Saturday, January 31, 2009

January 31

“Give us bombs for peace.”

--American diplomat Richard Holbrooke, pleading for air force action in the Balkans, during a telephone call to colleagues in Washington, September 5, 1995, as mentioned in his book, To End A War (p. 132); see also.

“Serbs ... respected only force or an unambiguous and credible threat to use it.”

--Holbrooke, To End A War, p. 152. PHOTO: Richard Holbrooke with Serbian strongman Milosevic


American Voices Association: American Music and Culture Abroad

John Ferguson (L),
Executive Director,
American Voices


Muslim world reacts positively to Obama's outreach, and expectations have been raised - Warren P. Strobel, Miami Herald: “Obama's outreach to Muslims since he took office is ‘a superb first step,’ and has undercut the propaganda of al-Qaida and other Islamic radicals, said

former ambassador Edward Djerejian, who chaired a 2003 panel on public diplomacy toward the Muslim world.” Image via LP.

What type of leader do we have? - Chuck Raasch, The News Journal, DE : “Obama's interview with Dubai-based Al-Arabiya indicated he will himself engage in public diplomacy, that his message will be less confrontational and that he sees both as essential parts of the presidential bully pulpit. Obama's interview drew wide praise in Arab media, but critics at home said he was too apologetic.“

Obama on Al Arabiya: more discussion (updated) - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Towards a More Effective Public Diplomacy Campaign - Arabic Media Shack: “I’m not convinced that US Public Diplomacy in the Middle East is rooted in solid grasps of how the target audience – Arabs and Muslims — view things. … I think its fruitless for US public diplomacy campaigns to try and discredit Al-Qaeda. … Simply saying nothing about Al-Qaeda is probably better than trying to make an argument to the people of the region that Al-Qaeda is illegitimate. Why? Because almost everyone in the region would reject, on principle, the idea that Al-Qaeda does not have the right to use force against the US military in the Middle East.”

Obama policies to benefit from feelgood factor – Paul Gillepsie, The Irish Times: “Even if the changes he makes are more stylistic than substantive, more to do with process and consultation than policy outputs, and even when he makes the screw-ups inevitable in any opening presidency, the fact that [Obama] is not George Bush and is good at public diplomacy will smooth the way towards a friendlier relationship with allies and adversaries alike. So argued Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at Tufts University, a prolific author and blogger on the subject.”

More American misunderstanding of international broadcasting - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: “Radio Sawa is not, or at least should not be, ‘sell,’ soft or otherwise. In the Arab World, people are generally using television for news, radio for entertainment. Radio Sawa provides a youth-oriented entertainment that draws in audiences, who are there to hear brief but reliable newscasts that provide an antidote to the anti-American propaganda coming from other sources. Reliable news in larger doses would be the job of Alhurra.”

@rmack Agrees: Obama's Outreach to China Should be Social - China Media Blog: “[T]he new US administration needs to extend its diplomatic outreach to China beyond the nation's leadership, its foreign affairs apparatus, and elites by reaching out to the Chinese people, and social media is a way to do it. … [T]he shift in thinking required to capture the potential of new media [is] simply too large for journalist-bureaucrats steeped in an old-media tradition. … . So as much as it might seem to make sense on paper to leave the government's international social media outreach to the VOA or Radio Free Asia, doing so misses the point. Turning a conversation over to an agency that is seen as the de-facto propaganda arm of the government undermines their credibility and thus their ability to conduct conversations, but more important it limits the scope and effectiveness of the online public diplomacy effort. … If public diplomacy is to be conducted over social media, we need hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of participants on both sides. … Who will win the global contest for hearts and minds depends on more than just media, but America cannot assume it will win that contest without an effort.”

What Kind Of Arts & Cultural Leader Will Obama Be? - András Szántó, The Art Newspaper: “Public diplomacy: Under Hillary Clinton, the State Department is expected to dust off the arsenal of ‘soft’ statecraft to burnish America’s image in the world. Sponsorship for cultural and educational exchanges, exhibitions and festivals, heritage and preservation could uncork funds for the visual arts. Questions abound: would Secretary Clinton recreate the United States Information Agency (which her husband’s administration merged into State)? Would public diplomacy initiatives range beyond hot zones like the Middle East? Does today’s art faithfully represent America’s positive ideals, as Abstract Expressionism was believed to have done during the Cold War?”

Grim reminder in Russia - Arthur I. Cyr, Washington Times: “The double murder in Russia of two prominent young human-rights advocates is a remorseless reminder that the Cold War may be over, but brutality has not been abolished ….

Long after the Cold War, Voice of America still has an important mission; coverage of this case should be sustained. … [D]uring the height of the Cold War the Dwight Eisenhower administration wisely promoted artistic, scientific and wider cultural/educational exchanges with the Soviet Union. A more open society is more likely to oppose the killer and the thug. Mr. Obama should indicate he's like Ike."

Innovation and Shortcomings in US Public Diplomacy – Jameson, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: “[A] key role for public diplomacy in the context of the overall institution of U.S. foreign policy can be establishing a "constituency" for the State Department. … For instance, DoD has everything from major commercial interests to large military populations inside and outside of the U.S. that are directly reliant on the ‘business’ of the DoD. While it is not realistic to expect the State Department to develop a similar constituency, in size or type, it could be useful to consider the role of public diplomacy in informing the U.S. population and engaging it more fully in the ‘business’ of foreign policy. In other words, the new U.S. administration's notion of a dialogue and teamwork must aim inward as much as it does outward in restoring, but also transforming, America's image.”

Effective leadership judged at the polls US Prof Errante - Njabulo Dlamini, Swazi Observer, Swaziland: “Professor Edward Errante - a specialist in American law - said elections were the most important mechanism for any society to gauge effectiveness or otherwise of its leadership. He was responding to various concerns from civic groups who had attended a digital video conferencing at the US Embassy, Public Diplomacy Section on Friday.”

One bishop’s public diplomacy - Douglas LeBlanc, “When the Episcopal Bishop of Washington participates in a conference on religion and politics, it’s not necessarily newsworthy. When that conference takes place in Tehran, Iran, and the same bishop has a private meeting with the theocratic nation’s top spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Hoseini Khamenei, it deserves more attention. Interfaith Voices, an independently produced public-radio show, featured a fine interview with Bishop John Chane [PHOTO]. At one moment Chane describes his work, which will lead to another conference in the United States later this year, as public diplomacy.”

Thoughts on Meridian International Center - U Street Girl: “The mission of the Meridian International Center is ‘advancing international understanding through public diplomacy and global engagement,’ so it’s pretty cool they also host a well-curated art gallery, donated by the Caftritz Foundation.”

Tourism industry submits proposal to Mills - Ghana Business News: “The Private Sector of Ghana’s Tourism industry under the umbrella of the Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF) has delivered a letter full of recommendations to His Excellency President Mills [. Among them:] … Synergizing the roles of the Ministry of Tourism & Diasporean Relations (MoTDR) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in promoting a consistent image of Ghana[Brand Ghana] Internationally through aggressive National Tourism Marketing & Promotion and Public Diplomacy respectively.”

West unaware Sri Lanka’s true story - Barbara Crossette Faults overseas diplomats & Colombo’s 'short-sightedness' - Daya Gamage, Asian Tribune: “Ms. Crossette is now a travel essayist and a freelance writer on foreign policy and international affairs. … . Iterating Sri Lanka’s failure on overseas public diplomacy and strategic communication Ms. Crossette says: ‘Sri Lanka, a small country without powerful international backers, still has not made its case in the West, where old habits and perceptions die hard.’"

