Monday, April 2, 2012

April 1

"The task of a public service officer seeking to explain and gain support for a major policy is not that of a writer of a doctoral thesis. Qualification must give way to simplicity of statement, nicety and nuance to bluntness, almost brutality, in carrying home a point."

--Dean Acheson, chastising George Kennan; cited in Hannah Gurman, The Dissent Papers: The Voices of Diplomats in the Cold War and Beyond (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), p. 61; image from; on Acheson and Kennan, see


Obama 2008: Jerusalem Capital of Israel, 'Must Remain Undivided' - "It caused quite a stir this week when the Washington Free Beacon discovered a State Department press release which referred to Jerusalem and Israel as two separate entities. The not-so-subtle categorical slight was all the more shocking for how it contradicted decades of foreign policy and President Obama's own words from an AIPAC speech in 2008. ... Let's begin with the State Department, whose press release clearly mentions Jerusalem and Israel separately: 'Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Kathleen Stephens is traveling to Algiers, Doha, Amman, Jerusalem, and Israel from March 23 to April 5 to meet with a broad cross-section of government officials, students, NGOs, and exchange program alumni.' ... Shortly after this was discovered, the State Department, in no surprise move, quickly scrubbed the release from the Internet and corrected the 'error' by swapping out 'Israel' for 'Tel Aviv.'

This prompted an alarming exchange between AP State Department Reporter Matt Lee and State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland at Thursday's press briefing. After an explanation regarding the mix-up, Nuland stated, 'With regard to our Jerusalem policy, it's a permanent-status issue. It's got to be resolved through the negotiations between the parties.' ... In his speech to AIPAC [in 2008], the president declared, 'Let me clear, Israel's security is sacrosanct, it is non-negotiable, the Palestinians need a state... that is contiguous and cohesive and that allows them to prosper, but any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized, defensible borders, and Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.' ... [T]he real problem with the State Department's position, at least according to Victoria Nuland ... [:] Not only does the State Department leave the status of East and West Jerusalem up to negotiations, it dismissed the U.S. recognition that any part of Jerusalem is the permanent capital of Israel. ... [W]e are left with all she had to say on the issue, what she 'said 17 times already,' and it indicates a drastic inconsistency between the State Department's position, President Obama's positions in 2008, and longstanding U.S. policy." Image from article

Statement by Senior Advisor for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Alec Ross – Office of the Spokesman, U.S. Department of State, April 1, 2012: "At a recent meeting with me at American University pertaining to the subject of public diplomacy, students in the audience recorded my statements via twitter. A brilliant blogger not present at this event accused a university twitterer of inaccurary in summarizing my comments (which were not taped or transcribed), and one detailed-minded former teacher, also not among the audience, castigated this same twitterer for misrepresenting, by the use of quotation marks, my remarks, which are not available in written form.

While I am far too busy innovating/twittering myself to comment on the accuracy/inaccuracy of the tweets regarding my AU presentation, I wish to praise those who came to the defense of what I really had to say even if they never actually heard me say it. I apologize to them for using more than 140 characters as I most gratefully laud their courageous struggle on my behalf."

‘ What’s important to these extremists is not the evidence but the scare’ - Anthony Watts, "[T]he U.S. national security system can provide resources efficiently, but it also can do so inadequately and tardily. Flawed responses recur in issue areas as diverse as biodefense, public diplomacy, and military intervention. They also occur across many presidential administrations, from the onset of the Cold War to the present day. The piecemeal organizational reforms enacted to date have not fostered improved policy outcomes or decisionmaking, while capability building, especially in the civilian national security agencies, remains less than optimal."

