Sunday, November 16, 2008

November 16

“Unlike a commodity, whose value begins to decline the moment it changes hands, an artwork gains in value from the act of being circulated—published, shown, written about, passed from generation to generation — from being, at its core, an offering.”

--Author Daniel B. Smith, writing about the ideas of Lewis Hyde, author of The Gift

“The average Briton takes one and a half years to use up a pack of dental floss."

--Author Sarah Lyall, author of The Anglo Files, as cited by Washington Post literature critic Jonathan Yardley


Let’s be realistic about what Obama can accomplish - Guy W. Farmer, Nevada Appeal: ”I would also caution the international community about harboring unrealistic expectations for President-elect Obama, who demonstrated his international appeal when 200,000 Germans turned out for a rousing campaign rally in Berlin … Obama’s policies will have more impact on our international image than his soaring rhetoric. Public diplomacy — overseas cultural and information programs designed to gain support and/or understanding for our policies — should be a top priority for the incoming administration. This will require a complete reorganization of the State Department’s unwieldy and unresponsive public diplomacy structure. … At present, hundreds of positions at U.S. embassies are vacant and diplomatic morale is low because of inadequate staffing, insufficient budgets and poor management. Because our new president needs a strong diplomatic corps to complement our foreign military commitments, the Obama administration should … reiterate the executive order designating State as the lead agency on foreign affairs, including public diplomacy. That would be a good start toward restoring our good name throughout the world.” Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, was a public diplomacy officer during his 28-year U.S. Foreign Service career. PHOTO: Fitzalan Howard: Colonel of the Life Guards, Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps.

Albright Offers Diplomatic Advice to Obama - Georgetown University News: “Living in several countries, in addition to her wide travels, has turned Albright into a strong proponent of cultural diplomacy, which emphasizes cultural understanding in relations.’ People communicate through their cultures in different ways, and we have to see culture as a broad-based concept,’ she noted.” LEFT: The United States government sent jazz musicians overseas as a form of cultural diplomacy. Dave Brubeck, a jazz pianist, and his band were sent to Poland, Turkey, East and West Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Ceylon, Iran and Iraq.

Barack the Musi: 76 Trombones - Julia Woodward, Cornell Daily Sun: “President-elect Barack Obama, the first African-American to be elected president, was also the first president elected with a national arts policy committee (a 33-person committee, including a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and the founder of the American Film Institute). … He … has suggested the need for ‘cultural diplomacy,’ using art and artists overseas as ambassadors to show the world what America values."

Bush's mixed legacy - Jeffery T. Kuhner, Washington Times: Bush “presided over the most rhetorically inept administration in recent memory - a public diplomacy failure that enabled his opponents to misrepresent his national security strategy and fill the vacuum with lies and half-truths, especially about the Iraq war. It eventually cost Mr. Bush his popular standing at home and abroad, thereby reducing his presidency to rubble. Mr. Bush, however, was farsighted in foreign policy. He toppled two dictatorships in Afghanistan and Iraq, liberating more than 50 million Muslims from totalitarian regimes. His actions broke the back of al Qaeda, disrupted countless terrorist cells, and exposed Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein's corruption of the United Nations through the massive Oil-for-Food scandal.”

Many forms of conventional, unconventional intelligence can help our global efforts - Steve Hammons, Earthpages: “As a result of concerns that America is no longer as widely viewed as a leader, but sometimes rather as a danger in one way or another, efforts in ‘public diplomacy’ have been launched. Some of these endeavors are aimed at the international community. And many similar communications efforts have targeted American citizens. Obviously, the situation is far deeper than simply a public relations problem. And it will require more than PR spin and psychological operations (PSYOP).”

Orientalist paintings take a tour of modern Middle East: Exhibition of 19th-century visions of the 'exotic' Orient recalls the heavy history of colonialism - Iason Athanasiadis, Christian Science Monitor:”[C]cultural dissonance is part of putting on a show on a topic as controversial as Orientalist painting, then taking it on tour to the Muslim world. This effort at cultural diplomacy by the British Council, the British government's cultural arm, will move to Dubai's Emirati neighbor Sharjah after its show in Istanbul ends in January 2009.” LEFT: ‘Odaliesque,’ 1862: British painter Frederick Leighton toured the former Ottoman Empire.

Students flock int'l college fair: Career & Education - Luke Douglas, Jamaica Observer: “Carol Hart, public diplomacy and media officer at the Canadian High Commission, was on hand to support the 10 Canadian institutions on display, and inform students of visa requirements and work options. She said because of a change in Canada's immigration laws, Jamaican students may work for two years in Canada following the completion of their studies.”

