Friday, July 31, 2009

July 31

"Learning is better than propaganda."

--Natalya Solzhenitsyna, the widow of the Nobel prize winning author, rebuffing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for using the term "propaganda" in discussing her husband’s account of Soviet Gulag life; image from


Obama’s Middle East gambit and the US-Israeli rift over settlements - Matthew Bell, PRI’s The World: "Aluf Benn is an editor at the left-leaning Israeli newspaper, Haaretz; and he’s calling on the US president to get to work selling his plan for reviving Middle East peace talks to the Israeli public. … Benn isn’t the only one calling on the American president to get going with a public diplomacy campaign aimed directly at the Israeli public." Image from

Farah Pandith America’s special Muslim representative- Elham Asaad Buaras, "The US Department of State’s appointment of veteran advisor Farah Pandith as Special Representative to Muslim Communities has been welcomed by some quarters in Capitol Hill but left others wishing Secretary Hillary Clinton selected someone less seasoned by years serving the Bush Administration. … She … refuted allegations her selection was a PR stunt designed to, as one writer put it, 'convince Muslims that America is really their friend.' 'I don’t work in public diplomacy in the sense of the traditional route; this is not an exercise in selling America. We have an interest in building sustained partnerships with communities around the world,' insisted Pandith."

VOL. V NO. 16, July 17-July 30, 2009 - The Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media

The Art Of Appeasement, Part 2: Understanding the enemy - David Young, Asia Times: "Brand management is at the heart of public diplomacy, especially for a superpower. And as in the business world, it is important to discern the differences in the brand's interpretation. When president Ronald Reagan withdrew American forces from Lebanon in the wake of a 1983 car-bombing that killed 241 American marines, bin Laden claims he saw that withdrawal as a weakness, and George W Bush - at least in retrospect - saw it as appeasement. Yet even if one believes that the 1983 withdrawal from Lebanon was appeasement, our reflexive disdain for appeasement prevents us from asking the much-needed follow-up question: 'Was the appeasement worthwhile? That is, did withdrawing do more for our reputation and national interests than staying would have?' And the answer is 'yes'." Image from

From the Good Neighbor Policy to the Fundacion Amistad: A Useful Historical Reminder for Obama - GlobalPost: "Not unlike FDR, Obama has inherited an Augean stable of economic depression, dangerous international scenarios, and big questions as to how to revamp and refocus the cultural element within public diplomacy. Like FDR at the Montevideo Conference in 1933 and Lima in 1938, the new U.S. president has so far successfully projected a positive image of America to a world grown stubbornly suspicious of the U.S. and its manner of involvement in the War on Terror (or as Newt Gingrich likes to call it, World War III). FDR came to understand, after much persuasion by his foreign policy advisors, that what was needed was a government agency with a special kind of leader. He found that person in Rockefeller. I suggest we also see this position as a wartime cultural consigliere who can function effectively within the Washington political machine and simultaneously initiate cultural programming that can potentially reach the most unreachable of foreign audiences. … The outlook for the future success of U.S. cultural diplomacy appears increasingly positive with two bits of recent news: America will host a pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo in 2010. This type of soft power intervention has the potential to win over millions of Chinese moderates and intellectuals. Another example of nongovernmental cultural diplomacy is the recent activity of the FundaciĆ³n Amistad, a nonprofit dedicated to the promotion of U.S.-Cuba relations, and its support of the 10th Havana Bienniel. … Cultural diplomacy takes time to work, and in the words of USIA veteran Richard Arndt, it provides no quick fixes." Image from

Valerie Jarrett & Ambassador Rice on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisabilitiesThe White House Valerie Jarrett, who currently serves as Senior Advisor to President Obama and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement:

"Today, the President, together with Secretary Clinton, once again demonstrate their commitment to people with disabilities at home and around the world, and I am pleased to announce the creation of a new, senior level disability human rights position at the State Department. This individual will be charged with developing a comprehensive strategy to promote the rights of persons with disabilities internationally; he or she will coordinate a process for the ratification of the Convention in conjunction with the other federal offices; last but not least, this leader will serve as a symbol of public diplomacy on disability issues, and work to ensure that the needs of persons with disabilities are addressed in international situations." Jarrett image from

Updated: Levin lifts hold on State Near East official, bureau makes senior appointments - Laura Rozen, Foreign Policy: "Madeleine Spirnak continues to serve as the acting DAS for public diplomacy and the Middle East Partnership Initiative."

Some Notes on the International Education/Public Diplomacy Activities of the United States in the Immediate Years Following World War II - International Higher Education Consulting Blog™A Source for News on International Education and Public Diplomacy by David Comp: “This short historical piece is in many ways a continuation of a previous IHEC Blog post from last December entitled ‘First Public Diplomacy Effort of the United States?’ You can read that blog post here.”


World Reaction to Obama and the Gates Arrest: Yawn

– Adam Clayton Powell, III, The New Atlanticist. Image from

Obama's evenhanded Mideast policy: The president's approach isn't anti-Israel; it's a balance that could tip the scales toward a two-state solution – Editorial, Los Angeles Times:

The Settlements Issue – Editorial, New York Times: President Obama, a skilled communicator, has started a constructive dialogue with the Islamic world. Now he needs to explain to Israelis why freezing settlements and reviving peace talks is clearly in their interest.

Taliban field manual: A kinder, gentler militant? - Claude Salhani, Washington Times:

The Taliban is mounting a public-relations campaign to try to win the hearts and minds of Afghans with their own version of a field manual that urges efforts to limit civilian casualties. The little book with a blue cover, Rules for Mujahedeen, directs Taliban militants on how to behave while on deployment and how to deal with enemy combatants, treat prisoners of war and interact with civilians. Image from

The Evolution of Wealth: Discerning a distinctly American style of affluence - Adrian Wooldridge, Wall Street Journal: In Larry Samuel’s “Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Wealth Culture, ”Mr. Samuel contends that the 20th century has seen the creation of a distinctly American “wealth culture” that is more democratic and more diverse than anything the world has seen before, and consequently more resilient.


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