Thursday, December 11, 2008

December 11

“The party that figures out where Web 3.0 goes will grab the decisive high ground in high-tech warfare.”

--Former Bush administration official Karl Rove

“when it comes to our most private places, bush is back.”

--Lisa Germinsky, Salon


Bush’s Legacy UntangledTruthdig: Keith Olbermann, in this comma-laden “Countdown” diatribe, really lets loose on the idea of George Bush’s legacy being anything but a dishonorable, terror-filled and disastrous eight years.


Commentary: Obama's security team must keep terrorism focus - Jack Thomas Tomarchio, McClatchy Washington Bureau: “While we must effectively use the tools of public diplomacy, we must also ensure that our enemies understand that engagement does not equal appeasement. While reaching out to our enemies, we must ensure that our ability to utilize military power as an instrument of national power does not deteriorate. Early signs coming from Chicago seem to indicate that President-elect Obama has chosen this course of engagement as he begins to put together his foreign policy strategy.” Jack Thomas Tomarchio served as the Deputy Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis Operations until August 2008.

Despite fury, US advanced on climate change: US delegate - Agence France-Presse, posted on EcoEarth.Info Environment:

“Paula Dobriansky, under secretary for democracy and global affairs, told AFP she had no regrets for Bush's strategy on climate change but argued a better job could have been done in articulating it to the public. ‘I think this issue (climate change) is important, we care about it greatly. Looking back, if there was anything that maybe I would have hoped, it's that we could have done a more effective job in getting our message out, in other words, (in) public diplomacy,’ she said.”

Alliance of Youth Movements Confab Meets Most Goals but Produces Little Buzz – Steven Corman, COMOPS Journal: “The Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM) Summit took place last week in New York City. The event was announced during a press conference on November 24 by Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Jim Glassman and Jared Cohen of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff. … The summit took place, the participants conferred, they partied at the MTV studios, and produced the manual as promised. The conference accomplished the goals laid out by Glassman. It provided direct contact between a number of strikingly disparate people and groups (with respect to geography, culture, and targets of resistance) that almost certainly would never have met under any other circumstances. It is also a signature example of Glassman’s vision for public diplomacy, involving ideals, cultural exchange, and new technology, leading to movements of diversion from dangerous ideologies. But since this was a '2.0' event, we should also evaluate it from a buzz and viral marketing point of view. Judging by the extent of the pre-summit publicity, I have to assume this was an informal goal of the event too. On this score it was not so successful.“

Google and YouTube promises re human rights and democratization - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "America's Radio Free Asia reported on Tuesday that internet company Google and online video site YouTube promised to cooperate in promoting the human rights of North Koreans and democratization of the nation via internet broadcasting. According to the RFA, the two companies discussed measures to distribute documents and videos containing human rights' issues in undemocratic countries including North Korea, Burma and Cuba at the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit held by the U.S. State Department in New York last week, 10 December 2008." Elliott Comment: “We complain when Google and Yahoo are censored within countries like China. So do we really want Google and YouTube to be promoting things, no matter how commendable? Perhaps Google and Yahoo would be more useful as neutral, value-free, uncensored conveyances, leaving the promotion, persuasion and opinions to the users of those services.”

Social Media Are Truly Global -- Just Ask a Slovakian: Don't Underestimate the Reach of Twitter, Facebook - Chris Abraham, Advertising Age: “The feeling I have … is that Twitter and Facebook are not perceived, worldwide, as American imperialism. And I think this is fantastic. Why is that? I think it's because Facebook and Twitter created relatively neutral platforms and then got out of the way. This is especially the case with Twitter, which is perfectly inert: 140 characters. No context, only essential conversation.”

Jihadist calls for 'Facebook invasion': SITEAFP: “A member of an Islamic jihadist forum who urged supporters last week to wage a ‘YouTube invasion’ by uploading propaganda videos has called for a similar attack on popular social network Facebook. The SITE Intelligence Group, a US-based monitoring service, reported on Wednesday that the appeal for a ‘Facebook invasion’ was made on Tuesday on al-Faloja, a password-protected jihadist forum.”

