Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 19-20

"I've had a come-to-Jesus moment."

--Doug Stanglin, "Toronto Mayor Ford says he's giving up alcohol for good," USA Today; Ford image from

"I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I really have no idea."

--Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American ambassador to Beijing, who will be leaving his post early next year to rejoin his wife and three children in Seattle.

"[I]t didn’t hurt that he was assassinated.”

--Historian Robert Dallek about John F. Kennedy


China, US to boost people-to-people ties - Chen Wihua, China and the United States hope that people-to-people exchanges can play a larger role in their bilateral relationship, which is often rattled by strategic distrust, trade friction and even potential military competition. Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong and US Secretary of State John Kerry are both expected to highlight the significance of that dimension at the 4th China-US High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE) to be held on Thursday in Washington. Susan Stevenson, deputy assistant secretary for public diplomacy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific affairs, said that although the CPE is represented by US and Chinese government officials, it is different from the dozens of other dialogues between the two countries, such as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, human rights dialogue, and the energy policy dialogue held in Beijing late last month, which were government-to-government. 'What we're really looking at is expanding and strengthening the ways in which our two publics interact,' Stevenson told a press conference in Washington on Monday. Former Chinese President Hu Jintao and US President Barack Obama talked about setting up such a mechanism when they met in Beijing in late 2009.

The CPE was launched in 2010 by Liu, then a state councilor, and then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Liu and Clinton, a likely Democrat presidential candidate for 2016, will attend a seminar on early childhood development at the Brookings Institution on Wednesday. While Stevenson, who had served in the US embassy in Beijing from 2006 to 2010, described the relationship as important, she said 'what is unsung is throughout the year the many activities that we do between the Chinese and American public. The Consultation on People-to-People Exchange is really a long-term investment in the bilateral relationship because we realize that these exchanges, particularly among youth at much younger ages, help to create those bonds of understanding and those bonds of cooperation,' she said. 'As this generation grows older, there are certainly much broader connections between our two countries than there were when I was growing up,' Stevenson said. Describing the many successes in the five pillars of the CPE — education, science and technology, culture, sports and women's issues — Stevenson said the CPE this year brings together American and Chinese counterparts to identify new opportunities and perhaps new barriers to enhancing bilateral engagement. 'We still are confident that there's room for growth,' she said. 'We want to foster even greater exchange between our two peoples and develop solutions to global challenges,' she said, citing the expansion of the Fulbright program to create opportunities for more Chinese scholars. The two sides are expected to produce a fact sheet on Thursday to identify key programs for cooperation in the five areas in the coming years. Liu and Kerry will both address a conference of the 100K Strong Foundation on Thursday to promote Obama's 2009 initiative of sending 100,000 American students to China over a period of four years. The 2013 Open Doors report released by the Institute of International Education (IIE) showed that China was the 5th destination for US students going overseas, trailing Britain, Italy, Spain and France. In the 2011-12 academic year, about 15,000 US students studied in China, a rise of 2 percent from the previous year and making up 5.3 percent of all US students studying abroad. However, the IIE report did not count an estimated 10,000 US students studying in China each year in non-credit and short-term language and volunteer programs. James Sasser, former US ambassador to China, said more cultural and people-to-people exchange between the two countries will be helpful. Citing the growing number of Chinese students in the US, which numbered 235,000 in the 2012-13 academic year, Sasser said it has a very beneficial effect on bilateral relations. 'It also has a very beneficial effect on some in the Congress, because many of these students are studying in their congressional districts. They come to realize that they are valuable assets,' Sasser said. Liu kicked off her busy schedule with a full day of events in Chicago on Monday, visiting a children's hospital, attending an education forum and meeting local officials. In Washington, Liu will also attend the unveiling of the US center of the Confucius Institute, which promotes Chinese language learning and cultural exchanges. The US now hosts 98 Confucius Institutes and 355 Confucius Classrooms, making it the most in the world, according to Yuan Guiren, China's minister of education. Liu's visit draws special attention this time as she is the highest Chinese official to visit the US since the Third Plenum of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee held a week ago. On Thursday, she will speak at the US Institute of Peace and likely touch on reform measures and the path forward, before moving on to her last stop in New York City." See also. Image from

