Sunday, March 1, 2009

March 1

“The world today can be much better understood if you think of it from the perspective of regions and not states.”

--Gen. Jim Jones, President Obama’s national security adviser; image from

"I'm not English, just affected."

--Stella Adler, Marlon Brando's acting coach, in reply to a saleswoman in a department store who assumed that she was British; cited in The Times Literary Supplement, February 20, p. 12


Senate Foreign Relations Committee pushes Public Diplomacy and issues a report full of recommendations - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner.

Art = Heritage? – Morgan, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy:

“Cultural heritage can be a very touchy subject which can have significant PD implications. While a lot of people may never hear about or relate to PD efforts outside their country, cultural artifacts are something they can identify with and they are also an issue which is fought out in the media providing wider access to the general populace.” Image from

Diplomatic Surge? Part III – The dilemma of smart power - daryl.copeland, Guerilla Diplomacy: “Here I refer to the essential differences, and perhaps especially several of the less appreciated ones, between the nature and agency of hard and soft power. The former is associated principally with the armed forces, and the latter with diplomacy, in general, and public diplomacy, in particular. When the two power sources and international policy instruments are compared, the obstacles and constraints to effective communications collaboration become clearer.” Image from

A word of caution to Obama: ‘Bush govt’s bully-boy attitude sadly polarized our world’ - Daily Sun, Nigeria: “The US administration needs to reach out to other nations, build bridges, listen. Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, have spoken of the importance of smart power and the role of cultural diplomacy in their foreign policy toolbox. The sounds and gestures coming from them are most welcome, but they must now carry through on these.”

Secretary of the Arts? You betcha!! - Arnie Birren, The Leader: “While in the campaign trail, the Obama/Biden camp created 'A Platform In Support Of The Arts,' (for details, visit Chief among these pledges is reinvesting in arts education, promoting cultural diplomacy and increasing funding for the NEA. … Instead of creating an entirely new department though, which would cost untold millions, work with the infrastructure already in place. Arts education could be funneled through the Department of Education. Cultural diplomacy might have offices in the State Department, Defense, Energy, even the INS.” Image from

The NY Philharmonic Begins Their Winter U.S. Tour 2009 - Broadway World: “Long a leader in American musical life, the [New York] Philharmonic has over the last century become renowned around the globe, appearing in 422 cities in 59 countries on five continents.

In February 2008 the Orchestra, led by Music Director Lorin Maazel, gave a historic performance in Pyongyang, Democratic People's Republic of Korea - the first visit there by an American orchestra, and an event watched around the world and for which the Philharmonic received the 2008 Common Ground Award for Cultural Diplomacy.” Image from

ASEAN: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations - Julie Ginsberg, Council on Foreign Relations: “The global economic downturn may also motivate the United States and ASEAN to pursue more robust ties. If China successfully weathers the storm and reaches out to its harder-hit neighbors--as it already does with aid, cultural diplomacy, and infrastructure development, Dalpino [Catharin Dalpino, a visiting associate professor of Southeast Asian studies at Georgetown University] says--it will increase its already considerable geopolitical sway in the region.”

Our Masked Ambassadors: Traditional khon dancers perform in France in a bid to restore confidence in Thailand - Yingyong Un-Anongrak, Bangkok Post: "Khon mask dancing is considered to be one of Thailand's most exquisite art forms, and now it has become an unparalleled cultural ambassador for the country. A troupe of khon performers from the Fine Arts Department performed in France during the international Ramayana festival, on Jan 30 and 31. They were sent to help promote cultural diplomacy and to help improve Thailand's image and restore confidence in the government and the economy." PHOTO: ON GUARD: Ravana holds his mask ready in the wings.

