“The number of lawyers at the Pentagon today is larger than the entire U.S. diplomatic corps."
--Georgie Anne Geyer, "Time for diplomacy," Washington Times
“The only thing I ask is that people be respectful.”
--Ex-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, regarding “what we faced and how we went about it”; VIA
"My old, modest-sized office has been carved into four cubicles."
--Ex-presidential adviser Karl Rove, regarding his former space in the White House
SITE OF THE DAY
Yulia Tymoshenko (with thanks to PSP)
OBAMA AL-ARABIYA INTERVIEW
President Obama Engages the Arab World -- Reactions -
Saudi Arabia United States Relations, DC: Reactions from US and foreign press.
Arena: On Obama's chat with Al Arabiya - Fred Barbash, Politico: Reactions to the interview of: Joseph Nye, Harvard University; Shibley Telhami, University of Maryland; Yousef Munayyer, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee: Walter Dellinger, attorney; Charles Calomiris, Columbia University: Chester Crocker, Georgetown University: S.E. Cupp, conservative commentator: Bradley Blakeman, Republican strategist: Samuel J. Brannen, CSIS; Kristin Lord, Brookings Institution.
Obama Extends Hand To Arabs and Muslims: He Says U.S. Has 'Not Been Perfect,' Gets a Generally Positive Response - Karen DeYoung, Washington Post: “Responses so far to Obama's outreach [including the Al-Arabiya interview] have been largely positive, but further action is awaited.”
Obama on al-Arabiya - Kathy Gilsinan, Columbia Journalism Review: “It remains to be seen whether the interview was an unequivocal victory for public diplomacy. But it was hand extended to those willing to put down the remote.”
Not a Bad Start – MDC, Foreign Policy Watch: “I'm a day late in pointing this out, but President Obama gave his first television interview to a foreign news station - a Middle Eastern, Saudi-owned one at that. The problems the US has in the regions are myriad and diverse. … I won't bore readers with specifics or obvious points, but being engaged this early on in his administration - both in actual diplomacy and in public diplomacy - is critical to turning the tide of the mutual frustrations of the last eight years. Call it being benignly preventive. His avoidance of ‘with us or against us’ language or a false dichotomy of good vs. evil was also refreshing.”
Arab reaction to Obama - SmallShop -- Video News: “Since President Obama's interview with Al Arabiya last night, State Department public diplomacy officials have been closely monitoring reaction in the Arab media -- TV, newspapers, radio and blogs -- to get a sense for how the interview is playing.”
Bloggingheads: Obama's Muslim Speech – New York Times: "Heather Hurlburt of the National Security Network and David Frum of NewMajority.com debate whether President Obama should give a speech to the Muslim world."
Barack Obama and Hesham Melhem: The Interview - Nancy Snow, Huffington Post: “Obama could have talked to Al Hurra, the U.S. taxpayer-sponsored Middle East TV Network that was founded on Valentine's Day 2004. A sit-down on Al Hurra would have been a boon to that fledgling network, but it's not the station with a tag line that reads, ‘Your leading source for news in the Middle East.’ He was wise not to choose Al Jazeera, though it is still the most popular satellite television news channel in the Middle East. Al Jazeerah's ratings jumped even higher during its around-the-clock coverage of the Gaza conflict. Nevertheless, Al Jazeera would have been a political hot potato and this president seeks to remain Mr. Cool.“
Obama Must Transcend Israeli/Palestinian Divisions - John Esposito, Washington Post: “U.S. public diplomacy should address not only public relations (through educational initiatives and exchange programs) but also key foreign policy issues. Gallup findings (See, John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think) indicate a desire for the respect (reflected in Obama's inaugural speech). When asked what the West could do to improve relations, majorities reported that it should respect Islam and Muslims, not consider them inferior, and provide technological, economic assistance.”
5 state plan and Obama on al Arabiya - Paul Rockower, Levantine: “Obama was on al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite network, talking about new beginnings for the region. A good start indeed.“
The Public Diplomacy - Mark Dillen, Public Diplomacy Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "You might think Barack Hussein Obama would choose a safer audience than the Arab world for his first TV interview as President. But he chose Dubai-based Al Arabiya, and he chose well."
