We should admit upfront that Ms. Sailor’s blog post is definitely the most worthwhile read of the two. After all, who can argue against “protecting the dignity of workers everywhere” as “the right investment?” Or fault the “history of the labor movement in the United States — and of workers everywhere — [… ] the story of courageous men and women who persevered and risked their lives to bring dignity to their work?” This American value is a laudable export to the global market place. Last year, Ms. Shailor also had a labor day message for everyone.
This year, we again applaud the State Department’s commitment “to doing everything we can to advance labor rights in the global economy.” We are republishing Ms. Shailor’s blog post in full in appreciation of smart-power pretense affectation.
For over a century, we’ve set aside a day to honor the contributions of workers. The cookouts, shopping sales, and parades are end of summer American rituals. But the significance of Labor Day — advocating for the dignity of work — is, and always will be an American value.
Promoting labor rights and improving working conditions is a smart economic investment — essential to driving growth, ensuring its benefits are broadly shared, and delivering decent jobs for the American people.
Protecting the dignity of workers everywhere is also the right investment. The goal is to create not just more growth, but better growth. That means ensuring all workers enjoy certain universal labor rights, including the freedom to associate and effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, and prohibitions against the worst forms of child labor and forced labor, and employment discrimination.
Much of the world is still experiencing high unemployment, a lack of opportunities for youths, discrimination towards women, disabled persons, and LGBT individuals, and the growth of disenfranchised migrant workers and refugees. This exacerbates already volatile situations in many countries.
By combating the root causes of poverty and helping countries provide a prospect for decent work we can better hope to achieve our foreign policy goals: stability, security, democracy, and prosperity for all. We cannot build a stable, global economy when hundreds of millions of workers and families find themselves on the wrong side of globalization.
“I’m here because our lives as Americans are more intertwined than ever before with the lives of people in parts of the world that we may have never visited. In the global challenges of diplomacy, development, economic security, environmental security, you will feel our success or failure just as strongly as those people in those other countries that you’ll never meet…it also gives us many more rivals determined to create jobs and opportunities for their own people, a voracious marketplace that sometimes forgets morality and values.”
The history of the labor movement in the United States — and of workers everywhere — is the story of courageous men and women who persevered and risked their lives to bring dignity to their work.
Today, we celebrate the sacrifices and successes of workers everywhere, and commit to doing everything we can to advance labor rights in the global economy.
Excellent example of talking the walk but not walking the talk. Brava! Can we have more, please? File under the “hypocrasy” tag. And no, that’s not a misspelling.
The U.S. Department of State will host a screening and roundtable discussion with the producer and stars of the Oscar-nominated short film Buzkashi Boys on February 28 at 12:30 p.m. in the Marshall Center Auditorium.
The making of Buzkashi Boys was supported through a grant from U.S. Embassy Kabul to the Afghan Film Project. The goal of this project is to help revitalize the Afghan film industry, which was once a vibrant part of Afghanistan’s cultural life.
During the filming of Buzkashi Boys thirteen Afghan interns were trained in all aspects of film production. Afghan media organizations, which until recently were forced to rely on foreign expertise, will benefit from this training for years to come. Almost all of the trainees continue to work in the local media or television industry. Some are making their own films, strengthening national identity by telling their own stories.
Here are some photos of the stars of Buzkashi Boys during their visit to Foggy Bottom for a screening and Q and A on February 28, 2013.
The stars and producer of the Oscar-nominated film Buzkashi Boys visit the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., for a screening and Q and A on February 28, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain] (click image to view a slideshow)
What was not included in the announcement is the 29-minute film’s unusual distinction. Accordingto the WSJ, the film was “funded almost entirely out of a $150 million State Department campaign to combat extremism, support Afghan media and burnish the U.S. image in Afghanistan.”
As part of the public-diplomacy project, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul gave Mr. French and his Afghan Film Project more than $220,000 in 2010 to make “Buzkashi Boys” and use the production to train aspiring Afghan filmmakers.
Tara Sonenshine who currently serves as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs for State recently blogged about the BB in DipNote touting this as one of the “innovative examples of our many public diplomacy programs in support of a peaceful, prosperous, stable Afghanistan”:
In the case of “Buzkashi Boys,” we supported the Afghan Film Project — the non-profit NGO whose creation was integral to the movie. A grant from the State Department funded the training of 13 Afghan interns in all aspects of film production. Those graduates are now among the best-trained filmmakers in Afghanistan. Most of them have gone on to work in the local media or television industry, or have begun to make their own films.
