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The Daily: For October 9, 2013

October 9, 2013 6:57 am by: Category: The Daily Comments Off on The Daily: For October 9, 2013 A+ / A-

photo credit: The Atlantic

Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy effects the world each and every day.

China’s soft power outreach in Africa leverages the idea that the Western media are part of a one-way flow of information benefitting only the West, meaning the Western media portrays Africa as in need of constant aid and development without digging into the details of why this is so.

As a rising global power, China is trying to assert itself in the world. In doing so, it has taken the path of soft power, and that path leads through Africa. With its media expansion into Africa, China is not only attempting to counter the criticism it faces from the West about neo-colonial practices, it is also trying to convince Africans of its good intentions and to win public support. It is doing so by playing the card of ‘negative narratives from the West’, and it is trying to convince African countries that it instead could be the voice to change these narratives. China’s media expansion gained momentum only about five years ago and its true influence is yet to be gauged. Whether this is to the benefit of Africa, or greater South-South news flow, as China claims, remains to be seen. [Polity]


Former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti believes that the worst of the Eurozone crisis is over and that Europe needs to care more about soft power if it wants to regain its global leadership status.

Returning to the topic of European influence in the world, he said that when he was prime minister he was surprised how interested the president of the U.S., as well as Japan and China, were in Italy when it was going through the worst phase of its recent financial crisis. They were both interested and self-interested, as what happens in Europe affects the rest of the world, he said. Europe needs to care more about soft power, he concluded. “Europe can have influence in inspiring the rest of the world through example. [IESE]



After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an offhand comment to the BBC Persian Service about the Iranian people’s desire to wear jeans, an obviously mistaken and tone-deaf gaffe (of course Iranians already wear jeans!), critics are arguing that Netanyahu’s vociferous warnings about the imminent Iranian nuclear threat may be just as inaccurate.

The jabs may be aimed at Netanyahu right now, but the risks of public diplomacy in this uncertain new era for the United States and Iran are hardly limited to jokes about jeans. In such an environment, the possibilities for showcasing gaffes, missteps, and the idiosyncrasies of all our individual leaders are infinite, and official anxieties about the prospects for public discourse to undermine the delicate work of traditional diplomacy act as a significant barrier to more free-wheeling public engagement.  [Brookings]




According to the public relations office of Iran’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the lifting of the ban on social media sites like Facebook is under review by a special committee.

Yesterday, the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported that Iran’s Communication and Information Technology Minister Mahmoud Vaezi, talking about social-media websites such as Facebook, said, “It has not been planned that these websites will be unblocked, and they will remain in the same condition they were in before.” Immediately afterward, the public relations office of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology released a statement which read, “Removing filters for social-media websites such as Facebook is under review by a special committee outside of this ministry,” and Vaezi’s earlier ISNA comments were denied. [Iran Pulse via PDiN]



The US continues to suffer a huge soft power loss in Asia from the revealing of its global spying network in the wake of criticisms of China’s internet hacking.

This brings us back to China and the US’s attempts to convince its Pacific friends to fear a belligerent and spying Beijing. The irony isn’t lost on the informed who realise Washington’s global spying network is far more pernicious and widespread than anything the Obama administration and corporate media tell us is coming from the Chinese. Neither China nor the US are benign in the spying stakes. Both are guilty of aggressively pursuing their interests without informing their citizens of their rights and actions. Australia and New Zealand are weak players in an increasingly hostile battle between two super-powers, and many other nations in our region are being seduced by the soft power of Beijing (including Papua New Guinea, partly due to its vast resource wealth). [The Guardian]



Eva Omer’s new documentary about Afghanistan’s first television network, The Network, highlights the amorphous boundaries of propaganda.

Which is to say, The Network is not only a documentary about propaganda and the power of the media, but an example of both those things. The film, quietly but firmly, demands that we see Afghanis as people, and that we see their troubles, not as distant and foreign, but as close and relatable — just as Arez does. Moreover, in showing the skills, value, and love that ex-pats like Tierney bring with them to Afghanistan, the film “makes a stirring case for the cultural benefits of foreign intervention when it’s desired and embraced by locals,” as Nick Schager argues at The Dissolve. You can’t walk away from the film without understanding that the West can make a huge beneficial contribution to Afghanistan. [The Atlantic]



While the US Defense Department is having to furlough a huge number of its employees due to the government shutdown, the State Department has remained relatively unscathed.

Hindered by confused guidance from the White House, the many branches of the nation’s national-security apparatus have taken drastically different interpretations of how to implement the shutdown, according to interviews with over a dozen furloughed and non-furloughed federal employees across the Obama administration’s bureaucracy. One of the most confounding aspects of the process, these officials say, is why the State Department is seen as largely untouchéd. Members of Congress and administration officials say the State Department has been able to shield the blow for now in part because it still has money left from the last fiscal year and its funding mechanisms allow for most programs to carry money over during the crisis. [Daily Beast]



North Korea may be constructing a luxury ski resort with the hope of Olympic officials allowing it to host events during the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

The real impetus behind the ski resort, where ground was broken only 10 months ago, is thought to be rival South Korea’s hosting of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Kim said Pyongyang proposed Masik Pass as a venue for some of the 2018 ski events but was shot down by both Seoul and Olympic officials. Undeterred, the ski enthusiast predicted North Korea would have an Olympic  ski medalist or world champion soon, now that it has, or will soon have, the Masik Pass resort as a training venue. [LA Times]


Asia BBC Persia Benjamin Netanyahu Chinese philosophy Department of Defense EU Eurozone Eva Omer government shutdown Harvard University internet hacking Italy jeans Jeddah FM Joseph Nye Mario Monti Max Herre propaganda skiing The Network vodka Western media
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About Michael Ardaiolo

Michael Ardaiolo is currently a student in Syracuse University's Public Diplomacy Master's Program: M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and M.S. in Public Relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. In addition, he is a recovering record slinger, a Criterion Collection addict, an NBA obsessor, and a struggling student of the Korean language.
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