Daily Digest: Dems Give FCC Chief a Swift Kick on the Way Out - Nancy Scola, techPresident: "Diplomats Be Tweeting: As part of the new hands-on approach the State Department is eager to brand 'Public Diplomacy 2.0.' State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Colleen Graffy has taken to Twitter. (Thanks Shaun Dakin) Graffy is having fun with the medium, reporting on how she's traveling the world on a lack of sleep. But she's now wrestling with the question that has plagued 'official' tweeters since time immemorial last Thursday -- how much introspection is too much? Tweets Graffy this morning: ‘Should diplomats stick to policy twitter and censor the personal side?...Diplo-twittering learning curve!’"

Government Using BI Software To Measure Public Diplomacy - Javad Rad, Public Diplomacy: “A State Department division that runs public diplomacy programs overseas could prove to be a model to its peers with its use of business intelligence software, popular with the private sector, to demonstrate the return on investment of its expenditures. Its latest project is a pilot program to develop algorithms that better show correlations between the department's goals and its expenditures, using SAP Business Objects XI business intelligence platform and planning applications.”

Now This Means War...Against Islam?Act! For America: “Whitton and Harrison [in their Wall Street Journal article on US public diplomacy] are right in arguing that the struggle against radical Islam can’t be won by bullets alone. The only problem is that they may be too right. No one — as yet — will bell this cat. It may be far more cost effective to provide protection to dissident elements in the Islamic world itself."

CAIR Asks Obama To Restore "Respect For Rule Of Law" In Highly Nuanced Way - Omri Ceren – Mere Rhetoric: “So the Voice of America did a story on CAIR and forgot to mention how they're unindicted co-conspirators of convicted terrorist boosters. Roughly par for the course for American public diplomacy. But the headline – ‘American Muslims Hope Obama Will Encourage Tolerance, Respect for Rule of Law’ - is what really catches the eye. Respect for the rule of law? Really?"

Exploring American Popular Culture – Bart 13, BartOstrowski: “From the beginning, the United States has used its rich cultural resources to promote its national interests overseas. But today, with America's reputation around the world in decline, most Americans seem unmindful of the negative impression that we have been making with our popular culture. Since the end of the Cold War, funding for public diplomacy has been cut, while Hollywood has aggressively expanded its exports. The result is that we are super-sizing to others the very cultural diet that is giving us indigestion at home.”

Sino-US forum boost cultural exchange - “A forum centering on cultural heritage protection has just wound up in Beijing. Around fifty experts from China and the US exchanged ideas.”

U.S. continues to warn Sri Lanka of human rights record: Gives Human Rights Achievement Award to US embassy official - Daya Gamage, Asian Tribune: “[US Embassy in Sri Lanka] Political Division head Michael De Tar was one of the only three persons who received the U.S. Government's distinguished award, in the words of Secretary Rice ‘enriched our reporting on human rights conditions in Sri Lanka’. Mr. De Tar’s official responsibility, apart from his other political reporting duties, is to monitor human rights situation in Sri Lanka, cultivate an extensive network of civil society persons to use public diplomacy and strategic communication to influence the host government and endeavor to change its course to suit the strategic objectives of the South Asia Bureau of the U.S. State Department and bring the Sri Lanka government to the path that synchronizes with the overall human rights objectives of the United States.”

Public diplomacy is real need [Letter to the Editor] - Howard E. Leeb, Athens Banner-Herald: "I'm a retired Foreign Service officer who worked with the U.S. Information Agency. I and my colleagues, both active and retired, have held our heads in anguish since the agency was abolished. It was absorbed into the State Department with a fraction of its prior budget, and headed by people who often didn't seem to understand public diplomacy or didn't have the resources to be effective. … [I]t's interesting to recall that when Karen Hughes, an old Texas buddy of President Bush, resigned as undersecretary for public diplomacy, she said it was going to take decades - yes, decades - to restore America's image and prestige in the world. This is precisely what public diplomacy is all about, and it is imperative that funding be found to carry this out.”

