Information operations · Information Warfare · Public Diplomacy

John Brown’s Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review


Statement by CEO Lansing on the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi

Posted: 10 Oct 2018 02:52 PM PDT

via email

Protesters hold posters demanding information of the whereabouts of missing journalist
Image from entry: Alyssa Edling (center) and Thomas Malia (second from right) both with PEN America, join others as they hold signs of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a news conference about his disappearance in Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in front of The Washington Post in Washington. (AP Photo, Jacquelyn Martin)

I am deeply troubled by the sudden disappearance of Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, and I join the united call from media, government and human rights officials for information about his whereabouts.

Unfortunately, this incident is part of a growing global trend of threats against the press. Every day journalists around the world, including those who work for the five networks of U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM)-Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks-face dangers to their lives and livelihoods for simply reporting the truth.

Corrupt and repressive governments around the world share a common trait: the desire to control information and suppress free media. As such, they are threatened by independent journalists and often criminalize their indispensable work.

No one, especially governments, should be allowed to silence journalists. USAGM, like Khashoggi, understands that an informed world is a safer world, and it is a prerequisite for democracy to work.

The United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM) is an independent federal agency, supervising all U.S. government-supported, civilian international media, whose mission is to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. USAGM networks include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Marti), Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa). USAGM programming has a measured audience of 278 million in more than 100 countries and in 59 languages.

Opinion: How China Challenges America’s World Leadership

Posted: 10 Oct 2018 01:56 PM PDT

Elizabeth Economy, tpr.org/post; original article contains links

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with President Trump during a joint statement in Beijing last November. Rather than a frontal assault on U.S. leadership, Xi has articulated his vision of a "community of shared destiny."

Image from article: Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with President Trump during a joint statement in Beijing last November. Rather than a frontal assault on U.S. leadership, Xi has articulated his vision of a “community of shared destiny.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping is ready for a change — specifically the transformation of the international system and China’s role within it. In a 2016 speech before government ministers and provincial leaders, Xi provided an early signal of his intent: “China has become a major factor in changing the world political and economic landscapes. … We need to work harder to turn our economic strength into international institutional authority.”

To date, however, Xi has avoided taking the United States head-on in competition for global leadership. There is little evidence that he desires the responsibility such leadership entails; the world has yet to hear, for example, a Chinese proposal to meet the challenge of global terrorism, the refugee crisis or even climate change. Xi’s approach instead has been to work to erode the foundational pillars of U.S. leadership — its alliances, the values and norms upheld by international institutions and its development model — and supplant them with ones more supportive of Chinese interests. In this context, the U.S.-China trade conflict might be understood as merely one battle in a protracted ground war over values, principles and global leadership.

In the current global balance of power — sustained by both the relative distribution of global wealth and the system of U.S.-led alliances — the United States remains the dominant player (although less so than at any time in the recent past).

Rather than a frontal assault on U.S. leadership, Xi has articulated his vision of a “community of shared destiny,” which is premised on mutual cooperation, fairness and equality — a “new” approach that “supersedes” an outdated Western model. While benign-sounding, this community concept means nothing less than the end of the U.S.-led system of alliances. As one Chinese official told me, such alliances are “anachronistic” and “not suitable for the contemporary time.”

The shaky commitment of President Trump to America’s alliance structures has provided welcome support to Chinese diplomats and scholars tasked with selling Xi’s idea. Nonetheless, the Chinese leader has undermined his own soft sell with his military assertiveness in the South China Sea and willingness to adopt coercive economic policies toward South Korea and Taiwan, among other nations.

Xi also is working to reform international institutions and norms to reflect the interests of the Chinese government. Beijing’s diplomats are adeptly exploiting the United Nations and other organizations to try to diminish the relative weight of individual freedoms and liberties in human rights discourse and promote Internet sovereignty, as opposed to the free flow of information. China’s grand-scale Belt and Road infrastructure initiative has become a test case for the norms underpinning China’s development path, which discount the importance of good governance in pursuit of rapid economic development. While many countries eagerly court Belt and Road projects, many others are now rejecting them, fearful of the potential negative environmental, financial and social ramifications.

Finally, China has dramatically increased the resources it puts toward public diplomacy, providing generous scholarships for foreign students and officials to study the China model, opening government-sponsored centers to advance understanding of Chinese language and culture, and launching a media campaign to shape the Chine narrative.

Officials in some developing countries appreciate China’s emphasis on infrastructure-led growth, foreign investment and political stability. The Tanzanian minister of transport and communications found China’s censorship practices worthy of emulation: “Our Chinese friends have managed to block such media in their country and replaced them with their homegrown sites that are safe, constructive and popular. We aren’t there yet, but … we should guard against their misuse.”

In addition, Beijing is not only advancing its own positive China narrative but also moving to prevent others from providing a contrary one. After a Chinese company took a significant stake in a South African newspaper, for example, a writer found his column canceled after publishing an article criticizing China’s repression in the Western autonomous region of Xinjiang. And in Kenya, the Chinese government subsidized digital television access for 800 villages, providing extensive Chinese programming while ensuring that other international stations, such as the BBC and Al Jazeera, were priced out of reach. Some Chinese analysts now boast about the positive relationship between “not free” political systems and economic prosperity.

