Sunday, November 2, 2008

November 2

"the most fun you can have with your pants on.”

--An American fighter pilot, regarding warfare

"He demanded victory, and his soldiers did everything in their power to achieve it for him."

--Historian Douglas Brinkley, regarding President Andrew Jackson


Palin Brutally Punk'd by Fake French President Sarkozy


Rejoin the World - Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times: "Mr. Bush’s presidency imploded not because of any personal corruption or venality, but largely because he wrenched the United States out of the international community. His cowboy diplomacy 'defriended' the United States. He turned a superpower into a rogue country. Instead of isolating North Korea and Iran, he isolated us — and undermined his own ability to achieve his aims. ... The new president also should signal that we will no longer confront problems just by blowing them up. The military toolbox is essential, but it shouldn’t be the first option for 21st-century challenges. You can’t bomb climate change. We also have to pay far more attention to public diplomacy and outreach."

An immigrant's emotional journey: At the turn of the century, she found the U.S. a joyful place. Her mood, and the nation's, changed - Yiyun Li, Los Angeles Times: "Bush has remained president for eight years, rather than four years as … these years seem to have confirmed our fear in that basement lab that America is going downhill. Bad news is prevalent, both from within the country and outside: the national debt, the questionable tax cuts and now the financial crisis; wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with human costs as high as the monetary costs; disasters of foreign policy and public diplomacy. America, at some level, reminds me of China in the late 1800s, when the country proudly considered itself the Middle Kingdom at the center of the world.”

Prince Turki accuses US government of doublespeak - Barbara Ferguson, Arab News: Former Saudi Ambassador to Washington Prince Turki Al-Faisal “challenge[d] current Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James Glassman for a speech he gave to correspondents last July at the Washington-based Foreign Press Center. He quoted Glassman as saying: ‘The key goals today are to diminish the threat to America and the rest of the world posed by violent extremism and weapons of mass destruction, and to help people around the world achieve freedom ... Our survival of liberty at home increasingly depends on the success of liberty abroad.' At this, Prince Turki paused, asking: ‘How true, Mr. Glassman. How about living up to those words and championing freedom for the Palestinians?’ He quoted Glassman again: 'In the war of ideas, our core task is not to fix foreigners’ perception of the US. These perceptions are important, but America’s image, indeed American itself, is not at the center of the war of ideas.' Describing this statement as 'extraordinary,' Prince Turki noted that Glassman explained that the US ‘shorthand’ of this policy is ‘diversion, powerful and lasting diversion, the channeling of potential recruits away from violence with the attractions of entertainment, culture, literature, music, technology, sports, education, business, in addition to politics and religion.' Again, quoting Glassman, Prince Turki criticized his statement that there is a widespread belief in Muslim nations that the US and other Western powers are out to destroy Islam and replace it with Christianity. And that this root belief underlies much of the passive support for the violent extremism of Al-Qaeda and similar groups. 'I don’t see how he squares this statement with its previous one. Can you?’”

The World Hopes for Its First President - Stryker McGuire, Newsweek: “The world has never watched any vote, in any nation, so closely. In country after country, polls show record-high fascination with the outcome of the U.S. elections this Tuesday. ... The Voice of America, which broadcasts in 45 languages to a worldwide audience of 134 million, is seeing ‘unprecedented interest." Via

Taking diplomacy a step further, US engages in world conversation Francesca Vella – Malta Independent online: “When the US decided to take diplomacy a step further by appointing an Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy three years ago, it sought to engage in world conversation, that is, to find out people’s perception of America. The new media was particularly useful in achieving this goal, deputy assistant secretary for public diplomacy Coleen P. Graffy told The Malta Independent on Sunday during a visit to Malta earlier this week. Ms Graffy referred to the art of communicating policies, values and culture to a world audience, and the fact that communication has been one of America’s big challenges. Ms Graffy oversees public diplomacy and public affairs programmes for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. She said a media hub was built in Brussels in a bid to reach out to the 12,000-or-so journalists in the EU.” See also: State Department on Suicide as a 'Good P.R. Move' - Ruth Conniff, Common Dreams (2006): "That a State Department official called the suicide deaths of three prisoners at Guantanamo Bay 'a good P.R. move' is bad enough. But here's the kicker: that official, Colleen Graffy, is the deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy."