OTHER PD ITEMS
Guest Blog by James Glassman: Obama Should do More Arabic and Farsi Chats on All Networks, Including US-Funded Operations – Steve Clemons, The Washington Note: Former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy James Glassman: “President Obama deserves congratulations for his interview on Al Arabiya, a network that has shown responsibility and professionalism, lately in stark contrast lately to Al Jazeera. As someone who has dealt with all the major Arabic language stations, I suggest that his next interview should be on Radio Sawa, the U.S.-taxpayer-funded radio network that is aimed mainly at young people, with a mix of music and public affairs. It's the largest single Arabic-language net in the Mideast and has a big audience in some critical markets, including the West Bank, where it's broadcast on five separate FM stations. Next, he should do a call-in show, 'Roundtable With You,' on Persian News Network, a U.S.-funded satellite stream in Farsi that reaches more than 28 percent of Iranians each week. PNN is the best way directly to reach the Iranian people.“
Gazans brace for response as militants fire rocket into Israel - Dion Nissenbaum, McClatchy Newspaper, Olympian: “[Special envoy, George] Mitchell isn't meeting with Hamas, however, because the Islamist militant group refuses to renounce its pledge to destroy Israel. Despite the decision, [Ahmed] Yousef [deputy foreign minister in the Hamas-led Gaza Strip government’said that he expected the Obama administration to begin secret or public diplomacy with Hamas eventually.”
Wanted: an Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy – Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: “We need an Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs who is a leader, manager, and facilitator that can hit the ground running with the full support of the President and the Secretary of State. This person must be found, nominated and confirmed as quickly as possible. The Under Secretary position is just too important to be left empty or filled by an under-qualified individual.”
Time for diplomacy - Georgie Anne Geyer, Washington Times: “Not only has our architectural diplomacy changed in the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld Dark Ages, but the very essence of our cultural relations with the rest of the world has changed. While the headlines scream 'Afghanistan, Gaza, Iran,' the fact is the core of our diplomatic problem can be found in the sheer lack of able men and women involved in diplomacy. … The disintegration of our diplomatic corps, which of course is centered in the State Department, whose job it is to engage, convince and deal with other countries and their governments, has not garnered a lot of attention, until now. … But after the Clinton administration's utterly foolish abolishing of the U.S. Information Agency, which had explained America to the world since President Dwight Eisenhower founded it in 1953, and after surviving somehow the George W. Bush years of American savagery, there is suddenly hope. … Ironically, it will be up to Mrs. Clinton to undo much of her husband's work, if she will. But at least we've begun.”
State Department Reorganization – Bill Kiehl, PDWorldwide: “Reorganization of the Public Diplomacy function at the State Department is a necessary first step and something that can be done immediately without legislation. But make no mistake--it is not enough to remedy the situation. Public Diplomacy needs centralized coordination, a new operational agency and a reenergized mission with the funding commensurate to its importance to our national security and foreign policy goals. The following proposal [in above link] by four retired USIA officers is just this sort of first step on the road to reforming our Public Diplomacy for the 21st Century.”
Quadrennial Defense Review: Building Blocks for National Defense - Baker Spring and Mackenzie Eaglen, Backgrounder #2234, Heritage Foundation: “While cross-cutting issues like public diplomacy and cyber security are best addressed primarily in the National Security Strategy, the 2006 QDR appropriately highlighted strategic communications while emphasizing that responsibility must be integrated horizontally on a government-wide basis. DOD leaders' and combatant commanders' understanding and operational application of strategic communications has matured markedly over the past three years.”
Money Matters: Korean Blogger Jailed - Allison Doolittle, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: “A financial blogger in South Korea was jailed last week for blogging on his country’s economic policies. … The situation reveals an emerging challenge for PD practitioners. How should governments respond to blogs? In this case, media coverage seems to favor the blogger.”
U.S. Department of State and Jazz at Lincoln Center Launch 2009 Concert Tour of The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad - Media Note, Office of the Spokesman, U.S. State Department, Washington, DC: "The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center, is pleased to launch the 2009 concert tour of The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad.
The program will send ten American quartets abroad to present original American music, including jazz, urban, and roots. Quartets from across the United States auditioned in New York City and ten were selected to represent American culture through concerts, jam sessions, classes, and person-to-person interaction with foreign audiences who historically have had few opportunities to meet Americans firsthand. These American musical ambassadors are following in the footsteps of legends Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, and other great American jazz performers."
Universalism doctrine - Viola Herms Drath, Washington Times: “Raised and educated in a multicultural environment, Barack Obama's vision of universalism informs his call for a new era of responsibility. … [T]he concept that the camaraderie and bonding between men and women at arms are universal and transcend borders, provides an inspired venue for American public diplomacy outreach.”
Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism - A Review [of Weigel, George. Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, and Auckland: Doubleday, 2007. 195 pages] - Knight's Castle: “Weigel … asserts that deterrence is unlike to be of much use against those who seek martyrdom. There are some useful suggestions here, including espousal of a major coordinated campaign of public diplomacy.”
Bullying Fiji, Part 2: The Inside Game – Pablo, Kiwipolitico: “It would be advantageous if there were military to military contacts between the NZDF and Fijian military commanders that might serve as a quiet parallel track to the public diplomacy now ongoing.”
Rood is new RPOF Finance Chairman - Matthew in Florida Politics Blog, posted at all Florida Blog: “Mr. [John] Rood [w]as United States Ambassador to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas where he served until 2007. In his role managing the Embassy and its 300 employees, Ambassador Rood worked to resolve bilateral issues with the Government of the Bahamas, improve relations between the two countries, oversee Consular Services and use public diplomacy to share United States values with The Bahamas.” PHOTO from: Quincy Parker, "US Envoy Says Doing Business In The Bahamas Is Difficult."
FAREWELL TO CONDI
Phoning it In - Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog I STILL keep track of Condoleezza's hairdo so you don't have to:
“The good news is that Condi has done her first post-Bush interview, a chat with the very friendly Stanford Report. The bad news is that there's nothing to take away from it.”
(posted here with the kind permission of the author)
Warsaw Fulbright Talk, January 23, 2009, by Yale Richmond
I have been asked to give a little history of the origin of the Fulbright Program in Poland.
My story starts 50 years ago in the summer of 1958 when I arrived in Warsaw as Cultural Attaché at the American Embassy. That was two years after 1956 and the “Polish October,” a revolution that replaced a Stalinist regime with one of national communism, and sought a program of reform through, as it was called, a “Polish road to socialism” that did not follow the Soviet model. But the new Polish government also sought improved relations with the West, which included reestablishing Poland’s historic cultural relations with Western Europe and the United States.
The Ford and Rockefeller Foundations were among the first to help achieve that aim, Ford in the humanities and social sciences, and Rockefeller in the natural sciences, by enabling leading Polish professors and senior scholars to study in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. In 1957, Ford gave $500,000 for those Polish exchanges, and another $80,000 for books for 8 Polish universities. Ford and Rockefeller funding continued in the following years.
But when I arrived in Warsaw I was disappointed to learn that there were no student exchanges, perhaps because no one in the American Embassy had such experience, as I had, in other countries where I had served.
And here I must introduce Margaret Schlauch, Chairperson of the English Department at Warsaw University, a world-renowned authority on Middle English, Chaucer, and Nordic literature. Schlauch, an American, had been Professor of English at New York University for 25 years. Seven of her books still in print. She was the sister-in-law of Leopold Infeld, a Polish-born nuclear physicist, who had worked with Einstein at Princeton. Infeld, in 1949, was offered, and accepted a position as Poland’s top nuclear physicist, and Schlauch came to Poland to join the Infelds, her only living relatives. But in her letter of resignation to New York University, Schlauch said that politics and ideology also played a role. She affirmed that she was a Marxist and did not intend to deny it. Poland was pleased to have such a distinguished scholar, and appointed her as head of English Dept at Warsaw University.
But the American Embassy did not have any contact with Schlauch, and refused to recognize her presence in Poland. It was time to change that policy, I thought, and I got permission from Ambassador Beam to call on Schlauch, and to propose an exchange of university students and lecturers.
Schlauch welcomed my visit, and said she had been waiting for me to call on her. We easily reached agreement to start with the exchange of 4 American and 4 Polish students, including one from her department who turned out to be Franciszek Lyra--who is here with us today--and to exchange one lecturer in American studies, and one in Polish studies.
But in the first year, Academic Year 1959-60 we had an American lecturer, not in Warsaw as planned, but in Krakow, at the Jagiełłonian University where it was diplomatically explained to me, he would be less visible to the Soviet embassy in Warsaw.
The following year, however, we had an American lecturer in literature in Schlauch’s department at Warsaw University, by chance, Hugh Gloster, a former student of Schlauch at New York University.
The Poles, however, preferred to send research scholars to the United States, rather than lecturers, half of them in Science and Technology, and half in Social Sciences and Humanities. From that modest start, there eventually developed a Fulbright Program directed by a Polish-American Commission, with, as I recall, as many as 17 American lecturers in Polish universities, and 17 Polish research scholars, in one year in various academic fields, including American history.
