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New Kid On The Blog

by afew Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 09:50:54 AM EST

We get mail:

NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy Strategy, Dr. Stefanie Babst, argues that public diplomacy needs to respond to the challenges of the Web 2.0 world and is encouraging NATO to be "more courageous in using digital tools to directly interact with the public":

NATO's New Public Diplomacy: The Art of Engaging and Influencing

"Why not widen the debate about NATO's new Strategic Concept beyond the 'usual suspects' and try to obtain new thinking through, for instance, online discussions with citizens on specific aspects of NATO's future role?"

I would appreciate your thoughts on this issue. Perhaps your readers would like to weigh in as well. I believe this is a real chance for us to demonstrate to NATO's leadership that the public is interested in a direct and transparent dialogue with policy makers.

  • Do you think NATO would benefit from engaging the blogosphere?
  • Do you think bloggers have constructive advice for NATO's specific challenges?
  • How could NATO identify and listen to the discerning bloggers and their readers? What form should such an exchange of ideas take?

This comes to us from The Atlantic Community, which tells us (e-mail footer):

Atlantic-community.org is a project of Atlantic Initiative e.V., a Berlin based non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to furthering transatlantic cooperation.

Let's lay aside for the moment the question of how this org is financed, and join in trying to understand what this might mean and how we might contribute.

I run into trouble as soon as I scan it.

  • They want to "directly interact with the public" with the aim of "influencing".
  • But they also hope to garner "new thinking" and "advice".
  • Only if it's "constructive" and comes from bloggers that have been "identified" as "discerning".

Why is it I get the feeling that the "direct and transparent dialogue" is most unlikely to happen?

But don't listen to me, I'm known to be undiscerning. What would you say to the NATO-blog initiative?


Display:
Why not make THE Twank the ET liaison with NATO?

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 09:59:26 AM EST
Is he not too moderate and diplomatic for the role?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 10:37:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I was cruising away from the port this evening, blogging on the steering console command center, Elizîe was speculating that, "Someday the Twank will be like all of us, getting the benefits that magically come after a year or so of ET."

"That, and Classic and Jazz.Net," thinks I.

I don't know if he'll choose the same chocolate brown Corniche with pale yellow interior and matching internet command centers that roll so brillig from the burl enclosures that many of us did, or the Nautor's Swan 45 (it is so pleasing to think in meters.)

But as the consortium pointed out at the last meeting, he has shown a marked improvement in writing skills and the 3G tracking shows that he is surprisingly accurate in telling us where is going and the like.

Yes; he may not use the </snark> tag as often as the NATO gig would demand, but that can be learned.

I'd write more, but Peplink just sent me a demo unit of their new Max Mobile Router with Satellite, 3G, WiMax, and WiFi WAN connections and I am experimenting with load balancing all four inputs simultaneously from 3 kilometers out. Sailing in the dark is taking a little more attention than usual.

Sorry.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 02:15:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trying to change NATO is a waste of time imo. It is from an Old World that no longer exists.

The Atlantic Community is somewhat different. Below is their mission list from their website. We might argue with the way the first mission is described, but not the rest. (I would hope). The list of founders, interns, movers and shakers includes former investment bankers, Accenture specialists and a wide variety of policy wonks. There doesn't appear to be an ideological pattern.

Here's what they say...

We seek to:

  • Spread the message that today's transatlantic agenda is global: International challenges like terrorism, the energy crisis, and the rise of new powers in Asia demand a unified Western policy.

  • Promote frank debates and collaboration between Europe and North America on issues of globalization and foreign policy.

  • Cultivate and improve intellectual exchange across the Atlantic through increased networking opportunities between decision-makers, senior experts, as well as a new generation of students and future policy professionals.

  • Promote and advance the future generation of decision-makers.

  • Analyze foreign policy and the challenges of the twenty-first century in such a way that everybody can understand them. Our leitmotif is: Accessible Foreign Policy for Everybody!


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 10:25:11 AM EST
Trying to change NATO is a waste of time imo. It is from an Old World that no longer exists.

I wonder how many other international organizations are "from an Old World that no longer exists". The IMF and World Bank? The OECD? The UN? The EU?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 10:36:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The UN and the EU belong to my New World. Lots to complain about, but an entirely 'faith' based feeling that with enough effort, knowledge, transparency and compassion these two institutions can be improved. Large parts of the UN work quite well. The big ego part doesn't.

I don't know enough about the functions and practices of the OECD to know if it is useful or a hindrance. The IMF/World Bank monster should be rebuilt. A global organization that invests, regulates and assists in crisis is needed, but not like these.

Organizations such Médecins Sans Frontières and Reporters without borders, or any of the others (often French-founded like Écoles Sans Frontières), are inspiring. Inspiration is, imo, one of the main reasons we form societies.


