Friday, October 31, 2008

October 31

“I have been always fascinated by the cleverness of the American propaganda techniques, in that very case I find it amazing that they actually announce it.”

--Russian blogger axinia

"Very strange story out of Washington. . . . The Secret Service, they arrested a man who climbed over the White House fence. True story. Yeah. The Secret Service told the man: 'Get back here, Mr. President, you have two more months.'"

--Talk show host Conan O'Brien


Petraeus Proposed Visiting Syria: VP Refused him Permission – Josh, Syria Comment: Blog quotes a report by James Denselow, Guardian, Thursday October 30: “The bad cop decision to conduct a special forces raid into Syria appears to be rapidly backfiring. Indeed the decision by Washington to offer no public diplomacy has allowed the Syrians, perhaps the least media friendly of all Middle Eastern states, to control the agenda.”

Syria files UN Security Council complaint after US raid - Men's News Daily, CA: “In a press briefing on Tuesday, James K. Glassman, the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, refused to comment on the raid. The United States Department of State (DoS) has issued no official comment.”

US-Lebanon relations 'robust' and 'growing' – [United States ambassador to Lebanon, Michele] Sison: Ambassador describes America's efforts to help build this country's institutions - Nicholas Kimbrell, Daily Star: “Q: Going back to non-military aid, are there any programs that you would like to highlight? A: In the last two years there's now been, we're talking about $1.3 billion. So about 40 percent of that is on the security side, which means that the other 60 percent is in economic growth, education, support for civil society, support to women's groups, scholarship programs, exchange programs ...These are the enduring people-to-people ties that knit this relationship together and this is really the bread and butter of what a large part of the team here is involved in through the Middle East Partnership Initiative exchanges and programs, through a variety of democracy and humans rights funded programs, through the public diplomacy program. Q: I'm interested by the State Department's interest in a free and independent media in Lebanon. Are there any specific programs? A: There've been a number of journalist training programs as well as exchanges where journalists go to the United States ...”

McComack statement: US playing with people's minds - Peter Chimutsa, Zimbawe Guardian: “Dear Editor: I was shocked to read the latest statement by Sean McComack of the US Department of State with regards to Zimbabwe. This public diplomatic approach of the US is now getting ridiculous. How can a country that has imposed sanctions on a country be concerned about the suffering people? What rank hypocrisy!”

Attaching real purpose to US foreign aid - Steven W. Barnes, Daily Star, Lebanon: “In its waning months, the Bush administration has mapped out a communications and outreach strategy designed to win the so-called 'war of ideas' against Al-Qaeda and related groups, and the candidates, their advisers, and independent analysts have outlined plans, proffered advice, and published reports detailing how to more broadly improve US public diplomacy efforts. But what has been missing - or, more accurately, under-emphasized - on the road to November 4 is the role America's economic and political development programs may play in forging stronger ties between foreign publics and the US. Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, pointed out in a recent paper, ‘International Development Assistance for Health: Ten Priorities for the Next President,’ that the World Health Organization estimates that tens of millions of lives would be saved worldwide with moderate increases in foreign aid.”

America Defends Itself on the InternetKommersant: "A briefing was held in Washington on Tuesday on 'U.S. Public Diplomacy and the War of Ideas.' Under Secretary of State James Glassman spoke about the work of 'digital outreach teams' that will work to improve the image of the United States and fight extremist propaganda on the Internet. Those teams may begin activity on the Russian-language segment of the Internet. They were set up a few years ago to combat myths and disinformation on Arabic-language blogs and ‘talk about American policy, correct mistakes that are being made, and refer people back to factual documents’ . … The digital teams work in Arabic, Farsi and Urdu now, but Glassman said the hiring of Russian-language specialists is under consideration. Russian officials have not officially reacted to that possibility. Russian bloggers are discussing it very actively, however.”

US starts the “war of ideas” on Russian Internet - axinia, 1000petals…Open a new petal every day!: “And now they are focusing on Russia. After the terror-suspected Arabic, Persian, and Urdu-speaking nations, US Department of State has officially launched the 'war of ideas' on Russian Internet. … extremism. How does it exactly work? The members of the Digital Outreach Team enter into digital conversations online either on other people’s blogs or other websites. Apparently they identify themselves as working for the United States Government and they are participating in the conversation. (I wonder if they will always do that!?). Russian bloggers notice that the 'agents' not merely discuss the American policy, but express their keen interest in the bloggers themselves, their connections, their mood… Basically being very ‘caring guys.’"

Знак предсказанной неуправляемости - "война идей" / A sign of predicted mismanagement - "the war of ideas" - Nikolay Kryachkov, blog - ”In 2002 I said about text viruses as the method of war in intellectual (knowledge based) socioeconomic type where subject of work is human being (thinking), result of work is behavior (actions), object of capital's competition is educational programmes (health, knowledge). … James K. Glassman speaks about the 'universal values such as tolerance'. But how to connect tolerance and war? It looks like spreading text viruses (contradictive activity).”

Somalia: Why VOA Re-established its service in Somalia - Abdullahi Mohamed, Geeska Afrika, Somalia: "Former US Ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn, speaking 'Islam and Conflict in the Horn of Africa,' said it is vital to reorient US approaches to the region. He called for greater public diplomacy (people-to-people) efforts and radio broadcasts in more languages that will reach a wider audience. With Arabic the principal language in Sudan and spoken widely along the Red Sea and Indian Ocean coasts, Shinn said, 'it is inexplicable' that the US government's principal overseas radio broadcaster, the Voice of America (VOA), no longer broadcasts in the language. Instead, VOA's Arabic language service has been supplanted by 'Radio Sawa,' a VOA commercial enterprise that 'focuses on the Middle East and reportedly does not even reach the Horn of Africa,' she explained. Given the interests of the United States in dealing with terrorism in the region, Shinn said, 'it is equally inexplicable that the Voice of America has not yet established a service in Somali, a language spoken throughout Somalia/Somaliland and parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.'"

The Great Pumpkin — A Halloween Look At U.S. Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting – QuoVadis, & Free Media Online Blog: “If, as the polls indicate, Senator Biden becomes our next vice-president, election eve, particularly for international broadcasters yet employed by the U.S. government, could conjure up some mighty frightening figures and events from the past. Although known more for his verbal gaffes, Senator Biden has a foreign policy gaffe or two in his portfolio, most prominently, responsibility for the dissolution of the U.S. Information Agency in the late ’90’s and the ‘reorganization’ of international broadcasting after the Cold War with the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act.”