The Americans who came to Poland left as friends of Poland, as did those of us who served in the American Embassy in Warsaw, because we always had a soft spot in our hearts for Poland. Polish Ambassador to Washington Romuald Spasowski, whom I knew well, called those of us in the State Department who had served in Poland, “my Polish Mafia,” because he could count on us to help him do what was best for Poland. Niech Żyje Polska!
But those exchanges of students and lecturers were only part of the U.S. effort, after the “Polish October” of 1956, to reestablish Poland’s historic ties with the West. And in my remaining time today I want to mention briefly a few more exchanges that were possible in “People’s Poland, as it was called in those years.
First, the IMG Program (Information Media Guaranty) which allowed Poland to import from the United States books, newspapers, periodicals, motion pictures, and author’s rights, and to pay for them in Polish zlotys. That enabled the Polish public to buy American books in English, to read bestsellers translated into Polish, to see recent Hollywood films in their local kinos, and to see American plays performed in Polish.
Over a 10-year period, $7 million worth of such products were imported, and American books were on sale to the public in the Academy of Sciences book store on the first floor of the Palace of Culture.
And here are some other things that were possible in People’s Poland. Poland had International Press and Book Clubs where Poles could read the foreign press, most of them communist. But the communist newspapers of London, Paris, Rome, and New York often carried more interesting news than the communist newspapers of Eastern Europe. There were 18 of those Clubs throughout Poland, and the main one was at the corner of Nowy Swiat and Jerozolimskie in the heart of Warsaw. I visited there and found, among all the communist newspapers from around the world, the Paris Herald Tribune, but no Time or Newsweek.
So I called on the Director of the Press and Book Clubs, Mme. Helena Michnik, a woman who, I later learned, was the mother of Adam Michnik, now chief editor of Gazeta Wyborcza, and offered her free subscriptions for Time and Newsweek for all 18 of her clubs, which she accepted with a big smile. And when I visited several of the Clubs later, Time and Newsweek were on display.
I often called prominent Poles and asked to come and talk with them. The only one who ever refused me a visit was Politburo member Zenon Kliszko, the right hand man of Gomulka, and the man in charge of ideology.
Another event I would like to mention is how the Wall Street Journal came to Poland. Many prominent Americans visited Poland in those years, and one of then was Warren Phillips, publisher of the Wall Street Journal. As customary for important visitors, our ambassador gave a lunch for Mr,Phillips, followed by a briefing on Poland by senior embassy officers. After the briefing, Mr. Phillips turned to the ambassador, “Jake” Beam, and asked “Mr. Ambassador, what can the Wall Street Journal do for you?” The ambassador, as surprised as the rest of us, turned to me and said, “Yale, what can the Wall Street Journal do for us?”
“Somehow I came up with an innovative idea. “Mr. Phillips,” I said, “there are 18 Higher Schools of Economics, Wysza Szkoła Ekonomiczna, sort of like our graduate schools of business. Can you give each one a six-month subscription to the Wall Street Journal?” “Sure,” said Mr. Phillips, just send me the mailing addresses, which I did the next day, and a few weeks later I visited some of those Higher Schools of Economics, and there in the libraries I found the Wall Street Journal hanging on the racks next to Moscow’s Pravda and Izvestiya.
In all those exchanges we had in Poland, there was a Ripple Effect, as it is called in Polish, I believe, a zmarszczki. When you drop a stone into the water, you get a ripple effect, and the ripple effect of those exchanges of people and information media reached as far as Moscow. Poland, as you know, has often been called “Russia’s window on the West,” because for Russians, Poland was the West, and whatever came to Poland from the West often reached as far as Moscow and beyond.
In 1968, for example, when the Soviets finally overcame their longtime opposition to sociology--which they considered a bourgeois science--and established an Institute of Sociology in the Soviet Academy of Sciences, I was Counselor for Press and Culture at the American Embassy in Moscow. And when I saw the announcement in the Moscow press, I telephoned and asked for a briefing on the new Institute of Sociology.
I was received correctly and was given a briefing on plans for the new Institute by a young Russian, a member of the new generation of Russian sociologists. At the end of the briefing, I asked if Polish sociologists had been helpful. “Yes,” replied the briefer, “the Polish and Yugoslav sociologists who had been to the United States were very helpful.”