Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 7

"The minister corrected our word choice. But in a way, the word that was on the button turns out to be also true. We are resetting, and because we are resetting, the minister and I have an 'overload' of work."

--Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responding to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov's observation that "peregruzka" [перегрузка]

-- the Russian word on the reset button the Secretary gave him as a gift meant to be humorous -- meant "overloaded" or "overcharged" rather than "reset"; image from; rough translation of caption: "Reactor overload: power purge in 5...4..."; see also; in addition, see Princess Sparkle Pony


Foreign Policy: Sen. Lugar Urges The U.S. To Seek To Win Hearts And Minds Again With Public Diplomacy - The Common Ground Blog: "In an Op-Ed for Foreign Policy Magazine, Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana analyzed the deterioration of the opinion of people around the world for the United States and Americans. … Global public opinion towards the U.S. is alarmingly low and while we complain about this, our allies as well as our enemies us public diplomacy such as cultural centers to boost opinion of themselves around the world. Lugar urges the United States to push their best and brightest to be more involved in public diplomacy." Image from

U.S.-Iran: Both Sides Must Work Hard for Relations - Interview by Fariba Amini, Payvand's Iran News ...: Dave Nalle: “In 1960 … I undertook my second Iranian assignment, this time to Tehran. ‎The political atmosphere had turned cloudy -- more ambiguous. My new job was as ‎Director of the Iran-America Society (IAS) in Tehran. … The IAS had enjoyed a positive reputation in Tehran for a number of years, with ‎prominent Iranians volunteering to serve on its board. At this time we had an enrollment ‎of 5000 paying students in our English classes, held in a rented building near the ‎University of Tehran. Income from tuition went toward teachers' salaries and to support ‎cultural programs in the main IAS building, but it had to be supplemented by annual ‎grants we sought from the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) in Washington. In fact, ‎some of the hostage-takers of 1979 later acknowledged that the Society was where they ‎had acquired English competence! ‎ … It would be surprising if the traumatic history of American-Iranian relations had not ‎given rise to healthy skepticism on both sides. I see no compelling reason, however, why ‎that skepticism cannot eventually be replaced by political and cultural diplomacy in the ‎service of enlightened self-interest." On David Nalle, see.

US rethinks Cuba approach: Door opening for increased cultural exchange - Jeremy Faulkner, Cultural Diplomacy News: “In the absence of official diplomacy between the US and Cuban News, the tools of cultural diplomacy have been a significant avenue for bridging the two societies. Indeed, many Americans and Cubans have been able to experience each other’s societies--vicariously or otherwise--exclusively through culturally diplomatic means. Academic visas are the easiest, often the only, way for Americans to travel to Cuba. Whilst Cuban music has an acclaimed position in American and world audiences.”

Ozomatli Sign With Mercer Street - New Downtown Music Imprint: Ozomatli currently in the studio recording new music for '09 release US State Department trip now confirmed for May '09 With Ozo performances in Myanmar, Vietnam and RussiaJamBase: “The band has … just confirmed they will once again be serving as US Cultural Ambassadors, in May of this year, with a US State Department trip slated for Ozomatli performances in Rangoon, Myanmar, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, and Vladivostok, Russia. Ozomatli has previously served this role in a series of government-sponsored international tours to Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East - tours that linked Ozomatli to a tradition of cultural diplomacy that includes the esteemed likes of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Louis Armstrong.”

Cultural diplomacy - Marisa Mazria-Katz, Financial Times: “Alicia B Adams, vice-president of international programming for Washington DC's Kennedy Center … has curated the largest Middle Eastern arts and culture festival in American history. Eight hundred singers, dancers, painters, musicians and actors have been invited to take part in a three-week event set to expose America's capital to the region's most innovative artists.”

Vietnam, Laos to do cultural week crossover - Thanh Nien Daily: “The first Vietnam Cultural Week in Laos is expected to take place in late August to celebrate Vietnam’s National Day (September 2) and the Year of Cultural Diplomacy 2009. Vietnam will hold a Lao Cultural Week in 2011.”

