Saturday, December 4, 2010

Archaology takes a stab

Sir, we've found a eminent of what appears to be "global society", composed of a little integration, imperialistic sentiment, and a whole lot of optimism.-myself.

In Armand Mattelart's "An Archaology of the global era": constructing belief," the world of sarcasm against political rhetoric seems to have a home. Mattelart sees globalization as nothing more than a new label for the concepts of capitalism and unity of the world. Claiming instead that those burying ideas of the past are simply building up oil deposits from which the rise of technology focused claims gain their fuel. These "grave-diggers", as Mattelart labels them have forgotten the claims and statements of the past that echo their own, concepts such as: the "global village" (1962) and Worldism (early 1900s) but instead follow Henry Ford's statement "History is bunk".

Mattelart takes his archaeology sarcasm a step further to reveal the corruption through incorporation of basic American principles into corporate mottos. Take the concept of "freedom of speech" and "freedom" in general, in Mattelart's rhetoric they become "freedom of commercial-speech" and "freedom of trade" becoming synonymous with corporate interests. He notes that freedom has become the beacon of capitalism, glowing for all to see, whether they wish to follow its route home or extinguish it all together.

Further, Mattelart picks apart globalization's bones with a finer brush then most noting its well put intentions that have worsened things for not just those that are buying into the ideology but those that sell it. The main focus is the creation of the growing digitial divide, the benefits and downfalls of protest as it becomes more complex and perhaps even more difficult. Lastly, he notes the methods by which corporation and capitalistc mechanisms ignore the methods of human exploitation who are the mechanisms that mobilize consumption and technological output.

So before we host globalization and the "global society" we claim to live in, on to a new podium or alter for worship, lets not forget what is below the surface fueling this radiating ideology. The long forgotten claims and ideologies that were pumped into society and then buried or discarded not so long ago as ancient history, with the rise of this "alternate" and newly trans-formative claim. Long live the past, as it may be our future.

Wiki Power!?

Not to keep harping on Wikileaks, but...

Wikileaks is normally not something I would be interested in, but I think its very poignant timing that this news is breaking at the end of our course. You couldn't really ask for a better cumulation of the concepts we studied this semester. What I'm most interested in is just how much the most recent wiki "leak" has and/or could hurt the US soft power. Maybe its just because I'm paying more attention to it in the news now, but it seems that this diplomatic leak is making a bigger splash than the one about the Iraq war. All countries do bad things in war, but now the US's dirty little laundry is out there... Our burn book got published and we just won the mean girl contest.
If our public diplomacy over the past 10 years has been all about putting a more synchronized, "real" image of the US out there, the recent leaks are going to be a huge hurdle, that Mrs. Clinton and the folks at the state department are already struggling to overcome. What better an example of the emerging influence of ICT's in the global political sphere. Some secret funded upstart website had almost a more than instantaneoues impact on global politics. Even before it leaked the documents, the anticipation was making headlines and putting governments on the defensive. I'm sure this is just the beginning of what wikileaks and other self appointed whistle blowers and going to be able to do, and I think heads of state are more than a little afraid of it. I'm just glad I chose this career path.

Friday, December 3, 2010


When I heard of the Wikileaks State Department cables release, my first thought was, oh no, we need to brace for the worst, thinking what a embarrassment this was going to be. But then I thought, maybe this is a good thing, one of those that shifts those worn out ways of institutionalized governance. Truth be told, I feel that if something were going to change, it would have to be with a big blow, and that is Assange’s mission, I think, apart from being a little on the creepily vindictive side. He openly stated the he was pleased to hear Netanyahu’s comment that leaders should discuss in public what they discuss in private. I wonder what Netanyahu’s take would have been if he had lost face with the cable instead of his Middle Eastern counterparts.

When I started to think about the consequences, I thought about the reality of how leaders and diplomats act when it comes to talking with each other. Surely, if you were going to show any willingness to cooperate and negotiate with others with whom you are actually or even historically at odds, wouldn’t it be necessary to do so behind closed doors? Leaders always want to show zero weakness to their own people and save face. That means displaying that you are unwilling to waver on any points. What I wonder is, if there were never any negotiations and concessions behind closed doors, would any of it ever really get done?

I am all for being able to have these conversations in the public eye, but is it realistic? I can see that if there were a big shift in PD, and the new information era of transparency served to convinced everyone that giving a little and taking a little is part of any workable relationship, then it would be easy. What are the chances that everyone’s paradigm to how we have always done international relation will change?

This administration takes a bit of heat for being too “apologetic.“ Would everyone be able to strike that balance between being capable of working with others, and keeping their constituents at ease?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

200 Pound Beauty

Entertainment-Education is a complex field that walks the tightropes between engaging the audience and instilling or disproving cultural norms. In walking this tightrope failure can be a way of life and it seems many messages turn south causing what is promptly labeled as the "Archie Bunker Effect"(Singhal, 7-9). Occuring when the character that is suppose to get the audience to rebuke the support of a sterotype actually reinforces it.