While the movie didn’t win an Oscar, it sent out powerful messages about a future we can all support: an Afghanistan where ethnic and linguistic divisions can be transcended through a common love of culture, where aspirations are possible, and where the playing fields are level for everyone. On the economic side, it showed foreign movie and television investors and artists that Afghanistan is open for business and growing its people’s capacity to become a vibrant center of national self expression.
Okay, now that you’ve read that, let’s take a look at this item from El Snarkistani of the Republic of Snarkistan, who probably won’t get any invite to embassy events anytime soon:
So to review:
– US government funded film
– Filmed in Afghanistan
– Afghan streetkid star
– Total funding: around $260,000
I say again: that’s a pretty big shoestring.
By way of comparison, remember Clerks? That cost $27,000. And the first Paranormal Activity? $15,000. So why was it so expensive to make this film in a country where median monthly incomes are a few hundred dollars? Your main star’s a street kid who sells maps and “bodyguard services” to foreigners on Kabul’s Chicken Street, so I’m guessing he wasn’t that expensive. Must have been all that capacity building.
Which is what’s missing from the narrative surrounding this film: at no point are we hearing how that money went to help the Afghan film industry. In fact, in a story for the National, Lianne Gutcher reports that French and his team made choices that would virtually ensure that whatever skills were learned would not translate to the Afghan film scene once the movie was completed.
French also insisted on shooting with RED cinema cameras – an American brand that is expensive to hire and insure. That offered little benefit to Afghan filmmakers, who cannot afford RED. Afghanistan’s film and TV industry mainly uses MiniDV, a far lower standard.
Completely absent from the photos taken of the cast and crew by the media during this Oscar season are the filmcrew that French and his team were supposed to train in the first place. Any publicity photos feature French (prominently, and why not, with those eyes, that hair, and that beard?) and the two co-stars, but noticeably absent are any other Afghans. Based on how much the US Embassy in Kabul has been falling all over itself on social media to promote this thing, one would think that the goal of telling the “good news” about Afghanistan has been achieved. With…buzkashi.
No, what you need is a story that’s going to make foreigners feel good about Afghanistan. And if, along the way, you hire an Afghan as your “Assistant Chef,” well, that’s all to the good, isn’t it?
Make no mistake: this film isn’t directed at Afghans. I don’t think it’s even been screened for an Afghan audience at this point, as the only publicity here in Afghanistan around the film has focused on showings at foreign embassies. When the Soviets used to do this, we called it propaganda. Since it’s the 21st century, and we’re Americans, somehow this is…capacity building. Or, as David Ensor, who headed up the US public diplomacy effort in Kabul at the time, told the Wall Street Journal,
“I was in the hope business, and we were making investments in Afghanistan and its people that were designed to make life better and create a perception of change in the right direction,” he said.
“Create a perception of change”? Perish the thought that we’d create any actual change. Whether you’re calling it public diplomacy, public affairs, information operations, or propaganda, it all boils down to the same thing: creating the perception that things are going to be just fine. What’s troubling is that telling the real stories of average Afghans would do just that. For a quarter of a million dollars, you could find a whole lot of Afghans whose lives have been directly and positively changed by the US presence here.
Coming from me that may be a surprising statement, but it hasn’t all been bad here. The problem is that the Department of State and other government organizations here are so focused on making sure everyone knows that the billions they’re dumping here is doing some good, that they forget that it’s really not that complicated, after all. Instead of making a film about how American dollars have made real change in the lives of actual Afghans, the State Department would rather dump even more money into things that “create a perception of change.”
So we funded a film that’s disconnected by and large from the country in which it’s filmed. We didn’t really build the capacity of the Afghan film industry, unless you count beefing up the resume of an American director and his non-Afghan crew. And we just cross our fingers and hope that somehow people think we’re doing some good here. Marvelous.
@diplopundit One infamous film that comes to mind is ‘Mission to Moscow’ (1943). The War Dept during WWII had a number of others.
Which led us to dig up ‘Mission to Moscow’, a film directed by Michael Curtiz in 1943 based on a book by former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Joseph E. Davies. According to Wikipedia, this film has also been called “unquestionably the most blatant piece of pro-Stalinist propaganda ever offered by the American mass media”.
Once you start digging into the Office of War Information (OWI), it’s almost impossible to stop – there’s an ‘um, richness of material there just so hard to ignore. Several OWI-connected films got nominated for Academy Awards and one even starred an actor who later became a U.S. president:
A longer list of Allied propaganda films for World War II is available here.
