Friday, February 28, 2014

February 27-28 Public Diplomacy Review

"The blog is mightier than the sword."

--Headline for article by journalist Amit Lewinthal, (2012), perhaps relevant eons ago (by social-media standards); image from


[LISTEN] On Culinary Diplomacy: Culinary diplomacy utilizes food as a relationship-builder, but does it meet the standards of new public diplomacyMichael Ardaiolo discusses the different facets of culinary diplomacy with Sam Chapple-Sokol. Via PR; uncaptioned image from entry




Kerry’s Proposed “Framework” Offers Way Forward for Israel/Palestine - Philip Wilcox, "John Kerry’s extraordinary efforts to make peace between Israel and Palestine through six months of bilateral talks have produced no significant results. Kerry, determined to succeed, is turning to a 'framework' that would create a new basis for continued negotiations. The framework has not yet been released. But if it is a clear outline of an American plan for peace, not just a collection of ideas that avoids laying out U.S. positions, it could be a game changer. ... Ultimately, diplomats in secret talks will not bring peace. American diplomacy must at an early stage begin to engage more fully the Israeli and Palestinian publics, who will ultimately decide their futures. A fresh approach to public diplomacy aimed at both sides and based on an American framework will be needed."

Ambassador to leave Saturday - Liu Yunlong, "US Ambassador to China Gary Locke, the first of Chinese descent in the position, delivered a public speech in Beijing on Wednesday and is set to leave the country on Saturday. In the speech, Locke said he felt sad to leave China, but would leave with a sense of achievement and optimism for the Sino-US relationship, the Phoenix TV reported Wednesday. 'China has a great future ahead of it,' Locke told Chinese students at Beijing American Center on Wednesday, but noted that reaching full potential will depend on 'a neutral and respected judiciary, an active set of dedicated lawyers, wise leadership' and 'reverence toward the rule of law.' Locke also called on China to have more tolerance for media criticism, saying 'as a permanent member of the UN Security Council that has hosted the Olympics and sent a spacecraft to the moon, China should have the national self-confidence to withstand the media scrutiny.' China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Wednesday said that China is willing to talk and exchange ideas with other countries to make progress together on the basis of equality and mutual respect. ... Li Haidong, a professor with the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that the relationship between China and the US has indeed moved forward during Locke's term as ambassador. ... Locke also attracted widespread attention in China with his Chinese-American background and his everyman image. Locke was photographed carrying his own backpack and ordering his own coffee at an airport on his way to assume the envoy post two years ago, triggering a wave of public attention on the Internet. 'His behavior model is new and a good example of public diplomacy, which effectively promoted the US image in China,' said Li. Locke will leave the Chinese capital on Saturday and will be replaced by 72-year-old Senator Max Baucus."

Lend Venezuelans a hand - Jennifer Rubin, "As is the case about everywhere on the planet, President Obama has shown little interest in South and Central American democracies or in helping dissidents in despotic regimes. To the contrary, he relaxed sanctions on Cuba, one of Maduro’s [Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro] best allies. What would help (aside from a different president)

is a continual and consistent message from our administration. Through public diplomacy (Voice of America can be heard there, but programming can be beefed up with Radio Marti personnel crafted specifically for Venezuela while the protests last) and financial support for democracy promotion we can at the very least show we stand with free peoples." Image from entry, with caption: A man walks past a burning barricade in Caracas

The Full Scale of What’s Happening in San Cristóbal Isn’t Getting Through Because of the Media Blackout - Francisco Toro, "[Comment by] SMB [:] Those who embraced Venezuela’s petro-populism

should hang their heads in shame for having given celebrity endorsement and cover to a corrupt, authoritarian and violent petro-regime. ... Is CITGO still spending money on public diplomacy through subsidized heating oil in the US Northeast?" Uncaptioned mage from entry

Are We Witnessing the Demise of Venezuela’s Soft Power? - Colin Hale, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Maduro’s [Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro] government

has seemingly failed to understand that the public diplomacy capital built up through aid diplomacy and careful communications strategies by Hugo Chavez has been destroyed in one fail swoop by sloppy tactics and violent crackdowns by the police and military." Uncaptioned image from entry

The University is for Counterrevolutionaries: A government-sponsored program to educate visiting Cuban students at U.S. universities has been hijacked by right-wing Cuban-American groups - Arturo Lopez-Levy, "A rapper, a graffiti artist, a blogger, two independent lawyers: In all, 17 students have arrived from Cuba with U.S government-sponsored scholarships to study at Miami Dade College. Having students from Cuba in the United States is a welcome development. Reforms to Cuba’s migration policy, in place since 2013, now allow Cubans to travel abroad, increasing their access to education, work opportunities, and information. The reform comes on the heels of modest efforts by the Obama administration to expand contacts between the two societies, including issuing more visas and allowing more purposeful travel to the island. But what could have been a positive educational exchange has become an exercise in political ideology. The right-wing Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FHRC) — which runs the selection process — is only accepting students opposed to the Cuban political system. By sticking to that demographic, the program ends up reproducing in the United States the same logic of exclusion applied by the Cuban government to its citizens, in reverse. If a Cuban student wants to come to the United States, he or she essentially has to obtain support from a pro-embargo opposition group. It should come as no surprise that Cuban exile groups in the United States have extended an invitation to Cuban dissidents — many of whom were excluded from Cuban educational programs due to their political opinions — to study here in the States. Offering them an education in Miami serves as a remedy to that violation of their rights. But it is important not to equate pro-embargo opposition with Cuban civil society writ large. U.S. government-sponsored educational exchanges between Cuba and the United States should be open to all Cubans, without the kind of political coercion that this program entails.

Instead of developing a non-partisan, post-Cold War educational exchange, the U.S. government and the FHRC have expanded the reach of regime-change propaganda in the United States and Cuba alike. ... This is not to say that private money can’t be used for such ends. If Jorge Mas Santos — and the CANF [Cuban American National Foundation; FHRC, in turn, is a subsidiary] organization he leads — wants to spend his money on scholarships for activists who favor his goals, then that’s his business. But to funnel U.S. taxpayer money toward his pet projects amounts to opportunism, and ultimately harms U.S. foreign policy. It does no service to U.S. values or interests to partner in a public diplomacy program with supporters of terrorists and admirers of the Batista dictatorship." Image from entry, with caption: What could have been a positive educational exchange between the United States and Cuba has become an exercise in political ideology.

