Saturday, February 28, 2009

February 28

“[I]f the president had been raised in the African-American community in the continental United States, he would never have been chosen as president. It is quite sadly simple: He would be too angry.”

--Washington Times Columnist Georgie Anne Geyer; see also Phillip Atiba Goff and Jennifer L. Eberhardt, "Race and the ape image," Los Angeles Times

“Hilary Mackie has detected in the Iliad a consistent differentiation between representations in Greek of Achaean and Trojan speech, where Achaeans repeatedly engage in public, ritualized abuse: 'Achaeans are proficient at blame, while Trojans perform praise poetry.'"

--Wikipedia, entry on "flyting, a contest of insults, often conducted in verse"


13-Year-Old Conservative Wunderkind Wows CPAC, Joe The PlumberHuffington Post


Obama gets it right on Iraq - Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: “Public diplomacy. Obama's decision to speak directly to the Iraqi people -- and not only to Iraqi leaders -- was brilliantly conceived and executed. His very clear statement that the U.S. had no aspirations on Iraqi territory or resources -- no permanent bases -- was pitch perfect. And I just really liked this frank, direct, respectful talk.”

Two Hopeful Signs – William Kiehl, My PD Blog: "In the past couple of days two hopeful harbingers of better times ahead

for public diplomacy took my eye. The first was Senator Lugar’s wonderfully lucid and much needed statement on the importance of American Cultural and Information Centers as a means to engage the world in a meaningful dialogue. … The other hopeful words were expressed by one of America’s finest diplomats, Career Ambassador Thomas J. Pickering. In a statement before a Congressional Committee, Pickering called for a doubling of funding for America’s exchange programs and with good reason—they work!” Image from

Kudos For Senator Lugar's Call To Re-Establish International American Centers - Michael Knigge, Across the Pond: "It doesn't happen often, but sometimes someone expresses an opinion one can entirely agree with. … Well, this just happened to me after reading Senator Richard Lugar's article arguing why the U.S. should reverse its long process of closing its America Centers around the world. … To be clear, the internet and other modern information tools as well as private sponsors are and should be a big part of public diplomacy. But can and should they replace a live forum, a marketplace of ideas where people in cities across the world can meet, talk and debate with Americans, not in a virtual chat room, but in a real reading room? I think not.” Image from

Democracy the antidote to jihadist radicalization, task force concludes - Michael Allen, Democracy Digest: “Annual U.S. government spending on democracy support and public diplomacy in the broader Middle East amounts to less than 1 percent of the Pentagon’s annual spending in Iraq. The Obama administration should double the resources available to the National Endowment for Democracy and the Middle East Partnership Initiative to continue their support for those ‘institutions and organizations that have a demonstrated track record in standing up to and competing with both violent and nonviolent extremists.’” Image from

VOL. V NO. 5, February 13-February 26, 2009 - The Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media

Newspaper reporting on GAO report on TV Martí observes TV Martí's report on the GAO report (updated) - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

A late Valentine’s Day letter – Ben, Silk Road Economy: “A Minnie Mouse watch … [is] a heavy-duty American cultural export. So, a word of advice to US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. I agree, there are good reasons to argue that the Chinese currency is undervalued. However, a stronger currency doesn’t mean that outsourced factories will return to the United States.

And, more importantly, a young Syrian’s girl Minnie Mouse watch might just have a positive effect on the way she thinks about America as she grows older. If so, it’s a small public diplomacy win. It’s also a lot cheaper than America’s other public diplomacy efforts in the Middle East, such as running an Arabic-language television-station like Al Hurra. In fact, so long as the Chinese manufacturer is paying royalties to the Disney company, then the Minnie Mouse watch might just make America money. I’m arguing slightly tongue-in-cheek.” Image from

Citizen Diplomacy – Rebecca, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: “I attended the first day of the Marshall Conference on Citizen Diplomacy at the State Department on Thursday. While I believe there was a lot to be learned, I also feel that, much like Public Diplomacy, nobody could give a clear answer on what their idea of Citizen Diplomacy was. … I got my chance to ask a question to the panel: ’Since there have been such successes with citizen and cultural diplomacy when they are not related directly to the government, how would the government be able to utilize these aspects of diplomacy without tainting it by the generally negative opinion abroad of the US government.’ The answer I received? In a nutshell, it was, Public Diplomacy needs to participate in more listening.” Image from

Rewriting the Narrative: An Integrated Strategy for counterradicalization - Matthew Levitt, Counterterrorism Blog: Rewriting the Narrative: An Integrated Strategy for Counterradicalization is the final report of the Task Force on Confronting the Ideology of Radical Extremism, a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission of diplomats, legislators, strategists, scholars, and experts. … The report provides analysis and recommendations on a spectrum of discrete policy issues -- democracy promotion, political reform, public diplomacy, strategic communications, and counterradicalization -- offering an integrated approach to staunching the spread of Islamist extremism. The extensive recommendations suggest an array of policy instruments, from creating a Counterradicalization Forum that draws on ‘best practices’ of friends and partners in Europe and the Middle East, to infusing with renewed mission, urgency, and creativity U.S. international broadcasting to Arab and Muslim societies.” Image from

It is time to create a center for public diplomacy discourse and research - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner

Consul (representative) - bill, “Activities of a consulate include protecting the interests of their citizens temporarily or permanently resident in the host country, issuing passports; issuing visas to foreigners and public diplomacy.”