US cultural exchanges and political system into a hamper [Google "translation" from "simplified Han"; includes video]: "America in the fourth cultural exchanges and consultations on the 21st will be held in Washington, DC. Although the Obama administration has been hoped, be able to promote non-governmental exchanges in the United States, but there are still many obstacles, including political factors.Look at our station reporter from the bottom of Washington reported. US cultural exchanges and consultations fourth Thursday in Washington hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Warren and the Chinese Communist Deputy Prime Minister Liu Yandong chair. U.S. State Department officials (Susan Stevenson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs): 'This program aims to promote bilateral cooperation in civil education, culture, science and technology, sports and women's issues on the exchange.' [U]nder U.S. Institute of International Education recently published a report, China has become the United States to study the largest number of countries, accounting for 29%. The American students studying in China accounted for only 5% of its overseas students. Although the U.S. government in 2009 announced the launch of one hundred thousand strong program and I hope the end of 2014, to recruit 100,000 American students to study in China, to deepen exchanges, but still there are many factors that make American students about Chinese prohibitive."

U.S. warming up to Northeast India - Syed Miraz Ahmed, "Keeping with the U.S.' interest in India's Look East Policy the American Center, Kolkata for the first time organized an Alumni Entrepreneurship Road Show anmd Mentorship Program in the city capital recently. It aims to forge a long-term relationship with the alumni of the U.S. State-Department’s professional exchange programs and encouraging young leaders and entrepreneurs. India's Look East policy was framed to cultivate extensive economic and strategic relations with the nations of Southeast Asia in order to bolster its standing as a regional power and a counterweight to the strategic influence of the People's Republic of China. Initiated in 1991, it marks a strategic shift in India’s perspective of the world. The Alumni Entrepreneurship Road Show, an interactive networking event for aspiring entrepreneurs, students and young professionals was conducted by some of the most successful entrepreneur business leaders in the northeast. Five Northeast business leaders, all alumni of U.S. State Department Exchange Programs conducted the youth engaging workshop, providing them with pointers to make them aware of the climate for entrepreneurship in the country, proven entrepreneurial and stories of success and failure, leads for potential sources of capital and emerging collaborative opportunities. The U.S. Consulate in Kolkata has a major interest and regional role to play in public diplomacy and trade. Its Consular region includes 10 states with 170 million people which is about 14 per cent of India's population and 11 per cent of India's GDP.

Assam is a key economic center of its Consular district producing 60 per cent of India's tea, 40 per cent of its onshore crude oil and 31 per cent of onshore natural gas production. The Alumni Mentorship program had 25 young alumni leaders host a mentoring and training event for one hundred young leaders selected from the Northeast focused on entrepreneurship, women’s empowerment, human rights, global health and the environment. The participants competed for a grant where they will work on a sustainable community service project or a training program. ... When the U.S. Consulate General Helen LaFave first visited Assam in September 2013, she interacted with students of the prestigious Cotton College in Guwahati which was facilitated by the Youth Forum for Foreign Policy (YFFP). YFFP is an independent, nonpartisan and non-profit initiative lead by Gaurav Gogoi, son of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. It seeks to develop an informed and substantive dialogue on foreign policy issues among India’s youth and to ensure that India’s foreign policy is more responsive to the concerns of the youth. It endeavors to connect Foreign Policy Stakeholders (policy makers, government officials, members of political parties, policy think thanks) and youth groups from India and abroad on the same platform to discuss specific thematic and regional foreign policy issues. LaFave also met the local alumni of various U.S. Department of State-funded exchange programmes including the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), civil society leaders and local NGO members. Asked about the process of selection for the Consulate Programmes, Deputy Director of the American Center Rachel Sunden said, 'We look for the best qualified people and the best fit. The process is a year round process. Myself, my colleagues from the Consulate were constantly traveling all over our districts which includes the Northeast, Bihar and Jharkhand. We are traveling all over setting appointment for meeting up people, reading papers, magazines, watching the news and we are looking at what people are doing and when we see somebody doing amazing work, we work very hard to know them.' The candidates are nominated for programmes of specific interest to the U.S. Department, she added." Image from