Rotary in Cairo and the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt - my Journies To The Other Side Of The Same Coin - "As I went to the line that formed to talk with the [American] Ambassador, Mrs. Salwa Hadid, another one of my awesome Rotary counselors, grabbed me by the hand and rushed me to the front of the line. Soon, I was talking about U.S. Public Diplomacy and my experience with the IVLP program with the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Mrs. Margaret Scobey. I was very happy to have this opportunity and I am thankful my friend Graham offered to take my picture just in case I was successful in talking to her. All and all it was another great night in Cairo and one for the record books.”

Barack Obama & Civil War in Sri Lanka; Robert Blake’s Mind-Set; Negating R2P Psychology Build-Up - Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune: "Imagine how the lack of ‘official diplomacy’ and ‘public diplomacy’ has led to the misunderstanding of what’s going on in Sri Lanka."


Why Vote for Obama? – Joseph Nye, Huffington Post: “As the center-right London Economist recently pointed out in its endorsement of Obama, his election will do much to restore America's reputation around the world. … the Economist concluded, Obama has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent....He deserves the presidency. I agree.”

Battered and Bruised: America Looks Beyond the Bush Warriors: Erich Follath - Spiegel International: In his two terms in the White House, US President George W. Bush has presided over a precipitous fall in America's reputation around the world. History is likely to judge him a failure. Now, his successor will have to dig the US out of a deep hole.

America, Land Of Extremes: An Enigmatic Country Elects a New President - Gerhard Spörl, Spiegel International: Some find America fascinating, others abhor it, but virtually no one feels indifferent about the superpower. For months, the question of who will become the next president has riveted people around the globe. He will inherit responsibility for a country whose global reputation is battered.

Iraq may be Obama's first 'test': A President Obama would have to walk a delicate line in Iraq - Robert D. Kaplan, Los Angeles Times: And however irresponsibly President Bush has performed in Iraq, he also dramatically improved our strategic position and reduced the violence there between 2007 and 2008. Obama's goal, now that he seems likely to be elected, should be to consolidate Bush's gains, not squander them. With that done, other successes in the wider region and throughout the world beckon.

U.S. deaths in Iraq on track for record low - By Charles Levinson, USA TODAY

Terrorism Financing Blacklists At Risk: Global System Faces Multiple Challenges - Craig Whitlock, Washington Post: The global blacklisting system for financiers of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups is at risk of collapse, undermined by legal challenges and waning political support in many countries, according to counterterrorism officials in Europe and the United States.

Stuart Levey’s War - Robin Wright, New York Times: The idea of Stuart Levey, the under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the Treasury Department, is to press banks not to do business with Iran until it complied with international standards. Secretary of State Rice bought in.

Who is for missile defense? - James Hackett, Washington Times: Deploying an X-band radar and other defenses in Israel and around the Middle East is prudent. And installing an X-band radar in the Czech Republic and ground-based interceptors in Poland is equally important, to protect NATO bases and cities in Europe and the United States. Sen. John McCain has said he supports a strong missile defense, including the planned bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. Sen. Barack Obama has made it crystal clear he will cut missile defense spending. When asked what he will cut in the whole federal budget, he mentions missile defense. The choice is clear.

Comparing us to what? - Victor Davis Hanson, Washington Times: The current financial crisis has startled America from a hypnotic trance of self-indulgence and irresponsibility. But as we return to American fundamentals, we may discover that our political, social and economic system -- despite all the current election-cycle hysteria -- is still by far the most resilient in the world. How odd that it took a financial catastrophe to remind us of that.

Between Hope and Despair Over Who Will Define Nation's Identity - Pierre Tristam, Daytona Beach News-Journal/Common Dreams: The astounding thing is that Bush's terror-mongering, his scorn for government, his economic Darwinism, his with-us-or-against-us posture with allies abroad or Americans at home, isn't so washed-up after all.

Entangling Alliances [Review of From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776 by George C. Herring] - Josef Joffe, New York Times: From the first to the last page, this book whispers that the conventional narrative of America insulata is dead wrong. Never did the United States follow as a “great rule of conduct” the advice laid out in Washington’s Farewell Address: “to have . . . as little political connection as possible” with Europe. Isolationism has been a myth and a fighting word, but not a policy.

Google Settles Suit Over Book-Scanning - Miguel Helft and Motoko Rich, New York Times: Settling a legal battle, Google reached an agreement with book publishers and authors that clears the way for both sides to more easily profit from digital versions of printed books. The agreement, under which Google would pay $125 million to settle two copyright lawsuits over its book-scanning efforts, would allow it to make millions of out-of-print books available for reading and purchasing online.


Propaganda Stamps - Boing Boing

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