Tuesday, March 31, 2009
"HILLARY CLINTON: Who painted it?
MONSIGNOR MONROY: God."
--Reported exchange in Mexico in front of La Guadalupana, the archetypal icon of Latin American Catholicism; above images from and from
Obama team drops "war on terror" rhetoric – admin, World News: “U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday the Obama administration had dropped 'war on terror' from its lexicon, rhetoric former President George W. Bush used to justify many of his actions. … Clinton has said one of her main roles as top U.S. diplomat is to improve the U.S. image abroad, particularly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. She has embarked on aggressive public diplomacy during her visits to Europe, the Middle East and Asia, seeking to reach out to ordinary people."
Free Swat Valley - Douglas J. Feith and Justin Polin, New York Times: "On March 5, in the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan, forces believed to be affiliated with the Taliban bombed the shrine of Rahman Baba (born around 1650), the most revered Pashtun poet. … If it had the equipment and personnel for the job, the United States could broadcast radio programs for the Pashtuns commemorating Rahman Baba’s life and poetry, thus helping to revive the collective memory of Sufism and inspiring opposition to the Taliban. Other programs could highlight the cultural and physical devastation wrought by the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The United States conducted impressive strategic communications during the cold war. Radio Free Europe, Voice of America and other programs conveyed information and ideas that contributed to the discrediting and ultimate defeat of Soviet communism. Pakistan’s Islamist extremists apparently know the value of strategic communications. They preach and broadcast, understanding that every non-extremist school they close, every artist they force to move, every moderate tribal leader they kill and every Sufi shrine they destroy can increase their powers of intimidation and persuasion.“ Feith Image from
The Education of Doug Feith - Patrick Barry, Democracy Arsenal: "Strategic communications directed at the Muslim World, patterned after Radio Free Europe? Sorry Doug, maybe you should have gotten involved with al-Hurra, the Bush administration's attempt to replicate the success of Cold-War era public diplomacy, but which has been widely regarded as a sham by the Muslim world. There is unquestionably a need for the U.S. to update its public diplomacy infrastructure. But to do it via analogies that show no appreciation for the complexities of the audience we're trying to reach, such as how a conservative, sometimes violent strand of Islam reacts with longstanding political and juridical grievances (see Joshua White discuss the current state of affairs in Swat), is just not the way to go."
Should this station broadcast news, or inadequately researched opinion? - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "VOA's Deewa Radio already broadcasts in Pashto to that very part of Pakistan. So apparently the United States does have 'the equipment and personnel for the job.' Deewa's output includes programs about poetry, but, as part of VOA, its mainstay is reliable news and information. If Messrs. Feith and Polin prefer a station that is more partisanly anti-Taliban, such a station may not want to be identified with the United States. (And see previous post about Radio Khyber.) This op-ed could inspire an amendment to some future legislation to create an RFE/RL Pashto service to Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province, to do what Deewa is already doing (and, for that matter, what RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan is already doing), resulting in even more duplication in US international broadcasting. As for Alhurra, it's not up there with Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, but it has too many viewers to be dismissed as a 'sham.'"
VOL. V NO. 7, March 13-March 26, 2009 - The Layalina Review on Public Diplomacy and Arab Media
Shhh! Don't talk about "freedom" and "tolerance" in front of Muslims! You might offend them! – GS Don Morris, Doc’s Talk: "Apparently promoting sustainable environments for religious freedom worldwide involves tiptoeing around the volatile and easily offended, and ignoring and denying unpleasant truths. Great idea! Why didn't anyone think of it before? '10 terms not to use with Muslims,' by Chris Seiple in the Christian Science Monitor, March 28 [...] 'As President Obama considers his first speech in a Muslim majority country (he visits Turkey April 6-7), and as the US national security establishment reviews its foreign policy and public diplomacy, I want to share the advice given to me from dear Muslim friends worldwide regarding words and concepts that are not useful in building relationships with them. Obviously, we are not going to throw out all of these terms, nor should we. But we do need to be very careful about how we use them, and in what context.'”
The Icon and the Battle-Axe - Joseph P. Duggan, American Spectator: “Color photographs and loud captions atop page one of the daily El Universal captured the Mexican public's sense of outraged bewilderment at Mrs. Clinton's visit March 26 to the Basilica of Guadalupe, Catholicism's second most visited shrine after St. Peter's in Rome. The Basilica rector, Monsignor Diego Monroy, stands with Mrs. Clinton and shows her the mestiza Madonna whose story is known to every Catholic schoolchild, an image believed to have been imposed miraculously on an Indian's cloak five centuries ago. HILLARY CLINTON: Who painted it? MONSIGNOR MONROY: God. La Guadalupana is the archetypal icon of Latin American Catholicism. Catholics in the United States as well as in the Latin countries today invoke the Virgin of Guadalupe as the special patron of the pro-life movement. Was Hillary's public diplomacy fiasco a calculated insult addressed to something she regards as a superstition, or simply the unrehearsed utterance of a person so soulless that she cannot fathom believers' sense of mystery?“ Image from
Isolated Overseas: Diplomatic Security Creates Challenges for American Public Diplomacy – Mitchell Polman, Mountain Runner: “Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) in February submitted a resolution (S. Res. 49) that calls for a reassessment of safety concerns surrounding American Centers in major foreign cities, and urges the State Department to ‘consider placing United States public diplomacy facilities at locations conducive to maximizing their use.’ … Reinvigorating America's cultural presence overseas is going to require increased funding and a re-thinking of security issues that have plagued America's ability to conduct public diplomacy in recent decades. Senator Lugar seems committed to keeping a spotlight on this issue, and Secretary of State Clinton has made her views fairly clear. But overcoming security concerns requires creativity, flexibility, and new ideas. The fate of Senate Resolution 49 may be an important signal as to whether America is serious about reshaping its public diplomacy strategy.”
US 'committed' to flexible approach to aid programs - Nicholas Kimbrell, Daily Star: “The United States is committed to a flexible and responsive approach to Lebanese and regional aid programs, a senior State Department official said Monday. ‘There are issues, challenges that are too great to be faced by one country all by itself,’ Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs Madelyn Spirnak told reporters gathered at the US Embassy in Awkar. Among other responsibilities, Spirnak, who is visiting Beirut for the first time, oversees the State Department's Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and the Near East Bureau's Press and Public Diplomacy Office.”
NATO invades the web - IrishLibertarian: “My God there is only so much imperialism I can handle. NATO have decided there is not enough of a pro-NATO stance been taken by the media nor our politicians, so they decided to marketing themselves towards a younger audience. So http://www.60yearsnato.info/ has been launched. Jean-Francois Bureau, NATO’s assistant secretary-general for public diplomacy said 'After 60 years, NATO is changing its communication strategy. It is the first time that we run a web-only campaign, with three videos aimed at reaching a wider audience, especially the younger generation.' Now I am not saying NATO are evil, I just do not want to join them.” See also.
And now, to work - Jerusalem Post: “Israel now has a semblance of a 'unity government' and can move forward. Indeed, there are several laudable cabinet appointments. … Yuli Edelstein can contribute as hasbara minister - not by seeking to create an empire, but by working with the premier's new communications director, Ron Dermer, to maximize existing public diplomacy resources while avoiding ruffling bureaucratic feathers.”
