Sunday, August 2, 2009

August 2

"If you try to control the Middle East, it will end up controlling you."

--Retired Gen. John Abizaid


Margot Wallström, Vice President of European Commission, Meets Obama Administration to Discuss Climate Change, Communication and Sexual Violence in World ConflictsMaximsNewsNetwork: "The Vice President of the European Commission, Margot Wallström of Sweden, had meetings in Washington and New York recently to discuss strategies on climate change, communication and sexual violence in war and conflicts with the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan E. Rice and others in the Obama administration including Judith McHale, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and Carol Browner, Assistant to the US President working on Energy and Climate Change. 'I spent much of last week in the United States participating in meetings on a trio of important issues - communication, climate change, and sexual violence in conflict,' she said upon her return. 'It was very interesting to meet with Judith McHale, the US Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, and members of President Obama’s campaign team to discuss new media and the challenges we face.'" Wallströmimage from

Curtain Shop Online - "The Obama administration lacks a foreign policy ideology as a matter of ideology, but even lacking an ideology, the administration does have a doctrine. Michael Gerson explained that the defining principle of President Obama’s foreign policy is engagement with America’s adversaries. Much of the president’s public diplomacy has been designed to clear a path for such talks, expressing respect for legitimate grievances, apologizing for past wrongs and offering dialogue without preconditions."

Is Social Media More Trustworthy than Voice of America?- Matt Armstrong, "Yes, the American public does deserve to know what is going on overseas. If, however, such information came from a professional working in the State Department’s public diplomacy department or one of America’s international broadcasting properties, it would be considered nefarious propaganda. Accordingly, we may logically conclude that information provided by individuals through social media is more complete and trustworthy than if it came from the professional journalists, editors, and public diplomacy officers with whom we place our trust to tell the truth about what is going on overseas and here in America to audiences beyond our borders." Image from

Global Health - Lillian Gu, Weekly Highlights, July 26 – August 1 2009: Re “the pros and cons to Joining the Peace Corps as part of your global health career … [o]ne key point to remember is that the Peace Corps is not an international development organization, but a US public diplomacy agency.”

Rost in Transration – Paul Rockower, Levantine: "August arrived and an august day was held with a little American cultural diplomacy on display. We took the metro and train out of town to Yakusaka, home of the largest American naval base in Japan.

We arrived to the behemoth base, and walked to the movie theater for a little lecture and introduction to the American naval presence. … Afterwards, we were released to the festivities of the Navy Friendship Day- where the base was opened to the public. There was a huge street fair, auto show and a taste of America was on display. … The scene was rather strange, and at first I scoffed. Then I realized it was simply American public diplomacy, and the Japanese were giddly enjoying it." Image from

A weighty issue for Rahul Gandhi (Capital Buzz) - SindhToday: "British MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the House Select Committee on Immigration, was in New Delhi to invite Congress bigwigs for his Labour party’s annual conference at Brighton in late September. Labour is hoping that Rahul Gandhi will attend or the Congress will depute a high-profile leader. Curiously, when Vaz, whose parents hail from Goa, was here, a group of Tory MPs was also in Delhi at the invitation of the public diplomacy division of the external affairs ministry."


The Obamas: An Opening in the Arts - Agnes Gund, Huffington Post: "The Obama commitment to the arts began even before his election. During his campaign, Obama released an unprecedented arts policy document advocating an 'artist corps' of young creators to work in low income communities (a new WPA, as it were), increased activity at the NEA and in cultural diplomacy, renewed attention to arts education, amid other proposals. Now the President and First Lady are engaging directly with artists - featuring jazz and poetry at the White House, filling its walls with recent work by diverse artists, attending dance and theater performances in the Capital and beyond. … In the expanding global environs of our time, the arts challenge givens. In our shifting global context, the President can and should press the State Department and other government agencies to promote art and artists on the world stage." Image from

Muslim Voices - Ethan Pack, Foreign Policy in Focus: "[Last month's Muslim Voices] festival featured hundreds of artists from over 25 countries, who presented Muslim culture through films, music performances, lectures, theater, dance, arts installations and a policy conference. … Muslim Voices provided occasions to assess the opportunities and challenges presented by Obama's diplomatic efforts. The festival underscored many of the president's messages, such as understanding the diversity of the Muslim world and increasing efforts to refocus U.S. relations with Muslims on shared values and 'cultural diplomacy,' while at the same time acknowledging obstacles of the past."