How We Almost Killed Public Diplomacy – Broadnax, World-Wide-Matel: “The golden age of public diplomacy came during the Cold War. Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were effective alternative media for those countries trapped behind the Iron Curtain. The government also created the United States Information Agency (USIA) to carry out a broad range of information programs. Republican and Democratic Administrations supported this. … When 9/11 happened … we found that we no longer had enough wing tips on the ground overseas and a decade of neglect had allowed our network of contacts to atrophy. … Rebuilding American diplomatic capacity began soon after 9/11. … It will be a good time to look for a job in the Foreign Service, but our government will be paying for mistakes of the 1990s for the next ten years.”

Making Diplomacy Public – Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: “It is essential the public, both foreign and domestic, be realized as central to the enduring psychological struggle of minds and wills. They are not only the target the persuasion from information activities to cultural and educational exchanges, but the agents of influence themselves.”

Two Public diplomacy reports you probably haven’t read - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner:“Two reports I wanted to throw out into the wild for discussion. I’ll discuss more later post. Brand Sweden: The road to an updated image of Sweden abroad. … The Public Diplomacy Of Other Countries:Implications For The United States [1979].”

Marketing Uncle Sam - Nina, Nina in Washington „Das Image der USA im Ausland ist – um es glimpflich auszudrücken – am Boden. George W. Bush hat seinen erheblichen Teil dazu beigetragen. Die Lösung des Problems heißt Public Diplomacy. Bei einer Buchvorstellung samt Panel Diskussion versuchten Public Diplomacy Experten darzulegen, wie das Image im Ausland auf Vordermann gebracht werden kann, und (dank meinem Beitrag zur Diskussion) welche Auswirkungen das Ergebnis der Präsidentschaftswahl auf das Image hat.“

花薄ビルを囲みて揺れにけり- maple 217, ニューヨー句: Mention of public diplomacy.

ACLU names diplomat S.C. executive directorState, SC: “The American Civil Liberties Union today announced the appointment of Victoria Middleton, a career U.S. diplomat, as the new executive director of its South Carolina office. … Middleton, a graduate of Pennsylvania’s Bryn Mawr College and the University of California at Berkeley, spent 21 years as a public diplomacy officer for the State Department. In that role, she worked to advance U.S. policies and promote mutual understanding in the Philippines, India, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Finland.”

ABOVE MURALS FROM: Digital Art Brings Back WWII Propaganda -- With a Twist: St. Louis artist Mark Florida re-imagines World War II propaganda through a modern lens in a photography and digital media exhibit at phd, a gallery at 2300 Cherokee Street by Philip Hitchcock.


Could an Obama Win Restore America's Global Image? Obama Candidacy Helps Revive America's Sagging Image Abroad - Lara Setrakian, ABC News: If the world could vote, Barack Obama would win by a landslide. Via

Security Should Be the Deciding Issue - Frederick W. Kagan, Wall Street Journal: "The next president will not break the string of fighting presidents. He will inherit two ongoing wars involving more than 180,000 troops. He will face two global enemies -- al Qaeda and Iranian terror networks, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps/Quds Force and Hezbollah. The world today offers no reason for Americans to feel safe. If we want safety, we have to be ready to fight for it.

How They Would Lead - David Von Drehle, Time: The extraordinary powers of the presidency await either Barack Obama or John McCain. So do a grim national mood and a challenging global order. McCain photo from

Making Excuses for Obama: The mythology of good intentions – Justin Raimondo, Those who are working to effect a fundamental change in American foreign policy have a duty to take Obama at his word -- hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.

U.S. agencies wait for bin Laden message - United Press: What Happens After Election Day? Memo to Progressives for Obama - Joshua Frank, Counterpunch: “Will the antiwar movement work to force Obama to take a softer approach toward Iran? Will they stop the troop increase in Afghanistan? These are but a few of the questions I'd like progressive supporters of Obama to answer.”

U.S. agencies wait for bin Laden message - UPI: U.S. intelligence agencies expect al-Qaida to release a message from Osama bin Laden just before or after next week's presidential election, ABC News reports. Sources told ABC that intelligence analysts believe bin Laden's followers may consider him irrelevant if he is not heard from at such a critical time.

Duplicity in Damascus : The complicated relationship between Syria and al Qaeda - David Schenker, Weekly Standard: Support for terrorism appears to be intrinsic to the regime. Given this dynamic, U.S. diplomacy with Damascus stands little chance of success.

New tack with the Taliban - Editorial, Boston Globe: The best way of reducing the Taliban threat to manageable proportions is to divide and conquer: Pull independent local commanders away from the fanatical true believers of the Taliban, and subtract as many tribal groups as possible from the orbit of Al Qaeda. If successful, this is the strategy most likely to accommodate the interests not only of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States, but also of more indirectly concerned countries such as India, Russia, and Iran.

Expanding War, Contracting Meaning: The Next President and the Global War on Terror - Andrew J. Bacevich, TomDispatch:
The Global War on Terror has effectively ceased to exist. When it comes to national security strategy, we need to start over from scratch.

Presidential Candidates Inspire Wave Of Pop ArtNPR: No other presidential election cycle has matched this year in terms of visual propaganda and paraphernalia. The use of political images can shape not only elections but an entire cultural sensibility. For analysis, Farai Chideya speaks with two experts on the subject: Deborah Willis -- professor of photography and imaging at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts -- and Steven Seidman, chair of the Department of Strategic Communication at Ithaca College in New York. video, "From Hope to Hero: Political Art In Election 2008."

Top 10 Propaganda Videos - Jimmy, Comments for The List Universe

Name the Propaganda – Nathaniel Bluedorn, The Fallacy Detective News - Here are three videos featuring three propaganda techniques. Can you name them? 1. “Yes We Can” Music Video 2. Vote Different 3. Dear Mr. Obama

Are Americans getting dumber? – Joel Stein, Los Angeles Times: So what if people no longer know state capitals and water boilin'? The age of a finite set of information to master is long over. Instead, we know how to problem-solve and filter information better than our grandparents ever did.


