Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 30-December 1

"In my conversations at least one of my counterparts said to me, 'Well, don't worry about it, you should see what we say about you.'"

--Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, regarding WikiLeaks's disclosure of classified State Department telegrams; image from


International Broadcasting and Public Media: Mission and Innovation in the Digital Environment (December 8, 2010, New America Foundation)


1. WikiLeaks

U.S. focuses on Pakistan's military, nuclear material - Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller, Washington Post: "In the cables [leaked by WikiLeaks], Pakistani officials complain about a U.S. civil nuclear accord with India, their traditional adversary, and note that its provisions will allow Indians to divert materials to their own weapons program. Administration officials noted that the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons had been extensively discussed during a White House strategy review last fall.

Although President Obama has made repeated public expressions of confidence in Pakistani safeguards, the issue remains one of high concern. 'Why is it that we're trying to prevent the Pakistani government from collapsing?' one administration official said. 'Because we fundamentally believe that we cannot afford a country with 80 to 100 nuclear weapons becoming the Congo.' 'Shoring up Pakistan, helping it fight extremism, trying to improve its institutions are not just a humanitarian effort or some naive public diplomacy gambit,' the official said. 'There is a sense that other places in the world can go to hell, but not this one.'" Image from

WikiLeaks Update: U.S. Tries To Contain Damage From Leaked Embassy Cables - spintested.blogspot.com: "[R]ead the articles (and more than just a handful of the cables), and they are indeed newsworthy ... . Let's look at one of the most benign assessment­s from the BBC: 'What the documents show in fact is not that the US secretly wants to go to war with Iran but that it has resisted pressure to do so from Israel and Arab leaders acting out of a coincident­al common interest. This is very much in line with President Barack Obama's public diplomacy'[.] Maybe (very much in line with Obama's public diplomacy)­, but it doesn't mean that we're not moving to expanding the wars to include Iran. The situation is as dire as it was when Bush was in office. Nothing's changed."

There's a Leak in the House - thedailyrealpolitik.blogspot.com: "WikiLeaks is amazing! The recent leaks (250,000 juicy embassy cables)

cover everything from gossip about Gaddafi's Libyan squeeze to the wishes of Arab nations with regards to bombing Iran. So what now? America has been launched into a 'worldwide diplomatic crisis' with nearly every single one of its so called 'allies'. I believe that these embassy cables show what Americans really think about the rest of the world behind the gloss of their public diplomacy." Image from

Leaked State Department Cables on Obama’s Sept. 17 Missile Defense Announcement Reveal His and Secretary Gates’ Views on Russia - Ted Lipien, Opinia.US: "Leaked secret State Department cables may help to resolve the mystery as to why President Obama chose September 17, 2009 to make his announcement on canceling President Bush’s missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. The announcement pleased the Kremlin, which had been pushing for the cancellation of the planned system for years. But why the Obama White House made the announcement on September 17, the anniversary of the Soviet military invasion of Poland in 1939 under the secret terms of the Hitler-Stalin Pact,

is still not clear. The timing of the announcement has been seen around the world as a public diplomacy disaster for America and was described with ridicule in U.S. and foreign media reports. Needless to say, not only the decision itself, but also the historical symbolism of the date when it was announced, greatly upset the Polish Government and Polish Americans. It turned out to be a major embarrassment for President Obama." Image with caption: David Low’s Exchange of Christmas Parcels shows how when the Hitler-Stalin pact divided Poland each dictator abandoned his supporters in the other’s territory from

US embassy cables: Fears over safety of Pakistan's nuclear weapons‎ - The Guardian: Nonproliferation and Public Diplomacy: "19. (S/NF) Leslie opined that P5 states are 'losing the public diplomacy arguments about nonproliferation" and civil nuclear power, with the P3 and the P5 'being portrayed as the bad guy.' Day expressed a similar sentiment, noting that there is "no real recognition" of what the UK has done in terms of nonproliferation and disarmament, 'either in our own media or worldwide.' U/S Tauscher agreed that we all need to do a much better job of getting our narrative out, and noted that the State Department has brought in new people to help to do that."

'China dumped Pak in Conference on Disarmament' - The Hindu: A top British diplomat in September 2009 told a visiting American diplomat that China has 'dumped' Pakistan in the Conference on Disarmament, according to a US cable leaked by whistleblower site WikiLeaks on Wednesday. This is a good sign, Mariot Leslie, a senior British Foreign Official is quoted as saying in the cable in September 2009, which records her meeting with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, Ellen Tauscher ... In the meeting, according to the cable, Leslie opined that P5 states are 'losing the public diplomacy arguments about non-proliferation' and civil nuclear power, with the P3 and the P5 'being portrayed as the bad guy.'” Tausher image from

WikiLeaks 25 million copies of the exposure of confidential State Department documents
- discount-adapter-battery.com: "Public diplomacy document also records a U.S. official evaluation of foreign leaders, many evaluation very outspoken. Such as the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the U.S. charge d’affaires in Italy Elizabeth Dibble was called 'irresponsible, arrogant, lack of capacity.' Another document showed that Berlusconi has been approved, 'often stays up late, indulge in the party, can not get enough rest,' is a 'political level in the body and are weak,' the leaders."

WikiLeaks…and Some More - Team SAI, southasianidea.com: "This is the worst disclosure in

the field of public diplomacy highlighting games nations play. A trove of a quarter-million State Department cables, obtained by WikiLeaks, offers an extraordinary look at back-room bargaining by embassies, candid views of foreign leaders and assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.Whatever the outcome of the leaks, they sully the diplomatic efforts of nations, especially of US, in dealing with friends and foes. International relations will no longer be the same." Image from

WikiLeaks: Why They Help American Diplomacy - John Brown, Huffington Post: "On the whole ... the WikiLeaks episode is not a disaster for America from a public diplomacy or 'behind closed-doors' diplomacy perspective, so long as diplomats are not 'shut up' by a State Department overly concerned about future leaks." Includes comment by Ted Lipien. See also, (1) John Brown, "WikiLeaks: Would George Kennan Have Been Delighted?," Huffington Post; (2); (3); (4)

YPFP: Media & Foreign Policy-A Discussion with Price Floyd - Debie Waggoner, State of Global Awareness "Best Point of the Night: The State Department documents revealed on WikiLeaks only proves the strength of our public diplomacy efforts.