Soulgrass Concert at Spaso House Highlights Cultural Diplomacy - Jordan Bryan, Moscow Times: Often, the enjoyment of a work of art requires one to forget about its message and simply focus on its sensory appeal. In other cases, the work of art is the message. The project of cultural diplomacy often straddles this border between agenda and art for art's sake, and at a time when U.S.-Russian relations are publicly frayed, cultural exchange can help to keep tensions at bay. Last week, Grammy Award-winning American saxophonist Bill Evans, a former bandmate of Miles Davis, performed with his band 'Soulgrass' at Spaso House, the official residence of the U.S. ambassador. This concert marked the end of the group's 12-concert tour through Russia. Evans and his rugged clan seemed slightly out of place against the backdrop of blue-white curtains and ornamental columns of Spaso House, but that did not seem to impede the audience's enjoyment of the music itself. ... While most of the audience seemed satisfied with the performance, a look around the room suggested that events like these were largely decorative, not diplomatic. The crowd was mostly made up of embassy contacts: people in the commerce sector, folks from the NASA Moscow Liaison Office, and executives of Russian branches of large companies like Ford.

The impact of cultural exchange in the embassy itself was thus significantly dampened due to the fact that the people watching already had significant exposure to American culture. However, outside the walls of Spaso House, the U.S. embassy's cultural agenda takes a much more important, if more subtle form. Along with hosting artists at semi-annual private events like the concert on Thursday night, the embassy finances and arranges tours for visiting performers. 'On this particular tour we were able to get outside of the major cities, and we were able to meet people that don't normally get the opportunity to meet people like us or hear the kind of music that we play,' Evans said during the show. 'The U.S. embassy and the people here made that possible, so that's a good deed.' ... Supporting musicians is not the only way the U.S. Embassy promotes cultural exchange — Spaso House also recently played host to a reception celebrating the 20th anniversary of FLEX, a program giving gifted youth from the former Soviet Union a chance to study in the U.S. At the reception, former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, a founder of the program, met with FLEX alumni, many of whom have gone on to have impressive careers in business and government." Image from entry, with caption: Guests from a variety of backgrounds, many of them with close ties to the West, mingled before the concert.

21st-Century Diplomacies: The State Department's Identity Crisis - Heather Hurlburt, "[T]he traditional forms and modalities of diplomacy—and even the construct of the place diplomacy occupies in world affairs—have come under strenuous challenge from developments in the democratization of politics, the diffusion of power and the opening up of communications technology in recent decades. ... Some of the tasks traditionally shouldered by the State Department are being addressed elsewhere. Public diplomacy is perhaps the clearest example.

During the Cold War, some aspects of information dissemination—propaganda, less politely—could only be handled by governments, as the societies the U.S. was most concerned with were closed to private-sector penetration. Moreover, well-integrated and influential diasporas from those societies were eager to make their talents available to craft cultural and information programs that were famously well-received. Neither of those factors obtain today. Neither of those factors obtain today. For better or worse, Washington can do little that competes with Dennis Rodman’s

visits to North Korea or the release of Rambo movies in Lebanon.
... It is possible, and even likely, that United States diplomacy will fall into the role of convening, facilitating and connecting the larger, better-funded and more flexible drivers of American power and outreach—both nongovernmental and governmental. This could happen in a deliberate, planned way; but if not, it will certainly happen by default. Hulburt image from; below image from comments on article at.

