Monday, August 24, 2009

August 18-24

"If only God was a decent man."

--Saying from Auvergne (France); cited in Graham Robb, The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography from the Revolution to the First World War (2007), p. 92

Below images from Budget Travel's "World's Weirdest Hotels"; via


U.S. Officials Get a Taste of Pakistanis’ Anger at America- Helene Cooper, New York Times: "Judith A. McHale was expecting a contentious session with Ansar Abbasi, a Pakistani journalist known for his harsh criticism of American foreign policy, when she sat down for a one-on-one meeting with him in a hotel conference room in Islamabad on Monday. She got that, and a little bit more.

After Ms. McHale, the Obama administration’s new under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, gave her initial polite presentation about building bridges between America and the Muslim world, Mr. Abbasi thanked her politely for meeting with him. Then he told her that he hated her. ‘You should know that we hate all Americans,’ Ms. McHale said Mr. Abbasi told her. ‘From the bottom of our souls, we hate you.’ … Ms. McHale, whose job is, in part, to try to repair America’s relations with the Muslim world … ventured out on fence-mending missions … , meeting with 17 Pakistani journalists, 8 officials of nongovernmental organizations and members of several political parties, all in an effort to deliver one message: America cares about Pakistan. But Mr. Abbasi’s reaction — a response that, Ms. McHale acknowledged, apparently reflects the feelings of about 25 percent of the population, according to a recent poll — demonstrated just how tough the job is." See also (1)(2)(3)(4). Image: At Berlin's Propeller Island City Lodge, each of the 30 rooms is weird in its own way. This one was designed to look like a brightly painted medieval town, with an ultra-mini golf course surrounding the castle bed.

Ansar Abbasi hits back a rejoinder to The New York Times report, Michael More, Intimidation and Fraud Observed in Afghan ElectionTeaBreak: “I am set to be declared any time as an al-Qaeda member and then killed inhumanly without being given the chance to defend myself. The NY Times’ August 20th story 'US officials get a taste of Pakistanis’ anger at America' reflects how smartly Washington and the US media make villains. I never had any doubt about their bias towards us — the Muslims and Pakistanis — but I never thought one day I myself would taste the magic of their lethal combination. In my 'one-on-one' recent meeting with Ms McHale, the Obama administration’s new under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, in Islamabad I did say that 'we hate you' rather went on to the extent of telling her that 'you' are callous, inhuman and cruel and that 'you' have no respect for human lives. All this was said in a particular context and had a special reference but the way McHale quoted me in the New York Times suggests as if Ansar Abbasi hates McHale and that we Pakistanis hate all Americans. … [T]o my reckoning this 'one-on-one' meeting, which was though also attended by Gonzalo Gallegos, Consular for Public Affairs in the US Embassy in Islamabad, and Joe Mellot, McHale’s special assistant, was a background interaction but it turned out to be an opportunity to portray me as a villain in the US media. Why most Pakistanis hate US policies? Ansar’s rejoinder to The New York Times report.”

Expansion of embassy in Islamabad reflects added US focus on relations with Pakistan - Associated Press of Pakistan: "US Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy Affairs Ms Judith Mchale on Wednesday said that expansion of US embassy in Islamabad, reflects added US focus on its relations with Pakistan as the US is focussed on efforts to further expand its relations with Pakistan and intends to fulfill its commitments with the people of Pakistan. …

The US Under Secretary said that the United States considers Pakistan as its critical ally and is focusing on promoting people to people contacts. … Ms. Mchale said that recent surveys have shown that the majority of the people in Pakistan have concerns about America but the fact is that the United States intends to have long-term ties with Pakistan and committed to extend support to Pakistan in overcoming its challenges. … She appreciated the role of Pakistani media in creating awareness among the people regarding touchy issues and said that she also intends to meet media executives across the board in Islamabad and Karachi to have comprehensive discussion with them on critical issues." See also (1)(2)(3)(4)(5. Image: This circus-like room at Propeller Island City Lodge has lion cages on stilts; the website claims that kids "love to sleep" in them.

Pakistan - US Senator calls on the Foreign MinisterISRIA: "Republican Senator Robert Corker called on the Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Foreign Office today, and discussed matters of mutual interest including bilateral and regional issues. … Discussions were also held on the need for developing a public diplomacy strategy to win the hearts and minds of the Pakistani people."