You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 11:07:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Everyone needs to have a web 2.0 initiative to be cool, with it, and demonstrate a "pro-active" engagement with "Stakeholders".  Being a citizen of an avowedly neutral non member state I probably don't have "locus standi".

But perhaps it would be helpful to articulate why NATO membership is a non-starter in Ireland, even though we have close family links with the US and are probably more culturally well disposed to the US than most EU Member states.

Irish Neutrality arose out of our historic dispute with Britain.  Hundreds of thousands of Irishmen died fighting in Britain's wars but when the ultra-nationalist Sinn Fein (and later Fianna Fail) took power there was a determination not to side with "perfidious Albion" until such time as the partition of Ireland was addressed.

Churchill even suggested the possibility of an end to Partition (well sort-of) if Ireland joined in to WW2 but was simply not believed.  There had been too many instances of post-dated cheques not being honoured.  So De Valera remained neutral to the outrage of Churchill in particular and the British in general.  (In practice Ireland was as pro-allied as it was possible to be without actual formally joining the Allied war effort - interning captured German airmen, relaying intelligence and critical weather forecasts for D Day etc.)  

However De Valera retained formal neutrality to the extent of offering condolences to the German Ambassador on the death of Hitler - something strictly in line with diplomatic protocol - but also illustrating the degree of estrangement from anything to do with Britain.

Whilst the cold war was raging, having a bulwark against the USSR made sense for a conservative Catholic Ireland which regarded Stalin as the great Satan and where even a soccer match with the USSR caused controversy.  But taking the same side as Britain was simply not possible.

The Cold war was replaced by Pax Americana and for a period when Clinton was a hero because of his engagement in the Peace Process - NATO membership might have been a problematic issue only for a left wing fringe.  But then came Bush and Iraq - a war which 70% of the population opposed - many vehemently - and which inspired some of the largest anti-war demonstrations anywhere.  The traditional close Irish/US relations became as strained as they have ever been by extraordinary renditions and troop transfers through Shannon.  Joining NATO once again became a total non-starter.

So what is NATO now except a relic of the Cold War and of the US Empire.  A colonial relic to be taken over by the EU after its Eastern enlargement?  Why should the US be allowed to have military bases throughout Europe and to jeopardise relations with Russia through active encirclement and aggressive military domination?   The adventurism of the Georgian President: Mikheil Saakashvili in South Ossetia shows how easily the EU could be dragged into a conflict with Russia that is simply not in it collective interest.  NATO, from this perspective, now becomes a vehicle for "divide and conquer" stratagems by the US Military Industrial Complex perhaps not even fully under the control of Democratic institutions in Washington.

I appreciate that former Soviet Satellites and Warsaw Pact countries want a bulwark against Russian Hegemony and the fear of re-conquest may be real.  I also appreciate it will be a long time before the EU achieves a credibility and military cohesion and capability to replace the US as the guarantor of East European security.  But ultimately it is in the interst of the US Military Industrial Complex to seek to exacerbate divisions and divide and conquer within Europe.  Ultimately it is in the interest of the EU to maintain cordial relations with Russia, and perhaps even, ultimately, offer membership to Russia.

So whatever way you cut it is difficult to see a long term role for NATO in a Post Colonial Europe.  Ireland will not be joining, and perhaps a prolonged period of peace and good relations with Russia will lessen Eastern European fears and insecurities.  Perhaps NATO is aware of the tide of history moving away from it.  Perhaps they are desperately trying to think of new ways to maintain "relevance" by embracing web 2.0.  I don't think we should be giving that enterprise too much credibility.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 10:36:13 AM EST
I wouldn't say anything.

I'd take notes about how that site is structured and make multiple copies of it, with views that compete with and critique it.

As usual, it's a very professional effort, and the open think tank idea is a masterstroke.

We've been rattling on about similar ideas for a couple of years now, and we haven't invented that. We probably should have.

The only consolation is that it looks a little too stiff and serious to be respectable in blog-ville. But the MSM will be loving it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 10:39:38 AM EST
There's a big push on for a renewal of public diplomacy here in the US, possibly to bring back the USIA in some form or other. The argument goes that the intentions of the US are misunderstood, and that we need to get our voice out there.

In case you're wondering, the Atlantic Community is based in Berlin and claim to be dedicated to the same thing in Germany that I'd like to see done in the US: raising the level of debate in foreign policy, as well as to enhance Germany's prescence abroad. Which I have absolutely no objection to.

The Atlantic Community is a open access project (I'm signed up there though I have never contributed) of the Atlantic Initiative, whose board members are listed here. I don't know these people, so I've no idea of any overarching agenda. Can anyone help me out with this?

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 11:09:57 AM EST
If we suggest NATO to self-dissolve, do you think they will listen to us?