Global diplomacy is not for beginners - Earle Scarlett, "For many years it has been common practice for US Presidents to nominate as ambassadors personal friends and significant contributors to their election campaigns. In this instance, over one-third of current ambassadors are political appointees. As a result, some retired diplomats are expressing indignation and even public outcry. As expected, aspiring active diplomats are dispirited and presumably grumbling sub rosa about this practice, which diminishes their chances to become chiefs of mission or to land desired senior positions in the US Department of State and other departments with a foreign service, such as Commerce and Agriculture, as well as the US Agency for International Development (before its amalgamation into the State Department over a decade ago, USIA was responsible for public diplomacy). These appointments, with Senate consent, customarily take place early in a new Administration or as vacancies arise, although frequently delayed by the vetting process and partisan politics. Nominating ambassadors is a presidential prerogative and not in question here. However, the central issue is whether

the choices are based on two pre-eminent considerations: capability and morale. Both are critical for diplomatic readiness as the US deploys skilled representatives to pursue its national interests abroad. With this in mind, it is imperative that new ambassadors possess appropriate skills and training to promote in a timely fashion the country's objectives even in difficult and dangerous situations. ... Earle Scarlett is a retired senior career US diplomat with gobal [sic] experience. He was director of political training at the George Shultz Foreign Affairs Training Center, Department of State; oral examiner of candidates for the foreign service; and Dean Rusk Fellow at The Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service." Image from entry, with caption: Nominating ambassadors is a presidential prerogative and not in question.

"Under Secretary of for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs - posted at - Department of State Public Schedule, February 26, 2014: "2:00 p.m.

Under Secretary Stengel hosts a town hall for the employees of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs bureaus, at the Department of State." Image from blog heading

Development of News Broadcast in US: Ziauddin University organises interactive session - "Brian Ferinden Managing Public Diplomacy Program for the Embassy of the United States of America in Islamabad had an interactive discussion with the students of Institute of Communications and Media Studies (ICMS), Ziauddin University on the topic 'The History and Development of Broadcast News in the United States' on Tuesday.  Brian began his talk by quoting Thomas Jefferson who said, ‘Democracy cannot exist without free press.’ This was to emphasise the fundamental purpose of journalism, which was the theme of the day. Adding, that President Jefferson was a great fan of media and championed the cause of press freedom, although, he was constantly criticized by the media.  He shared his insight on the evolution of broadcast media in the United States."

State Department Insures Artwork for $200M - Jeryl Bier, Weekly Standard: "The Art in Embassies program of the U.S. State Department just turned 50 last year, but its growth in the last decade has been particularly dramatic if the insured value of the artwork is any indication. Although Art in Embassies purchases original works, such as the $1 million sculpture for the new U.S. Embassy in London, much of the artwork on display at various State Department installations throughout the world is in fact borrowed.  In 2002, the State Department maintained a $20 million policy for artwork.  By 2010, it had grown to $65 million.  This year, the agency is looking to renew its current level of coverage, informing interested providers that '[i]nsurance must cover all items in any location in a Department of State facility abroad up to a value of $200,000,000.'  Last year, the $200 million policy cost the government $86,932. ... [A]lthough Italy is not included on the values by location list, the solicitation also seeks 'War and Terrorism Coverage for $15 million for RomeItaly.'  That coverage may be intended to cover a permanent display of a significant body of artwork at Villa Taverna in Rome, although an inquiry to the State Department to confirm this has not yet been answered.  The display in Rome includes this untitled 1970 work by artist Cy Twombly:

... When asked in December for a response to the latest round of purchases for Art in Embassies, the State Department released the following statement about the program: ['] The Department of State’s Office of Art in Embassies curates permanent and temporary exhibitions for U.S. embassy and consulate facilities. For the past five decades Art in Embassies has played a leading role in U.S. public diplomacy with a focused mission of cross-cultural dialogue and understanding through the visual arts and artist exchange.  Art in Embassies is a public-private partnership engaging over 20,000 participants globally, including artists, museums, galleries, universities, and private collectors, and encompasses over 200 venues in 189 countries['.]" Image from entry

Hip Hop Puts America In A Good Light Through The State Department's Cultural Ambassador Program [includes video]- Ruth Blatt, Forbes: "One of America’s greatest strengths is its culture.

Which is why the State Department runs a cultural diplomacy program that engages in efforts around the world to build bridges through culture. Our nation’s first hip hop ambassador is Toni Blackman, a veteran hip hop performer and educator. I spoke with Blackman about hip hop’s role in creating positive social change." Via PR; uncaptioned image from entry

Economic Development as Public Diplomacy - Philip Seib, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Successful public diplomacy is based on providing foreign publics what they need, be it information, a vaccination program, or help in securing economic well-being. ... When the United States provides help along these lines it will win friends and advance its national interest. That is what public diplomacy, done correctly, can accomplish."

Voice of America White House correspondent told BBG Board why VOA reporters are leaving - BBG Watcher, BBG Watcher - "Experienced and highly respected journalists are leaving Voice of America, blaming it on mismanagement and hostile work environment."

Reflections From Kyiv: One Year Later - Tara Sonenshine, "It was less than one year ago when I visited Kyiv as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Today, seeing the unrest, I am reminded of the importance of US-Ukrainian cultural ties. While in Kyiv, I helped launch the construction of the new American Center to build ties between our two nations. Former US Ambassador John Teft and I

knocked down a wall as contractors worked to create a convening place to keep Ukrainians and Americans connecting with one another. I also met with bloggers and media, and was the keynote speaker at the Women’s Forum." Image from entry, with caption: Sonenshine and Ambassador Teft help to launch the construction of the new American Center in Kyiv, April 2013.

Victor Pinchuk - Manlio Dinucci, "Are you familiar with Viktor Pinchuk, the second wealthiest man of Ukraine? This steel magnate has developed a strong network of ties in the West, be it in the United States or in France. A philanthropist, he supports artists and is now sponsoring a 'revolution.' ... Pinchuk bonded with the Clintons, by supporting the Clinton Global Initiative established in 2005 by Bill and Hillary, whose mission is to 'convene global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.' Behind this shimmering slogan lies the real goal: to create a strong international support network for Hillary Clinton, the former first lady who, after serving as New York Senator in 2001-2009 and Secretary of State in 2009-2013, is undertaking her second climb to the presidency. Their fruitful collaboration began in 2007 when Bill Clinton thanked 'Viktor and Elena Pinchuk for their vigorous social activity and the support provided to our international program.' That Pinchuk support translates into a first 5 million dollar contribution, followed by others, to the Clinton Global Initiative. This opened the doors to Pinchuk in Washington: for 40,000 dollars a month, he hired lobbyist Daniel E. Schoen, who organized a series of contacts with influential figures, including a dozen meetings in one year, between 2011 and 2012, with State Department officials. This proved to be excellent for business, allowing Pinchuk to increase his exports to the United States, although metallurgists in Pennsylvania and Ohio now accuse him of undercutting U.S. steel tube prices. To further strengthen his ties with the United States and the West, Pinchuk launched the Yalta European Strategy (YES), 'Eastern Europe’s largest social institution of public diplomacy,' whose official objective is to 'help Ukraine develop into a modern, democratic and economically efficient country.' Thanks to Pinchuk’s financial capacity (he just splurged more than $ 5 million for his 50th birthday celebration in a posh French ski resort), the YES was in a position to set up a wide network of international contacts , which came to light at the annual meeting held in Yalta. It brought together 'over 200 politicians, diplomats, statesmen, journalists, analysts and business leaders from more than 20 countries.' Among these, the names that most stand out are Hillary and Bill Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Tony Blair, George Soros, José Manuel Barroso and Mario Monti (who attended the meeting last September), alongside other lesser-known characters, but not any less influential, including leaders of the International Monetary Fund.