One On One: Rehab for an 'all-consuming peace addiction' - Ruthie Blum Leibowitz , Jerusalem Post: "[Question]: But is Israel really at liberty to do what it wants without international approval? [Answer by Daniel Gordis, author of Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War that May Never End]: I believe we're much more at liberty to do what we want than we allow ourselves to think - though we do need to do a better job of hasbara [public diplomacy], and engage in much more effective efforts to explain our actions to heads of state and communities abroad." Image from
The Changing Climate For Cultural Relations - John Worne, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: “[A]lthough cultural relations has a job to do in the current economic crisis, it also has to equip the next generation of leaders with the internationalism, networks, skills and openness to meet their challenges. The British Council has been equipping future world leaders for 75 years, but the scale of the cultural relations challenge by our 100th year – 2034 – is bigger even than the rising unemployment and extremism of the 1930s when we began.”
Branding Bangladesh - Mamun Rashid, Daily Star: “The brand building initiative has to be a coherent approach driven by various sectors -- the government, political parties, civil society, media, professionals, private sector, cultural world, workers and farmers, urban and rural people, etc. When all of us can share a common identity, we shall be able to establish Bangladesh with a rejuvenated brand that the world will respect. “
Networking dinner for delegates at Friends of Pakistan expert meeting – Associated Press of Pakistan:
“Pakistan’s Ambassador at Large, Javed Malik, would be hosting a Networking Dinner for the International delegates attending the Expert-Level meeting of Friends of Democratic Pakistan being held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). High-ranking officials and experts from all the member-states of the Friends of Pakistan including UK, USA, UAE, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, World Bank, European Union, United Nations, Asian Development Bank and others will take part in the dinner. … Presentations will be made on Security, Development, Institution building, Energy, Public diplomacy and other aspects covering the Friends of Democratic Pakistan initiative.” Image from
Call for Papers - Reframing the Nation: Media Publics and Strategic Narratives – John Postill, Media/Anthropology: "Several English-language transnational television channels recently launched, including Al Jazeera English, Press TV (Iran), CCTV9 (China), France 24, and Russia Today ... pose ... questions about strategic narratives and public diplomacy in the new media ecology. Diasporic groups, increasingly connected via digital media, are being recognised as exploitable for diplomacy purposes. States can mobilize citizens both at home and abroad in diplomatic media initiatives via internet chat rooms and news discussion sites.”
On European trip, rock-star Obama faces skeptical allies: While he is popular, American policies are not. He will be hard-pressed towin concessions on his plans for the economy or Afghanistan - Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor: President Obama and first lady Michelle waved as they departed the White House to attend the G-20 Summit in the UK.
Europe spurns the beloved Obama - Gideon Rachman, Financial Times:
Europeans have long worshipped Barack Obama from afar. Now the beloved one is paying his first visit as US president to the old continent. Yet there is every indication that Europe’s leaders are about to stiff him. Image from
Obama's foreign-policy credo: listen and lead - Editorial Board, Christian Science Monitor: In this century, American presidents will have to listen more than they’re Listen-and-lead comes down to a more multilateral approach on the part of the US. If you ask the Europeans, that's what they want from American leadership. Apparently, so does Obama. It's a convenient convergence. Will it pass the test of this presidency? Of this century?
The Big Embrace: Obama moves to give developing nations—and some developed ones—more influence in global decision-making - Emily Lowe, Slate: Change is brewing abroad, where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced an overhaul of the U.S. aid program in Afghanistan and President Obama is expected to give major shoutouts to some important developing nations at the G20 summit.
Let’s Not Read the Obama Foreign Policy Tea Leaves Yet - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View
A Rookie President:We can lose some very big games with this rookie - Thomas Sowell, National Review: There is no sign that President Obama has impressed the Russians, the Iranians, or the North Koreans, except by his rookie mistakes -- and that is a dangerous way to impress dangerous people.
G-20, Obama, And His New Brand Foreign Policy - Omid Memarian, Huffington Post:
Obama's package diplomacy, or effectively incorporating regional power as a specific resolution to end current stalemates, seems to be the best way to go. Obama might have to apologize for the damage Washington has made throughout the world and will need to be ready to compromise and show respect to sovereign states. Image from
Obama Administration to Release Bin Laden Associate from Gitmo - Thomas Joscelyn, Weekly Standard: The U.S. Justice Department has decided to release another detainee from Guantanamo, a Yemeni named Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi. It is not entirely clear why Batarfi has been cleared for release.
Iran to the U.S.: Where we go now: Offering a response to President Obama's Persian New Year speech, an Iranian official says the offer to talk is promising but that there are old wounds that must be dealt with - Ali Akbar Javanfekr, Los Angeles Times. Image from
Twelve Steps To Improve Relations with Iran - Robert Naiman, Huffington Post: Among them: Authorize routine contact between U.S. and Iranian diplomats; Establish a US interests section in Tehran; Guarantee multiple entry or expedited re-entry visas for Iranian students and scholars; Abolish U.S. "Democracy Promotion" programs in Iran.
Bibi and Barack Can Unite on Iran: Israel's new government is an 'obstacle' only to unrealistic goals - Yossi Klein Halevi, Wall Street Journal
The Return of Weakness : President Obama means well. Iran doesn't - Reuel Marc Gerecht, Weekly Standard
Stop Arming Israel - Philip Giraldi, Antiwar.com: “That Obama gave his first interview with a foreign broadcaster to al-Arabiya, a Saudi Arabian-owned satellite service, is significant. It demonstrates that the president truly understands how low the U.S. has fallen in the view of the rest of the world. … It would convince much of the world that change and sanity have finally arrived in Washington if Obama were to look seriously at the issue of U.S. weapons sales to Israel.”
Staying the course: If the U.S. perseveres long enough, we can leave behind an 'Iraq good enough'- Anthony H. Cordesman, Baltimore Sun: There are good reasons to support President Barack Obama and U.S. military commanders in keeping U.S. forces strong enough to help secure Iraq for the coming national election, and phasing down U.S. forces at the rate the president has planned for. There are good reasons to leave a strong residual force in Iraq that can train the Iraqi security forces, and provide assistance in areas such as intelligence and air support as the Iraqi forces take over.
Turkey Awaits Its Hero Obama - Stephen Schlesinger, Huffington Post: Barack Obama is now considered in Turkey to be the virtual president of our planet.
Westernizing Afghanistan - H.D.S. Greenway, Boston Globe: In a society so steeped in a contrary tradition, is it up to us to tell Afghans what customs they can or can't keep? Is the goal of westernizing Afghanistan sustainable? Is it realistic? Is it worth dying for? As it has always been, the clash between idealism and practicality in American foreign policy never ceases. Image from
Afghanistan: Third Time's The Charm? William Bradley – Huffington Post: America has actually won two wars in Afghanistan in the past quarter-century. But each time, eminently distractable America has taken its eye off the ball, and the victories have proved evanescent.
Yes, We Have No Bananastan - Jeff Huber, Antiwar.com: President Barack Obama’s March 27 announcement of a "new strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan" makes it official. He has no clue what he’s doing.