Tibetan woman challenges Gallup and Broadcasting Board of Governors - USG Broadcasts/BBG Watch, "Speaking up at a panel discussion on media freedom, an unidentified Tibetan woman challenged the Broadcasting Board of Governors over the BBG plan to end Voice of America Tibetan radio broadcasts. The March 28 panel discussion in Washington was organized jointly by the BBG and Gallup. A moderator from Gallup repeatedly tried to silence the Tibetan woman, but she was allowed to finish her comments thanks to an intervention by BBG member Michael Meehan who was one of the panelists. ... BBG Watch applauds Governor Meehan

for defending the Tibetan woman’s right of free speech as a US taxpayer who is concerned how her money is being spent to support freedom and democracy abroad. While the Governor showed a genuine interest in the tragic human rights situation in Tibet, we disagree with his comments that Tibet is just one of many hot spots around the world that Broadcasting Board of Governors cannot possibly cover. Tibet is controlled by China, which represents one of America’s biggest strategic challenges, especially in the area of media freedom and public diplomacy. The argument that the BBG should not respond in cases of crisis has been a favorite one of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) bureaucrats who see their positions and their bureaucratic spending threatened each time real news programs are saved or expanded. They have managed to infect BBG members with their faulty and self-serving reasoning." Meehan image from article

TNR on RT: "Why are liberals lending credibility to a zany Russian TV station?" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Israeli Soldiers’ Stories - “[T]wo Israeli soldiers recounted their personal experiences and shared insights of serving in the IDF. On March 1, Lital and Elad came to UCI to discuss their own backgrounds and life in Israel and then answer questions. Their West Coast tour, sponsored by StandWithUs, the international Israel education organization, also took them to Cal State Long Beach and UC Riverside. College Republicans and Anteaters for Israel also sponsored the UCI talk.

Lital and Elad are part of StandWithUs’ 'Israeli Soldiers’ Stories,' an innovative program featuring reserve duty Israeli college students who talk about the Israeli-Arab conflict, giving a human face to the IDF uniform. Ten reservists toured the US in February and March. In addition to IDF service, they are graduates of the StandWithUs Israeli Fellowship, a unique public diplomacy program that selects and trains 150 student leaders each year from six Israeli universities." Image (presumably of Lital) from article

'Abbas perpetrating political terror against Israel' - Jerusalem Post: In the wake of Friday's Land Day protests in Israel and abroad, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon

on Saturday accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of carrying out 'political terrorism' against Israel. ... Last year, as part of his E-diplomacy campaign, Ayalon released YouTube videos entitled 'The Truth About the Peace Process' and 'The Truth About the West Bank' in which he attempted to present a historical narrative meant to help wage Israel's public diplomacy battle. 'Social media in general and YouTube in particular are major battlegrounds in the clash of narratives and public diplomacy. It is vital that a strong rights-based Israeli presence is seen and heard, especially for the YouTube demographics who are more interested in easy to digest explanations,” Ayalon's office said in a statement released last year. Ayalon image from article

Télégramme secret exclusif - "In exclusivity, États de la Liberté has obtained a document of great interest. This cable illustrates the work of high-ranking officials involved in the management of military and diplomatic operations that great powers are carrying out to stabilize a tormented region. As the password of the archive that contained this document was written on a paper that was lost on a bus, the document is published immediately, unredacted.
March 28, 3019
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/27/3025
Classified By: CDA URUG RAVURBARG; REASON 1.4 (B, D).
1.(C) A meeting with high-level Orthanc officials took place on March 25 to discuss security and stabilization operations, assessing progress and reviewing priorities. Government of Isengard (GOI)officers assured that they are 'long-term allies', and offered their input on security. 5.(C) Press coverage in Rohan has been distinctly unfavorable. Figures of the opposition use criticism aimed at Grima to sustain a campaign of virulent anti-mordorism. Editorials in the mainstream press have claimed that the legitimacy of the government is tainted by corruption, one-candidate election, and the head of State begin under magical control of a foreign power. StW (PLEASE PROTECT) agreed to further efforts to promote Sauron public diplomacy in the Middle Earth, particularly by underlining the Hobbit threat to the Orcish way of life; and by pursuing the systematic evisceration of civilians and magical control of government officials, which GOI call 'winning hearts and minds'."