Deeds not words – Editorial, Daily News & Analysis, India: “Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari, perhaps finding it difficult to convince people of his sincerity in tackling terror, has resorted to going public in an unusual way. His Op-Ed piece in the New York Times is an exercise in public diplomacy, parrying pressure from India and the United States to act against jihadi elements operating from Pakistan territory. His tone is emotional and personal — witness his invocation of the assassination of his wife at the hand of terrorists — and through this he wishes to assure India and the world that he understands what this scourge is all about. … Zardari is however on a weak wicket. The credibility deficit of Pakistan’s leaders — civil and military — is unfortunately very high. Time and again the country’s establishment has claimed it will not allow terror groups to operate from its soil, only to see another attack taking place.”

New Indian High Commissioner's Mumbai Roots - Michelle Collins, Embassy, Canada: “It was just mere days after Shashishekhar M. Gavai, the High Commissioner-designate for India, arrived in Canada that his hometown of Mumbai was devastated by three days of attacks. … As India's top diplomat in Canada, Mr. Gavai's immediate role was one of public diplomacy as he took to the airwaves to speak with television and newspaper reporters, and also received a call from Prime Minister Stephen Harper who offered his feelings of outrage and support for India during this time.“

University recognises outstanding contributions with honorary doctorates - Kimberly Johans, Macau Daily Times, Macau: “The University of Macau conferred honorary doctorate degrees yesterday to four individuals whose achievements and experiences have benefited not only Macau, but China as a whole. … The ceremony to confer the 'Degree of Doctor Honoris Causa' included the presence of Macau's Chief Executive and the University's Chancellor, Mr Edmund Ho Hau Wah, who presented each with their certificate. Professor Li [Zhaoxing] was the first to be awarded a Doctor of Humanities Honoris Causa, with a citation by Professor Hao Yufan, who noted his background, educational and professional achievements. Of importance, was Professor Li's position as spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) between 1985 and 1990, the longest term for such a position since China's reform.During his time in this position, Professor Li began the ‘public diplomacy’ era, with a ‘public diplomacy day’, ‘division’ and ‘information web’ being put into practice. Such measures, said Professor Hao, ‘have changed ordinary people's long-standing impression that Chinese diplomacy was very lofty and mysterious.’ Moreover, he remarked that Professor Li could ‘argue with the US Secretary of State without losing his point’ or ‘be so gently and even sentimental that he shed tears when seeing Cuban President Castro suffering from illness.’"

Det danske dilemma i MellemøstenInformation: ”Trods ædle intentioner har Udenrigsministeriets 'public diplomacy' kun ringe gennemslagskraft i Syrien. Da en dansk konference får uventet besøg af en systemets mand i skikkelse af Dr. Jabour, dæmper kritikerne deres røst, og flere af de inviterede journalister fordufter.”


Egypt Regains Ancient Treasures from U.S.Artinfo: Federal immigration officials returned more than 80 ancient artifacts to the Egyptian government that had been stolen by a United States Army helicopter pilot from a museum near Cairo in 2002 and later sold to an antiquities dealer. Via Cultural Policy Listserv.

Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds: Muxlim - Rita J. King, DIP's Dispatches from the Imagination Age: Muslim culture is thriving on the Internet. Unlike two dimensional platforms, virtual worlds include -- but are not limited to -- dialogue. Participants can interact in real time, across language barriers, to discuss and explore critical issues.

An Insider's View Of Gitmo This Week - Anthony D. Romero, Huffington Post: The struggle to shut Gitmo and shutter the military commissions is far from over and is anything but a fait accompli.

This commission process is not/ the best example of American justice, as it is a system that allows hearsay, coerced confessions and evidence gleaned from torture and waterboarding.

In Guantánamo, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants don't know the rules -- and neither does the judge - Jennifer Daskal, Salon

Who is to blame for U.S. policies? Us - Victor Davis Hanson, San Francisco Chronicle: Like it or not, radical Islamic terrorism antedated Bush and will continue after him. And while we may lament how Bush sometimes conducted or articulated his policies, his support for beefing up homeland security, hitting terrorists hard abroad, supporting Democratic movements in the Middle East, and replacing two odious tyrannies with consensual governments once appealed to a broad number of Americans. Because they are largely sound strategies, they will not change much under a more charismatic President Obama.

