like, “Go and help!” and “Boys come over here, you’re wanted.” What those boys were wanted for, of course, was their bodies, in a war where the last man standing won. Image from entry , with caption: Unknown Artist, Don’t Stand Looking at This, Go and Help!, 1915. Color lithograph. Adelaide, Australia


Камчатка побережье Охотского моря (the Kamchatka shore along the Okhotsk Sea). Via IM on Facebook

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