UNESSO Laura W. Bush Traveling Fellowship International Travel Fellowships for Summer 2009 Application Due: March 1, 2009 - Joseph McKeen, [Bowdoin] Center for the Common Good: “This fellowship is intended for American college/university students who express an interest in international collaboration but as of yet had not been afforded many opportunities to travel abroad. The length of time for the travel is expected to be between 4 and 6 weeks and should include interaction with individuals from other nations. During his/her travel, the recipient should be willing to participate in public diplomacy events arranged with the pertinent U.S. State Department Consulate, Mission, and/or Embassy.”


Humbled Masters At Davos - David Ignatius, Washington Post: U.S. officials, who can't seem to resist being pitchmen at such global gatherings, mostly stayed away at Davos. The Obama administration's absence gave a "post-American" feel to the session, but that's deceiving. Barack-o-mania is as strong among the global titans as it is everywhere else.

Palestinian Myth Machine: The humanitarian crisis in Gaza evokes sympathy, but responsibility for it lies at the feet of Hama - Mona Charen, National Review

The BBC’s warped impartiality: The BBC delights in finding Palestinian spokesmen who lack media skills and whose speech is difficult to understand, while always wheeling in trained and polished Israeli PR people - Stuart Littlewood, Middle East Online

Mideast Facts 'n Spin: Time for Mitchell's Model - Avuncular American: An expatriate view of America and the world from Europe by former diplomat Gerald Loftus: Everybody's doing an assessment of the most recent fighting. Mitchell will be assessing what has changed since he last ‘did’ peace processing, and will be looking deeper and broader than the still-smoldering Gaza. For now, the after-action reports are still focusing on image, PR, spin, and public opinion.

Mr. Mitchell in the Mideast: The Obama administration would do well to follow the advice he already offered -- eight years ago – Editorial, Washington Post: Even as it builds confidence, though, the Obama administration needs to show that the United States is still committed to a separate Palestinian state, and to countering those on both sides who are working against it.

Using the Holocaust to Attack the Jews - Walter Reich, Washington Post: There's genuine anger in the Muslim world, as well as in Europe and elsewhere, about Israel's actions in Gaza. And there are also plenty of people who are angry at Israel because it stands for the reviled United States. But the reality is that much of the vitriol directed at Israel has indeed been spouted by anti-Semites.

Be Not Afraid: Terrorists rely on intimidation and deception. We can’t be fooled, and we must resist - Gabriel Ledeen, National Review: Why do democratic and liberal nations condemn Israel for fighting against terrorists who deliberately target civilians? The fundamental answer to this question is that we, as democratic and liberty-loving societies, are afraid to identify candidly the defining nature of our common enemies.

Hamas is a Mideast reality: The group has evolved dramatically as a movement that can't be wished away by the U.S. and Israel - Fawaz A. Gerges, Los Angeles Times

Samantha "We Should Invade Israel" Power Appointed To NSC – Omri Ceren, Mere Rhetoric. PHOTO: Samantha Power.

How to Export an Awakening: Afghanistan, viewed from Iraq - Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Joshua D. Goodman, Weekly Standard: None knows better than he that U.S. progress in Iraq over the past two years owes much to the rise of the "Awakening" movement, an alliance of Sunni tribesmen, Iraqi nationalists, ex-Baathists, and others united by the goal of driving al Qaeda from their country. Gneral Petraeus oversaw U.S. forces' work in partnering with, protecting, and spreading the Iraqi Awakening. Now he has presented a plan to U.S. allies to spur a similar movement among Afghans.

Holbrooke: Insensitive Choice for a Sensitive Region - Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus/Common Dreams

Options for Iraq, and for US – Editorial, Boston Globe: At best, the Iraqi elections will produce leaders who seek to insulate Iraq from the influence of overbearing neighbors, include previously excluded Sunni Arab political forces, and resolve Kurdish-Arab conflicts. That will go a long way toward creating the stability needed to facilitate the complete withdrawal of US combat troops President Obama promised.

A New Approach to Terrorism – Kerry Kennedy, Huffington Post:

We must act globally because terrorism is a global problem. But labeling those efforts as the so-called Global War on Terror has been destructive.

End of the War on Terror - Philip Giraldi, Campaign for Liberty: The war on terror has been a fiction since the phrase was first articulated by President George W. Bush nine days after 9/11.

Anywhere But Yemen: One group of Guantánamo detainees will prove especially difficult for the Obama administration - Stephen F. Hayes & Thomas Joscelyn, Weekly Standard

Jurisprudence: Cancel Water-Boarding 101 -- The military should close its torture school. I know because I graduated from it - David J. Morris, Slate: In order to ensure that the atrocities of Guantanamo aren't visited upon the world by future administrations, Obama must also eviscerate the structures that enabled and supported torture. At the top of a long list is the U.S. military's secretive torture school, known as SERE, which stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape.

Russia's Crisis I: Obama's opportunity? - Andrew C. Kuchins and Samuel Charap, International Herald Tribune:

The Obama administration now finds itself in a unique position. For the first time in nearly 10 years, the Russians have the economic impetus to work with us.

Russia's Crisis II: Confusing friend and foe - Viktor Erofeyev, International Herald Tribune: Now Russia finds itself in total isolation, losing its last allies.

Will there be a thaw in US-Russian relations? - Cathy Young, Boston Globe: Obama's policy on Russia has struck the right note, confronting autocracy but leaving the door open to partnership.

The Russians Are Coming? - Christian Cary, New York Review of Books: In reality we are not entering a "New Cold War" or anything like it. Treating Russia like an eternal enemy probably won't be very effective.

George Bush’s Gift To The World: The End of American Imperialism - David Michael Green, Common Dreams:

George Bush left us many gifts, but perhaps the greatest of them is that he has ruined the sport of imperialism in America, maybe forever. The fun has really gone out of eviscerating small foreign countries.

Speculation About Where Clinton Will Travel First - Mark Landler, New York Times: The Obama administration, officials said, is determined to spread its senior people around. With so many big names trooping off to Europe, they said, Mrs. Clinton can deliver a greater diplomatic punch by going to Asia.

Lawsuit challenges Clinton eligibility: State department officer claims Constitution bars appointee from serving

- Chelsea Schilling, WorldNetDaily


Friday, January 30, 2009

January 30

“A master of the damp squib and the farcical media hype, you bring dishonour even to the white shirts you wear. Intimate with the powerful, you have bathed in obscene wealth since childhood and typify what slightly low-brow magazines … continue to call the ‘caviar left’ …. A philosopher without thought but not without connections, you are also the author of the most ridiculous film in the history of cinema.”

--Michel Houellebecq (L) regarding Bernard-Henri Lévy (R); cited in The Times Literary Supplement, January 23, 20009, p. 13


What if Hamas was in your neighborhood? at; from


Obama's Personal 'Public Diplomacy': A Very Preliminary Assessment - Robert Satloff, Policy Watch #1467, Washington Institute for Mideast Policy: “Collectively, the new president's actions and words constitute an unusually high-profile and personalized ‘public diplomacy’ campaign to correct what he perceives as a serious strategic problem for the United States: a souring of the relationship between Washington and ‘the Muslim world.’ … It is regrettable … that Obama did not deliver his first interview to an Arab audience on al-Hurra, the U.S. government-funded Arabic-language satellite channel. … [A]s important as the president's early comments have been in setting a new tone and style to America's engagement with Arab and Muslim peoples, these statements need to be supported by officials who can translate them into policy. In relations with Arabs and Muslims -- and specifically vis-a-vis the contest against radical Islamist extremism -- this means the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, who is, by statute, effectively the U.S. government's ‘commander-in-chief’ in the battle of ideas. So far, no person has been named to fill this position, which carries national security responsibilities far beyond those of most third-ranking officials in the State Department.” PHOTO: Robert Satloff

Outreach, Yes. Apology, No. We've Never Been Islam's Enemy: - Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post: “If Barack Obama wants to say, as he said to al-Arabiya, I have Muslim roots, Muslim family members, have lived in a Muslim country -- implying a special affinity that uniquely positions him to establish good relations -- that's fine. But it is both false and deeply injurious to this country to draw a historical line dividing America under Obama from a benighted past when Islam was supposedly disrespected and demonized.”

