Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December 31

Caption: U.S. Democratic presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., right, is presented with an "I Love Sderot" T-shirt with a rocket in a heart by Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal as they stand in front of a display of rockets that landed in southern Israel, during a visit to Sderot, southern Israel, Wednesday, July 23, 2008.
PHOTO FROM

PUBLIC DIPLOMACY

Back to English Comp: Notes for a Public Diplomacy Primer - Patricia Lee Sharpe, Whirled View: “Even if the Obama administration turns out to be as inspired (and brave) as many hope it will be, the PD task ahead is enormous. We need an under secretary who understands that PD is not advertising or public relations or propaganda or all the nice things that private citizens can do in their various capacities. It’s the official voice of the government of the United States of America talking to (and with) the people of the world about matters of critical importance to all of us.”

"Gaza" or "Hamas" – Marc Lynch, Abu Aardvark: “I do think that public opinion matters, at least indirectly in terms of shaping the terms of Arab politics, even if governments don't fall, treaties aren't broken or war declared. A whole industry of 'public diplomacy' and 'wars of ideas' is based on the concern that anti-American attitudes matter.”

Twitter and Public Diplomacy: Deputy Assistant Secretary Colleen Graffy (Part II)Darren Krape blog: “Not everyone will agree with efforts like Graffy’s use of Twitter, but they demonstrate a real willingness to go beyond merely pushing a message to really trying to foster real conversations (both online and off), which, in the end, is what public diplomacy is all about.”

State Department Leads Effort in Leveraging New Media Communications Tools – Chris Battle, Security Debrief, a blog of homeland security: “[A]s Colleen Graffey put it, new media tools are simply one more way to connect. They are supplements, not replacements. And they are not going away. … We can ignore the blogs and the tweets and all the other new media with funny names. The conversation will simply go on without us, shaping the public perception of us wihtout our input. We simply miss another opportunity to connect, to push our message … to join the conversation that is already taking place — with us or without us.”

Radio Free Europe or Radio Free Putin?: Did BBG End U.S. Surrogate Broadcasting in Russia on Radio Liberty in an Attempt to Appease Mr. Putin and Pursue Its Marketing Strategy? - FreeMediaOnline.org & Free Media Online Blog: “This year … the BBG [Broadcasting Board of Governors] made good on its threat to end all VOA Russian radio broadcasts and implemented its decision just 12 days before the Russian military attack on Georgia last summer. When the war started, the Voice of America was prevented by the BBG from broadcasting Russian radio programs.

The two now former BBG members who were most responsible for this public diplomacy and foreign policy blunder were James K. Glassman, the BBG’s most recent neoconservative chairman who is now the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, and liberal Democrat, Edward E. Kaufman, who was subsequently appointed to succeed Vice President elect Joe Biden as a U.S. Senator from Delaware.” On BBG, see. Cartoon from.

War and social media: Israel's public diplomacy on Gaza - Nancy Scola, Personal Democracy Forum: “Israel's social media offensives -- on Twitter and on YouTube -- in the days since the start of air attacks in Gaza includes attempts that seemed aim at winning the war of public opinion on the idea that the military operation is a reasonable response to Palestinian rocket attacks and is targeted solely at Hamas properties and assets. … It's all rather similar to public diplomacy 2.0, the rubric used by State Department undersecretary Jamie Glassman to talk about using new media to win hearts and minds. We've been highlighting that work -- and in particular the Twitter use of State diplomat Colleen Graffy -- because it's a fascinating application of a new mindset on public engagement as applied in what can quickly turn into life-and-death situations.”

Israel Launches High-Tech Public Diplomacy Outreach To Explain Operation Cast Lead – Omri Ceren, Mere Rhetoric: “The Israeli consulate in New York has set up a Twitter account and a YouTube channel to help combat media bias … Israeli Communication scholars have been advising the MFA for years that they have to expand their public diplomacy. I'm generally skeptical about mass persuasion on the basis of sound argument - we live in a world of low information voters who nonetheless feel entitled to be gigantic tools - but it's certainly better than nothing. Although I think that they left comments open on their YouTube videos. That shouldn't last long.

The Chance Of BiscuitsBagnewsNotes: “I've been checking out the Israel Defense Force YouTube channel, as well as the Israeli Consulate's Twitter site. Certainly, Israel has made substantial tactical and PR strides since Lebanon. Still, as much as these videos illustrate how heavy firepower can be confined to a limited footprint, these images still convey extreme shock and the sense that such overwhelming firepower couldn't possibly avoid all collateral damage in densely populated areas, especially given secondary explosions.”

The War Hits Facebook - Ethan Perlson & Benjamin Sarlin, Daily Beast: "Israel’s assault on Gaza has launched an emotional firestorm on Facebook—including violent threats, Nazi slurs, and pleas for reconciliation: Joel Leyden, an experienced PR consultant in Israel who sometimes lends his services to the government, created a pro-Israel Facebook group, 'I Support the Israel Defense Forces In Preventing Terror Attacks From Gaza,' two hours after the first bombs landed in Gaza to help sway public opinion."

Abba Edan's message rings clear again - Martin Schram, ScrippsNews: “Once again, Israel has shown that it will ‘never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity’ to capture the high ground in the news wars that are the main battleground in the Middle East these days. Even when it has the facts on its side. Israel failed to launch a first strike with its weapons of public diplomacy. Israel needed a global truth squad campaign to show the world Hamas' evil intent.”

We are paying a dear price for eliminating a bureaucracy - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy:

"In the 1990s, the Clinton Administration and Congress abolished the United States Information Agency, the key agency through which the nation fought its war of ideas with the Soviet Union. In the heady thinking of that decade, the spread of free markets and rising living standards across the globe were supposed to reduce the threats to our well-being from abroad. But while that 'Washington Census' held sway in the West, a rabidly anti-modern, anti-American ideology spread along the rocky terrain of Afghanistan and in mosques and madrassas across the Muslim world, planting the seeds of death and destruction. Thus came the bombings of the U.S. marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, of the World Trade Center in 1993, of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and of the USS Cole in 2000, all of which culminated in the flames of 9/11." Lawrence J. Haas, North Star Writers Group, 30 December 2008. Elliott Comment: “All that because USIA was eliminated? And USIA did not disappear until 1999. The writer airbrushes out the fact that the late Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) was the prime mover in the folding of USIA into the State Department.” On USIA, see

Quoting History - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner:

“[T]he active backers of the Smith-Mundt Act … were peddlers of knowledge: Rep. Karl Mundt (R-SD) was a former school teacher and Assistant Secretary of State William Benton was the owner of the Encyclop√¶dia Britannica (and proponent of The Great Books of the Western World).”