About the OWI:
“The Office of War Information (OWI) was a U.S.government agency created during World War II to consolidate government information services. […] In 1943, the OWI’s appropriations were cut out of the fiscal year 1944 budget and only restored with strict restrictions on what OWI could do domestically. Many branch offices were closed and the Motion Picture Bureau was closed down. By 1944 the OWI operated mostly in the foreign field, contributing to undermining enemy morale. The agency was abolished in 1945, and its foreign functions were transferred to the Department of State. The OWI was terminated, effective September 15, 1945, by an executive order of August 31, 1945.”
Perhaps the most instructive item we found rummaging around is from Elmer Davis, the director of OWI in 1942 who said: “The easiest way to inject a propaganda idea into most people’s minds is to let it go through the medium of an entertainment picture when they do not realize that they are being propagandized.”
There. Got that?
Now given all that history with Hollywood, should we really call this ‘innovative?” In the meantime, since the stated goal of the Buzkashi Boys project is “to help revitalize the Afghan film industry,” we asked over in the Twitters the following question:
As part of the Department of State’s redesign, the blog may get a new name. Department employees worldwide apparently submitted more than 370 submissions for a new name for the blog. Last week, the public was asked to select one name from the top four blog names suggested by the employees:
Unclassified: The State Department Blog
Matters of State
We don’t know if everyone who posted in the comments section of DipNote all voted but we noticed that a good number of them also posted their own blogname suggestions. A few samples below from the public’s abundant imagination:
Lol in Virginia writes: Spin Department or Propaganda Machine
Scott P. in Massachusetts writes: New Blogt Name — State of Affairs @StateofAffairs
Christy M. in New York writes: Try: 1)”QODUS” for The Quarter of Diplomacy in United States; or 2)”DOQUS“ for Diplomacy Operation Quarter of United States; or 3) USDOQ for United States Diplomacy Operation Quarter; or DUSQ for Diplomacy United States Quarter; or USDOQ for United States Diplomacy Operations Quarter
Mike S. in Pennsylvania writes: “State It” Sometimes in naming you need to start all over. None of the lowest common denominator proposed names has any life or zing. It promises that the blog might be the same. Please find a name with zip such as the above suggestion or another submission.
Frank D. in New York writes: How about “Lies My Government Told Me”?
Edwyne R. in Texas writes: Blues News
Tom in Colorado writes: View Abroad
P. Kumar in Virginia writes: My Suggestion for the Name of the State Dept Blog: StateSide
Cristian in Romania writes: Blogmerica
Katherine in the U.S.A. writes: Foggy Bottom would be hilarious, though Unclassified would draw more folks in…
A.Y.C. writes: Peter Van Buren!
Willie W. in the U.S.A. writes: “Gayanashagowa” (the “Great Law of Peace”) Origin: Six Nations of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee)
Erin S. in Virginia writes: Diplo-phone: like megaphone!
Michael in the U.S.A. writes: US DiploBlog
Donald M. in Virginia writes: Theres an old saying, “if it works don’t fix it” whats wrong with the current blog name? I like it and its fitting for what it does.
Betty D. in Idaho writes: BLOG FOG
W.W. writes: I would call it : UncleSam International
Eric in New Mexico writes: “USDOSFAB” ??
We thought that last one, USDOSFAB good as in USDOSFabulous. No such luck, it turns out that simply means, “United States Deptartment Of State Foreign Affairs Blog.”
BuzzState, featuring “15 Cats That Look Like Heads of State”
Diplomatic Pouches from Last Night, including this submission: “LOL I am so baked right now, XOXO – Ambassador Rudolf Bekink, Royal Netherlands Embassy”
Sttdprtmntr, which is American policy expressed entirely in GIFs
Hillary’s Livejournal, with the top entry: “Waiting for the Senate to confirm my successor. Mood: pensive.”
Even Twitchy got into the act, collecting suggestions from Twitter just for fun:
@BryTupper “State of Disbelief”
@rellis168 How about naming it Dodge Ball?
@theGrudgeRetort The Onion @StateDept
@Crapplefratz “The Daily Stand-Down”
The names are certainly … um interesting, but they pale in comparison to the ones from 2007. Don’t know who came up with these but way back when DipNote was just launched, the Top Ten Rejected State Department Blog Names apparently surfaced online. Published here by FishbowlDC and here by The Beltway Confidential. Please don’t fall off your chairs.