While Obama Escalates War in Afghanistan, Iraq Could Blow Up in His Face - Jeremy Scahill, Huffington Post: There is great reason to suspect that the timeline for withdrawal -- all troops out by 2011 -- announced in February by the Obama administration will prove to be a fallacy.
Afghanistan: Might As Well Talk Now - Robert Dreyfuss, Nation: Like Iran, which is watching the United States exit Iraq right on schedule, our adversaries in Afghanistan know that we're leaving, too. We might as well make it public, and start talking.
Obama Administration Digs Its Own Grave in Afghanistan: Another Lost War – William S. Lind, CounterPunch
No Place to Hide: The new Obama Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy redefines counter-terrorism--but it doesn't go far enough - Andrew Exum, New Republic: In a counter-insurgency campaign -- especially when waged against an enemy like the Taliban who pursues a strategy of exhaustion -- if you're not winning, you are losing. If momentum has not demonstrably shifted 12 months from now, then, it will be time to question again our position in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Putting a New Coat on a Failed Strategy: Obama's Pakistan Gambit - Ron Jacobs, CounterPunch: "Could it be that the goals Mr. Obama explicitly denied (and I quote)--'We are not in Afghanistan to control that country or to dictate its future.'-- are the true ones? Only then does his escalation of the battle there begin to make sense.
The Budget's Foreign Policy Handcuffs - Stephen Zunes, Huffington Post:
As Americans are losing their jobs due to a lack of public funding, the Democrats' appropriation bill pours billions of dollars into sophisticated weapons for both Israel and neighboring Arab states. Image from
Crossing the border? Take your passport - Thomas Frank, USA TODAY: This summer, Americans will be required for the first time to show a passport or a special ID card to drive home from Canada or Mexico.
A Nation of Narcissists – Truthdig:
Is American exceptionalism just a euphemism for nationalized narcissism? Are narcissists to blame for the cataclysm on Wall Street? Stephen Colbert takes a read on the national zeitgeist and brings in Slate columnist Emily Yoffe to declare that certain public figures might suffer from narcissistic personality disorder.
Monday, March 30, 2009
"The [New and Revised Copywriter's Manual’s] 7 Words You Can't Say in Advertising are: Luxurious, Decadent, Sugary, Sexy, Exquisite, Bitchin', I.
The 7 Approved Replacement Words: Solid, Nourishing, Brown, Well-molded, Sustainable, Post-consumer, We."
-- Steve Simpson, Adweek; image from
Obama Heads Back to Europe, Challenges in Tow – John Harwood, New York Times: “Some foreign leaders, along with ordinary Americans, blame today’s [economic] predicament largely on Wall Street excesses. … Yet Mr. Obama’s status as the first black president may deflect some of that criticism. It will also place him at the center of the international spotlight. 'What Obama has that Clinton did not is the delicious elements of biography that make him a walking public diplomacy program for America, Mr. McCurry [Mike McCurry, former State Department spokesman and later Mr. Clinton’s White House press secretary] said. 'The other leaders will have to contend with the enormous interest in this new, young, popular president.'” Image from
America the Tarnished - Paul Krugman, New York Times: "These days foreign leaders are in no mood to be lectured by American officials, even when -- as in this case -- the Americans are right. The financial crisis has had many costs. And one of those costs is the damage to America’s reputation, an asset we’ve lost just when we, and the world, need it most."
Economy causes a double hit to PD – Aly Jiwani, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: “The downfall of the US market has ripple effects everywhere and it has become a global economic downturn. Given the strong and leading role that America's financial and banking sectors had in leading the world down this path and the global perceptions about what has happened in the economy, how the US cleans up the financial and banking mess will matter a lot in re-shaping America's public image. … The stereotypical views about Americans being greedy and materialistic are accentuated. This again demonstrates how apart from the actions of the American government, the American private sector and corporations just like American tourists and businessmen speak volumes in shaping America's image.”
Mapping a New Strategy: Democracy in Former Soviet Areas Needs a Friend - Ludmila Alexeeva and Gregory Shvedov, Washington Post: "What can the Obama administration do now … [includes to] recognize the importance of the media and make sure that your commitment to the free flow of ideas never falters. Continue to support international broadcasting via Radio Liberty and Voice of America and step in to help independent media, especially Internet outlets. … [Also,] consider forming a single agency to direct democracy and human rights activities, and find new, effective leaders to run it. Now, too many cooks are spoiling the soup; we could accomplish more with less if there were one reliable forum for us to work together." Image from
Washington Diarist: In Which We Engage - Leon Wieseltier, New Republic: "Democratization, since it proposes to replace one political culture with another, is a policy of destabilization, and so it is an evolutionary enterprise, and takes time, and can be achieved only indigenously, by the people themselves. But often they need help, which, in the real world so beloved of Democrats, means American help. This help can take many forms."
A Mexican Standoff with Reality - zenpundit.com: “Thursday, in a statement that was issued in part for public diplomacy purposes, DNI Adm. Dennis Blair, dismissed any strategic implications regarding the strength of Mexico’s drug cartels that the Mexican government is struggling to suppress: ‘Mexico is in no danger of becoming a failed state.’”
Conspiracy and Propaganda Centers: Illegal US Consulates in Venezuela By Eva Golinger: Translated for Axis of Logic by Iris Buehler and revised by Les Blough, members of Tlaxcala - posted by Macu, Milfuegos: “Officially, the American Corners are partnership programs between the Embassy of the United States and certain local institutions that create small spaces, or 'corners', with access to information about the United States through the Internet, and books and documentaries produced by the Department of the State (DOS). Its goal is to create a kind of 'virtual consulate' that would not be sponsored formally by the government of the United States but by a local organization, association, school, library or institution. Actually, the American Corners constitute another propaganda instrument of Washington which works not only as launching pad for psychological warfare, but also subverts and violates the diplomatic regulations by establishing places for 'consular' access in a nation without the authorization of the host country's government.” Image from
Mideast: US Overtures to Iran Must Wait - Analysts - Meena Janardhan, IPS: "Referring to U.S. President Barack Obama’s video message on the occasion of the Iranian New Year last week, Christian Koch of the Gulf Research Centre (GRC) said Washington’s opening to Iran is a step in the right direction, but Tehran is likely to once again miss the opportunity. ‘Obama’s gesture introduced the critical element of public diplomacy by addressing the people and leaders of Iran jointly, finally acknowledging that trying to drive a wedge between Iran’s leaders and people is unproductive,’ Koch, director of international studies at the Dubai-based think tank, told IPS. 'Unfortunately,' he added, 'given the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s dismissal of the message means the likely result is the further isolation of Iran to the detriment of regional security.'’’
Israel and Peace in the Middle East: Shlomo Ben Ami - Aldo Civico, Huffington Post: “In past peace processes,
the parties were able to reduce the ocean to a river, but they remained incapable of crossing the river. The leadership of the United States, together with a broad international coalition, should propose to the parties bridging and binding proposals. If Obama inaugurates an era of new public diplomacy, we have a chance to make peace in the Middle East.” Image from
Annual Report on Human Rights 2008 – Pakistan: Publisher United Kingdom: Foreign and Commonwealth Office - posted at UNHCR Refworld: “U.K. action … . Our High Commission in Islamabad is funding and implementing 26 human rights-related projects in addition to funding support through donor organisations. Through the Public Diplomacy Fund, we are supporting projects on women's rights, training and creation of a lawyers' network of human rights advocates and on improving investigative journalism in Pakistan to encourage impartial reporting on political, electoral and human rights issues.”