Instead of damaging the relationship of the United States, most of our friends and allies were understanding and even commented that they said even worse things about the U.S. and its representatives. True-and I would add that if it happened to the U.S., it could happen to any government-it could be China or Germany’s turn next to have documents leaked, so don’t be too harsh." Floyd image from

Diplomats in the news for wrong reasons - Nicholas Kralev: Writings on global travel, diplomacy and world affairs: "The silver lining for U.S. diplomats of this week’s WikiLeaks release of secret State Department cables is that there is more buzz about their work than there has been in years. Even though it’s for the wrong reasons, it provides a chance to use the public attention for a serious debate on modern diplomacy."

WikiLeaks: a strange interlude‎ - Andrew Finkel, Today's Zaman: "I’ve never actually seen a production of Eugene O’Neill’s groundbreaking play 'Strange Interlude,' but it won a Pulitzer Prize back in 1928 for its innovation of having the characters interrupt their normal dialogue to turn and tell the audience what it is they really think. On the other hand, I have seen a recreation of that technique in the recent avalanche of documents now pouring from the WikiLeaks website. So much for all those decades of public diplomacy, carefully controlled press briefings and public affairs officers, like worried hens, hovering in the background deciding what was on or off the record. We now have a life-time’s reading worth of documents in which those oh so diplomatic diplomats reveal precisely what’s on their minds."

Finland Surfaces in Wikileaks Exposé - Tiina Jutila, YLE News: Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb has spoken out against the decision to leak the documents. ...

'I support transparency and public diplomacy. However, some information between states can be sensitive. This is certainly a difficult situation.'" Image from article

Al-Qaeda's Magazine in Yemen: Where's Our WikiLeaks Scoop? - Bobby Ghosh and Oliver Holmes, time.com: "The producers of Inspire, the online magazine by the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) must now feel the frustration familiar to editors around the world, when big news breaks just after you've closed your latest edition. For Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the latest WikiLeaks revelations are little more than an embarrassment.

But it's a safe bet that AQAP will extract as much propaganda value from them as possible. 'They will use these documents to say: 'See, just as we've been saying, the ruler of Yemen is a sinful man, who works for the Americans,'' says Mohammed Aish, a researcher on extremism in Yemen." Image from article: Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh

Digital Diplomacy – 21st Century Statecraft and Australia: ASPI-UNISYS Defence and Security Luncheons - Prakash Mirchandani, IntelliBriefs: "What does it say about modern public diplomacy when a foreign Government enables the internet to spread pictures of protest and crackdowns in Iran? When a single tweet message brings hundreds of thousands onto rooftops to shout out 'Allah O Akbar'? When secret videos out of Myanmar provoke the junta to describe satellite television as 'a skyful of lies'? When, without boots on the ground, a recent poll showed that ordinary Afghans view India more positively than any other country? These topics, along with suggested ways ahead, were explored at this ASPI-Unisys Defence and Security Luncheon."

Selling Wikileaks, Selling Hate For America - ‎Gordon Duff, Veterans Today Network: Wikileaks has divided the world into two camps,

those who love Wikileaks as a slap in the face for the United States and those who recognize the stench of Wikileaks for what it is, simple Israeli propaganda. Image from

2. Other Public Diplomacy Items

Under Secretary of State Judith A. McHale Travel to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore - Office of the Spokesman, US Department of State: Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith A. McHale will travel to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore November 30 – December 8, 2010. During her visit to Indonesia, Under Secretary McHale will participate in the launch of the U.S. Government’s new high-tech American center in Jakarta, '@america,' and meet for discussions with Indonesian officials, media executives, and social media practitioners. Under Secretary McHale will also journey to Yogyakarta to participate in a panel discussion with students at Gadjah Mada University, joined by other Indonesian students via video conference technology, and to meet with civil society leaders. In Malaysia, Under Secretary McHale

will meet with senior Ministry of Education officials to discuss ways of enhancing educational exchanges and bolstering English language training in Malaysia, and participate in discussions with media practitioners, students and women entrepreneurs. She will also visit Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage City where the U.S. State Department has contributed to the preservation of Malaysia's cultural heritage through a project funded under a grant from the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. In Singapore, Under Secretary McHale will meet with emerging filmmakers and leading local writers. She will also tour LaSalle College of the Arts, a leading arts institution in Singapore that is a close partner of the United States Embassy in Singapore and awards degrees in fine arts, film, design, media and performing arts." Image from

Reconn - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Apparently, I am State's forward operating team. Undersec for PD McHale is coming out to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore (terimah kasih, JB). Unfortunately, no Philippines in the mix. Too bad. This all comes as State is set to open the @America center in Jakarta. Very nice. If only the U.S. Pavilion in Shanghai was this cool...I do hope Madam Undersec McHale gets out of the hermetically-sealed diplo bubble to see the street-level musical culture that I blogged about in Java, and how State could really take advantage of cultural diplomacy outreach to Indonesia's rock youth."

Grand strategy‎ - Philippe Wojazer, Frontline: "A strong political nuance in Obama's new economic diplomacy towards Beijing came into sharp focus following his latest interactions with Chinese President Hu Jintao. They had an exclusive conversation in Seoul on November 11,

besides participating together in the Group of 20 (G20) Summit there on the same day and in the meeting of leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Yokohama on November 12 and 13. ... The overwhelming accent on economic issues in Obama's official and public diplomacy towards China was in tune with the season of G20 and APEC meetings." Image from

What should Egypt exactly learn from Jordan??‎ - Amer Al Sabaileh, Ammon News: "Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Peter Van Ham ... : 'The problem is that Arabs and Muslims will not attach credibility to US public diplomacy as long as US policies in the Middle East and beyond remain unchanged.'"

Thread: I bet the Nobel Peace Prize committee... -philadelphiaspeaks.com: Comment by Oskee Wow Wow [:] "[T]he Middle East, where Obama's intervention seems to have become an impediment to what progress there was between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. (Getting rolled as Obama did on missile defense for Eastern Europe was amateurism but not an embarrassment to the committee.) Still, it's interesting how closely U.S. private diplomacy tracks with its public diplomacy."