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 11:29:05 AM EST
One can only hope.

I still haven't been able to work out what NATO is for now, except in very cynical terms.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 11:29:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I still haven't been able to work out what NATO is for now

To allow American presidents to sound Very Serious when they're bombing the shit out of something along with "our NATO allies."

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 11:43:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It appears Croatians and Macedonians are being fooled into believing NATO membership is a prerequisite (or at least a co-requisite) for EU membership, like the Central-Eastern Europe member states were fooled in the run-up to 2004.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 11:46:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't remember all of it.  Why do you think they were fooled?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 11:58:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd question the entire premise. NATO is fundamentally not supposed to be an active organisation - it's supposed to be a reactive organisation. Says so right there in Articles 1 and 5 of the NATO treaty.

Nowhere in this treaty is competence vested in any NATO bureaucracy to disseminate propaganda. At least not in any way I can decipher.

For that matter, nowhere in that treaty is competence vested in NATO to combat terrorism or other kinds of crime, except inasmuch as they pose a realistic threat to the sovereignty or territorial integrity of a member state. (And while we're at it, as far as I can read, Article 1 of the NATO treaty outright outlaws the terror bombing of Serbia in '01. Buy hey, who's counting...)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 11:37:32 AM EST
I'm not at all surprised that NATO is engaging in activities which are not explicitly provided for by its statutes.

Come to think of it... political organizations, politicians, IGO's, ... or military organizations have a long history of transgressing the law.

It's as if it were their raison d'être. It's a "l'état c'est moi" mentality - because... "we the people" are acting more like sheep than people.

by vladimir on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 03:15:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
* Do you think NATO would benefit from engaging the blogosphere?

Probably not.

* Do you think bloggers have constructive advice for NATO's specific challenges?

Probably not any that NATO officials would likely listen to.

* How could NATO identify and listen to the discerning bloggers and their readers? What form should such an exchange of ideas take?

Well, NATO could start by, you know, reading the blogs and commenting.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 11:50:18 AM EST
According to this page it is sponsored by the Stiftung Atlantik-Brücke, Daimler Chrysler AG, Boeing International, the German Marshall Fund, the Bundesverband der Volks- und Raifeissenbanken and the Bankhaus Löbbecke. In addition, the founders have put in some of their own capital.

It doesn't produce annual reports on its website. In general I find that American charities are much more transparent in that regard than European charities. That's probably a requirement by law, and the EU should address that issue.

Full disclosure: I write a blog with Joerg who works at the Atlantische Initiative and on the Atlantic Community. The blog is otherwise not affiliated with the Atlantische Initiative.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 11:57:36 AM EST
What I'm going to say should not be interpreted as an accusation, or the exhibition of "proof" of anything at all, but I'm wondering about Atlantic Initiative in view of the difficulty of seeing clear in its relations (or lack of?) to DC.

The New Atlantic Initiative is an undoubtedly Atlanticist and indeed neocon org sponsored and run by the American Enterprise Institute. Here's a note from SourceWatch:

New Atlantic Initiative - SourceWatch

The Atlantic Initiative is an attempt to carry the lobbying methods of AIPAC to Europe. Its related organizations, all with an "Atlantic" in their names, aim to influence policy throughout Europe. There are now Atlantic Initiatives/Foundations in about ten European countries, and most Eastern European countries, the "new Europe", have Atlantic representation. Much of the initial emphasis of these foundations is to foster friendly relations vis-a-vis Israel, to scuttle attempts to impose sanctions, and to crack down on anti-semitism.

However, a Gogol search for "Atlantic Initiative" only comes up with the one we're referring to here, in Germany.

Have you, or has anyone, any light to throw on this?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 12:07:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FWIW, looking at the names both personal and corporate involved with Atlantik-Brücke and its affiliates, I don't see where they'd have any need for the AEI's money.

One would expect them to be deeply rooted in the status-quo consensus, but not necessarily full-blown neocons.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 12:27:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These right wing initiatives often go through a lot of name changes and deaths and rebirths. This one (NAI) seems to be in the death stage.

I can also assure you that if the Atlantische Initiative e.V. were co-funded by the AEI, its offices would be a lot sweller. As it is they're a pretty lean organisation with a lot of the work being done by interns.

Alas, the search for the gravy train goes on...

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 12:41:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problems you see with this were what leaped out at me too.

I've run into this before.  People who are part of a political organization suddenly becoming interested in blogs but it all boils down to ... how can we USE blogs and bloggers to influence their readers in the way we think is best?  This has nothing to do with direct and transparent dialogue any more than direct and transparent dialogue was the goal when political parties discovered that voters were on the other end of that new invention called the telephone and wondered how to use it for their purposes.

by Maryb2004 on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 12:16:09 PM EST
Astroturf, in one word.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 12:25:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think NATO should become the model for a military based upon defending the Solar Economy, using First Earth Battalion warrior-monks to defuse global tensions.