U.S. imperialism: Hidden in plain sight - Stephen Gowans, "Information warfare is 'variously named public affairs, public diplomacy, strategic communications and information operations.' In plain language, it's propaganda, a term invariably applied to the other side's public affairs, public diplomacy, strategic communications and information operations, but propaganda all the same. U.S. officials say they're losing the information war because their 'efforts to describe American policy and showcase American values are themselves viewed as propaganda.'

The other reasons … are that the U.S. military has created considerable hardship, fear, and bloodshed in its efforts to quell opposition to its attempted conquest of Afghanistan and because, as the New York Times reported on July 28, 2009, the Taliban has bolstered its popularity by pursuing 'a strategy intended to foment a class struggle,' rewarding 'landless peasants with profits of the crops of the landlords,' the Taliban has ousted." Image: Propeller Island City Lodge's owner, Lars Stroschen, is an artist, and he designed all the rooms, including this one covered with wacky symbols.

US Public Diplomacy Failure to Reach Out to the Russians After Terrorist Attack in Ingushetia - Ted Lipien, "Ever since the United States Information Agency (USIA) was dismantled in a foolish post-Cold War cost-cutting move, the U.S. State Department and American diplomats abroad have not been able to present a coherent message to foreign audiences quickly and effectively. The latest example is the lame U.S. public response to the terrorist attack in Ingushetia — no phone call from President Obama to President Medvedev, just a short written statement which was not easily available. There was no statement from Secretary Clinton."

Rescue, but Not Outrage - James K. Glassman, Commentary: "Today ... we have rescuers for the few, but little concern for the fate of the many—in North Korea, Iran, and Burma, to name the nations at hand. Where, for example, is Washington’s condemnation of the show trials? What are we doing—besides the superb work of Voice of America’s Persian News Network and Radio Free Europe’s Radio Farda—to help peaceful, freedom-desiring Iranians communicate with the outside world and to help the outside world give them moral, if not material, support? I understand very well that foreign policy sometimes requires compromise with bad regimes. I understand realism. But I also understand that diplomacy—certainly public diplomacy—requires not just missions of mercy but outrage and compassion founded on principle as well." See also.

VOA Pakistani reporter released after 10 days of detention by US immigration - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

The New U.S.-Japan Alliance: Washington will have to work harder, but the DPJ will stay loyal – Dan Blumenthal And Gary Schmitt, Wall Street Journal: "When Japan goes to the polls on August 30, the Democratic Party of Japan is likely to oust the Liberal Democratic Party that has governed the country almost uninterrupted for more than half a century. …

The fact that Japan will now have truly competitive political parties means that Japanese policy makers will be more attuned to public opinion. Washington will need to be mindful of this, and use all the tools of public diplomacy and people-to-people exchanges that once were an integral part of America's statecraft. As with other long-standing, once totally reliable allied partners—such as Germany and Turkey—Japan will surely remain an ally but one where Washington can expect more pushback than in the past." Image: The Upside Down Room at Propeller Island City Lodge makes guests feel as if they were walking on the ceiling. Compartments open up to reveal the beds and seating.

State Department Inspector General criticizes the Africa Bureau - Matt Armstrong, Mountain Runner: "The State Department’s Inspector General released an important report on the Africa Bureau (689kb PDF), or 'AF' in State’s lexicon. Of particular interest is AF’s resource troubles and problems with integrating and supporting public diplomacy. See also (1) (2).

Failing State: Money alone won't produce smart power - Michael Sheehan, Karen Greenberg, Foreign Policy: "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced earlier this summer that the State Department will issue an inaugural 'Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review,' or QDDR. Due out in its preliminary form this fall, the QDDR is modeled on the Defense Department's 'Quadrennial Defense Review' (QDR), the four-year planning exercise conducted by the Pentagon that outlines its broad goals and budgetary needs. …

To date, delegation of responsibility through the interagency process, where it exists, has all too often been characterized by overlap, not clarity, and by metrics that focus on task assignment, not task completion. … Such overlap exists, notably, between the departments of State and Defense when it comes to matters of public diplomacy, humanitarian aid, reconstruction, and political reconciliation in regions where the U.S. military is active. The QDDR should address this deficiency head-on, recognizing that overlapping authorities bear the prospect of diluting accountability." Image: The four enormous casks on the grounds of the Hotel de Vrouwe Van Stavoren in the Netherlands once held the equivalent of 19,333 bottles of wine.