The United States should not fear the China model or Xi’s promotion of it. It is not, in the end, an inherently resilient or attractive system. The environmental, health and demographic challenges are well-known. There are serious and rising levels of household, corporate and government debt. And ongoing protests from many sectors of society — including feminists, workers, students, pensioners and retired members of the military — suggest deep pockets of discontent. As one European China scholar has noted, “Never have I seen such a successful country in which so many people who benefit the most all want to leave.”

Yet neither can Washington afford to ignore Xi and his efforts to remake the international system. The administration needs to give life to its concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific: an affirmative message of the values inherent in liberal market democracies and a demonstration of those values at home, buttressed by a set of robust political, economic and security partnerships, and a commitment to international development premised on these principles. If the best the United States can do is complain, whine, and denounce China, it most certainly will lose not only the battles along the way, but also — and more importantly — the war.

Elizabeth Economy (@LizEconomy) is director of Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. Her most recent book is The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State. 

Nikki Haley Will Be Back – Foreign Policy

Posted: 10 Oct 2018 01:41 PM PDT

Peter Feaver, Foreign Policy, October 9, 2018; original article contains links; see also

Trump’s U.N. ambassador is the only cabinet official to have emerged from the administration stronger than ever.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., in the White House on Oct. 9. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Image from article: U.S. President Donald Trump and Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., in the White House on Oct. 9. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Nikki Haley—the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who on Tuesday announced her intention to resign at the end of the year—has a rare quality among Trump administration cabinet officials: She is set to end her time in office with her reputation enhanced, not diminished.

She arrived at her post as something of a vice president in training. She boasted the ticket-balancing appeal that any Republican presidential candidate might want: governor of South Carolina (a key presidential primary state) and a woman, with a compelling only-in-America personal story to boot. She lacked foreign-policy and national security experience, however, so some critics wondered if she would struggle in her new role.

On the contrary, she thrived. For the first year, she was by far President Donald Trump’s most effective spokesperson on national security and foreign-policy issues. She seemed sure-footed where her bosses—the president, the vice president, and the secretary of state—all seemed less comfortable or even uninterested in fulfilling the basic executive function of explaining U.S. actions to a thoughtful public.

No whiff of the scandals that tainted other senior administration officials came to rest on her. The few times that she did clash with the White House, “I don’t get confused” Haley seemed to come out on top. She survived the tricky transitions from Reince Priebus to John Kelly as White House chief of staff, Rex Tillerson to Mike Pompeo as secretary of state, and H.R. McMaster to John Bolton as national security advisor better than most people, including me, expected she would.

Perhaps of greatest significance: She is the only administration official who has publicly claimed to have disagreed with Trump, multiple times, who has not received the presidential lash.

In fact, on the few issues where she has appeared to be at odds with the White House, she has been in the politically superior position. More Republicans prefer her more hawkish position on Russia to Trump’s approach.

It is true that her public profile is lower now than it was in the spring, let alone in 2017, when Trump took office. But this is primarily because her current immediate boss, Pompeo, is much more effective at public diplomacy [JB emphasis] than Tillerson was. Her role today is roughly akin to the role enjoyed by other higher-profile U.N. ambassadors, such as Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Madeleine Albright, or Bolton.

Likewise, she has had to serve as the public face for unpopular U.S. policies and thus deal with admonishments by foreign diplomats angered by them. But that, too, is a role that her predecessors played. She has not come to be perceived as the primary architect of these policies. And in some cases where the administration has been able to mobilize global support, Haley has been at the forefront of that effort—for instance, the ramped-up sanctions on North Korea in December 2017.

Add to this one more quality on which she stands head and shoulders above everyone else in the administration (save the president): She has real political charisma.

I witnessed this firsthand when she visited Duke University in April. The audience, hardly a representative sample of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” coalition, gave her a resounding standing ovation—before her remarks. Then they capped it off with another standing ovation after she finished. None of the scores of guests I have hosted at Duke over the years generated that kind of response. Afterward, she worked a selfie line—the millennial version of a rope line—that could have lasted an hour longer than the time allotted. One of my colleagues, an ardent Democrat, confided to me ruefully after the performance, “She could easily beat any of the Democratic headliners in the next election.”

That is why her promise not to do so will likely dominate the conversation about Tuesday’s announcement. While her promise not to run in 2020 was a tick or two short of Shermanesque, she went further than I expected in explicitly endorsing Trump and promising to campaign for him. I have long thought that there is room for a serious candidate to run against Trump in the primaries. The most formidable challenger would be someone running more in sorrow than in anger—someone who could claim to have supported Trump (and thus win over some of his supporters) while also clearly separated from his personal debilities and distractions.

Haley could have posed such a threat. But if she is considering a run, she went to extraordinary lengths to hide it.

Of course, someone contemplating such a move would not announce it in the White House while standing next to Trump. But neither would she offer gratuitous praise, as Haley did, for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law who serve as senior advisors.

Instead, if we must look for political positioning instead of merely celebrating that someone answered the call to national service and then served honorably and ably, consider this: As governor of South Carolina, Haley more than checked the box of executive experience and political campaign chops. As ambassador to the United Nations, she more than checked the box of foreign-policy experience. What she lacks for an arduous run for president in 2024 is the kind of independent wealth that many successful party nominees have enjoyed. She now has plenty of time to check that box, too.

I would be very surprised if ambassador to the United Nations is the last chapter of Haley’s political biography.

Peter D. Feaver is a professor of political science and public policy and Bass Fellow at Duke University, and director of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies and the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy. He is co-editor of Elephants in the Room.

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