Vasile Puscas: EU must define stance for post-crisis period - "The Berlin-based Institute for Cultural Diplomacy staged the International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Attending are outstanding personalities of the world diplomacy such as Portugal’s ex-President and currently High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations in the European Parliament Jorge Sampaio, Latvia’s ex President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Ukraine’s ex-Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, Germany’s ex-Ambassador to the United Nations and the President of the European University of Viadrina, in Frankfurt (Oder) Gunter Pleuger, and the head of the Corporate Communications NATO, Gerlinde Niehus. Also delivering speeches are well known international academics such as Professor Joseph S.Nye Jr. of Harvard University, Professor Cynthia Schneider of Georgetown University, Professor John Holden of London University, Professor Christian Armbruster of Free University Berlin." Image from

The Amazing Director Of The British Museum: Gratuitous Insults As Currency Of Cultural Diplomacy? - Kwame Opoku, Modern Ghana: "It seems there is nobody in the whole of Great Britain who can persuade the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, to refrain from making atrocious statements about cultural matters, especially about cultural objects of others which have been looted or removed under dubious circumstance and brought to the British Museum." Image from

R.I.P. Merce Cunningham – William Kiehl, My PD Blog: "The other day I saw the obit for the late great dancer-choreographer Merce Cunningham who died at age 90 and it took me back to two occasions when I met this unassuming yet brilliant artist. The first was in the early 1970s when he and his company were on a cultural exchange tour to Yugoslavia and several other countries. I still remember the performance in the Museum of Modern Art in Novi Beograd across the Sava River from the Yugoslav capital. This was my first tour with the U.S. Information Agency and I was amazed and impressed by the USG's sponsorship of such an avant garde performance. It certainly made a positive impact on the young Yugoslavs that I knew. The second meeting was when John Cage and Merce Cunningham combined their talents on a visit to Moscow a few years later. Because the people of the Soviet Union were more isolated than were the southern Slavs of the Balkan peninsula, this taste of Western decadence--atonal music and modern dance--stunned and delighted the Russian intelligentsia even more. It was an example of cultural diplomacy at its best at a time when we understood how important it was and were willing to invest in something that did not have an immediate return." Image from


Winning hearts and minds: all of McChrystal's advisors – Laura Rozen, Foreign Policy: Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the ascetic new commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan,

has moved to deftly enlist the Washington class of think tankers, armchair warriors, foreign-policy pundits and op-ed writers in the success of his mission -- as well as grab up a few people who have made their mark in Afghanistan. It's a lesson perhaps from the Petraeus team's famous counterinsurgency doctrine: In the campaign to win hearts and minds, don't forget the home front. Via LB; image from

There's Still a War In Iraq. It Isn't Ours. - Greg Jaffe, Washington Post: The war is over for the United States because the Iraqis don't really need or want American forces around anymore.

The Making of an Iran Policy - Roger Cohen, New York Times:

One thing is certain: Iran’s upheaval has made Obama’s already ambitious goal of engagement far more arduous, and it reinforced the darkest views of Iran’s true nuclear ambitions, even as it chews up limited time. Image from Dear Kitty. Some blog, with the following comment: "From Monthly Review: (USA): Back in the good old days [before 1979], the regal Shah [of Iran] served as the poster boy for US power companies selling nuclear reactors TO A SKEPTICAL AMERICAN PUBLIC!"

No Surprise: Brazil Moves to Metaplace - Joshua S. Fouts, DIP's Dispatches from the Imagination Age: Brazilian diplomats expressed a frustration with trying to counter the image of Brazil as a "Carnival Culture." What is Carnival Culture? Carnival is a annual festival in which people take a break from the work-a-day pressures of the ‘real world’ to play. The centerpiece of Carnival is a massive costume party -- a mixed-identity free-for-all, where people from all levels of the social and economic hierarchy, more-or-less equalize. In essence, Brazilians are experts at identity play. So it should come as no surprise that they have taken to social media with the inherent mixed-identity of that culture. Image from article

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