Five myths about Obama’s foreign policy - Martin S. Indyk, Kenneth G. Lieberthal and Michael E. O’Hanlon, Washington Post: 1. Obama is “leading from behind.” But to the extent that the president does “lead from behind,” it is mainly where American interests are secondary or, in cases such as Egypt’s revolution, where Washington’s role cannot be too great lest it delegitimize local allies. 2. Obama apologizes for America. For every Cairo speech acknowledging past mistakes, there has been another — such as the one in Oslo later that year, when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize — in which Obama has reminded the world that his top responsibilities are to protect the American people and unapologetically command the nation’s military forces in the wars they are fighting. 3. Obama has markedly improved America’s standing in the Muslim world. Despite his Cairo speech, despite his time growing up in Indonesia, despite his effort to pressure Israel to freeze settlements and despite his withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Obama enters his reelection campaign with his own popularity (and that of the United States) in the broader Islamic world mired at levels similar to those of the late George W. Bush presidency.

Several factors have contributed to this, such as the failure to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the use of drone strikes against al-Qaeda targets. Part of the problem, too, was Obama’s flawed approach to Israel, which rested on currying favor with the Arab world by distancing the United States from Israel. But Arabs instead wanted Obama to use U.S. leverage to coax meaningful concessions out of Israel. Proposing Palestinian statehood at the United Nations one year only to promise to veto the proposal the next was particularly unfortunate. His strategy here simply did not work. 4. Obama is the opposite of George W. Bush. Who would have imagined it? After Obama’s 2008 campaign, in which he pilloried the Bush-Cheney approach to foreign policy, his differences with his predecessor have been modest on several fronts. 5. Obama is standing by as Iran acquires nuclear weapons. Obama’s approach is binary — either Iran gives up its nuclear weapons aspirations through negotiations, or the United States will probably use preventive force to destroy its nuclear capabilities. That’s hardly capitulation. Image from

Syria in the balance: Op-Ed If the international community wants to stop the bloodshed and prevent disaster, it needs to act rather than react - Henri J. Barkey - What we need to do is show all parties that there is a tremendous price to pay in terms of Syrian lives and other consequences for noncompliance with international demands.

Iraq Casts a Pall Over U.S. Effort to Fathom Iran - James Risen, New York Times: Today, analysts and others at the C.I.A.

who are struggling to understand the nuclear ambitions of Iran are keenly aware that the agency’s credibility is again on the line, amid threats of new military interventions. The intelligence debacle on Iraq has deeply influenced the way they do their work, with new safeguards intended to force analysts to be more skeptical in evaluating evidence and more cautious in drawing conclusions. Image from

From Belarus, a cry for help - Fred Hiatt, Washington Post: Stanislav Shushkevich is the leader of Belarus as it emerged from the Soviet Union 20 years ago. Shushkevich said the Obama administration could do more to help his country’s beleaguered democrats stand up to their tyranny.

How War Came Home to Stay [Review of The Unmooring of American Military Power by Rachel Maddow] - Janet Maslin, New York Times: Ms. Maddow’s point is that the way we go to war has changed: that there has been an expansion of presidential power, a corresponding collapse of Congressional backbone and a diminution of public attention.

Why Nations Fail - Thomas J. Friedman, New York Times: Co-authored by the M.I.T. economist Daron Acemoglu and the Harvard political scientist James A. Robinson, “Why Nations Fail” argues that the key differentiator between countries is “institutions.”

Their core point is that countries thrive when they build political and economic institutions that “unleash,” empower and protect the full potential of each citizen to innovate, invest and develop. Compare how well Eastern Europe has done since the fall of communism with post-Soviet states like Georgia or Uzbekistan, or Israel versus the Arab states, or Kurdistan versus the rest of Iraq. It’s all in the institutions. The lesson of history, the authors argue, is that you can’t get your economics right if you don’t get your politics right, which is why they don’t buy the notion that China has found the magic formula for combining political control and economic growth. Image from

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