Famous humorist writes: "Voice of America is primarily about America"
- Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "RFE/RL is a 'surrogate broadcaster,' providing the accurate information about its target countries that the media of those countries would provide if those countries were free. Kimandrewelliott.com is a surrogate website,

providing the accurate information about US international broadcasting that senior executives of US international broadcasting would provide if they provided accurate information about US international broadcasting. ... The entities of US international broadcasting, as bureaucracies, will do what bureaucracies do: try to preserve themselves. To this end, RFE/RL management has trotted out the old line about VOA primarily broadcasting about America. ... Surveys (my day job for most of the past thirty years) tell us audiences are interested mainly in what is happening in their own country, and secondarily in what is happening in the rest of the world. Their interest in the United States is, I'm afraid, a rather distant third. For any target country at any time in its development, there is a sweet spot, a proportion of the three categories of news, that will best attract an audience. The present structure of US international broadcasting does not allow this proportion to be achieved. ... I am not advocating that RFE/RL dry up and blow away so that my colleagues at VOA can enjoy greater job security. I am advocating that the elements of US international merge into a single corporation, actually organized more along the lines of RFE/RL than VOA." Image from

Obit: Soviet poet [Bella Akhmadulina] heard in the USSR on VOA and Radio Liberty - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Ranching's Loss, Jazz's Gain - Marc Myers, Wall Street Journal: [A]fter the [Brubeck] quartet's State Department-sponsored tour in 1958 of 12 countries,

Mr. Brubeck began incorporating rhythms he heard abroad into his compositions." Image from article

Kosovo - MFA officials trained in public and economic diplomacy - ‎isria.com: "In an effort to advance skills required to present Kosovo interests throughout the world, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, namely the Department for International Economic Cooperation, in cooperation with a USAID funded project to support MFA, is holding an intensive training program in Prishtina on pubic [sic] and economic diplomacy for Kosovo diplomatic and consular officials. An introduction to the public diplomacy, turning of problems into opportunities in the context of Kosovo’s economy and other important matters for the newest country in the world were presented to the participants by the project representatives: Dan Santos, Ivan Abrams and others."

Kayani's Briefing: Dawn's Shoddy Journalism - aq-lounge.blogspot.com:

"State media managers in Islamabad and Rawalpindi need to improve the methods of delivery of background information, possibly streamline it in accordance with the latest best practices in public diplomacy methods. Often Pakistani media trails behind its peers in other nations like China, Iran, US, Russia and others in terms of the quality of current background information available to media professionals. Pakistan is a late entrant into this field and it would take stakeholders time to get a handle on it." Image from

Medvedev's Annual Address - Yelena Osipova, Global Chaos: "Today President Medvedev delivered his key annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly. ... Of course, the highlight has been his 'threat of a new Arms Race' comment, and yet he talked about modernization, also touching upon the need to enhance Russia's Economic Diplomacy and improve the ties with the governments as well as the publics of Russia's Eastern neighbors. Russia's public diplomacy is turning to the East, now?"

Weapons of mass information - Tim Wall, The Moscow News: "[A]lthough there are often sound reasons to put out false trails about diplomatic aims and objectives, the more public diplomacy there is between nations, the better. Like the United States and many other countries, Russia has employed its share of secret diplomacy, and it has not been that edifying to see when exposed to public scrutiny. One example of this was finally acknowledged this week, as Russia’s State Duma publicly blamed Stalin for the 1940 massacre at Katyn of 20,000 Polish soldiers. This came about as a result of the secret clauses in Stalin’s pact with Hitler in 1939.

Yet Russia can point to cases when its public diplomacy served a better purpose. As Le Monde pointed out recently, in 1918 the new Soviet government exposed Kaiser Wilhelm II’s war aims at Brest-Litovsk by publishing the secret negotiations between Germany and the allies. That early prototype of WikiLeaks-style disclosure may not ultimately have prevented the Western powers invading Soviet Russia in 1918-21, but it did hasten the end of the First World War and arguably helped to save millions of lives. Whether modern-day leaks can serve such a noble purpose isn’t yet clear. But we should remember not to shoot the messenger, at least." Image with caption: 23rd August 1939: Vyacheslav Molotov, Russian Foreign Minister, signs the non-aggression pact negotiated between Soviet Russia and Germany, at the Kremlin, Moscow. Standing behind him is his German counterpart Joachim von Ribbentrop (left), and Joseph Stalin (centre) from

Nation branding - Coastal Asia Unrevealed: Blog related to my on & off Korean Experience. Tourist, Expat, Social, Environmental and other issues. And my satiric eye on it: "I have already mentioned about Korean Nation Branding efforts and how they impress me. In more developed countries than Korea comprehensive nation advertising and public diplomacy took much longer time or is not that well organized. Part of it is Korean Wave which currently hits Japan, China and other Asian countries. Korean boysbands and girlsbands, so called K-pop music to which you may find links in the video corner is just an example. Korean dramas with Winter Sonata leading among them, singer BoA and many others."

'Israel's public diplomacy tactics insufficient'‎ - Rebecca Anna Stoil, Jerusalem Post: Despite steps taken to improve image abroad, MKs and media representatives agree that diplomats have a long way to go. MKs and members of both new and traditional media complained Tuesday that the government’s public diplomacy strategy was ineffective and did not meet the needs of modern communications or successfully represent Israel’s interests.

The Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Public Diplomacy Committee met to discuss how Israel can better promote itself overseas, with MKs concluding that there was still much innovation needed to improve Israel’s image. ... The Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Director-General for Media and Public Diplomacy Yigal Caspi emphasized that in the past four years, there was a decision to invest most of the public diplomacy effort toward fields including medicine, culture, art, fashion, agriculture and tourism. Caspi said that he opposes governmental involvement in social-networking sites, and that he preferred to cultivate relations with overseas Jewish organizations who can act more freely on such sites. ... Danon [MK Danny Danon (Likud)] agreed that there was significant work to be done to improve Israel’s public diplomacy, and promised that Tuesday’s session would be the first of a number of meetings held to address the topic." Image of Knesset from

Kazakhstan: OSCE Summit Set to Open in Astana‎ - Joanna Lillis, EurasiaNet: "Rico Isaacs, a lecturer in International Studies at the UK’s Oxford Brookes University, says Astana secured the summit through a skillful performance as chairman. 'The summit has to be seen as a success of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship,' he told EurasiaNet.org. 'I think that they’ve been given the summit through their own political skill in many ways, their own form of public diplomacy.'”