State Department Reform - David Shorr, Democracy Arsenal: "Many thanks to Mark Goldberg at UN Dispatch for helping foster discussion a favorite topic: how to remedy the weakened state of our civilian international affairs agencies. The latest catalyst was an expression of despair by public diplomacy expert and blogger Matt Armstrong, who asked whether the State Department's weaknesses demand that we scrap its entire set-up and rebuild from the ground up. In response, Spencer Ackerman then offers thoughts about the nature, difficulty, and history of bureaucratic reform … There's a huge amount of absolutely crucial work to be done, so apart from any need for reform, there's an urgent need to boost the level of financial and human resources."

DEA makes donation to St. Kitts-Nevis Police ForceZIZ News: "The US Department of State and US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) presented technical equipment to the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force Drug Squad (RSCNPF) in an effort to boost their capabilities. … This equipment donation was made possible through the US Federal Grant Program which is administered by the U.S. Embassy Bridgetown, through its Public Affairs Section.

The Embassy offers grants throughout the Eastern Caribbean in support of U.S. policy goals in the region. Investing in people is a key feature of the Embassy’s Public Diplomacy activities and its active grants program supports that goal." Image: The richly worn and airtight oak barrels at the Hotel de Vrouwe Van Stavoren have two narrow beds, with a small sitting area outside.

Colorado Guardsmen Play an Integral Role in Al Anbar Province - Staff Sgt. Liesl Marelli, Systems: "The Anbar Provincial Reconstruction Team consists of subject matter experts in an array of fields such as governance, economics, infrastructure, rule of law, public diplomacy and public affairs, project management and operations. Anbar PRT encompasses specialists from the departments of State, Defense and Justice and U.S. Agency for International Development. Both uniformed service members and civilians serve on the PRT."

Chinese advocates visit law school on grant – Peter Hirschfeld, Rutland Herald: "The Vermont Law School will help environmental advocates from China combat pollution and curtail greenhouse gas emissions in a country whose rapid industrial development has wrought widespread ecological damage. A $350,000 federal grant from the U.S. State Department will bring 18 young Chinese professionals to the South Royalton campus for a six-week educational and cultural exchange.

The visit, according to program director and VLS professor Tseming Yang, will equip Chinese advocates and activists with new tools to fight environmental degradation in their native country. … 'There is some significant benefit for environmental professors here to understand the rest of the world much better in terms of public diplomacy, and how we can use environmental law to affect change not only here in the U.S. but also abroad,' Yang says." Image: The daughter of Ho Chi Minh's number two masterminded the Hang Nga Guest House and Art Gallery, a complex that more than earns its local nickname, the Crazy House.

Fort Worth Sister Cities city budget cut justified – Editorials, Fort Worth Star Telegram: "Public diplomacy — cultural programs and international exchanges conducted by regular Americans and not career State Department bureaucrats — is a worthy undertaking. Citizen ambassadors are the common threads that run through such valued community assets as Rotary clubs, church mission trips and Fort Worth Sister Cities International. But one of these endeavors is not like the others. One receives public dollars — city tax dollars — to help fund that public diplomacy. Under state law, cities may use a portion of their hotel/motel tax revenues for convention and tourism centers, promotional and tourist advertising of the city, promotion of the arts, historical preservation and program support for events and activities that attract tourists to the city. … . City Manager Dale Fisseler’s recommendation not to renew the Fort Worth Sister Cities contract has moved organization backers into high gear to lobby against the proposed cut."

East-West Center Director Represents U.S. at Indonesian Conference - Honolulu Advertiser: "Dr. Satu Limaye, director of the East-West Center's Washington office, was selected by Indonesia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Special Staff for the President as the sole U.S. representative to the recent Presidential Friends of Indonesia Conference (PFoI). …

'In this historic year of Indonesia's elections and a new U.S. president with personal ties to Indonesia, it was an honor to represent the United States at the Presidential Friends of Indonesia Conference,' stated Limaye. 'In addition to our two countries' growing government-to-government ties, the links between our societies and peoples are further strengthened through such programs of public diplomacy.'" Image: Jules' Undersea Lodge, a former marine lab, is 21 feet underwater, close to the bottom of the mangrove-filled Emerald Lagoon, in Key Largo. You'll have to know how to scuba dive to reach your room.