“Finally -- skipping past the wars-in-waiting, which are Syria and Iran -- there is Condi's war. This clash, which does not directly involve U.S. forces, may actually be the most important of all. The war that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has made her own is the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Having for years dismissed the insistence of Muslims, Arabs and non-Arabs alike, that the plight of the Palestinians constitutes a problem of paramount importance, Rice now embraces that view. With the fervor of a convert, she has vowed to broker an end to that conflict prior to leaving office in January 2009.

Given that Rice brings little -- perhaps nothing -- to the effort in the way of fresh ideas, her prospects of making good as a peacemaker appear slight. Yet, as with Bush and Iraq, so too with Rice and the Palestinian problem: she has a lot riding on the effort. If she flops, history will remember her as America's least effective secretary of state since Cordell Hull spent World War II being ignored, bypassed, and humiliated by Franklin Roosevelt. She will depart Foggy Bottom having accomplished nothing."

--Andrew J. Bacevich; See also: John Brown, "'10 Percent Intellectual': The Mind of Condoleezza Rice," PR, Center for Media and Democracy; "Condoleezza Rice: Biographies by Bumiller and Mabry," American Diplomacy

Thursday, October 30, 2008

October 30

"[America] is renewal, the place where impossible stories get written. It is the overcoming of history, the leaving behind of war and barriers, in the name of a future freed from the cruel gyre of memory. It is reinvention, the absorption of one identity in something larger -- the notion that 'out of many, we are truly one.'”

--Commentator Roger Cohen; photo: Madonna on her Reinvention World Tour

“I do not reinvent myself at every turn.”

--George W. Bush, 1980, at the Republican National Convention


Transcript of Blogger Roundtable with Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Jim Glassman 28 Oct 2008 - U.S. State Department: James Glassman: "And today as the administration prepares to leave office, there's a strategy, there's a platform, there's a new way of doing business in place that are ready for the next administration. And I think an important question is what are the vulnerabilities of … strategy, platform and program. And I think there are really two. One is that there is a need for a scaling up of resources in public diplomacy and certainly in the war of ideas part of public diplomacy. … The second topic is Columbia. I just came back from Columbia. ... And the reason that I went was I felt that Columbia had a good deal to teach us in our war of ideas efforts in other parts of the world.” Transcript via

Alberto Fernandez on US public diplomacy to Sudan - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy. Islam on Line interview with Alberto Fernandez, the American charge d’affaires in Sudan, "one of the few who speak fluent Arabic at the State Department": "Islam on Line: What role has public diplomacy played in attempts to normalize relations between the US and Sudan? Fernandez: That is a better question I think for the Sudanese rather than for me. I think we are very active in public diplomacy in Sudan. We are being very aggressive about speaking with the press in Arabic and we make ourselves available. I certainly make myself available, sometimes I think more than I would like to the Sudanese press so they certainly have opportunities to ask me all kind of questions, negative questions and hostile questions, whatever they want, and we try to answer them as seriously and respectfully as possible. We also try to do as much outreach as we can in the public diplomacy field with the Sudanese people, for example, we are renovating the Ali Dinar museum in El-Fisher in Darfur which was the palace of the last sultan of Darfur and is a very lovely little museum there. We are doing other things as well. I am still frustrated that we haven’t re-established education exchange programs with Sudan."

Defining Public Diplomacy: Preparing for a new Administration - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: “[S]trategic communication targets both US and non-US audiences while public diplomacy targets only non-US audiences. Of course the bifurcation of global engagement by the U.S. is artificial, uniquely American, quaint, and ultimately not based on historical realities or modern requirements. … Rebuilding the arsenal of persuasion is difficult, but it is even more so when people can’t 'hang their hat' on an idea. We need an organizing principle and an organizing principal.”

Leadership & Vision (Seminar Day 6) – Broadnax, World-Wide-Matel: “One of my colleagues speculated about how the events around the Iraq war might have unfolded differently if we had sufficient diplomatic infrastructure on the ground in Germany & France to carry out strong public relations and diplomatic programs. … I am convinced that we had significant problems with public diplomacy after 9/11 because our public diplomacy infrastructure was so decimated in the 1990s and spread too thin.“

United States Experiments with African Command - Chris Janiec, Policy Innovations: “The Pentagon's newfound attention to Africa has been greeted with skepticism, both at home and in Africa, as the search for a country willing to host AFRICOM headquarters dominated initial discussions. Given the sheer size of Africa and the operational value of having personnel on the continent, a headquarters in Africa would have been preferable, but the legacy of colonialism and a lackluster public diplomacy campaign hampered the search process. As a result, the command will be based in Germany for the foreseeable future.” PHOTO: AFRICOM Commander William Ward inspects Ghanaian troops.

The arts of politics: Cultural groups say a lot is riding on presidential, Senate races - Rich Copley, Herald-Leader: "Americans for the Arts Action Fund, a bipartisan arts advocacy group, tried to take the artistic temperatures of the major-party presidential candidates, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. The fund's ArtsVote report detailed the candidates' positions on the arts … The Obama statement includes plans to reinvest in arts education to 'reinvigorate the kind of creativity and innovation that has made this country great,' promote 'cultural diplomacy' through artist exchanges with other countries, streamline visa requirements for artists and arts students visiting from other countries, provide health care and tax relief for artists, and support increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts."

Baseball Great Cal Ripken, Jr. to Travel to Nicaragua - News Wire: “The US State Department says baseball great Cal Ripken, Jr., will visit Nicaragua in mid-November in his role as an American public diplomacy envoy. A statement issued Wednesday says Ripken will make the five-day trip with Nicaraguan native Dennis Martinez, who played with Ripken for the Baltimore Orioles.”

Joe Lieberman - What Would A McCain Presidency Do? - “Lieberman and his fellow panelists focus on how McCain would approach public diplomacy, trade, energy independence, and confronting America's adversaries. Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2008.”

Kinderkrankheiten chinesischer Public Diplomacy - mrpresident, Hotel Villa de Art: Infidel’s Premium Choice

India's Flawed Regional Diplomacy at work in Sri Lanka - Madhavi Bhasin, American Chronicle: Madhavi Bhasin is a Doctoral Researcher at the Jadavpur University, India. Currently based in California and working on Indo-U.S. Missile Defense Cooperation and India's Public Diplomacy Strategy.

