"We definitely believe this is a growth area in the DOD."
--Julian Setian, chief operating officer, SOS International, Ltd, referring to the Department of Defense paying private U.S. contractors to "engage and inspire" Iraqis to support U.S. objectives and the Iraqi government. Below: photos from SOS International's homepage.
Where Strategic Communication Leads – Marc Lynch, Abu Aardvark: “The Washington Post reports today that the Defense Department ‘will pay private U.S. contractors in Iraq up to $300 million over the next three years to produce news stories, entertainment programs and public service advertisements for the Iraqi media in an effort to ‘engage and inspire’ the local population to support U.S. objectives and the Iraqi government.’ In contrast to earlier efforts, where there was supposedly always a 'produced by MNF-I [Multi-National Force - Iraq]' label, these efforts explicitly will not have such attribution. As one official explains, ‘They don't know that the originator of the content is the U.S. government. If they did, they would never run anything.’ These sorts of efforts exemplify all of the problems with strategic communications vs public diplomacy.”
American Public Diplomacy Wears Combat Boots: The Pentagon's $300 million to "engage and inspire" - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: “We are nearly a decade into the Second Great War of Ideas and the Pentagon remains the America’s unwitting public diplomat engaging the world’s audiences. American public diplomacy will continue to wear combat boots until the top leadership at the Department of State realizes that it must fully commit to engaging non-state actors from individuals to armed groups. As it is too late for much change this Administration, we can only hope the next President and Secretary of State will push for and receive the support necessary from Congress to make the necessary changes to empower and resource a civilian Department of Non-State, either within or without the existing State Department, to remove the combat boots that prevents deeper and fuller engagement with partners and locals.”
Listening To Pakistan: The West’s Premier Pd Challenge - Rob Asghar, Public Diplomacy Blog, University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy: “[T]he anti-Western sentiment of Pakistan is both real and growing, which means that any further investment of Western time and money would be wasted under our current approach. Again, to be blunt, we may need to decide either to bomb them into dust… or to begin to listen to them and engage them at the level of their own urgent concerns. At present, we in the West are merely a half-baked mess, neither tough nor tender. Let us hope that we can begin to practice soft power and other forms of public diplomacy well enough that trust can be built to find an effective partnership to confront the angry tribesmen who now menace that nation and the world.”
Next US leader must revamp Pak policy – Nation, Pakistan: “As Pakistan intensifies action against extremists, an experts report says the next US President must revamp policy toward its ally, mixing deft diplomacy, security support and economic aid to help the country defeat a grave threat from extremists. Pakistan Policy Working Group, a bi-partisan group of about a dozen experts on US-Pakistan relations … calls upon the US to ‘develop, invest in, and implement a far-reaching public diplomacy programme that emphasises common US and Pakistani interests in combating extremism, creating prosperity, and improving regional relationships instead of highlighting the struggle against extremism in Pakistan as part of the Global War on Terrorism’.”
California’s Role in Asia - John J. Brandon, Asian Week: A major recommendation in the “Asian Views of America’s Role in Asia 2008” report is for the U.S. to exercise its public diplomacy more effectively by creating a new program that would build cultural, artistic and intellectual bridges between America and the peoples of Asia.
On Improved Public Diplomacy Standards in the Foreign Service – Foreign Policy Association -- Middle East: The official Web log for Great Decisions 2007 - “How is it that the same country that enjoyed Thank You For Smoking because of its witty and insightful cultural commentary has no one selling our programs to the (probably sometimes hostile) foreign publics that we are trying to work with?”
U.S. Public Diplomacy Head Gives Incomplete and Misleading Answers about Elimination of U.S. Broadcasts to Russia, Georgia, and India – Ted Lipien, Free Media Online Blog: “James Glassman, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, gave incomplete and misleading answers when asked Friday whether the elimination of vernacular broadcasts to Georgia, Russia, and India is going to hurt his ‘war of ideas’ effort. Speaking in Washington at a National Press Club luncheon on The New Age of Public Diplomacy,' Glassman seemed surprised and annoyed by the question.” PHOTOS: James Glassman
Democracy assistance - highly contested terrain (again) - Democracy Digest : The challenge to democracy, reflected in resurgent authoritarianism and the backlash against democracy assistance, amounts to a ‘new paradigm’, and requires more energetic public diplomacy to defend and articulate democratic ideas. Democracy can no longer be divorced from the broader issue of development and notions of poverty must be redefined to include individual freedom as a key indicator of human development. These were some of the issues raised by representatives of the Swedish government, aid organizations, political party foundations and democracy assistance groups assessing the future of democracy promotion at a discussion organized by the Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies earlier this week.
The VP Debate: Dishonest Foreign Policies - Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus
A Rational Russia Policy? - Masha Lipman, Washington Post: Neither presidential candidate has outlined a policy that would overcome the current confrontations with Moscow and make the world more secure. The United States no longer has a sympathetic constituency in Russia that views America as a force for good that may help make Russians' lives freer, more democratic or more prosperous.
Lessons for the next war – Editorial, Boston Globe: The next president will inherit a daunting set of national security problems. Captivated at the start by an illusory belief that the United States could, and should, impose its will on the world's bad actors by shock and awe, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld drove the world's sole surviving superpower into a diplomatic, strategic, and fiscal ditch. On the last lap of the Bush administration, there has been one tonic voice of reason, which the next administration would do well to heed. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a former CIA director and president of Texas A&M, has labored to undo the damage done by his predecessor.
9/11 Was Big. This Is Bigger - David Rothkopf, Washington Post: While 9/11 changed the way we view the world, the current financial crisis has changed the way the world views us. Already this crisis has seen not just our enemies but even some of our closest allies wondering whether we are at the beginning of the end of both American-style capitalism and of American supremacy.
The War to Promote Terror - Robert C. Koehler, Common Dreams: Economics professor Marc Herold’s about-to-be-released report on the bombing campaign in Afghanistan, "The Matrix of Death," is a disturbing analysis not only of the collateral damage churned up by our terrorist-hunt in this broken nation, but of the attitude and rationality that are driving it. The report is subtitled: "The (Under)Valuation of an Afghan Life."
Chomsky: "If the U.S. Carries Out Terrorism, It Did Not Happen" - Subrata Ghoshroy, AlterNet: In an exclusive interview, Noam Chomksy weighs in on the financial collapse, the election and the power of U.S. propaganda.
Jonathan Yardley on 'A Most Wanted Man': An idealistic German lawyer takes on the case of a stateless Chechen Muslim – Washington Post: “I'd place [Le Carré's] A Most Wanted Man toward the lower end of the 21 novels he has now written. It is intelligent, of course, and immensely informative about espionage and the people who engage in it, but its prose occasionally is flabby (especially when the heroine is involved), the feelings its central characters have for each other are utterly unconvincing, and it ends on a note of clichéd, knee-jerk anti-Americanism that I find repellent.”
Fashionable First Ladies From Around The World (SLIDESHOW) - Huffington Post
FROM: Wall-to-wall wonder: Eclectic Hollywood house filled with collections galore, Los Angeles Times