Putting faith in public diplomacy - Mark Edwards, "Of course, foreign affairs has always been the least democratic field of national government—the least transparent and the most immune to popular pressure. Not that people haven’t tried to grow U.S. statecraft from the grassroots. Early-20th-century educators and social reformers envisioned a nationwide network of local 'social centers' where citizens could deliberate, among other things, their nation’s role in the world. World War I rapidly transformed existing social centers into vehicles for anti-German and pro-American propaganda. The passage of the National Security Act of 1947—which created the Department of Defense, the CIA, and Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency—similarly betrayed the values conflict between efficient execution of war and civilian control of the military. To be sure, the national security state was accompanied by new attention to 'public diplomacy,' as historian Justin Hart puts it. The Cold War 'public' was never intended to be the source of superpower decision-making, however. The American people instead would be subject to all the latest advances in state manipulation of majority sentiment. Yet history may still surprise us. Between the world wars, there were several efforts to democratize foreign policymaking—efforts undertaken, ironically, by elites. The Foreign Policy Association began to support public lecture series, discussion clubs and other popular educational efforts, partly in hopes of overcoming its members’ isolation and exclusivity. The FPA’s sister organization, the World Affairs Council, likewise looked to conduct foreign policy deliberation on the ground through open meetings with experts. I’ve just begun to look intently into another such effort: the establishment in 1938 of a network of Foreign Relations Committees sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. The original design of the committees called for bringing together, in small-group deliberation, 'leading individuals' who in turn would shape 'the opinion and action of the masses.' Bankers, lawyers and professors would dominate most of the committees, which numbered eight in 1938 and around 20 by 1950. ... Whither public diplomacy today? In 1995, the Foreign Relations Committees were incorporated as the DC-based American Committees on Foreign Relations, 'dedicated to facilitating debate on international events—primarily as they relate to the formulation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy—between Washington and the heartland(s) of the United States.' Local World Affairs Councils also continue to operate under the headship of the World Affairs Councils of America. Still, it’s much harder for these groups to compete for citizens’ attention in the age of Manning, Cyrus and Kardashian. After 9/11, the CFR launched a new public diplomacy initiative, eventually published as Finding America’s Voice. The report concluded that 'effective public diplomacy now requires much wider use of newer channels of communication and more customized, two-way dialogue and debate as opposed to ‘push-down,’ one-way mass communication.'”

U.S. image on roller coaster ride since Cold War - Bruce Stokes, CNN: "The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War ushered America’s principle [sic] post-war rival off the world stage. But U.S. preeminence was short lived, a victim of both Washington’s foreign policy initiatives undermining America’s brand and the rise of China. The upsurge in U.S. favorability in the wake of the 2008 presidential election and signs that this now may be tailing off are a reminder of the current volatility of America’s international image. And prolonged negative sentiments about the United States in much of the Middle East suggest ongoing challenges for public diplomacy in the region.

Yet one abiding sentiment is the continued popularity of at least some aspects of American soft power. Ultimately, if there is any lesson to be learned about America’s standing in the eyes of world publics since the end of the Cold War, it is that a snap shot belies the reality of a moving picture. The U.S. global brand is constantly evolving – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse." Uncaptioned image from entry

50 years on, the enduring lessons of JFK's presidency - Andrew Hammond, CNN: "As JFK would surely have appreciated, there is a compelling need for redoubling efforts to win the battle for moderate 'hearts and minds.' This can be best achieved through a vigorous re-assertion of U.S. soft power, combined with prudent use of hard power.

Such an agenda would require much greater resourcing for activities such as public diplomacy, broadcasting, development assistance and exchange programs. U.S. public diplomacy is in particularly strong need of revitalization, with a clearer long-term strategy essential." Image from entry, with caption: President John F. Kennedy greets supporters during his visit to Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday, November 22, 1963. This month marks 50 years since his assassination in Dallas, an event that jarred the nation and fueled a multitude of conspiracy theories about whether Kennedy was killed by a single gunman acting alone in the Texas School Book Depository.