I also think they should spend 3 months here simply lurking, to understand what might be occurring in the real world, before they attempt a reasonable dialogue.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 06:10:31 PM EST
I'd Call Drew J Jones a troll - except he's bang on. NATO has secret armies and is pursuing a land war in Asia which furthers the U.S. energy hegemony : something any European should be quite alarmed about.
Quite an agenda for a supposed treaty infringement reaction organization.
Public Diplomacy is something I see treated quite heavily at 'Mountain Runner'. I note Matt is adept at gaming the system for exposure - but likely right that diplomacy needs online attention. Unhappily, so does the fact that new sites are springing up already which have the imprint of our Lords and Masters' quislings on them. Comment threads in other countries are derailed by Reich-wing propagandists and provocateurs.
The UK, US, Australia, Canada and more are corrupted by the Global War of Terror - civil rights being a distant illusion. Anyone not knowing about Orwell needs to get up to speed.Ditto Overton Window.
There is a starter section on my links page, but PsyOps are worthy of special treatment.
http://my.opera.com/oldephartte/links/
Watch for more indexes in Utilities category.


Opit's LinkFest! Samples from the Online Menu
by opit (oldephartte@gmail.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 01:51:07 AM EST
Welcome to ET, opit!

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 03:45:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
While NATO is doubtless all the things said about it here in these excellent posts...and I feel the same as most all the writers. I have a bone to pick though.

For example, what Frank wrote was exactly right, except for the last line. Drew and others as well.

Who cares if they are astroturfing and dinosaurs. They have the spotlight. They have billions of money-units. Changing them 1% would affect the world.

Correct me if I am wrong Sven, but in marketing you don't go for the masses. You go for the opinion leaders. This adventure at NATO is or isn't going to reach their opinion leader(s), but as they say, you tilt for the Overton Window that you can reach.

No, NATO won't respond well to "Close Shop, give your budget to the poor." But what is within the realm of their jazz? What bright idea would they take and steal as their own? Or, when picked up by opinion leaders stopping by, what would we like to push?

There ain't no way that Obama is going to say, "Here, I'm busy this next few years and we're tired of your lame asses." What would make it easier for them USians to put less attention on this mechanism so they can gradually stop being the big boss without the wingnuts going shaky hand?

What would one say if 'they' were buying the first round of Caol Ila?

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:34:47 PM EST
Most clients think they can appeal to a much wider audience than is wise. And many of them wrongly think they themselves are the ideal audience for their product or service. Which is why their briefs often have to be rewritten before we can start work.

I guess it is the same effect as the lop-sided relationship between a TV star and a fan. The fan has seen the face and persona of the celebrity so many times - they think they know them personally.

Opinion leaders are not always the target. Although if you talk about different channels for communication, then the channel itself has an 'opinion' and will thus lead the consumers of the channel.

One is always looking for cost efficiency ;-) What's the optimal audience we can reach effectively, with the budget we have to do it?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:53:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very true. And very funny about the client always thinking that they are the equivalent of target market.

It breeds the opposite remark of people thinking that they aren't good at marketing, as well.

ET is a marketing piece which helps in closing the pitch to the tainted masses. Now, what's the pitch?

NATO, thanks, we wish you well. It is unprecedented in an organization such as you are, to go against the natural instinct of 'fighting the last war' and instead, do what you are doing, looking for the best way to prevent the next war from happening.

Our view is that you do this by developing low cost and light-weight hydroponic and cheese-making tools. Getting them into the hands of people will sprout a thousand projects to get the raw materials that make such things valuable. Write a good instruction manual, not one of those that needs a physicist to tell me what I don't understand to figure it out.

Thank you for this opportunity to help in your cause of a better future for us all.

Now go away.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 07:08:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For me, the pitch is designed when I know the audience.

In ET's case, we are only slightly nearer a decision on that ;-)


You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 12:03:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You could design multiple pitches for multiple possible audiences...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 12:05:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It doesn't work in music ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:36:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps, but not usually. Focus on one or two things that hit the message of who you are after is most usually the most successful. Watering that down loses everyone.

I remember a great lesson for me when I used to keep a radio going in the workplace. I had noticed an ad for the joke they had in it, but it took more than a few times before I realized that it was promoting something that I was actively searching for. Which is a whole different point on a major "everyone knows" in the business, that you have to keep repeating the message before anyone listens, before you get a result...that running with an a message once or twice is a waste of time.

The playout of this is that people who say they don't do marketing well are often people who think they have tried but who don't try often enough and get discourage when really they just need to find the things that allow a penetration of the message and keep working it.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:53:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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