The Great Russian Firewall - Rebecca MacKinnon, Evgeny Morozov, Moscow Times: “Even the most cold-hearted realists would agree that the failure of communist censorship played a role in the collapse of the Iron Curtain: Voice of America, the fax machine, rock 'n' roll and the lure of Western capitalism helped to win over the people of the Soviet bloc. … Meanwhile, China is looking to Russia, which may have invented an entirely new model of controlling the Internet without recourse to censorship. Having established full control of traditional media, the Kremlin is now moving full-speed into the virtual world. The authorities' strategy is not new: establish tight control over the leading publishing platforms and fill them with propaganda and spin to shape online public opinion.” Image from

Public engagement key to better image: Spokesman
- Wang Zhuoqiong, China Daily: “For Zhao Qizheng, 2008 will be remembered as the year when China made a mark in ‘public diplomacy’. That is because, last year, the government disseminated timely and accurate information to the public on such major events as the Beijing Olympics, the destructive snowstorms and the devastating May 12 earthquake, Zhao told China Daily on Friday. This helped in boosting the government's standing among its citizens, Zhao, who used to head the State Council Information Office, said.”

Spaniards seek relations with Africa - Administrator, Namibia Economist:

“Casa África is a public consortium sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development and authorities of the Canary Islands ... . Casa África is a new instrument of public diplomacy that aims to become a central reference between Spain, Europe and Africa, which considers the African continent a place of great challenges and enormous opportunities.” Image from

Sweden - reading in February - The Wonderful Adventures of SNIFF: A travel chronicle...:

”Svenska Dagbladet visited a seminar on 100 years of Swedish public diplomacy and dealing with the press. Dagens Nyheter wrote here on the same.” [Note: Both articles are in Swedish]. Image from


Time for Iraq: President Obama's strategy aims at success. Is that a goal congressional Democrats can support? – Editorial, Washington Post: Though Obama opposed the war, his strategy recognizes what has been achieved in Iraq, even at a terrible cost, and aims at preserving it. His party would do well to follow his lead. Image from

Obama's Plan for IraqWashington Post: The Post asked foreign policy experts for their impressions of President Obama's speech at Camp Lejeune on Friday. Contributions are from Randy Scheunemann, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Qubad J. Talabani, Andrew J. Bacevich, Douglas J. Feith, Jessica Mathews and Danielle Pletka.

An End to Baghdad's 'Dark Era': Nightclubs on the City's Famous Abu Nawas Street Are Open Again and Popular -- Even With U.S. Troops - Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post: At Hassan's nightclub, the American soldier danced, arm in arm, with his new Iraqi friends.

A Clean Fight - Timothy Hsia, New York Times: In the last few years, the United States military has become a much more environmentally conscious organization. But these eco-friendly practices need to be applied every place where the military and civilian contractors operate, including Iraq.

From Bush to Obama: Seven Years of Wartime Propaganda
- Anthony DiMaggio, CounterPunch: Whether the American public will be able to effectively hold the Obama Presidency to its pre-election promise to quickly end the war in Iraq is uncertain. One thing, however, is clear. If the public doesn’t place continued pressure on this administration, the U.S. will likely remain in Iraq for many years to come. Image from

War Reporting and Propaganda in Iraq and Afghanistan: The media takes a beating for not reporting on the positive aspects of war; it is a notion that most people who have spent time in a combat theater find ridiculous - Tim King, “I believe that with the right approach, truly setting out to win the hears and minds of the people the right way, we could help Afghanistan greatly. It starts with increasing relations, and keeping American l[i]aisons in place who don't leave the country on cue every 12 months when a deployment ends, effectively terminating any progress that had been made in local relations. Indiscriminate bombing is another huge issue that has turned many of our former allies against us.”

Playing With Fire in Pakistan – Editorial, New York Times: Pakistan must get serious about tackling its problems, including the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Pakistanis need to understand that this is their fight, not just America’s.

The war we gave Mexico: The drugs, guns and culture that fuel the violence all are linked to the U.S. - Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times: If Americans really are concerned about the horrific toll inflicted by Mexico's narco-gangsters, we need to ask some tough questions about our own cultural and political delusions. Image from

Preaching vs. pragmatism - Georgie Anne Geyer, Washington Times: It seems clear that the nation's top diplomat has already thrown away her husband's ideological stances about speaking constantly and largely ineffectively about human rights, and is enthusiastically and effectively adopting President Obama's pragmatic approach to foreign policy.

Welcome to the Toughest Job in Town - David Ignatius, Washington Post: In the end, a National Security Adviser's success depends on his relationship with the person down the hall in the Oval Office. Though Jones and Obama are of different ages and backgrounds, they both seem to like a low-key, deliberative process, and they share a passion for policy reviews. Image from

Obama's Intelligence Blunder - Jon Chait, Washington Post: Obama has made one major mistake that has attracted little public attention: his appointment of Charles Freeman as chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman was attacked by pro-Israel activists, but the contretemps over Freeman's view of Israel misses the broader problem, which is that he's an ideological fanatic.

Oh propaganda, How we adore theeeeeeee!Immorality:

Article about how we misquote to demonize from the most simple contexts from Ahmedinejad. Image from

The DMZ - Where is Cat?? Adventures of Cat the Lawyer... Meow!: Propaganda Town in North Korea. This is hilarious: until 2004, North Korea broadcasted propaganda from this town to the South for six to twelve hours everyday! It is a ghost town as lights turn on and turn off at the same time.

Online propaganda of a generation - Cassie Hepler, Philadelphia Sex & Relationships Examiner: “I'm quite convinced that the Internet will bring more people together but alas; it is shuffling through the bullcrap that is the ultimate downfall.”

PHOTO: Homeless and in love. Photos/wardrobe by S. Jenx. Make up by Krysi King. Models: Cassie Hepler and Scott Staab.