Beyond the Museum: Asmat bisj-poles gain new meaning in a Papuan refugee protest in Melbourne - Kipley Nink, Inside Indonesia, Indonesia: “Among the most spectacular exhibits in the [Michael Rockefeller] collection is a wall of nine bisj-poles, traditionally carved from the buttress of a mangrove tree to honour recently killed warriors in some Asmat communities. … The Rockefeller exhibition is just one example of the way in which bisj-poles have become divorced from their original context and meaning. More recently, they have been reproduced by non-Asmat people to represent West Papuan and Indonesian art, appearing on T-shirts and key rings and in carvings at significant sites such as Jakarta’s Sukarno-Hatta airport. They have also been used outside Indonesia to promote tourism and cultural diplomacy.“


Still No. 1 - Robert Kagan, Washington Post: The evidence of American decline is weak. America's image is certainly damaged, as measured by global polls, but the practical effects of this are far from clear.

Virtual JFK: The 44th President’s Foreign Policy Challenge - James G. Blight and janet M. Lang, Truthdig: If Americans elect the candidate whose bottom line is avoiding a military defeat, as it was for LBJ and as it is for John McCain, they will probably raise the odds of enduring many more military defeats. If, on the other hand, they elect the candidate whose bottom line is avoiding disastrous war, as it was for JFK and as it is for Barack Obama, they will probably increase the odds of meaningful victory -- a “victory,” that is, in Niebuhr’s sense, meaning having not made matters worse, and perhaps having made them a little better.

Bush's booby traps for Obama: The Bush administration is leaving behind foreign policy tripwires that could blow up on the next president - Rosa Brooks, Los Angeles Times: Tripwires in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan.

Fork in the Road: Where Obama will lead if he goes left on foreign policy - Clifford D. May, National Review: With only a few exceptions (e.g. paleo-conservative Pat Buchanan and libertarian Ron Paul), going right has come to mean grasping that the West is engaged in a conflict as consequential as those that were fought against Nazism and Communism. If Obama is the next president and if, as Peggy Noonan suggests he is more likely to “go left in foreign relations,” we should at least understand where that will lead us.

America’s Military Attack in Syria -- Possible Reasons and Likely Costs: Daniel Levy, Prospects for Peace: A general effort seems to be afoot, now extended from the Afghan-Pakistan border region to the Iraq-Syria border with regard to U.S. military freedom of action in cross border missions. The Bush Administration has probably managed to yet further complicate the work of its successor in the Middle East with this latest act.

Syrian haven for killers, then and now - Rafael Medoff , Jerusalem Post: While the Bush administration has designated Syria a sponsor of terrorism and imposed the requisite sanctions, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and her aides recently met with Syrian officials to seek a "thaw" in relations. Does this week's US air raid demonstrate a rejection of the "thaw" approach or does it simply reflect the latest bump in an ongoing tug of war within the administration over how to deal with Syria?

Iraq Condemns US Raid on Syrian Village: American troops used Iraqi territory as 'staging ground' for attack - Patrick Cockburn, Independent/Common Dreams

US Cutoff Threat Unlikely to Save Iraq Troop Pact - Gareth Porter, Shaping the Iraqi political response to the US-Iraq status of forces agreement is the perception that the proposed agreement is the same type of unequal military relationship that Iraq had with the British for decades.

Auditors: Private security in Iraq cost over $6B - Associated Press, International Herald Tribune: No one knows for sure, but auditors think the United States has paid well over $6 billion to private security companies who have been guarding diplomats, troops, Iraqi officials and reconstruction workers in Iraq.

Nothing else matters: Iraqi heavy metal returns - Charles Levinson, USA TODAY: 250 Iraqi fans of heavy metal music fearlessly donned eye shadow, anarchist pendants and black T-shirts and came out of hiding to attend Iraq's first metal concert in five years.

Iraqi Party Comes to the United States – Spin of the Day, Center for Media and Democracy: The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq is launching a public campaign in the United States, "to educate and raise awareness of the goals of the leading Shiite political party that opposes Muqtada al-Sadr's group." The Council will spend an estimated $20,000 per month, to educate U.S. policymakers and the general public on "Iraqi Islamic culture."

Who's Behind the Council for a Democratic Iran? Who's Behind the Council for a Democratic Iran?: - Spin of the Day, Center for Media and Democracy: “The Virginia-based Council for a Democratic Iran (CDI) … [has] a major new contract with the Livingston Group lobbying and PR firm … CDI's founder, Dr. Behrooz Behbudi, ‘seems to be aligned with military hawks.’ In 2007, he ‘bought $250,000 worth of ads in major North American newspapers denouncing Iran's Muslims leaders and 'terrorists' and 'fascists' and warning they are a direct threat to the U.S. and Canada.’"

Lovely Obama Musical Propaganda - Petite Maoiste

More Fun with Obama PropagandaFederal Review: A little something you can use on your own, homemade armband.

Viva la Propaganda: Political Art, October 18 - November 22, 2008Bear And Bird Boutique+Gallery: Our current exhibition is called "Viva la Propaganda" and features all different kinds of political artwork by South Florida artists.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October 29

"QUESTION: Just quickly, how much money are you spending? How much money is this, like, initiative of the war of ideas? Can you quantify it?

UNDER SECRETARY GLASSMAN: It’s not much. I will say that much."

--Briefing on U.S. Public Diplomacy and the War of Ideas by James K. Glassman, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. LEFT: Book by Mr. Glassman (French translation)

"Earn it, Doc!"

--Tommy the Tank, Dr. Condoleezza Rice's fitness trainer


Analysts Question Timing of Syria Raid - Ali Gharib, "A cross-border raid into Syria by U.S. forces in Iraq and subsequent stonewalling by U.S. officials unwilling to divulge details have led to rampant speculation among U.S. analysts about the origins and meaning of the attack. In retaliation, Syria shut down a U.S. school and cultural center in Damascus."

U.S. Embassy in Damascus may close - Reuters, International Herald Tribune

Briefing on U.S. Public Diplomacy and the War of Ideas
- James K. Glassman, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State: ”In the war of ideas, our core task is not to fix foreigners’ perceptions of the United States, but to isolate and reduce the threat of violent extremism, not with bombs and bullets, of course, but with words, images, and deeds. And as I said, it’s about them, not about us.”

