Wednesday, November 25, 2009

November 25

"In other words, why does evolution keep failing?"

--Evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson; image from


It's Complicated: U.S.-India Relations - Anant Goenka, Neon Tommy:

"From a public diplomacy point of view, a shift in power from Europe to Asia is evident and often spoken about. President Obama will require good relations with India to balance the China's power." Image from

Schram: When to leak - Martin Schram, Scripps News: "There are many ways to introduce a controversial topic -- even today's about the most private tool of public diplomacy and its role in President Obama's troop decision on the Afghanistan war. ... Today's topic is: Leaks. Leaks happen in every ship of state. Leaks are decried by every captain of every ship of state. And yet, sometimes a well-placed leak can actually keep a ship of state afloat.All of this is worth noting because leaks -- carefully whispered by anonymous sources with eponymous motives that correlate to the building in which they work or the party in which they are registered -- have played major roles in President Obama's troop decisions."

Democracy Is... - Matt Armstrong,

"The second annual Democracy Video Challenge for 2010 is underway. If you haven’t checked out the winners of the 2009 challenge, do it. See also several submissions from students in USC Masters of Public Diplomacy program." Image from article

mountainrunner: @AlecJRoss on social media for public diplomacy & FSOs (RT @busofgovernment)

US online strategy holds clues for Tokyo - Fumi Yamazaki, The Japan Times: "What Tokyo needs to learn from Washington is a kind of 'beta culture,' where action is fast and problems are taken care of quickly if they arise. Lovisa A. Williams, a technology adviser at the U.S. State Department, says the key to getting citizens involved is to use the platforms they already use. Working on public diplomacy, Williams uses not only Facebook, Twitter and Second Life, but also QQNet to communicate with the Chinese community and Orkut to communicate with the Brazilians. She says that rather than building your own space for people to come to, you must go to them."

With a snipe at VOA, WIN TV begins its broadcasts to Iran - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

A Prophetess with Honour in Her Country, THISDAY - Bukola Olatunji: "Distinguished Professor of Cultural Diversity and English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Osonye Tess Onwueme has won several international awards, including a Ford Foundation research award.

She was recently appointed to the US State Department Public Diplomacy Specialist/Speaker Program for North, West, and East India. Onwueme, who has been professor at Wisconsin for 16 years and taught at various colleges in the US before then has been compared to Nigerian dramatists, Zulu Sofola, Femi Osofisan, and Wole Soyinka in her use of Nigerian performance structures and commitment to exploring the socio-political issues that affect the lives of the struggling masses, women, and youths in the global community today." Image from

Everything after that is gravy - citizen diplomacy and ambassadorial moments during Thanksgiving - Maria Lewytzkyj, "Have you ever heard of the program called the International Thanksgiving Fellowship Program? The program was founded by Trudy Trogdon of Paris, Illinois, who wanted to promote international understanding by fostering international goodwill between international students and host American families willing to open their homes during the Thanksgiving holiday. According to Sherry L. Mueller, the President of the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV), and Melissa Whited, a Program Associate at NCIV, Trudy 'thought about the international students in Chicago who had never experienced the warm hospitality and open friendliness of small-town America.'” Via MP.

Smith-Mundt Symposium: A Discourse to Shape America's Discourse - Matt Armstrong – "[T]he report on the Smith-Mundt Symposium of January 13, 2009 ... [s]ubtitled 'A Discourse to Shape America’s Discourse' ... it was a frank and open discussion across a diverse group of stakeholders, practitioners, and observers from Congress, the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security, and outside of government, many of whom never had a reason to be in the same room with one another before.

Ostensibly on the law that authorized what we now call public diplomacy, it was really a way to foster an interagency, public‐private, and inter‐tribal discussion was on the purpose, structure, and direction of America’s global engagement. The report has been online since April. It is republished at Scribd for greater attention and comment." Image from

Public Diplomacy and the United States Information Agency CPD in Washington - USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "Thursday, December 10, 2009 6:00 PM Venue: USC Washington DC Office The USC Center on Public Diplomacy is pleased to host a reception and discussion to celebrate the publication of The Cold War and the United States Information Agency: American Propaganda and Public Diplomacy, 1945-1989 in association with the USC Masters Program in Public Diplomacy, USC Annenberg Chair in Communication Leadership and Policy, and the Public Diplomacy Council. The event will be held at the USC Washington DC Office."

NATO Launches Rocket Fuel Oxidizer Destruction Project in Uzbekistan - Journal of Turkish Weekly: "A NATO-sponsored project will be launched in Uzbekistan on 26 November, for the safe destruction of 1100 tonnes of melange. Stocks of this highly toxic substance, which was used during the Soviet era as rocket fuel oxidizer, is being kept in deteriorating storage conditions, posing a potential risk to the environment and local population. ...

The launch of the project will be marked by an official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday afternoon, 26 November, at the military base of Oqtosh (Samarkand region). The Minister of Defence of Uzbekistan Kabul Berdiyev and the NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy Jean-François Bureau will preside over the opening ceremony." Image from

Call to bring FATA into mainstream, The News International, Pakistan: "It is the need of the hour to limit the fighting to the South Waziristan, implement post-operation strategy of isolating the militants and bring the FATA into the mainstream. This was said by speakers at PINA roundtable discussion on Implementation of Post-Operation Strategy in South Waziristaní held ... on Tuesday and chaired by the former federal minister of religious affairs, Ejaz-ul-Haq. ... [PINA secretary general] Altaf Hasan Qureshee stressed upon the nation to adhere to democratic principles and cultivate a culture of consensus and accommodation. He pointed out that Americans were great a nation, urging his countrymen to adopt their good qualities. There is a great need to develop compatibility between the interests of the two countries through public diplomacy."

