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Bruce Gregory's Public Diplomacy Resources: Public Diplomacy: Books, Articles, Websites # 66 August 20, 2013. Gregory image from entry
Russian-American Youth Summit - geekwire.com: "The 2013 Russian-American Youth Summit (RAYS) will take place from August 27 – 29, 2013, bringing together entrepreneurs create a platform for cooperation and trust amongst the first generation of Russian and American leadership born after the Cold War. Participants will collaborate within six specialized working groups dedicated to identifying opportunities for civilian Russian-American cooperation: entrepreneurship, information technology, sustainable development, student leadership, media communications, and scientific research. ... WHERE Savery Hall (SAV) University of Washington Seattle, WA USA." Via BB on Facebook
VIDEO: AMERICAN PUBLIC DIPLOMACY IN ACTION
US Embassy Malta Gets a Viral Video But — Not the Kind You Want - Domani Spero, DiploPundit: "On August 28, the US Embassy has reportedly admitted that the American [arguing about parking] in the video is an embassy employee. 'The US Embassy can confirm that the subject of this video was an embassy employee who has since departed,' the embassy said in a statement cited by The Times of Malta." Image from
Egypt Ambassador's Parting Letter Shows You Don't Mess With 'Murica - Brian Principato, policymic.com: "Outgoing United States Ambassador to Egypt Anne W. Patterson did not take too kindly to personal accusations made in an article featured in Wednesday’s Al Ahram newspaper, an Egyptian daily. The official correspondence posted on the U.S. Embassy in
Washington Watch: Public diplomacy, not threats, needed - Douglas M. Bloomfield, Jerusalem Post: "Getting the Israelis and Palestinians to the peace table wasn’t easy, and keeping them there is proving a challenge for a very determined Secretary of State John Kerry. His greatest worry has to be that both sides may be looking for a blame-avoiding excuse to take a walk. ... [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas broke Kerry’s gag rule on the talks by complaining to visitors that no progress had been made in the first three sessions because of Israeli foot-dragging. Kerry has insisted – and until now successfully – that what happens in the room stays in the room. He was to be the only one authorized to speak publicly; in his view the less that leaked out the better the chances to avoid pressure from the varied interests outside the room and the greater the chances for success. Abbas’ leak may be part of his strategy to raise the pressure on Washington and Jerusalem. It came in a meeting last week with leftist Knesset members in which he complained that the Israelis are stalling.
If it were up to him they’d be meeting every day or two instead of every week or 10 days, he said. His interview also serves a worthy purpose that Netanyahu could do well to emulate: Public diplomacy. ... Remember it was Sadat’s public diplomacy in November 1977 that changed the Middle East; there may be no Sadats today, but even lesser men like Netanyahu and Abbas can reach out across borders and speak directly to the people. ... Netanyahu needs to engage in greater public diplomacy, not with speeches on Capitol Hill, lectures in European capitals or cartoons at the UN but right in his own back yard. ... It is time for both leaders [to speak frankly to their own people and to their neighbors about the compromises ahead, and how neither can have everything they want – or have been promised. There will be compromises on borders, refugees, security and Jerusalem. It makes no sense to persist with maximalist demands unless you’re making a case against peace. It’s time to stop making threats and questioning the other’s side’s motives. Leadership means leading, not kvetching." Image from article, with caption: Secretary of State John Kerry hold press conference with Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat, July 30, 2013.
White House hiding Rice role in Syria outreach? - Ed Morrissey, hotair.com: "My friend Olivier Knox points out a curious omission (Olivier calls it 'maddening') from the White House’s data on their diplomacy in dealing with the chemical-weapons attack in Syria. Susan Rice, who had conducted public diplomacy as the administration’s UN ambassador for more than four years, has moved to the national-security adviser position this month. She has been active in conducting diplomacy, but the White House won’t account for her calls ... [T]he decision to leave her outreach out of a White House-released list of calls that President Barack Obama and senior national security aides placed to their foreign counterparts is one reason it’s impossible to use the list to get a clear picture of the U.S. response. The other reason is that the National Security Council quite forthrightly described the list as accurate, but incomplete — that there have been other phone calls 'at all levels' that are not included. This looks more like protocol than malice, but it’s still odd. ... Rice ... has a ... track record as a public face for Obama’s foreign policy, and certainly as a diplomat. Why not highlight Rice’s role in the efforts to craft a coalition to support intervention in the Syrian conflict? Or does the White House worry that the Benghazi debacle that they hung around her neck is a liability to their credibility now?"