The War of Ideas and a CSM Op-Ed – GlobalPerspective, Reinventing Public Diplomacy: "In James Glassman's briefing on the War of Ideas, the State Department provided an update on its vision for public diplomacy and its engagement strategy. … While I agree with the premise of Glassman's vision, I find the characterization of a black and white world of ‘us’ and ‘them’ concerning. How can it only be about ‘them’ if it's ‘their’ perception of ‘us’ that we need to change in order to take away ‘their’ motivation and capability to do us harm? How can it only be about ‘them,’ if the United States seeks to draw on universal values and norms to bolster the ‘us’ position among international partners?”

Strategic Communication vs. Public Diplomacy vs. Dialogue - Bud Goodall, COMOPS Journal: “I applaud Under Secretary Glassman’s willingness to share his ideas about the relationship of strategic communication to public diplomacy. But I worry that viewing SC as a subset of PD, and that tying all forms and practices of SC to dialogue reifies an outdated way of thinking about communication. Strategic communication operates in a 'rugged landscape' that is more complex than a conversation or dialogue. Continuing to think of SC in those terms is both theoretically muddled and pragmatically too simplistic.”

Obama's victory a "great thing": GlassmanPress Trust of India: “The victory of Democrat nominee Barack Obama in the US Presidential elections would be a "great thing" for the country, a senior state department official said. ‘... I'm not endorsing a particular candidate here... But I think it would be a 'great thing' for the US to elect an African-American,’ Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, James Glassman said. But for that matter Glassman also emphasis that it would be great to have a woman as President or vice President.” See also.

US opens media facility in Brussels - Vanessa Macdonald, “The US has opened a media facility in Brussels, offering the 12,000 journalists working there the chance to organise interviews with the many senior officials passing through this busy capital city. The facility is one of the latest initiatives by the Secretary of State, which has given public diplomacy a much higher profile during George Bush’s second term. … Another initiative is green diplomacy, which Dr [Colleen] Graffy [deputy assistant for public diplomacy at the Secretary of State] described in a recent webchat as ‘our effort to engage on environmental issues with the people of other countries in a way that communicates our values, culture and policies.’” Colleen Graffy, March 22, 2006:
“I came to London on a 'detainee propaganda defensive'. Before I went to Guantánamo, I had been on Radio 4's Today programme following the ‘interview’ of current detainee Fawzi al-Odah. He described being internally fed ‘using a thicker tube with a metal edge’. The ‘metal edge’ is not exposed metal, as he would want us to believe, but the hospital standard, which is sheathed. It was for this reason that I brought a sample on to Jeremy Vine's Radio 2 programme.” PHOTO: Colleen Graffy

Bush 41 Grownup Repudiates Bush 43 Foreign Policy - Spencer Ackerman, Washington Independent: “Edward Djerejian is a longtime diplomat and confidant of James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state and consigliere to George H.W. Bush. Djerejian was an outsized figure in GOP foreign-policy circles in its pre-neocon days, having been the only U.S. diplomat to serve as ambassador to both Syria and Israel. After leaving government service in the Clinton administration, he became the founding director of Baker’s institute at Rice University, and Colin Powell briefly recalled him to chair a State Dept. panel on public diplomacy during George W. Bush’s first term. In other words, he’s a grownup.”

Two Parties, One Imperial Mission: The US Empire will Survive Bush - Arno Mayer, Counterpunch: “Taking the USAID (United States Agency for International Development), Fulbright Programme and Congress for Cultural Freedom of the anti-Communist cold war as their model, the stalwarts of the new global war on terror have created equivalents in the State Department's Millenni[ium] Challenge and Middle East Partnership Initiative. The defense department enlists universities through Project Minerva to help with the new model counterinsurgency warfare and unconventional military state-building operations. … The [American] empire has extraordinary reserves of hard and soft power for persisting in its interventionism." PHOTO: Arno Mayer, Professor emeritus, Princeton University.

In Georgia, war tanks turn to culture - Dan Catchpole, Washington Times: “Georgia's five-day war with Russia in August proved the futility of fighting Moscow's forces on the battlefield but opened a cultural war for sympathy being waged by combatants on both sides. Mr. [David] Sakvarelidze [38-year-old director of the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater] said he wants to make Tbilisi a jewel of the international arts community, and in doing so strengthen the West's personal connections with his small country. He and other Georgian artists are trying to defend their country with arias, paintbrushes and clay creations. ‘Art is our weapon,’ Mr. Sakvarelidze said. ‘We have nothing else here.’ Cultural warfare has a long history in the region. During the Cold War, the Voice of America broadcast jazz behind the Iron Curtain." VIA

Foreign and Security Policy in 2009: Expectations, Challenges, Opportunities - Von Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger, Frankfurter Allgemeine,“My country [Germany] will not be too keen to tighten sanctions [against Iran], in whatever institutional format, and then face again the wrath of major German companies that do business in Iran. Again, it may be possible to do so, but it needs careful preparation and improved public diplomacy.”

Poland: Public and Cultural Diplomacy Conference - ISRIA: “On 27-30 October 2008 in Warsaw, the Public and Cultural Diplomacy Conference is taking place in which directors of Polish Institutes are taking part as well as cultural, scientific and press attachés from Polish foreign missions.”


In Syria, a short-sighted attack – Editorial, Boston Globe: The timing of the cross-border assault could not have been worse. And the justification given - that Syria sacrificed the inviolability of its territory by failing to eliminate the infiltration of would-be fighters and suicide bombers - exhibits disdain for the principles of international law. The next president will have to bring US policy back in compliance with those norms and restore a diplomacy that balances the interests of different powers in the region.

Twilight Struggle: In its closing days, the Bush administration escalates the war on terror - Eli Lake, New Republic: With the clock winding down on the administration, it has a greater appetite for racking up victories against al Qaeda. Obama has said nothing about Sunday's strikes in Syria (a silence that has rightly earned him taunting from the McCain campaign). On one level, this new policy conflicts with Obama's stated desire for opening up diplomatic channels to places like Tehran and Damascus. On the other hand, this is precisely the type of policy that he has repeatedly promised at least for Pakistan.

The World From Berlin: 'Bush's Way of Waving Goodbye to Syria?'Spiegel: The US says its cross-border raid into Syria killed a top terrorist. Still, international reaction has been intense and critical. While the German government has kept silent, media commentators haven't been shy about lambasting the US.

An Empty Trial at Guantánamo - Andy Worthington, Now here's a problem that anyone with half a brain could have seen coming. On Monday the second trial by military commission at Guantánamo -- in other words, the second U.S. "war crimes" trial since the Second World War, following the underwhelming trial of Salim Hamdan this summer -- opened not with a bang, nor even with a whimper, but with complete silence.