Liturgy - Aerothorn, Augmented Vision - “[T]hen the question is what class I drop. My first instinct is to drop my Hampshire course (Public Diplomacy) but that would probably be a bad idea, given that then I'd have ALL narrative classes (one in literature, one in video games, and one in film) and I have previously had few to none (depending on how you count things).”

RELATED ITEMS

Put Culture in the Cabinet - William R. Ferris, New York Times: Over the years, America has developed an impressive array of federal cultural programs -- in addition to the endowments for the arts and the humanities. The president should create a cabinet-level position -- a secretary of culture -- to provide more cohesive leadership for these impressive programs and to assure that they receive the recognition and financing they deserve.

Make love, not war - Cal Thomas, Washington Times: Officers with the Central Intelligence Agency have been handing out little blue Viagra pills to Afghan tribal leaders, some of whom have more than one wife. "Viva Viagra!" if it keeps Afghan warlords off the battlefield and keeps them in the bedroom while providing, in between sessions, useful information about the Taliban.

Israeli psyop calling Gaza telephones? - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy



Party to Murder - Chris Hedges, TruthDig: Can anyone who is following the Israeli air attacks on Gaza -- the buildings blown to rubble, the children killed on their way to school, the long rows of mutilated corpses, the wailing mothers and wives, the crowds of terrified Palestinians not knowing where to flee, the hospitals so overburdened and out of supplies they cannot treat the wounded, and our studied, callous indifference to this widespread human suffering -- wonder why we are hated?

Our self-righteous celebration of ourselves and our supposed virtue is as false as that of Israel.

Will Things Ever Change? Gaza and the World - Ramzy Baroud, CounterPunch: One has to wonder if Israel kills a thousand more, ten thousand, or half of Gaza, will the US still blame Palestinians?

New US Policy Needed Toward Israelis and Palestinians - Jess Ghannam, San Francisco Chronicle/Common Dreams: President-elect Barack Obama has an opportunity to introduce desperately needed change in America's Middle East policy. Nothing would accomplish more than for Obama to speak out clearly against Israel's terrorism in Gaza.

Israel's options in Gaza: The longer Israel attacks Gaza, the more disproportionate its justifiable actions against Hamas seem - Editorial, Los Angeles Times: When the Bush administration sympathized with Israel's response to that provocation from Hamas, it wasn't simply catering to pro-Israel sentiments in this country; it was placing blame where it belongs. But Israel must desist as soon as it has neutralized the threat of rocket attacks, either through its own actions or as the result of a new and more robust cease-fire of the kind being pursued by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Gaza Clouds Obama's Prospects - Robert Scheer, Nation: Obama's challenge will be to turn his mantra of change into a practical road map for Mideast peace, a prospect made much more elusive by the Israeli blitzkrieg.

Tragedy in Gaza Hamas rocket attacks and the deadly Israeli bombing response have set the stage for another violent chapter in the long Mideast conflict; an early cease-fire is urgently needed - Our View, Baltimore Sun: The continuing showdown in Gaza is likely to present a serious challenge to President-elect Barack Obama, who pledged while seeking office to restore America's reputation around the world.

A Memo to Obama on Israel - Uri Avnery, Nation: Recommendation no. 1: As far as Israeli-Arab peace is concerned, you should act from Day One.


War Will Not Bring Peace in Afghanistan - Deborah Storie, Australian/Common Dreams

Who's Afraid of US-Iran Détente? Why Arab governments fight rapprochement, Muhammad Sahimi - Antiwar.com: Iran is ripe for fundamental changes. Its democratic movement will be greatly aided if negotiations do begin and result in a lessening of tension between the two nations. Once the threat of U.S. attacks on Iran is removed, Iran's hardliners will find themselves at a crossroads.

Russia's Woes Spell Trouble for the U.S.: Obama shouldn't reward dictatorial Kremlin with goodwill overtures – Leon Aron, Wall Street Journal: No matter what the Kremlin leaders and their propaganda stooges say in public, anything interpreted as approval or even a mere sign of respect by America, first and foremost by its president, is a huge boost to the government's domestic popularity and legitimacy. So the natural, almost protocol-dictated, inclination of the new administration to show good will must be balanced against firm support for the return to political and economic liberalization in Russia.

Time to Make Nice with Cuba? - Alex von Tunzelmann, Daily Beast: If Obama embraces his popularity in Cuba and abandons the embargo, the Castros will lose an enemy, the region will embrace us -- and it will ruin the place.


A new approach to Cuba: Evolving views of the local population and 50 years of failed U.S. policy suggest change is long overdue – Editorial, Los Angeles Times: Peaceful change in Cuba, 90 miles from Florida, is in the interest of the United States. We think communication, travel and trade are excellent ways to push for reform of the one-party state.

Cuba opening its airwaves is about as likely as the United States giving up a broadcasting bureaucracy - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Somalia: The Forgotten Front of the War on Terror - Stephen Smith, Antiwar.com: Hopefully President Obama will learn from the past and realize that the best way to rid Somalia of violence and radical Islam is to leave it alone and to encourage other countries to do the same.

Azerbaijan gets an earful about its decision to ban foreign radio - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

AMERICANA

FROM

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December 30


“The US Dept. of State International Information Program is casting a male (25 to 45) for a comedic commercial intended for public diplomacy outreach. The piece will be shot in DC sometime during the 2nd or 3rd week of January. It is a paying, but non-union shoot. The piece is wordless - so physical comedy experience and great ‘face’ control is a must.”

