"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue."
--François de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680); image from
How Do I Save My Honor?: War, Moral Integrity, and Principled Resignation - William F. Felice. Published by Rowman & Littlefield, 2009
Rebooting America’s Global Image Not Going Well: Maybe instead of a reboot, we’re just getting the boot - Mona Charen, National Review: “On the occasion of the Persian New Year, President Obama delivered a video message to the Iranian people and government, advisedly using the term 'the Islamic Republic of Iran.' Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s response was, well, a little less than enthusiastic. … The new dawn for relations with Europe is slow to materialize too. … Secretary of State Clinton presented a cutesy 'reset' button to the Russian ambassador. But apparently the State Department had gotten the Russian word wrong. Instead of 'reset' it said 'overcharge.' The North Koreans seem ready to launch a new long-range missile. … Recession notwithstanding, China is very aggressively increasing its military spending.”
Travels with Hillary, Part One - Warren Strobel, Nukes & Spooks: “Public diplomacy is a more important part of the secretary of state's job than that of any other senior U.S. official except the president. …
As she increasingly assumes her diplomatic mantle, I wouldn't be surprised to see her retreat into caution and diplomatic code. Clinton moves fast. All secretaries of state are required, by virture of foreign opinion and good taste, to do 'events' that go beyond official meetings--touring local cultural sites, meeting youth groups, etc. Some embrace it more than others. … Clinton seems to genuinely enjoy these encounters. And she does A LOT of them. In our less than 36 hours in Mexico, along with the official meetings and press conferences, she did the following: met with indigenous students; held a dinner with women leaders; toured the basilica; paid a visit to a Mexican Federal Police base; gave a speech and took questions at a technology unviersity in Monterrey; and went to a renewable energy plant.” Image from
Iran: Change in Substance Faces Tough Challenges – Swoop: “President Obama’s videotaped message to the Iranian people and, most importantly, the clerical leadership on the occasion of the Iranian New Year Nowruz, is the latest in a series of gestures that aim to soften or even reverse the policies of the Bush Administration. While this address introduces the critical element of public diplomacy by an American President directly engaging Iran, there are some who maintain that from an Iranian perspective, the American gesture is still perceived as dictating the rules of the game rather than engaging in a genuine dialogue.”
Obama Incentivizes Success in Pakistan, Not Failure - Rob Asghar, Huffington Post: “Obama’s move to offer Pakistan $1.5 billion in economic aid over the next five years represents a major step forward in public diplomacy, soft power and inner resolve. Resentments won’t heal immediately. My most recent visits to Pakistan were peppered with angry declarations from citizens about how America continues to see how Pakistan has been drained by the influx of millions of refugees from Afghanistan after the U.S.-funded war against the Soviets there. They rage about a sense of powerlessness. … Still, Obama deserves considerable credit for his balance of carrot and stick in that supremely chaotic part of the world.” Image from
10 terms not to use with Muslims: There's a big difference between what we say and what they hear - Chris Seiple, Christian Science Monitor: “As President Obama considers his first speech in a Muslim majority country (he visits Turkey April 6-7), and as the US national security establishment reviews its foreign policy and public diplomacy, I want to share the advice given to me from dear Muslim friends worldwide regarding words and concepts that are not useful in building relationships with them. … 1. 'The Clash of Civilizations.' … 2. 'Secular.' ... 3. 'Assimilation.' ... 4. 'Reformation.' ... 5. 'Jihadi.' ... 6. 'Moderate.' ... 7. 'Interfaith.' ... 8. 'Freedom.' ... 9. 'Religious Freedom.' 10. 'Tolerance.'"