TNRtv: Don't Expect A Change in Foreign Policy - John B. Judis, Nation: Senior editor John B. Judis argues that there will be remarkable continuity in foreign policy between Bush's second term and Obama's first, and that it's not necessarily a bad thing.

When Obama should go to war: What military conflicts should Obama expect to face as president? Under what circumstances should he get U.S. forces involved overseas? David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lawrence J. Korb debate - Los Angeles Times

The Pakistan Shell Game - Joe Klein, Time: The world has become a more dangerous place because the Bush Administration took its eye off this particular ball in order to fight the war of choice in Iraq. It is up to the President-elect to let the Pakistanis know that the days of American carelessness are over. It is up to the Pakistanis to make clear that they truly want to be our ally in the struggle against violent Islamic extremism.

Can Pakistan stop Lashkar-e-Taiba? President Zardari must stand by his vow to try suspects in the Mumbai attacks and punish terrorists – Editorial, Los Angeles Times. RIGHT PHOTO: President Zardari

The search for a US envoy for Iran - By Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times: United States president-elect Barack Obama needs to pick a special envoy to deal with Iran, so much is clear by the priority assigned to the Iran nuclear "crisis" by nearly all US foreign policy experts. The question is: Will Obama make the right choice?

A U.S.-Iranian conversation - Roger Cohen, International Herald Tribune: The United States and Iran are talking to each other about the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. That is a good thing. On the eve of Barack Obama's inauguration, it shows there is nothing in the DNA of the two nations that precludes dialogue.

Dating site 'prostitution', says Iran - Robert Tait, Guardian - A popular Iranian internet dating website that claimed to be helping people find a spouse and start families has been banned for "promoting prostitution", on the advice of leading Islamic clerics. VIA

If Iraq at the End of the Surge - Michael J. Totten, Commentary: Iraq were an enemy state, or if the various insurgent and terrorist groups were still widely supported by Iraqi civilians, the steep decline in violence over the past two years would never have happened. Whatever happens next is up to Iraqis. It may or may not be pretty, but the days when Iraq is a lethal threat to anyone outside its borders most likely are over.

A New Framework For Better U.S.-Russia Relations - Andrei Tsygankov, RFE/RL: Washington is also overpopulated with influential groups with anti-Russian agendas. The current hard economic times that are affecting both countries may yet bring them closer to one another, as the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, once did.

Russian Émigré ‘Bridge’ Finds Home in Moscow - Alexandra Odynova, Moscow Times: It might seem logical to house artifacts and information about the lives of Russian emigres in foreign lands, but one of the best centers to celebrate Russians residing overseas exists right here in Moscow: the Russkoye Zarubezhye (Russia Abroad) library and foundation, an institution started more than a decade ago by one of the country's most beloved emigres, Nobel-Prize winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

In Basilan, Philippines, a US counterterrorism model frays: Renewed violence on the island shows the challenge of wiping out militant groups for good - Jonathan Adams, Christian Science Monitor

Vietnam will police blogs. With Google and Yahoo! help? - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Darfur, Another Year Later - Editorial, New York Times:
Much of the fault for the genocide lies with Sudan’s cynically obstructionist president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The United States and its allies also bear responsibility for temporizing, most recently over how to transport troops and equipment to the conflict zone.

Resisting the Pull of Office Politics - Jack and Suzy Welch, Daily Beast: “We think, on the merits, Hillary Clinton is a terrific appointment. But putting merit aside for a moment, Senator Clinton's appointment is something else.

It's a spark that will surely ignite humankind's oldest and most unproductive form of organizational dysfunction: palace intrigue.”

Obama's Ross: Our Loss – Robert Dreyfuss, Nation: There's a lot of buzz -- much of it generated by AIPAC, WINEP, and other parts of the Israel lobby, and a lot of it, no doubt, by Ross himself -- that hawkish Dennis Ross is going to get a big job in Hillary Clinton's State Department.


Placebo effect: New survey gives life to ethical debate - Rita Rubin, USA TODAY: A nationwide survey this year suggested that as many as half of U.S. doctors prescribe a fake treatment -- or placebo -- at least once a month.

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