media diplomacy

As the Islamic State group battles across Syria and Iraq, pushing back larger armies and ruling over entire cities, it is also waging an increasingly sophisticated media campaign that has rallied disenfranchised youth and outpaced the sluggish efforts of Arab governments to stem its appeal.

September 18, 2014

Korean TV  dramas have been popular across Asia for the past decade, with series like “Autumn in My Heart,” “Jewel in the Palace” and the most recent “My Love from the Star” all being major hits. Now, Korean dramas are paving the way across the US, triggered by new platforms such as on-demand Internet streaming media.

Photographs purportedly showing more than 40 UN peacekeepers seized by Islamist militants on Syria’s side of the Golan Heights – along with their identity cards – have been posted on social media.  The al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front says the captives, all from Fiji, were detained on Thursday because their UN mission was helping Syria’s government and had ignored the suffering of its people. It says they are being treated well.

The extremists who have seized large parts ofSyria and Iraq have riveted the world’s attention with their military prowess and unrestrained brutality. But Western intelligence services are also worried about their extraordinary command of seemingly less lethal weapons: state-of-the-art videos, ground images shot from drones and multilingual Twitter messages.

This may be the best Ice Bucket Challenge to combine the viral video craze with what’s in the news right now.  Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have been mocked by one social media user who has imitated what an ISIS member would look like if he were to accept the challenge.

Crackdowns on foreign media in North Korea are a continuation of long-standing attempts by the government to suppress interest in foreign cultures.  Studies show that access to foreign media undermines state control on several levels.

One photographer's global travels recently captured a glimmer of hope within an otherwise bleak landscape in Iraq.  Brandon Stanton, known for his successful blog and best-selling book, "Humans of New York," partnered with the United Nations to venture on a 50-day tour of 10 countries and expand his storytelling series worldwide.

The same diplomatic maneuvering is practiced in any series of international negotiations, but in this case, the fog of diplomacy was more dense than usual. One reason is that the Obama administration felt that it had to manage the public discourse about the negotiations in the United States to avoid losing control of public opinion to the pro-Israeli right in Congress.