Tuesday, March 24, 2009
"I don’t take photographs, I make them."
--Mannie Garcia, author of the news photograph of Barack Obama used for the President's “Hope” campaign poster
Response to John Brown’s Item: “A Note on Obama and YouTube” - Joan Mower, Director, VOA Public Relations
President Obama’s Opening to Iran: A step in the right direction but Tehran likely to once again miss the opportunity - Christian Koch, Gulf Research Center Analysis, posted on: Snuffysmith's Blog:” With his video message on the occasion of the Iranian New Year Nowruz, US President Barack Obama made a significant gesture to Iran that if properly responded to by the Iranian leadership, holds the potential to reduce tensions in the Gulf region. It is a first step that clearly underlines the current US administration’s determination to initiate a new approach towards Iran that is different from its predecessor’s. It also introduces the critical element of public diplomacy by addressing the Iranian people directly which so far has been sorely missed in US policy towards Tehran. Unfortunately, for various reasons, Iran is unlikely to take advantage of this opportunity.” Image from
An opening to Tehran – Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle: “President Obama let forth the honeyed words in a brief video pitched at Iran, but his message was clear and direct: It's time for both sides to talk, not bluster. … Obama's target audience was not the government, but the Iranian citizenry. His speech was about creating a climate that could lead to less confrontational and more constructive relationship with an emerging power in the region. He is moving in the right direction.”
Appeasement. Appeasement? Appeasement! – Marc, The Art of Restraining Power: “I have been reading Obama's speech to the Iranian people, made on Friday. My thoughts are as follows: • Direct appeal to the Iranian people is good. • As is praise for their culture, history and traditions. • Its thin on policy, but its not really a policy statement. Getting in good with people before you go on a diplomatic offensive is hardly a bad thing. It is also well within Obama's oft publicized strategy, that of using soft power and public diplomacy to gain American ends, and will no doubt be better recieved than Bush's previous sabre-rattling.”
The "Public" in Public Diplomacy - Zathras, comment on David Rothkopf blog, Foreign Policy: "It seems that people with widely divergent ideas about the Iran problem agree that President Obama's message was a good first step on whatever path his administration will end up taking. I agree with this myself. As to the next steps, I would suggest, just as a matter of improving the atmospherics somewhat from our side, that the 'carrots and sticks' metaphor be dispensed with. … Nor, as a practical matter, has 'regime change' in Tehran been an American objective (as opposed to an aspiration of some Americans) for many years. Removal of the phrase from public statements about Iran might also help with the Iranian audience.” Image from
Iran's Khamenei says Obama overture not enough - Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim, Los Angeles Times: "Supreme leader Ali Khamenei says Tehran seeks U.S. policy shifts, not merely 'changes in words.' The U.S., he says, could begin by ending economic sanctions and retracting 'hostile propaganda.'"
OSC: Khamenei's Speech Replying to Obama - Juan Cole, Informed Comment: Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion
Will Obama Listen to Iran's Bloggers? - Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal: “Barack Obama extended the olive branch to Iran's leaders last Friday in a videotaped message praising a 'great civilization' for 'accomplishments' that 'have earned the respect of the United States and the world.' The death of Iranian blogger Omid-Reza Mirsayafi in Tehran's Evin prison two days earlier was, presumably, not among the accomplishments the president had in mind.” Image from
Foreign Service Jobs in Afghanistan to Grow - Karen DeYoung, Washington Post: “The State Department will significantly expand its presence in regional capitals in western and northern Afghanistan in coming months, part of the Obama administration's plans for a 'surge' in civilians going to the country. … An initial group of seven officials will be sent to each of the cities, including public diplomacy, security, management and administrative personnel, as well as 'reporting' officials. A State Department official said that Clinton had 'personally approved' establishing the offices.”
Second place for America in Pakistan - Mosharraf Zaidi Official Web site: “Sending the head of the CIA to Pakistan the day that Pakistan’s chief justice takes back the office that was his all along is so tone-deaf, it makes the US government seem alien, cold and foreign. This is no way to actualise President Barack Obama’s vision of American public diplomacy in the 21st century. All the money at Fort Knox, and all the international political capital of the Barack Obama presidency cannot overturn and undermine the kind of message that a CIA boss’ visit sends to Pakistan.”
A Foreigner in the Mountains - Strider in South America, Magellan Media Network: “Around 8pm, loudspeakers broke Tunal’s isolation with a distinctly Chavista newscast. …
I would expect Chavista media in a small town in Venezuela, but I was surprised to hear this kind of news playing in a small town in the mountains of Peru. However, Tunal’s newscast is but one example of the Venezuelan leader’s publicity efforts in Latin America. … I don’t think that Chavez’s public diplomacy efforts are any more extensive than American attempts have been, but I do wonder whether Uncle Sam ever made it to Tunal.” Image from
Sandalow to Energy — Whither Global Affairs at State? – Charles J. Brown, Undiplomatic: “President Obama has appointed David Sandalow, who was one of several rumored candidates for Undersecretary for Global Affairs (G) in the Department of State, to serve as Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs at the Department of Energy. Congratulations to David, who is an excellent addition to Steven Chu’s team. … I continue to hear rumors that G may be abolished. … I would suggest an alternative: rather than closing G, fold Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy into Global Affairs — after all, public diplomacy is a global issue. The outlier there, however, would be Public Affairs, which doesn’t really fit in that kind of portfolio.”
