Monday, February 16, 2009

February 16

“As a man of the 18th century, [Washington] accepted the face-to-face meeting as essential to human affairs; he likely would have been discomfited by a shadowy world in which the recorder/artist employs an Internet search engine and imaging software to produce a likeness of a man he knows only from other people's images.”

--Historian Hugh Howard, comparing the process of making the George Washington portrait by Gilbert Stuart and the now-ubiquitous red, white and blue illustration of Obama by Shepard Fairey


The link to the below article was incorrect in the PDPBR of February 15. Below is the article with its correct link:

Rebooting America's Image Abroad - By Walter R. Roberts, Guest Contributor, Whirled View


Robust agenda for Clinton's trip to Asia – Mark Landler, International Herald Tribune: “To the traditional list of official meetings, Clinton has added a town-hall meeting at a university [in Japan] - the kind of encounter she thrived on as first lady and political candidate.” SEE ALSO

Blogging the Middle EastDaren Krappe Blog: "Last week, Marc Lynch (also known as Abu Aardvark), an associate professor of political science and international relations at The George Washington University and well-known writer and blogger about the Middle East, gave a fantastic presentation to my bureau at the State Department. … In his presentation, Professor Lynch focused on three main phases of blogging in the Middle East … . Faced with the current Middle East landscape, with oppressive regimes in ascendancy and free-thinking bloggers driven out or to the margins, how should the United States approach web-based public diplomacy? Lynch highlighted five key lessons and methods that should guide American public diplomacy efforts in the Middle East. First: Work on broad princip[les]. … Second: Don’t be blinded by the tech. … Third: Listen. … Fourth: Understand that 'Google rules the world'. … Fifth: Encourage open, honest exchange.”

WARped: Refocusing American foreign policy after neo-conservatism - Ben Armstrong, North by Northwestern: “Dear Secretary of Defense Robert Gates:

… I propose five rules to guide your administration’s foreign policy in avoiding the contradictions that plagued your predecessors [including] … . 4. Promote values through educational and cultural exchanges. If we hope to support American values abroad, we should facilitate interaction between people rather than states. This means increased support for global service opportunities, public diplomacy and university outposts in foreign countries. Instead of shoving our values around at the state level, we should let our fellow citizens — through NGOs, charitable programs and other interactions — project them at the individual and household levels in all corners of the globe."

Op-Ed in Abu Dhabi's "The National" - Joshua S. Fouts, DIP's Dispatches from the Imagination Age: “There's a great op-ed in the Monday, February 16, 2009 edition of the Abu Dhabi's ‘The National,’ called "A ‘second life’ for public diplomacy in the Middle East." The article explores President Obama's public diplomacy strategy in the Middle East and [discusses] the Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds project.”

High Hurdles to Cultural Diplomacy – Andrew, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: “[W]e should consider security barriers to cultural exhibits and performances as a perhaps necessary evil. … The upshot of these realities is that commercialized pop culture overshadows (in fact, dominates) any attempts at PD-sponsored fine art displays and exchanges in the region. … The solution for reinvigorating this ‘softest’ of soft power, cultural public diplomacy, in the Arab world seems elusive.” Blog contains comment by John Ferguson, American Voices.

New intel group IARPA should explore soft power - Steve Hammons, American Chronicle: “The newly-formed Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA) has evolved from previous intelligence activities and is now apparently trying to model itself on the respected Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which was created in 1958. … IARPA could be helpful. A key element in soft power is the ability to attract people in many walks of life, in many countries and in and in various tactical and strategic contexts to become friends and allies. These goals can be as important as R&D into technologies. … By focusing on human consciousness and the interesting body of knowledge about it, soft power efforts can potentially reach a wide portion of the U.S. and international population. This can result in the U.S. being perceived as a leading influence in efforts for human progress of many kinds. This posture could also help position the U.S. as a leader in transcendent warfare expertise and create a synergy when combined with U.S. hard power, public diplomacy, intelligence activities and other efforts.”

The Gamble: Winners and Losers - Abu Muqawama: “One of the advantages of being more or less ‘tits up’ for the past 48 hours is that my illness has allowed me to finish The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008.” Comment by a reader, programmer craig: “Any mention on the performance of the ‘Public Diplomacy’ gurus? I ask, because it seems like at least a couple of them (not gonna name names) were extremely wrong. And kept pushing their false narrative of Iraq for quite some time.”

‘Turkish and Armenian businessmen await normalization of relations’Today’s Zaman: Kaan Soyak, co-chairman and co-founder of the US-Turkish-Armenian Business Council: “Negotiations between Armenia and Turkey have progressed very far as of today, so I personally think both governments would welcome all public diplomacy efforts.”

President Hu in RiyadhSilk Road Economy: “China’s President Hu Jintao visited Riyadh last week. It was his second visit in three years. ... I wouldn’t want to overstate the ability of China’s media. But its emphasis on public diplomacy is an important recognition that economic and military power isn’t everything. And I expect the emphasis on public diplomacy to grow as the government plans to spend $7bn on expanding the state media’s global presence. Watch out for a Chinese-style ‘Al Jazeera’. It’s public diplomacy 101. Even as the Obama administration attempts to rebuild America’s reputation in the Middle East, it faces greater competition from China in the region than it did a decade ago.”