Sleepless in Tehran - Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times: “If America wants to get out of Iraq and leave behind a decent outcome, plus break the deadlocks in Lebanon and Israel-Palestine, it needs to end the cold war with Iran. Possible? I don’t know, but the collapse of oil prices should give us a shot.”

Sleepy in Washington - Hooman Majd, Huffington Post: Assuming that one Iranian administration's economic mismanagement will force the Islamic regime to reconsider all of its long-term goals would be a fatal mistake, Mr. Obama, should he become president, would be wise to try to understand Iranians, beyond conventional wisdom and what the "experts" in Washington say.

Yes, We Really Must Talk With Iran - Charles Knight and Chris Toensing, Common Dreams

Washington's new policy towards Iran - Hasan Abu Nimah, Electronic Intifada: Anti-Iranian propaganda in the US and from Israel has played up and often distorted Ahmadinejad's statements about Israel (as well as his statements questioning the veracity of the Holocaust) to stoke fears that Iran intends to attack Israel. The US-led efforts to weaken the "extremists" appear, if anything, to have achieved the opposite. American credibility and prestige have been severely damaged by its failed military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Israel's in Gaza and Lebanon, while Iran has gained in stature.

'We're not going to win this war' - China Hand, Asia Times: The trends both in the NATO countries and in the key South Asian countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan all point to a consolidation of expert consensus in favor of an Afghanistan change of course and a concurrent media campaign to enlighten and guide the befuddled populace in support of the new policy, all under military direction.

Angry Pakistan Tells America: 'Stop Launching Missile Strikes Over Our Territory' as 20 More Die: Frustrated Pakistani officials have ordered the U.S. to stop firing pilotless missiles over their territory: Daily Mail/UK, Common Dreams

The useless Cuba embargo: America's economic sanctions on Cuba, now 50 years old, are a failure – Editorial, Los Angeles Times: McCain favors business as usual with Cuba, but Barack Obama believes that Cuban Americans should have unrestricted rights to travel to the island and send remittances. Obama's proposals don't go far enough, but they're a good start.

Bush's foreign policy For the next commander in chief - Helle Dale, Washington Times: Time is closing in on the end of the Bush foreign-policy record. When all is said and done, his most important achievement, his essential legacy, was to keep the United States safe from any further terrorist attacks after September 11, despite the terrorists' determined efforts.

Why I support Barack Obama for president - Stuart E. Eizenstat, Jerusalem Post: “I have spent much of my adult life serving in our government to promote America's interests at home and abroad; I have made it a special calling to help Jews around the world, including Holocaust victims, and to strengthen the US-Israel relationship. It is with great pride that I support Senator Barack Obama to be our next president. … His life growing up with a single mother, for a time even on food stamps, embodies the values embodied in the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, the obligation to repair the world; to pursue, in the words of our prophets, ‘Justice, Justice; and to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and let the oppressed go free.'”

Al Qaeda in Iraq's Deadly Diaspora: Are Iraq's battle-hardened jihadis exporting their tactics to new fronts? - Bruce Falconer, Mother Jones: In recent months, as politicians, pundits, and military officials have debated the causes of the precipitous decline in violence in Iraq, some prominent terrorism experts (including Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank in the March/April 2007 issue of Mother Jones) have begun warning that the relative calm may be giving way to a new threat -- a fresh generation of Al Qaeda, battle-hardened in Iraq and bent on exporting what they've learned to new fronts.

Iraq's blast walls become canvases: 'We want to create a sense of beauty amid this violence,' says Asad Sagheer of Baghdad University's College of Fine Arts. So the gray safety barriers are taking on a colorful life of their own - Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times: Painters dispatched by Baghdad University's College of Fine Arts, commissioned by the government to decorate the walls, have in the last 20 months turned them into vast canvases for landscapes, portraits, abstracts, images from ancient Babylonia.

Who Killed Anna Politkovskaya? – Amy Knight, New York Review of Books: Russian journalists have been under more pressure than ever to follow the official line.

Despite Ranking, Tajik Media Freedom More Relative Than Real - Salimjon Aioubov, RFE/RL: it is becoming progressively more difficult to evaluate objectively the media situation across the former Soviet Union, given that the governments in question have had 16 years in which to perfect the art of creating a democratic image that does not reflect reality.

America must lead a rescue of emerging economies - George Soros, Financial Times

Lifting the Shadow: Can Condoleezza Rice Emancipate Herself from Bush? - Marc Hujer, Spiegel: As the disastrous Bush administration drags down its members, only one of them, Condoleezza Rice, has what it takes to survive politically. Ironically, the president's close confidante, who bears part of the responsibility for all of the administration's crises, is the only one who stands a chance of scoring a comeback.

Propaganda Alert: Vikings were not metrosexuals! - Mark A. Rayner, The Skwib: “As the leader of the Noodly Norseman, I feel it is my duty to alert you all that a terrible lie is being spread by the Daily Telegraph (in the UK) that the Vikings were metrosexuals. … As is the case with all effective propaganda, the story is littered with truthful elements. It is true that Vikings washed on a regular basis. It is true that Vikings did not wear horned or winged helmets. It is even true that many Norsemen spent a large part of their time in ‘peaceful activities such as farming, building, writing and illustrating.’ However, it is the big lie, you have to watch out for: … that Norsemen were also stylish trend-setters.’”


Bat-Manga: the lost Japanese Batman comics of 1966 - Boing Boing

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October 28

“Yesterday, you made note of my -- the lack of my talent when it came to dancing. But nevertheless, I want you to know I danced with joy. And no question Liberia has gone through very difficult times."

--President George W. Bush, Speaking with the president of Liberia, Washington, D.C., Oct. 22, 2008

"God looks after drunks, little children and the United States of America."

--Bismarck, as quoted by Gore Vidal


The State Department, not the Pentagon, should lead America's public diplomacy efforts: Why is the Department of Defense getting so much money and personnel to carry out the mission?
- Kristin M. Lord, Christian Science Monitor: “The Pentagon should play an important role in public diplomacy, but as a partner – not the principal. For its part, the Congress should give public diplomats the tools they need to do their jobs, and then hold them accountable.”