Freedom in Muslim Countries: An Endangered Species - Jennifer S. Bryson, Public Discourse: “Egypt is one of the very largest recipients in the world of U.S. foreign assistance—annually over 800 million dollars in development assistance, and over a billion dollars, each year, for military hardware. We might want to re-evaluate whether this is an effective investment of U.S. money. Consider the irony. When a congressional committee held a hearing on 'Strategic Communication and Countering Ideological Support for Terrorism,' (CIST) a Public Diplomacy official informed Congress that cornerstones of Department of State’s CIST efforts include use of the Internet and empowering moderate Muslims. While these are laudable efforts, one wonders what the point of them is when simultaneously the very same U.S. government is using large amounts of taxpayer money to support one of the world’s greatest 'Internet Enemies' as it censors, harasses, and imprisons moderate Muslims. We are feeding the hand that bites us.” Image from
Bi-Partisan National Security and Foreign Policy Analysis - Marcus T., Shatter Politic: “Because the great majority of fighters are local, the Afghan insurgency can afford not to 'win hearts and minds' as much as an organization like Al Qa’ida in Iraq. However, it does have a very coherent psychological strategy aimed at aligning its international public diplomacy and public affairs, recruitment, psychological and tactical missions under an umbrella of Pashtun nationalism and religious fervor."
Scholar Discusses Media in Islamic World - The Kansas Progress: “Mohammed Ibahrine, assistant professor, School of Humanities and Social Science, Al Akhawayn University, Ifrane, Morocco, will be the Johnson County Community College scholar in residence April 13-17. Ibahrine will give two free public lectures [among them]:
U.S. Public Diplomacy Toward Islamic Countries: New Realities, Old Challenges?, 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, in the M.R. and Evelyn Hudson Auditorium of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art." Image from
State Department official discusses public diplomacy issues – UDaily: “4:35 p.m., March 27, 2009----As the latest speaker in the University of Delaware's series 'Global Agenda 2009,' Dana Shell Smith spoke to a full house in Mitchell Hall Wednesday, March 25, about public diplomacy and the new role she will assume as the media liaison for the U.S. State Department. Her presentation was entitled 'Dousing the flames: Public diplomacy in action.' … Shell Smith also provided a synopsis of ways the U.S. can be most effective in public diplomacy efforts in the Middle East. First, policy changes, although they are beyond the direct control of the public diplomacy office, will have an enormous impact on public opinion overseas. Second, she said the U.S. has to listen to these opinions and not just talk over them or ignore them. Third, speaking the language of the countries with whom the U.S. is trying to communicate will show them the respect we have for their cultures. Finally, Shell Smith spoke at length about the importance of transparency, which is the concept of not merely sharing information with the people of the Middle East, but also being clear and credible about why policies are formed, and how and why decisions are made in the U.S.”
Upcoming Event: "Practice of Public Diplomacy: A Pakistani Perspective" - Center for Science and International Affairs: “Harvard students, staff, faculty - … April 3, 2009 … The Harvard Public Diplomacy PIC [?] aims to engage and cultivate public diplomacy practitioners within the HKS [?] student body and the Harvard University community. Public diplomacy is state diplomacy directed towards foreign publics and includes: communications with international audiences, cultural programs, educational exchanges, and countering ideological support for terrorism. … Dr. Maleeha Lodhi [the lecturer] is among the most accomplished female professionals in the Muslim world, with extensive experience in diplomacy, media, and teaching.” Dr. Lodhi image from
Cutting Ties With MCB: A Solution to Extremism? - Radwa Khorshid - IslamOnline.net: “'No one can deny the British Government’s right to break its ties with the MCB [Muslim Council of Britain]; however, it should beware of the impact of this on its public diplomacy towards the wider Muslim community in the UK,' explained Asem, one British Muslim who received a Masters of Law (LLM) from the London School of Economics."
