Sunday, January 10, 2010

January 9-10

“We have for many years been busily engaged in a grand project of Americanizing the world’s understanding of mental health and illness. We may indeed be far along in homogenizing the way the world goes mad.”

--Ethan Watters, author of “Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche”; image: USA Mad Hatter a political crazy hat! Red, White & Blue!; see also John Brown, "'The Americanization of Mental Illness' and Public Diplomacy"


From Face Time to Facebook: Public Diplomacy, New Media, and America’s Global Image - Instructor: Judith Siegel, consultant; former deputy assistant secretary, bureau of international information programs, U.S. Department of State, Center for Global Affairs, The New York University: Review the history and practice of official U.S. government public diplomacy; new media; and how opinions are formed, all exploring the question of global public opinion of the U.S., with special reference to foreign policy. Current international developments are used in discussions as case studies to assess current U.S. strategic approaches.


Senator Lugar: Social networking technologies are a "risk worth taking" - Senator Lugar - Kim Andrew Elliott Reporting on International Broadcasting: “Americans may think of VOA and RFE as ‘outreach efforts,’ but their audiences see the stations as a source of news more reliable than they get from their domestic media. Decades ago, in the classic period of shortwave broadcasting, audiences generally could hear three big signals: BBC, VOA, and Radio Moscow. Radio Moscow was obviously one-sided, so only BBC and VOA were left as reliable sources of information. Now, in the age of social media, BBC and VOA deliver their news via Twitter and Facebook, but they are in the midst of millions of other users, most providing drivel and dreck, but all with an equal ‘signal.’ Reliable news is more difficult to find in this massive oversupply of content.” Below Lugar image from

Senator Lugar: Information is Power - Matt Armstrong, “The ability to share information empowers people, regardless of where they are. Increased access to information is democratizing. It can mobilize, increase oversight and accountability, and improve access to resources and markets, all of which increase participation and standards of living. It is not surprising then that one of public diplomacy chief proponents in Congress, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), wrote about the use of social media as a tool for democracy in Twitter vs. Terror at”

Copenhagen: a Failure of American Statecraft - T. Greer, “Many of the Obama administration's climate hands first broke their teeth attacking President Bush and company for the very claims now being made by China, yet nary a peep was heard from any of them in the weeks preceding the Coppenhagen climate conference. Missing was a public relations campaign that might have displayed Indian and Chinese duplicity for all the world to see. Missing was much needed push-back against the developing narrative of an evil America attempting to escape accountability for her crimes by forcing the world's poorest to pay for her ecological sins. Public diplomacy assets went utterly unused. By ignoring international opinion American officials ceded the moral high ground, and by extension, the chance to set the parameters by which the battles in Copenhagen would be waged.”

Taiwan and Finland of the original text with some of the translation (updated on 1 / 9) - Bruce Gilley, “The United States has played a crucial role in maintaining cross-strait peace and encouraging democracy in Taiwan since 1949. Today, the U.S. role in this process is nearing its end. U.S. policy toward a Finlandized Taiwan will have to be adjusted both strategically and diplomatically. Expanded official contacts with Taiwan will require consultations with Beijing; the United States and its allies will have to refashion battle plans to exclude Taiwan;

Washington will have to support the new approach to cross-strait peace through its public diplomacy; and U.S. intelligence agencies will have to be more careful about scrutinizing technology transfers to the island because the PRC's intelligence gathering on Taiwan will inevitably expand. Most important, Washington will have to significantly scale back its arms sales to Taipei.” Image from

Answering Helen Thomas on Why - Ray McGovern, The Baltimore Chronicle: “Washington’s sanitized discussion about motives for terrorism seems more intended for the U.S. domestic audience than the Muslim world. After all, people in the Middle East already know how Palestinians have been mistreated for decades; how Washington has propped up Arab dictatorships; how Muslims have been locked away at Guantanamo without charges; how the U.S. military has killed civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere; how U.S. mercenaries have escaped punishment for slaughtering innocents. The purpose of U.S. 'public diplomacy' appears more designed to shield Americans from this unpleasant reality, offering instead feel-good palliatives about the beneficence of U.S. actions. Most American journalists and politicians go along with the charade out of fear that otherwise they would be accused of lacking patriotism or sympathizing with ‘the enemy.’ Commentators who are neither naïve nor afraid are simply shut out of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM).”