--freecastingcall.com

Public Diplomacy: America’s Embarrassing Failure to Take Its Message to the World - Lawrence J. Haas – North Star Writers Group: “The intensely partisan debate over foreign policy of recent years has overshadowed one area of broad bipartisan consensus: America’s efforts at public diplomacy in the post-9/11 era have largely failed. … Of all the opportunities that incoming president Barack Obama can seize, none is more important for long-term U.S. national security than the chance to set public diplomacy on an effective course. … The war between the U.S.-led West and radical Islam will be determined as much by the ‘hearts and minds’ of hundreds of millions of Muslims the world over as by our power to destroy terrorists and confront the states that sponsor them.”

Neocons, NYT Demand More War, Torture – Philip Giraldi, AntiWar.com: “Diane Zeleny … is director of communications for Radio Free Europe, a position she was given after being on the receiving end of a grievance filed by the American Foreign Service Association in 2006 when she broke every rule in State Department assignments to obtain a godfathered appointment to head a media response center in Brussels.

Zeleny was allegedly a favorite of the redoubtable Karen Hughes, the self-styled soccer mom turned public diplomacy czarina whose gaffe-filled ‘listening tours’ to the Muslim world were amusingly described in the world media.” On Karen Hughes at

10 Reasons Why The West Will Lose To Islam - David Selbourne, World Views: “If such war [‘the war declared by al-Qaeda and other Islamists’] is under way, there are ten good reasons why, as things stand, Islam will not be defeated in it. 1) The first is the extent of political division in the non-Muslim world about what is afoot. … Divided counsels have … dictated everything from 'dialogue' to the use of nuclear weapons, and from reliance on 'public diplomacy' to 'taking out Islamic sites', Mecca included. Adding to this incoherence has been the gulf between those bristling to take the fight to the 'terrorist' and those who would impede such a fight, whether from domestic civil libertarian concerns or from rivalrous geopolitical calculation.”

Keep On Tweeting In The Free World – Rob, Social Networks: “Are you interested in the world of international diplomacy and the goings on at the State Department, but you are not sure where to get information in real time?

No problem, the State Department has caught the Twitter bug and they want to have a conversation with you. A quick scour of the “dipnote” Twitter site shows that they regularly post updates about what Secretary of State Rice has on her agenda, and that there will be no daily press briefing today, and there is an updated travel alert concerning travel in India. Like everything posted on Twitter, it’s up to you to measure the relative value of the individual tweets. If you desire to get up close and personal with a real diplomat to see what they do each day, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Public Diplomacy Colleen Graffy has her own Twitter feed.“

The Global Twittersphere Discusses Gaza – Jillian York, Huffington Post: Twitter users utilize hashtags to aggregate their content; users can then go to Twitter Search and look for content on a particular subject. In this case, the most utilized hashtag is #gaza, while #gazawarofwords is tracking media bias. A search for other hashtags being used to discuss Gaza brings up #israel, #syria, #baghdad, #2states, and #rafah, among others.

Filtering comments - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: “[T]his past week when I posted a rejoinder at the American Foreign Policy Council’s blog about tweeting. I’m not bothered that my comment was rejected, but I did get a laugh that a discussion about public diplomacy that says ‘public diplomacy and strategic communication are not about total transparency’ would censor comments. Well, AFPC practices what they preach.”

Israeli Consulate to host Twitter Press Conference on Gaza - DIP's Dispatches from the Imagination Age: “Tuesday December 30 from 1-3pm Eastern, the Consulate General of Israel in New York will be hosting a 'Citizens "Press" Conference' to discuss the conflict in Gaza IN TWITTER! … The Israeli Consulate's effort is an excellent study in Public Diplomacy 2.0 and an even more interesting use of tactical and nimble public affairs using our ever evolving social networking ecosystem. I've been consistently impressed with the Israeli government's agility and ease of using newer technology tools to communicate their message.

Dozens Gather in Second Life to Protest Gaza Attacks - DIP's Dispatches from the Imagination Age: “Dozens of people have been gathering since Saturday in Second Life at a protest of the recent attacks in the Gaza Strip.

The Egypt and Qatar-based news site, IslamOnline.net, has built a Palestine Holocaust Memorial Museum with scores of pictures of the attacks and people wounded in the attacks drawn news sources around the world. … The gathering is an example of the rich, textured opportunity that 3D immersive spaces like Second Life offer for people to express their concerns about present day issues.”

Netanyahu joins Gaza op PR effort - Gil Hoffman and Jpost.Com Staff, Jerusalem Post: “Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met one-on-one Monday with Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and Meretz leader Haim Oron and updated them about the progress of Operation Cast Lead. Olmert asked Netanyahu to join Israel's public relations efforts as he did during the Second Lebanon War. Netanyahu's spokesman said he responded affirmatively and without hesitation despite being the leader of the opposition in the middle of an election campaign.”

Operation Cast Lead -- The Second Day - Ari Bussel, Canada Free Press: “Israel’s Operation Lead Cast is concluding its second day. While the air strikes are done with medical precision, Israel is already losing the war in the Public Diplomacy Front. The world is waking up, angrier than ever before. … The Foreign Ministry has nominated Ambassador Gillerman, the former ambassador to the UN, in charge of communications with the Foreign Press. Speakers in all languages have been made available to the foreign press. Constant updates are sent to the Foreign Press from the Foreign Ministry. Foreign Diplomats are briefed. A public relations ‘blitz, a successful exercise?'”

Time Limit for Israel in Gaza? - Stoneman’s Corner: “While it’s clear that Israel had a casus belli, I think many observers outside of Israel will have limited tolerance for a long engagement that will inevitably cause more ‘collateral damage. … Israel can still lose the public diplomacy side of this conflict. It needs to wrap things up quickly.”

Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah Warlords! - log.Tribulationperiod.com: “Many signs … suggest that Israel is making an effort, albeit not wholly successful, to improve on the abject public diplomacy of the 2006 war. What is not yet clear, by contrast, is whether the official spokespeople have internalized the necessity to highlight Iran in their message to the world - Iran, the state champion and major enabler of Hamas’s terror-state in Gaza.”

Israel’s Lie Machine is Working Flat Out -- The core issue in this struggle is the illegality of Israel’s brutal occupation. Israel goes to great lengths to avoid and suppress all mention of it and play-acts the pathetic victim - Stuart Littlewood, Middle East Online: “[Israel] uses advanced propaganda skills, and the elaborate Israel lobby network, to persuade western politicians and media to accept Israel’s version of events (and even use Israel’s biased language) and not question its motives. In political PR terms it works wonderfully well. The loony leaders of my own government happily spread the poison and don’t seem interested in halting Israeli aggression and the vaporizing, dismembering and crushing of Gaza’s population. In human PR terms it is a disaster.”