Cultural Diplo Conference and Goras in the Outfield – Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I spent the day at the Cultural Diplomacy: Clash or Conversation? symposium, put on by APDS [Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars]. … Anyway, I chatted for a bit with Dr. Richard Arndt, the Emperor of Cultural Diplomacy before the conference kicked off. He is the author of The First Resort of Kings, our handbook on US cultural diplomacy, and was there as a keynote speaker. … Dr. Arndt … said, ‘the enemy of public diplomacy is quick fix thinking, or thinking that a single person can somehow change the image.’ … Anyway, the conference continued with a panel on ‘Presenting America to the World: The Public-Private Partnership,’ featuring Tracey Alexander- the producer of The Grid, our Diplomat in Residence Mark Smith and Dr. Darius Udrys- the development manager of Center for Civic Education, with Chairman Cull as the moderator (Nick has a penchant for a Chairman Mao shirt, too cool). … After lunch, we were treated to a concert by Sabina, of improv Bach and Azeri folk along with a frame drumer. Then we had a panel on ‘Global Approaches to Cultural Diplomacy’ with the aforementioned violinist, plus Sharon Memis- the director of the British Council North America, and also the curator of the USC libraries, Andrew Wulf.” Image from
Make Hay While Obama Is There - Edward Lozansky, Russia Blog: “Russia's Historically Poor Use of 'Soft Power' [:] It should be noted that in Russia these issues are not nearly as busily discussed, particularly at the think tank and NGO level, as they should be. This weakens Russia’s position, as the American and European publics are not getting the whole story and objective information. No one is sure where Russia’s interests lie and what compromises the Russian side would be prepared to make, while the U.S. media is busy focusing on the negatives in the relationship. Improving the Relationship - World Russia Forum [:] Several individuals from the Russian diaspora in the United States intend to improve the present situation through their own 'public diplomacy', by organizing the World Russia Forum scheduled for April 27 – 28, 2009 at the U.S. Senate auditorium in Washington, D.C. “
Obama's public overexposure; Time to leave the role of court jester to someone else -
Washington Times. Image from
Obama, NATO, and Restoration of US 'Leadership' - Joseph Gerson, Common Dreams: Powerful sectors of the U.S. elite backed Obama because they believe he can consolidate what remains of U.S. hegemony and relegitimate U.S. "leadership." A conceptual pillar of the restorationist project is the work of Joseph Nye, who coined the term "smart power" that has been repeatedly used by Obama and Clinton to prepare U.S. and other nations for the use "hard" as well as "soft" power.
"Life is Very Hard, and Our Future Seems Far Away": A Letter to Obama From a Guantánamo Uighur - Andy Worthington, CounterPunch
Obama's new way forward in Pakistan and Afghanistan: An administration white paper argues that the core goal of the U.S. must be to uproot al-Qaida from its safe havens in Pakistan – Salon: "Editor's note: The Interagency Policy Group's Report on U.S. Policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, reproduced [in] below [link] was released March 27."
What Obama Couldn't Say About Af-Pak - Michael Crowley, Nation: America's biggest problems, and most promising approaches, reside in areas that can't be discussed openly and candidly. That's because they are murky, unpleasant, and morally complex--not the stuff of a bold speech to the nation.
A New Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan - Max Boot, Commentary: The President's new Afghanistan policy takes a bold step in the right direction, even if his rhetoric remains confusing.
Obama Got Afghanistan/Pakistan Right - Jon Soltz, Huffington Post: Maybe most importantly, this president has given up the pipe dream of setting up a European-style democracy in Afghanistan, and instead has refocused our goals on a more urgent mission - protecting America and the world from terrorism.
The Price of Realism: President Obama's plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan is ambitious and expensive. It is also hard-headed – Editorials, Washington Post: Mr. Obama is ordering not just a major increase in U.S. troops, but also an ambitious effort at nation-building in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is right to do it.
The Remembered War – Editorial, New York Times: It was greatly encouraging simply to see the president actually focusing on this war and placing it in the broader regional framework that has been missing from American policy.
Obama vs. Al Qaeda – Editorial, Boston Globe: The president is charting a sensible way of dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan -- the crucible of Sept. 11.
Graveyard Myths - Peter Bergen, New York Times: Afghanistan is no longer the graveyard of any empire. Rather, it just might become the model of a somewhat stable Central Asian state.
Mr. Obama's Surge: He'll need some of Bush's fortitude to resist the crossfire from left and right - Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal:
Denying the "Afpak" border as a safe haven for al Qaeda and the worst Taliban elements will tax the patience of an already war-weary American public. We believe the war is winnable. Image from
Obama's Afghan Plan Could Be Worse - Robert Dreyfuss, Nation: Of course, the real exit strategy is a political settlement with the insurgents. Obama himself said: "The road ahead will be long and there will be difficult days ahead." True, that.