Hard lessons for soft power: In a revealing book about the limits of public diplomacy, a long-time U.S. State Department official analyzes why "soft power" didn't work in post-war Iraq - Larisa Permyakova, Peter Van Buren, a U.S. State Department official with 24 years of experience, describes in his book We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People the types of public diplomacy projects carried out by the United States in Iraq, with an emphasis on how much money they cost U.S. taxpayers. The book could, in fact, serve as a practical guide for public diplomacy anywhere in the world. ... As the head of the Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team (ePRT), Van Buren

had enormous sums of money at his disposal, however, according to him, they were spent on the botched plan to 'win the hearts and minds' of Iraqis. The author notes in particular that the directives issued from the U.S. State Department usually contradicted each other and were largely cut off from reality. They were not backed up by any sustainable strategy either from the State Department, or from the U.S. Department of Defense. ... Van Buren’s book is in its own way a warning to those who believe whole-heartedly in the power of public diplomacy and 'soft power.'" Image from entry

Armenia hosts NATO Week - [19 November]: "Armenia is hosting NATO Week. A round-table conference on the management of international crises and peacekeeping was held at the Armenian Foreign Ministry yesterday, News Armenia reports. The Defense Ministry will host expert talks on Tuesday. The Foreign Ministry will organize a video conference between Armenian peacekeepers in Kosovo and their families on Wednesday.

Attendants of the conference will visit the peacekeeping brigade of Armenia. A video conference with high-ranking officials of the NATO public diplomacy department will take place on Thursday. NATO Week will be concluded with a visit to the Vanadzor State Pedagogic University." Image from entry

Fathoming Iran's nuclear intentions - Akiva Eldar, "Shmuel Meir, former officer in the Israel Defense Force’s Intelligence and Planning Section, former researcher in the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University and blogger for Haaretz ('Strategic Blog) [:] ... 'It is a shame that the background noise and 'public-diplomacy messages' surrounding our public discourse prevent us from seeing what is really happening with what is called 'the Iranian threat,'" said Meir.

He feels that expressions such as 'It's the year 1938' serve to eclipse solid facts provided by the content of IAEA reports and American intelligence evaluations, as well as American satellite coverage. "According to all these sources, Iran had already decided last summer to freeze its nuclear program. Today’s Iran is the most supervised country in the world, including the permanent presence of IAEA inspectors on its land, weekly visits to centrifuge sites and video shots sent directly to IAEA headquarters in Vienna.'" Image from entry, with caption: Iranian students hold up their hands as a sign of unity as they form a human chain around the Uranium Conversion Facility to show their support for Iran's nuclear program in Isfahan, 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of Tehran, Nov. 15, 2011.

CSTO expects no massive incursion from Afghanistan - "The Collective Security Treaty Organization expects no massive incursions from Afghanistan into CSTO member states after the international coalition forces pull out from Afghanistan in 2014. The statement was made by Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Nikolai Bordiuzha at the session of the Russian Public Council for International Cooperation and Public Diplomacy under the Public Chamber of Russia on 19 November."

Diplomatic Dispatch: Walking the Palk Strait tightrope - Saurahab Aurabh, "India had an uphill climb at the CHOGM summit in Colombo with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh deciding to skip the summit following protests from the Tamil Nadu parties, including some of his own ministers - but the damage was minimised by some astute out-of-the-box diplomacy. ... While in Sri Lanka, New Delhi sent

out a message to Colombo that true devolution of powers in the Northern province and the rights of the Sri Lankan Tamils should be protected. But with politics heavily guiding their diplomatic engagement, there was some element of smart public diplomacy as well, led by Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh." Images from entry, with caption: India rushed to explain the sensitive situation to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa ([top]) when PM Manmohan Singh ([below]) skipped the CHOGM summit in Colombo.