U.S. Department of State Announces Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship Winners - Media Note, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC: "The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and mtvU, MTV’s 24-hour college network, announced today the four 2013 Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship recipients. Fulbright-mtvU is an academic exchange program established in 2007 to promote 'the power of music' as a global force for mutual understanding. The Fellowships were awarded to: Phil Babcock, a graduate of Tufts University, who will create an online record label devoted to digital distribution of music in Ghana; Garret Rubin, a graduate of the University of Rochester, who will create a music outreach program for Iraqi refugee children living in Jordan; Melinda Reyes, a graduate of Georgetown University, who will research musicians specializing in hybrid genres of national identity in Turkey; and Sara Skolnick, a graduate of Boston University, who will research Internet-driven, low-barrier access to digital music production in Colombia."
Protocol Chief Marshall Bids Farewell to Diplomatic Corps - Gail Sullivan, washdiplomat.com: "Martha Stewart may be the American icon of hospitality, but Capricia Penavic Marshall gives her a run for her money. As U.S. chief of protocol at the State Department since August 2009, a position that carries the rank of ambassador, she has been on the front lines and behind the scenes of America's diplomatic engagement at home and abroad. ... When it comes to meeting the cultural expectations of a global guest list,
The monthly gatherings have greatly expanded ambassadors' access to top U.S. officials, as well as other high-profile figures from Washington. ... Another initiative Marshall is especially proud of is the Experience America program, begun under her predecessor, Nancy Brinker. Since 2009, ambassadors from more than 100 countries have participated in trips to Alaska, Arkansas, Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Wyoming to meet with local government officials, business executives and normal American families. (The Diplomat chronicled one such trip in its January 2013 issue in 'Arkansas Odyssey: Envoys Experience BBQ, Business and the Natural State.') ... Last year,
Shooting of Australian Student in Oklahoma Raises Questions About Perceptions of America Abroad - Jami Fullerton, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "The Travel Promotion Act of 2009 established The Corporation for Travel Promotion, a public-private partnership that was later dubbed Brand USA. The bill created a multi-million dollar global marketing effort to promote the U.S. as a travel destination. The resulting campaign was first launched in May 2012 in the UK, Japan, and Canada. The centerpiece of the promotional effort is a 60-second music-driven commercial known as 'Land of Dreams.' According to Brand USA’s August newsletter, plans to roll out Land of Dreams in Australia are under way. Is this an appropriate time to invite Australians to visit America, and 'discover this land like never before?' Probably not. Hopefully the executive team at Brand USA will be sensitive to this international dilemma and postpone the advertising schedule. What does this mean for public diplomacy? Obviously the random individual murder of one Australian studying in the United States won’t disrupt the excellent political relationship the U.S. enjoys with the Australian government. But, how does news coverage of the incident impact opinions about America among Australian citizens, those who may have considered traveling here and those who may never travel? ... Despite the positive results of the Land of Dreams advertising among Australian audiences found in our study from last fall, advertising there now would be a mistake. In this case, a lesson from the brand management literature may be useful. In the face of a crisis involving the brand, regular brand advertising should be suspended."
America's Battle Cry Again -- This Time Syria - Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, opednews.com: "In the fall of 2001, the Rendon Group was given a contract to handle PR aspects of the U.S. military strike in Afghanistan. One year later, in September 2002, a 'meticulously planned strategy to persuade the public, the Congress and the allies of the need to confront the threat from Saddam Hussein' was devised ... . As part of this strategy, an interagency 'Iraq Public Diplomacy group' comprising of NSC, CIA, Pentagon, State and USAID staffers was created. This group produced documentary and press releases showing interviews with Iraqi exiles and dissidents, chief among them the Iraqi National Council (INC) -- a 1992 project of the Rendon Group with Ahmad Chalabi at its head. ... Soraya has lived and studied in-Iran, UK, France, and has obtained her Master's degree in Public Diplomacy from USC Annenberg and USC School for International Studies, Los Angeles."