As Condoleezza Rice put it at the YES meeting in 2012, 'Democratic transformations require time, require patience, require support. From outside as well as from inside.' An excellent summary of the strategy adopted by the West under the cloak of 'outside support' to promote 'democratic change.' A strategy amply consolidated from Yugoslavia to Libya, from Syria to Ukraine, which consists in driving a wedge between the cracks existing in any State and shake up its foundations by supporting or fomenting anti-government riots (like those in Kiev, too punctual and organized to be considered as merely spontaneous ), underpinned by a fever-pitch media campaign against the government marked for elimination. As regards Ukraine, the objective is to bring down the State or break it in two: one part that would join NATO and the EU; one that would remain largely connected to Russia. The Yalta European Strategy of the Clintons’ oligarch buddy fits into this context. Source Il Manifesto (Italy)" Uncaptioned image from entry

A Few Ukraine Coup Links - "Paula Dobriansky was on of the neo-cons in the Bush administration: According to her State Department biography, Dobriansky's background includes having 'lectured and published articles, book chapters, and op-ed pieces on foreign affairs-related topics, ranging from U.S. human rights policy to East European foreign and defense policies, public diplomacy, democracy promotion strategies, Russia, and Ukraine.[']"

Hillary Clinton biographer Kim Ghattas speaks at Powell's City of Books on Feb. 27 - "Kim Ghattas, the State Department correspondent for the BBC, spent years traveling the world with Hillary Ciinton. Ghattas' book 'The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power' received mixed reviews when it was published last year. The Huffington Post called it 'a remarkable book. Not only does it provide an insightful record of life on the road with

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but also it treats public diplomacy seriously.' The Boston Globe was less impressed and thought Ghattas' "access leads to nought as (her) insights can largely be gleaned from the daily newspaper. Again, little new is offered other than the trivial. Ghattas was born in Beirut and weaves her personal experiences and history into 'The Secretary.' She's still on the State Department beat, now chasing John Kerry around the world." Image from entry, with caption: Hillary Clinton left the Senate to become Secretary of State in the Obama administration.

Death, drones and Camp Delta - Derek Gregory, "In the early morning of 10 June 2006 three prisoners held at the military detention facility at the US Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, two from Saudi Arabia and one from Yemen, were found dead in their cells. Although the three men had been detained without trial for several years and none of them had court cases or military commissions pending (none of them had even been charged), the commander of the prison dismissed their suicides as ‘not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare against us’.

Although the three men had been on repeated hunger strikes which ended when they were strapped into restraint chairs and force- fed by nasal tubes, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy described their deaths as ‘a Public Relations move to draw attention’ – to what, she did not say – and complained that since detainees had access to lawyers, received mail and had the ability to write to families, ‘it was hard to see why the men had not protested about their situation’. Although by presidential decree prisoners at Guantánamo are subject to indefinite detention and coercive interrogation while they are alive, when President George W. Bush learned of the three deaths he reportedly stressed the importance of treating their dead bodies ‘in a humane and culturally sensitive manner’." Image from heading of entry

Maritime Strategy and Control of the Seas with Seth Cropsey, on Midrats - "Seth Cropsey, Senior Fellow and director of Hudson Institute's Center for American Seapower . [:] During the period that preceded the collapse of the USSR, from 1982 to 1984, Cropsey directed the editorial policy of the Voice of America on the Solidarity movement in Poland, Soviet treatment of dissidents, and other issues. Returning to public diplomacy in 2002 as director of the US government’s International Broadcasting Bureau, Cropsey supervised the agency as successful efforts were undertaken to increase radio and television broadcasting to the Muslim world."

A Shadow US Foreign Policy - Robert Parry, Consortium News: "NED [National Endowment for Democracy]was founded in 1983 at the initiative of Cold War hardliners in the Reagan administration, including then-CIA Director William J. Casey. Essentially, NED took over what had been the domain of the CIA, i.e. funneling money to support foreign political movements that would take the U.S. side against the Soviet Union. Though the Reagan administration’s defenders insist that this 'democracy' project didn’t 'report' to Casey, documents that have been declassified from the Reagan years show Casey as a principal instigator of this operation, which also sought to harness funding from right-wing billionaires and foundations to augment these activities. ... To organize this effort, Casey dispatched one of the CIA’s top propaganda specialists, Walter Raymond Jr., to the National Security Council. Putting Raymond at the NSC insulated the CIA from accusations that it institutionally was using the new structure to subvert foreign governments – while also helping fund American opinion leaders who would influence U.S. policy debates, a violation of the CIA’s charter. Instead, that responsibility was shifted to NED, which began doing precisely what Casey had envisioned. Many of the documents on this 'public diplomacy' operation, which also encompassed 'psychological operations,' remain classified for national security reasons to this day, more than three decades later. But the scattered documents that have been released by archivists at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, reveal a whirlwind of activity, with Raymond in the middle of a global network. Reagan’s White House was so nervous that the press corps might zero in on Raymond’s CIA propaganda background that it prepared guidance in case anyone should ask, according to a document recently released by the Reagan library. If a reporter questioned White House claims that 'there is no CIA involvement in the Public Diplomacy Program' – by asking, 'isn’t Walt Raymond, a CIA employee, involved heavily?' – the scripted answer was to acknowledge that Raymond had worked for the CIA but no longer. ... [T]he network that Casey and Raymond built has outlived both of them and has outlived the Cold War, too. Nevertheless, NED and its funding recipients have pressed on, trying to implement the strategies of hardliners such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, who wanted not just the dismantling of the Soviet Union but the elimination of Russia as any kind of counterweight to U.S. hegemony. Indeed, the momentum that this three-decade-old 'public diplomacy' campaign has achieved – both from NED and various neocons holding down key positions in Official Washington – now pits this shadow foreign policy establishment against the President of the United States. Barack Obama may see cooperation with Vladimir Putin as crucial to resolving crises in Iran and Syria, but elements of Obama’s own administration and U.S.-financed outfits like NED are doing all they can to create crises for Putin on his own border."

