Wednesday, December 10, 2008

December 10

“There are as many as three times more gang members in Los Angeles alone than there are jihadists worldwide.”

--Senior Fellow at the American Security Project (ASP) Bernard Finel

“more people die each month on American roads than were killed in the September 11 attacks.”

--John Garvie, “Driving Lessons,” Times Literary Supplement, December 5, 2008


Aldous Huxley, 1958: ‘Brave New World’ Just Around the Corner


Counterterrorism Strategy Reboot - Bernard Finel, New Atlanticist: "Our counter-terrorism strategy is hopelessly misguided. We have now come to the end of the road, and it turns out that instead of reaching our destination, we’ve hit a dead end. … [I]n addition to reducing our footprint in the region, we should reduce the fingerprints of our policy on the lives of people in the Middle East.

This is a fundamentally counterintuitive proposal. After all, there is a broad consensus in American policymaking circles that the United States ought to be more involved in such things as promoting human rights, solving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and engaging in a deep and sustained public diplomacy effort. Unfortunately, all of those recommendations serve to deepen and reinforce the common belief in the Muslim world that the United States is an octopus whose tentacles reach in every corner of the region. The more visibly engaged we are, the more ammunition we give to those who seek to blame every misfortune on the United States.”

Live From Iceland, or Possibly Greenland, It's the DipNote Tweet Show! - Al Kamen, In the Loop, Washington Post: “Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Colleen Graffy, formerly the academic director and associate professor at the London Law Program for Pepperdine University School of Law … received international fame of a sort in 2006 when she was quoted saying that the suicides of three Guantanamo Bay detainees were a ‘good PR move.’ Graffy is overseas as we speak, working to spread the word of America's fine foreign policy. And the State Department, aware of your short attention span, has a simple way to make sure you know how she's earning her keep. Here's the note on the official blog, DipNote. ‘Do you twitter? You can follow a diplomat in real-time and learn more about America's public diplomacy by catching the 'tweets' of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Colleen Graffy.’ Tweets are very brief messages, 140 characters max, letting people know what you're doing.” PHOTO: Graffy with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Army Invades Second Life – Joshua Fouts, The Ethical Blogger, Policy Innovations: “James Glassman, US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, made a stunning announcement at the New America Foundation on December 1, 2008 about the State Department's ‘Public Diplomacy 2.0’ efforts. … In his speech, Glassman makes the case for the importance of integrating a full-fledged approach to Internet outreach, arguing that government needs to let go of its desire to control the message.

… I found Glassman's words inspiring and exciting. In the fall of 2005, as director of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, I had the opportunity to brief Under Secretary Glassman's predecessor Karen Hughes before she took office as Under Secretary of State. Our group recommended that, among other things, she integrate games, virtual worlds and blogs into her public diplomacy outreach strategies. Nearly three years later, I'm thrilled to see that her successor has implemented all of those ideas and more. … Glassman argued, as do we, that virtual worlds are no substitute for real world experiences. They serve, however, as excellent gateways to better understanding people or opportunities to augment or extend ideas – such as expanding and continuing relationships formed in exchange programs.”

Hit the road, Damascus tells Americans - Stephen Starr, Asia Times: “Tens of thousands of Syrians participated in organized demonstrations in cities across the country to protest against American aggression in Syria and throughout the region. Points of American symbolism, including the American Cultural Center, were singled out to show Syria could not be pushed around without consequences. American educational institutions were caught in the backlash. Three institutes in the Syrian capital: the Cultural Center, the American Language Center (ALC) and the Damascus Community School (DCS) were all closed as a result of the cross-border raid.”