VOA and RFE Cold War history, embellished a bit - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

'Terminator' joins Film Registry: 'In Cold Blood,' 'Deliverance' also included - Cynthia Littleton, Variety: “George Stevens Jr., who headed the United States Information Agency (USIA) Motion Picture Service unit from 1962-67, brought in several young talented documentary filmmakers such as Charles Guggenheim, Carroll Ballard, Kent McKenzie, Leo Seltzer, Terry Sanders, Bruce Herschensohn, and James Blue, who directed ‘The March.’ This period ushered in the ‘Golden Era’ of USIA films.

Examining the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington from the ground-level and focusing on the idealistic passion, joy and synergy of the crowds, Blue’s documentary lets us see the event take shape from the planning stage — with sound checks and worries about whether people will attend — to the arrival of enormous crowds on parades of trains and buses. It culminates in Martin Luther King’s electrifying ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. These USIA films were rarely seen in America because, fearing propaganda, the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act mandated that no USIA film could be shown domestically without a special act of Congress. These films are being rediscovered because a 1990 act of Congress (P.L. 101-246) authorized domestic screening 12 years after release.”

20 Things I'd Like To See in 2009 - Vitalfootball, UK: “14. Joe Kinnear knighted for services to public diplomacy and broadcast journalism. Can you imagine the ceremony at Buckingham Palace? 'Which one of you is Prince Philip?'” On Kinnear, see.

The U.S. Counter-propaganda Failure in Iraq - Andrew Garfield , Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2007, pp. 23-32. Courtesy Bill Fisher

Channel 4's Iran propaganda: Ahmadinejad's Christmas message was an insult to the 100,000 Iranians murdered since the Islamists seized power in 1979 - Peter Tatchell, guardian.co.uk

Can Russia's Opposition Rise To The Opportunity Of Crisis? - Vladimir Milov, RFE/RL: The Kremlin is using all possible propaganda means to divert responsibility for the crisis away from Putin's government, primarily by pointing the finger of blame at the United States and other external forces. Nonetheless, the public is becoming increasingly concerned.

Statement by Foreign Ministry of Georgia - Daily Georgian Times, Georgia: Statement states in part: “[I]t is obvious that using its cynical allegations permeated with the spirit of Soviet-style propaganda and terminology, the Russian side is trying in the most shameless manner to shift the blame for its own culpable actions to Georgia.”

YouTube condemned over Nazi videos: Internet site YouTube has been condemned for showing video clips which appear to glorify Nazi troops - telegraph.co.uk: The videos, some from Nazi propaganda news reels, have provoked the anger of Jewish organisations which called for YouTube to remove the "hugely offensive" postings, including one that features the headline 'Hitler Was Right'.

Israel, Gaza, and Arab regional divisions – Marc Lynch, Abu Aardvark - Almost every Arab media outlet, even those bitterly hostile to Hamas, is running bloody images from Gaza. But as with the 2006 Hezbollah war, Arab responses are enmeshed within deeply entrenched inter-Arab conflicts, dividing sharply between pro-U.S. regimes and the vast majority of expressed public opinion.

Israel, Hamas, and moral idiocy: Much of the world's response is a false moral equivalence that simply encourages the terrorists - Alan M. Dershowitz,

Christian Science Monitor

Israel, Stop! Just. Stop - Lorelei Kelly, Huffington Post: Israel, you are better than this. You are not just typical. You have the wisdom of the universe in your borders. You have profound knowledge of why death doesn't fix a problem. You have the USA to help you. Please, put the gun down. Move away from the gun. Just. Stop.

Israeli Attack May Complicate Obama's Plans - Jim Lobe, Antiwar.com: Israel's massive three-day aerial assault on Gaza is likely to complicate President-elect Barack Obama's hopes of aggressively pursuing Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, and it risks inflicting greater damage to Washington's standing in the Arab world, according to analysts.

Obama Fiddles While Gaza Burns
- Robert Dreyfuss, Nation

Tragedy in Gaza: Hamas rocket attacks and the deadly Israeli bombing response have set the stage for another violent chapter in the long Mideast conflict; an early cease-fire is urgently needed - Our view: baltimoresun.com: President-elect Barack Obama pledged while seeking office to restore America's reputation around the world. Muslims have expressed hopes that Mr. Obama might find a way to broker a permanent Mideast peace. But that challenge could become unattainable for years unless a way is found to bring an early halt to the Gaza fighting.

Gaza crisis: a crossroads for Obama: It could bring renewal – if Obama is bold enough to stand up to Israel - Sandy Tolan, Christian Science Monitor

Bush, Obama, and the Gaza Blitz - Patrick J. Buchanan, AntiWar.com: Israel's policy of withholding from the weak and innocent of Gaza, women and children, the necessities of life, to punish the guilty who rule at the point of a gun, is a policy that Obama should declare the United States will no longer support with tax dollars.

Has Israel Revived Hamas? - Daoud Kuttab, Washington Post: Just as George W. Bush's misadventure in Iraq played into the hands of radicals and terrorists, the Israeli action in Gaza will produce nothing less than that in Palestine. Let us hope that the Obama administration will see the consequences of what is not only a crime of war but also a move whose results are exactly the opposite of its publicly proclaimed purposes.

Divided on Gaza: Israel's offensive gives Iran and its allies a way to pressure Egypt, Jordan and other Arab "moderates" – Editorial, Washington Post: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has frequently spoken of an emerging coalition of "mainstream" or "moderate" Arab states opposing Iran and its "extremist" allies. One problem with this analysis is that the split is more sectarian than ideological.

Will Obama 'go to' defense? - Frank Gaffney, Washington Times: We should all hope Barack Obama too will recognize the need for a role reversal by deciding early that -- despite his campaign promises and past predilections -- he must strengthen, not savage, our national security posture.