How the Israel lobby is courting US Latinos - Rania Khalek and Adriana Maestas, The Electronic Intifada: “After Latino voters propelled President Barack Obama to re-election victory in 2012, Michael Freund, the former deputy communications director for Israeli Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahu, took to the pages of The Jerusalem Post to demand that Israel “launch a comprehensive and coordinated hasbara, or public diplomacy, campaign that makes Israel’s case to Hispanics directly and ‘en Espanol’” (‘Fundamentally Freund: Time for Hispanic ‘hasbara,’ ’ 14 November 2012). Citing America’s rapidly growing Latino electorate, Freund explained rather candidly, ‘the face of America is rapidly changing, and so too should Israel’s hasbara.’ Israel, he said, must follow the example of Project Interchange. Unbeknownst to Freund, Israel was already on it. As Israeli bombs pulverized Gaza’s defenseless population in November 2012, a group of Latino journalists were touring Israel at the invitation of the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, which is tasked with deploying hasbara, or propaganda, abroad to counter the country’s increasingly negative image as a violent colonizer that subjects Palestinians to shocking levels of brutality. While Gaza’s besieged and immiserated population was dodging ruthless Israeli weaponry, a writer in Israel Hayom, one of Israel’s most popular newspapers, openly celebrated rocket blowback as an opportunity to propagandize the journalists. ‘An air-raid siren that sounded in Jerusalem this week startled … a group of Hispanic journalists from the United States,’ the article stated with delight ('The blog is mightier than the sword,' 23 November 2012).

‘Fear, terror and helplessness washed over the group. But some good came of the incident, at least from the Israeli perspective. The foreign journalists got a taste of the war situation in Israel and felt the rocket threat firsthand. Back at the hotel that evening, they translated their experience into articles, radio broadcasts and blog posts that were seen and heard all over the world.’ Yuli Edelstein, the minister of public diplomacy at the time, remarked that such incidents are ‘the best public relations for the State of Israel.’” Image from entry, with caption: Palestinian protest near the illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat. Pro-Israel propaganda delegations such as those of Project Interchange are carefully shielded from such sights.

Ambassador Danny Ayalon Assails UN Policy of Injustice in YouTube Film [includes video] - "Amidst increasing international pressure against Israel and intensifying calls for commercial boycotts of the Jewish State, former Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the United States Danny Ayalon has released a new You Tube video entitled 'The Truth About the UN.' The film, launched earlier this week, is designed to raise awareness about the United Nation’s history of systematic and disproportionate policies of biased attacks on Israel. According to the film, some 85 percent of resolutions adopted by the international body are against Israeli interests. ... Ambassador Ayalon is the Founder of The Truth About Israel, a public diplomacy (hasbara) organization designed to promote the reality of Israel’s policies and existence. In recent years he has released several highly popular You Tube educational videos garnering millions of views. His efforts are largely focused on exposing global hypocrisy and injustice regarding Israel, with the goal of more effectively swaying public opinion in Israel’s direction."

What is Israeli Apartheid Week? [includes trailer] - Jack Moore, "The 10th annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is being celebrated in 87 cities across the world. But what is it? IBTimes UK details the nuts and bolts of the occasion below. When? UK and US: 24 February - 2 March[;]Europe: 1 March - 8 March [;] Canada: 3 March - 11 March [;]Palestine: 8 March – 15 March [;] South Africa: 10 March - 16 March [;] Brazil: 24 March - 28 March . ... British Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) believe that the week represents an 'apartheid smear' and a lie that 'damages the peace process'. A new publication released by BICOM details how Israel is not an apartheid state but offers 'every citizen equal rights under the law'. It claims that Israeli Apartheid Week is an 'anti-Semitic anti-Zionist campaign' and that Israel is 'not a theocracy (rule by clerics) or a state exclusively for Jews, but a democracy'. In 2012, the Public Diplomacy Ministry of Israel sent the 'Faces of Israel' mission to countries which host IAW; it comprised of 100 Israelis including 'settlers, Arabs, artists, experts in national security, homosexuals, and immigrants from Ethiopia' in order to defend Israel against the week."

[Alumni news] Historic meeting between Mahmoud Abbas and young Israelis organized by Hilik Bar MK - [American Council of Young Political Leaders]: "Hilik Bar visited the US on his ACYPL exchange in June 2001 as Chairman of the National Student Organization-Israeli Labor Party, and since that visit he has risen through the ranks to become the Secretary General of the Labor Party, and Knesset member, and most importantly, the Chairman of the Knesset Caucus to Resolve the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

It was in this role that he and the OneVoice movement organized a rare and unprecedented meeting for 300 Israeli youth leaders and students with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah last week. ... Mutual respect, difficult questions, complex, encouraging– these are the words of ACYPL and of public diplomacy. We can only hope that these meetings become less rare because every ACYPL alum knows that there is no substitute for substantive, in-person conversations to establish strong, lasting relationships and understanding." Uncaptioned image from entry, with caption: Mutual respect, difficult questions, complex, encouraging– these are the words of ACYPL and of public diplomacy. We can only hope that these meetings become less rare because every ACYPL alum knows that there is no substitute for substantive, in-person conversations to establish strong, lasting relationships and understanding.

Into the fray: Can Israel survive the Jews? The vindictive, borderline treasonous malevolence of the Left and the inept, borderline imbecilic impotence of the Right are emerging as the gravest threat to the sustainability of Jewish political independence - Martin Sherman, Jerusalem Post: "[T]hings got off to a not so bad start last Wednesday, when European Parliament President Martin Schulz gave what was, overall, a rather positive address to a plenary Knesset session that was far more laudatory toward Israel than critical. He was even unequivocally emphatic that 'the EU has no intention to boycott Israel.' But things went seriously awry when Schulz foolishly insinuated that Israel was depriving Palestinians of water, citing wildly inaccurate figures, which he admitted were uncorroborated, and which he had heard in a passing conversation with a Palestinian youth. This incident prompted an irate walkout of the Bayit Yehudi faction. Of course the 'water libel' against Israel is nothing new. Totally unfounded – indeed, outlandish – accusations that it is denying the Palestinians access to adequate water supplies have been leveled against it for years. But in the case of the furor over Schulz’s remarks two points should be made. The first is that it was of course discourteous and injudicious to makes such serious allegations in such a public manner, when the most cursory inquiry, made discreetly to the proper authorities, would have quickly dispelled his misconceptions and avoided the unfortunate and unnecessary brouhaha. ... This brings me to the second point. The very fact that such a senior foreign politician is still laboring under such grave misapprehensions is a devastating indictment of Israeli public diplomacy. For in the case of water, all the facts are crystal clear, and overwhelmingly exonerate Israel of any allegations of discriminatory deprivation toward the Palestinians. Accordingly, the very fact that anyone can still raise such absurd charges, however obliquely, without being subjected to withering ridicule, reflects an inexcusable failure of Israel’s diplomatic apparatus to discharge its functions."

