"The last mass trials were a success: there will be fewer, but better Russians."
--Soviet special envoy Ninotchka, on her arrival at the Paris train station, updating her fellow Communists about the latest news in Moscow; in film Ninotchka, starring Greta Garbo (1939)
“Commissar Razinin: How can the Bolshevik cause gain respect among the Muslims if your three representatives Bujlianoff, Iranoff and Kopalski [in Constantinople] get so drunk that they throw a carpet out of their hotel window and complain to the management that it didn't fly?”
--Also from Ninotchka
Obama: U.S. not your enemy - JamiiForums.com: “President Barack Obama presented a humble and conciliatory face of America to the Islamic world Monday in the first formal interview since he assumed office, stressing his own Muslim ties and hopes for a Palestinian state, and avoiding a belligerent tone — even when asked if America could 'live with' an Iranian nuclear weapon.
The interview with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya Network was a dramatic piece of public diplomacy aimed at capitalizing on the new American president's international popularity, though it balanced America's traditional commitment to Israel, whose security Obama called ‘paramount. … The occasion for this interview was the departure of Obama's special envoy, George Mitchell, to the Middle East, and a more aggressive and optimistic approach to that conflict than some argued that the circumstances dictated.’”
The Great Communicator Takes to Al-Arabiya - Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone: “How much confidence and sense of purpose does it take for a man who was pilloried by the fever-swamps as a ‘secret Muslim’ throughout the primary and general elections to give his first Presidential interview not to the liberal loyalists at MSNBC, but to Al-Arabiya, an Arab TV network with a reach of 23 million viewers. This is public diplomacy, my friends. This is a man who is serious about winning back hearts and minds. This is the power of Barack Hussein Obama’s celebrity at its height, leveraged to speak to the Arab Street. What’s ‘smart power’? This is smart power.”
Obama on Al Arabiya – Ben Smith, Politico: The interview with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya Network was a dramatic piece of public diplomacy aimed at capitalizing on the new American president’s international popularity. 'I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries,’ Obama said, according to a White House transcript. ‘My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy.’” Includes transcript.
Obama selects Al Arabiya for first television interview as president - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: Covers media reactions to interview and notes: “The choice of Al Arabiya rather than Al Jazeera is interesting. Al Arabiya is generally considered the more moderate of the two, at least from a US perspective.”
Turning A Page - James Morrison, Embassy Row, Washington Times: "President Obama is turning out to be a new asset for public diplomacy, as U.S. ambassadors refer to his unique personal story and call for change in their own appeals to foreign audiences. ‘We expect President Obama's ability to reach across political, generational, ethnic and racial lines to characterize his approach to international issues as well,’ Ambassador Daniel V. Speckhard wrote in a Sunday newspaper article in Greece.“ MAP: Embassy Row in Washington, D.C.
Obama Challenged to Move From War on Terror to Routine Vigilance - Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., Shane Harris, and Corine Hegland, National Journal: “[D]espite efforts by Bush's first, much-steamrolled secretary of state, Colin Powell, to rebuild his department, State remains not only understaffed but also a house divided where Foreign Service diplomats feud with USAID workers. … Meanwhile, the Bush administration repeatedly gave public diplomacy short shrift. ‘For public diplomacy, the entire budget [per year] is what we spend in a month in Iraq,’ said Bruce Hoffman, a counterterrorism expert at Georgetown University. ‘We've been very successful in the short term in killing and capturing [terrorists]. Where we've been more remiss is in breaking the cycle of recruitment and regeneration that sustains these groups and ensures we're going to be fighting for a decade to come.’" PHOTO: Bruce Hoffman
How badly did Gaza poison the well? – Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: “There's no question that Gaza has weakened the hand of moderates and strengthened more extremist voices across the political spectrum.
It would be a mistake to simply reduce this political contest to ‘support for al-Qaeda’, however. It should be obvious, but too often isn't, that a whole lot of Arabs and Muslims who have no patience whatsoever for al-Qaeda's ideology or tactics are furious about Gaza. Reducing the full spectrum of political opinion to al-Qaeda's extreme, marginal salafi-jihadism is a way of marginalizing and ignoring legitimate, widely-held Arab political beliefs. Abandoning that Bush-era rhetorical gambit could open up real possibilities for new political initiatives and public diplomacy... if the Obama team is willing to make that change.”