Coming Soon: The 21st Century - E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post:

What should fall is the illusion, the idea that the United States is the world's "sole remaining superpower." This notion weakened us because it suggested an omnipotence that no nation can possess. By shedding this misapprehension, the United States could restore its influence. We could rediscover the imperative of acting in concert with others to build global institutions that strengthen our security and foster our values.

LITERARY CRITICISM BY A "WASHINGTON POST" PUNDIT RE CAMUS'S "THE STRANGER"

“It is a book out of my Gauloise-smoking youth, read in the vain pursuit of women of literary bent.”

--Washington Post's Richard Cohen on “The Stranger” by Albert Camus

“Let’s Talk about Something Interesting, Let’s Talk about Me.”

--Anomynous

VIDEO

Tom Cruise Tells Off Some Nasty Zionist Propaganda Operatives – You Tube. See also comments by the New Republic’s Martin Peretz in his 'Do Not F*ck With The Jews.'

HOMAGE, IN THESE "FUCK-YOU" TIMES, TO:

Walter Lippmann, one of the founding members of the New Republic magazine, known for his civilized use of language

Monday, December 29, 2008

December 29


“Don't f*** with Jews? Sounds a lot like bring it on.”

--New Republic reader alexmh, commenting on Martin Peretz’s article, "Do Not F*ck With The Jews" regarding events in Gaza

"I will play music and celebrate what the Israeli air force is doing."

--Words spoken by Ofer Shmerling, an Israeli civil defence official, speaking on Al Jazeera about Gaza

"’If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that,’ Obama told reporters in Sderot, a small city on the edge of Gaza that has been attacked repeatedly by rocket fire. ‘And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.’"

--Barack Obama, during a visit to Israel in July

SITE OF INTEREST

American Culturati: Musings from the Cultural Officers

PUBLIC DIPLOMACY


Can Israel win the 'soft power' war in Gaza? - Gerald M. Steinberg, Jerusalem Post: “[I]n a long war to regain the moral high ground that Israel lost by default, and in the face of a very intensive and professional Arab attacks … [,] efforts require a much wider and highly professional strategy of public diplomacy, involving all of the major officials and government offices.”

Analysis: Don't forget the Iranian connection - David Horovitz, Jerusalem Post: “Many signs … suggest that Israel is making an effort, albeit not wholly successful, to improve on the abject public diplomacy of the 2006 war. What is not yet clear, by contrast, is whether the official spokespeople have internalized the necessity to highlight Iran in their message to the world - Iran, the state champion and major enabler of Hamas's terror-state in Gaza.”

Olmert asks Netanyahu to help explain Israel’s Gaza war - Forecast Highs: “Just heard that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met today with opposition leader Likud MK Binyamin Netanyahu and updated him on the security situation, as is required by law. The Prime Minister’s Office also reports that Olmert asked Netanyahu to step up and help in Israel’s public diplomacy efforts during this round of fighting with Hamas in Gaza.”

Please help Israel win the online public diplomacy battleShimson 9: News and Views from Israel: “After years of rockets, Israel decided restraint is not an option anymore. To support Israel in its war with Hamas, Giyus is stepping up its Facebook activitles. We’ll be using our Facebook page to post Facebook related actions supporing Israel’s actions against Hamas.”

Palestinian propaganda machine in high gear: Hamas calls Israeli strikes "Holocaust"Jihad Watch

Anti-Israel and anti-semitic propaganda in overdrive - the elder of ziyon

MORE ON GAZA EVENTS BELOW

Ma's 'truce' diplomacy risks Taiwan's future – Editorial, Taiwan News: “[A] wider door [could have opened] for the enhancement of Taiwan's international profile and dignity through constructive public diplomacy that highlighted our democratic achievements and progressive humanitarian foreign assistance embodying the vitality of our civil society, all backed by active presidential diplomacy."

But the window of opportunity for such a path is closing.”

Taiwan party labels 'panda diplomacy' propagandaAP: "Legislative aides from Taiwan's pro-independence opposition donned panda suits Wednesday, part of a public relations effort by anti-China lawmakers to paint the mainland's panda gift as a stalking horse for its pro-unification agenda. Beijing has given gifts of pandas to make friends and increase its influence in countries including the United States and the former Soviet Union for more than five decades."

Colombia’s wish list for 2009 – Felipe Estefan, Colombia Report: "In a globalized world in which communications and media messages transcend the confines of national borders, Colombia must use every day of the new year working on public diplomacy efforts that will allow it to positively influence the country’s image around the world."

Jobs in Libya: British Embassy Senior Trade & Investment Officer (Oil & Gas) - Job Vacancy Career: “The British Embassy – Our Mission Statement … [includes to] [g]ive an accurate picture of British Government policies and of the UK’s social and cultural diversity, through active public diplomacy, working closely with the British Council in Tripoli.”

Contributors - Mind & Mood Healthy Guide: “When Teresa Herrmann is not writing about public diplomacy efforts she is editing Hey, Be Us!, the crass culture site she co-founded in 2008.”

RELATED ITEMS

No Bailout for the Arts? - Michael Kaiser, Washington Post: While government bailouts are being offered or considered for financial institutions, the auto industry, homeowners, and so many other needy and worthy sectors, one group is quickly and rather quietly falling apart: our nation's arts organizations. As we try to rebuild America's image abroad, we are losing our most potent goodwill ambassadors.

U.S. slow to meet needs, refugees say: Despite substantial American contributions, displaced Iraqis' needs dwarf all efforts to aid them - Matthew Hay Brown, Baltimore Sun

EU's propaganda budget beats Coke's global advertising cash, Bruno Waterfield, Gulf News: The European Union is spending £2 billion (Dh10.71 billion) every year on a "propaganda" budget that is bigger than Coca-Cola's total worldwide advertising account.

Going down the EU Tube: Brussels videos shunned – Robert Watts and Georgia Warren, Times, London: The European Union’s answer to YouTube, the internet video sharing phenomenon, has backfired, with audiences shunning many of the clips intended to promote pet subjects in Brussels.

Critiques of television coverage of the Gaza fighting - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

The Politics of the Gaza Massacre; Forget Hamas – it's all about the home front – Justin Raimondo, Antiwar.com: The real focal point of the Israeli assault isn't Gaza -- it's Washington, D.C. The whole point of this exercise in futility -- which will not create a single iota of security for Israel, will not topple Hamas, and will not prove any more successful than the second Lebanese war -- is to set the terms by which the Israelis will deal with the incoming U.S. president.

