The New York Times article, How the Kremlin Harnesses the Internet, is a piece over how the Russian government stealthily patrols the internet, by not explicitly censoring, but rather, by “targeted so-called denial-of-service attacks, with most of the site’s visitors receiving a “page cannot be found” message in their browsers.”
The Kremlin has been a great player in working with the internet to accomplish its mission both in blocking communication and in disseminating information. The United States struggling to keep up, has recently decided to step up its game . Recently, the Broadcasting Board of Governors published a piece this week about the Department of State’s (DoS) use of social media to respond to Putin’s propaganda machine. While the article focused heavily on The Obama Administration’s lack of financial support to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) it was an interesting piece highlighting the change underway at the DoS.
An excerpt from the article reads, “BBG Watch has learned that the Obama Administration is taking about half a million dollars in emergency extra funding to the BBG. . . It is needed to effectively counter Putin’s propaganda through multimedia outreach.” The article goes on to state that, “The State Department and the National Security Council have surprised many observers by their quick response to the crisis in Ukraine” and that “Susan Rice and Richard Stengel deserve credit not only for realizing early on that President Putin was engaged in what Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt has called “a massive propaganda war,” but also for mobilizing the NSC and the State Department staff and resources to provide quick responses to false and misleading claims pushed by the Kremlin.
The BBG’s praise of recent State Department tactics, bring to mind public diplomacy scholar Pammant’s arguments for the usage of new media platforms as a way to “exert influence and develop resources.” Pammant states that if an If the State Department is able to use social media tools as a way to advance policy goals in a way that is authentic it will need a network of relevant actors as part of their communication effort.
It is a big leap for the State Department to become more responsive in providing news and information from the United States to Russia, Ukraine, and many other nations in the region. But this is just a first step, many more will need to follow in order to keep the Department of State a relevant player in the game.
In Evan Potter’s article on Canadian public diplomacy, he mentions that a large part of Canada’s “warm…fuzzy” international brand is its image of being “an environmentally friendly country”. According to the Canadian opposition party (NDP) House leader Nathan Cullen, this brand is being damaged under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government and its various controversial energy projects, including tar oil sands and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to the United States. Perhaps in an effort to counter this damage, Harper’s government has rolledout a 22 billion dollar international ad campaign that blurs the line between public diplomacy and pure PR. The ads promote Canadian energy as an environmentally friendly, morally palatable alternative for the U.S. and Europe. These ads have been highly visible in DC metro stops since January. Although they tout Canada’s reputation of environmental friendliness, it seems doubtful that the campaign will do anything to dissuade the well-informed environmentalists who oppose the Keystone XL pipeline and the tar sands. I am not even sure if it will have any positive effect on the average American citizen who may know or care little about environmental issues. My own personal, immediate reaction was that the ads seemed propagandist and slightly desperate. In fact, they actually did a bit to damage my normally very positive image of Canada. There has to be a better way for Canadian PD to communicate and engage American publics about these sensitive but crucial issues, without, in the words of Nathan Cullen, engaging in “green-washing” about its damaged reputation as an environmentally conscious nation.
- As the U.S. is looking to trim the number of troops serving in the military, the Austrailian Defence Force is recruiting U.S. servicemembers join its ranks. Many troops, especially enlisted servicemembers, stand to make more money in the Australian military. DAVID BYRON/U.S. AIR FORCE
I came across an interesting article while some of my military friends were considering retirement. They were thinking about doing their time in the U.S. military, retiring and then joining the Australian military to continue serving while getting two pay checks and a new experience.
According to the article, the Australian “government plans to increase defense spending — estimated at $26.5 billion this year — to $50 billion by 2023.”
This means that they have increased recruiting efforts to include foreign troops, as the U.S. military is being cutback. However, there hasn’t been much media attention to the increase of hard power in Australia and the rest of the world seems OK with this. They generally view the Aussies as a decent nation. How did this come about?
While reading Joe Johnson’s views on how Swedes promote their culture and Yul Sohn’s article about Korean soft power and networked power, nothing really comes to mind about the public diplomacy efforts of the Aussies. Those middle countries used branding to increase their public image, but I don’t think Foster’s beer is making the same soft power strides as Ikea and Samsung.
The Australians have been close allies to the Brits and Americans, and have fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the Aussies haven’t been condemned as much for doing so as their allies. And now they are doubling their defense budget and recruiting foreign troops. So what’s the lesson to take away from this? Make sure you’re isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and you’ll seem harmless? Hardly. But I would be interested to hear anybody else’s opinion on how the Aussie’s have a better international image than their allies while continually increases their hard power stance.
This week I stumbled upon an new campaign effort by the United Nations- The Better World Campaign. Interestingly, it seems to reflect the exact suggestions made by O.C. del Collado (2013) on the CPD blog, which we have discussed during week 7.
Just a quick reminder- Collado argued that: “A less interested American public makes some U.N. agencies more vulnerable to Congressional budget cuts.” Collado pointed out to the lack of public diplomacy efforts on the side of the United Nations, leading the organization to unstable financial position and decreasing legitimacy and centrality. Since the US remains the most significant financial contributor to the UN system, Collado suggested that it has to target American audiences by putting an emphasis on issues that have direct impact on Americans. Only than will the American public raise its voice in favor of UN funding and prevent Congress from further financial cuts of its support.
And just as someone in the UN read Collado’s post, the Better World Campaign is “Dedicated to a Strong US-UN Relationship”. The campaign is focused on US’ funding of the UN peacekeeping, pledging American citizens to force the Congress into supporting President’s Obama budget request for funding the organisation’s peacekeeping missions in several African countries. The bottom line of the campaign states: “Sending UN peacekeepers to fulfill these dangerous missions – the missions we’ve asked for – is one-eighth the cost of the U.S. going it alone.” In times of growing unpopularity of direct military interventions among the American public, this seems like a brilliant message.
Of course we shall wait and see if Americans are convinced. But whether this move was really inspired by Collado’s blog or not, it sure should encourage people to offer policy solutions via blogging!