"It's more than just books, it's much more than just lectures … We're here to help her create and enhance an agenda that is very important to her in her post-government career."
--William Morris Agency NY office co-chief operating officer Wayne Kabak, cited in Paul J. Gough, “Condoleezza Rice signs with WMA”; via Sparkle Pony; Rice photo from; creature from; see also John Brown, "10 Percent Intellectual: The Mind of Condoleezza Rice"
“[L]ike many consumers of lesbian romance novels, I have developed a bit of a thing for the men, and especially the women, of the protective services.”
--June Thomas, Slate
"Nation Finally Shitty Enough To Make Social Progress."
--Headline in the Onion (November 5, 2008)
“There is a need for transparency and accountability in a mission where most work necessarily remains hidden from public view.”
--Dennis C. Blair, the retired admiral who is President Obama’s choice as the nation’s top intelligence official
History's Most Accessible Inauguration Provides A Spotlight On Change - Jared Cohen, Huffington Post: “While it is a coincidence that the historic nature of this presidential election coincided with the first opportunity for the entire world to watch through various digital media outlets, what we experienced here in America is not a twist of fate.
The world watched and we showed them what we mean when we talk about democracy and American values. It was public diplomacy at its best. Whether one is a Democrat or a Republican, it is in our national interest for the world to be glued to all forms of machinery and devices that will give them access to the founding principles that our nation was built upon.”
What Exactly Did Hillary Say To The Senate About Public Diplomacy? - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View: “I especially don’t see where she [Clinton] described America Houses in more than the most general terms. Or if you found her quoted elsewhere on the more specific descriptions included in your article – I'd appreciate knowing the source or sources.
I also wonder if there’s a bit more 'wiggle room' in Clinton’s negative reaction to an independent public diplomacy agency than indicated in Pincus’ article.”
Q and A with pre-confirmation Secretary State Hillary Clinton (Updated) - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: “Written Q&A between Senators Kerry and Lugar and presumed Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, are below. In the Lugar Q&A, public diplomacy-related questions, including broadcasting (oddly listed as separate from public diplomacy), are on pages 84-87, questions 139-142. The original report is here. It is an image-only 102 page, 4mb PDF. I’ve uploaded a searchable version of the PDF here (warning 78mb PDF!, but it is searchable). Senator Kerry’s Q&A with HRC is here and a searchable and bookmarked (for public diplomacy-related questions) version is here (72mb PDF). Excerpts from both are below the fold. Also, her testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations committee can be found here.”
President Obama's First Public Diplomacy Move? Deploy a Naval Hospital Ship to Gaza - Will Youmans, Palestine Center: “Treating Gaza's health care crisis with action would go a long way to address the urgent medical needs of Gazans and re-position the United States, whose image suffered tremendously due to the government's complicity in the recent Israeli offensive, as a force of good in the region. … In a 2006 speech, Karen Hughes, the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the time, said, ‘medical diplomacy, medical outreach, is one of the most effective ways that we can reach out people to people across our world.’" Image from
International Travel to United States: Will Aid Secretary of State Clinton’s ‘Smart Power’ Mission – Press Release, Hospitality 1st: “Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association (formerly Travel Industry Association), released the following statement on the confirmation of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and her commitment to ‘smart power’: ‘We support Senator Clinton’s ‘smart power’ goal for the new Administration, and believe travel is an underused tool in America’s public diplomacy efforts. Welcoming more visitors to the United States should be a top priority for the State Department and entire Obama Administration. Research shows that those who have visited the United States are more favorable towards America and her policies. Not only do those who visit have a better view of America, but nine out of ten travelers tell their friends and relatives about their travel experiences.’”
Old skool – The Arabist: “I kept re-reading this short piece by John Mearsheimer for the last month and a half. For a realism-based US foreign policy in the Middle East that does not unnecessarily load itself with unworkable ideas like democracy-promotion or public diplomacy, it does have good basic principles.” Arabist’s reponse to a comment: “As for public diplomacy, its entire basis is that you can convince people to like your policies no matter what their impact is. It’s a waste of time and essentially a propaganda effort.”