2008 challenging but fruitful for diplomacy: Xinhua: “Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said on Saturday that 2008 was a year of 'good harvest'

despite ‘enormous challenges’ for China's diplomacy. … He said more attention this year should be given to diplomacy in specific fields such as economic, security, cultural and public diplomacy.” Image from

Posting will resume next week – Matt Armtrong, Mountain Runner: “Back from DC where I gave a presentation titled 'Network at Network Speed: the Power of Now Media' at an off-site for a USG (not State or Defense) organization. The presentation combined my presentations on public diplomacy and strategic communication by USG and overseas, including insurgents and terrorists and the utility of social media while understanding technology is not a silver bullet. I challenged the client to think about their product (not widgets but ideas, 'hope' as the principal put it) and the value of engaging internal and external resources, clients, constituents, supporters, etc. through social media and thinking of ways to leverage the merging of 'old' and 'new' media.”


Telegraph: "Obama just plain rude to Britain" - Editors, Atlantic Review: Iain Martin writes in his blog for the Telegraph (HT: Marie-Claude): The morning papers and TV last night featured plenty of comment focused on the White House's very odd and, frankly, exceptionally rude treatment of a British PM. (...) Well, the next time you need something doing, something which impinges on your national security, then try calling the French, or the Japanese, or best of all the Germans. This post has received 453 comments so far. Will President Obama soon be as unpopular as President Bush? Probably not, but he is heading to Clinton's approval ratings, which were not as good during his presidency as they are now in his retirement and philanthropist activities. Image from

A Reckoning at Bagram: Mr. Obama must give those held at the Afghan air base a way to challenge their detentions - Editorial, Washington Post

Afghanistan Is Better Than You Think - Max Boot, Commentary: But even before the 17,000 additional U.S. troops arrive, the situation is hardly critical. Kabul and the other major cities are safe, and even large swathes of the countryside are hardly infested by insurgents.

Can Obama Avoid a Quagmire in Afghanistan? - Joe Klein, Time:

Traditionally, Presidents favor more troops — and precipitously lose public support. In this case, Obama's margin for error is minuscule, given the enormity of the economic crisis. He simply can't get bogged down in Afghanistan. And he simply can't allow al-Qaeda and the Taliban free rein. And every option in between seems either a gamble or a fantasy. Image from

A Myopic Bargain: The Pakistani Monster - Wajahat Ali, CounterPunch: The tempestuous relationship between the United States and Pakistan is akin to a sordid soap opera featuring a fickle, selfish lover and her unpredictable mistress prone to volatile tantrums. The ensuing violence and instability paralyzing Central Asia is their inevitable progeny.

The Syria Temptation—and Why Obama Must Resist It - Bret Stephens, Commentary: The regime in Damascus has offered no indication that it is prepared to accept Israel’s right to exist, or respect Lebanon’s sovereignty, or abandon its links to terrorism or to Iran. Instead, for nearly two decades, Syria has offered only indications to the contrary.. For Israel to engage in such a process risks its status as a sovereign, self-respecting nation, one that is nobody’s fool. And for the United States to do so risks the diminishment of its status as a serious power and a reliable ally.

Call to 'Resist and Deter' Nuclear Iran Gains Key Support - Jim Lobe, A new report on how the United States should "resist and deter" Iran's alleged ambitions to acquire a nuclear-weapons capability by a think tank closely tied to the so-called "Israel Lobby" has been endorsed by two key officials who are expected to exercise major influence on Iran policy in the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama. The 10-page report, which was released here Wednesday by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), argues that the United States should engage with Iran diplomatically but at the same time ratchet up pressure on many other fronts if it fails to heed demands to suspend and eventually abandon its uranium enrichment program. Image from

The age of Friendaholism: With Facebook, Twitter, etc., what kinds of 'friends' do you really have? - Meghan Daum, Los Angeles Times:

In the mind of the friendaholic, having one friend you can count on apparently just isn't as fun as having thousands of friends to count up.


“I hate Facebook and everyone on it, including my friends."

--Matt Labash, “Down with Facebook! What nobody bothers to mention about the social-networking site is that it's really dull--mind-numbingly dull," Weekly Standard; image from

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