Challenge of the proxies - Ceylon Daily News: "Sri Lanka has been wise enough to develop close contacts with the emerging powers in Asia, Africa and Latin America as well as Europe and Central Asia. Today, Sri Lanka is a member of many multilateral organizations such as BIMSTEC, SCO, and ACD. These new developments have already paid dividends both economically and politically. ... Naturally there are powers that are not pleased at these developments. They are using a new fifth column

through public diplomacy. In this not so open diplomatic game the media is a vital tool in their armoury. That is why we see almost daily articles that speak disparagingly on our foreign policy outlook." Image from

My experience as a candidate - Walid Maalouf , "Walid Maalouf, former US Public Delegate to the United Nations and former Director of Public Diplomacy at USAID, has been a professional businessman and diplomat in the metropolitan Washington, DC area for more than 20 years tackling international issues on cultural, educational and political levels."

The sound of COP15 – United Nations Climate Change Conference, Dec 7-Dec 18, 2009: “'We wanted a strong identity for COP15 – both visually and audibly. The sound logo contributes to raising awareness of the conference and its crucial role,'

says Klavs A. Holm, Ambassador of Public Diplomacy at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark." Holm image from


Obama Loses a Round - Ying Chan, New York Times: While the jury is still out on what President Obama’s China visit has achieved for the long term, the president has most decidedly lost the war of symbolism in his first close encounter with China. In status-conscious China, symbolism and protocol play a role that is larger than life. U.S. diplomatic blunders could reinforce Beijing’s mindset that blatant information control works, and that a rising China can trump universal values of open, accountable government. During Mr. Obama’s visit, the Chinese outmaneuvered the Americans in all public events, from the disastrous town hall meeting in Shanghai to the stunted press conference in Beijing. In characteristic manner, the Chinese tried to shut out the public, while the U.S. unwittingly cooperated.

Modern Flourishes at Obamas’ State Dinner- Rachel L. Swarns, New York Times: It is an old tradition, a White House dinner governed by ritual and protocol that happens to be this city’s hottest social event. But at their first state dinner on Tuesday night, President Obama and his wife, Michelle, made sure to infuse the glittering gala with distinctive touches. They invited local students to witness the arrival of the guests of honor, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and his wife, Gursharan Kaur, and presented a mélange of musical entertainment, including the National Symphony Orchestra; Jennifer Hudson, the singer and actress; Kurt Elling, the jazz musician from Chicago; and A. R. Rahman, the Indian composer who wrote the score to the movie “Slumdog Millionaire.”

President Ulysses S. Grant held the first White House state dinner when he hosted King David Kalakaua of Hawaii in 1874. Through the decades, leaders have used the occasions to reward prominent allies and to nurture diplomatic relationships with more or less regularity, depending on the president. (President George W. Bush held only six state dinners, while President Bill Clinton hosted more than 20.) Image from

U.S. Strategy on Afghanistan Will Contain Many Messages - David E. Sanger, Wall Street Journal: In declaring Tuesday that he would “finish the job” in Afghanistan, President Obama used a phrase clearly meant to imply that even as he deploys an additional 30,000 or so troops, he has finally figured out how to bring the eight-year-long conflict to an end. But offering that reassuring if somewhat contradictory signal — that by adding troops he can speed the United States toward an exit — is just the first of a set of tricky messages Mr. Obama will have to deliver as he rolls out his strategy publicly. Over the next week, he will deliver multiple messages to multiple audiences: voters at home, allies, the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the extremists.

Peace negotiations with the Taliban? – David Ignatius, Washington Post:

Memo to the Taliban: We’re not saying “no” to peace negotiations, assuming you are willing to dump Osama bin Laden and stop shooting U.S. soldiers. But we’re not saying “yes,” either. Yours sincerely, Hillary Clinton, secretary of state.That’s the way I would read the oblique and little noticed message that Clinton delivered Monday. Image from

Pentagon's Detainee Policy Coordinator Resigns [no link] - Bulletin News, LLC. The Washington Post reports Phillip Carter, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee policy, has resigned. Carter "has helped craft policies that will allow hundreds of prisoners held by the US military in Afghanistan to challenge their indefinite detention under a new review system." Carter's resignation, the New York Times notes, "comes as the administration has acknowledged that it will not be able to close the prison by Jan. 22," and shortly after Greg Craig, "the White House counsel in charge of detainee policy for Mr. Obama, also announced his resignation." The Miami Herald reports Carter's decision "apparently took the Department of Defense by surprise."

Bridging a gap for India and Pakistan - Ahmed Rashid, Washington Post: To avoid a regional debacle and the Taliban gaining even more ground, Obama needs to fulfill the commitment he made to Afghanistan in March: to send more troops -- so that U.S.-NATO forces and the Afghan government can regain the military initiative -- as well as civilian experts, and more funds for development.

He must bring both India and Pakistan on board and help reduce their differences; a regional strategy is necessary for any U.S. strategy in Afghanistan to have a chance. Image from

Declaring Palestine - Louis Rene Beres, Washington Times: Any Palestinian state would have a deeply injurious impact on American strategic interests, as well as on Israel's survival.

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