Thursday, September 18, 2008

September 18

“[T]he hotbed of Muslim cultural activity that is the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki!”

--Blogger Toby

"The wise elephant is the epitype of enlightened despotism. Every minister of culture should read the book and learn from it."

--The Times Literary Supplement, regarding Le Musée de Babar


With friends like these, the US hardly needs enemies - Roula Khalaf, Financial Times: Determined to claim some success, the Bush team, in its last months in office, says the purpose of public diplomacy is not so much to improve the U.S.’s image as to undermine that of al-Qaeda. But the next U.S. administration will have to keep in mind the fact that carrying out its political objectives effectively in the Arab and Muslim world requires projecting a better image.

Glassman: America Branding Alive and Well - Steven R. Corman, COMOPS journal: “Earlier today I pa[r]ticipated in a bloggers’ roundtable with Assistant Undersecretary of State James Glassman. My question for him was whether the U.S. National Strategy for Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication (NSPDSC) is still in force. … I took it from his recent public statements that we would not be focusing on selling Brand America, but on suppressing sales of the competing brands. Now there appears to be renewed emphasis on the former goal. For me that raises serious questions of how we’re going to build a brand when we don’t have the credibility with target audiences to deliver an effective value proposition.”

How Can Public Diplomacy Fix This? – Melinda Brouwer, Foreign Policy Association: Public Diplomacy and the 2008 Presidential Elections: “At a blogger roundtable today, I asked Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy James K. Glassman the question at hand: how do we use public diplomacy tools to address the problem of 9/11 denial? His answer was less than satisfying. He reacted by saying that […] what he and his team are ‘up against,’ but didn’t offer any constructive measures on how to deal with the problem. … Clearly there is much work to be done in the credibility-building department.”

Blogger Roundtable with Under Secretary Glassman - MountainRunner: “The Blogger Roundtable with Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James Glassman concluded a short time ago. ... I'm in complete support of the Democracy Videos project and see Smith-Mundt as an unintended barrier for domestic distribution. … Mr. Under Secretary, do you agree public diplomacy has been militarized? If not, why not, and if so, what are your recommendations to change this?”

Soft power and a very, very interesting woman - MMB Agency, “Public Diplomacy loves the Presidential election campaign,” Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James Glassman said. “It’s got people excited about the United States. ... It shows the kind of change that’s possible when there’s an African-American man in the race and a very very interesting woman.” A simple, powerful message. And where does Glassman need it to resonate most strongly? Right here in Europe, which, along with the Middle East, he said, ranks among the areas of greatest animosity towards the United States.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? - Daniel Johnson, New York Sun: “I am tired of the prejudice and ignorance of Europeans about America. And I am sad, though not surprised, that the U.S. government's public diplomacy has been so feeble, not to say non-existent. Instead, it has been left to a few lone voices to defend America against the calumnies of its enemies. Notable among these is a new Web site,, which is already up but will be officially launched next month in London.”

Obama, McCain on National Security and Nuclear Proliferation - Eliza Margarita Bates and Cara Zwerling, Huffington Post: Although he never mentions it on his website, John McCain admitted in March of this year that "prevailing in this struggle [against Islamic terrorism] will require far more than military force. It will require the use of all elements of our national power: public diplomacy; development assistance; law enforcement training; expansion of economic opportunity; and robust intelligence capabilities."

US image abroad - The World from Eagle Hill: Public diplomacy is something you just don’t hear much about these days. It’s not entirely missing from the presidential race though, because our two major candidates both claim that they will repair the frayed relationships between the US and its most important allies.

[S]ave the date: sept 30
– Marc Lynch, Abu Aardvark – “[F]or those interested just a heads up now to save the rapidly approaching date: Public Diplomacy and the War of Ideas: Agendas for the Next Administration George Washington University, September 30, 2008, from 2:00-3:30, Location TBA.”

Prof discusses how ads can aid U.S. diplomacy - Jacob Longan, NewsPress - Dr. Jami Fullerton, an expert on advertising and marketing: “So our hypothesis, and that’s exactly what it is, is can we use the marketing and media savvy of America and leverage that to win hearts and minds overseas? The idea of advertising and public diplomacy, if you will.” The book she co-authored is Advertising’s War on Terrorism: The Story of the U.S. State Department’s Shared Values Initiative.

Wait, This Makes Sense – Falze, Albany Media Bias: "So it’s due to the inadequacies of U.S. public diplomacy that the fabled Arab Street thinks Americans incinerated fellow Americans as part of a 'crusade' against them? Do you see it? We (well, most of us) look at these conspiracy theories (the US killed [its] own people to a) start a war with muslims; and/or b) steal middle eastern oil) and go, "That's crazy talk!" Muslims, particularly those in the middle east, do NOT think that's crazy talk."

Iftar with the Ambassador
- Toby, Northern Light – Chilled Thoughts From The Top Of Europe: “I got invited to my first Iftar dinner last night. Iftar is the meal that breaks the daily fast during Ramadan. Amusingly this very nice occasion took place at the hotbed of Muslim cultural activity that is the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki! The embassy's chef out did himself with a selection of dishes from across the Muslim world. The U.S. State Department has a rather clever public diplomacy programme of bringing four U.S. Muslims to other countries to meet civil society groups, local Muslims, students and who ever else they can rustle up (such as people like me) - so the meal was partly in their honour and partly a way of bringing Finnish Muslims and others who have tangential relations with the Finnish Muslim communities together with the U.S. diplomats.”

Somali youth for peace workshop in Beled Hawa City - Terror Free Somalia Foundation - The week of August 25th through the 29th marked the first of major student workshop held in Beled Hawa for school boys and school girls in the gedo region jubbaland state of somalia. The workshop was almost entirely organized by seven staff members at the local U.S. embassy and the initiative was led by the Public Diplomacy Officer for Somalia, Mr. Mark Zimmer.