Djerejian's New Foreign Policy - Armed Liberal, Winds of Change.NET: “[T]he notion that Al Quieda is only as powerful as we make them is kind of silly. It's one thing to talk of a forceful public diplomacy that minimizes them and tries to find different levels of engagement; it's quite another to believe that we can simply decide that AQ simply doesn't matter.”
The 80-20 Rule and U.S. Public Diplomacy – Joe Johnson, Jjohnson47's Weblog - “Public diplomacy has been a common theme in the Administration’s early days. And yet, here I think the 80-20 rule applies. By electing Barack Obama American voters brought back 80 percent of global respect for the United States. The remaining 20 percent is the hard part; a splendid image will not guarantee success in keeping America prosperous and safe. ... [P]ublic diplomacy is worth a new look and added investment. I’m not in favor of recreating the U.S. Information Agency as some have suggested. Public diplomacy is by nature a subset of diplomacy, and diplomacy belongs to the State Department. But it’s not an easy fit. The conduct of public diplomacy has not been very effective in recent years in part because its core process - strategy and planning - is not highly valued at State (as it is in the military, for example.) … A genuine communication strategy and a clear commitment to professional standards should be the hallmarks of measures to sharpen public diplomacy - even more than additional resources, however desperately needed.”
Secretary of State Clinton and VOA – Alex Belida, VOA News Blog: “[Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments during her recent confirmation hearings] come at a time when there has been much discussion about improving U.S. public diplomacy --- sometimes with proposals that would draw VOA into some new U.S. global communications strategy. We at VOA believe, like Mrs. Clinton, that we can do our best work and serve our audiences best when we are able to operate independently.”
Memorandum to Secretary Clinton – Internews: “Based on decades of experience in international development, we believe a foreign policy goal of universal access to quality local information would reflect the strategies and values of an Obama presidency. Local media and communications technologies can empower communities to make their voices heard, connect to the global marketplace of goods and ideas, and build grassroots democracy. Media and information technologies can exponentially amplify American ‘soft power’ approaches to development, diplomacy and national security. … [Among the recommendations:] Strengthening the capacity of locally owned media in the local language should be central to our overall strategic communications and public diplomacy agenda, with funding levels adopted accordingly.”
Another American PR disaster in the making? – Clive Davis, Spectator.co.uk: “I think we can all agree the last eight years were a catastrophe in terms of public diplomacy. Marc Lynch is less than thrilled to discover who's in the running to become Hillary Clinton's chief sales rep … Not all of his commenters agree. Btw, note how well-informed and constructive the conversation is down there [on Lynch’s Foreign Policy blog]. It's a shame Brit blogs seldom rise to that level.” SEE ALSO
The Secretary Of State's Other Job - David Shorr, Democracy Arsenal: “As the new administration works to rebalance defense, diplomacy, and development in our foreign policy, the inidicator to watch is the rate of growth in State and USAID personnel. As Derek Chollet, Vikram Singh and I wrote in last month's Foreign Service Journal, the essence of the problem of weak civilian capacity an inadequate workforce to mend our relations with others and promote American aims in an increasingly complex world. There are many items on this agenda: post-conflict reconstruction, increased foreign assistance, public diplomacy, bureaucratic streamlining... But the foreign policy equivalent of ‘infrastructure investment’ is significant growth in the size of our foreign service (including the USAID foreign service).”
Musical Chairs on State's Mahogany Row - Nukes & Spooks:
“Losing out in all this [the ‘real-estate battle’ for office space at the State Department] is the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, perhaps not by coincidence a job that has not yet been filled. State's chief image-maker (designated R in bureaucratic parlance) is moving across the building to a lovely, two-story high office once inhabited by George C. Marshall, our source says. It's really quite nice digs, if a bit farther away from the center of power.”