Scientific Cooperation as a Diplomatic Tool - John Daly, Thoughts About K4D: "’If you look around the world, despite what is certainly a serious decline in U.S.... popularity, the science issue has not faded from the center of foreign interest in us,’ said [former U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering, now chairman of the international consulting firm Hills and Co. Comment: Check out the previous posting on science and human rights which, since human rights should be a central focus of our foreign policy, suggests another diplomatic thrust. I was for decades involved in efforts to promote peace in the Middle East by promoting scientific cooperation among scientists representing different countries in the region. That too can be a part of U.S. public diplomacy.” PHOTO: Thomas Pickering

Smith-Mundt Symposium Update [January 13] - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner

Golden Oldies: American mercenaries of public diplomacy - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner

Poll: NGOs can't tackle human rights issues: Survey conducted for NGO Monitor finds human rights issues very important to overwhelming majority of Israelis; 51% believe NGOs favor Palestinians - Ynetnews: “The poll, commissioned by Jerusalem based watchdog, NGO Monitor and the Public Diplomacy Program at Bar-Ilan University’s Department of Political Science, and conducted by KEEVOON Research, showed that 51% of Israelis believe that NGOs favor the Palestinians while only 19% think they are equally concerned with Israelis and Palestinians; 64% of Israelis concluded that NGOs are by their nature biased against Israel, in light of the UN’s Durban Conference in 2001, according to the survey.”

Cultural diplomacy – a pillar of Vietnam’s foreign policy - VietNamNet Bridge: A senior diplomat has highlighted the importance of cultural diplomacy, saying it forms part of Vietnam’s foreign policy and effectively supports its political and economic diplomacy.

Conflict in the region can be addressed through cultural diplomacy - Sherry Rehman, Online-International News Network, Pakistan: Islamabad: Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Sherry Rehman has said that there are many conflicts in the region that can be addressed through cultural diplomacy.

Touring orchestras find winning pitch - Andrew Clark, Financial Times, posted on The Peninsula, Qatar: Orchestras are increasingly taking an unofficial role in cultural diplomacy.

A Leap into Business School – admin, “I am a person with an unshakeable belief in the transformative power of words and stories. … This affinity for words and stories is what attracted me to a career in public diplomacy at the State Department. What is public diplomacy, you may ask? Essentially, it’s selling the American story. As I transition into business school, this same affinity is fueling my interest in marketing.”


Don't replace the old Guantánamo with a new one: President-elect Obama has pledged to close the infamous military prison in Cuba. So why are people trying to give him the right to start all over again? - Jameel Jaffer and Ben Wizner, Salon

Obama's Gitmo problem: The Bush administration's abuse of the judicial system will haunt Obama - Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times: Call it the other mess Barack Obama will inherit from George W. Bush. is the military tribunal system that the administration set up at Guantanamo Bay to try accused Al Qaeda members and other suspected Islamic terrorists -- and, particularly, the five men in U.S. hands who, by their own admissions, organized and coordinated the Sept. 11 attacks.

How to try terrorists: A chaotic hearing for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other defendants at Guantanamo Bay puts the spotlight back on the value of military commissions – Editorial, Los Angeles Times: In confessing responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other defendants may have hastened just punishment for their roles in an atrocity that killed almost 3,000 people. Satisfaction at that possibility is tempered, however, by a realization that the way these "high value" detainees have been treated has sullied this country's reputation. It will be up to President-elect Barack Obama to repair the damage.

Obama's moment on human rights: The US should make joining the UN Human Rights Council a priority - Iain Guest, Christian Science Monitor

Still to do on human rights – Editorial, Boston Globe: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is being commemorated at the United Nations today, the 60th anniversary of its signing. Still, UN officials need to be reminded that the declaration's promise remains unfulfilled. To their credit, 112 former presidents and prime ministers did just that when they signed a letter this month urging UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to obtain the release of 2,100 political prisoners held by the military junta that rules Burma.

Obama's Human Rights Opportunity - Jimmy Carter, Washington Post: The moral footprint of the United States has always been vast. Our next president has an unprecedented opportunity to lead through example by inspiring and supporting those who would reach for freedom and by being tough and effective with those who would impede freedom's march. All Americans must give him full support.

Russian Conservatives Challenge Notion Of 'Universal' Values - Robert Coalson, RFE/RL: Conservative thinkers in Russia are not celebrating the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Instead, they are denouncing it as aggressive colonialism, yet another attempt to impose "Western" values on other cultures.

Cooling Down The New Cold War: How President Obama should manage Russia - Michael Idov, New Republic: It may sound mawkish, but, in order to make a lasting change in the U.S.-Russian relationship, President Obama would do well to spare a bit of his world-class charisma on charming the people directly. A state visit with all the attendant pomp would cement Obama's already considerable celebrity there.