Blogging the OAH: Day Three - Christopher Capozzola, Legal History Blog: “The third and final day of the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians featured a bonanza of sessions and events for legal historians. Among the day's offerings: … At a session on 'Sex, Race, and Empire across the West and the Pacific' chaired by Paul Kramer (Iowa), the audience heard a fascinating set of papers. Mary Lui (Yale) used the story of the 1950s goodwill tour of Korean-American Olympic diver Sammy Lee to explore gender, race, and nation in the reception of Cold War public diplomacy.” Image from
Propaganda.com - Evgeny Morozov, New York Times: This year’s report on “enemies of the Internet” prepared by Reporters Without Borders, the international press advocacy group, paints a very gloomy picture for the freedom of expression on the Web. But identifying “Internet enemies” only on the basis of censorship and intimidation, as Reporters Without Borders has done, obfuscates the fact that these are only two components of a more comprehensive and multi-pronged approach that authoritarian governments have developed to diffuse the subversive potential of online communications.
Air Force Takes Aim at Higher Recruiting Goal With Web Series: 'The Circuit' Targets Tech-Savvy Audience, Combats Idea That Service Is 'Just About Pilots' - Claude Brodesser-Akner, Advertising Age. Image from
Holbrooke Calls for "Complete Rethink" of Drugs in Afghanistan - David Corn, Mother Jones
Success and security in Afghanistan - Scott Payne and Peter O'Brien, Boston Globe:
Succeeding in Afghanistan will be hard, but that does not mean success cannot be achieved. With Obama's new strategy, we can secure America's interests in Afghanistan. Image from
Hedging on Afghanistan - Editors, National Review: To defeat this enemy, Obama argued, we need the “comprehensive” approach of a full-scale counter-insurgency -- encompassing security, governance, and economics -- rather the narrow counter-terrorism strategy some of his advisers favored. That minimalist strategy would have risked making all of Afghanistan into the equivalent of the tribal areas of Pakistan, where al-Qaeda operatives go unmolested except by the occasional Predator strike.
Obama's 'stronger, smarter' war: The President now owns Afghanistan – Editorial, Washington Times: The Afghan war is now Obama’s to lose. Governments in the region, as well as our NATO allies, will be watching closely for signs that the president lacks the fortitude to press the matter to a successful conclusion. In this respect Mr. Obama may fancy himself a smarter president than Mr. Bush, but it remains to be seen if he is stronger.
What to do about Afghanistan – Martin Peretz, New Republic:
The real question is whether Democrats have the gumption to support a battle that will not be easy, will be laden with inevitable error and cause many civilians casualties (like Israel in Gaza, and much more because we will be flying unmanned drones) and will put the country, with blood and gore, at odds with many many millions of Muslims not only in the two target states but elsewhere... and let's not say where. Image from
Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan: The President's plan for the increasingly troubled region is ambitious, although his goals are more limited than Bush's - Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor
Obama's Afghan plan: Leave Al Qaeda to others: Despite the surge, he wants others to take over and to ease the US out - Editorial Board, Christian Science Monitor
The Real Afghan Issue Is Pakistan: The president has his priorities reversed - Graham Allison and John Deutch, Wall Street Journal: For Afghanistan to become a unitary state ruled from Kabul, and to develop into a modern, prosperous, poppy-free and democratic country would be a worthy and desirable outcome. But it is not vital for American interests. The problem in Pakistan is more pressing and direct.
Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President - Ray McGovern, Common Dreams: It is wooden-headedness, in my view, that permeates the "comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan" that the president announced yesterday.
Obama's domino theory: The president sounds like he's channeling Cheney or McCain -- or a Cold War hawk afraid of international communism -- when he talks about the war in Afghanistan - Juan Cole, Salon: The Kabul government is not on the verge of falling to the Taliban.
The Great Afghan Bailout: It's Time to Change Names, Switch Analogies - Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch: Unfortunately, the end result is likely to be that, as with A.I.G., we, the American people, could end up "owning" 80% of the Af-Pak project without ever "nationalizing" it -- without ever, that is, being in actual control. In fact, if things go as badly as they could in the Af-Pak War, A.I.G. might end up looking like a good deal by comparison.
Af-Pak Fever: The Obamaites go to war – Justin Raimondo, Antiwar.com: What Obama is proposing for Afghanistatn is more than a mere "surge" – it is a rising tsunami of unimaginable proportions, one that will make the Iraq war seem like a minor swell. Image from
US general: American forces may not leave key Iraqi cities: The top commander of ground forces in Iraq says that US troops may stay longer than the June deadline in Baquba and Mosul - Jane Arraf, Christian Science Monitor
U.S. Out How?: 50 experts on the moral dilemma of leaving Iraq – Mother Jones. SEE ALL
"Ready to be Traitors": The Israeli Resistance - Hannah Safran, CounterPunch: "On January 8, 2009, 13 days into the war on Gaza, 45 people, Jews and Arabs, came together in Haifa to discuss how to proceed with our anti-war activities. Each one of those present in the room had already participated in more than one action against this war in Gaza. We belong to a growing public that does not buy into the Israeli propaganda of ‘there is nobody to talk with’ – the idea that we, Israelis, are eager to make peace but they, the Palestinians, are not interested. We have come of age during the past eight years of activism against all odds.”
Inversion of Reality: Where the victims are labeled [aggressors] + the Great Lie Theory – Sagazone: Inversion of Reality is the basic principle of anti-Israeli propaganda. This propaganda method is a product of Nazi Germany.
Mexico's war must be our war: Helping Mexico take on the drug cartels helps us, but the effort will require unprecedented cooperation between our two countries - John Kerry, Los Angeles Times
Biden: No plans to scrap Cuba embargo – LJWorld.com: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday that the United States is not planning to lift its trade embargo on Cuba. Biden, who was in the Chilean resort city of Vina del Mar for a summit of center-left leaders from Latin America and Europe, replied “no” when asked by reporters if Washington plans to scrap the decades-old embargo.
Momentum Grows for Relaxing Cuba Policy: Senate Measure Would Eliminate Travel Ban - Shailagh Murray and Karen DeYoung, Washington Post
Russia's Reset: Mr. Obama isn't contemplating change solely on the part of the United States – Editorial, Washington Post:
The administration believes that it can develop constructive relations with Russia without sacrificing the interests of Russia's neighbors. Whether such a reset will be acceptable to Mr. Medvedev or to Russia's de facto top ruler, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, remains to be seen. Image from
Lost in translation: Listening to what Moscow says is instructive - John M. McHugh, Washington Times: To be sure, engaging Russia should be a priority of any administration; it is, after all, a once-great and now-re-emerging power. It should not be the first priority beyond all others, however. What the United States should do - and what we must do as a moral authority for human freedom around the world - is reaffirm our support for emerging democratic states seeking to exercise sovereignty and represent their peoples' interests.