They Hate Us From The Bottom of Their Souls - Capitalists Couldn't Care Less - Jay Janson, OpEdNews:

“Capitalists, through their conglomerate owned commercial media cartel of TV networks, radio stations and newspapers, shrug off such intense statements as that from Ansar Abbasi, a well known and widely influential Pakistani journalist who, having politely introduced himself at the interview requested by US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Judith McHale, spoke, 'You should know that we hate all Americans. From the bottom of our souls, we hate you.’ McHale recounting her conversation with Abbasi: ‘He told me that we were no longer human beings because our goal was to eliminate other humans, that thousands of innocent people have been killed because we are trying to find Osama bin Laden.’" Image from

'Afghan soil should not be used against neighbours' - Daily Times: “Afghanistan’s soil should not be used against any of its neighbours, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Saturday. ... Progress: Gilani said both Pakistan and the United Kingdom had made progress on institutionalising existing mechanisms in the form of a strategic dialogue that encompassed political, economic, trade, defence, security, education, science and technology and public diplomacy areas. He hoped both sides would persist with their concerted efforts to strengthen their cooperation under the umbrella of strategic dialogue.

Defending Al Manar - Kim Andrew Elliott Reporting on International Broadcasting

The Old Man and the Sea – Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I know there was consternation from the Conservative pundits that Obama's foreign policy as it amounted to simply apologizing. Guess what, because Obama apologized,

I don't have to anymore. I find it so much more refreshing traveling in the age of Obama and not having to always explain American foreign policy mistakes. That dark cloud hovering over Americans traveling abroad has dissipated. No one bothers me anymore about why America is doing what America is doing. Obama's public diplomacy makes my pd efforts and travel endeavors far easier.” Image from

Three Senior Fellows Join USC Center - Geoffrey Baum, USC News: Newly appointed senior fellows [include]: "Jeremy Curtin, who served until December as coordinator of the Bureau of Information Programs in the State Department, where he was the government’s senior public diplomacy officer. During more than 30 years in the United States Foreign Service, he specialized in international public affairs and strategic communications."

Home News National PM calls for setting up Afghan Resettlement Fund for refugees’ return from Pakistan - Mohammad Ilyas Khan, Associated Press of Pakistan: “[Pakistan] Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Saturday called for the establishment of Afghan Resettlement Fund to support the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Programme and provide a pull-factor for the return of refugees from Pakistan. ... The Prime Minister appreciated that both the countries have made progress on institutionalizing the existing mechanisms in the form of a strategic dialogue encompassing areas such as political, economic, trade, defence, security, education, science and technology, and public diplomacy.”

Israel's opening to China - Caroline Glick, Middle East and Terrorism: “Israel should back up its approach to China with a prolonged public diplomacy campaign to educate the Chinese about the Jewish state. A groundbreaking effort in this field is being initiated this week by StandWithUs, the US-based Israel-advocacy organization. This week, StandWithUs members from Israel will travel to Harbin, China, to present a photography exhibit called ‘Inside Israel.’ Their goal is to educate the Chinese about Judaism, Israel's history and life in Israel. It is true that China does not share Israel's democratic values. Owing to this, it may be difficult for Israel to sustain a bilateral alliance with China over time.

However, China and Israel share the distinction of being the two oldest, continuous civilizations. This shared direct line to antiquity can form the basis of a strong bilateral relationship. It is already a source of Chinese attraction to the Jewish state.” Image from

Cyprus fine-tuning - Yusuf Kanli, Hurriyet Daily News: “The main theme of the Cyprus calibration meetings in Ankara was to reiterate the resolve of the Turkish Cypriot side to be ‘pro-settlement’ with a ‘proactive and settlement-seeking’ understanding based on a strategy to force the Greek Cypriot side to understand the ‘high cost’ of being adamant and thus to be affirmative toward the ‘constructive compromise proposals’ of the Turkish Cypriot side, which are an 'integrated set,' not an 'à la carte' menu. ... [T]here is an apparent need to start public diplomacy with the aim and intention of promoting perception of the benefits of a settlement.’