Russian journalists under fire – Editorial, Washington Times: On Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sounded alarm bells regarding the perilous conditions of Russian journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists, a watchdog group, states that Russia is now the third most dangerous place to be a journalist, after Iraq and Algeria. Since 1992, 49 journalists have been murdered in Russia and hundreds are victimized every year.

West’s Role In Afghanistan Needs Re-Examining - William Pfaff, Truthdig: George Bush’s global war on terror now is a hopelessly confused affair in which nearly everyone is fighting for misconceived reasons and for objectives impossible to attain. Outraged Muslims seem to think they are defending the Prophet from Western attack and can in the end conquer the West. Western armies are in Iraq and Afghanistan because their political leaders want to make democracy prevail in the Islamic world. Is it possible that the new American administration could actually re-examine what its serious and attainable purposes are?

Kinzer: Surge Diplomacy, Not Troops, in Afghanistan - Robert Naiman, Common Dreams: Bestselling author and former longtime New York Times foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer argues that sending more U.S. troops is likely to be counterproductive. It's likely to produce more anger in Afghanistan, and more anger is likely to produce more recruits for the Taliban. A better alternative would surge diplomacy instead, reaching out to people who are now supporting the Taliban.

A Perfect Storm in Latin America: How will Obama handle economic and security challenges south of the border? - Jaime Daremblum, Weekly Standard: While Obama will probably devote most of his foreign policy attention to the Middle East and Asia, he won't be able to ignore the many challenges in Latin America.

Cuba's Blogger Crackdown: Yoani Sanchez and her blogging comrades are now the targets of the Castro regime's censors—and police - Marc Cooper, Mother Jones

Amba$$ador Opponents - Al Kamen, In the Loop, Washington Post: The American Foreign Service Association, the career officers' union, is once again trying to get more qualified people into ambassadorial jobs. The union sent the Obama transition team a letter Monday noting that a federal law says ambassadorial nominees "should possess clearly demonstrated competence to perform the duties of a chief of mission, including . . . useful knowledge of the language . . . and understanding of the history, the culture, the economic and political institutions, and the interests of that country. . . . Contributions to political campaigns should not be a factor."

What do the Clintons have on Obama? What experience does Hillary have to run State? - Camille Paglia, Salon: As for Obama's appointment of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, what sense does that make except within parochial Democratic politics? Awarding such a prize plum to Hillary may be a sop to her aggrieved fan base, but what exactly are her credentials for that position?

Rambouillet Revisited: How Holbrooke Lied His Way Into a War - Sam Husseini, CounterPunch: Despite being passed over for Secretary of State, Richard Holbrooke is reportedly still being considered for a prominent position in the incoming Obama administration. The U.S. demanded that Yugoslavia submit to occupation or be bombed -- and Holbrooke lied about this crucial fact when questioned about the cause of the war.

Bush's Death Wish - Dan Froomkin, Without the war on terror, where would Bush be? It became the centerpiece of his presidency, and although it's hard to see how this served him well in the end, one shouldn't forget how much he gained in public stature after the attacks, and how he took advantage of his "wartime presidency" to expand his powers, get re-elected and run rougshod over a supine Congress.

Condoleezza Rice on Her Dinner With Hillary: As the Bush administration comes to a close, the Secretary of State opens up to The Daily Beast about the past eight years and what she's doing next - Dan Raviv, Daily Beast:


"Katie Escherich and Melinda Arons write for ABC News about their network's interview with Bush about his faith. 'Bush said he is often asked if he thinks he was chosen by God to be president. 'I just, I can't go there,' he said. 'I'm not that confident in knowing, you know, the Almighty, to be able to say, 'Yeah, God wanted me of all the other people.'

My relationship [with God] is on a personal basis trying to become as closer to the Almighty as I possibly can get. And I've got a lot of problems. I mean, I got, you know, the ego ... all the things that prevent me from being closer to the Almighty. So, I don't analyze my relationship with the good Lord in terms of, well, you know, God has plucked you out or God wants you to do this. I know this: I know that the call is to better understand and live out your life according to the will of God.'"

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