Will Cuban dissidents' dissent lead to the descent of Radio Martí? - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy
Day One Begins - Jonah Czerwinski, Homeland Security Watch: “[T]his is a blog about homeland security. Readers may recall a series of posts here analyzing the homeland security positions of the presidential candidates in which I reviewed the tenets of then-Senator Obama’s platform. It included a broad set of goals to combat terrorist threats and keep Americans safer at home, including resilience, nonproliferation, public diplomacy, and information sharing.”
New U.S. leadership can tap ‘transcendent warfare’ - Steve Hammons, The Remote Viewer: “[I]n the 1970s physicists, psychologists, intelligence officers and others began to discover that the method called 'remote viewing' – a type of extrasensory perception (ESP) – could sometimes be used with good results in addressing certain intelligence-gathering situations. …
As interesting as it is, remote viewing to gather intelligence information may just be the tip of the iceberg in the use of transcendent concepts. This understanding may present potential for applications in public diplomacy, communication operations, peace operations, conflict prevention and resolution, humanitarian activities, psychological operations (PSYOP) and similar efforts.”
A rare take on political warfare from a Free Chinese general - J Michael Waller, politicalWarfare.org: “In putting together my spring course on public diplomacy and political warfare, I re-discovered a rare English translation of an important political warfare book by a prominent Chinese nationalist general. General Wang Sheng wrote Theory and Practice of Political Warfare, first published in Taipei in 1959. He ran the General Political Warfare College as a close confidant of Chiang Ching-kuo, the son of nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek.”
Public relations and theory – Cmns 1290 Stacey Mei: “I think there are several important points to take home from the week’s readings. … I believed that PR organizations were simply devoted to gaining profit through the advertising of their product. However, PR practice involves many roles besides gaining profit like crisis management and public diplomacy. So, profit focus is not the main or only objective of PR.”
Sundance goes to Abu Dhabi? Maybe, Redford says - Bob Tourtellotte, Reuters: "Now this is a cultural exchange. Sundance kid Robert Redford has said that his Sundance Film Festival is engaged in early talks to lend its name to a sister film festival in Abu Dhabi." VIA: Cultural Policy Listserv
What Bush Did Right - Karen Hughes, Daily Beast: “I believe two of his least-popular decisions, the surge of troops into Iraq and the massive rescue of our financial system, have paved the way for Barack Obama’s presidency to be far more successful than it otherwise would have been. …
Soon, I expect we’ll be welcoming Afghan women, leaders of emerging democracies, dissidents fighting for freedom, and those who are leading the fight against disease and poverty in the developing world to the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.” Karen Hughes was counselor to President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2002, and undersecretary of State for public diplomacy and public affairs from 2005-2007. She is now global vice chairman of Burson-Marsteller, a communications/public-relations firm.
Clinton to State employees: 'This is a new era' – AP, USA Today: "There are three legs to the stool of American foreign policy: defense, diplomacy and development, and we are responsible for two of the three legs," said the former New York senator and one-time first lady. "And we will make clear as we go forward that diplomacy and development are essential tools in achieving the long-term objectives of the United States." Clinton's mandate from President Barack Obama is to step up diplomatic efforts and restore the nation's tattered image abroad.
The Remaking of America - Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times: A BBC poll in 17 nations found that on average 67 percent believed that President Obama would improve America’s relations with the rest of the world; just 5 percent thought the opposite. There are two immediate litmus tests by which the world will begin to judge Mr. Obama at once. The first will be his handling of Guantánamo and torture. A second test is Middle East policy.
The inauguration and the world media - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy
Obama Inauguration: How The World's Press Covered The Big Event – RFE/RL
"Western publics know less about the countries their governments are planning to invade" - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy
Obama's soft power may be hard for Beijing to swallow - Tom Holland, South China Morning Post: Mainland television viewers eager to tune into United States President Barack Obama's inauguration speech didn't quite get the full picture. When Mr Obama praised earlier generations of Americans who "faced down fascism and communism", state-controlled China Central Television cut away to the studio....