Kremlin Should Seize This Obama Moment - Vladimir Frolov, Moscow Times: In Moscow, the desire to work with Obama's team is growing even as fears of being "duped" fuel suspicion. Moscow's priority seems to be to hold out for substantive changes in the U.S. position as proof of a genuine U.S. desire to take Russia's concerns into account. This stance could squander a strategic opportunity.
Kim's Latest Hostages: North Korea is trying to do to Obama what it did to Bush - Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal: Having succeeded in extracting concessions from President Bush in exchange for promises to give up its nuclear program, Pyongyang is looking to get the new Administration to repay for the same phony terms.
"The film opens with Colonel Samuel Trautman (Richard Crenna) returning to Thailand (where the second film took place)
to once again enlist the help of Vietnam veteran John J. Rambo (Sylvester Stallone). After witnessing Rambo's victory in a stick-fighting match, Trautman visits the construction site of the temple Rambo is helping to build and asks Rambo to join him on a mission to Afghanistan. The mission is meant to supply weapons, including FIM-92 Stinger missiles, to Afghan freedom fighters, the Mujahideen, who are fighting the Soviets in the Soviet-Afghan War."
--Wikipedia, on Rambo III
Sunday, March 29, 2009
“Aren't we allowed to call it propaganda anymore?
--Journalist Sheila Toomey, Anchorage Daily News, regarding "a field called public diplomacy"; image from
Still Blacklisting Countries - Karin Esposito, Religion and Politics The World Affairs Blog Network, Foreign Policy Association: "The State Department has released the blacklist of religious freedom violators established by the Bush administration. … The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom pushed the State Department to get the list published and claims that listing a country will help U.S. public diplomacy efforts to improve the human rights records of violators. I thought after eight years the rhetoric of blacklisting was shown to be ineffective. In either case, the fact that the State Department is still blacklisting exactly the same countries shows just how little policy has actually changed."
Calling Doktor “Haus” - Mark Dillen, Public Diplomacy -- The World Affairs Blog Network, Foreign Policy Association: “The Amerika Haus in Berlin, a symbol of U.S.-government public diplomacy throughout the Cold War, has been quietly resurrected by a German-American not-for-profit to serve as a venue for America-related events in the German capital. … [T]he State Department during the 1990s abandoned nearly all cultural centers, libraries and high visibility cultural events as forms of cultural or public diplomacy. Motives and rationales ranged from security concerns to austerity budgets to a conviction that new Internet media should be the focus of government-funded outreach to foreign publics. The merits of such a wholesale abandonment of the most 'public' part of public diplomacy have been discussed (and properly criticized) elsewhere. Other governments (e.g., Germany’s) have also cut back their own foreign cultural work, so this is not just an American phenomenon. But the success — at long odds — of NGO efforts to fill part of the void in American overseas cultural programming should cause policy makers to re-examine certain assumptions. Foreign TV broadcasters and cinemas may be avid consumers of commercial U.S. cultural products, but they are no substitute for the positive impact that directed cultural programs can have.”
Before she douses any flames, she should douse any misinformation about US international broadcasting - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: Re the presentation of Foreign Service officer Dana Shell Smith on public diplomacy at the University of Delaware: “I hope that Shell Smith has been sufficiently briefed to know that Radio Sawa and Alhurra are not State Department public diplomacy ‘tools,’ but autonomous news organizations under a separate entity, the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The Secretary of State has one seat on the BBG, but is not its CEO.”
The audacity of VOA to report the news - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy:
“VOA is not chartered to help America's image, but to provide news to places where that news is, domestically, deficient.” Image from
VOA reaches North Korea via new South Korean medium wave rebroadcast - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy
Salah ad-Din Medical Press Conference - Video by Senior Airman Lucas Morrow, Joint Combat Camera Center IraqTikrit, IQ: “B-roll of Public Diplomacy for the Salah ad-Din Provincial Reconstruction Team holding a press conference over past, present, and future Iraqi medical issues and solutions on Mar. 17, 2009 at Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq. … The first speaker is Brett Bruen, Provincial Reconstruction Team, Public Diplomacy Team Lead for Salah ad-Din.”
Contrary to Popular Belief, I Am Not Dead… - dtearl, Softer Power:
“Anyway, I’ve been spending the last few days pondering Softer Power, and there are a few posts due in the pipeline. I’ve got some things to share RE: social media, public diplomacy (including the imminent nomination of Judith McHale and the delay in nominating her), and the possible end of newspapers.” Image from
Cart-Horse, Chicken-Egg, ? – Jameson, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: "Who are the publics U.S. PD needs to address? What are the means of addressing the public(s) effectively? … According to Internet usage statistics compiled by some likewise reputable institutions, you can take a different slant on Internet penetration. … [B]logs matter, and revisit the point of the short paragraph above, anything that anyone can do with a computer matters.”
The most important aspect of New Diplomacy following the seminars 5 & 7. – Celda, The New Diplomacy: The Reflective Blogs of the Students on the New Diplomacy Module at London Metropolitan University: “In my opinion the most important aspects of the new diplomacy is multilateral diplomacy, where more than two states are involved in negotiations, and the public diplomacy-soft power the citizens as well as the media play a greater role.”
Push to sell French culture – Straight Times: “France … launched a drive to sell its culture abroad with a new French Institute modeled after Germany's Goethe Institute or the British Council. The 'Institut Francais' will showcase French cultural products and promote the French language in cities worldwide, replacing the myriad of cultural centres that have mushroomed over the years. The Alliance Francaise, which offers language courses, will remain, but Culture France, which promotes cultural events, will be scrapped. The new institute will have a budget of S$81 million (40 million euros) and a study group is to present a report in the coming months detailing its mission.” Image from
Le pari culturel de la diplomatie française: Bernard Kouchner présente mercredi une réforme de l'action culturelle extérieure dont les moyens seront regroupés au sein d'un seul organisme - Alain Barluet, Figaro (3/25): «Tous les intervenants de la diplomatie culturelle bénéficieront en effet d'une appellation unique, celle de la nouvelle agence baptisée Institut français
Shen Wei in Syracuse: Olympic choreographer's residency will be a template - Nancy Keefe Rhodes, cny.link: “[Shen Wei’s] September Landmark performances will be accompanied by an event related to cultural diplomacy, in collaboration with SU’s Maxwell School. "
Rebirth of Cultural Diplomacy: Vietnam pushes forward with Cultural Diplomacy Renaissance - Jeremy Faulkner, Cultural Diplomacy News: “Vietnam has begun a renaissance in cultural diplomacy events, guided by the Vietnamese government’s proclamation of 2009 as 'The Year of Cultural Diplomacy.' Vietnam has a calendar filled with cultural diplomacy events, and lots of energy has been devoted to examining what cultural diplomacy is. Vietnam does not wield the powerful cultural-promotion machines that France and the United States do, but Vietnam is surely taking note of these examples and is trying to promote its own cultural resources abroad.”