10. Blackwater Serenade
9. Condi Meant (First Post title: “Condi Fiddles while Nick Burns”).
8. Kinky Boots (First Post title: “The Twee Communiques”).
7. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Rumsfeld! (First Post Title: “Allegro Con Dolcezza!”)
6. Bottom-up Reconciliation (whoops! That was supposed to be in the “Top Ten Rejected Larry Craig blog names”).
4. The Crocker Barrel (First Post: “The Global War On Errorism”)
3. The Wolf o’ Wits
2. Laying The Morning Cable (First Post: “I’ve Got Your Long Telegram Right Here, bub!”)
What colorful names! DipNote may not rock your world but it could have been a lot worse.
DipNote, the official blog of the Department of State will soon get a makeover. The blog was started on September 25, 2007 with a first post by the US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Sean McCormack. See his first post here from 2007 and his last post here in 2009. The functionality and interactivity were not tops, the design with blog text occupying two thirds column space was not ideal but — we thought it was elegant particularly the banner.
The blog first underwent a makeover in 2009 after Secretary Rice left and as Secretary Clinton assumed office with the Departments’ 21st Century Statecraft initiative. Below is the updated and current look:
We were not particularly fond of the new design. We did not grow to like it but then again we seldom visit because of well, allergies. When we did visit, we took a strong dislike of that background with splotches that we came to call the “hesitant blue” The deeper solid blue similar to its Tumblr account would have been much better. But what do we know? We just know that we liked the washed out version less.
Here is part of the Media Note on this:
The updating of the State Department’s blog is part of 21st Century Statecraft — the complementing of traditional foreign policy by harnessing and adapting the digital networks and technologies of today’s interconnected world. The blog’s redesign will include greater functionality and interactivity with an emphasis on visual engagement.
So now, the blog is going to go under the knife for the second time, so to speak. As part of the Department of State’s redesign of the official blog, Department employees worldwide submitted more than 370 submissions for a new name for the blog. The top suggestions, all four of them, are now available to the public, who are asked to vote on the final decision.
Here are the top suggestions; click here if you want to vote on the new blog name:
Unclassified: The State Department Blog
Matters of State
Would be interesting to see what else were in those submissions, right?
Public voting of the new blog name started today, Friday, December 7, 2012 and can be accessed on the Department’s website, as well as the Department’s official social media presences on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and the blog itself. The public voting will last until Friday, December 14. The result will be announced when the new blogsite launches in early 2013.
Umm… we can see you giving us an eye over there — what do we think about … well, let’s see:
Unclassified: The State Department Blog: Zzzzzzz. Please don’t call it that, it offends the imagination
Statecraft: Sounds like a dangerous 21st century aircraft fueled by nothing but air
DipNote: Sounds about right, except that this was a pre-Clinton era creation. What’s wrong withit? Oh, is that it?
Matters of State: Is this like a new movie with Will Smith and Gene Hackman?
C’mon folks, is the blog name DipNote really broken? No? Then why are you fixin’ it? Go ahead and add “greater functionality and interactivity with an emphasis on visual engagement” but do you really have to change its name, too?
While we’re on this subject, would you please do something with DipNote’s disclaimer during the redesign? Because it says:
This blog does not represent official U.S. Department of State communications. The Digital Communications Center, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this blog as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
Seriously? Who does it represent? What …
Oh, hey, we just thought of a really shiny blog name.
How about “Matters of Official Concern“? That’s straight out of the Foreign Affairs Manual. And you won’t need a disclaimer since it already says “official” right there.
Last Friday, Ambassador Kenneth Merten concluded his assignment as U.S. Ambassador to Haiti. They must really like him over there. The Embassy had somebody sketched him and his family over in FB; rather cute.
Via US Embassy Haiti/FB
“Today, we bid adieu to Ambassador Kenneth Merten and his family after a three-year term as U.S. Ambassador to Haiti. With his deep knowledge of the country, Ambassador Merten has strengthened Haitian-American relations and led U.S. Government assistance to the Government and people of Haiti through the good times and the bad. He has worked to support the take-off of Haiti, pou ayiti ka dekole, strongly encouraging investments and job creation in the country, particularly with the construction of the Caracol Northern Industrial Park. We salute Ambassador Merten’s commitment and dedication to Haiti. Embassy Port-au-Prince wishes all the best to the Merten family and we look forward to the arrival of our next Ambassador.”
Last week, Haiti President Michel Martelly awarded the outgoing ambassador with the National Order of Honour and Merit. The award, with the grade of Grand Cross, was given to Ambassador Merten at a ceremony in Port-au-Prince’s National Palace.