Pact on Chinese Treasures Wins Praise - Randy Kennedy, New York Times: In its final days, the Bush administration has reached a long-anticipated agreement with China that will ban imports of a wide range of Chinese antiquities into the United States to help stanch the growing illicit traffic in such artifacts. VIA: Cultural Policy Listserv
VIDEO: Arabs sceptical on Obama – Al Jazeera
Israel’s Propaganda War - Part 2 - Palestine Monitor: Through its grass-roots effort of organizing people via email, Facebook, internet blogs, text messages, and using time-tested propaganda strategies, Israel hopes to end the Gaza conflict without having their international image tarnished. Unfortunately for it, the scale of destruction and death in Gaza is not something they will be able to explain or justify once the truth about Israel’s war in Gaza, like those “disturbing’ images,” begin to filter out to the world.
Israel accused of executing parents in front of children in Gaza: Israel has refuted allegations of war atrocities in Gaza after Palestinian children described how their parents had been "executed" by Israeli troops - Murray Wardrop, Telegraph.co.uk: Israeli spokesman Mark Regev suggested the claims could be Hamas propaganda and said an investigation was under way.
Failure of the iron fist: Israel's destructive campaign in Gaza - Nabil Al-Tikriti and Ranjit Singh, Washington Times: If insanity is trying the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome, then U.S. and Israeli foreign policy in the Middle East has long since entered the realm of the insane. As if striving to prove this maxim, Israel's recent invasion of Gaza both damages American and Israeli security and harms prospects for regional stability. Uncritical backing of the attack on Gaza rendered American prestige and reputation hostage to Israeli actions.
Israel and Gaza, now: Shaky cease-fire declarations have stopped the killing. And a new U.S. administration is stepping in – Editorial, Los Angeles Times: Obama must engage fully and evenhandedly to ensure thr Gaza cease-fire.
First Steps at Guantánamo – Editorial, New York Times: In June 2007, the White House claimed it was working on a “number of steps” that had to happen first -- but getting started was really hard. Well, maybe not so hard. It took President Obama less than 12 hours. Before midnight of his first day in office, he took the obvious and vital step of halting the military tribunals at the prison camp. And he reportedly is considering a draft executive order that would direct that the prison be closed entirely within a year.
2,688 Days - Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post: President Obama has inherited a set of tools that successfully protected the country for 2,688 days -- and he cannot dismantle those tools without risking catastrophic consequences.
Zimbabwe Could Use Some U.S. Attention: Mugabe doesn't recognize any African authority - Roger Bate, Wall Street Journal
Obama Should Quit War on Terror, Talk to Hamas and Taliban - Nathan Gardels, Huffington Post
A New Era of Accountability - Robert Scheer, Truthdig/Nation: In language that echoed the hysteria of the Bush-era neoconservatives, Obama stated on Tuesday, "Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred." Nope, as Obama has acknowledged on other occasions, it's far more complex than that.
Calling a Time Out - George McGovern, Washington Post: How about a five-year time-out on war -- unless, of course, there is a genuine threat to the nation?
No more "wars of choice": If the Democrats will stop trying to out-hawk the Republicans, the Obama administration can begin rebuilding America's economy and military -- and international image - Michael Lind, Salon: The greatest geopolitical challenge facing the Obama administration is therefore not jihadism, a threat that is serious but limited, nor is it bringing permanent peace to the Middle East, important as that is. It is averting a second Cold War among the industrial great powers. To that end, Obama should repudiate the failed strategy, pursued by the Clinton as well as Bush administrations, of seeking to establish American hegemony by keeping other great powers -- China and Russia in particular -- as humiliated, weak and isolated as possible. A new American liberal internationalism means genuine power-sharing in international security and international economic institutions, with China, Russia and India as well as the major states of the Muslim world, Latin America and Africa.
It’s Over—and Not a Moment Too Soon - Marie Cocco, Truthdig: In foreign policy, it will be decades before we can know the full consequences of Bush’s invasion of Iraq and the failure to have properly planned for an occupation. The renewed bloodshed in Gaza cannot be laid at Bush’s door. But Bush refused for years to engage the United States in the arduous but necessary duty as an indispensable broker in the Middle East conflict.
President Bush By The Numbers: CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller Offers A Numerical Assessment of the Bush Presidency - CBS News: Among them: Number Of News Conferences At Which Shoes Were Thrown At Him: 1. State Dinners For Foreign Leaders: 6 -- Vicente Fox of Mexico; Pres. Alexander Krasniewski of Poland; Pres. Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines; Pres. Mwai Kibaki of Kenya; Queen Elizabeth II of UK; Pres. John Kufuor of Ghana.