Obama's test: Bringing order to the national security policy process - Gordon Adams, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: “[T]he new administration will need to focus diplomacy and foreign assistance on long-term strategic goals, rebalance the toolkit of statecraft, and bring coherence to a widely dispersed set of institutions. … For instance, at State and USAID, I'll be watching for the following: … Will the administration transform the foreign service so it brings in a new type of recruit who receives training throughout his or her career, is assigned across offices and agencies to learn the skills today's diplomats must have, and is rewarded with top diplomatic appointments? And will the administration make a concerted effort to increase the number of U.S. foreign-service officers? Will the administration revitalize and staff our public diplomacy, creating a more focused, autonomous capability to take Washington's message overseas? “
Infectious Diseases, Foreign Militaries, and US National Security - Christopher Albon, War & Health: “Today, Amazon starts selling Threats in the Age of Obama, a book edited by Michael Tanji and containing a contribution by yours truly titled ‘Infectious Diseases, Foreign Militaries, and US National Security’. The book is a crash course on emerging national security threats. Each of the more than 20 contributors (and Michael) tackle a different aspect of national security, from cyberwarfare to public diplomacy.”
YouTube and Israel's Public Diplomacy – Steve Clemons, The Washington Note: “I found the [IDF] video … on the IDF Spokesperson's Unit YouTube Channel. I can't get the sound to play, but the text on the screen says it all. I want to be clear that I am not posting this video to support the Israeli position, but to show that the IDF is serious about using YouTube as a medium of public diplomacy.” MORE ON NEW MEDIA'S USE IN THE GAZA CONFLICT BELOW.
Goodbye Note From Trafficking Leader Mark Lagon - Amanda Kloer, Change.org's End Human Trafficking Blog: “As we celebrate the inauguration of a new President and a new era, we must also sadly say farwell to a great leader in the human trafficking movement. Ambassador Mark Lagon, Former Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. Department of State, left his postition last week. … Here is a short farewell message from him: ‘Dear Friends in the Fight to End Modern-Day Slavery: This is the last day of my 20 month tenure of diplomacy, public diplomacy, and grant-making-taking me to 27 countries. It's been a privilege working with you in the movement to end today's forms of slavery, and I look forward to continuing to do so as Executive Director of Polaris Project.’”
Sherry Rehman - Profile – Pakistan Travel & Culture: “Ms. Sherry Reham (Sherbano Rehman) is the Honorable Minister for Information and Broadcasting government of Pakistan. … In past She has been a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly (2002-2007) and Central Information Secretary as well as President of Policy Planning for he party Pakistan Peoples Party. … In the National Assembly, Rehman has served as Convener of the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Media and Public Diplomacy for Kashmir.”
Ari Bussel – OpEdNew.coms: “Ari Bussel is an activist with a deep passion and commitment to truth. His continuous fact-finding missions to the Middle East to secure truthful and factual information about the status of the situation are disseminated to a worldwide audience through his letters, journals and articles. Bussel is a graduate of UCLA and Stanford. His area of expertise is Israel's Public Diplomacy.”
Edward Clay - americanvaluessummit.com: “Sir Edward Clay KCMG (born 21 July 1945) is a retired British diplomat, formerly a High Commissioner and ambassador. … 1997-1999: Director, Public Diplomacy and Public Services, FCO, London.”
The Obama Conspiracy: Why some foreigners can't believe Obama won the presidency fair and square - Anne Applebaum, Slate: A number of international observers eschewed the general adulation and concluded, simply, that the entire event -- the election, the inauguration -- was a hoax.
Really Soft Power - Gary Schaub, New York Times: The State Department is supposed to direct American foreign policy, but it lacks the human and financial resources to fulfill its mission.
Pentagon's terror 'recidivism' claims blasted as 'propaganda' - David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster, Raw Story: Ever wonder how many of President Bush's terror war detainees were released, only to "return to the fight"? "Their numbers have changed from 20, to 12, to seven, to more than five, to two, to a couple, to a few, 25, 29, 12, and then 24," quoted Keith Olbermann on Thursday's edition of Countdown.The latest figure, 61, which was carried unchallenged by CNN, the MSNBC host noted, appears to be nothing but "propaganda."