USAK Conference on “OSCE Vision of Kazakhstan”‎
- Journal of Turkish Weekly: "Özdem Sanberk, retired ambassador and director of USAK, ... addressed the importance of the period which started after the demise of Soviet Union within the end of Cold War. In that regard, he pointed out that Turkey was ready and had a great strategy depending on 5 pillars towards Turkic Republics. According to Sanberk, this strategy was based on being alternative on transportation, communication, trade and make cooperation on common culture and common energy politics. In other word, Turkey made investments and used public diplomacy tools effectively to be alternative and partner to them.

Lastly he stressed that Kazakhstan’s importance because of its constructive attitude towards security, peace and development in the region." Image from

The term "public diplomacy" increasingly used globally, but less fashionable in the USA - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "Even though more fashionable terms, such as 'strategic communication' are gaining traction, I still think 'public diplomacy' is a useful term. This is especially because 'public diplomacy' is in increasing use around the world. It's a useful replacement for 'propaganda,' which, despite attempts to declare it a neutral term, has a negative connotation. 'Public diplomacy' should be the official[underlined] presentation and advocacy of international policy by one country to people (not just to government officials) of other countries. International outreach by non-governmental individuals, companies, and organizations is a good thing, but it needs a different word to describe it, so that everyone understands this is not a nation-state speaking."

Dana Perino is among experts speaking at "International Broadcasting and Public Media" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting: "I have suggested a partnership of US international broadcasting and private US broadcast networks in my recent Foreign Service Journal article."

Write whatever you like: I’ll Read it how I want
- International Communication SIS 640: "The key framing issue in pubic diplomacy is that there is no magic bullet,

no special phrase, no shortcut that means your message will have the impact on the listener or even that they will understand and take away from it what you want them to do or know. Meaning: You can tell me all day long that red is the best color, but I’m just going to think you are arrogant and that you’re trying to change me." Image from

Campus News and Updates – November 30
- Office of the President Dr. R. Bowen Loftin • Texas A&M University: "Congratulations to Ambassador Ryan Crocker (Ret.), dean and executive professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service and our Commencement Convocation speaker (5:30 p.m. Thursday, December 16 in Rudder Theatre), who has been nominated by President Obama to serve on the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. Ambassador Crocker also serves on the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy."

From Nyet to Da [From Nyet to Da: Understanding the New Russia, by Yale Richmond, Boston: Intercultural Press, 2009] - Reviewed by John Handley, American Diplomacy: Yale Richmond, a former U.S. Foreign Service Officer, worked on U.S.-Soviet exchanges for over twenty years and served in the American Embassy in Moscow as Counselor for Press and Culture.

He also authored Into Africa; From Da to Yes: Understanding the East Europeans; and Practicing Public Diplomacy: A Cold War Odyssey. ... This book [under review] is certainly most useful to the first-time visitor to Russia and could be equally useful to anyone, businessperson or diplomat, negotiating with Russians. Yale describes at some length the similarities and the differences between Russians and Americans."

Alumna serves Americans in Israel as first line of border defense - Billi London-Gray, The Texas State University-San Marcos blog: "Jen McAndrew ... [t]he 2007 master’s graduate of Texas State’s mass communication program is now a member of the U.S. Foreign Service, currently representing the State Department in Israel. As a vice consul at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, McAndrew does everything from approving visa applications to managing the consulate section’s social media outreach. ... 'Since my background is in PR and writing, I knew I wanted to enter the public diplomacy career track,” McAndrew says.

“My constituents are Americans living in Israel and Israelis needing visas for work, travel or study.'” Image from article: Jen McAndrew, right, and a consular representative at an outreach event at an Israeli university.

Dan Diker to become next Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress - worldjewishcongress.org: "The Executive Committee of the World Jewish Congress has nominated B. Daniel Diker, a noted foreign policy and media expert, as next WJC secretary-general. ... Diker has served as WJC's Director for Strategic Affairs since May, 2010 and since early 2009 has served as WJC Middle East adviser on policy and diplomacy. Diker comes to the WJC following nearly ten years at the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs where he served in a variety of roles, including as director of its Institute for Contemporary Affairs - the Center's public diplomacy institute. At the JCPA, Diker produced and edited several books on the Iranian nuclear threat, Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy and on Israeli defense and national security issues.

Diker is a former Knesset affairs correspondent for Israel's Channel One English television service and also served as a featured commentator on international news networks covering Middle East affairs and US-Israel relations. Previously, Diker held two senior marketing positions at two leading Wall Street firms. Diker is a graduate of Harvard University and grew up in New York City." Diker image from article

One more voice in defence of WikiLeaks - mephiztofel.livejournal.com: "[T]he hypocrisy of American politicians, who declare the ideals of "public diplomacy" (sic!) and then threaten the dissidents lifting the mysterious veil of this rotten diplomacy. So 'public diplomacy' turns out to mean private diplomacy, after all. Even George Orwell would be utterly petrified, I dare smirk."

B C- The New Diplomacy: A reflective group blog by some of the students on The New Diplomacy module at London Metropolitan University


The Irony of Wikileaks: By threatening U.S. diplomacy, the hard left is undercutting its own worldview - James P. Rubin, New Republic: The hard left, so quick to demand that America accept other countries’ political systems, now seems blind to the fact that other governments want to have the right to say one thing in public and a different thing in private.

By respecting that difference, American diplomats are doing their job.U.S. diplomacy has been damaged, not destroyed; it will recover after a time. But for now, Wikileaks is making diplomacy’s task a whole lot harder. Julian Assange mage from article

A WikiLeaks wakeup call: In the end, what these documents confirm is that President Obama's foreign policy is a mess - Jonah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times. Below image from

The Obama Doctrine: Hindering American Foreign Policy - Alliances, International Law, National Security and Defense and Worldwide Freedom and Human Rights, Heritage Foundation - Helle C. Dale: The problem for Obama, of course, is whatever you want to say to the American people, such as we want to get out of Iraq, is a message that is boomeranged around the world. The Iranians are going to listen to that message just as well as the domestic audience here in the U.S. So he’s not able to have one message for his voters here at home and one message for the Iranians. That is an unfortunate conundrum for the President.

Obama's isolation grows on the Afghanistan war - Susan Page, USA Today: The invasion of Afghanistan was launched to wide approval after the 9/11 attacks, targeting al-Qaeda leaders and the Taliban regime that had sheltered them. At the time, nine of 10 Americans supported the combat mission. Most in the USA still do, although opposition has risen: Four in 10 now say the military operation was a mistake.

