Thursday, July 16, 2009

July 16

"Well, I'm not going to get into -- anybody's opinion, I'm not going to criticize anybody's opinion, least of all a former president of the United States, on something like this. I -- I am not clear whether the president has seen that. I don't -- I don't know where that was from, so I don't -- I don't -- I don't know if the president has seen that. …

I'm happy to -- I mean, I think -- I think the president has answered this question a number of times. I can't form a basis for why former President Clinton -- I've obviously not had a conversation with him on this issue, so I -- I don't know what -- it's hard for me to compare some of this, because I don't know the basis by which he's making that decision."

--White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, answering press inquiries regarding former president Clinton’s remarks on same-sex marriage; image from


Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’ Library and Documentation Centre: Literature on Public Diplomacy


By Yale Richmond (pp. 42-47) and John Jacobs (p. 64) in Russian Life, July/August 2009 (no link); image from


Political Punch: Power, pop, and probings from ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper - "We were joined at the top of the briefing by Judith McHale, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, who talked about the Obama administration’s outreach efforts surrounding his trip to Russia, Italy, and Ghana. (We’ll have more on that in a separate blog post.): … MCHALE: Well, we're not just using new media. One of the points that I wanted to make in the Africa situation is that new media will work in certain places, but it's a tool, not a strategy, and I believe that quite passionately. And so we're going to use it where appropriate to reach certain targeted demographics.” See also. Image from

America's legitimacy crisis in Asia - Van Jackson, "President Barack Obama’s charisma and message of change has won over much of the world. His new approach to the Middle East and Afghanistan has helped improve once-strained relationships with longtime allies.

And his vision of a world free from nuclear weapons is at once ambitious and inspiring. But for all the hype about improving America’s image in the world, some of the most strategically important nations still view the United States quite unfavorably. Rather than celebrating President Obama’s success in winning over the hearts and minds of those countries already inclined to add America as a Facebook friend, the Obama administration should focus on making public diplomacy inroads into strategically important countries with a history of enmity toward the United States. … It is time for a soft power offensive. A transformation of U.S. policy toward Asia--and particularly toward North Korea, China, Pakistan, and Russia--would likely have the most dramatic effect in terms of swaying public opinion in these countries (acknowledged, North Korean public opinion is largely irrelevant under the current regime). Still, substantive policy changes are not the only way to improve perception of the United States. Symbolic diplomatic visits, increased development aid, and expanded track II diplomacy can all contribute to improved perceptions of the United States and, subsequently, improved relations with historically hostile nations." Image from

A Public Diplomacy Program off the Rails – John Burgess, Crossroads Arabia: "CNN reports on a youth exchange program—one of the more important aspects of America’s public diplomacy efforts—that turned into a disaster for a handful of teenage students. There are two issues underlying the problems identified. First, State Department, which sanctions various programs and provides financial funding, relies on hosting organizations to police themselves. Second, it does not have a useful mechanism to verifying what those organizations report. Apparently, State also lacks a mechanism through which concerned—but not legally involved—citizens or groups can complain about abuses, but that is minor relative to the lack of its own monitoring process." Image from

Reporter's Notebook: USNS Comfort Spawns Countless Stories - Fred W. Baker III, American Forces Press Service: "I left the USNS Comfort July 13 after a little more than three days aboard the hospital ship. It was not long enough. I underestimated the time I would need to gather the stories I wanted to tell. … Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently called the Comfort's 2007 mission to this region 'one of the most successful acts of American public diplomacy so far in this new century.' But for the hundreds waiting in line during a single day to be seen by doctors from some of the world's finest health care systems, diplomacy is the furthest thing from their minds.They want to know if their children are healthy. They want to see. They want to eat without the pain of a toothache. They want hope for a better future." Image from

Summer Academies in Tajikistan focuses on security and cooperation - PfP Information Management System (PIMS): "The fifth edition of the NATO Summer Academy in Tajikistan took place on July 6-12 2009 in the of Tajikistan. It was organized by the Information, Education and Cultural Center Vector Intellect, a non-governmental organization based in Dushanbe, in collaboration with NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division. The event aims at highlighting common challenges to security and cooperation chances for future young leaders."