Theatre for all - Alejandro R. Roces, The Philippine Star: “We are pleased that Tourism, Education and Social Welfare concerns with cultural diplomacy have been synergized by the NCCA [National Commission for Culture and the Arts] under the leadership of its Chairman Dr. Vilma Labrador and Executive Director Cecile Guidote-Alvarez in pursuing the President’s directive to harness culture in an agenda for employment enhancement, human rights education and moral reform. It is also laudable that World Theatre Day in March now serves as an appropriate occasion in giving recognition to culture-friendly local government officials, media organizations as well as outstanding artists who have exemplified golden years of service to the nation through their art manifesting compassion and concern for the advancement of the welfare of the cultural community.” Iamge from
Painter pays tribute to years in Paris - Viet Nam News: “HA NOI — An exhibition entitled Paris – Athens, by the well-known Greek artist Pavlos Samios, has opened at the French Cultural Centre, L’Espace, on Trang Tien Street in Ha Noi to mark Greek National Day in the year of Cultural Diplomacy 2009.”
On the Move - Sheila Toomey, Anchorage Daily News: “Bernholz and Graham, a well-known local PR agency, is being bought by Jennifer Thompson, who currently handles the firm's day-to-day operations for Mike Porcaro, who bought it in 2001 from co-founder Robbie Graham. The sale is effective April 1. Graham is going to stick around a while, says a press release, but has already moved into a field called ‘public diplomacy,’ which appears to be soft-sell international messaging. (Aren't we allowed to call it propaganda anymore? Or schmoozing?).” Image from
World Reactions to Obama Plan for Afghanistan - Juan Cole,
Obama Will Face a Defiant World on Foreign Visit - Helene Cooper, New York Times: Despite his immense popularity around the world, Mr. Obama will confront resentment over American-style capitalism and resistance to his economic prescriptions when he lands in London on Tuesday for the Group of 20 summit meeting of industrial and emerging market nations plus the European Union.
Obama's uphill climb at the G-20 summit: The president was once Europe's darling. Now he'll find that the global economic crisis has changed everything - Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times
No Givens As Obama Steps Onto World Stage - Michael D. Shear, Washington Post: After 69 days in which international issues have taken a back seat to attempts to rescue the economy at home, President Obama takes the world stage this week as a wildly popular figure among the people of Europe, but one who faces a difficult task in selling his plans to the continent's leaders.
America's Way on Trial - Jim Hoagland, Washington Post: Today's global economic collapse is convincing European and Asian nations that management of the dollar is too important to be left to the Americans.
Spanish Court Weighs Inquiry on Torture for 6 Bush-Era Officials - Marlise Simons, New York Times: A Spanish court has taken the first steps toward opening a criminal investigation into allegations that six former high-level Bush administration officials violated international law by providing the legal framework to justify the torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an official close to the case said.
Exorcising the torture demon – Editorial, Boston Globe: The use of torture authorized by President Bush left a stain on America's reputation, produced dubious intelligence, and may have played into the hands of Osama bin Laden and like-minded fanatics. The purpose of an inquiry into these issues should not be to criminally indict CIA officers or mid-level government officials; they were acting under authority granted them by a commander in chief. The purpose should be to demonstrate that American democracy is capable of correcting its worst errors. Image from
The Big Idea: Want to Fight Terrorists? Try Mocking Them - Carlos Lozada, Washington Post: Make al-Qaeda boring
A new season in Iran relations - Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh and Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, Boston Globe: With the right mix of policies by both sides, the spell of hostility can be broken.
Syria Calling: The Obama Administration’s chance to engage in a Middle East peace - Seymour M. Hersh, New Yorker: American and foreign government officials, intelligence officers, diplomats, and politicians said in interviews that renewed Israeli-Syrian negotiations over the Golan Heights are now highly likely. Those talks would depend largely on America’s willingness to act as the mediator, a role that could offer Barack Obama his first—and perhaps best—chance for engagement in the Middle East peace process. Image from
War comes closer to home: Security issues to our south more pressing than Afghanistan - Georgie Anne Geyer, Washington Times: We remain painfully and wholly unnecessarily committed in Iraq and even Afghanistan, which should have been a police/intelligence action instead of an all-out war against a shadowy and imprecise enemy. Right on our border, we are in a war that is no longer either shadowy or imprecise.
The Southern Colony [Review of In The Shadow of a Giant: The Americanization Of Modern Mexico by Joseph Contreras] - Manuel Roig-Franzia, Washington Post
Look to Beijing - Zachary Karabell, Washington Post: Continued prosperity requires the United States to share the global stage with China.
Olympius Inferno: Movie on war in South Ossetia hits Russian screen – Russia Today: The ‘Olympius Inferno’ movie tells a story of a young scientist searching for a unique butterfly he hopes to film. Instead, he ends up shooting pictures of a very different kind – the first scenes of Georgia’s military action against South Ossetia. Even before hitting the big screen, ‘Olympius Inferno’ has been criticised and labeled as propaganda. But the movie's director is untroubled.
Religion News: Former North Korean Propaganda Officer Now Spreads Message of Christ - christiansunite.com: Kim Sung Min, a former propaganda officer for the North Korean Army, is now fighting for the freedom and faith of his home country.
The Voice of the Martyrs invites you to attend a special conference in Mississauga, Ontario on March 28 and Edmonton, Alberta on April 4 to hear Mr. Kim's harrowing story of escape from North Korea. Image from
Saturday, March 28, 2009
"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue."
--François de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680); image from
How Do I Save My Honor?: War, Moral Integrity, and Principled Resignation - William F. Felice. Published by Rowman & Littlefield, 2009
Rebooting America’s Global Image Not Going Well: Maybe instead of a reboot, we’re just getting the boot - Mona Charen, National Review: “On the occasion of the Persian New Year, President Obama delivered a video message to the Iranian people and government, advisedly using the term 'the Islamic Republic of Iran.' Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s response was, well, a little less than enthusiastic. … The new dawn for relations with Europe is slow to materialize too. … Secretary of State Clinton presented a cutesy 'reset' button to the Russian ambassador. But apparently the State Department had gotten the Russian word wrong. Instead of 'reset' it said 'overcharge.' The North Koreans seem ready to launch a new long-range missile. … Recession notwithstanding, China is very aggressively increasing its military spending.”
Travels with Hillary, Part One - Warren Strobel, Nukes & Spooks: “Public diplomacy is a more important part of the secretary of state's job than that of any other senior U.S. official except the president. …
As she increasingly assumes her diplomatic mantle, I wouldn't be surprised to see her retreat into caution and diplomatic code. Clinton moves fast. All secretaries of state are required, by virture of foreign opinion and good taste, to do 'events' that go beyond official meetings--touring local cultural sites, meeting youth groups, etc. Some embrace it more than others. … Clinton seems to genuinely enjoy these encounters. And she does A LOT of them. In our less than 36 hours in Mexico, along with the official meetings and press conferences, she did the following: met with indigenous students; held a dinner with women leaders; toured the basilica; paid a visit to a Mexican Federal Police base; gave a speech and took questions at a technology unviersity in Monterrey; and went to a renewable energy plant.” Image from
Iran: Change in Substance Faces Tough Challenges – Swoop: “President Obama’s videotaped message to the Iranian people and, most importantly, the clerical leadership on the occasion of the Iranian New Year Nowruz, is the latest in a series of gestures that aim to soften or even reverse the policies of the Bush Administration. While this address introduces the critical element of public diplomacy by an American President directly engaging Iran, there are some who maintain that from an Iranian perspective, the American gesture is still perceived as dictating the rules of the game rather than engaging in a genuine dialogue.”
