Saturday, January 3, 2009

January 3

“I would particularly advise readers to skip any sentence containing the phrase, ‘America has always been,’ for nonsense is sure to follow."

--Michael O’Brien, professor of American intellectual history, reviewing Simon Schama’s The American Future in The Times Literary Supplement, 19 & 26 December 2008, p. 34


How to Sell America: Washington's head of public diplomacy is one Bush official Obama would do very well to keep - Adam B. Kushner, Newsweek: "Unlike his failed predecessors, Glassman has finally figured out how to sell the American idea abroad. Washington insiders see him as an intellectual cousin of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has said that 'we know we cannot kill or capture our way to victory.' And President-elect Obama would be smart to keep Glassman, as he kept Gates, because he needs a subtle hand in this tricky post."

Obama on Gaza: "One President at a Time!" - Minotaur (Vwbi),Ta3beer: Meditations On Mediation: “[T]he Arab world is reaching a boiling point with seething demonstrators pouring onto the streets of Cairo, Damascus, Tripoli, Sanaa, and even the most obscure little towns on the already-obscure Comoros Islands to protest the Israeli shelling of Gaza. What happened to honest brokerage? Nevermind honest brokerage! What happened to diplomacy? Nevermind diplomacy! What about 'PUBLIC' diplomacy? (That favorite US foreign policy past-time where an unfavorable policy is sugarcoated to create appeal for it or at least anaesthetasize detractors--often with the cunning use of Beyonce Knowles and the Pussycat Dolls!). In fact, this is a 'public' diplomacy crisis of collossal proportions! Even an Akon concert, a book signing by Stephen King, and free Macbooks to Gaza families won[']t chill out the enraged Arab public."

They are so enraged, those obedient citizens are now turning on their own regimes, not for American-style democracy but for failing to condemn Israel!”

Israeli Daily Propaganda Service at NYT: Isabel Kershner in Action - The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب, posted at Inteligentaindigena Novajoservo: “Today, it is the turn of Isabel Kershner from the Israeli propaganda service at the NYT office in Israel. Look at the headline: this is like a newspaper covering the Nazi invasion of Poland with the headline ‘Hitler steps up diplomacy’. And when you read the article you realize that they are talking about Israeli propaganda efforts but praiseworthy propaganda is often called ‘diplomacy’ or ‘public diplomacy’. 'Israel broadened the scope of its air offensive against the Hamas infrastructure in Gaza on Thursday.' Look at this sentence. This language now justifies wholesale the bombing and destruction of civilian infra-structure by labeling it as 'Hamas infrastructure.'" IMAGES from

Hamas bombarding the world with fallacies, accusations and allegations: The Winds of War -- Day Seven - Ari Bussel, Reporting from Israel, Canada Free Press, Canada: “Israel is at war simultaneously in several fronts: Hamas in Gaza; the Home Front in the ever-expanding radius around Gaza (currently 26 miles); the Fifth Column of Israeli Arabs, now acting like the Islamists in Europe; and the world public opinion in the Public Diplomacy Front. In all fronts, the enemies are aided and abated by Jews and Israelis. In all fronts – we lose.”

Hasbara: what it is and how to fight it - “Hasbara refers to the propaganda efforts to sell Israel, justify its actions, and defend it in world opinion. Using contemporary euphemisms, it is Public diplomacy for Israel, or using a pejorative interpretation, then it is apologia. Israel portrays itself as fighting on two fronts: the Palestinians and world opinion. The latter is dealt with hasbara. The premise of hasbara is that Israel's problems are a matter of better propaganda, and not one of an underlying unjust situation.”

Propaganda war: trusting what we see? - Paul Reynolds, BBC: “The Israeli propaganda effort is being directed to achieve two main aims. The first is to justify the air attacks. The second is to show that there is no humanitarian calamity in Gaza. … Israel appears to think its efforts are working. … Israel has bolstered its approach by banning foreign correspondents from Gaza, despite a ruling from the Israeli Supreme Court. … Whether Israel retains any propaganda initiative is not all certain. Pictures of dead and wounded children have undermined its claim to pinpoint accuracy and the longer this goes on, the greater the potential for world public opinion to swing against it, with diplomatic pressure building for a cessation.”

The Case for a New Public "Once in office, the President-elect and his team will need to undertake an unparalleled effort of public diplomacy to engage China's wider policy environment. This effort must shun the neo-propagandist tools and tactics of the Cold War, creating instead strategies, approaches, and messages more appropriate to a world rendered naked by the Internet.”

Sri Lanka’s lack of strategic communication helps LTTE to influence International Community/rights groups - Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune: “The Asian Tribune presents here the challenges Sri Lanka is facing while registering military victories over the LTTE and thereafter because this South Asian nation is facing a strong pro-LTTE lobby in the West and a well oiled public diplomacy machinery that works among ‘influential personalities’ in the West and internationally-recognized human rights groups.” On LTTE, see.