PRSA Tries to Throw Down the Ethical Gauntlet…And Fails - The Ethical Optimist: Public Relations With A Conscience: “Oh boy. Much as I like to think our profession is starting to raise the ethical bar, I was a bit concerned when I saw the media advisory PRSA put out under the heading 'Communications Pros Issue Formal Ethics Challenge to Campaigns.' In case you missed it, here’s a lift from the alert … . 'PRSA leadership … spearheaded a private sector summit on public diplomacy at the U.S. State Department, among other activities.'”

The Committee’s Olympic Newsmakers - Committee of 100 Newsletter: Michelle Kwan was one of seven dignitaries in the U.S. presidential delegation attending the Beijing Olympics Closing Ceremony. Kwan, the decorated figure skater who has won silver and bronze Olympic medals, was invited to join the delegation because of her role as Public Diplomacy Envoy for the U.S. State Department. Her boss, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was to have headed the delegation, but the crisis in Georgia intervened and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao took her place.

McCaineocons - GrEaT sAtAn"S gIrLfRiEnD: Combatting Anti American Propaganda,Tyrannies, Intolerant Regimes, Militias and Foes of Enlightenment: Robert Kagan -- After serving as an adviser to Congressman Jack Kemp in 1983, and then working as a speechwriter for Secretary of State George Schultz, in 1985 Kagan was chosen by Elliot Abrams to head the Office of Public Diplomacy, whose mission was to create support for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels.

British Arab Exchange – Aiban, A Little Something: “These young Iraqis shared their experiences in London under the joint programme of the Kubba Foundation and British-Arab Exchanges (BAX) which has more than 30 years’ experience of arranging exchange visits … . To be honest, I expected a story that would give an Iraqi viewpoint on the war, what was wrong and what is right, what should be done and what can be done. After, attending the 'public diplomacy' talk a day earlier, I was expecting certain output/outcome indicators of this diplomacy. But, it was good that they managed to get their visas (they rece[i]ved their visas a week late) to come to the UK and share their stories."

Ilmu HI dan Konstruksi Masa Depan Bangsa - Ahmad Rizky Mardhatillah Umar, Blognya Pengamat Politik: Mentions public diplomacy.


"Soccer diplomacy" to help dispel Armenia-Turkey grudges
– Yang Jun, People’s Daily: Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan invited his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul Serzh to the Armenian capital of Yerevan to watch a soccer match, or the historic World Cup qualifier match held between the Turkish and Armenian teams. A "soccer diplomacy" game alone cannot dissolve or dispel nearly a century-old grudges between the two nations as a matter of course.

Bob Dylan In Baghdad
- Melik Kaylan, Arab tradition has a tremendous respect for serious culture, for classicism and philosophy, a tradition that antedates the Koran by millennia. Imagine if we were to distribute boxes full of Mark Twain in translation and show Tom Stoppard on television. The mullahs would get a diet of William James' religious experiences, and the young women Virginia Woolf. In the fight against barbarism, why not awe them with ideas?

Using bad PR is Taliban’s defense against airpower - Charles J. Dunlap Jr., Atlanta Journal Constitution: “Tanks and armor are not a big deal -- the planes are the killers. I can handle everything but the jet fighters.” This recent conversation between Taliban commanders, intercepted by U.S. intelligence officers, does much to explain the frenzied efforts of their propaganda machine to ban the use of the weapon they fear most: airpower.

Al-Qaida's Propaganda Sites, Smacked Down - Noah Shachtman, Wired: For years, the al-Ekhlaas network of sites has been a primary distributor of videos from al-Sahab, Qaida's propaganda arm. Then, on September 11, was suddenly re-registered. Its domain name now belongs to the hosting service. All of its content vanished.

Victory Is an Orphan in Iraq - Thane Rosenbaum, Wall Street Journal: Yes, there are many truths about the war in Iraq. But to say America fought an ill-advised war that was both a lost cause and a total loss is surely not one of them.

"Our Work Here is Far From Done”: Petraeus Leaves Iraq - Patrick Cockburn, Counterpunch: General Petraeus’s oft declared uncertainty about the future stability of Iraq is genuine. It is the Iraqi Shia and their Iranian backers, not the Americans, who are the true victors in the Iraqi war.

A Run on Russia – Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal: Perhaps the Russian people, who give their leaders high marks in opinion polls, will begin to see the economic toll from Putinism and question whether their country is well-served by this leadership.

What Russia Wants: Moscow is not bent on world domination, just regional influence - Ted Galen Carpenter, American Conservative: Washington remains tone deaf in its policy toward Russia.

Russia: Back to the Future - Jeffrey Tayler, Atlantic: Recognizing a Russian sphere of influence of sorts would reflect the real balance of power that obtains today across formerly Soviet Eurasia, and would allow the United States to manage its decline with some degree of dignity.

Russia And Nato's Identity Question: Russia's invasion of Georgia raises new questions about the purpose of the West's alliance – Monitor’s View, Christian Science Monitor: NATO can start addressing its identity question by reaching a consensus on the nature of the Russia threat.

Bloom Off the Rose: Georgian “democracy” owes more to Josef Stalin than Thomas Jefferson - John Laughland, American Conservative

The Duty to Rescue - Michael Ignatieff, New Republic: Humanitarian intervention is no longer in the frame for any Western state. Fixing broken states once looked possible. In Afghanistan and Iraq, everyone has learned how difficult it is to stay this course, especially for impatient societies such as our own.

Why Obama Is Wrong - William S. Lind, McCain and Obama are Establishment Party candidates. Neither man conceives any real limits, political, financial, military or moral, on American power.


WTF? Ann Coulter Just Had A Baby!
- Wonkette