Obama Incentivizes Success in Pakistan, Not Failure - Rob Asghar, Huffington Post: “Obama’s move to offer Pakistan $1.5 billion in economic aid over the next five years represents a major step forward in public diplomacy, soft power and inner resolve. Resentments won’t heal immediately. My most recent visits to Pakistan were peppered with angry declarations from citizens about how America continues to see how Pakistan has been drained by the influx of millions of refugees from Afghanistan after the U.S.-funded war against the Soviets there. They rage about a sense of powerlessness. … Still, Obama deserves considerable credit for his balance of carrot and stick in that supremely chaotic part of the world.” Image from
10 terms not to use with Muslims: There's a big difference between what we say and what they hear - Chris Seiple, Christian Science Monitor: “As President Obama considers his first speech in a Muslim majority country (he visits Turkey April 6-7), and as the US national security establishment reviews its foreign policy and public diplomacy, I want to share the advice given to me from dear Muslim friends worldwide regarding words and concepts that are not useful in building relationships with them. … 1. 'The Clash of Civilizations.' … 2. 'Secular.' ... 3. 'Assimilation.' ... 4. 'Reformation.' ... 5. 'Jihadi.' ... 6. 'Moderate.' ... 7. 'Interfaith.' ... 8. 'Freedom.' ... 9. 'Religious Freedom.' 10. 'Tolerance.'"
Freedom in Muslim Countries: An Endangered Species - Jennifer S. Bryson, Public Discourse: “Egypt is one of the very largest recipients in the world of U.S. foreign assistance—annually over 800 million dollars in development assistance, and over a billion dollars, each year, for military hardware. We might want to re-evaluate whether this is an effective investment of U.S. money. Consider the irony. When a congressional committee held a hearing on 'Strategic Communication and Countering Ideological Support for Terrorism,' (CIST) a Public Diplomacy official informed Congress that cornerstones of Department of State’s CIST efforts include use of the Internet and empowering moderate Muslims. While these are laudable efforts, one wonders what the point of them is when simultaneously the very same U.S. government is using large amounts of taxpayer money to support one of the world’s greatest 'Internet Enemies' as it censors, harasses, and imprisons moderate Muslims. We are feeding the hand that bites us.” Image from
Bi-Partisan National Security and Foreign Policy Analysis - Marcus T., Shatter Politic: “Because the great majority of fighters are local, the Afghan insurgency can afford not to 'win hearts and minds' as much as an organization like Al Qa’ida in Iraq. However, it does have a very coherent psychological strategy aimed at aligning its international public diplomacy and public affairs, recruitment, psychological and tactical missions under an umbrella of Pashtun nationalism and religious fervor."
Scholar Discusses Media in Islamic World - The Kansas Progress: “Mohammed Ibahrine, assistant professor, School of Humanities and Social Science, Al Akhawayn University, Ifrane, Morocco, will be the Johnson County Community College scholar in residence April 13-17. Ibahrine will give two free public lectures [among them]:
U.S. Public Diplomacy Toward Islamic Countries: New Realities, Old Challenges?, 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, in the M.R. and Evelyn Hudson Auditorium of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art." Image from
State Department official discusses public diplomacy issues – UDaily: “4:35 p.m., March 27, 2009----As the latest speaker in the University of Delaware's series 'Global Agenda 2009,' Dana Shell Smith spoke to a full house in Mitchell Hall Wednesday, March 25, about public diplomacy and the new role she will assume as the media liaison for the U.S. State Department. Her presentation was entitled 'Dousing the flames: Public diplomacy in action.' … Shell Smith also provided a synopsis of ways the U.S. can be most effective in public diplomacy efforts in the Middle East. First, policy changes, although they are beyond the direct control of the public diplomacy office, will have an enormous impact on public opinion overseas. Second, she said the U.S. has to listen to these opinions and not just talk over them or ignore them. Third, speaking the language of the countries with whom the U.S. is trying to communicate will show them the respect we have for their cultures. Finally, Shell Smith spoke at length about the importance of transparency, which is the concept of not merely sharing information with the people of the Middle East, but also being clear and credible about why policies are formed, and how and why decisions are made in the U.S.”
Upcoming Event: "Practice of Public Diplomacy: A Pakistani Perspective" - Center for Science and International Affairs: “Harvard students, staff, faculty - … April 3, 2009 … The Harvard Public Diplomacy PIC [?] aims to engage and cultivate public diplomacy practitioners within the HKS [?] student body and the Harvard University community. Public diplomacy is state diplomacy directed towards foreign publics and includes: communications with international audiences, cultural programs, educational exchanges, and countering ideological support for terrorism. … Dr. Maleeha Lodhi [the lecturer] is among the most accomplished female professionals in the Muslim world, with extensive experience in diplomacy, media, and teaching.” Dr. Lodhi image from
Cutting Ties With MCB: A Solution to Extremism? - Radwa Khorshid - IslamOnline.net: “'No one can deny the British Government’s right to break its ties with the MCB [Muslim Council of Britain]; however, it should beware of the impact of this on its public diplomacy towards the wider Muslim community in the UK,' explained Asem, one British Muslim who received a Masters of Law (LLM) from the London School of Economics."
Cultural Diplo Conference and Goras in the Outfield – Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I spent the day at the Cultural Diplomacy: Clash or Conversation? symposium, put on by APDS [Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars]. … Anyway, I chatted for a bit with Dr. Richard Arndt, the Emperor of Cultural Diplomacy before the conference kicked off. He is the author of The First Resort of Kings, our handbook on US cultural diplomacy, and was there as a keynote speaker. … Dr. Arndt … said, ‘the enemy of public diplomacy is quick fix thinking, or thinking that a single person can somehow change the image.’ … Anyway, the conference continued with a panel on ‘Presenting America to the World: The Public-Private Partnership,’ featuring Tracey Alexander- the producer of The Grid, our Diplomat in Residence Mark Smith and Dr. Darius Udrys- the development manager of Center for Civic Education, with Chairman Cull as the moderator (Nick has a penchant for a Chairman Mao shirt, too cool). … After lunch, we were treated to a concert by Sabina, of improv Bach and Azeri folk along with a frame drumer. Then we had a panel on ‘Global Approaches to Cultural Diplomacy’ with the aforementioned violinist, plus Sharon Memis- the director of the British Council North America, and also the curator of the USC libraries, Andrew Wulf.” Image from
Make Hay While Obama Is There - Edward Lozansky, Russia Blog: “Russia's Historically Poor Use of 'Soft Power' [:] It should be noted that in Russia these issues are not nearly as busily discussed, particularly at the think tank and NGO level, as they should be. This weakens Russia’s position, as the American and European publics are not getting the whole story and objective information. No one is sure where Russia’s interests lie and what compromises the Russian side would be prepared to make, while the U.S. media is busy focusing on the negatives in the relationship. Improving the Relationship - World Russia Forum [:] Several individuals from the Russian diaspora in the United States intend to improve the present situation through their own 'public diplomacy', by organizing the World Russia Forum scheduled for April 27 – 28, 2009 at the U.S. Senate auditorium in Washington, D.C. “
Obama's public overexposure; Time to leave the role of court jester to someone else -
Washington Times. Image from
Obama, NATO, and Restoration of US 'Leadership' - Joseph Gerson, Common Dreams: Powerful sectors of the U.S. elite backed Obama because they believe he can consolidate what remains of U.S. hegemony and relegitimate U.S. "leadership." A conceptual pillar of the restorationist project is the work of Joseph Nye, who coined the term "smart power" that has been repeatedly used by Obama and Clinton to prepare U.S. and other nations for the use "hard" as well as "soft" power.