NATO thanks Azerbaijan for contribution to security in Afghanistan - Today.Az: "NATO is grateful to Azerbaijan for its growing contribution to ISAF (the International Security Assistance Force) on the threshold of presidential elections in Afghanistan scheduled for August 20, NATO spokesperson James Appathurai said. ... The North Atlantic Cooperation Council supports Azerbaijani government's intention to conduct defense reforms dynamically by persisting that stable reforms are major factor of success and confirmed that NATO is ready for assisting Azerbaijan in its striving, he said. Appathurai confirmed that efforts of public diplomacy to make presence of NATO more visible in Azerbaijan were successful."

MoFA, Oxfam International sign agreement - Walta Information Center: "Oxfam International and the [Ethiopian] Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) have signed an agreement that would enable the former open its African Union (AU) liaison office ... in Addis Ababa. State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tekeda Alemu,

and Oxfam International Pan Africa Director, Irungu Hougton, signed the agreement representing their respective institutions. … Appreciating the government of Ethiopia, Irungu also said that Oxfam International would exploit forums of the AU to contribute to the efforts aimed at realizing Africa Unity, to preventing conflicts as well as ensuring women and children rights, according to Public Diplomacy and Public Relations Directorate of the Ministry." Alemu image from


The president’s ear - President Obama has been very clear and specific about what he demands of Israel -- plus he has reversed American policy regarding the Middle East. He has been rather general about what he asks of the Palestinians and the Arab world. And he hasn’t pushed those requests very hard either. Image from

Clinton Fighting To Reassert Influence In Obama Team? - Political Bulletin, U.S. News & World Report (no link): Coverage of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's Wednesday address at the Council on Foreign Relations casts it as an attempt by Clinton to assert her influence within the Obama Administration. Clinton, the New York Times reports, "stepped back to center stage" in "an effort to recapture the limelight after a period in which Mrs. Clinton has nursed both a broken elbow and the perception that the State Department has lost influence to an assertive White House." The speech, observes the Times, "sounded like one Mrs. Clinton might have given" as a presidential candidate, "when she sought to make her foreign policy credentials a trump card over the rival who is now her boss."

In similar reporting, the AP says Clinton "bounded back into the public arena in a choreographed event Wednesday aimed at reasserting her position as the Obama administration's top diplomat." The "high-profile" speech, says the Washington Post, "reflected nervousness among Clinton's staff that she has faded from public attention since she broke her elbow last month." Similarly, McClatchy reports that the speech "came against the backdrop of criticism" that Clinton "has failed to put a personal imprint on American foreign policy and has been overshadowed by the White House" -- a notion "aides sharply dispute." The Los Angeles Times titles its story "Hillary Clinton's Star Power Overshadowed, Analysts Say," and reports that though Clinton "brought star power to her post," the "debut months of the administration's foreign policy have been dominated by her well as a White House inner circle that has strong ties to him." Image from

Iran Simmers, America Moves On: Hillary says it's time to engage Mahmoud – Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal: Why is Washington rushing to confer U.S. and international prestige on a regime that doesn't enjoy legitimacy among its own people?

Should Obama talk to Ahmadinejad? Western dialogue with Tehran won't reward a repressive regime. It will offer Iranians hope - Reza Aslan, Christian Science Monitor

Has Ahmadinejad lost his global following? After stamping out election protests, Iran may see its "resistance" brand weaken. The first big test: The Non-Aligned Movement summit, which opens Wednesday in Egypt - Liam Stack, Christian Science Monitor

Ahmadinejad beyond the Zionist propaganda - Pakistan Daily

Government PR campaign targets Chinese Muslims - AP:
William Foreman, The chorus of smiling Muslims and Han Chinese wore matching yellow polo shirts and appeared on television Wednesday, singing: "We are all part of the same family." The TV spot was the latest effort in a relentless propaganda campaign by the Chinese government to end the worst ethnic rioting in the far western Xinjiang region in decades. Image from

The Myths of the Third Reich - Julia Klein, Wall Street Journal: “State of Deception” -- a special exhibition rich in content but somewhat cramped in design -- follows the Nazi propaganda effort from its inception through its dismantling after World War II. "State of Deception” adopts the view that, on the whole, the German populace was ultimately more indifferent to the fate of European Jews than rabidly interested in their destruction.

It also stresses the limitations of Nazi propaganda, which could neither win the Nazis a majority in free elections nor prevent their eventual ­defeat. Image from

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