Friday, December 26, 2008

December 26

"Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people -- whether it's building a school or handing out Viagra."

--One longtime CIA operative and veteran of several Afghanistan tours, regarding methods to win over the local population in that country

American Media Remains Popular Overseas, Though the United States Does Not - Anne Szuster, findingDulcinea, New York: “[The Obama administration] has a Herculean task in improving America’s image overseas. … The U.S. government realizes that its public diplomacy efforts could use some honing.

A bipartisan congressional panel, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, released a June 2008 report entitled, ‘Getting the People Part Right.’ The report mentioned that the federal government could ‘significantly enhance the quality and effectiveness of our nation’s outreach to foreign publics by recruiting for the public diplomacy career track in a more focused way.’”

The War We Need to Win - understand china: “As I was going through my public diplomacy and the presidency files, I came across an August 1, 2007 speech that then-Senator Obama gave, in which he lists some of his public diplomacy goals once elected. … We'll look forward to seeing how these ideas are implemented.”

State’s Foreign Service Recruitment -- History and Challenges -, State Department News: “How do we attract qualified management officers (the [US Foreign] Service is desperate for good applicants)? To what extent should entry level officers have public diplomacy skills?

Except for truly secret issues, nearly every aspect of a relationship has some PD aspects. Do we want to exploit them? Do we have the baseline skills? How do we identify good entry level people who have the potential to be good senior managers? Are there other skills we need in our mix?”

Mud House play returns to Wasit – Release No. 20081224-11Multi-National Corps – Iraq, Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
- posted by Vance Jochim in Corruption In Iraq & World: “Forward Operating Base Delta, Iraq – More than 500 Iraqis filled the al Kut municipal theater Dec. 23 to see performers of the Iraqi sitcom 'Mud House' present a comedic play on the effects of administrative corruption and the importance of local elections.

… ‘We hope that the people get a better understanding of corruption, what it is, and how they can respond to it by voting,’ Staff Sgt. Melissa Powell, civil affairs team noncommissioned officer and acting public diplomacy officer, Wasit Provincial Reconstruction Team.”

Stop Hamas. Free Gilad Schalit - Jerusalem Post: “Over the horizon, Hamas looks to the day when it can compel Israel to allow it to operate with impunity against Fatah in the West Bank. In the face of this Palestinian obduracy and the likelihood it will be met by international appeasement, Jerusalem must decide on a single, unwavering public diplomacy message. In the face of outlandish demands to ‘lift the siege’ and ‘end collective punishment,’ Israel's mantra needs to be: ‘Hamas must be stopped. Gilad Schalit must be freed.’" On Schalit, see.

Medvedev Congratulates Georgian Patriarch on EnthronementThe Financial Georgia: “According to Civil Georgia, Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, has congratulated the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church on the 31st anniversary of his enthronement in a message read out by a Russian official in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi on December 25.

Mikhail Shvidkoy, the Russian President’s special envoy for international cultural relations, has conveyed Medvedev’s congratulations to the Georgian Patriarch after a sermon dedicated to the anniversary was held in the cathedral.

… Shvidkoy leads a delegation of some Russian public figures, which is visiting Tbilisi. Shvidkoy ... said the visit was part of public diplomacy aimed at promoting contacts between ordinary people.” ABOVE PHOTO: Mr. Shvidkoy.


Torture ambivalence masquerading as moral and intellectual superiority - Glenn Greenwald, Salon: Excuse-making for the Bush torture regime isn't really anything more than standard American exceptionalism -- more accurately: blinding American narcissism -- masquerading as a difficult moral struggle.

How the arts can nourish a struggling nation - Thor Steingraber, Boston Globe: Dana Gioia, current chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, was once asked why the US government doesn't support the arts the way Europe does. "The US provides more funding for the arts than any other country in the world . . ." -- Gioia. "It's called the tax deduction." A tax deduction is not an arts policy. Obama should select a new chairperson who will lead the NEA with a commitment to the ways in which the arts can nourish the nation's economy and its imagination. PHOTO: Dana Gioia.

Clinton's wish list for State – Editorial, Boston Globe:
President-elect Barack Obama's transition team and Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton are reportedly planning to enhance the funding, staffing, and missions of the State Department. These changes are needed in part to cope with the global economic crash and specific conflicts in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, and Central Asia. But the proposals also reflect a new emphasis. Americans voted last month for a different kind of foreign policy, one that is oriented more toward diplomatic conflict resolution and less toward military force.

An Afghan Aid Disconnect - Mark Ward, Washington Post: When Afghans see civilian American aid workers coming, surrounded by security contractor "shooters," they stay away. The situation is no better with most of the provincial reconstruction teams, which depend on NATO forces for security. The new team at the State Department and USAID should engage a team of outside experts to conduct an objective assessment of the security rules and their impact on our economic assistance program in Afghanistan.

Force alone not way to win: Army rethinking anti-Taliban effort - David Wood, Washington has poured 10 times more into military operations in Afghanistan since 2002 than it has into all development aid, diplomacy, police training and information to counter Taliban propaganda. The idea of stability-based development is beginning to percolate into Washington's policy circles.

We Finally Have a Strategy for Afghanistan: Unfortunately, that may not be enough - Fred Kaplan, Slate: We could do everything perfectly in Afghanistan, but it wouldn't matter unless the region-wide conflicts could be brought under some control.

Little Blue Pills Among the Ways CIA Wins Friends in Afghanistan - Joby Warrick, Washington Post: While the CIA has a long history of buying information with cash, the growing Taliban insurgency has prompted the use of novel incentives and creative bargaining to gain support in some of the country's roughest neighborhoods, according to officials directly involved in such operations. In their efforts to win over notoriously fickle warlords and chieftains, the officials say, the agency's operatives have used a variety of personal services.

These include pocketknives and tools, medicine or surgeries for ailing family members, toys and school equipment, tooth extractions, travel visas, and, occasionally, pharmaceutical enhancements for aging patriarchs with slumping libidos, the officials said. SEE ALSO.

Top Ten Myths about Iraq, 2008 - Juan Cole, Informed Comment: Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion.

Peace for the Mideast: How Our Plan Could Aid Barack Obama's Efforts - Turki al-Faisal, Washington Post: Peace will require worldwide efforts. The United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United Nations must embrace the Arab initiatives and pressure Israel to do the same.

Negotiating With North Korea: A Faustian failure - Adrian Hong, International Herald Tribune: After five years of effort, the much-vaunted "Six Party Talks" have essentially been acknowledged as an abject failure. Despite America's best efforts, North Korea has proven itself most capable at stalling and swindling.

AMERICANA: America's Secret Intellectual, George W. Bush; Frugal Times

Bush Is a Book Lover: A glimpse of what the president has been reading - Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal: "Each year, the president also read the Bible from cover to cover, along with a daily devotional. ... He reads instead of watching TV. He reads on Air Force One and to relax and because he's curious. He reads about the tasks at hand, often picking volumes because of the relevance to his challenges. ... In the 35 years I've known George W. Bush, he's always had a book nearby. He plays up being a good ol' boy from Midland, Texas, but he was a history major at Yale and graduated from Harvard Business School. You don't make it through either unless you are a reader."

The Frugal Life: The Best Web Sites To Help You Scrimp Through The Recession - Farhad Manjoo, Slate


From left to right: Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who was later charged with war crimes but died before his trial ended; the Rev. Jesse Jackson; and U.S. Rep. Rod Blagojevich, who is now governor of Illinois and facing federal corruption charges for allegedly trying to sell Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat, among other things.

ABOVE PHOTO FROM: New York Times via Whirled View

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