Becoming Part of the Establishment - Paul Dezendorf Blog: "After doing paperwork in the university guest house where I’m staying, I took the metro into the center of Moscow. … We then set off on the metro to get to the Fulbright office, at the Institute for International Education (IIE) office ( This office handles Fulbright as well as other international education programs. The director for Russia, Anthony Koliha, took the time to give me an overview of his operations and advice regarding my stay in Russia. The programs run by IIE help expand America’s public diplomacy; I’m sorry that the funding for such programs is not expanded as time goes by."

Lebanon: Snoop Dogg brings West Coast style to East Beirut - Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times: "First Obama went to Cairo. Then Snoop Dogg came to Beirut. The famed, foul-mouthed rapper performed before thousands of enthusiastic fans Thursday night at the Beirut Forum, one of Lebanon's largest concert venues. … Standing-room tickets for the show started at $50, out of reach for many Lebanese.

'This is a very elite sort of affair. Very few people get to see it,' said Timur Goksel, a lecturer at the American University of Beirut who once proposed that the U.S. government should sponsor acts like Snoop Dogg as a public diplomacy tool. 'An event has to be steered toward a larger audience to have any public diplomacy effect.'" Image: A refurbished 1965 Boeing 727 airframe—which looks as if it crashed into the Costa Rican jungle—is now part of the Hotel Costa Verde.

Action diplomacy, just like action PR - Kristen E. Sukalac, PR Conversations: "As I was reading the thoughtful article by Carne Ross in Europe’s World on the need to re-think national diplomacy, I was struck by the parallels with discussions of the evolving role of public relations as a profession. For instance, he states, 'For some reason, diplomats and governments have believed that somehow the message about the role of governments can be separated in the public’s mind from what they actually do.' You could easily substitute the words 'senior executives' and 'corporations' in that sentence. He also evokes the need to 'abandon the notion of public diplomacy altogether, and replace it with a more interactive and frankly humble approach', which again echoes calls by PR professionals to engage stakeholders in an authentic, two-way exchange rather than talking at them."

Shocking - or not? - Richard Bailey, PR Studies: "PR academics (who aren't always apologists for PR) are exploring different concepts: PR as public diplomacy, and the role of PR in conflict resolution. That's consistent with the academic theory proposing 'win-win' outcomes based on the 'two-way symmetrical' approach."

Paying Respects - Alyssa Rosenberg, "On Tuesday, the Labor Department published a regulation in the Federal Register implementing a program to provide a $100,000 death benefit for civil service employees who die of injuries or illnesses they suffer while supporting military operations in the United States or abroad. … The regulation includes a broad set of standards for determining if employees are eligible for the benefit.

Employees working for a federal agency outside the United States where a military operation is under way qualify as having support roles, the rule states. That's because agencies support the armed forces both directly, through jobs such as providing supplies, and indirectly, through efforts such as public diplomacy. Unless an employee who died clearly was doing work unrelated to the military mission in the area, that worker's survivors will be eligible for a payment." Image: The entrance to the Hotel Costa Verde's two-bedroom suite sits on one of the wings of the salvaged 727.

A "Dark Winter" for Public Health: Meet Homeland Security's New Bioterror Czarina - Tom Burghardt, Pacific Free Press: "According to their web site The Alliance for Biosecurity is 'a collaboration among the Center for Biosecurity and 13 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies whose mission is to work in the public interest to improve prevention and treatment of severe infectious diseases--particularly those diseases that present global security challenges.' … Alliance goals necessarily entail instilling 'a sense of urgency ... with Congress' by hyping the 'bioterror threat.' But there's much more here than a simple cynical exercise at preparing the 'public diplomacy' ground through academic and industry 'message force multipliers' that will enable Congress to shower Big Pharma with a veritable tsunami of cash."