A Role for Science Diplomacy? Soft Power and Global Challenges – Part II - Daryl Copeland, Guerilla Diplomacy


--From the cover of the May 28, 1954 issue of Colliers; from Boing Boing

Monday, November 29, 2010

November 28-29

"WikiLeaks is what happens when the entire US government is forced to go through a full-body scanner."

--New media guru Evgeny Morozov; image from


Wikileaks: National security or national embarrassment? - Paul Reynolds, BBC News: "The leaks of American diplomatic communications are certainly revealing and occasionally startling - but are they damaging? Do they threaten US national security or are they simply a US national embarrassment? One test is to see if the cables show a secret diplomacy that is at serious odds with the public. Here, the case of Iran is important.

What the documents show in fact is not that the US secretly wants to go to war with Iran but that it has resisted pressure to do so from Israel and Arab leaders acting out of a coincidental common interest. This is very much in line with President Barack Obama's public diplomacy, which is to engage with Iran and, if necessary, to impose sanctions to try to get it to stop its nuclear activities. This it has done and the documents agree." Image from

US diplomats wanted propaganda war against Osama ahead of 9/11 - economictimes.indiatimes.com: "Some two years before 9/11, American diplomats based in Pakistan wanted the US to step up propaganda war against al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden , a confidential US cable released by WikiLeaks has said. 'We frequently hear reports that some in the lower middle and lower classes, both urban and rural, consider UBL (Usama bin Laden) an 'Islamic Hero', because the US has named him 'Public Enemy Number One'. ... However, the US diplomat posted in Islamabad argued that a large number of Pakistanis, mostly middle-class are not automatically anti-US and are not ideologically committed to Osama bin Laden. 'This middle ground, or at least somewhat susceptible to reason, or at least to other information, should be our primary target. The message crafted for them would also be welcomed by educated, westward-looking elite of both Pakistan and Afghanistan, who feel threatened by UBL's advocacy and violence and theological obscurantism,' the cable said. 'The focus of any enhanced USG public diplomacy effort should be to portray UBL and others around him as criminals, both by international and by Islamic standards. Where possible, responsibility of the movement al -Qaeda should be emphasised, not just UBL as an individual, it said."

WikiLeaks cables: Bin Laden's PR is better than ours, Americans complained: 'Wanted' posters and matchboxes distributed in Pakistan were met with shops selling pro-Osama souvenir versions - Declan Walsh, guardian.co.uk: "Osama bin Laden has been a bugbear for American officials in Pakistan since long before the 9/11 attacks. In 1999 the Islamabad embassy noted that Bin Laden posters were hitting the streets for just 30 cents – 'a bit more than the cost of a sidewalk haircut'. An Osama bin Laden 'wanted' poster distributed by the US after the bombing of its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on 7 August 1998. The posters, officials wrote despairingly, were proving more popular than the US government's 'wanted' posters, which risked proving counter-productive. New wanted posters and matchboxes 'may increase [Bin Laden]'s stature as a kind of folk hero', they said. Even the Taliban, 'in sharp contrast with their ordinary execrable public relations performance', was doing better than the US, the message continued.

'We face a formidable foe among those churning out pro-Osama propaganda.' The message urged Washington to consider a new raft of anti-Bin Laden propaganda through the Voice of America radio station, interviews with Bin Laden victims, 'commissioned articles' in the local press and an anti-Bin Laden website." Image from article: A Pakistani man in Peshawar looks at posters for sale depicting Osama bin Laden as a hero. See also (1) (2) (3).

Embarrassing Wikileaks Revelations Concerning U.S.-Israel Relations - ashehab.blogspot.com: "The U.S. projects a pragmatic interest in combatting Hamas through a public diplomacy campaign, to which the Israelis say: why waste your time? Israel clearly argues for continued Palestinian fragmentation and divisiveness as a policy goal, a losing long-term proposition if ever there was one."

US embassy cables: Wikileaks – War in Georgia: "FR Charge Duchene contacted A/DCM 1730 L time to explain that Paris was concerned about NATO becoming too prominent a part of the dynamic on S.Ossetia and was also eager to keep the EU on the fringe of the conflict as well. She said that NATO,s earlier Friday public statement had been 'enough of a NATO role for now.' ... Duchene noted Rogozin,s proclivity for grandstanding in the media and agreed that NATO needed to manage the conduct of the meetings, public expectations for what they might produce in NATO follow-on steps, and related public diplomacy so as not to inadvertently contribute to any destabilization of the situation."

Text of State Department letter to Wikileaks - Reuters: "Text of a letter from the State Department to Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, and his lawyer Jennifer Robinson concerning its intended publication of classified State Department documents. The letter, dated November 27, was released by the department. Dear Ms. Robinson and Mr. Assange: I am writing in response to your 26 November 2010 letter to U.S. Ambassador Louis B. Susman regarding your intention to again publish on your WikiLeaks site what you claim to be classified

U.S. Government documents. ... [comment by a reader:] Perhaps it’s time the US began to practice public diplomacy, rather than sniping behind everyone’s back. The letter above is an attempt to threaten and censor documents that will prove embarrassing to our public officials, nothing more." Image from

US Should Avoid Benign Neglect of Central Europe - Philip Seib, Huffington Post: "American policy makers should remember that no one has ever benefited from trusting Russia. Central Europe learned this painfully, and while the United States must continue to deal as amicably as possible with Russia, vigilance must never lessen. As an adjunct to this, the Central European countries, with their friendly attitudes toward the United States, should not be neglected. These important friendships can be enhanced through public diplomacy. Lots of good things are happening. Energetic and thoughtful U.S. ambassadors, such as Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis in Hungary, provide upbeat American representation that the Central Europeans appreciate. But in conversations here with Hungarian officials and scholars, I found a desire for an even closer and more free-flowing bilateral relationship. An example: as in most of the rest of the world, the once popular American libraries, where films, cultural programs, and other U.S. offerings were easily accessed by the general public, have fallen prey to post-9/11 security and budget concerns and have been replaced by 'American corners' at some universities. Safer and cheaper? Yes. Useful? Only in a much diminished way. New media tools provide virtual supplements to these ventures, but something significant is lacking without an on-the-ground, highly visible presence."