Terrorism’s Twelve Step Program - American Congress for Truth:
Commentary on # 1 of Bruce Hoffman’s “Terrorism’s Twelve Step Program,” in which he states: “A more focused and strengthened interagency process would also facilitate the coordination of key themes and messages and the development and execution of long-term ‘hearts and minds’ programs.” “Re #1, talk about delusions, ignorance, lack of research and analysis! that an academic cannot grasp the history and dogma of Islam and relate it to the events taking place around the war shows…. as has been said elsewhere, not all Muslims are terrorists but almost all terrorists are Muslims, carrying out the commands of the Holy Books and their prophet - to not see this connection is ludicrous, to say the least.”
Muslim World Hails End of a Despised Symbol - William Fisher, Antiwar.com: While the decision of President Barack Obama to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay Cuba and end the practice of interrogation techniques that violate international law made front-page news throughout the United States, press reaction in the Middle East was far less extensive -- but generally favorable.
Guantanamo: A symbol of US resolve - Eric Fehrnstrom, Boston Globe: Obama views Guantanamo as a symbol of repression and abuse; others see it as a symbol of American resolve. One thing is for sure: its dismantling will not appease our enemy. Let's hope it doesn't embolden them.
Guantanamo Is No Blot on U.S. Honor: The president still hasn't said where to hold the worst of the worst – Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal
A dangerous step on interrogations – Editorial, Washington Times: Ironically, President Obama's executive order last week protecting terrorist suspects from waterboarding -- the practice of making someone fearful he is about to drown in an effort to induce him to cooperate with interrogators -- will spare foreign cutthroats from the very practice that the U.S. military has used on its own men thousands of times as a way of training for deployments in war zones when they might be captured and subjected to such things as waterboarding. By affording terrorists protections they do not legally deserve -- and that don't involve maiming, mutilation and other legitimate torture -- Mr. Obama is taking a very calculated risk
Torture? Prosecute Us, Too - Richard Cohen, Washington Post: It is imperative that our intelligence agents not have to fear that a sincere effort will result in their being hauled before some congressional committee or a grand jury. We want the finest people in these jobs -- not time-stampers who take no chances. SEE ALSO
IMAGE from Truthdig
Obama's call to arms: By rejecting Bush's torture tactics, the new president is urging Americans to reclaim their principles -- and their courage - Gary Kamiya, Salon: Torturing exposes American troops to torture, degrades America's reputation and in the long run undermines our ability to win an ideological war. But the ultimate reason not to torture must go beyond instrumental logic: It must be moral.
Put Torture on Trial – Philip Giraldi, Antiwar.com: President Obama has said no to torture, but the beat goes on. It appears that some in the media and the government want to preserve the option of being able to physically harm a helpless prisoner to obtain intelligence.
How Obama's New Rules Keep Intact: The Torture Ban That Doesn't Ban Torture - Allan Nairn, CounterPunch
Afghan Prison Poses Problem in Overhaul of Detainee Policy - Eric Schmitt, New York Times: For months, a national debate has raged over the fate of the 245 detainees at the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. But what may be an equally difficult problem now confronts the Obama administration in the 600 prisoners packed into a cavernous, makeshift prison on the American air base at Bagram in Afghanistan.
Writers Pressure Obama Over Afghanistan – Truthdig: Truthdig columnists Chris Hedges and Robert Scheer are among the notable writers who have signed this appeal urging President Obama to rethink Afghanistan. The ad, appearing in The Nation and The New York Review of Books, warns that “a new beginning will not be possible as long as we continue to spill the blood of the men, women, and children of Afghanistan.”
Obama's Team Stumbling into Afghanistan Trap – Steve Clemons, The Washington Note
Wake-Up Call to Obama: Afghanistan is No Threat to America - Dave Lindorff, CounterPunch: Obama, if he orders an expansion of the war in Afghanistan, and thus takes ownership of that conflict, will be well on the way to destroying his own presidency.
Obama and Iraq : The risks of a premature U.S. withdrawal – Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal: Here's the lose-lose scenario: Allow Iraq to deteriorate by withdrawing too soon and push into Afghanistan without a better strategy. Mr. Obama has inherited a victory in Iraq that he can't afford to squander.
Iraq's Next Vote: How elections can work in an unstable country – Editorial, Washington Post: Mr. Maliki's platform does augur an Iraq that will be relatively secular, that will assert its independence from Iran and that will remain allied with the United States in the fight against al-Qaeda. If that prospect is advanced this weekend, Iraqis -- and their American partners -- will have elections to thank.