Ethiopia: Govt Pledges 50 Million Br to Support Saudi Returnees - "The Ethiopian government has allocated 50 million Br for the evacuation and rehabilitation of Ethiopians returning from Saudi Arabia, according to Tedros Adhanom (PhD), Minister of Foreign Affairs. The minister, who met some of the returnees on Thursday, November 14, 2013, disclosed that more funds would be allocated as required. ... The Minister has established a crises group in the foreign office on Menelik II Avenue, comprising directorates of the Middle East, International Organisations, International Legal, African and Public Diplomacy affairs, sources disclosed."

GCC Role in Regional Dynamics - "Arab-Us Policymakers Conference – 2013[;] Gulf Cooperation Council: Role In Regional Dynamics - "Speakers: ... Ambassador Richard Schmierer – Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy, Bureau of Near East Affairs, U.S. Department of State; former U.S. Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman."

A Week With Ambassador Arturo Sarukhán - "During the 'Public Diplomacy of the Americas' conference hosted by the USC Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars, former Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhán discussed U.S.- Mexico relations, highlighting the importance of increasing the digital component of Mexico's

diplomacy to deal with issues such as trade relations, transnational crime, and immigration. Sarukhán has served as a career diplomat in the Mexican Foreign Service for over twenty years and was appointed ambassador to the U.S. in 2006 by President Felipe Calderón. Serving until 2013, he became the youngest and longest serving Mexican ambassador in Washington in recent history. He is currently serving as Chairman of Global Solution/A Podesta Company, a strategic consulting firm in Washington, D.C." Sarukhán image from entry

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon Received Vytautas Magnus University Honorary Doctorate in Kaunas - "The title of VMU Honorary Doctor has been granted to Ban Ki-moon for his persistent efforts to spread the ideals of

public diplomacy, work towards assuring peace and security in the world, and unite the international community as it rises to global challenges. As the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon is recognised as one of the world’s leading diplomatic officers." Uncaptioned image from entry


Poll: Large Majority Of Americans Support Nuclear Deal With Iran - Ben Armbruster, A new Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Wednesday found that a large majority of Americans would support an agreement between the United States, its international partners and Iran that would allow some easing of sanctions on the Islamic Republic in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. Via LH on Facebook. Image from

Let’s Make a Deal - Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times: In the long run, the deal Kerry is trying to forge with Iran is good for us and our allies for four reasons: 1) In return for very limited sanctions relief, the deal is expected to freeze all of Iran’s nuclear bomb-making technologies, roll back some of them and put in place an unprecedented, intrusive inspection regime, while maintaining all the key oil sanctions so Iran will still be hurting aplenty. 2) While Netanyahu believes more sanctions will get Iran to surrender every piece of its nuclear technology, Iran experts say that is highly unlikely. 3) Iran has already mastered the technology to make a bomb. 4) The only lasting security lies in an internal transformation in Iran, which can only come with more openness. Kerry’s deal would roll back Iran’s nuclear program, while also strengthening more moderate tendencies in Iran.

It's possible to work with Iran: The 30-year-old Iran-United States Claims Tribunal shows how - Richard M. Mosk, Even during the darkest days of Iranian and United States relations, the two governments have been able to come to an agreement and abide by it. They should be able to do it now.

Obama Trades Places With France: At the Geneva talks on Iran, two allies with differing agendas - Matthew Kaminski, Wall Street Journal: Paris retains from imperial days an appetite for overseas engagement. And, virtually from the United States' founding through the de Gaulle era and to our time, France has by reflex pushed back at the English-speaking power across the Atlantic. Now, though, the French are anxious about perceived American weakness and—along with Israelis, Saudis and others—trying to adjust. The game in the Middle East is to secure limited interests in a vacuum created by the Obama pullback.