First interview choice met with excitement, enthusiasm: Obama reaches Arabs, Muslims via Al Arabiya - Courtney C. Radsch, Al-Arabiya, United Arab Emirates: “According to people in involved in the arrangements for the interview, the administration had made the decision to give the first presidential interview to an Arab television station. The U.S.-funded Al Hurra was not an option because it is not permitted to broadcast in the U.S. and has a negligible audience share in the Middle East … . The choice of venue and topic sent a powerful message not only to the Arab and Muslim worlds but also to the Arab and Muslim-Americans who felt marginalized during the campaign, when Obama was 'accused' of being a secret Muslim and his middle name, Hussein, was used as a slur.” PHOTO: Al Arabiya's Yamen Abdal Wahab (L), Nate McCray, Hisham Melhem and Muna Shikaki (L) with Barack Obama.

Obama's Impressive Beginnings as an Honest Broker in the Middle East: The Psychology of Perspective-taking Where Perspective is Hard to Find - Drew Westen, Huffington Post: “Watching President Obama's interview on Al-Arabiya this week was striking in multiple respects, not the least of which, of course, was that an American president actually did an interview with an Arab network with a largely Muslim viewing audience -- and did it in the first week of his presidency. … It has been so long since a U.S. president exercised in foreign affairs, let alone in the Middle East, that distinctively human faculty that begins in preschool but takes years to develop: the capacity to take the perspective of the other -- to imagine, reflect on, and respond in accordance with inferences about what the other person sees, thinks, and feels.”

Barack Obama: Diplomat in Chief - Jon Rainwater, Groundswell, from Peace Action West read it and stop weeping: “President Obama made his first personal foray into world diplomacy this week and he didn’t even have to leave the White House. On Monday he gave his first formal interview since being sworn in to the Dubai based Al-Arabiya network. … [I]n one symbolic act, Obama telegraphed his willingness to perhaps begin to reframe the 'war on terror' as actually a bit more about communication across cultural divides and a bit less battle on the battlefield. …

Too often the term ‘public diplomacy’ has been bureaucratic jargon for a mix of Voice of America programing and slick global advertising campaigns. That type of public diplomacy is thus a euphemism for propaganda. This was true especially during the Bush administration. What we really do need is a broader conception of ‘public diplomacy’ that improves cooperation across the globe through understanding how all our nation’s words and actions impact international relations.”

Obama reaches out to the Arab World - Daya Gamage, Asian Tribune: “Although reactions to the interview were largely positive, reports the Los Angeles Times, Fawaz Traboulsi, columnist for the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, disagrees. ‘It is strange to see [Obama] address the Arab world and not have a word to say about the plight of the people in Gaza or the embargo on the Gaza Strip,’ comments Traboulsi.”

U.S. not your enemy, Obama assures MoslemsThe Guardian, Nigeria: “The [Obama Al-Arabiya] interview, according to the Associated Press (AP), was a dramatic piece of public diplomacy aimed at capitalising on the new American president's international popularity, though it balanced America's traditional commitment to Israel, whose security Obama called ‘paramount.'”

Obama on Al Arabiya: more discussion - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

VOL. V NO. 03, January 16- January 29, 2009 - Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media

Expanding the Sample Group – Rob, Arabic Media Shack: “How can we measure whether the new public diplomacy strategy is working? Or the new US foreign policy in the Arab world? I would suggest that the best, if not only way to measure this is to look at the consistent responses of the top Arab intellectuals.”

More Than Guantanamod-day: “[T]he revelation that we're using Bagram [Air Force Base in Afghanistan] as an off-the-books Guantanamo, would be grave for public diplomacy and our relationship with the world.”

Mr. Obama, Set Vietnam Free: American soft power can spur democratic change - Duy Hoang, Wall Street Journal:

Among the recommendations: “The U.S. should engage with all facets of Vietnamese society. Education is a key area. Programs for Vietnamese youth to study at U.S. colleges should receive increased funding. At the same time, opportunities need to be created for U.S.-based academics and experts to share ideas with audiences in Vietnam, for example through forums organized by the U.S. embassy in Hanoi.”

Opportunity not to be missed by Obama - Anak Agung Banyu Perwita and Bantarto Bandoro, Jakarta Post: "The Obama administration might have learned from the fact that Indonesia and the US have, in the past ten years or so, been unable to avoid irritants in their bilateral ties. Maybe they do not understand each other well enough. Perhaps this can also be a major test for Obama's public diplomacy, to win the hearts of the Muslim world."

Do VOA and RFA [Radio Free Asia] lack street cred in China? - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

GOP, Can You Spare a Dime? - Nancy Snow, Huffington Post: “Kudos to James Glassman, the outgoing undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. First, his position could use a shorter title or acronym. Image czar has been put forward, but that doesn't make sense for a democratic society. Nor does Glassman's suggestion that the public diplomacy undersecretary engage like a military commander in a war of ideas. But Glassman is correct to say that President Obama should drop the use of the phrase, ‘Muslim world.’"

Clinton Science Czar Offers Ideas To ObamaNational Journal: “Christopher Bronk, a Baker Institute technology fellow, believes the new administration should place a renewed emphasis on information technology. … [H]e recommended that the U.S. be more pragmatic with its IT policy by appointing a federal chief technology officer -- a position that Obama plans to fill. [His] report also recommends that the State Department create an entity to engage in digital public diplomacy and a clearly enunciated national policy on Internet monitoring.”

Q&A: "U.S. Must Take Seriously What the World Thinks" - William Fisher interviews John Brown, public diplomacy expertIPS: “Brown spoke with IPS about how Obama can restore the U.S. image overseas, which sunk to a new low under the eight-year tenure of the George W. Bush administration.”

Military 2.0: Should You Fear the Killer Robots? - Mother Jones: “In his new book, Wired for War, Singer takes an in-depth and at times frightening look at the growing use of robotics by the military—a development that he argues will be looked on as ‘something revolutionary in war, maybe even in human history.’ Recently, he spoke with Mother Jones about the unforeseen ripple effects of these new technologies … Mother Jones: Was there anything in particular that surprised you or scared you as you researched the book? Peter Singer: …[T]he international ‘blowback’ issue was much bigger than I suspected, which became very clear after interviews with folks in the Middle East. I knew, of course, broadly that there were serious issues with our public diplomacy, but how dire it was when it came to our new military technology was a little bit surprising even to me.”

American killing machines: Robotics are revolutionizing today's battlefields, but what kind of blowback might this kind of science-fiction warfare bring? - P.W. Singer, Los Angeles Times: "In the long term, robots even affect the very human 'war of ideas' so crucial to winning the fight against radical movements. What is the message we are sending with our 'unmanning' of war, compared to how it is being received by people around the world?"

Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding: Conceptual Similarities and Differences - Gyorgy Szondi, Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding: Conceptual Similarities and Differences, Clingendael Discussion Paper in Diplomacy November 2008, posted at International Communication Policy Forum: "Depending on the degree of integration, five conceptual models are outlined, each with potential pitfalls as well as advantages. According to the first approach, public diplomacy and nation branding are unrelated and do not share any common grounds. In other views, however, these concepts are related and it is possible to identify different degrees of integration between public diplomacy and nation branding. In the final version, the concepts are exactly the same, public diplomacy and nation branding are synonyms for the same concept."

Building engagement and trust through the exchange of knowledge and ideasCultural relations Blog: “[I]t was great to hear Hillary Clinton acknowledging the valuable role of culture in the new Obama Administration’s approach to international relations. Can she and he take it a little further? I think they need to. … During campaigning, President-elect Obama pledged to 'renew American diplomacy to meet the challenges of the 21st century.…rebuild our alliances….meet with all nations, friend and foe, to advance American interests', but also admitted that 'resources for cultural diplomacy are at their lowest level in a decade.' Cultural relations means listening, being open enough to talk, to change yourself and your own views as much as you expect others to change. It also requires engagement of significant proportions of Americans with significant proportions of aspirational and influential people from all around the world – genuine people-to-people engagement, at scale, is the transformational step in U.S. international relations. For cultural relations to really work there needs to be a clear distance between the organisations charged with this activity and the government of the day.”