Leaders Lie, Civilians Die, and Lessons of History are Ignored - Robert Fisk, Independent, UK/Common Dreams: It's not clear how many of the Gaza dead are civilians, but the response of the Bush administration reaffirms for Arabs what they have known for decades: however they struggle against their antagonists, the West will take Israel's side.

Sistani Calls for Action on Behalf of Gaza; Third Day of Bombardment; Gaza Hospitals Overwhelmed – Juan Cole, Informed Comment: Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion: By refusing to negotiate with Hamas, Israel and the United States leave only a military option on the table.

A Hundred Eyes for an Eye - Norman Solomon, Common Dreams: What's going on in Gaza right now is not just an eye for an eye. It's a hundred eyes for an eye. And the current slaughter is not only an ongoing Israeli war crime. It has an accomplice named Uncle Sam.

Gaza: The Logic of Colonial Power: As so often, the term 'terrorism' has proved a rhetorical smokescreen under cover of which the strong crush the weak - Nir Rosen, Guardian, UK/ Common Dreams: The persistence of the Palestine problem is the main motive for every anti-American militant in the Arab world and beyond. But now the Bush administration has added Iraq and Afghanistan as additional grievances. America has lost its influence on the Arab masses, even if it can still apply pressure on Arab regimes. But reformists and elites in the Arab world want nothing to do with America.

'A new spiral of despair' – Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle: No one could have expected Israel to sit by passively as Hamas marked the end of a six-month truce by firing rockets into Israeli territory. Israel had a compelling need to take action to defend itself. Still, the scale and destruction of Israel's weekend aerial bombardment of Hamas targets in Gaza stunned and inflamed the Arab world and beyond.

Needed in Gaza: US inspectors, peacekeepers, and aid workers: We must stop lecturing – and start helping - Timothy Rieger, Christian Science Monitor

No Comment and No Leadership From Obama - Joshua Frank, Antiwar.com: If Barack Obama does indeed support the bloodshed inflicted upon innocent Palestinians by the Israeli military, there should be no celebration on Inauguration Day 2009, only mass protest against a Middle East foreign policy that must change in order to begin a legitimate peace process in the region.

Obama Should Engage Now for Middle East Peace - John Nichols, Nation/Common Dreams

Al Qaeda is More of a U.S. Propaganda Campaign than a Real OrganizationPak Alert Press

What to Do About the Torturers? - David Cole, New York Review of Books: America's experiment with torture presents the Obama administration with one of its most difficult challenges: how should the nation account for the abuses that have occurred in the past, what are the appropriate remedies, and how can we ensure that such abuses not happen again? We may know many of the facts already, but absent a reckoning for those responsible for torture and cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment -- our own federal government -- the healing cannot begin.

The War on Terror Has Not Gone Away: Despite economic woes, this is no time to let our guard down - Thane Rosenbaum, Wall Street Journal: One thing is for certain: our Founding Fathers never contemplated al Qaeda. As we all board the bailout bandwagon, let us not forget what other countries have painfully remembered: Global terrorism has not disappeared.

What Iran Wants - Ray Takeyh, Washington Post: What does Iran want? Today, an ascendant Iran views negotiations with the United States as a means of consolidating its gains and achieving American recognition of its regional status.

Dead Wrong? After 30 years, it may be time to take Iran’s threats seriously - Clifford D. May, National Review

‘Firm and Patient’ - Editorial, New York Times: As Mr. Bush suggested, Mr. Obama must be firm and patient as he takes on the challenge of persuading Pyongyang to give up its weapons and stop selling nuclear technology and know-how.


Pipeline politics in Ukraine - Editorial, Boston Globe: The Obama administration should set out to completely recast relations with Russia. Once the Kremlin no longer fears the Bush administration's attempt to absorb Ukraine into NATO, Russian leaders will have no excuse for using energy supplies to apply geopolitical pressure.

Gorbachev's model for Obama - James Carroll, Boston Globe: Gorbachev dismantled of the military occupation of Eastern Europe. Is it too much to expect Barack Obama to change history as well?

As if Things Weren't Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S.: In Moscow, Igor Panarin's Forecasts Are All the Rage; America 'Disintegrates' in 2010 - Andrew Osborn, Wall Street Journal: Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces -- with Alaska reverting to Russian control. Mr. Panarin's apocalyptic vision "reflects a very pronounced degree of anti-Americanism in Russia today," says Vladimir Pozner, a prominent TV journalist in Russia. "It's much stronger than it was in the Soviet Union." SEE ALSO

Madness in Moscow - James Hackett, Washington Times: In a stream of reports from Moscow the leaders and their generals threaten war and boast of their growing military power. Their excuse is the imagined threat that the United States might launch a nuclear attack on Russia. This is paranoia if not outright madness.

Provoking Russia - Muammar Gaddafi, Boston Globe: Once again, the West's policy toward Russia and its addiction to interfering in the affairs of other countries is having dangerous effects on the rest of the world. Muammar Gaddafi, the leader of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, recently returned from a state visit to the Russian Federation.

Don't let Nicaragua's Ortega become a Mugabe: The West must use leverage to prevent bloody confrontation - Kevin Casas-Zamora, Christian Science Monitor

AMERICANA

Headlines from The Huffington Post (December 29):

Man Who Campaigned To Protect Sharks Is Snatched By Great White

NPR Reporter Laid Off While Reporting Layoffs

An Environmental Lawyer's Chemical War On Cancer

Sunday, December 28, 2008

December 28

“Message: do not fuck with the Jews.”

--Marty Peretz, in the New Republic, regarding “at 11:30 on Saturday morning, according to both the Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz, as well as the New York Times, 50 fighter jets and attack helicopters demolished some 40 to 50 sites [in Gaza] in just about three minutes, maybe five."

"uniquely despicable"

--Salon's Glenn Greenwald, regarding the above Peretz statement

PUBLIC DIPLOMACY

Twitter and Public Diplomacy: Deputy Assistant Secretary Colleen Graffy (Part I) – Darren Krape, DN Blog: “Anyone interested in the intersection of public diplomacy and 'web 2.0' has probably heard about the State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Colleen Graffy’s use of Twitter (a popular social networking and micro-blogging service).