Public Diplomacy: "Out" for the U.S., "In" Overseas? - John Brown, Huffington Post:

"Public diplomacy -- defined by the State Department as 'engaging, informing, and influencing key international audiences' -- has become increasingly passé among American officials, scholars, and NGOs as a term and activity used to define how America should communicate with the outside world. Meanwhile, the governments of other countries -- notably China and India -- are enthusiastically embracing public diplomacy as a new and essential part of their foreign policy. Who's the winner in such a situation -- the USA or the rest of the world? Hard to say." Image from

New Global Engagement Initiative at the Wilson Center - James Ketterer, Global Management: "The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has announced a new project focused on strengthening U.S. global engagement and strategic communications. ... The project labels itself as a public diplomacy initiative that draws on the many reports detailing failings of that function since the demise of USIA in the late 1990s. The effort is co-chaired by Condoleezza Rice

and William Perry. ... In looking over the membership of the working group it appears there is a decided bias on the communications component of public diplomacy, the 'fast media' part of what USIA once covered. But there seems to be much less focus on the 'slow media' components of public diplomacy - those program areas now housed in the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The public diplomacy value of programs like Fulbright, International Visitor Leadership Program, Humphrey Fellows, cultural diplomacy, sports exchanges and many others is often overlooked." Wilson Center Image from

Re-Branding the U.S. to the Muslim World: Mission PR Impossible - International Communication SIS 640: "In 'A 21st Century Model for Communication in the Global War of Ideas: From Simplistic Influence to Pragmatic Complexity,' the authors argue that the U.S. model for public diplomacy is ineffective and outdated. They believe that a clear concise message being repeated is not the way to influence others, but rather a varied approach that plans for failure and decentralizes control in favor of complexity is a more realistic and more effective model for communication."

Dancers from Calif. impresses India audience - ABC30.com: "A group of dancers from California left a lasting impression on an audience in India this weekend. The dancers from San Francisco performed gravity defying routines on the side of this landmark building and drew gasps and applause from the audience. They were suspended by ropes and performed moves inspired by climbing and rappelling. The event, presented by the American Centre, was part of U.S. public diplomacy efforts following President Obama's recent visit there." [Includes video].

Alhurra and BBC Arabic have run-ins with the Egyptian government over election coverage - Kim Andrew Elliot reporting on International Broadcasting

"Positive demeanor" by Afghan army general helped distribute more Radio Azadi radios to Balkh province - Kim Andrew Elliot reporting on International Broadcasting. Image:

Members of the Afghan Air Force, Afghan National Army and NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan advisors distributed solar powered, hand-cranked radios, provided by Radio Azadi, to the surrounding villages of Meymaneh, in Balkh province Nov.27. The villagers are without TV or radio contact with the rest of Afghanistan. Bringing the news to these villages will provide the local populace with the efforts their government and coalition is providing them.

While in prison, Azeri blogger listened to RFE/RL on shortwave: "crackly, like in old Soviet times" - Kim Andrew Elliot reporting on International Broadcasting

Israel recruits citizen advocates in Europe: 'Allies and friends' will promote government policy to press and public meetings as part of fresh PR drive - Harriet Sherwood - Guardian: "Israel has instructed its embassies in 10 European countries, including the UK, each to recruit 1,000 members of the public to act as advocates for its policies in a new public relations offensive. ... Israel has previously launched drives to improve its image through hasbara – literally meaning explanation, although alternatively interpreted as public diplomacy, spin or propaganda. During its three-week war on Gaza, which began in December 2008, Israel launched a PR strategy through its national information directorate to co-ordinate key messages on a daily basis.

The Israeli government, military and various embassies are adept at using social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to promote material. Organisations such as Bicom, the Britain Israel Communications Research Centre, in the UK and the Israel Project in the US, which describe themselves as independent, are dedicated to promoting Israeli policies. Both organisations offer regular briefings, contacts and tours to foreign correspondents based in Israel and Palestine, and all-expenses paid trips to Israel for journalists, including from the Guardian, based elsewhere. Other countries undertake similar PR drives." Image from article: Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's foreign minister, has ordered a range of measures in a bid to improve Israel's image in Europe.

For Israel, 'delegitimization' is becoming an excuse: If we say 'delegitimization' enough times the public will believe there is no connection between what the gentiles say and what the Jews do - Akiva Eldar, haaretz.com: "The State of Israel is under the threat of delegitimization, 'which is no less disturbing than Hamas and Hezbollah,' intoned Defense Minister Ehud Barak in a speech last week. 'Attempts by our enemies and their misguided fellow travelers to delegitimize the Jewish state must be countered,' warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu three weeks ago, in response to cries of protest by peace activists at the General Assembly of Jewish Federations in New Orleans. ... A look at the 'guidebook' the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs is offering Israelis at the exit gates from the country reinforces the suspicion that the inflation in the expression 'delegitimization' (formerly called 'anti-Semitism') is not a random lexical construction.

'How many times have you had occasion to encounter information presented about Israel that was far from being real?' the tourist/good-will ambassador is asked before he is requested to 'take part in changing the image of the State of Israel.' The booklet 'Explaining Israel' reminds him of such things as the dates of the wars (including Operation Peace for Galilee) and the victories (including the win by Maccabi Tel Aviv of the European Cup), the humanitarian delegations and the invention of the disc-on-key. There is not a single word about the Madrid conference, which paved the way to the direct peace negotiations and diplomatic relations with many important countries, such as China. There is no sign of the fact that the Oslo Accords opened doors to Israel in the Arab countries. Nor is there any trace of the peace with Jordan - a bonus for the Oslo agreement. Nothing about the Arab peace initiative, which is still waiting for an Israeli answer. The Public Diplomacy Ministry is also not mentioning that the European Union decided to upgrade relations with Israel - and then froze the process in the wake of the crisis of the Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla." Image from

There’s no crisis and no division, just a duty to oppose - Michael Dugher, labour-uncut.co.uk: "Only the Labour Party, on attracting 40,000 new members and going five-points ahead in the opinion polls – for the first time in what felt like living memory – could be written up as being in real difficulty. ... But we can’t just blame the journalists for this mischief. They are just filing copy, filling space in the paper, doing what they are paid to do. Too often, the negative stories are the result of 'friendly fire' from our own side – ill-judged remarks (if you are feeling forgiving), 'public diplomacy' (if you are feeling cynical). Or they come from the whingeing briefings and bar-room gossip that are all part of the trade."