Office space snafu at State - Carolyn O'Hara, Foreign Policy:

“Proximity to the Secretary is everything on the 7th floor of the State Department building, and we hear that the much-respected Burns, the under secretary for political affairs (or 'P'), and his staff have been bumped from the relatively central office suite normally reserved for P and unceremoniously reassigned to the less-desirable 'G' suites down the hall. The folks in the G offices (normally for the under secretary for global affairs) are apparently being bumped even farther down the hall to the 'R' offices, normally occupied by the under secretary for public diplomacy. Where the R folks are going is anyone's guess, but it's presumably the far-from-coveted 6th floor -- hardly a good message to send about the importance of public diplomacy under a new administration.”

"Media as Global Diplomat" February 3 - Paul D. Kretkowski, Beacon: “I'll be attending the ... USIP-sponsored conference at the Newseum next Tuesday, featuring Amb. James Glassman (late of Karen Hughes's old job at State) and Amb. Edward Djerejian of the James Baker Institute for Public Policy. Ted Koppel moderates panels such as ‘Public Diplomacy 2.0: Rethinking Official Media’ and ‘Independent Documentary and Participatory Media.’”

Europa Und Die Usa: Neue Wege Zur Zusammenarbeit – Nina, Nina in Washington: "In meinem neuen Kurs 'Global Perspectives on Public Diplomacy' steigen wir, ganz wie es sich für die heutige multimediale Welt gehört, in die Blogger-Welt ein. Einmal in der Woche muss jeder Teilnehmer der Veranstaltung etwas posten. Mein erstes Thema lautet: A new Era of Transatlantic Relations? Basierend auf einer Studie des German Mashall Funds (GMF) und einem Artikel des GMF foreign policy Chefs stelle ich die Frage, ob die USA und Europa wieder auf einen Nenner finden und welchen Einfluss Barack Obama drauf hat. Hier geht es zu meinem Beitrag."

A New Era of Transatlantic Relations? – Nina, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: "President Obama’s inauguration on January 20 has been well received in many European countries -- including Germany. During the eight years of the Bush Administration, the image of the U.S. among the European public has suffered. ... The wide-spread popularity of President Obama in European countries literally raises hope of an improved transatlantic cooperation."

Book - Threats in the Age of Obama - Zenpundit, Chicago Boyz: “I am both excited and very pleased to announce the release of Threats in the Age of Obama by Nimble Books [e]dited by my friend Michael Tanji … . Tanji recruited an impressive stable of experts, many with high level USG and private sector experience, in intelligence, cyberwarfare, terrorism, pandemics, nuclear proliferation, human terrain, information operations, public diplomacy, foreign policy and national security.”


Obama Used the Word Muslims Want to Hear: Respect - Deepak Chopra, Huffington Post: At his inauguration, President Obama said: "To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect."

How Cooking For the Taliban Gets You Life in Guantánamo - Andy Worthington, Although President Obama has set in motion a policy that addresses the prisoners' future, their long desire to have an opportunity to question the basis of their detention is currently being addressed not in the White House but in the district courts, following an epic, four-year struggle between the Supreme Court and Congress to grant them their wish.

Close Torture Loopholes, Physicians' Group Urges - William Fisher, While applauding President Barack Obama's recent executive orders banning torture and other harsh interrogation practices, medical authorities are calling attention to a little-reported section of the Army's Field Manual on Interrogation that they say still allows the use of tactics that can constitute torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under U.S. and international law.

BBC Draws Protests With Decision Not to Air Aid Appeal for Gazans - Kevin Sullivan, Washington Post: Rage at the BBC reached a new level this week after the network decided not to air a humanitarian appeal for victims of the recent violence in Gaza. In response, more than 22,000 people have complained to the BBC, 162 members of Parliament have signed a protest letter and hundreds of viewers have canceled their television licenses or staged sit-ins at BBC offices.

An Open Letter to George Mitchell: Greetings and advice for President Obama's Middle East envoy - Gershom Gorenberg, American Prospect: Most of all, your arrival is a statement of conviction by the new administration that diplomacy can make a difference, that conflict is a choice rather than fate, that last year's mistakes are not inevitably the dress rehearsal for next year's madness.

Mitchell's Mission: Don't strengthen Hamas - Mark A. Heller, International Herald Tribune

For Palestinians, Obama's Message is Crystal Clear - Ramzy Baroud, Common Dreams: Aside from Obama's unparalleled clarity, thus far, on his utter and "unconditional" commitment to Israel, he, along with his officials, continue to borrow similar vague slogans that were used enthusiastically by the Bush administrations: national security, national interests, spreading of American ideals, values, and all the rest.

Five Myths About the Afghanistan Escalation - Brandon Friedman, Huffington Post: In order to move forward at all in Afghanistan, it's going to take more troops. Myth #4: The Afghan people don't want us in their country.

Obama's missing timetable for Afghanistan: With a coming NATO summit, he must be clear on his goals for a war that isn't going well - Editorial Board, Christian Science Monitor

Iranian Revolution@30: Simultaneously dangerous and decrepit - Clifford D. May, National Review: The Iranian Revolution is 30 years old. The new administration still has time to limit its final death toll.

NATO: Dead Man Walking - William Pfaff, TruthDig: NATO is not real; one might think it the more important organization, since it (or parts of it) makes war, but its independent existence is virtual; it is an adjunct of the United States, and serves no other purpose.

Rules of the Game – Editorial, New York Times: If the United States is going to have any credibility in arguing that others must restrain their nuclear ambitions, it must restrain its own.

Sino-American Relations Under Strain: Are Democrats planning for a trade war with China? - Irwin M. Stelzer, Weekly Standard

A mission to Burma - Editorial, Boston Globe: Obama would be acting within the tradition of nonviolent resistance if he aligned America with Burma's democrats.

Diplomatic Means, Militaristic Ends - Doug Bandow, Unfortunately, while the personnel have changed in Washington, the policies have not. The U.S. is still determined to micro-manage affairs around the globe. It just plans on ordering people about more nicely.

Teens Prefer Online Games to Social Nets: Also, the number of teens using e-mail has dropped significantly over the past four years - Mike Shields, AdWeek



Thursday, January 29, 2009

January 29

“The number of lawyers at the Pentagon today is larger than the entire U.S. diplomatic corps."

--Georgie Anne Geyer, "Time for diplomacy," Washington Times

“The only thing I ask is that people be respectful.”

--Ex-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, regarding “what we faced and how we went about it”; VIA

"My old, modest-sized office has been carved into four cubicles."

--Ex-presidential adviser Karl Rove, regarding his former space in the White House


Yulia Tymoshenko (with thanks to PSP)


President Obama Engages the Arab World -- Reactions -
Saudi Arabia United States Relations, DC: Reactions from US and foreign press.

Arena: On Obama's chat with Al Arabiya - Fred Barbash, Politico: Reactions to the interview of: Joseph Nye, Harvard University; Shibley Telhami, University of Maryland; Yousef Munayyer, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee: Walter Dellinger, attorney; Charles Calomiris, Columbia University: Chester Crocker, Georgetown University: S.E. Cupp, conservative commentator: Bradley Blakeman, Republican strategist: Samuel J. Brannen, CSIS; Kristin Lord, Brookings Institution.

Obama Extends Hand To Arabs and Muslims: He Says U.S. Has 'Not Been Perfect,' Gets a Generally Positive Response - Karen DeYoung, Washington Post: “Responses so far to Obama's outreach [including the Al-Arabiya interview] have been largely positive, but further action is awaited.”