Obama's Charm Isn't Working Wonders Abroad: Policy does matter after all - Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal:

True, Mr. Obama has made the U.S. popular in places like Montreal and Berlin, where our unpopularity never mattered much to begin with. But foreign policy is not about winning popularity contests. And woe to the president who imagines he needn't inspire fear among the wicked even as he embraces the adulation of the good. IMAGE: Obama charm earings

Obama -- It's Time to Visit the UN - Stephen Schlesinger, Huffington Post: In all, a trip to the UN would be a win-win achievement for the new president.

Chavez Changes His Tune Faced With Obama’s Popularity – Matthew Iglesias, Think Progress: President Hugo Chávez said Saturday that he was ready to engage in direct talks with President Obama in a bid to repair relations with the United States. The statement marked an evolution in Mr. Chávez’s view of Mr. Obama, whom he described last month as having the “same stench” as his predecessor in the White House.

Small Change: Dick Cheney has--surprise!--a paranoid view of Obama's war on terrorism - Eli Lake, New Republic: The first few weeks of Obama's presidency have offered hints that the new president is leaving himself wiggle room on fighting terrorism. While his initial executive orders did represent real advances for civil libertarians, there are a growing number of reasons to suspect that Obama will not be quite as liberal on these matters as his rhetoric might have suggested, his supporters might have hoped, or Dick Cheney might have feared.

The Hard Cases: Will Obama institute a new kind of preventive detention for terrorist suspects? - Jane Mayer, New Yorker: A number of national-security suggest that Obama should work with Congress to write new laws, possibly creating a “national-security court,” which could order certain suspects to be held without a trial.

4 Cases Illustrate Guantanamo Quandaries: Administration Must Decide Fate of Often-Flawed Proceedings, Often-Dangerous Prisoners - Peter Finn, Washington Post

Former Gitmo Guard Tells All - Scott Horton, Harper’s: Army Private Brandon Neely served as a prison guard at Guantánamo in the first years the facility was in operation. With the Bush Administration, and thus the threat of retaliation against him, now gone, Neely decided to step forward and tell his story. “The stuff I did and the stuff I saw was just wrong,” he told the Associated Press.

Why Obama Should Reconsider His Afghanistan Pledge - Colonel Daniel Smith, Afghanistan isn't the "good war." It's wrong not only for Afghanistan but for U.S. soldiers.

The 'Af-Pak' problem: Obama recognizes that Afghanistan and Pakistan represent two fronts in the same war – Editorial, Los Angeles Times: It is essential to bring nationalistic factions of the Taliban into the political process. For that to succeed, however, the Obama administration will need what the Taliban now enjoys -- support from its patrons in Pakistan.

Don't Let the Mullahs Run Out the Clock: Obama must talk directly to the Iranian people - Christopher Hitchens, Slate: The idea of direct and transparent negotiations with the Iranians is not wrong in principle, but it depends on which Iranians are the actual or potential partners. The president can address the Iranian people directly if he chooses, from the podium of the United Nations.

Watch That Welcome: Will Barack Obama unconditionally embrace the Middle East's autocrats? Hosni Mubarak hopes so – Editorial, Washington Post: Mr. Mubarak is said to be seeking a date to meet President Obama in the next couple of months. Mr. Obama will not want to openly spurn the Egyptian leader. But it's vital that he not grant Mr. Mubarak an unconditional invitation.

The "Nightmare Scenario": Thank You Saudi Arabia for Looking After our Future - Raymond J. Learsy, Huffington Post: The true "nightmare scenario" would be if we let Saudi Arabia and the oil industry flacks sway us one iota from the course our new president has set, to turn us away from fossil fuels for once and forever!

Internet bridge between Jews and Arabs: 'Straight talk' and blurring differences in Israel - Nat Hentoff, Washington Times: In Galilee, northern Israel, there are 1.1 million citizens, evenly divided between Jews and Arabs. There, Rabbi Marc Rosenstein has created a bilingual Internet newspaper with Hebrew and Arabic sections that he describes as "a safe space characterized by openness, fairness and balance - where all opinions can be expressed, civilly." This bridge of a newspaper is named Dugrinet. ("Dugri" means "straight talk" in both Hebrew and Arabic.)

An American Foreign Legion: Is the U.S. Military Now an Imperial Police Force? - William Astore, TomDispatch: Caught in the shock and awe of 9/11, we allowed our military to be transformed into a neocon imperial police force. Now, approaching our eighth year in Afghanistan and sixth year in Iraq, what exactly is that force defending?

Visual presidents: An iconic painting of Washington tells us about the man; the campaign image of Obama is great propaganda - Hugh Howard, Los Angeles Times: Neither Washington nor his portraitist Stuart would have understood Shepard Fairey's talk of "branding" and "mainstreaming" Obama via his now-ubiquitous red, white and blue illustration.Fairey's goal, he has said, was to make a "promotional tool." Obama-as-hope has become an icon, powerful and familiar, a tour de force of propaganda.


--Rush Limbaugh has found it acceptable to sell “Club Gitmo” shirts on his Web site, complete with the image of a diving board and swimming pool (water + board, get it?). FROM: Truthdig

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