Getting a Job as a Foreign Service OfficerThe Hegemonist: “Foreign Service Officers are the frontlines of American foreign policy. Each officer has a ‘cone,’ or career track: management, consular, public diplomacy, economic or political. It should be noted that although all officers choose cones, they're also considered generalists.”


Online Ammo - Sheldon Rampton, Center for Media and Democracy: Branches of the military are getting into the social networking game, along with other branches of government. The Army also has its own Twitter feed, as does the Department of Homeland Security, the Bush White House, and the U.S. Joint Forces Command, the U.S. Department of State, and the Israeli Consulate in New York.

Just a few months ago, U.S. military analysts raised concerns that Twitter and other online social networking technologies could become terrorist tools. It appears they've decided that they can be useful for their own purposes as well. IMAGE: This "Air Force Blog Assessment" chart specifies "rules of engagement" for dealing with bloggers.

More Gaza media notes - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Top 10 Stupid Media Tricks From Week 1 of Operation Cast Lead – Omri Ceren, Mere Rhetoric

How Israel is Multiplying Hamas by a Thousand: Molten Lead in Gaza - Uri Avnery, CounterPunch: The English-language Aljazeera, unlike its Arab-language sister-station, has undergone an amazing about face, broadcasting only a sanitized picture and freely distributing Israeli government propaganda. It would be interesting to know what happened there.

Thousands Protest Israel, US in Kabul - Juan Cole, Informed Comment: Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion: Three thousand protesters in Kabul burned Ehud Olmert and George W. Bush in effigy, chanted death to Israel and death to infidels, and demanded that the 30,000 US troops in Afghanistan depart. That is what the US really needed at this juncture, was to lose new propaganda points away to the Taliban.

Is Israeli Policy Crazy? - Ivan Eland, Instead of making peace with the Palestinians and Syrians by eliminating the underlying grievance and giving back their land, or at least answering minor provocations with limited tit-for-tat responses, Israel will likely continue flailing disproportionately against its enemies. This Israeli government policy will make the long-term security situation worse for the Israeli people -- with the United States subsidizing and giving the green light to such irresponsible behavior. Same stuff, different year.

Amnesty Calls on Rice to Drop 'Lopsided' Gaza Stance - Jim Lobe, The US section of Amnesty International sent an "urgent" letter Friday to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, calling on her to end what it called Washington's "lopsided response" to the ongoing Israeli air strikes on Gaza that have reportedly killed more than 400 Palestinians, including scores of unarmed civilians.

Cease-fire needed now – Editorial, Boston Globe: The longer it takes Israel and Hamas to accept a cease-fire, the harder it will be for the administration of President-elect Barack Obama to stitch together a new, more peaceable security framework for the greater Middle East.

The Battle over Gaza - Tim McGirk, Time: Re Gaza, now the Obama Administration risks being too late even before it has begun.

Viewpoint: After Gaza, what's next? - Amos N. Guiora, Baltimore Sun: President-elect Obama's test -- perhaps his first -- will be to galvanize the moderate Arab regimes to "step up to the plate" in response to Islamic extremism.

Iraq withdrawal -- not so fast: Part of the new Status of Forces accord could put a crimp in U.S. plans for a pullout of troops - Kal Raustiala, Los Angeles Times:

The enormous scope of immunity enjoyed by U.S. forces in Iraq, and by private contractors, is a throwback to the distant, imperial past. Excessive immunity not only harms American interests in Iraq, it also feeds the broader perception that the United States believes it is above the law and can bully other nations into submission. For these reasons, the new Status of Forces accord points in the right direction. But the catch is that the agreement may also make it much harder for the incoming Obama administration to meet the public's expectations for a rapid withdrawal of American troops.

Believe It or Not, 2008 Was Relatively Nonviolent - Marie Cocco, TruthDig: Burned by the tragic misadventure in Iraq and now burdened with a domestic economy that is the worst in at least three decades, Americans for the most part do not wish to encumber the United States with troubles in far-off lands.

A Disintegrating U.S.? Critics Come Unglued: Russian's Prediction Spurs Celebrity, Scorn - Joel Garreau, Washington Post: For seriously predicting that the United States will break into six parts in June or July of 2010, Igor Panarin has suddenly become a Russian state-media celebrity.

Hardly a day goes by without another interview or two for the KGB-trained, Kremlin-backed senior analyst. The clamor in Russia for his ideas is growing, he says. One possible explanation for how Panarin's hypothesis is being eagerly lapped up in Russia is that the Kremlin is projecting its own insecurities onto the United States. IMAGE from

US Cold War Resettlement Program Used for Propaganda, Spying - Deutsche Welle, Germany: In the midst of the Cold War, a humanitarian group in Germany helped gather information for a covert US spying program, according to an Associated Press investigation. The United States launched a so-called "Escapee Program" in 1952 to help resettle people who had fled Communist Eastern Europe for the West. But the program had a hidden side. The US assessed whether refugees could be used for intelligence or propaganda purposes. Some were secretly offered money to return home and spy for the West.


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