Obama on al-Arabiya - Kathy Gilsinan, Columbia Journalism Review: “It remains to be seen whether the interview was an unequivocal victory for public diplomacy. But it was hand extended to those willing to put down the remote.”

Not a Bad Start – MDC, Foreign Policy Watch: “I'm a day late in pointing this out, but President Obama gave his first television interview to a foreign news station - a Middle Eastern, Saudi-owned one at that. The problems the US has in the regions are myriad and diverse. … I won't bore readers with specifics or obvious points, but being engaged this early on in his administration - both in actual diplomacy and in public diplomacy - is critical to turning the tide of the mutual frustrations of the last eight years. Call it being benignly preventive. His avoidance of ‘with us or against us’ language or a false dichotomy of good vs. evil was also refreshing.”

Arab reaction to Obama - SmallShop -- Video News: “Since President Obama's interview with Al Arabiya last night, State Department public diplomacy officials have been closely monitoring reaction in the Arab media -- TV, newspapers, radio and blogs -- to get a sense for how the interview is playing.”

Bloggingheads: Obama's Muslim SpeechNew York Times: "Heather Hurlburt of the National Security Network and David Frum of debate whether President Obama should give a speech to the Muslim world."

Barack Obama and Hesham Melhem: The Interview - Nancy Snow, Huffington Post: “Obama could have talked to Al Hurra, the U.S. taxpayer-sponsored Middle East TV Network that was founded on Valentine's Day 2004. A sit-down on Al Hurra would have been a boon to that fledgling network, but it's not the station with a tag line that reads, ‘Your leading source for news in the Middle East.’ He was wise not to choose Al Jazeera, though it is still the most popular satellite television news channel in the Middle East. Al Jazeerah's ratings jumped even higher during its around-the-clock coverage of the Gaza conflict. Nevertheless, Al Jazeera would have been a political hot potato and this president seeks to remain Mr. Cool.“

Obama Must Transcend Israeli/Palestinian Divisions - John Esposito, Washington Post: “U.S. public diplomacy should address not only public relations (through educational initiatives and exchange programs) but also key foreign policy issues. Gallup findings (See, John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think) indicate a desire for the respect (reflected in Obama's inaugural speech). When asked what the West could do to improve relations, majorities reported that it should respect Islam and Muslims, not consider them inferior, and provide technological, economic assistance.”

5 state plan and Obama on al Arabiya - Paul Rockower, Levantine: “Obama was on al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite network, talking about new beginnings for the region. A good start indeed.“

The Public Diplomacy - Mark Dillen, Public Diplomacy Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "You might think Barack Hussein Obama would choose a safer audience than the Arab world for his first TV interview as President. But he chose Dubai-based Al Arabiya, and he chose well."


Guest Blog by James Glassman: Obama Should do More Arabic and Farsi Chats on All Networks, Including US-Funded Operations – Steve Clemons, The Washington Note: Former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy James Glassman: “President Obama deserves congratulations for his interview on Al Arabiya, a network that has shown responsibility and professionalism, lately in stark contrast lately to Al Jazeera. As someone who has dealt with all the major Arabic language stations, I suggest that his next interview should be on Radio Sawa, the U.S.-taxpayer-funded radio network that is aimed mainly at young people, with a mix of music and public affairs. It's the largest single Arabic-language net in the Mideast and has a big audience in some critical markets, including the West Bank, where it's broadcast on five separate FM stations. Next, he should do a call-in show, 'Roundtable With You,' on Persian News Network, a U.S.-funded satellite stream in Farsi that reaches more than 28 percent of Iranians each week. PNN is the best way directly to reach the Iranian people.“

Gazans brace for response as militants fire rocket into Israel - Dion Nissenbaum, McClatchy Newspaper, Olympian: “[Special envoy, George] Mitchell isn't meeting with Hamas, however, because the Islamist militant group refuses to renounce its pledge to destroy Israel. Despite the decision, [Ahmed] Yousef [deputy foreign minister in the Hamas-led Gaza Strip government’said that he expected the Obama administration to begin secret or public diplomacy with Hamas eventually.”

Wanted: an Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy – Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: “We need an Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs who is a leader, manager, and facilitator that can hit the ground running with the full support of the President and the Secretary of State. This person must be found, nominated and confirmed as quickly as possible. The Under Secretary position is just too important to be left empty or filled by an under-qualified individual.”

Time for diplomacy - Georgie Anne Geyer, Washington Times: “Not only has our architectural diplomacy changed in the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld Dark Ages, but the very essence of our cultural relations with the rest of the world has changed. While the headlines scream 'Afghanistan, Gaza, Iran,' the fact is the core of our diplomatic problem can be found in the sheer lack of able men and women involved in diplomacy. … The disintegration of our diplomatic corps, which of course is centered in the State Department, whose job it is to engage, convince and deal with other countries and their governments, has not garnered a lot of attention, until now. … But after the Clinton administration's utterly foolish abolishing of the U.S. Information Agency, which had explained America to the world since President Dwight Eisenhower founded it in 1953, and after surviving somehow the George W. Bush years of American savagery, there is suddenly hope. … Ironically, it will be up to Mrs. Clinton to undo much of her husband's work, if she will. But at least we've begun.”

State Department Reorganization – Bill Kiehl, PDWorldwide: “Reorganization of the Public Diplomacy function at the State Department is a necessary first step and something that can be done immediately without legislation. But make no mistake--it is not enough to remedy the situation. Public Diplomacy needs centralized coordination, a new operational agency and a reenergized mission with the funding commensurate to its importance to our national security and foreign policy goals. The following proposal [in above link] by four retired USIA officers is just this sort of first step on the road to reforming our Public Diplomacy for the 21st Century.”

Quadrennial Defense Review: Building Blocks for National Defense - Baker Spring and Mackenzie Eaglen, Backgrounder #2234, Heritage Foundation: “While cross-cutting issues like public diplomacy and cyber security are best addressed primarily in the National Security Strategy, the 2006 QDR appropriately highlighted strategic communications while emphasizing that responsibility must be integrated horizontally on a government-wide basis. DOD leaders' and combatant commanders' understanding and operational application of strategic communications has matured markedly over the past three years.”

Money Matters: Korean Blogger Jailed - Allison Doolittle, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: “A financial blogger in South Korea was jailed last week for blogging on his country’s economic policies. … The situation reveals an emerging challenge for PD practitioners. How should governments respond to blogs? In this case, media coverage seems to favor the blogger.”

U.S. Department of State and Jazz at Lincoln Center Launch 2009 Concert Tour of The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad - Media Note, Office of the Spokesman, U.S. State Department, Washington, DC: "The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center, is pleased to launch the 2009 concert tour of The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad.

The program will send ten American quartets abroad to present original American music, including jazz, urban, and roots. Quartets from across the United States auditioned in New York City and ten were selected to represent American culture through concerts, jam sessions, classes, and person-to-person interaction with foreign audiences who historically have had few opportunities to meet Americans firsthand. These American musical ambassadors are following in the footsteps of legends Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, and other great American jazz performers."

Universalism doctrine - Viola Herms Drath, Washington Times: “Raised and educated in a multicultural environment, Barack Obama's vision of universalism informs his call for a new era of responsibility. … [T]he concept that the camaraderie and bonding between men and women at arms are universal and transcend borders, provides an inspired venue for American public diplomacy outreach.”

Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism - A Review [of Weigel, George. Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, and Auckland: Doubleday, 2007. 195 pages] - Knight's Castle: “Weigel … asserts that deterrence is unlike to be of much use against those who seek martyrdom. There are some useful suggestions here, including espousal of a major coordinated campaign of public diplomacy.”

Bullying Fiji, Part 2: The Inside Game – Pablo, Kiwipolitico: “It would be advantageous if there were military to military contacts between the NZDF and Fijian military commanders that might serve as a quiet parallel track to the public diplomacy now ongoing.”