Whither Public Diplomacy? Sixty-six days (and counting) without an Under Secretary - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: “As we approach the 100-day mark for the Obama Administration and despite the accolades bestowed on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her 'e-Diplomacy' initiatives, as of March 23, 2009, the office of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs has been vacant for 66 days. … If Public Diplomacy were important, wouldn’t it make sense to fill this spot quickly, regardless of the direction it will head? … This is not a balancing act between 'public diplomacy' and 'smart power' as 'smart power' requires effective communication to support and defend intelligent foreign policies, which is, in fact, the reason public diplomacy was institutionalized over sixty years ago. … If the State Department fails to acknowledge their leadership responsibility in engaging global populations, it will continue to cede power and authority to the Defense Department.”
AFRICOM "Voice" Ops - Regrets Only: An Africa Journal: “[Here is] a link to a 2006 article by General Charles Wald, former European Command Deputy Commander who mentioned EUCOM anti-terrorist operations, including OAV and the work of military information support teams. ‘Military information support teams are a great example of interagency cooperation to conduct information operations. Provided to Embassies to support their public diplomacy efforts, these teams are normally made up of four to six uniformed military psychological operations specialists who deploy and work side by side with the country team. Skilled in mass communications and marketing, they perform assorted information activities, from setting up community outreach programs and youth sports leagues to training host-nation military personnel in the conduct of information operations.’” Image from
Operation Objective Voice (Africa) - A Bit More - Africomwatch: "During his recent appearance before Congress to discuss AFRICOM, the commander, General Ward, was asked about Operation Objective Voice. Unfortunately, there was, again, little detail offered -- just an assessment that the Operation is bearing fruit: REP. SHEA-PORTER: Okay. And one last question. Thank you. Operation Objective Voice, getting our message, our ideology across, our goals for democracy. How strong a message are we delivering there right now? Are you able to actually have an impact, or is it still a challenge to communicate like that? GEN. WARD: I think the assessment that we get and how we see those pieces of information that are transmitted through Operation Objective Voice, when those things appear in other media on the continent, it lets us know that people are paying attention, the Africans are paying attention, and then as we get reactions from our embassies -- because we do that in very close coordination with the embassies and the country teams, their public diplomacy sections -- that we get the assessment that it is making a difference, they are listening, and it does cause them to see what goes on from a perspective that reflects that that we would intend for it to be. So I think it is making a difference."
Debate between Australian and American on Merits of War against Islamists - Con George, Nemesis: “American says: C-G Kotzabasis, I’m talking about the hearts and minds issue. There is a hard core of dyed-in-the-wool militant jihadists with an uncompromising Salafist ideology. They are not going to be swayed by US public diplomacy, or by forseeable changes in US policy. They can only be dealt with forcibly. They must either be captured or killed, and their plans must be disrupted. … In my view, the jihadists have been the beneficiaries in recent years of a number of wrong-headed US policies that help their message resonate strongly.” Image from
Online diplomacy has arrived - Maria Lewytzkyj, Examiner.com: “Online diplomacy has arrived. The State Department has its own social networking site, similar to Facebook. It's called ExchangesConnect and it is administered by the department's Bureau of Educational Cultural Affairs. According to Nextgov's Kellie Lunney, it includes blog postings, photos and videos from users across the world who discuss culture, language and global education programs. It's been running since December 2008. The State Department also has a blog, DipNote, where top-level officials discuss policies. … Then-Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy James K. Glassman put together the virtual world Second Life to debate Egyptian bloggers, earlier this year. The result was that 45% of the 200 people who participated in the discussion were from the Middle East.“ Image from
The Imagination Age And Digital Diplomacy - Kaitlin Foley, Brazen Careerist:“Second Life is a virtual world that users can enter from anywhere, create an avatar, and build communities with others. in “Understanding Islam Through Virtual Worlds,” a short documentary that follows dialogues about Islam happening in Second Life, hosts Rita J. King and Joshua S. Fouts … . The makers of ‘Understanding Islam Through Virtual Worlds’ deserve a lot of credit and respect the bold choice to look at Islam from a new, spontaneous approach. I also have to question the purpose of highlighting the virtual world and uprooting Islam from its real-life interpretations if the goal is a new, inclusive global culture and a modern view of the sacred.”