Middle East Digest - October 27, 2008 - US Department of State, DC: “QUESTION: Does it not create, at a minimum, a public diplomacy problem for the U.S. Government that there are reports -- multiple in the case of Pakistan -- of U.S. military activities not at least publicly sanctioned and, in fact, publicly rejected and protested against by the Pakistani authorities -- U.S. military actions inside Pakistani territory? Here you have a series of reports which you do not appear to be in a position to deny, suggesting U.S. military activity again inside the territory of the sovereign, you know, country. At a minimum, surely, this is not helpful from the point of view of American public diplomacy in the Arab and Muslim world for there to be reports that you don’t deny of U.S. military forces attacking inside other country’s territory. [STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN] MR. MCCORMACK: Well, look, going all the way back to 2001, the United States and its friends and allies around the world have been – had to do difficult things in the war on terror. This is a tough fight requiring responses across a variety of different areas from diplomatic, to political, to military, to security, to intelligence-sharing, and as well as public diplomacy. And we’ve learned a lot and we have made really important strides in the struggle. And I expect that that’s going to continue over the years.”

Under Secretary of State James K. Glassman to Brief on “War of Ideas” - Notice to the Press, Office of the Spokesman, U.S. State Department: “Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James K. Glassman will brief on aspects of the ‘War of Ideas’ at 1 p.m. October 28 in the State Department Press Briefing Room (2109). The briefing will detail the background, structure, strategy, and programs used in the public diplomacy realm to combat violent extremism, reduce the threats to America, and to promote freedom across the world.”

Middle East Press Negative on US Attack on Syrian Soil – Juan Cole, Informed Comment: Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion: “The USG Open Source Center surveys the Middle Eastern press reaction to the US raid on Abu al-Kamal in Syria, finding it mostly negative and based on Syrian reports. Lesson: If the US had just gotten word out about its side of the story more quickly and effectively, it might have blunted the generally negative reation in the region. It appears that Washington did no public diplomacy at all around the episode.”

U.S. Democracy Has “Come a Long Way,” State’s [Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James] Glassman Says: International visitors get up-close look at action in battleground states - Michelle Austein, “The 100 visitors from across the globe participating in the I-Vote program, an initiative sponsored by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, will get a close view of the political action. In the days leading up to and including Election Day, the participants will observe the political activity in some of the country’s most competitive swing states, including Missouri, Colorado and Ohio.”

Jihad and the Relativist Enemy within - Jeffrey Imm, Family Security Matters, NJ: “From a relativist perspective, ‘engagement’ with some Jihadist groups against other Jihadist groups offers a tactical value in 'regionalized' areas of warfare. Even in the ‘war of ideas,’ James K. Glassman, the U.S. undersecretary of state for public diplomacy tells the Washington Times how he is using the Al-Qaeda renunciations by Sayyed Imam Al-Sharif (aka Dr. Fadl) in a fight against ‘extremists,’ when Al-Sharif continues to call for jihad in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel, including the statement by Al-Sharif that 'Jihad in Afghanistan will lead to the creation of an Islamic state with the triumph of the Taliban, God willing.'"

Christopher Shays –The Hour Staff, The Hour Headlines: What are the top three issues facing your district and how would you address them? – “3) We have a national security crisis. Many have lost faith in our government's ability to affect global change, and we face a new set of threats from nuclear proliferation, global terror networks and reckless states. Our next president will have a tremendous opportunity to realign our foreign policy using ‘smart power.’ Military power (hard power) will continue to be a part of our foreign policy, but it is inadequate without simultaneous investment in soft power, which includes: … * Using public diplomacy, technology and innovation to reach global consensus on issues like energy security and climate change.”

The Transition - Charles J. Brown, Undiplomatic: “State: Joe Biden is likely to play a central role in foreign policy decision-making, and may serve as a de facto Secretary of State. … Obama will want someone who can be an effective leader with the capacity to push back against Biden (when necessary). He also should pick someone who can fix what’s wrong with the current bureaucracy, including the challenges facing existing foreign assistance and public diplomacy operations. That pretty much excludes both Kerry and Richardson, who are neither assertive nor reformers.”

London's diversity and public diplomacy – Andy Pryce, UK in USA bloggers, FCO Bloggers: Global conversations: “Are the ties that Londoners, or New Yorkers for that matter, have with other countries the type that allow influence at home? I understand that the Smith-Mundt Act prevents the US from undertaking this type of activity at domestically. But do readers see a benefit in engaging local communities with close ties to other countries? By the way, I would not agree with the definition of public diplomacy given in the Wikipedia entry on Smith-Mundt.”

Obama's childhood home in Indonesia up for sale - Robin Mcdowell, Huffington Post: "Anticipation that Barack Obama may become the next president has sent a steady stream of visitors to the colonial-era Jakarta house he lived in as a child, from potential buyers and journalists to an entrepreneur who wants to turn it into the 'Sweet Home Obama Bar.' Tata Aboe Bakar, the 78-year-old owner, is in no mood to move out. … But with a potential price tag of $3 million - and even more if Aboe Bakar can believe one broker's claims that a U.S. Embassy official is ready to pay five times the market price if Obama wins - he says he'll seriously consider it. Tristram Perry, the embassy's public diplomacy officer, was not aware of any such proposal.”

Australia is examining its international broadcasting as part of ABC review - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy - Elliott comments: “It seems that some Australians, like some Americans, have trouble grasping the concept of international broadcasting. It should not be the role of Radio Australia and Australia Network to 'build Australia's image.'"

Mark your Calendar for Smith-Mundt Act of 1948: Past, Present, and Future - Matt Armstrong, Mountain Runner: “Mark your calendar for January 13, 2008. That is the confirmed date for ‘The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948: Past, Present, and Future’, a symposium to discuss the legislation on which America’s arsenal of persuasion is anchored. The one-day event will be hosted in Washington, D.C., with the location and co-sponsor all but confirmed. The format remains as before: four 90 minute panels structured to maximize discourse rather than monologues.”

Repairing America's Image: SIS Event Information, Project on Middle East Democracy: Public Diplomacy in the Next US Administration: “Nancy Snow, John Robert Kelley, Rhonda S. Zaharna, Sherry L. Mueller, Moderator: Craig Hayden: Details: Throughout this year's US presidential race, the candidates have made America's standing abroad a important piece of their foreign policy platforms. What changes lie ahead in the way the United States presents itself to the world? The imminent arrival of the next US president opens the possibility of dramatic changes not only in the crafting of America's image but also the receptivity to America's role from overseas. This discussion convenes four panelist-contributors to The Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy (Routledge 2008) on the occasion of its release. On the basis of their contributions, they will evaluate the future prospects for American public diplomacy and offer suggestions and insights for its effectiveness.”