Jailed but not forgotten: Birtukan Mideksa, Ethiopia's most famous prisoner - The Guardian:

”Mideksa, a single mother and former judge, was among dozens of opposition leaders, journalists and civil society workers arrested following anti-government demonstrations after the disputed 2005 elections. ... But there is no sympathy from the government. ‘She was advised to obey the rule of law,’ said Teferi Melese, head of public diplomacy at the foreign affairs ministry in Addis Ababa. ‘But she broke the conditions of her pardon, thinking her friends in the EU could get her released.’" Mideksa image from


A Cultural Relations take on Yemen – Rita J. King, The Imagination Age: “Michael White, who heads the British Council's offices in Yemen has an interesting and informative blogpost that illustrates the importance of continuing cultural relations efforts in spite of the current tensions. While very real security reasons cause governments to take decisive actions to protect government employees on the ground, Mr. White's post describes how those tensions provide important opportunities for discussing points of disconnect with people who are not involved with the tensions. Media narrative aside, terrorists do not represent the whole of a nation.”

People's Daily: the world cheered for China in 2009 - Wang Guanqun, Xinhua:

“In 2009, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visited five European countries, and attended the Europalia China Art Festival and China's Guest-of-Honor activities at Frankfurt Book Fair. On October 14, 2009, China Press USA carried an article entitled, ‘Showing soft power, China's cultural parade staged,’ which said that Vice President Xi's visit indicated China's intention to conduct cultural diplomacy. The article commented that China's participation at the Frankfurt Book Fair as the guest of honor for the first time undoubtedly served as an opportunity to showcase China's glamorous culture. The attitude of ‘actively going global’ demonstrated that China had become more confident about its culture, and its soft power was improving.” Image: cheerleaders at Beijing Olympics

Diplomatic sector does well for national growth: Deputy PM - “Under the current global situation, the Vietnamese diplomatic sector continues adhering to the foreign policy of independence, peace, cooperation and development, Deputy PM Khiem said. By doing so, the diplomatic sector has brought into full play what it achieved over the past years and spared no effort to carry out external activities in a diverse, flexible, uniform, and broad-ranging manner, the Deputy PM noted.
In its efforts, the diplomatic sector has executed its mission to promote political, economic, and cultural diplomacy based on the close and harmonious coordination of diplomatic activities of the State, the Party and the people.”

Greece - Alternate FM Droutsas' interview in the 'Athens News' daily, with ... – ISRIA [by subscription]. According to Google, mention of cultural diplomacy.


Immigrants invest in U.S. businesses in exchange for visas - N.C. Aizenman, Washington Post: The number of foreigners willing to invest $500,000 to $1 million in a U.S. business in exchange for a visa roughly tripled in the past fiscal year, as dozens of cash-strapped enterprises and local governments scrambled to attract wealthy foreign backers through a previously obscure provision of immigration law.

Under the EB-5 visa program, immigrants who can demonstrate that their investment created or preserved at least 10 U.S. jobs after two years are granted legal permanent residency along with their spouses and children. Image from

Inside Obama’s War on Terrorism - Peter Baker, New York Times: The Christmas Day plot touched off a new round of questions among Obama’s critics about whether the president is enough of a warrior for the fight against Islamic terrorism. But he has spent much of his time in office killing suspected extremists. The war goes on, abroad and at home.

The Label Factor: Is Obama a Wimp or a Warrior? - Helene Cooper, New York Times:

New York Times/CBS polling shows that public approval of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy dropped 9 points to 50 percent between last April and November. “The biggest vulnerability that he’s got is that he said all that stuff about engagement and the outstretched hand, that he looks naïve if he discovers that other people don’t reciprocate,” said Stephen Sestanovich, Clinton administration ambassador-at-large to the former Soviet Union who is now at the Council on Foreign Relations. Image from

Captain Obvious Learns the Limits of Cool - Maureen Dowd, New York Times: No Drama Obama is reticent about displays of emotion. The Spock in him needs to exert mental and emotional control. That is why he stubbornly insists on staying aloof and setting his own deliberate pace for responding — whether it’s in a debate or after a debacle. But it’s not O.K. to be cool about national security when Americans are scared.

Jihad by any other name: Obama unleashes the euphemisms - Monica Crowley, Washington Times: If you are trying to keep track of President Obama's euphemisms

about the war against Islamic terror, he just added a new one. In his weekly radio address, he replaced "global war on terror" with "war on a far-reaching network of violence and hatred." Image from

Obama shock - Oliver North, Washington Times: Young men like Maj. Hasan and Mr. Abdulmutallab are under the influence of an ideology based on vicious hatred of all institutions and persons not sufficiently Islamic. They will not be placated by promises of "understanding" and "respect."