You might remember that last year, Ambassador Merten was also the recipient of the 2011 Ryan C. Crocker Award for Outstanding Leadership in Expeditionary Diplomacy. “This award recognizes those U.S. diplomats who excel in the most challenging leadership positions overseas. The Selection Committee commended Ambassador Merten for his extraordinary leadership of the unprecedented U.S. government response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which involved over 22,000 US military in Haiti and thousands of civilian personnel from numerous U.S. government agencies. His capable leadership saved lives and embodies the highest virtues of public service and crisis management.”
Then less that 24 hours of his departure from Haiti, the Associated Press published a lengthy report complaining about the Haiti reconstruction (see US pledge to rebuild Haiti not being met). What’s wrong with you, AP?
The Associated Press also says that “the fruits of an ambitious, $1.8 billion U.S. reconstruction promise are hard to find.”
Further it has some more troubling details:
On July 21, Less than 12 percent of the reconstruction money sent to Haiti after the earthquake has gone toward energy, shelter, ports or other infrastructure. At least a third, $329 million, went to projects that were awarded before the 2010 catastrophe and had little to do with the recovery — such as HIV/AIDS programs.
Half of the $1.8 billion the U.S. promised for rebuilding is still in the Treasury, its disbursement stymied by an understaffed U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince in the months after the quake and by a Haitian government that was barely functional for more than a year.
The AP report also cites major frustration for watchdogs of the U.S. effort for the lack of transparency over how the millions of dollars are being spent.
From interviews to records requests, efforts to track spending in Haiti by members of Congress, university researchers and news organizations have sometimes been met with resistance and even, in some cases, outright refusals.
Even when US contractors were willing to release the information on the Haiti reconstruction, apparently they become unreleasable because the information is considered “proprietary” by their funder. And who is the funder? USAID. To my last recollection, USAID is still run by the U.S. government, and funded by U.S. taxpayers.
For the AP to released this report on the 21st is just mean, that’s a weekend for goodness sake!
But you gotta do what you gotta do. Thomas C. Adams who serves as Haiti Special Coordinator at the U.S. Department of State, and Mark Feierstein who serves as Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), probably did not get much sleep trying to make sure that their blog post on Haiti makes it to DipNote on the day the AP report came out; and it did.
And — poor guy, Ambassador Merten’s luggage was barely out of the Reagan National Airport when he had to pen an op-ed for the Miami Herald saying “I am proud that the work we have done, and continue to do, helps Haitians build a stronger foundation for a prosperous future.”
As I leave Haiti, I am encouraged. Haiti has reported a 21-percent increase in foreign direct investment since 2010. In the north, I saw the completion of the first factory buildings and modern power plant at the Caracol Industrial Park. There is palpable enthusiasm in the community for the jobs this park will bring, adding more factories over the coming months and years. Anchored by a $78 million investment from Korean apparel manufacturer Sae-A Co., Ltd., the park has the potential to create more than 60,000 jobs.
[Potential rosy picture. :roll: ].
Oh, wait, a blog friend pointed us to this piece in NYT – is he touting the same Sae-A Trading, a South Korean clothing manufacturer and major supplier to American retailers like Walmart and Gap Inc.? The company that’s been called ““one of the major labor violators”?
[T]hanks to a deal that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton helped broker, Sae-A looked forward to tax exemptions, duty-free access to the United States, abundant cheap labor, factory sheds, a power plant, a new port and an expatriate residence outfitted with special kimchi refrigerators.
The developers — the Haitian government, the State Department and the Inter-American Development Bank — chose Sae-A despite its troubled labor relations in Guatemala, where the company closed its flagship factory last year after threatening to move jobs out of the country during an acrimonious dispute with its union.
Before the Haiti deal was sealed, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. urged American and international officials to reconsider, given what it described in a detailed memo as Sae-A’s egregious antiunion repression, including “acts of violence and intimidation” in Guatemala, where Homero Fuentes, who monitors factories for American retailers, calls Sae-A “one of the major labor violators.”
You think Ambassador Merten deserves a double :roll: here for touting that company in his op-ed and not mentioning the um, labor issue? Okay, here you go –
In related news, Al Kamen writes that Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s book, “Little America,” apparently “has sparked a scramble in the Kabul embassy compound to compile “success stories” for publication to counter the book’s analysis.”
SO LISTEN UP!
If you’re the smarty person who leaked that nugget to Al Kamen, they better not find out who you are; or you will be compiling “success stories” until 2024.