One on One: Israel on his mind - Ruthie Blum Leibowitz, Jerusalem Post: “[Nachman] Shai, 62 - senior vice president and director-general for external affairs of the United Jewish Communities - has worn many hats, all of which combine his professional skills with his passions. … He was also one of the three judges on The Ambassador, an Israeli reality TV show in which young Israelis competed for the privilege of becoming an emissary for public diplomacy abroad.”

Falling – Paul Rockower, Levantine: “Friday I biked down to the LA Central Library to work on my paper on Qatar's use of conflict mediation as niche public diplomacy.”


Iraq’s cabinet approves troops pact with US – Reuters, Financial Times: Iraq’s cabinet approved a pact on Sunday that will allow U.S. forces to remain in the country until 2011, bringing an end to nearly a year of intense negotiations. The pact must still be approved by the Iraqi parliament, but Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said he expects that to happen before the end of the month.

EU Prepares To Get To Work: Europe Wants to Cooperate Closely with ObamaSpiegel International: The European Union is seeking a close working relationship with US President-elect Barack Obama, but it wants to do so with equal footing. In a strategy paper developed by EU foreign ministers, Europe says it is ready for closer cooperation on a number of difficult issues.

Two-faced Tehran: Iran should change its rhetoric if it wants a change in U.S. policy – Editorial, Baltimore Sun: Mr. Obama has responded to the stalemate with Iran with a call for "tough presidential diplomacy" without preconditions. It's an invitation Tehran should not pass up. Demonizing the U.S. or its new president won't bring about the change in U.S.-Iranian relations that Tehran says it seeks and its people deserve.

The urgency of an Israel-Arab Solution - David Kimche, Boston Globe: The outgoing Bush and the incoming Obama administrations, as well as the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, must all come to grips with what is happening here and act decisively and quickly to reinvigorate the peace process and keep hope for a two-state solution alive.

In Japan, the Picture Isn't Quite So Bright - Ayako Doi, Washington Post: While the rest of the world may be cheering the Obama presidency, Japan is decidedly ambivalent about yet another change in Washington. Japanese leaders will, of course, do all they can to get along with the new Democratic president and Congress. But they'll be facing an increasingly introverted public at home, whose opinions of America are about as high as George W. Bush's approval ratings.

Unsettling Times for Jihadists - David Ignatius, Washington Post: Obama makes the jihadists nervous because he is an appealing new face whose ascension undermines the belief that Islam and the West are locked in an inescapable clash of civilizations. So here's the challenge for Obama: Seize the moment; "turn a page" and thereby transform the intellectual battlefield; keep the military pressure on al-Qaeda's hard core, but discard the "war on terrorism" rhetoric; remind the world that al-Qaeda's victims have been overwhelmingly Muslim and that its brutal jihad has brought only ruin.

An African Crisis for Obama - Jim Hoagland, Washington Post: Humanitarian intervention -- proudly proclaimed as a universal mission by Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and other Third Way leaders and eventually adopted at the 2005 U.N. summit -- has fallen into serious disrepair.

A Military for a Dangerous New World – Editorial, New York Times: To protect the nation, the Obama administration will have to rebuild and significantly reshape the military.

Clinton as secretary of state: It's not as crazy as you think - Helene Cooper, International Herald Tribune: Foreign policy advisers to both Clinton and Obama said that the two were not as far apart on foreign policy -- particularly the issues of Iran and Iraq -- as they seemed to be during the long battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Don’t Do It, Hillary! The job of secretary of state is full of political hazards for the junior senator of New York - Peter Beinart, Daily Beast

Hillary for Secretary of State? - Emily Yoffe, Slate: Wouldn't Hillary be happier and more effective building her own power base in the Senate?

Team of Frenemies - Maureen Dowd, New York Times: On the down side, Hillary as Secretary of State would be taking over a big and demoralized government bureaucracy, after proving with her campaign that she does not know how to run a big and demoralized group of people. On the up side, she would never have to exaggerate her foreign policy résumé again; this time, she really would be brokering peace and flying into places where they’d try to fire at her. PHOTO from

A Quantum of Anti-Imperialism – Juan Cole, Informed Comment Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion: It is a sad state of affairs that Bush's America now appears in a Bond film ("A Quantum of Solace") in rather the same light as Brezhnev's Soviet Union used to.

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