Who do they think we are? [Review of Branding Canada: Projecting Canada's Soft Power Through Public Diplomacy, by Evan H. Potter, McGill-Queen's University Press, 464 pages] - Michael Byers, Globe and Mail: "Potter's message is that a country's brand matters. International relations are increasingly driven by a handful of global media giants and numerous non-state groups that transcend the international and domestic spheres.

Influencing public opinion abroad has become as important to achieving foreign policy goals as interstate negotiations. A good brand contributes to 'soft power,' the ability to influence behaviour by persuasion rather than coercion. Developing a brand is the task of 'public diplomacy,' which Potter defines as 'the effort by the official institutions of one nation to influence the elite or mass public opinion of another nation for the purpose of turning the policies or views of that target nation to advantage.'” Image: The '70s-era escape pods that make up the traveling Capsule Hotel once hung outside oil rigs, ready to be deployed in case of an evacuation.

Canadian Missions Suffer More Cross-the-Board Cuts: Government says resources are needed for foreign policy priorities - Lee Berthiaume, Embassy: "During the last week of July, DFAIT [Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada] management held a teleconference with all Canadian heads of mission posted around the world, according to sources. During that call, the ambassadors, high commissioners and chargés d'affaires were told that program budgets for all missions were being immediately cut by 50 per cent. The program budget pays for such things as attending and hosting events and conferences, public diplomacy efforts and human rights advocacy."

Public Diplomacy: Shaping the image - B. Solomont, Jerusalem Post: "'The era when public diplomacy used to be done with propaganda is over. It doesn't work,' he [diplomat David Saranga who has ended his four-year term as consul for media affairs at the Israeli Consulate in New York] said.

Indeed, the New York Consulate's public diplomacy budget amounts to $100,000 annually. 'You can't run PR of a country like Israel with no budget.' … [F]or the past four years Saranga has worked to relay Israel's message without conventional media by embracing technology like Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and Twitter, which counts more than 7,000 followers. 'You reach a more sophisticated audience, and you shape the message in the way you want it,' he said. 'All of a sudden, I can have a dialogue with public opinion.' He said the message is more personal and audiences are more receptive this way." Image: One of the Capsule Hotel's pods shown stationed in France.

Fundamentally Freund: Thinking outside the 'hasbara bubble' - Michael Freund, Jerusalem Post: "As I hobbled down onto the busy streets of New York, I began to consider the anecdotal evidence that I had just gathered regarding Israel's status in the minds of Americans, and what lessons could be learned about our efforts at hasbara, or public diplomacy. … What is so desperately needed is a comprehensive strategic vision for hasbara, one that clearly articulates a set of objectives for what kind of image Israel can and should project, while spelling out an array of tactics for achieving them. So let's start focusing just a little less on yesterday's Washington Post, and more on how to position Israel and improve her brand name in the future. When it comes to hasbara, we desperately need to start thinking outside the box. But we also need to look beyond the bubble. For it is out there, in the physical therapist's office, the corner grocery and the local pizzeria, that the battle for American public opinion can, and ultimately will, be won."

Israeli FM doubtful about peace deal with Palestinians in near future Israeli FM doubtful about peace deal with Palestinians in near future - Xinhua General News Service: "[L]ocal daily The Jerusalem Post quoted Lieberman as saying that his ministry must define new areas of priority, not only the Palestinian issue.

He said Israeli Foreign Ministry should get more involved in public diplomacy, including dealing with NGOs, Iran and the continents that the Jewish country has neglected over the past 25 years, especially South America and Africa." Image: Sunbathing through the open roof of the Exploranter Overland Hotel, a converted 25-ton truck that travels the back roads of Brazil.

Report: Israel's navy ship to join NATO operation – Xinhua, People’s Daily: "Israel has signed an Individual Cooperation Program agreement with NATO and since then it has contributed to NATO particularly in 'science, public diplomacy and armaments cooperation,' as the previous NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer put it during a visit to Israel in January."

Yes, There Was A Deal To Free Terrorist, Libyan Dictator’s Son Says - Matthew Vadum, Canada Free Press: "Moammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam … has been using his charity for years as a form of public diplomacy. As Capital Research Center’s executive vice president Robert Huberty noted Friday, al-Islam is chairman of Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, identified two years ago in a CRC paper by Eliza Gheorghe as a public relations gimmick to manipulate world opinion."