"Life is Very Hard, and Our Future Seems Far Away": A Letter to Obama From a Guantánamo Uighur - Andy Worthington, CounterPunch
Obama's new way forward in Pakistan and Afghanistan: An administration white paper argues that the core goal of the U.S. must be to uproot al-Qaida from its safe havens in Pakistan – Salon: "Editor's note: The Interagency Policy Group's Report on U.S. Policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, reproduced [in] below [link] was released March 27."
What Obama Couldn't Say About Af-Pak - Michael Crowley, Nation: America's biggest problems, and most promising approaches, reside in areas that can't be discussed openly and candidly. That's because they are murky, unpleasant, and morally complex--not the stuff of a bold speech to the nation.
A New Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan - Max Boot, Commentary: The President's new Afghanistan policy takes a bold step in the right direction, even if his rhetoric remains confusing.
Obama Got Afghanistan/Pakistan Right - Jon Soltz, Huffington Post: Maybe most importantly, this president has given up the pipe dream of setting up a European-style democracy in Afghanistan, and instead has refocused our goals on a more urgent mission - protecting America and the world from terrorism.
The Price of Realism: President Obama's plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan is ambitious and expensive. It is also hard-headed – Editorials, Washington Post: Mr. Obama is ordering not just a major increase in U.S. troops, but also an ambitious effort at nation-building in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is right to do it.
The Remembered War – Editorial, New York Times: It was greatly encouraging simply to see the president actually focusing on this war and placing it in the broader regional framework that has been missing from American policy.
Obama vs. Al Qaeda – Editorial, Boston Globe: The president is charting a sensible way of dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan -- the crucible of Sept. 11.
Graveyard Myths - Peter Bergen, New York Times: Afghanistan is no longer the graveyard of any empire. Rather, it just might become the model of a somewhat stable Central Asian state.
Mr. Obama's Surge: He'll need some of Bush's fortitude to resist the crossfire from left and right - Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal:
Denying the "Afpak" border as a safe haven for al Qaeda and the worst Taliban elements will tax the patience of an already war-weary American public. We believe the war is winnable. Image from
Obama's Afghan Plan Could Be Worse - Robert Dreyfuss, Nation: Of course, the real exit strategy is a political settlement with the insurgents. Obama himself said: "The road ahead will be long and there will be difficult days ahead." True, that.
'Lower your sights' is the wrong vision for Afghanistan: As U.S. officials talk down our goals, Afghans are listening and wondering what happened to our promises - Sarah Chayes, Los Angeles Times: Additional troops are desperately needed, and they should be deployed to protect the population rather than focused on hunting high-value targets or trying to seal off Afghanistan's borders. Development assistance, well targeted and monitored, is also crucial.
For Obama, Three Afghanistan Tests - Jackson Diehl, Washington Post: For the moment, Afghanistan is emerging as a country with a U.S.-trained army that will tower over all other institutions -- with potential consequences that can easily be seen in the history of American-trained armies in Latin America.
Saving Afghanistan: Even though the situation on the ground is better than most people think, the war is on track to be the longest in U.S. history. Americans, says one Army general, need to show "strategic patience" - Robert D. Kaplan, Atlantic
The Holes in Obama's Afghanistan Plan - Leslie H. Gelb, Daily Beast: In the private deliberations leading up to today’s speech, Obama repeatedly told his principal advisers that they needed “an exit strategy.” Where is it? Above image from
Welcome to "Obama's War" - Tom Andrews, Huffington Post: “[A]s I watched President Obama announce his "Af-Pak" policy as Secretaries Clinton and Gates watched approvingly at his side[,] I can't shake this sinking feeling that what has now become "Obama's War" is a one-way ticket into a quagmire that will undermine if not destroy all too many of the things that we need the president to accomplish on his watch.”
Don't Go There Mr. President! - Tom Hayden, Nation: Sending 17,000 or 21,000 more US troops to Afghanistan will not protect Americans against Al Qaeda attacks.
Obama's Afghan quagmire deepens: The US president inherited a mess in Afghanistan, but he needs to bring some order to his mish-mash of policies for the country - Simon Tisdall, guardian.co.uk
The US Should Fear Its Friends - Ivan Eland, Antiwar.com: Instead of surging forces and trainers to Afghanistan and aid to Pakistan, Obama needs to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan -- sooner rather than later -- and to drastically narrow his goal: to merely guarantee that al-Qaeda cannot use Afghanistan or Pakistan as a launching point for attacks on the United States.
Afghanistan: The Four Questions - Robert Naiman, Common Dreams: It matters little in the big scheme of things, how many new troops President Obama announces. If there is no real change in policy, new troops won't accomplish anything. If there is a real change in policy, any success will be due much more to the policy change than to the "troop surge" under the cover of which the policy change takes place.
Deeper And Deeper – Andrew Sullivan, Atlantic: The president's decision to double-down on Afghanistan could multiplies our enemies, drag us further into the Pakistan nightmare, and will never Westernize a place like Afghanistan without decades-long imperial engagement.
AF"Lack" -- NATO's AWOL Allies in Afghanistan - Marc Ginsberg, Huffington Post: Afghanistan is not the only challenge facing NATO, but it is the most imporant, and how Europeans empirically/objectively/tangibly respond to the Obama Doctrine will have a telling impact on the future of trans-Atlantic relations.
Plain talk about drug war – Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle: Over the past months, Mexico was assailed as a "failed state," the ultimate diplomatic slap, because its corrupt government was overwhelmed by drug gangs. By speaking up about American drug use, Clinton is acknowledging the scope of the problem and reconnecting with a neighbor, ally and major trading partner.
How Bush Pushed North Korea to Nukes - Gordon Prather, Antiwar.com
-- 1. Lenin, Vladimir Il’ich (N. Lenina). CHTO DIELAT [What is to be done]? NABOLIEVSHIE VOPROSY NASHEGO DVIZHENIIA. Stuttgart : Verlag von J.H.W. Dietz, 1902. 1st edition. Cloth, Small 8vo, 144 pages. 24 cm. In Russian. OCLC lists 5 copies worldwide (Harvard, Yale, Michigan, New York Univ, Wisconsin). Bound in period boards, with light wear, stains, & spine label to boards, Bund stamp on title page, all internal pages clean and tight.$500.00