A B C F G - The New Diplomacy: A reflective group blog by some of the students on The New Diplomacy module at London Metropolitan University

ugg boots - christianjordan: "26 Brand Feather, organized by the Asia Society on the United States,'the importance on the Shanghai World Expo and the American Museum of the value of expression' as the theme on the seminar, the Shanghai World Expo Steering Committee Chairman with the U.S. Pavilion Lavin said in a speech at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo will likely be now inside the public diplomacy achieved good good results.

Lavin to Shanghai’s achievements in reform and opening up the background, indicating the prosperous growth of Shanghai is a metropolis, and the basic details for the grand as well as the Shanghai Globe Expo impression resulting from the world." Image: Construction workers stand beside a sketch of the US pavilion for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo from

Eating, Shopping and Enjoying the Sun - Heather W., Lisons & Dansons... - "Friday I read articles on public diplomacy all day while Chuck worked on Arabic."

Ambasada Britanica Bucuresti angajeaza Political Officer - British Embassy Bucharest – Job Opportunity - mediasinfo.ro: "The Embassy is looking to appoint a desk officer to work as part of the 6-strong EU/Political team. The officer will focus on EU and wider bilateral and regional political issues. ... Main duties and responsibilities include: ... Contributing to the delivery of the Embassy’s public diplomacy strategy via public events and speechwriting."


Ellen Frank: Filling the Palace of Memory - Betsy Holland, The East Hampton Star: "In a form of syzygy, a sort of celestial coordination or alignment, one might say that Ellen Frank’s dream of revitalizing the art of illumination as a tool for global peace and understanding is being realized, at least partly as the result of the works she and a team of interns have been painting since 2004.

The first of the paintings, 'Jerusalem: A Painting Toward Peace,' Ms. Frank did herself, with an assistant, after a 1999 visit to the city just as she was establishing the nonprofit Ellen Frank Illumination Arts Foundation. ... Although the American State Department’s support for cultural diplomacy had waned until relatively recently, the Obama administration announced in early November that it has earmarked $1 million to expand the United States cultural diplomacy programs and to include visual artists, painters, and sculptors. The total budget for cultural diplomacy programs in this country has increased from $1.6 million in 2001 to $11.75 million in 2010. The whole concept of using visual artists as cultural ambassadors is something that Ms. Frank has been pursuing for some time." Frank image from article

Chinese ballet transplant Jun Shuang Huang loves Houston drivers, modern moves & being a prince - Nancy Wozny, CultureMap: "I had a wonderful visit with Jun Shuang Huang, Houston Ballet's newest principal. It didn't seem to matter that I don't speak or understand a word of Chinese. With new apprentice Liao Xiang translating, there was such a spirit of communication in the room. Imagine cultural diplomacy happening right here in Houston Ballet's conference room. The arts are such a conduit for international exchange. ... Although Huang danced numerous roles during his time at the Guangzhou Ballet, he was ready to spread his wings. 'There's mostly classical in China.

I wanted to dance contemporary work,' he says. After sending his DVD to many ballet companies, Huang received several job offers, finally settling on Houston. 'Houston Ballet is famous in China, because of Ben Stevenson, Li Cunxin and Zhang Jian,' he says. 'The company has a great reputation.'" Image from article: From the "Diamonds" section of the Houston Ballet's "Jewels," artists Jun Shuang Huang and Mireille Hassenboehler.

International Cinema Showcase Of Nz Film Launches - Voxy: "The Ministry for Culture & Heritage, in partnership with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tourism New Zealand, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the New Zealand Film Commission, will this evening launch a catalogue of New Zealand feature and short films available for overseas culture events organised by New Zealand's diplomatic posts abroad. The showcase is funded by the Government's Cultural Diplomacy Programme, which invests in the promotion of New Zealand culture overseas. The films selected span 23 years of NZ filmmaking and reflect our unique cultural values. Launching the Showcase at Parliament this evening, Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson says the creation of the Film Showcase will enable overseas posts to share our films with an international audience. 'With the addition of new films to the catalogue every year, it will become a valuable cultural diplomacy tool and provide an opportunity to display the talent we have,' Mr Finlayson said."

Culture diplomacy: Delhi set for 10-day global arts fest - Sify: "New Delhi: The capital is primed for a slot on the global cultural tourism map as it opens its doors to unique performances, fusion projects and artists from 18 countries in a mega showcase of arts and culture for 10 days beginning on Dec 3. The fourth edition of the Delhi International Arts Festival (DIAF), which will focus on cultural collaborations and global contemporary arts,

is bringing cutting-edge expositions like the 'Edgelock', an e-creativity project, and a 'Butoh' dance-musical rendition for the first time to India. ... 'I want to position the festival as a platform for cultural diplomacy and international tourism - as our efforts in the last three years have helped us open up dialogues with the embassies,' Prahlad [Prathibha Prahlad, the festival director] said, explaining the premise of the festival that sought more international participation this year." Image from article

Stage Matters in TCG Video -- But Optics Matter, Too - Leonard Jacobs, Clyde Fitch Report: "Does theater matter? The answers seems a given, no? Of course theater matters. All arts matter. All creativity matters. And, yes, everyone is creative — not just the artist at the cliched canvas, easel or empty space, not just the actor on the stage, but the chef in the kitchen, the designer at the needle, and so on. How sad that such a thing so evident, so elemental, must continually be hammered home. It’s why the Stage Matters video [Stage Matters: A short video on why / how / if theatre matters in America], created by Theatre Communications Group in collaboration with Firefly Theater & Films, left me with worry as well as admiration. Stage matters. Didn’t we already know that? .... Stage matters because veterans can forget their problems? That’s insensitive and reductive, all right, but there’s a case to be made for theater as escapist entertainment (ever hear of the U.S.O.?) and a case to be made for the centuries-old healing power of catharsis. Stage matters because it can be a tool of cultural diplomacy? Absolutely. But that is not so much an argument for theater, per se, as for artistic exchange across disciplines and continents."