Deterring an Iranian nuclear attack: Arrow missile's key role in Israel's defense - Louis Rene Beres and Isaac Ben-Israel, Washington Times: In the especially urgent matter of Iranian nuclearization, President Obama should also quickly acknowledge the overwhelming mutuality of strategic interest between Israel and the United States. A fully nuclear Iran would prove an intolerable hazard to New York, Washington and Los Angeles and to Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Anti-Israel Propaganda Will Not Deter Obama - Marty Nemko Blog: It is time for, pardon the expression, change: replacing the Palestinian and Israeli PR gotcha game with passion for the dream of Palestinians living side by side with Israelis, in which, like in Israeli schools, Palestinian children are taught to dream of becoming doctors, teachers, and social workers, not to grow up and blow up.
Hamas and the War of Misinformation and Propaganda – Right Side News: An analysis of several components in the victory myth which Hamas attempts to perpetuate, as evidenced in statements made by Hamas leaders and on the Hamas media, in comparison to the situation on the ground.
The propaganda war against Israel - The Terror Journal [posting article under another title by Mona Charen in Towhall]
The Rise of Citizen Propaganda - Yigal Schleifer, Istanbul Calling: Elements of the of the online war over Gaza provided another example of the rise of what some are calling "citizen propaganda." As Ethan Zuckerman, a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, puts it: "Rather than becoming the cafe of the world, where we interact on common ground, the Net has become a very effective place to rally people to your own cause and try to coordinate their actions."
Blogs, YouTube: the new battleground of Gaza conflict: Both sides used the Internet to rally supporters and shape public opinion - Yigal Schleifer, Christian Science Monitor
Pyongyang's shot across Obama's bow: A new challenge from North Korea - Bruce Klingner, Washington Times: President Obama should realize that there may not be a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear problem. While hopeful for successful six-party talks, the Obama administration should concurrently start contingency planning with South Korea and Japan to consider next steps if negotiations no longer seem to be a viable policy option.
Health before ideology: Obama is right to overturn a ban on U.S. foreign aid to groups that provide abortion services. The policy is good for global health and should be made permanent – Editorial, Los Angeles Times
Combat the terror of rape in Congo: The world must act to stop this weapon of war - Marc Sommers and Kathryn Birch, Christian Science Monitor: The UN's 17,000 peacekeepers in the DRC struggle to protect civilians because its force remains far too small to end violence and warfare in a country the size of Western Europe. Worse, some UN soldiers have been accused of contributing to the sexual abuse of civilians. That's why the Obama administration must act boldly. His team can demonstrate America's commitment to upholding human rights and forcefully moving against all forms of terrorism.
Looking for Peace Openings in Congo - Editorial, New York Times: A political settlement is the only hope for a durable peace. African leaders, the United Nations, the United States and China (a major new regional investor) must exert more pressure on all parties -- starting with the Congolese president, Joseph Kabila, and the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame -- to implement such an accord.
Obama’s secretary of defense is still a Bush man - Jeff Huber, American Conservative: Assuming Barack Obama was serious about effecting change in U.S. foreign policy, he could hardly have made a bigger mistake than keeping Robert Gates on as secretary of defense.
Is America exceptional or just ho-hum? - Herbert London, Washington Times: Either we come to appreciate American exceptionalism or we end up with American mediocrity.
Carleton Lecture to Examine Vintage WWI Propaganda Posters – Carleton News, Carleton College: Laura Behling, professor of American Literature and culture at Gustavus Adolphus College, will speak on Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 4:30 pm in the Gould Library Athenaeum. Her presentation, entitled “Come On! Participatory Patriotism in American World War I Posters,” highlights the changing attitudes of the American public during a war whose horror prompted a radical reexamination of political, social, and economic values. This event is free and open to the public.
Exterior of movie house showing ads for Garbo picture, Ninotchka. Location: Stuttgart, Germany; Date taken: May 1949; Photographer: Walter Sanders
“English Lady Getting Visa: Thank you. Oh, by the way, I've heard so many rumors about laundry conditions in Russia. Is it advisable to take one's own towels?
Russian Visa Official: Certainly not, Madam! That is only Capitalistic propaganda. We change the towel once a week.”
--Also from Ninotchka