Intervention – ‘Eastern partners or chaotic neighbors? The contested geopolitics and geoeconomics of integrating Ukraine and Moldova’ - Austin Crane and Adam Levy: "[T]he EU’s new PR campaign shows what it has learned from Ukraine in its approach to Moldova. This campaign seeks to counter Russian 'disinformation' by promoting 'the engagement of public diplomacy experts', and anticipates the 'constant flow of high-level EU officials' to enhance preparedness 'in expectation of further external and internal threats or actions [...] such as trade embargoes, restrictions against migrant workers, increased tension in protracted conflict'. In the wake of Ukrainian uncertainty, it is reasonable to think that a pro-West Kiev makes work easier for pro-European Chisinau."

How People-to-People Diplomacy is Warming Chilly Arctic Relations - "Norwegian Barents Secretariat ... is responsible for coordinating pretty interesting exchange programs, such as hockey games between Norwegian and Russian youth. This is one of their people-to-people diplomacy programs, with which they bridge relations between

Norwegians and Russians in the Barents region. ... The Barents Region border was one of the least porous borders in history. During the Cold War, it was easier to communicate over the Berlin Wall. ... Public diplomacy is, therefore, essential for promoting understanding and economic cooperation in this area. And it’s working.” Image from entry

Russia’s Coming Out Party? Public Diplomacy Success at Sochi - Geoff Pigman, "The resounding success of the Olympic Games at Sochi by many measures has probably surprised the global public, given the drumbeat of negative media coverage in the run-up to the opening ceremonies. Russia’s public diplomacy at Sochi has indeed been successful, but it has achieved a different kind of success from what we have come to expect in recent times. As a Great Power, Russia has said to the world in a straightforward and unvarnished way, ‘get to know us better, this is how we really are for good and for ill, deal with it.’ Media criticism prior to the event notwithstanding, Russia has hosted an excellent Winter Games that is in all respects the equal of its peers of recent times. ... The public diplomacy of Sochi makes the point that Russia as a contemporary Great Power, as a member of the BRICS, has arrived, even if not at the place to which Western commentators wish they might have arrived."

Chinese Martial Arts in the News: February 24th, 2014: Kung Fu Diplomacy, New Books and Remembering Ark Yuey Wong - Ben Judkins, "As a political scientist I am very interested in the ways in which the martial arts are invoked in public diplomacy, both in terms of imagery and institutional exchanges.

There have been an unusually large number of articles on this topic in the last few weeks, all pointing to the growing profile of these fighting systems as markers of national identity and mediums of 'cultural exchange' between states." Image from entry, with caption: Putin watches a Kung Fu exhibition with the Abbot at the Shaolin Temple in Henan. Shaolin has become an important stop for visiting VIPs.

Ex-UN envoy: PH must consider Sino-US relations - Dharel Placido, "Former Philippine representative to the United Nations Lauro Baja said the Philippines must consider the extent of the relationship between its traditional ally the United States and China before it engages the Asian giant in another spat. Baja, also a former Foreign Affairs undersecretary, said although the US has obligations to the Philippines under the Mutual Defense Treaty, the emerging Southeast Asian nation must put into consideration the relationship of the world's two largest economies. ... Baja made this suggestion following another spat between the two Asian neighbors over the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines earlier accused the Chinese Coast Guard of using water cannon against Filipino fishermen at the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), located 124 nautical miles off Zambales. The Philippines filed a diplomatic protest against China but the latter rejected it, saying it enjoys sovereignty over the disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). ... Baja said the South China Sea dispute is hurting other aspects of the Philippines' relationship with China, and that Southeast Asian nation must still engage China in talks even though it is firm on pursuing its arbitration case. 'The Philippines and China are engaged mostly on public diplomacy, through pronouncements by the respective spokespersons. In negotiations, private diplomacy is as important than open diplomacy,' he said."

Chinese bloggers promote people-to-people ties with S. Korea - "South Korean Ambassador to China, Kwon Young-se, on Wednesday asked a group of influential Chinese bloggers to promote people-to-people ties with Seoul and help the two nations further cement bilateral relations. Kwon made the remarks at a meeting with more than

100 Chinese bloggers after naming them 'work as civilian' delegates to promote South Korea's image in China. The move is part of the embassy's public diplomacy drive aimed at enhancing friendship between the two countries, embassy officials said. The Chinese group, comprised of 103 bloggers who have a total of over 50 million followers, will try to promote mutual understanding and trust between the two nations through the embassy's Weibo account, officials said. Weibo is China's version of Twitter." Uncaptioned Image from entry

‘Build brands, lift national image’: Bangladesh can ‘best use’ its relations with Korea to diversify its exports and grow, the South Korean ambassador in Dhaka has said - “'Five decades ago Korea was poorer than Bangladesh,' Lee Yun-Young said in an interview. 'Bangladesh may do well to gain from our experiences and the lessons we learnt,' he said. ... The Korean envoy said it was time Bangladesh focussed in boosting its national image . ... He appreciated

the government’s move to ensure building safety and workers rights in garment factories, but said more should be done to raise the country’s image globally. He suggested extensive public diplomacy abroad using Bangladesh’s eminent personalities, civil society members, singers and artists. 'By any means it is important to raise national image (globally),' he said, 'even France focuses on how to improve their image globally.'" Image from entry, with caption: Bangladesh can ‘best use’ its relations with Korea to diversify its exports and grow, the South Korean ambassador in Dhaka has said.

A Little on the Australian-Indonesian Crisis - The Dragon's Tales: Ramblings of a Curiosity Seeker: "The United States has thus far avoided getting publicly involved in the Indonesia–Australia spying row; however, it can’t afford to do so any longer. Australia has demonstrated a naiveté in thinking that public diplomacy rows such as this can be settled using traditional ‘cocktail diplomacy’. Likewise, its apathy to public diplomacy on social media may be indicative of an inability to plan and conduct strategic communications campaigns. Indonesia is home to 50 million Facebook users, 35 million Twitter users and a projected 42% social media penetration of the population by 2017. As broadband internet access penetrates further into rural Indonesia, US–Allied strategic communications and public diplomacy are only going to grow in complexity and importance. ‘Cocktail diplomacy is dead,’ reads the simple Facebook post from retired Admiral James Stavridis after attending the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. Indeed, as information technology continues to mature and proliferate across the globe, public diplomacy via social media will be increasingly important as citizens become more aware of international politics and attempt to shape policy by exerting influence over their respective leaders. Nowhere does this statement resonate more profoundly than in the current Australia–Indonesia row. Following the Snowden revelations, Indonesia’s highly socially networked population took to Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere to denounce the Australian spying. While Indonesia’s government tried to get ahead of the popular outrage and launched its own statements on social media, Australia maintained silence on its official Twitter/Facebook accounts, promising only to send a formal démarche within a week. This thumb in the eye of public diplomacy in favor of more traditional ‘cocktail diplomacy’ did nothing to assuage the growing outrage and resulted in Indonesia’s suspension of elements of the Lombok Treaty such as coordination of counter human-trafficking operations, leading to confusion, misunderstanding, accusations of violations of sovereignty/territorial waters, increased military patrols/redeployments and an escalating war of words both at the civilian and military levels."