'Lower your sights' is the wrong vision for Afghanistan: As U.S. officials talk down our goals, Afghans are listening and wondering what happened to our promises - Sarah Chayes, Los Angeles Times: Additional troops are desperately needed, and they should be deployed to protect the population rather than focused on hunting high-value targets or trying to seal off Afghanistan's borders. Development assistance, well targeted and monitored, is also crucial.
For Obama, Three Afghanistan Tests - Jackson Diehl, Washington Post: For the moment, Afghanistan is emerging as a country with a U.S.-trained army that will tower over all other institutions -- with potential consequences that can easily be seen in the history of American-trained armies in Latin America.
Saving Afghanistan: Even though the situation on the ground is better than most people think, the war is on track to be the longest in U.S. history. Americans, says one Army general, need to show "strategic patience" - Robert D. Kaplan, Atlantic
The Holes in Obama's Afghanistan Plan - Leslie H. Gelb, Daily Beast: In the private deliberations leading up to today’s speech, Obama repeatedly told his principal advisers that they needed “an exit strategy.” Where is it? Above image from
Welcome to "Obama's War" - Tom Andrews, Huffington Post: “[A]s I watched President Obama announce his "Af-Pak" policy as Secretaries Clinton and Gates watched approvingly at his side[,] I can't shake this sinking feeling that what has now become "Obama's War" is a one-way ticket into a quagmire that will undermine if not destroy all too many of the things that we need the president to accomplish on his watch.”
Don't Go There Mr. President! - Tom Hayden, Nation: Sending 17,000 or 21,000 more US troops to Afghanistan will not protect Americans against Al Qaeda attacks.
Obama's Afghan quagmire deepens: The US president inherited a mess in Afghanistan, but he needs to bring some order to his mish-mash of policies for the country - Simon Tisdall, guardian.co.uk
The US Should Fear Its Friends - Ivan Eland, Antiwar.com: Instead of surging forces and trainers to Afghanistan and aid to Pakistan, Obama needs to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan -- sooner rather than later -- and to drastically narrow his goal: to merely guarantee that al-Qaeda cannot use Afghanistan or Pakistan as a launching point for attacks on the United States.
Afghanistan: The Four Questions - Robert Naiman, Common Dreams: It matters little in the big scheme of things, how many new troops President Obama announces. If there is no real change in policy, new troops won't accomplish anything. If there is a real change in policy, any success will be due much more to the policy change than to the "troop surge" under the cover of which the policy change takes place.
Deeper And Deeper – Andrew Sullivan, Atlantic: The president's decision to double-down on Afghanistan could multiplies our enemies, drag us further into the Pakistan nightmare, and will never Westernize a place like Afghanistan without decades-long imperial engagement.
AF"Lack" -- NATO's AWOL Allies in Afghanistan - Marc Ginsberg, Huffington Post: Afghanistan is not the only challenge facing NATO, but it is the most imporant, and how Europeans empirically/objectively/tangibly respond to the Obama Doctrine will have a telling impact on the future of trans-Atlantic relations.
Plain talk about drug war – Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle: Over the past months, Mexico was assailed as a "failed state," the ultimate diplomatic slap, because its corrupt government was overwhelmed by drug gangs. By speaking up about American drug use, Clinton is acknowledging the scope of the problem and reconnecting with a neighbor, ally and major trading partner.
How Bush Pushed North Korea to Nukes - Gordon Prather, Antiwar.com
-- 1. Lenin, Vladimir Il’ich (N. Lenina). CHTO DIELAT [What is to be done]? NABOLIEVSHIE VOPROSY NASHEGO DVIZHENIIA. Stuttgart : Verlag von J.H.W. Dietz, 1902. 1st edition. Cloth, Small 8vo, 144 pages. 24 cm. In Russian. OCLC lists 5 copies worldwide (Harvard, Yale, Michigan, New York Univ, Wisconsin). Bound in period boards, with light wear, stains, & spine label to boards, Bund stamp on title page, all internal pages clean and tight.$500.00