Rood is new RPOF Finance Chairman - Matthew in Florida Politics Blog, posted at all Florida Blog: “Mr. [John] Rood [w]as United States Ambassador to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas where he served until 2007. In his role managing the Embassy and its 300 employees, Ambassador Rood worked to resolve bilateral issues with the Government of the Bahamas, improve relations between the two countries, oversee Consular Services and use public diplomacy to share United States values with The Bahamas.” PHOTO from: Quincy Parker, "US Envoy Says Doing Business In The Bahamas Is Difficult."


Phoning it In - Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog I STILL keep track of Condoleezza's hairdo so you don't have to:

“The good news is that Condi has done her first post-Bush interview, a chat with the very friendly Stanford Report. The bad news is that there's nothing to take away from it.”


(posted here with the kind permission of the author)

Warsaw Fulbright Talk, January 23, 2009, by Yale Richmond

I have been asked to give a little history of the origin of the Fulbright Program in Poland.

My story starts 50 years ago in the summer of 1958 when I arrived in Warsaw as Cultural Attaché at the American Embassy. That was two years after 1956 and the “Polish October,” a revolution that replaced a Stalinist regime with one of national communism, and sought a program of reform through, as it was called, a “Polish road to socialism” that did not follow the Soviet model. But the new Polish government also sought improved relations with the West, which included reestablishing Poland’s historic cultural relations with Western Europe and the United States.

The Ford and Rockefeller Foundations were among the first to help achieve that aim, Ford in the humanities and social sciences, and Rockefeller in the natural sciences, by enabling leading Polish professors and senior scholars to study in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. In 1957, Ford gave $500,000 for those Polish exchanges, and another $80,000 for books for 8 Polish universities. Ford and Rockefeller funding continued in the following years.

But when I arrived in Warsaw I was disappointed to learn that there were no student exchanges, perhaps because no one in the American Embassy had such experience, as I had, in other countries where I had served.

And here I must introduce Margaret Schlauch, Chairperson of the English Department at Warsaw University, a world-renowned authority on Middle English, Chaucer, and Nordic literature. Schlauch, an American, had been Professor of English at New York University for 25 years. Seven of her books still in print. She was the sister-in-law of Leopold Infeld, a Polish-born nuclear physicist, who had worked with Einstein at Princeton. Infeld, in 1949, was offered, and accepted a position as Poland’s top nuclear physicist, and Schlauch came to Poland to join the Infelds, her only living relatives. But in her letter of resignation to New York University, Schlauch said that politics and ideology also played a role. She affirmed that she was a Marxist and did not intend to deny it. Poland was pleased to have such a distinguished scholar, and appointed her as head of English Dept at Warsaw University.

But the American Embassy did not have any contact with Schlauch, and refused to recognize her presence in Poland. It was time to change that policy, I thought, and I got permission from Ambassador Beam to call on Schlauch, and to propose an exchange of university students and lecturers.

Schlauch welcomed my visit, and said she had been waiting for me to call on her. We easily reached agreement to start with the exchange of 4 American and 4 Polish students, including one from her department who turned out to be Franciszek Lyra--who is here with us today--and to exchange one lecturer in American studies, and one in Polish studies.

But in the first year, Academic Year 1959-60 we had an American lecturer, not in Warsaw as planned, but in Krakow, at the Jagiełłonian University where it was diplomatically explained to me, he would be less visible to the Soviet embassy in Warsaw.

The following year, however, we had an American lecturer in literature in Schlauch’s department at Warsaw University, by chance, Hugh Gloster, a former student of Schlauch at New York University.

The Poles, however, preferred to send research scholars to the United States, rather than lecturers, half of them in Science and Technology, and half in Social Sciences and Humanities. From that modest start, there eventually developed a Fulbright Program directed by a Polish-American Commission, with, as I recall, as many as 17 American lecturers in Polish universities, and 17 Polish research scholars, in one year in various academic fields, including American history.

The Americans who came to Poland left as friends of Poland, as did those of us who served in the American Embassy in Warsaw, because we always had a soft spot in our hearts for Poland. Polish Ambassador to Washington Romuald Spasowski, whom I knew well, called those of us in the State Department who had served in Poland, “my Polish Mafia,” because he could count on us to help him do what was best for Poland. Niech Żyje Polska!

But those exchanges of students and lecturers were only part of the U.S. effort, after the “Polish October” of 1956, to reestablish Poland’s historic ties with the West. And in my remaining time today I want to mention briefly a few more exchanges that were possible in “People’s Poland, as it was called in those years.

First, the IMG Program (Information Media Guaranty) which allowed Poland to import from the United States books, newspapers, periodicals, motion pictures, and author’s rights, and to pay for them in Polish zlotys. That enabled the Polish public to buy American books in English, to read bestsellers translated into Polish, to see recent Hollywood films in their local kinos, and to see American plays performed in Polish.

Over a 10-year period, $7 million worth of such products were imported, and American books were on sale to the public in the Academy of Sciences book store on the first floor of the Palace of Culture.

And here are some other things that were possible in People’s Poland. Poland had International Press and Book Clubs where Poles could read the foreign press, most of them communist. But the communist newspapers of London, Paris, Rome, and New York often carried more interesting news than the communist newspapers of Eastern Europe. There were 18 of those Clubs throughout Poland, and the main one was at the corner of Nowy Swiat and Jerozolimskie in the heart of Warsaw. I visited there and found, among all the communist newspapers from around the world, the Paris Herald Tribune, but no Time or Newsweek.

So I called on the Director of the Press and Book Clubs, Mme. Helena Michnik, a woman who, I later learned, was the mother of Adam Michnik, now chief editor of Gazeta Wyborcza, and offered her free subscriptions for Time and Newsweek for all 18 of her clubs, which she accepted with a big smile. And when I visited several of the Clubs later, Time and Newsweek were on display.

I often called prominent Poles and asked to come and talk with them. The only one who ever refused me a visit was Politburo member Zenon Kliszko, the right hand man of Gomulka, and the man in charge of ideology.

Another event I would like to mention is how the Wall Street Journal came to Poland. Many prominent Americans visited Poland in those years, and one of then was Warren Phillips, publisher of the Wall Street Journal. As customary for important visitors, our ambassador gave a lunch for Mr,Phillips, followed by a briefing on Poland by senior embassy officers. After the briefing, Mr. Phillips turned to the ambassador, “Jake” Beam, and asked “Mr. Ambassador, what can the Wall Street Journal do for you?” The ambassador, as surprised as the rest of us, turned to me and said, “Yale, what can the Wall Street Journal do for us?”

“Somehow I came up with an innovative idea. “Mr. Phillips,” I said, “there are 18 Higher Schools of Economics, Wysza Szkoła Ekonomiczna, sort of like our graduate schools of business. Can you give each one a six-month subscription to the Wall Street Journal?” “Sure,” said Mr. Phillips, just send me the mailing addresses, which I did the next day, and a few weeks later I visited some of those Higher Schools of Economics, and there in the libraries I found the Wall Street Journal hanging on the racks next to Moscow’s Pravda and Izvestiya.

In all those exchanges we had in Poland, there was a Ripple Effect, as it is called in Polish, I believe, a zmarszczki. When you drop a stone into the water, you get a ripple effect, and the ripple effect of those exchanges of people and information media reached as far as Moscow. Poland, as you know, has often been called “Russia’s window on the West,” because for Russians, Poland was the West, and whatever came to Poland from the West often reached as far as Moscow and beyond.

In 1968, for example, when the Soviets finally overcame their longtime opposition to sociology--which they considered a bourgeois science--and established an Institute of Sociology in the Soviet Academy of Sciences, I was Counselor for Press and Culture at the American Embassy in Moscow. And when I saw the announcement in the Moscow press, I telephoned and asked for a briefing on the new Institute of Sociology.