Too many Indians blind to country’s still pervasive racial bigotry - Himanshu Kumar, Global Times: "Indians are grappling with complex ethical dilemmas, as growing intolerance manifests itself in serious social problems. ... There is a deeply divided and polarized society in the country. The invisible barbed wire around these social problems reveals that there is regionalism and stereotyping because the urban and rural areas are separated by economic and cultural chasms. Sixty-six years of democratic statehood have not been effective to curb bigotry. Successive governments for years have ignored the problem and failed to make anti-racism a part of the education system, even though the northeast has 25 members of parliament. Expat communities in our hyper-connected world engage in cultural and public diplomacy toward their homelands, and help to build up a framework for all cross-border cooperation programs between countries. As India changes mindsets to transform, one might expect xenophobic attitude to dissolve and disappear, which is so vexing in everyday lives."

UNESCO finds Indian poet-diplomat’s idea of an Earth Anthem inspiring - "UNESCO finds the idea of an Earth Anthem creative and inspiring, but shows reluctance to walk the talk citing resource crunch. =UNESCO’s Assistant Director General (ERI) Mr. Eric Falt in a reply to a query said, 'We find that the idea of having an Earth Anthem is a creative and inspiring thought which would contribute to bringing the world together.' Indian poet-diplomat Abhay K’s proposal of an official Earth Anthem selected from the best judged entries through a global online competition was recommended for UNESCO’s consideration in January 2014 by the Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO, Paris. ... Indian poet-diplomat Mr. Abhay Kumar, the author of the Earth Anthem, when asked about the way forward, offered to help UNESCO with preparing a comprehensive conceptual plan and ways to implement it, if requested by UNESCO, as he had the experience of organizing ‘India Is-Global Video Challenge’ earlier while serving at the Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs."

Cultural Diplomacy in Emerging Markets: China, UAE, Indonesia, and Russia - Henrietta Levin, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Though it lacks the high profile of China or Russia, Indonesia’s 6.2% annual GDP growth makes it a country to watch. Recently, Indonesian leaders have sought to build their cultural power along with their economic standing, and extensive public diplomacy programming is spreading Indonesian dance, music, and art throughout the Islamic world. ... You can learn more about cultural diplomacy strategies in emerging markets at the 9th Annual CPD Research Conference—A New Era In Cultural Diplomacy: Rising Soft Power in Emerging Markets on Friday, February 28, 2014."

New paper on the Dolma, Gastrodiplomacy, and Conflict Resolution between Armenia and Azerbaijan-  Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: “Last April, the Public and Cultural Diplomacy Forum at AU hosted an event on 'Gastrodiplomacy', featuring an impressive panel of speakers on this intriguing subject. I was live-tweeting the event, when I started getting responses from some Armenian tweeps suggesting that I write something about the culinary question of the South Caucasus -- the dolma. Soon after, a friend pointed out that USC's Public Diplomacy Magazine is planning a special issue on the topic of gastrodiplomacy. That's when I decided to dive in.

The long-awaited Winter 2014 issue is now out, and you can get the electronic copy of the entire issue here.  My paper, titled 'From Gastronationalism to Gastrodiplomacy: Reversing the Securitization of the Dolma in the South Caucasus', deals with the culinary controversy surrounding the origins of dolma that has been keeping quite a few people and organizations very busy over the past few years (in both Armenia and Azerbaijan). I tried to provide a short, yet a more-or-less comprehensive perspective on what the issue entails, and how, instead of fueling the conflict between the two countries further, dolma can become a tool for public diplomacy -- gastrodiplomacy -- to bring the nations closer and begin a process of conflict resolution and reconciliation.” Image from entry

Cooking up a business cluster: The Peruvian gastronomic revolution, continued - The Economist: "No fewer than seven of the leading 15 gourmet eateries in Latin America are in Lima, according to Restaurant. The Peruvian capital has become a gastronomic mecca. ... From guano in the 19th century to copper and gold today, Peru

has long been known as a commodity exporter. Through its cuisine it is now adding value to many of its raw materials. ... Peruvian cooking is a 'knowledge industry' based on cultural fusion. ... Peru’s gastronomic revolution, along with rapid economic growth over the past decade, has helped to restore national self-esteem in a country that a quarter-century ago was wracked by terrorism and hyperinflation." Via PR; image from entry

Pop Culture Diplomacy: Non-Japanese artists recognized in 7th International Manga Award
- "MANILA - Out of 256 entries from 53 countries, 15 manga creations were recognized in the 7th International Manga Award at the Iikura House of the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo on 14 February 2014, the Japanese embassy here said in a news release. ... The International Manga Award

was founded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in May 2007 as part of the active use of pop culture in public diplomacy. It is through this cultural exchange that will deepen the understanding of Japanese culture and manga among artists of different nations." Image from entry, with caption: Filipino [sic] manga award winner Elmer Damaso created Ravenskull.

Time for a Presidential Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy - Srinath Fernando, "Sri Lanka has once again come under the microscope of the international community. The image of Sri Lanka has been and is being tortured by the global media organisations worldwide. With the advent of the internet and online media, there has been a steady increase in the proliferation of news websites. The pro-separatist lobby seems to have made inroads into global media and adverse news reports have been and are being aired by the global media organisations. It would be an uphill task for Sri Lanka to counter each and every news story that is being hatched by the pro-separatist lobby. ... Countering foreign media and hiring lobbyist overseas are a costly business and citizen participation is therefore imperative and must be officially mobilised. 'It is high time a Presidential advisory committee was set up so as to advise the President of Sri Lanka on the strategies that need to be adopted in countering the separatist agendas overseas. The committee must comprise experts in the field of public diplomacy, strategic communications and psychological warfare'."

Debate in Lisbon on the current political process in Catalonia - "On the 24th February, the University of Lisbon will host a debate with Portuguese and Catalan experts, politicians and journalists organized by the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia. Participants include Francesc Homs, Minister for the Presidency Office of the Catalan government, and Francesc Vendrell who has held high-ranking posts in the EU and the United Nations. ... On 13th March 2013, 104 of the 135 MPs who form the Catalan Parliament voted in favour of a resolution requesting the Catalan government to start up talks with the Spanish government on the possibility of holding a referendum – a referendum in which Catalans will decide their own future. Consequently, the Catalan President formally requested the Spanish government to allow a referendum on Catalonia becoming an independent state."