Delegation of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries Visited Primorsky Krai - Vostok-Media: "The visit of delegation of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) to Primorsky Krai pursues the aim to promote public diplomacy. …

The Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries was founded in Beijing in 1984 in the context of conducting a policy of reform and openness. The Association was registered by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People's Republic of China as nonprofit organization of public diplomacy." Image: The sleek Grand Daddy hotel in Cape Town has a surprise on its roof: a fleet of seven Airstream trailers.

Sino-Turkish Relations Normalize - Emrullah Uslu,
Eurasia Daily Monitor: "During the violent ethnic clashes between the Turkic Uyghurs and Han Chinese, in China's northwestern province of Xinjiang on July 5-6, Sino-Turkish relations soured as a result of Turkish public opinion and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan harshly criticizing the Chinese government's handling of the riots. … In the following weeks the Chinese embassy in Ankara started conducting intensive public diplomacy to reduce the damage to bilateral relations in the aftermath of the Uyghur riots."

Wall to Wall: Kulture Vultures of the Cold War: The American National Exhibition in Moscow, 1959 - Alastair Gordon, Wilson Quarterly: Article describes “the sexy consumer-friendly buzz of the American Fair in Moscow.” Courtesy: MP.

Alex Feldman - New at the Top, Washington Post: "Position: President of the US-ASEAN Business Council, a District-based trade association focused on Southeast Asia. Career Highlights: Coordinator for international information programs, State Department; senior adviser to the undersecretary for international trade, Commerce Department; vice president, CNBC Asia; founder, B2B Broadcasting.

Age: 42 … . [']I received a call to run the Bureau of International Information programs at the State Department. That was the opportunity of a lifetime. I brought some of the knowledge I had in building media businesses in Asia to the forefront of our public diplomacy efforts.[']" Image: The interior of this Airstream trailer at the Grand Daddy has been decorated with a "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" motif—complete with a blonde wig available for dress-up.

Judyth Piazza chats with Dan Goldberg, Business developer, Master marketer, Speaker, Trainer and Coach - Judyth Piazza, Student Operated Press: "He [Goldberg] was also officially recognized for his contributions to United States public diplomacy by being chosen to receive the Citizen Diplomacy Award for American Business by the International Visitors Council of Philadelphia (IVC). This award was given to Dan for his work in teaching Russian business executives strategic planning."

Aug. 18 ENMU [Eastern New Mexico University] Briefs - Portales News-Tribune: "Capt. David Blair, an MQ-1 Predator aircraft commander, is set to speak in the Campus Union Building Sandia Room at 2 p.m. Sept. 14. … Blair graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He has written on military strategy and public diplomacy."


Most of Obama’s Top Appointees Are Not in Place - Peter Baker, New York Times: Of more than 500 senior policymaking positions requiring Senate confirmation, just 43 percent have been filled. He sent Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Africa to talk about international development but does not have anyone running the Agency for International Development. He has invited major powers to a summit on nuclear nonproliferation but does not have an assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation. Mr. Obama has a more intact national security team than his predecessor at this point. Mr. Obama is far enough along in his presidency that some early appointees are already leaving even before the last of the first round have assumed their posts. Among those who have left already is the person charged with filling the empty offices, Donald H. Gips, who quit as presidential personnel director to go to South Africa as ambassador last month.

Why Barbara Tuchman’s 1973 Speech on US Foreign Policy Remains Relevant Today - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View: Among Tuchman’s remarks: “Foreign Service Officers are employed to advise policy-makers of actual conditions on which to base a realistic policy”; “The expert reports are too often ignored because policy is formed by preconceptions and long implanted biases”; “But of all the barriers that Embassy reporting must hammer against, the most impenetrable is the capacity of policy-makers to disbelieve what they do not want to believe.”

Language Ability: A Litmus Test for the Foreign Service? - Ken Yates, Whirled View

International Admissions Fall – Inside Higher Ed: For the first time since 2004, admission of international students to U.S. graduate schools has declined, and students from India and South Korea are applying in significantly fewer numbers as well, according to a report released today by the Council of Graduate Schools. Courtesy LB.