17th Annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference October 30 - 31, 2008 - Charles Lenchner, Peace in the Middle East: "Transitioning the White House: Challenges and Opportunities for Arab-U.S. Relations". Participants include Ms. Dina Habib Powell - Global Head of Corporate Engagement, Goldman Sachs; former Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs, and Deputy Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State; former Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel, White House.


The End of International Law? - Robert Dreyfuss, Nation: If it becomes a standard part of U.S. military doctrine that any country can be declared "criminal" and thus lose its sovereignty, then there is no such thing as international law anymore.

Bush's parting shots at Syria: There'll be a new president soon, and he'll inherit the fallout from a U.S. attack inside Syria - Editorial - Los Angeles Times: Bush, it appears, is conducting yet another experiment in Middle Eastern cowboy diplomacy, with the advantage (for him) that if it all blows up, someone else will have to pick up the pieces.

Getting Syrious – Editors, National Review: It must have come as a shock to Assad that, after years of dithering in the face of provocation, the United States decided it had had enough and, in a short, sharp operation, dispatched commandos from Iraq to a village a few miles into Syria.

Mr. Assad's Medicine: After sponsoring terrorism against three of its neighbors, Syria plays the victim when its own border is breached – Editorial, Washington Post: Israel has let Mr. Assad know that it is prepared to respond to his terrorism with strikes against legitimate military targets. Now that the United States has sent the same message, maybe the dictator at last will rethink his strategy.

Hitting Syria, Five Years Late: Soliciting Assad was one of Bush's biggest war mistakes – Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal: The Syrians interpreted diplomatic accommodation in the face of their anti-American acts as a sign of weakness to exploit. Mr. Obama has promised he'll engage Syria diplomatically as part of an overall effort to end the conflict in Iraq. If he really wants to end the war faster, he'll pick up on Syria where the Bush Administration has now ended.

The strike that shattered US-Syria ties - Sami Moubayed, Asia Times

One Last Bush Doctrine - Dan Froomkin, Belittled domestically, President Bush is flexing his last working muscle: His control over the nation's military. And in so doing, he is adding one last addendum to the ever-changing Bush Doctrine, establishing yet another de facto U.S. policy on his way out the door, and leaving his successor with yet another controversial precedent to wrestle with.

Relief Disaster: Foreign assistance to African nations hard-hit by AIDS could have been the administration's greatest success. Then ideology interfered - Joshua Kurlantzick, Mother Jones

Making America safe for the world - Yu Bin, Asia Times: A specter is haunting the world, a specter of a dangerously growing gap between the United States presidential candidates' promises to make America safer on one hand, and an increasingly poorer, more unstable and more dangerous world on the other.

Why McCain Lost Me - Anne Applebaum, Washington Post: “Barack Obama is indeed the least experienced, least tested candidate in modern presidential history. But at least if he wins, I can be sure that the mobs who cry ‘terrorist’ at the sound of Obama's name will be kept far, far away from the White House.”

Campaign on Empty - Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: On foreign policy, once the centerpiece of McCain's campaign but now mostly an afterthought, McCain promises "victory" in Iraq and Afghanistan without telling war-weary voters how much more time, money or blood he will spend.

Obama, the first-rate Republican; Is there anything the front-runner will not say to become President? No progressive – Alexander Cocokburn, Independent: Whatever drawdown of troops in Iraq that does take place in the event of Obama's victory will be a brief hiccup amid the blare and thunder of fresh "resolve." In the event of Obama's victory, the most immediate consequence overseas will most likely be brusque American imperial reassertion.

The Right Choice? - American Conservative: Traditional conservatives have no clear favorite in the November election. Is there a lesser evil? Should we vote third party? Would we be better off just staying home? TAC asked 18 conservatives, libertarians, and independent thinkers how they plan to vote and why.

Out of Iraq? Not if Bush and Maliki Can Help It - Phyllis Bennis, Although much of the nation's attention is captive to the current elections, there's an immediate need for a strong response against the latest round of negotiations that includes, among them opposing any U.S.-Iraq agreement to maintain the U.S. occupation, whether it's for one month or three years.

Between Iraq’s needs and dreams - Roula Khalaf, Financial Times: Too many mistakes committed in Iraq have been driven by an American obsession with timetables that suited US interests but not necessarily those of Baghdad.

Head of Russia Today defends her channel - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Evil Under the Sun: Barack Obama and American exceptionalism - Noemie Emery, Weekly Standard: The United States was formed as the first country to be built on the idea of itself as a prime moral actor, on behalf of itself, and the world. America's heroes have always believed that evil exists, and the United States exists to confront it. How will America -- and the world -- fare with a president who rejects this tradition? We may be about to find out.

The End of the American Road: The New Neo-Con Reality - Paul Graig Roberts, Counterpunch: Looking at his defeated adversary, George W. Bush, brought down by military and economic failure, Iranian President Ahmadinejad observed: “The American empire in the world is reaching the end of its road, and its next rulers must limit their interference to their own borders.” Truer words were never spoken.

Airport security in America is a sham -- “security theater” designed to make travelers feel better and catch stupid terrorists. Smart ones can get through security with fake boarding passes and all manner of prohibited items -- as our correspondent did with ease - Jeffrey Goldberg, Atlantic: The TSA budget is almost $7 billion. That money would be better spent on the penetration of al-Qaeda social networks.

U.S. spy agencies spent $47.5 billion in fiscal 2008USA Today: U.S. spy agencies spent $47.5 billion in fiscal year 2008, $4 billion more than in the previous budget year, according to National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell.

"Darker Shades of Red: Official Soviet Propaganda from the Cold War" on Display at Handwerker Gallery - Cheryl Kramer, Intercom: "Darker Shades of Red: Official Soviet Propaganda from the Cold War" is currently on display at the Handwerker Gallery [at Ithaca College]. The exhibition provides an opportunity to revisit the Cold War era through an exploration of the Soviet Union's official imagery. Strikingly graphic in its socialist imagery, the collection reveals the economic, social, and political ideology of the Soviet Union from the 1940s to 1991.