Thinking about the successful case of the show Jasoos Vijay in India covered by Catterjee and Frank and the way in which dramas can inflict value judgements and help overcome anti-setiment, I wondered if it could be applied to a certain Korean Drama. The drama, 200 pound beauty, aired in 2006 it appears to be a educative drama gone south. The story centers around a woman by the name of Hanna, a behind the scenes singer for a pop idol (who can't sing) who undergoes head to toe plastic surgery for the sake of love and a boost in confidence. If this combination wasn't potent enough, the drama ends with Hanna, now pop-idol material herself, denouncing her "all natural" branding to her fans and yet still being accepted for her dramatic change.

It is this kind of play on norms through captivating (or not) narrative dialogue that throws this drama's creditability for a loop. If we can consider this drama a form of entertainment-education media, then would it be a failure for enforcing an already growing concern of young urban Korean woman's current trend/obsession with plastic surgery? Or can it be viewed as a moral lesson that gets girls in the Urban areas of Korea speaking out about changing themselves for others and the consequences of such ?

More on Drama

FIFA Results- Soccer made Soft Power?

Soccer Link

In last weeks reading of Joseph Nye's " Public Diplomacy and Soft Power" and Corman, Tretheway and Goodall's " A 21st Century Model for Communications in the Global War of Ideas" we learned of soft power and the message influence model that the United States clings to. Soft power defined by Nye is " the ability to affect others to obtain the outcome one wants through attraction rather than coercion or payment"(pg2). If this definition is taken at face value then the United States has a long way to go to recover and re-live its glory days gone by, as it loses its second consecutive battle to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup to no other than Qatar.

The reasoning behind the decision was the desire to hold the game for the first time in Eastern Europea which will continue the FIFA organizations goal of expanding the sport worldwide. But where does this blow to ones pride, leave the United States? Well it seems to suggest that the United States conventions of just getting its message across in a "consistent" manner, over and over again till they agree with us, is crying out for a re-evaluation as suggested by Corman, Tretheway and Goodall. The United States can no loner rely on the soft power it gained during the cold war to bail it out now, it seems to have forgotten somewhere after the Berlin Wall fell the importance of maintaining a good image and what the meaning of a message actually constitutes.

Perhaps if the United States took up the Pragmatic Complexity Model and maybe even a few hints from its Arabic neighbors it might learn that a message is a two-way flow of information. In order to win the game whether on the field or in the political arena understanding and reacting to your teammates perception is just as important as keeping an eye on the ball.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Muppet Ambassadors?

In order to determine whether Sesame Street is a form of public diplomacy, we must first establish which lens to view public diplomacy through. If public diplomacy is citizens—or in this case Muppets—acting on behalf of a political body to establish interpersonal connections, then no, Sesame Street is not a vehicle for public diplomacy. However, if public diplomacy is measured by outcome, and not intention, then I dare say that Elmo and friends are cultural ambassadors. Their mission is to act on behalf of their audience to educate them—equipping them with lessons on literacy, counting, cultural awareness, friendship, self-esteem, kindness, and tolerance. Providing youth around the world with an educational outlet, emphasizing morals and values (both local and shared) is one of the best forms of diplomacy. There are some hearts and minds that Big Bird can touch that a government will never be able to—so let the show go on, and tell everyone how to get to, how to get to Sesame Street.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wikileaks and FP

Since everyone is talking about the Wikileaks, I'm going to add my two cents. I think one of the most significant Wikileaks had to do with a bunch of the Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, urging the United States to attack Iran. All of this information, which should have been kept secret, shows an interesting side of the United States relationship with the Arab countries in the Middle East. It seems that in spite of many of these countries spending millions on weapons and defense from the U.S. government, they still want the United States to fight their battles for them in that there appears to be a concern in the region about Iran being a dominating player. Of course much of this is related to the nuclear issue, but it shows that the Arab states want the United States to play the role of the police officer in the region and to fight their battles for them in order to ensure a balance of power that would keep Iran as a weaker player in the region. This information which is now in the public domain reflects to some extent, United States foreign policy in the region purely as an attempt to contain Iran -- which I doubt is to really protect the Arab states (whose political systems do not represent the democracy and development we are trying to spread to the region) but to make sure that we (the West) does not have to deal with Iran as a formidable opponent -- which they would be if they had nuclear weapons. At the same time, this shows the influence that transnational advocacy networks in the Arab states -- and also for that matter, their Israeli "enemy" -- have as a common interest in prevent Iran from becoming a power in the region.