Bruce Nauman Exhibited At Philadelphia Museum - Huliq News: “'Bruce Nauman: Topological Gardens,' the official United States representation at the 53rd International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, will explore thematically the work of one of the most influential living American artists. …
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State (ECA) led the selection process for the artist who will represent the U.S. at the Biennale. … Making U.S. culture more accessible to a broader international public is a major objective of American public diplomacy.” Bruce Nauman image from
The 3-Wheeled Car – Sheraz, The New Diplomacy: The Reflective Blogs Of The Students On The New Diplomacy Module At London Metropolitan University - "[T]his week, we have been asked to consider which is the most important aspect of the new diplomacy based on the discussions in seminars 5 -7. The main topics of these seminars were: public diplomacy, NGO's and their (questionable) role and (questionable) legitimacy and conference diplomacy."
Public Diplomacy Blunder: South Africa Rejects Dalai Lama - Public Diplomacy Journal: "In what can only be described as a public diplomacy blunder, South Africa has denied the Dalai Lama a visa to attend a peace conference, the BBC reports. The conference, which was also set to include Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and F.W. de Klerk was part of a set of events linked to the 2010 Soccer World Cup which will take place in the African country."
Australian Education International - Deputy Director - Eastern Indonesia Blog: Talking about development in eastern Indonesia: "Applications are invited for the position of Deputy Director of the Australian Education International (AEI) Indonesia. … Duty statement … 4. Manage … public diplomacy strategy.”
Obama's Global Op-Ed: "A Time For Global Action" – Huffington Post: More than 30 papers around the world ran an op-ed today by President Obama arguing for "the urgent need for global economic cooperation."
Lessons from most successful schools abroad:
Education trends from other nations are gaining cachet as political and educational leaders strive to bring American schools in line with the demands of the 21st-century global economy - Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, Christian Science Monitor. Image from
Ain't No Sunshine - Stephen F. Hayes, Weekly Standard: Of the approximately 250 detainees currently at Guantanamo, no more than a handful could be counted (in Obama’s words) as "folks that we just swept up." And yet it is the policy of the Obama administration to release some 20 percent of them so that they might "make a future for themselves" back in their home countries.
Robbing the Pentagon to Pay Foggy Bottom - Jamie Fly, Weekly Standard: There are a multitude of reasons that cutting defense at this juncture is a bad idea.
The Long-War Generals - Jeff Huber, Antiwar.com: Obama played into the long-war strategy by insisting he would finish the job in Afghanistan. Now his generals are pushing him into an aimless escalation of that conflict that will likely make us the latest superpower to embalm itself in that part of the world.
Combat and Community - David Brooks, New York Times: When you put more boots on the ground, you not only augment your army’s firing power, you give it the capacity to experiment. A few years ago, the good guys had only vague ideas about how to win this war. Now they’re much smarter.
As US public sours on Afghanistan, Obama calls for 'exit strategy' The president said the US cannot stay indefinitely - Jonathan Adams, Christian Science Monitor
Afghanistan: Waiting for the "Exit Strategy" - Robert Dreyfuss, Nation: Various reports leaking out about Obama's Afghan strategy suggest that Vice President Biden and Bruce Riedel, the former CIA officer in charge of the review, are leaning toward the "minimalist" view -- that the US cannot rebuild the whole country and repair its shattered society, and that as long as Al Qaeda is defanged, we've "won." On the other hand, General Petraeus, Centcom commander, and Richard Holbrooke, the special envoy, want a much bigger strategy.
The Mexican-American War of 2009 – Editorial, Washington Times: The Mexican trade war may just be getting revved up, thanks to the Obama administration and the Democrat-controlled Congress ending a Bush administration pilot program that allowed a limit of 97 Mexican long-haul truck drivers into the United States (whereas, under NAFTA, all Mexican trucks meeting reasonable road standards should have been allowed access).
As Mexico goes, so goes the US: Congress and Obama finally wake up to Calderón's bold war on drug cartels - Editorial Board, Christian Science Monitor: Mexico can't reform its society -- and end the flow of migrants to the US -- without America's help in smashing the drug cartels.
The Mexican Evolution - Enrique Krauze, New York Times: While we bear responsibility for our problems, the caricature of Mexico being propagated in the United States only increases the despair on both sides of the Rio Grande. Image from
For Russia, More Than A 'Reset' - Anne Applebaum, Washington Post: The profound differences in psychology, philosophy and policy that have been the central source of friction between the American and Russian governments for the past decade remain very much in place. Sooner or later, the Obama administration will have to grapple with them.
Russia: Unclenching its fist? Improved Polish-Russian ties bode well for the US - Elizabeth Pond, Christian Science Monitor
Obama’s Plan to Save the World - Scott Ritter, Truthdig: The potential catastrophe that global climate change could unleash on America makes every other foreign policy crisis pale in comparison.
From: Christopher Knight, Review: Shepard Fairey at ICA Boston” Los Angeles Times