During a recent trip to Europe, Graffy Twittered her journey through several countries, mixing personal and professional 'tweets'. Some of her more personal comments, as well as her general tone, met with criticism by several reporters and commentators. I have a few points of my own which I will make in a following post, but I thought a summary of the timeline and major critiques might be useful.”

Sizing up U.S. diplomacy - TheChronicleHerald.ca, Canada: “The [US] public diplomacy staff, which seeks to influence foreign publics by promoting U.S. policies, culture, society and values, is currently 24 per cent smaller than in 1986.”

Israel launches well-coordinated PR blitz to garner support for Gaza action - Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post:

“Diplomatic officials said the purpose of the public diplomacy campaign was to give Israel as much diplomatic legitimacy for the operation as possible.”

Gaza raids hand propaganda coup to Hamas and Iran: Only one group of people can have derived any satisfaction from the footage of blood-covered children being pulled from the rubble in Gaza on Saturday night: the fanatics of Hamas - Telegraph.co.uk

“Poker?” said Barak to Barack - folo.us: Cites comment by Dan Kervick: “One had to expect that, following the humiliating stalemate of the 2006 Lebanon War, Israel would plan something big to get its mojo back. There seem to be only two strategic alternatives here for interpreting the Israeli planning and action: ... . The less optimistic [second] alternative is that the Israelis expect a predictable cycle of counterattacks, sabotage, terrorism, kidnappings and and hostile rhetoric from its regional enemies, and are laying the groundwork here for staged escalation to a broader military campaign, including an air strike on Iran. Let’s see where Israel’s public diplomacy goes."

Journal Article: Empire, internationalism, and the campaign against the traffic in women and children in the 1920s. Gorman D. 20 Century Br Hist 2008; 19(2): 186-216SafetyLit: “The article also explores the use of public diplomacy as a new political tool, with a particular focus on the public-private cooperation evident in the League of Nations' work to combat the trade.”

RELATED ITEMS

A wrong role for Bill Clinton - Editorial, Boston Globe: Despite formidable political skills and an enduring popularity overseas, former president Bill Clinton would be an awkward choice for a foreign policy assignment in an Obama administration. This would be a mistake for several reasons -- most notably that he should not serve in a position that reports to his wife, Hillary Clinton, the likely secretary of state.

Iranians Ponder Future U.S.-Iranian Relations in an Obama Administration: Travelling to Iran as a Citizen Diplomat for Peace - Ann Wright, Common Dreams: “As a retired US Army Colonel and a former US diplomat, I hope that the Obama administration will throw away the old template of 30 years of crisis, threats of military action, vindictiveness and retaliation and look to diplomacy to develop a peaceful future with Iran!”

What's Next on Gaza/Israel and Why Americans Should Care - Daniel Levy, Huffington Post: Demonstrations across the Arab world and contributors to the ever-proliferating Arabic language news media and blogosphere hold the U.S., and not just Israel, responsible for what happened in Gaza (and that is a position taken, for good reasons, by sensible folk, not hard-liners). America's allies in the region are again running for cover. America's standing, its interests and security are all deeply affected. The U.S.-Israel relationship per se is not to blame (that is something I support), the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict is -- and thankfully we can do something about that.

U.S. psyop in the Philippines - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

The Coming Surge Into Afghanistan: Obama and the Graveyard of Empires - Gary Leupp, CounterPunch: The blood and treasure spilt in Afghanistan was a key factor in the collapse of the once-mighty Soviet Union. As Obama orders his troops into that graveyard, how will the empire, reeling from crises unprecedented in many decades, respond?

A New Chance for Darfur - Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times: Genocide is serious. That’s something that Mr. Obama and his aides understand. Partly for that reason, Sudan fears the Obama administration, and now for the first time in years, there’s a real chance of ousting President Bashir and ending his murderous regime.

Propaganda Fliers to N.Korea to Resume in Januarychosun.com, South Korea

Indian Filmmaker Casts Off Stereotypes: Md. Director Challenges Homeland's Notion of Immigrant Life in U.S. - N.C. Aizenman, Washington Post: "I want to portray what life is actually like for 20-something Indian immigrants here," said Indian-born, Maryland-raised director Shilpa Priya Jagadeesh (known to her Indian audiences as Priyabharati Joshi).

Condi Finally Dragged into Middle Eastern Shoe Art Renaissance: Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog I keep track of Condoleezza's hairdo so you don't have to:

PHOTO: Turks set an effigy of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on fire, with a shoe fixed to her head, as they shout slogans during protest against Israel's attacks against the Gaza Strip, in Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Several thousands of protesters carrying Palestinian flags chanted anti-Israel and anti-U.S. slogans and called for an end of Israel's attacks against Gaza. (AP Photo/Ibrahim Usta) COMMENT: "And again the Middle Eastern Shoe Art Renaissance™ defies expectations. First we saw the homages to Oldenburg and Rauschenberg, then Jeff Koons, so naturally I thought the forward momentum through art history would continue. I envisioned perhaps a shoey Damien Hirst, either encrusted with diamonds or suspended in formaldehyde, or maybe a Chris Ofili tribute dotted with elephant dung. But no! They've gone back to the 1930s and found inspiration from an unlikely source: Elsa Schiaparelli's famous Shoe Hat, her wonderful collaboration with Salvador Dali (memorably referenced by Terry Gilliam in Brazil). And then, like another great modernist, Edward Steichen, they immediately grew disaffected with their creation and set it on fire.I'm through trying to predict the future of this delightful art movement. Like the rest of you, all I can do is sit back and wait for whatever marvels lie ahead."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

December 27


“Ryback's use of the first person in describing his exploration of Hitler's books is sometimes irksome but occasionally highly effective - as when he describes opening a volume and finding a single, straight, black mustache hair. Presumably we know whose.”