I was received correctly and was given a briefing on plans for the new Institute by a young Russian, a member of the new generation of Russian sociologists. At the end of the briefing, I asked if Polish sociologists had been helpful. “Yes,” replied the briefer, “the Polish and Yugoslav sociologists who had been to the United States were very helpful.”

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January 28

Obama's first interview as president (Al-Arabiya TV exclusive): YouTube Over 800 comments to date.


1) Positive Reactions

The fallout from Obama's interview: day one – Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: “With a day's perspective, Obama's al-Arabiya TV interview still looks like a home run. The response from the Arab world has been mostly positive.”

Obama brings new tone to Mideast Financial Times:
“Mr Obama, more grounded in reality, has long realised one of his main tasks as president would be to restore America's reputation in the world at large, and in the Arab and Muslim worlds in particular. He has made a good start. The Al Arabiya interview was, to a remarkable degree, almost explicitly about tone. Mr Obama repeatedly used the words ‘respect’ or ‘respectful’, saying the US had to drop many of its preconceptions, learn from its mistakes, and listen. The first US president able to say ‘I have Muslim members of my family’ emphasised he wanted a measured political conversation with the region as a whole: ‘the language we use matters,’ he said.”

Re: Talking to the Muslim World - Shadi Hamid, Democracy Arsenal: “I'm of the ‘show-not-tell’ public diplomacy school of thought too, but I also think rhetoric is quite important in the Arab and Muslim world independent of what follows it. … Obama has begun telling a new story.”

Obama to Arabs: "what you'll see is someone who is listening" – Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: “It's impossible to exaggerate the symbolic importance of Barack Obama choosing an Arabic satellite television station for his first formal interview as President -- and of taking that opportunity to talk frankly about a new relationship with the Muslim world based on mutual respect and emphasizing listening rather than dictating. His interview promises a genuinely fresh start in the way the United States interacts with the Arab world and a new dedication to public diplomacy. … Not al-Hurra. Wouldn't it be nice if the United States had its own Arabic-language satellite television station to present such exclusive, desirable interviews? Oh, wait... the U.S. has spent half a billion dollars on one which nobody watches. Forget the Broadcasting Board of Governor's endlessly optimistic presentation of fabulous increases in al-Hurra's audience and market share. Obama's choice to give his ground-breaking interview to the Saudi al-Arabiya and not to the American al-Hurra is as clear a statement as it is possible to make of al-Hurra's failure.”

Barack Obama's public diplomacy - Martin Schram, Capitol Hill Blue: “Faster than a command to ‘lock-and-load,’ President Obama this week swiftly deployed and targeted a powerful but little-used weapon that could be crucial to winning what America once called its war on terror. … And it was targeted this week at the Arab world. It is public diplomacy. The decision to deploy the weapon of public diplomacy came when Obama decided to grant the first television network interview of his new presidency. He bypassed the usual alphabet soup of suspects (ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC, NBC, MSNBC) and selected al-Arabiya.”

The Al-Arabiya Move – Andrew Sullivan, Daily Dish, Atlantic: “Part of the rationale for Obama's presidency from a foreign policy perspective was always his unique capacity to rebrand America in the eyes of the Muslim world. Since even the hardest core neocons agree that wooing the Muslim center is critical to winning the long war against Jihadism, Obama's outreach is unremarkable and should be utterly uncontroversial. Bush tried for a while to do the same. But Karen Hughes is not exactly Barack Obama. And the simple gesture of choosing an Arab media outlet for his first televised interview as president is extremely powerful. It has the elegance of a minimalist move with maximalist aims. It is about the same thing as inviting Rick Warren or supping with George Will: it's about R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

Obama Speaks to the Muslim WorldThe Liberal Journal: “Obama is came through on his promise to engage in public diplomacy. … While Obama acknowledged that he will ultimately judged by his actions, not his words, the symbolism of making his first major interview a direct appeal to the Muslim world is a significant action in and of itself.”

Al-Arabiya's Game Changing Interview with Barack Obama: A New Punctuation Point in US Foreign Policy – Steve Clemons, The Washington Note: “This interview is the initial punctuation point in Obama's global public diplomacy. By most accounts, Obama's decision -- shocking to some, refreshing to others -- to talk to the Muslim world in his first formal, sit down press interview hit the ball out of the park."

"Abu" Obama's Muslim Stimulus Package - Marc Ginsberg, Huffington Post: “In an unprecedented unveiling of the new Democratic ‘soft power’ public diplomacy, the immensely popular Obama wasted no time following directly upon his Inaugural Address outreach to the Muslim world by granting his first presidential television interview to the region's highly respected 'Walter Cronkite' -- Hesham Melham, to reach out directly to an audience of hundreds of millions. It is just a matter of time before some journalists in the Arab world attach the affectionate moniker "Abu" (father) to their newly minted American friend.”

The Public Diplomat -- Foreign Policy Association: Public Diplomacy and the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election – “By initial indications, the ten-minute interview was a big success. … [Obama] certainly was a consumate public diplomat. … It’s worth noting that, having decided to reach out to the Arab public, the Obama White House had choices. They could have used a U.S.-government owned broadcaster such as Alhurra, with scant audience and limited credibility, or the freight-laden Al Jazeera, tainted in Western eyes by its popularity as a medium used by al Qaeda. They chose wisely Al Arabiya, whose satellite signal made it available throughout the Arab world.”

Obama's Charm Offensive In The Arab World dday: “President Obama's tendency to dialogue with those not disposed to him may be a hindrance when dealing with Republicans, but in the arena of public diplomacy it's going to be a great help. Obama sat down with Al-Arabiya television yesterday, not a US front but a real Arab network, and made a call for dialogue and peace. … The interview with Al Arabiya, an Arabic-language news channel based in Dubai, signaled a shift — in style and manner at least — from the Bush administration, offering what he depicted as a new readiness to listen rather than dictate.”

Public Diplomacy In Action - Bravo! - KSH, Communication Artistry: "Another wonderful step in the right direction [Obama interview].”

Obama on al-Arabiya – Matthew Yglesias, American Prospect: “I think there’s a need for gestures that set a context of mutual respect in which disagreements about policy are seen as disagreements about policy rather than reflecting a deeper religio-cultural chasm. … I think you see [this] succeeding to an extent in the tone of al-Arabiya’s writeup of what Obama said about [in his interview] Israel—it’s critical, but it doesn’t dominate the discussion and disagreement isn’t taken as vitiating everything else he says. That’s important.”

Israel a strong ally of the US: Obama - The Hindu: “Even as he reached out to the Muslim world presenting a new face of his public diplomacy, US President Barack Obama has asserted that Israel will remain a strong ally of America. ‘Israel is a strong ally of the United States. They will not stop being a strong ally of the United States,’ Obama told the Al Arabiya television in an interview.”

Short on Substance but Obama Tone to Muslim World Was Striking – Ian Black, Maylasian Inside: “[The interview] certainly bears repeating as a high-profile exercise in public diplomacy.”

Obama speaks of his Muslim roots in TV interview: America is not an enemy of the Arab world, network told - Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press: Quotes Professor Marc Lynch on public-diplomacy significance of the interview.

Obama's quick start raises hopes - Jim Lobe, Asia Times: Quotes Lynch on interview.

How to Talk With Muslims (If You Must) – steve, Alexandria
Crossroads of Civilization
: Quotes Lynch.

Obama Reaches Out To Muslims... - Tim Fernholz, American Prospect: Quotes Lynch.

Obama on Al Arabiya - Laura Rozen, Foreign Policy. Quotes Lynch.

Obama Greets Muslims & Arabs -- New President Chooses Arab TV for First Interview - Reach Out & Touch Someone: Covers reactions to the interview.

Obama's first formal interview to Al Arabiya - John Aravosis, AMERICAblog News: Quotes Politico on the interview.