American exceptionalism: an old idea and a new political battle - Karen Tumulty, Washington Post: "American exceptionalism" is a phrase that, until recently, was rarely heard outside the confines of think tanks, opinion journals and university history departments. But with Republicans and tea party activists accusing President Obama and the Democrats of turning the country toward socialism, the idea that the United States is inherently superior

to the world's other nations has become the battle cry from a new front in the ongoing culture wars. Obama: "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." Image from

Why French Scholars Love U.S. Colleges - New York Times: A study by the Institut Montaigne found that academics constitute a much larger percentage of French émigrés to the United States

today than 30 years ago: 27 percent of the total from 1996 to 2006, compared with 8 percent from 1971 and 1980. In particular, many of France’s best biologists and economists are now in the United States. Image from article: They've all come to the U.S., clockwise from top left: Claude Lévi-Strauss, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Marion, Olivier Blanchard and Esther Duflo.

Whither Civilisation of the Dialogue? - The Chrysalis: In the face of the present breakdown of the mental-rational mode of consciousness in the post-Enlightenment, propaganda has come to displace dialogue and reasoned discourse amongst and between peoples. The important point to observe about propaganda — which is a technology which cynically reduces speech to a mere instrumentalism — is that it eschews authentic dialogue, which is a process between speaker and listener in alternating roles — like alternating electric current — for the mutual discovery and disclosure of truth.

The Deep Character Flaws of the Great Communicator - dad in left field, my.firedoglake.com: You might (but probably don’t) recall the waves made when Reagan promoted fantasies of his World War II record while hosting then-Israeli leader Yitzhak Shamir in Washington D.C. At the time, Reagan claimed to have personally witnessed the Holocaust as part of a government film crew at the end of World War II. Reagan,

in fact, never left the United States during World War II. He worked for the military in Hollywood making propaganda films. His footage of the death camps was pure fantasy. Image from

World War II Propaganda Tee Shirts - militaryleaders.blogspot.com: You can't beat vintage artwork, it's all the rage these days. And some of the best vintage artwork was created during the greatest world conflict our tiny planet has ever known. That conflict is, of course, World War Two. Image from article


"What the World Costs- Indonesia
500 rupiah ($.06): a single mentos candy; one piece of deep-fried tempe
1,000 rupiah ($.11): student ticket to Jakarta museum; ten minutes internet in Bali; a bag of tofu and chillies
1,500 rupiah ($.17): cup of green tea in Bandung
2,000 rupiah ($.22): cup of cafe bali on the street; slice of watermelon or papaya from street vendors
3,000 rupiah ($.33): 1.5 liters of water; transyogya bus service
3,500 rupiah ($.39): transjakarta bus service; elevator to the top of Manas tower
4,500 rupaih ($.50): deep-fried tofu; student ticket to the Indonesian National Museum
5,000 rupiah ($.56): nasi goreng (fried rice) in Jakarta; sweet rice breakfast in Ubud; 3in1 nescafe
6,000 rupiah ($.69): babak ayam (chicken soup) in Jakarta
7,000 rupiah ($.78): fresh-squeezed oj; mango smoothie
8,00 rupiah ($.89): a shave at a barber shop
9,000 rupiah ($1.00): udap udap (Balinese noodles); 1 hr train from Solo to Yogja 10,000 rupiah ($1.11): the best chicken soup with rice in Jakarta; entrance to Kebun Raya botanical garden
11,000 rupiah ($1.22): martabak in Yogya

12,000 rupiah ($1.33): chicken sate with thick peanut sauce and rice; stupidity tax for 2hr bus from Probolingo to Malang
15,000 rupiah ($1.67): mie goreng (fried noodles) in Kuta
16,400 rupiah ($1.83): 250ml bottle of listerine
17,000 rupiah ($1.89): fish in yellow curry, spinach and rice in Jakarta
20,000 rupiah ($2.23): matinée movie ticket; ticket to see monkey sanctuary in Ubud; 1 hr bemo (minibus) to Ubud
22,000 rupiah ($2.45): banana split in Jakarta
25,000 rupiah ($2.79): large bottle of Bintang beer in a corner store; arak and pineapple in Kuta (2 for 1 happy hour)
27,000 rupiah ($3.01): large bottle of Bintang beer in a restaurant
32,000 rupiah ($3.57): tenderloin steak, potato wedges and veggies for thanksgiving dinner
34,000 rupiah ($3.79): halal Big mac, fries and a coke
35,000 rupiah ($3.90): half a double room with breakfast in Yogya; dorm in Jakarta
40,000 rupiah ($4.46): per person for a double room at Nick's hostel in Jakarta; 3 hr bus Bogor to Bandung
50,000 rupiah ($5.57): 2 for 1 vodka tonics in Kuta; single room w/ bathroom and cold shower in Ubud
55,000 rupiah ($6.13): room with fan in Solo
60,000 rupiah ($6.69): single room in Jakarta, no bathroom
70,000 rupiah ($7.80): single room w/ bathroom in Kuta (Bali)
75,000 rupiah ($8.36): capirinhas at nice bar in Jakarta; room in Bogor, no bathroom
105,000 rupiah ($11.70): new copy of "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving in Bandung
120,000 rupiah ($13.37): 12 hour bus from Denpasar to Probolingo
130,000 rupiah ($14.49): 10 hr "bisnis" train from Yogya to Jakarta
150,000 rupiah ($16.72): cup of kopi luwak (civet shit coffee); 16 hr bus Bandung to Surabaya; 12 hr bus Surabaya to Denpasar
230,000 rupiah ($25.63): 54 hr bus from Jakarta to Bukittinggi
270,000 rupiah ($30.09): fast ferry from Dumai to Malacca, Malaysia
373,000 rupiah ($41.57): flight from Medan to Penang, Malaysia (Aka possible stupidity tax)"

--From Paul Rockower, Levantine; Rockower image from


The Pentagon's Spending Binge

"This year, the United States will spend at least $700 billion on defense and security. Adjusting for inflation, that's more than America has spent on defense in any year since World War II -- more than during the Korean war, the Vietnam war, or the Reagan military buildup. Much of that enormous sum results from spending increases under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Since 2001, military and security expenditures have soared by 119 percent."

"For most of that time, of course, the United States has been fighting two wars. Yet that's not the cause of the defense-spending explosion. Even if the costs of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are subtracted, the defense budget has swelled by 68 percent since 2001."

Remarkable: "The U.S. defense budget is now about the same as military spending in all other countries combined."

--Gregg Easterbrook, New Republic


"We are texting ourselves to death."

--Author Neal Gabler; image from article