Al-Qaeda has a new strategy. Obama needs one, too - Bruce Hoffman, Washington Post: While al-Qaeda is finding new ways to exploit our weaknesses, we are stuck in a pattern of belated responses, rather than anticipating its moves and developing preemptive strategies. Al-Qaeda has become increasingly adept at using the Internet to locate these would-be terrorists and to feed them propaganda. Below image from

Was the 'Tighty-Whitey Terrorist' al-Qaeda's best shot? - Dana Milbank, Washington Post: For all the hand-wringing and finger-pointing surrounding the failed Christmas Day attack, the real lesson of the botched bombing is a happy one: If this is the worst al-Qaeda can do, we're in good shape.

Why it's wrong to rule out nation-building in Yemen – Editorial, Washington Post: The notion that the United States and its allies cannot or should not mount a concerted effort to build governance and economic development there or in the other failed or failing states is dangerously misguided. It ignores the fact that counterterrorism operations alone failed to stop al-Qaeda in Afghanistan before 2001 and have failed to prevent it from growing steadily stronger in Yemen and Somalia.

President Karzai Gets Another Try – Editorial, New York Times:

President Karzai was right to insist that Parliament remain in Kabul until they confirm a new cabinet. He now must put forward a better list of nominees and work cooperatively with a Parliament he usually ignores to win their approval. Washington should encourage them to come to terms as quickly as possible. Afghanistan has too many problems for more delay. Image from

The Americanization of Mental Illness - Ethan Watters, New York Times: Americans, particularly if they are of a certain leftward-leaning, college-educated type, worry about our country’s blunders into other cultures. In some circles, it is easy to make friends with a rousing rant about the McDonald’s near Tiananmen Square, the Nike factory in Malaysia or the latest blowback from our political or military interventions abroad. For all our self-recrimination, however, we may have yet to face one of the most remarkable effects of American-led globalization. We have for many years been busily engaged in a grand project of Americanizing the world’s understanding of mental health and illness. We may indeed be far along in homogenizing the way the world goes mad.

U.S. Decline: Do the Numbers Add Up? - New York Times:

Why so down on the United States? asks Joel Kotkin in New Geography (and Forbes), taking shots at prophets of decline on both the right and the left. Look at the long-term demographics, he says: America’s growing population will be far better able to support ever-larger numbers of retirees than aging rivals like Germany, Japan and South Korea. By 2050, he says, the United States will have “three times the population of our former archrival Russia.” And that demographic edge isn’t all: The country has vast advantages in energy (natural gas, for example), arable land; entrepreneurial innovation and, yes, multiracial inclusiveness. The rise of the East? Perhaps, but Kotkin says that in military terms, “it will be decades before China will be ready for a head-to-head challenge” of the United States. Image from

Library showcases posters used to rally a nation behind World War I - Laura McKnight, “The Winds and Words of War,” a collection of original World War I propaganda posters and prints, went on display at the Main Library last week and remains up through early March. The exhibit includes 40 posters, on rent from the San Antonio Public Library Foundation, as well as a U.S. Army uniform from World War I, on loan from the Regional Military Museum in Houma.

Chinese audiences embrace 'Avatar': Filmgoers brave bad weather for Cameron pic - Clifford Coonan, Variety

Ihor Sevcenko, Byzantine and Slavic Scholar, Dies at 87 - William Grimes, New York Times: It was on April 11, 1946, that Sevcenko approached Orwell for the first time. “About the middle of February this year I had the opportunity to read ‘Animal Farm,’

” he wrote. “I was immediately seized by the idea that a translation of the tale in Ukrainian would be of great value to my countrymen.” Orwell agreed, and in the special preface he wrote for Mr. Sevcenko, he explained the intentions and political ideas behind “Animal Farm.” He also described the incident — the sight of a local farm boy whipping a horse — that gave him the idea of creating a fictional world in which oppressed animals rise up against their tormentors. Orwell’s English version of the preface has been lost. It exists today as a retranslation from Mr. Sevcenko’s Ukrainian text. Image from


“the counter-terror war”

--How three Washington Post Staff writers characterize the fight against al-Qaeda

1 comment:

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