2) Neutral Reactions

Will Obama's Middle Eastern public diplomacy work? – James Forsyth, “One of the big questions of the Obama presidency is can he actually use his popularity to go over rulers’ heads and straight to their people. Obama’s interview with Al Arbiya, a 24 hour Middle Eastern news channel, was an attempt to do just that. Obama emphasised his willingness to listen and repeatedly talked about ensuring about a better future for the children. He struck a far more doveish tone than he did either in his inaugural address or on the campaign trail; it was clear quite his comments were not aimed at a domestic audience. We’ll have to wait and see if this approach works. My concern is that it muddles his message and the soft-pedalling on issues such as Iran’s nuclear programme will encourage the Iranians to test his resolve. But maybe I'm under-estimating how effective Obama's direct pitch will be.”

Not a bad first step for Obama's public diplomacy - Daniel W. Drezner, Foreign Policy: “I have no idea whether this [Obama interview] will have any effect on the region.“

Obama Interview Underscores State of Mideast TV – Alvin Snyder, Middle East Times: “It should come as no surprise that U.S. President Barack Obama granted his first formal TV interview to the Middle East Arabic channel Al-Arabiya. In the Middle East, the moderate news channel Al-Arabiya drubs other Arabic news channels in popularity, including the controversial Al-Jazeera and the U.S. government's Al-Hurra - the latter of which is getting better numbers than before, but nothing to match Al-Arabiya's.”

Does Obama Snub of Alhurra Signal a Shift? - Dafna Linzer, ProPublica: “President Obama chose a Saudi-funded television network today for his first interview aimed at an Arab audience, passing over the U.S. government’s own heavily-funded Alhurra station. Obama’s predecessor pumped more than $500 million into Alhurra, which has been plagued by serious staff problems, financial mismanagement and long-standing concerns inside the U.S. government and Congress regarding its content. The president’s decision to go with Al Arabiya led several media watchers to wonder whether Alhurra would continue to receive the same kind of cash flow from the Obama administration as it enjoyed under former president Bush."

What May be a Big Deal or Nothing Much - Just Above Sunset: Quotes several blogs on Obama interview.

3) Negative Reactions

Obama’s Public diplomacy – mregypt, Arabic Media Shack: “I cannot find any other reason for the fuss that’s made for Obama’s speech except one: that he came after Bush. I hardly noticed any attention to the interview in the Arab street, as for the Arab media I only noticed a passing reference here. If anyone attempted to talk with one of the top Arab commentators about this interview I am confident that you will hear answers like ‘the US has fixed interest that are not made up only by the president’. … Furthermore, choosing Al-Arabiya is puzzling. If you want to approach the Arab world, do you choose a channel known to be friendly to the US and a voice of the Saudi royal family?”

Obama Talks to the Arabs - Eric Etheridge, Opinionator, New York Times: Summary of blog reactions to the Obama interview among them negative ones from Commentary, National Review, and Weekly Standard.

Tough, Principled And Direct Diplomacy - Page One - Bart DePalma, Citizen Pamphleteer: “On Monday, Mr. Obama granted his first television interview as President to the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya Network as what was billed as public diplomacy to the Muslim world. While this interview could be viewed as diplomacy, Mr. Obama was neither tough, principled or direct.” Quotes Politico.

Obamaganda Alert: “Watch Obama reach out to Muslims” - RBO: Criticizes comments praising Obama’s interview.

Obama stresses his own strong Muslim ties in Interview with Arabic News Network out of DubaiLibertarian Republican: “Operatives, spokesman and supporters, strenuously denied Obama's ties to Islam during the 2008 presidential campaign. Now as president, obama is fully embracing it. In an interview with Al-Arabiya Network, a radical Anti-Jew, and Anti-American Television News service, obama pledged that under his rule, America will change, and become more accom[mo]dating to Muslim values and culture.”

Obamas first ever post presidential interview goes to.... - Project Reality: “Arabic cable TV network Al-Arabiya (full transcript)!!!!!!!!!! So now we truly see that he was in fact a secret Muslim!!”


Gallup survey: Iraq matters most (if you don't include Israel) – Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy: “It's no surprise to anyone that the Bush administration has left a tattered American image in the broader Middle East. … The Bush administration's last Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, Jim Glassman, used to say that Global Strategic Engagement should focus on delegitimating the enemy (al-Qaeda) rather than improving America's favorable ratings in these surveys. I guess that worked out as planned, then.”

Dear President Obama: in Talking to China, Remember its People - Rebecca MacKinnon, Huffington Post: “One-way monologues through the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia don't have much street cred with China's Internet generation, to be honest. It's time to upgrade your public diplomacy strategy for the 21st Century. Just as you have used new technology to engage with the American electorate, your China policy can be greatly strengthened if you conduct a real conversation with the Chinese people. Listen as much as you talk; provide a much-needed platform for open discussion. The U.S. embassy in Beijing should build a Chinese-language website modeled after, focused not just on U.S.-China relations, but on the range of concerns and interests.”

Korea-U.S. relations under Obama (4)]Balance: Obama's keyword for East AsiaKorea Herald: “Skilled public diplomacy strategy is in need on both ends of the Pacific.”

Adding Visa Waiver Restrictions: The Wrong Course for Congress - Jena Baker McNeill, James Jay Carafano, and James Dean, WebMemo #2248, Heritage Foundation: “A new bill, S. 203, sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and John Kyl (R-AZ) would impose severe restrictions on membership in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Adding more restrictions to the VWP would be a huge mistake, hindering efforts to enhance a program that provides significant security, economic, and public diplomacy benefits through cooperation with our closest allies around the world. Rather than adding new restrictions, Congress should work to further expand this program.”

Obama, Congress Enlist 'Direct to Constituent' Communications - Mark Hannah, Media Shift: “Professional communicators are paying close attention to the rise of "direct to consumer" (DTC) communications. This is a phenomenon largely enabled by the rapid proliferation and adoption of online technologies, whereby organizations can communicate directly to the public without filters or mediation from the press. … It will be interesting to see who among our elected representatives will embrace this new platform. … It also remains to be seen whether and how direct-to-constituent communications programs will fall under the jurisdiction of the Smith-Mundt Act, the post-WWII law that authorized several public diplomacy and strategic information initiatives abroad, but which prohibits the Executive Branch from distributing ‘propaganda’ to Americans. This law is the subject of considerable debate in the world of public diplomacy, based mostly on the ambiguity of the term ‘propaganda’ (Indeed, the famous Rosie the Riveter and 'Uncle Sam -- I Want You for the US Army' posters could be reasonably construed as propaganda under a wide-ranging definition).“

Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds Launch is Fully Booked - DIP's Dispatches from the Imagination Age: “Response to the January 29 release event for the Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds reports has been overwhelming and has exceeded the space limitations at the Carnegie Council.”

India’s Smart Card - Dhruva Jaishankar blog: “India’s greatest weakness is its inability to harness its soft power effectively in recent years, a failure less of policy than of public diplomacy. India has received scant praise for the enormous restraint it has shown in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.”

Pakistani visit of the secretary of state for public diplomacy - ACTmedia, Romania: “Secretary of state Valentin Naumescu made a working visit to Pakistan, where he had talks at the Federal federal foreign ministry, at the Ministry of Culture and signed an application program for the cultural cooperation accord between the government of Romania and of Pakistan between 2007-2010.”

America's Disgraced NeoCons: Glorifying Death in the Name of Peace - Alex Constantine's Blacklist: “USIA was the fed's overseas Cold War ‘public diplomacy’ front. In this period, under Reagan, [Norman]Podhoretz escalated covert operations of the USIA, then directed by Walter Raymond, a former senior CIA official.”


Left: Alhurra anchors on air Dec. 23, 2008, before the conflict in Gaza. Right: Anchors wore black after the fighting broke out on Dec. 27, 2008. FROM