Los Espanoles To Colonize Us AgainimAfreakin'Realist! - “[T]here is this partnership between Spain and Philippines that Filipino children are to learn Spanish as a third language by June I think … . But what do you reckon our forefathers … would say about this modern colonization or what I prefer to call a public diplomacy ? … . [I]f people will learn it, Spanish will just turn out to be overrated, common, ordinary and mainstream.” Image from


If Edward Bernays Were Obama's PR Counsel – Nancy Snow, Huffington Post: Larry Tye is the author of The Father of Spin: Edward R. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations. Regarding Barack Obama, Tye doesn't think that Bernays would have much to counsel 44 about political persuasion and propaganda. "If Edward Bernays were the father of spin, then Obama is the son," he says. Image from

Those two months made all the difference – Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: The most amazing thing about Obama's Iraqi plan may be that it appears to command such wide-spread support and has been received with a collective yawn from the assembled punditry class. This is particularly amazing because if you ignore the spin, the plan he announced yesterday is virtually identical to the one he presented throughout the election campaign. Below image from

Obama's line in the sand – Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle: President Obama's 18-month deadline for withdrawing the bulk of American troops from Iraq meets the test of prudence and moderation. It sets this nation on a course to end a needless, costly conflict as he pledged.

Super (Sub) Secretaries - Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times: Secretary of State Clinton has invented new diplomatic positions that say a great deal about the state of foreign policy in these messy times. Mrs. Clinton has appointed three Super Sub-Secretaries -- George Mitchell to handle Arab-Israel negotiations, Richard Holbrooke to manage Afghanistan-Pakistan affairs and Dennis Ross to coordinate Iran policy.

Iraqi leaders welcome U.S. troop withdrawal plan - CNN

Drawdown Plan May Leave Combat Brigades in Iraq - Gareth Porter,

Obama's Wrong About Iraq - Benjamin Sarlin, Daily Beast: Today, the president announced he would pull all combat troops out of Iraq by August 2010. Thomas Ricks, author of an acclaimed new book about the war, thinks that’s a pipe dream and that Obama is suffering a case of Bush-like optimism.

Spock at the Bridge - Maureen Dowd, New York Times: The confident and unsentimental Mr. Obama has redefined the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan around endgames. Image from

How to win in Afghanistan - Ali Ahmad Jalali, Washington Times: Positively working towards practicable democracy, not dejectedly refocusing on a "new realism," is the correct strategy that will allow us to win in Afghanistan. Ali Ahmad Jalali is Afghanistan's former interior minister (January 2003-October 2005).

U.S. deaths in Afghanistan on the rise - AP, USA Today— U.S. deaths in Afghanistan increased threefold during the first two months of 2009 compared with the same period last year, after thousands more troops deployed and commanders ramped up winter operations against an increasingly violent insurgency.

The Other Side of the Coin: Is the US Taking on the Neo-Taliban and Missing the Point? - Peter Lee, CounterPunch: The Obama administration should think twice before assuming that injecting more money, arms, and foreigners into Afghanistan is going to solve the problem. Image from

Shouldn't MoveOn Oppose Obama on Afghanistan? - John Nichols, Nation/Common Dreams

Iran, the Jews and Germany - Roger Cohen, International Herald Tribune: Iran has not waged an expansionary war in more than two centuries. It's worth recalling that hateful, ultra-nationalist rhetoric is no Iranian preserve.

Those RFID passport chips are secure? Really? Think again - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View: Now that we have a new administration in Washington with an attitude that seems to put people, not Dick Cheney’s, security first, it seems to me that a reexamination of the rush to RFID our travel documents without really caring should be put on the review agenda at State and also Homeland Security.

Europa Editions Finds Success Translating Literary Novels - Motoko Rich, New York Times: It does not sound like a recipe for publishing success: a roster of translated literary novels written mainly by Europeans, relying heavily on independent-bookstore sales, without an e-book or vampire in sight.

But that is the formula that has fueled Europa Editions, a small publisher founded by a husband-and-wife team from Italy five years ago. As large New York publishing houses have laid off staff, suffered drastically reduced book sales and struggled to adjust to a digital future, Europa turned its first profit last year and is enjoying a modest but growing following. Image from

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