--Charles A. Radin, "Using Hitler's own books, a telling story of the man [Review of Timothy Ryback’s 'Hitler's Private Library']," Boston Globe

PUBLIC DIPLOMACY

Walk the Tweet [PHOTO: Singer Tweet]:

Regarding Colleen P. Graffy's Dec. 24 op-ed, "A Tweet in Foggy Bottom" -- Thomas J. Carolan Jr., Silver Spring, letter to the editor, Washington Post: “It is all very well for State Department officials and other practitioners, pundits and kibitzers in the field of public diplomacy to wax enthusiastic over their efforts and achievements in that area of mass communications. The fact is, however, that no amount of communications expertise, technical enhancements, financial resources, programming innovations or related gimmicks (e.g. blogging, and Twitter with its tweets) are likely by themselves to produce measurable changes in America's global image so long as our society and political leaders are seen to behave in ways that belie the values we profess to hold dear: freedom, human rights, self-determination, democracy, elemental fairness and equal justice under law.

This rings especially true with regard to U.S. policies toward the Middle East. In other words, it's not what we say or how we say it that will make a real difference in improving America's sagging image abroad, but what we do. To pretend otherwise is self-defeating. It is also hypocrisy.” ABOVE PHOTO: Deputy Assistant Secretary Graffy Conducts Web-chat with Politiken Readers on Guantanamo.

George W Bush: winning the war on terror -- Europe's political elites are no doubt salivating at the prospect of George W. Bush departing the White House in January - Nile Gardiner, Telegraph.co.uk: “Some of the criticism of Bush's foreign policy is fair. … America's public diplomacy efforts have been poor or even non-existent, with little serious attempt to combat the stunning rise of anti-Americanism … Much of the condemnation of his policies though is driven by a venomous hatred of Bush's personality and leadership style, rather than an objective assessment of his achievements. Ten or twenty years from now, historians will view Bush's actions on the world stage in a more favourable light.” SEE ALSO (1) (2).

Building on progress is key to arts: Local funding has long been a staple in developing cultural ties. Let's partner with Obama White House - Lesley Friedman Rosenthal, Newsday: “President-elect Barack Obama has called for a more prominent role in the White House for the arts and culture. The arts … can work hand in hand with national security. Targeted cultural diplomacy, such as tours of American performers abroad through the U.S. Agency for International Development, could help us win friends worldwide. … President-elect Obama is right that our art and culture are the essence of what makes America special and deserves an expanded role in the White House."

Orchestrating Peace: Cultural Diplomacy in Iraq: Allegra Klein, Founder and Director of Musicians For Harmony, talks about their current work, Cultural Diplomacy News: "If the key to successful diplomacy is listening to your adversary, then the hallmark of musical diplomacy is a shared listening experience. Rather than negotiating with the limited tools of language, two opposing sides undergo a simultaneous, transformative experience through the transcendent power of music. … Music may be a ‘soft power’ tool, but through cultural diplomacy it also has the ability to penetrate thoughts and feelings, which in turn translates into changes in behavior.” PHOTO: Allegra Klein

Nonesuch Albums Abound in Year-End Best Lists - Nonesuch Records, NY: “PopMatters has Live at Carnegie Hall at No. 13 on its list of the Top 60 Best Albums of 2008. The site's Thomas Hauner asserts that this live recording ‘trumps anything put out under the Buena Vista moniker. This has to do entirely with an indescribable aura enveloping the musicians, audience members and historic concert hall all captured on the recording.’ He goes on to say: ‘The music is vivacious and visceral, tugging at one’s emotions in inexplicable ways. Most symbolically, though, this enthusiasm is all directed at Cuban nationals whose very performance mitigates the idea of diplomatic tension: tacit cultural diplomacy at its finest.’”

'Cultural diplomacy can't be quantified': Q&A: Karan Singh, President, Indian Council for Cultural Relations - Business Standard: "The Indian Council for Cultural Relations was founded in April 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the country’s first education minister, to promote cultural and intellectual exchange with other countries. It is often considered the cultural diplomacy arm of the Indian government. ICCR President Karan Singh spoke to Business Standard on its relevance, challenges and plans." PHOTO: Karan Singh.

Photos Adel Samara and V&A: Syria’s most high-profile international exhibition, World Ceramics: Masterpieces from the V&A, drew to a close earlier this month. Countries, it seems, can bond over rare ceramics - Nadia Muhanna, Syria Today, Syria: “Ceramic history aside, the arrival of the touring V&A exhibition in Damascus has been heralded by the event’s organisers as an important cultural initiative for improving understanding between two peoples. British journalists shipped out for the launch party described it as a vital form of cultural diplomacy, one which works to soften the face of an uncompromising British foreign policy in the region.” On V&A, see.

Editor's Notes: The lame duck and the amputee - David Horovitz, Jerusalem Post:

“Abbas has not adopted domestic public diplomacy to emphasize to his own people the historic legitimacy of Jewish claims in the Holy Land - and thus to prepare Palestinians for the kind of viable compromise that Olmert and Bush relentlessly insist he is capable of both making and selling.” PHOTO: "Israel Launches 'Unprecedented Waves' Of Airstrikes On Gaza," Huffington Post.

RELATED ITEMS


Lame Duck Bush Administration Continues to Inflame Islamist Terrorism – Ivan Eland, Antiwar.com: Perhaps the incoming Obama administration will be more perceptive; learn the lessons of Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan; and develop a more restrained military policy overseas.

China lures top scholars home
- Bill Maxwell, Washington Times: A rising number of U.S.-educated Chinese scholars who are voluntarily returning to their homeland, a new phenomenon being closely watched by major American research universities.

Unscripted: Green Zone Theater and the Shoe Drama - Ramzy Baroud, Antiwar.com: While most Americans are likely to remember Bush's legacy as that of a man who has guided a nation into unprecedented economic mayhem, Iraqis, and others, will remember him as a brutal, self-righteous zealot, who invited untold bloodshed, humiliation and the destruction of a once a magnificent and leading civilization.

From Pax Americana to slacker Americans: Take it from a Brit: Losing the No. 1 world superpower spot won't be that bad. Really - Chris Ayres Los Angeles Times:The fact is that when you're No. 1, you always get blamed for everything. When you're No. 3, or No. 5 -- or No. 135 -- you can put your hands in your pockets and whistle tunelessly with a "Who, me?" look on your face, and no one ever asks any questions.

IMAGE

From a "Happy and Safe New Year" message from Yuri Avvakumov, renowed Russian artist