Research institute founded at Renmin University - "Renmin University of China founded its research institute on public diplomacy in Beijing on Wednesday. The institute, which will be headed by Zhao Qizheng, former director of State Council Information Office, will consist of research teams from the School of Journalism and Communication, School of International Studies and the peking opera research center of the university. The institute will carry out research on public diplomacy by the government and all kinds of social organizations and institutions. Dai Bingguo, former state councilor and honorary president of the newly founded institute, said at the opening ceremony that it is the first public diplomacy institute established in a Chinese university, and it was founded at the right time to meet the demand as China has been developing relations with countries around the world. In an era of information and globalization, public diplomacy plays a unique role in opening up channels of communication beyond official diplomacy, and more studies and teaching on public diplomacy should be carried out at Chinese universities, he said."

Daily News of 2014-02-27: European Commission [scroll down for item] - "Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou (Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth) will participate in two major events at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, over the coming days. On Friday, 28 February, she will address staff and students at the US University's Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs on the role of culture in European integration and international public diplomacy, and set out the European Union's role in safeguarding diversity. Mrs Vassiliou will also be a keynote speaker at the Harvard Kennedy School's 'Europe 2014: Re-Generation' conference on Saturday, 1 March. She will argue why the European Union urgently needs a new narrative as it emerges from crisis, and how public education can empower young people in both civic life and the world of work."

Awardee News: Sharon Hudson-Dean Writing for USC Blog - "Sharon Hudson-Dean, a 2012 Public Diplomacy Achievement Award winner, is now a regular contributor to the Center for Public Diplomacy (CPDblog, published by University of Southern California. Her most recent story, posted on 14 February, describes the value of expert language skills in public diplomacy, written while learning Latvian in preparation for her assignment as deputy chief of mission in Riga.

received one of the 2012 awards for her work as Counselor for Public Affairs, U.S. Embassy Harare, Zimbabwe for 'cultivating new and effective platforms for U.S. engagement with Zimbabwean youth, women, opposition groups and a hostile media , building American and Zimbabwean partnerships and exchange alumni  support for public diplomacy efforts, and harnessing the power of social media to outstanding  effect.'” Image from entry, with caption:  2012 achievement award winner and U.S. Embassy Harare Public Affairs Counselor Sharon Hudson-Dean in 2011 speaking to 400 high school girls about Women’s History Month

220,000 People Are Becoming Victims Of Crime In Hungary Per Year - "220,000 people are becoming victims of crime each year - said the Minister of Interior at the the conference organized on the International Day for Victimes of Crime, which was co-organized by the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice, the Institute of Public Administration and Justice and the National Council on Crime Prevention in Budapest this Friday. ... Monika Balatoni, the Minister of State for Public Diplomacy and Relations of the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice described the Child-friendly Justice Program of the ministry on the conference and stressed the responsibility of the media. Her opinion is that the press should not only recognize the crimes, but also should be able to demonstrate a solution, e. g. that for what organzations [sic] and where to look for in such cases. The Minister of State also talked about the government's zero tolerance in case of crimes committed against children."

Keene High graduates dedicate lives to foreign service, by Steve Gilbert - Steve Gilbert, "Anne Slack and Anastasia Kolivas don’t really know each other, though they know of each other. The 1998 Keene High graduates have taken parallel yet unique international career tracks that recently intersected in Washington, D.C., where they are diplomats in the State Department’s Foreign Service. ... All newcomers start out as consular officers, whose duties range from issuing visas to aiding in border-fraud investigations. The other four positions in Foreign Service are more specific: economic officers, management officers, political officers and public diplomacy officers."

Cynthia Ferman -"Cynthia Ferman works in the Foreign Affairs and International Media Office for the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat. ... Cynthia spent three years with

 the U.S. State Department working in U.S. public diplomacy in Washington, DC and at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina." Uncaptioned image from entry

College Humor Shakes Orange Nation With Fits Of Laughter - Sadé A. Spence, "Syracuse University was the home of our four favorite class clowns last night. The guys of College Humor, Jake Hurwitz, Amir Blumenfeld, Streeter Seidell, and our very own SU alum Dan Gurewitch, took the stage to a packed Goldstein Auditorium. Students were buzzing with excitement before the show began. ... The University Union’s Performing Arts Presents: College Humor was well received by the student body, leaving students on a comedic high despite the Orange Nation’s basketball team falling to Boston College. Public diplomacy student, Timi Komonibo, said she has been watching Jake and Amir for years. 'It’s funny to see that they’re as hilariously inappropriate in person as they are on their web series.'”


Pentagon wants contractor to pick propaganda audiences - Ray Locker, USA Today: Military officials are moving ahead with a plan to pick potential target audiences for U.S. propaganda and see if the messages work, according to a newly released Pentagon document. Potential contractors, the draft said, need to be experts in why certain groups become radical and/or violent. The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which is assuming an ever-larger share of military propaganda efforts, calls the effort the Global Research Assessment Program. One requirement is that the new contractor is not currently working on propaganda efforts. Potential contractors are supposed to detail the criteria they would use to determine target audiences for propaganda programs and how they would conduct the research needed to determine if the messages sink in. That research will include "face-to-face" interviews with local citizens, the document said.

Peace Corps Evacuates Over 200 Volunteers From Ukraine - Domani Spero, DiploPundit: On February 24, Peace Corps HQ announced the successful evacuation of volunteers from Ukraine: "WASHINGTON, D.C., February 24, 2014 – The Peace Corps today announced that all Peace Corps Ukraine volunteers are safe and accounted for, and have been successfully evacuated out of the country. The agency will continue to assess the safety and security climate in Ukraine. And while the Peace Corps hopes volunteers can return, the safety and security of its volunteers are the agency’s top priority. Over 200 Peace Corps Ukraine volunteers were working in the areas of education and youth and community development. Volunteers will participate in a transition conference this week. Since the program was established in 1992, over 2,740 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Ukraine."

Russian Propaganda Operations Target The U.S. - Cliff Kincaid, The Moscow-funded propaganda channel, Russia Today (RT), is featuring a Ron Paul column titled “Leave Ukraine alone!,” even while Russia threatens an invasion of the sovereign nation and former Soviet republic. “The usual interventionists in the US have long meddled in the internal affairs of Ukraine,” Paul says, promoting the Kremlin line to an American audience. Using an American to reinforce a policy favored by Moscow is a technique from old Soviet propaganda operations.

America plays its role in a changing world right - Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post: The world is not in great disorder. It is mostly at peace with one zone of instability, the greater Middle East, an area that has been unstable for four decades at least The fact that people can make these pleas for more intervention right after a decade of aggressive (and costly) American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is surprising.

Putin’s Ukraine gambit - Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post: American neutrality doesn’t allow an authentic Ukrainian polity to emerge. It leaves Ukraine naked to Russian pressure. What Obama doesn’t seem to understand is that American inaction creates a vacuum. His evacuation from Iraq consigned that country to Iranian hegemony, just as Obama’s writing off Syria invited in Russia, Iran and Hezbollah to reverse the tide of battle.