A New Gender Agenda: Interview by Mark Landler – New York Times: Hillary Rodham Clinton staked her claim as an advocate for global women’s issues in 1995, when, as first lady, she gave an impassioned speech at a United Nations conference in Beijing. As secretary of state, she pushed to create a new position, ambassador at large for global women’s issues, and recruited Melanne Verveer, her former chief of staff, to fill it. And she has drawn attention to women at nearly every stop in her travels, most recently on an 11-day visit to Africa, during which, among other things, she went to eastern Congo to speak out against mass rape.

It's 3 a.m. Do You Know Where Hillary Clinton Is?
She's not answering those crisis calls at the White House. But she's quietly revolutionizing American foreign policy
- David Rothkopf, Washington Post: Obama's unlikely secretary of state is supporting and augmenting his agenda effectively. Not as Obama's "other wife," not as Bill Clinton's wife, not even as a celebrity or as a former presidential candidate -- but in a new role of her own making.

Hillary Clinton on Sidelines as Diplomacy With Rogue Nations Evolves: Missions to secure the release of American prisoners in Burma and North Korea detoured sharply around the State Department. Now two North Korean diplomats are scheduled to meet privately Wednesday with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson -

The President and the 'Necessary War' Myth - Robert Kagan, Washington Post: Obama is right to be prosecuting the war in Afghanistan, and he should do so even more vigorously. But he will not avoid the moral and practical burdens of fighting this war by claiming he has no choice. An action can be right or just without being necessary.

Leadership 101 - David Ignatius, Washington Post: The real foreign policy tests will start as soon as Obama begins to make some hard, and politically controversial, decisions on the Palestinian issue and Afghanistan.

Iranians Seek Out Abuses By U.S.: Funding Passed In Retaliation, Lawmakers Say - Thomas Erdbrink, Washington Post: Iranian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Sunday for a bill creating a $20 million fund intended in part to expose human rights violations by the United States, the ILNA news agency reported. Passage of the bill suggests the depth of mistrust that remains between the nations as Iran faces a September deadline to respond to President Obama's offer for talks. Iranian lawmakers said the legislation was in retaliation for what they consider similar action by the United States.

Video games as propaganda - Bruce Everiss, Bruce On Games: It is inevitable that we will see a massive increase in video games designed to promote or rubbish different political, military and religious agendas. Up till now games have been largely living in an age of innocence. This has been a false dawn.

The Daily Show [review of "Losing The News: The Future of the News That Feeds Democracy" by Alex S. Jones]- Harold Evans, New York Times: Jones acknowledges that the future will center on digital technology and the Web, “dazzling in its breadth and innovation” and the vehicle of choice for younger audiences. But he does not believe Web sites will ever become Atlas, shouldering the iron ball to sustain foreign bureaus, science and cultural staffs, and investigative teams.

The Feminist Hawks - Virginia Heffernan, New York Times: The feminist-hawk position — the one that advocates the use of force to liberate Muslim women from persecution and burkas -- has become an integral part of the ideological Web.

World War One and Propaganda: Wilson Establishes the Committee on Public Information - Michael Streich, Suite101: American History Articles


A Library’s Approach to Books That Offend - Alison Leigh Cowan, New York Times: The cartoonist Hergé is popular again, as is his adventurous reporter Tintin, who will be featured in a Steven Spielberg movie due out in 2011. But if you go to the Brooklyn Public Library seeking a copy of “Tintin au Congo,” Hergé’s second book in a series, prepare to make an appointment and wait days to see the book. “It’s not for the public,” a librarian in the children’s room said this month when a patron asked to see it. The book, published 79 years ago, was moved in 2007 from the public area of the library to a back room where it is held under lock and key. The move came after a patron objected, as others have, to the way Africans are depicted in the book. “The content is racially offensive to black people,’’ a librarian wrote on Form 286, also known as a Request for Reconsideration of Library Material. Image from

Self-Muzzled at Yale: A university publisher allows the possibility of Muslim reaction to alter an academic work – Editorial, Washington Post: An illustration from a children's book. An Ottoman print. A 19th-century artist's depiction of "Dante's Inferno." These are among the images Yale University Press has decided it's unsafe to reproduce in a scholarly work, lest they incite violence from Islamic extremists.

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