An outrageous demand for Obama – Carter Eskew, Washington Post:  The Obamacare fiasco has not only imperiled President Obama’s domestic agenda, it now jeopardizes his foreign policy. This morning, the New York Times reports that a deal is in the works with the volatile and erratic Hamid Karzai to allow U.S. forces to continue to patrol Afghanistan for terrorists. Karzai had previously said he would require all U.S. forces to withdraw, a demand the administration felt was a blow to its global efforts to keep terrorism in check. In other words, the possible deal is a potential victory for Obama’s foreign policy. But, like any crafty politician, Mr. Karzai knows how to take advantage of weakness in a negotiation. His reported price for agreeing to let U.S. troops remain? A personal apology from Mr. Obama for military mistakes. It is an outrageous demand.

Taliban And NATO War on Twitter - Sam Schneider, Daily Beast: As NATO forces prepare to leave Afghanistan, the group is waging a battle for the hearts and minds of Afghan youth—and it’s spilling onto social media. The Taliban are avid tweeters. This may come as a surprise, given that the group’s reign in the 1990s has often been described as “medieval,” with the outlawing of modern technology just one item on a laundry list of brutal policies informed by its austere brand of Islam. Yet tweet it does—and, in what’s likely to come as less of a surprise, the Taliban is engaged in a longstanding Twitter feud with NATO.

the Twitter accounts of the Taliban and ISAF reveal another war that is not so undecided— the struggle for the support and confidence of the Afghan people. The theater of battle for combatants may remain in the poppy fields of Helmand and mountains of Kunar, but another has opened up online. Whether it is ISAF promoting social progress and calling out the Taliban for killing civilians, or the Taliban trumpeting battlefield victories and accusing ISAF of the same, the two sides chose tostart a Twitter beef, and like celebrities’ social media feuds back in the U.S., it is all about image. Via CS on Facebook; image from entry

How do International Organisations Tweet? - The social networking site has become a formidable broadcasting tool and an indispensable communication channel for international organisations to amplify their messages to a global audience.

No international organisation can ignore the power of digital communications and especially Twitter.
Via LOS on Facebook

Enabling Bashar: To 'disarm' Syria, President Obama makes a partner of the Assad regime - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: The most lethal WMD in Syria today is Bashar Assad himself. If Mr. Obama were serious about stopping the killing in Syria he would not make a partner of the principal killer.

16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here - Michael Koh, A lot of people around the world have ideas of what America is like, possibly thanks to Hollywood, or their local news channels, and maybe from what they’ve heard from families and friends. But then, they came here, to the grand old United States and their minds exploded.


Millennials in the Workplace Training Video - via LJB


From: Andrew Lloyd Webber: 'I want to give something back' - Nick Curtis, Today, though, his [Andrew Lloyd Webber's] thoughts are as much on the future as on the past, specifically the opening next month of his 16th musical, Stephen Ward, the story of the osteopath who unwittingly set in motion, and later became the sacrificial victim of, the biggest scandal still to haunt British politics, the Profumo Affair. In the early Sixties Ward was well connected enough to sketch the royal family and count Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi among his patients. He was also a voyeur who delighted in hedonistic

parties, and who acted as a sort of hands-off sexual svengali to two young girls, Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies. When Keeler’s black ex-boyfriend Johnny Edgecombe fired a gun at Ward’s West End flat while the two girls were inside, one morning in 1963, the press sensed a story, and found that Keeler had previously had an affair with the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, at the same time as (possibly) sleeping with a Russian attaché. Profumo lied about the affair to Parliament and his subsequent resignation mortally wounded Harold Macmillan’s government. Vengefully, Ward was charged with living off immoral earnings and killed himself on the last day of the trial.



"Nobody in America but 8th grade U.S. History teachers has given a crap about the Monroe Doctrine for the last 100 years."

--Diplomat Peter Van Buren



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