Any More U.S. “Stabilization” and Africa Will Collapse - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: The basic rule for any investment is what do you gain in return for risk? It applies to buying stocks as well as investing a nation’s blood, resources and prestige. In the case of Africa, the U.S. investment has been a disaster. Chaos has replaced stability in many places, and terrorists have found homes in countries they may have once never imagined. The U.S., in sad echo of 19th century colonialism, has militarized another region of the world.

Debunking propaganda about Israeli apartheid - Waleed Ahmed,
While South Africa had 'white-only' beaches, Israel has allocated entire colonies for exclusive Jewish use in Palestine. Schools, parks, roads and hospitals are all 'Jewish-only.' There might not be signage to say this in large font, but only Jews are allowed to live and reside in these areas -- despite them being in occupied Palestinian land.

Fort Belvoir holds cache of art the Nazis made and a WW II U.S. Army officer tracked down - Michael E. Ruane, Washington Post: The haul was brought to the United States in 1947, Forgey said.

Over the following decades, the U.S. government returned all but the 456. Images that showed Nazi leaders; the Nazi symbol, the swastika; or overt propaganda were kept. Image from entry, with caption: Nazi art held at Fort Belvoir: A U.S. Army officer took hundreds of works of art glorifying Hitler’s Germany.


--Via MD on Facebook; rough translation: "V. Lenin shares impressions about events in Ukraine with [former U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation] Michael McFaul


“The greatest service this country could render the rest of the world would be to put its own house in order and to make of American civilization an example of decency, humanity, and societal success from which others could derive whatever they might find useful to their own purposes.”

--George Kennan

Locke and McFaul -- Two birds of the same feather?

I suppose that it is not a complete coincidence that Gary Locke and Michael McFaul -- both Obama administration political appointees to two major powers quite often antagonistic to the U.S. -- should be leaving their posts at about the same time.

Both men are not "professional diplomats," but quite well-versed, in their own ways, about the country to which they were assigned to serve. They both aspired not to be "high and mighty" but "people of the people."

Don't call me Mr. Ambassador -- Call me Mike, Gary.

Also, both seem to be terribly bright, in an abstract way, and impatient with protocol and decorum.

McFaul will be especially remembered for his obsessive use of the social media to break down communications barriers -- and creating unnecessary complications in the process.

Doubtless, both envoys rubbed the foreign-policy bureaucracy in the two countries where they served -- still very much old-style "communist" -- in the wrong way.

Simply put, in their all-American style, they didn't show enough "respect" to the authorities, from the latter's perspective.

Or, to use that old-fashioned word, display sufficient "tact," which (at least in the past, and in certain situations and cultures) is perhaps more important, in carrying out effective diplomacy, than razor-sharp, in-your-face, intelligence.

But of course history will judge, if ever.

Ukraine's East-West Divide: It's Not That Simple


Ukraine's East-West Divide: It's Not That Simple - RFE/RL. via YOS on Facebook

A closer look within oblasts like Kharkiv shows that maps of the Russian-Ukrainian rift may oversimplify the divide.
A closer look within oblasts like Kharkiv shows that maps of the Russian-Ukrainian rift may oversimplify the divide.
By Glenn Kates
The threat seemingly appears during every Ukraine crisis.

In 2004, governors in eastern Ukraine warned that Russia-friendly regions in the east would split if Viktor Yushchenko became president.

The disputed election of Viktor Yanukovych, a Russia-backed candidate, was overturned and Yushchenko won in a revote. The country remained politically divided, but discussion of eastern secession quickly withered.

Ten years later, Yanukovych, elected in 2010 after disappointment in the Orange Revolution, has been ousted, and the east-west divide has again come to the fore.

Iterations of maps like this one, shown on Al-Jazeera on the day Yanukovych fled Kyiv, have told the story thusly.
Al-Jazeera shows a map of Ukraine divided between a largely Ukrainian-speaking west and a predominantly Russian-speaking east.
Al-Jazeera shows a map of Ukraine divided between a largely Ukrainian-speaking west and a predominantly Russian-speaking east.

The eastern part of the country, stretching from Kharkiv Oblast, to the border regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and to the Crimean Peninsula, is seen as predominantly Russian.

Indeed, major cities in the east are largely Russian-speaking industrial hubs and the autonomous Crimean Republic is overwhelmingly Russian-speaking.

A Closer Look

But a closer look within oblasts like Kharkiv shows that maps like the one above may oversimplify the divide.

Kharkiv Oblast includes Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city. Its governor, Mykhaylo Dobkin, recently led a conference of pro-Russian governors that rejected the authority of Ukraine's new government and the region voted strongly for Yanukovych's Party of Regions in the 2010 presidential election.

The city, an industrial center with Soviet-era high-rises and mammoth monuments 50 kilometers from the Russian border, is widely seen -- perhaps next to Donetsk -- as the epitome of Russian Ukraine.

But this is how the region actually looks.

According to 2001 census data, 54 percent of Kharkiv Oblast's nearly 3 million residents identified their native language as Ukrainian, compared to 44 percent -- mostly concentrated in the city -- who said Russian.

Outside the city center, which is one of only two Kharkiv regions that identifies itself as Russophone, the contrast is even starker.

In Donetsk Oblast, further to the east, almost three-quarters of the population identified itself as Russian-speaking, but again, in a majority of regions outside the main city, people were more likely to identify themselves as Ukrainian-speakers.

The Point?

Any effort to break eastern Ukraine from Ukraine proper would meet resistance not only from the western half of the country, but from wide swaths of Ukrainians living within those regions (This is a good time to note that past polls have indicated that a majority of Russian-speakers living in the country have also expressed loyalty to Ukraine and not Russia. Also, some people who identify themselves as Ukrainian-speaking may speak Russian in their day-to-day lives).

"There are significant numbers of ethnic Ukrainians who continue to speak Ukrainian in the east and in the south," says Ukraine scholar Alexander Motyl in a recent interview with RFE/RL. "There are significant numbers of passionate Ukrainians, let's call them patriots, who speak Russian and who prefer Russian culture, and who nevertheless are committed to Ukrainian statehood and Ukrainian nationhood."

In Kharkiv, where the anti-Maidan conference was held on February 22, pro-Maidan supporters have taken over the city-administration building, facing off with protesters who say their loyalty is with Russia.

In Crimea, the home of Russia's Black Sea Fleet and long a hotbed of separatism, thousands of Crimean Tatars -- who made up 11 percent of Crimea's population according to the 2001 census -- have massed in opposition to separation from Ukraine.

Ukraine's diversity runs deep in both its east and west -- ethnolinguistic maps notwithstanding.

Graphics by Christina Hicks