Uncaptioned Image from entry
Jimmy Leach: Add Digital Diplomacy to the Long List of Failures Over Syria - Tech News: "Digital diplomacy, the hipster cousin of public diplomacy, has been enjoying something of a Golden Age recently, with any (Western) diplomat or minister of any note (and the more forward looking senior officials too) offering digital pronouncements, policy engagement and two-way conversations as a mechanic for gathering support and understanding around often complex areas of foreign affairs. It’s all been a very smooth digitisation process, with discussion not around whether public figures should take to the web, but how quickly. And not about whether it’s effective, but how to measure its impact. And now digital diplomacy has run headlong into its first crisis of credibility. In the elongated Arab Spring (where are we now, Arab Winter?) digital diplomats had a ‘good war’. The emergence of digital tools to act as what Alex Ross, late of the US State Department, calls the ‘Che Guevara of the 21st Century’ gave foreign ministries the chance to listen, engage and understand with a whole new array of actors on the world stage. Where once the crowds who hits the streets in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and so on would have been ‘mobs’, we now had the chance to listen to the voices of protest on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere and understand the motivations and (sometimes) connect with the leading, or most coherent, figures. Digital diplomacy emerged from all that smiling with self-importance at its new influence and smirking at its cool-but-with-power status. Now, everywhere you look in diplomatic circles, there’s an ambassador blogging here, tweeting there, and hanging out just over there. From signing treaties to sharing moods, all has been fair game for sharing. And then
So is the Golden Age of digital diplomacy over? Well not quite, but for the moment, it seems to be a ‘peacetime’ activity – fine for open engagement with willing parties and all very well when everyone behaves in a civilised manner. But the measurements of success – the number of re-tweets, the number of followers has rarely seemed so futile. When it all goes wrong, the cool kids look a bit wet behind the ears.For digital diplomacy to be an effective weapon in crisis, it needs to invest, innovate and adopt the mechanisms of the wider digital industry – to look for tools to verify and broadcast the truth, to find ways to connect safely with opposition leaders and to keep their digital networks open so that they can organise as they did in other countries in the early, optimistic, days of the Arab Spring. And most of all, to look upon digital tools in the way we look at all tools – as ways to get things done, not as amplifications of their own corporate vanity."
The cyber threat from Syria - James Lewis, CNN: "On Tuesday afternoon, the New York Times website experienced wide outage for several hours. Who has the nerve and ability to take down one of the most iconic newspapers in the world? The Syrian Electronic Army, which is loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, takes responsibility for the hack. This is not the first time the Syrian Electronic Army has attacked news organizations. The Washington Post, AP and others have been targeted in recent months as well. ... The Syrian Electronic Army's attacks are a form of protest against Western media's portrayal of the Assad regime. Most experts think the Syrian Electronic Army is not the Syrian government, but "patriotic hackers" who support it. This makes them harder to control and harder to find. The Syrian Electronic Army takes public diplomacy to a new level, letting individuals make their voices known on issues as easily as a government."
Iran: une femme porte-parole de la diplomatie pour la première fois - rtl.fr: "Une femme a été nommée porte-parole du ministère des Affaires étrangères iranien pour la première fois dans l'histoire de la République islamique. C’est une première en Iran.
Une femme, diplomate de carrière, a été nommée porte-parole de la diplomatie. Marzieh Afkham, qui travaille au sein du ministère depuis près de trente ans, était depuis 2010 la directrice du Département des médias et de la diplomatie publique, ont ajouté les médias sans plus de précisions." Image from entry, with caption (in English): Negar Mortazavi @negarmortazavi #IRAN Foreign Ministry's first female spokesperson, Marzieh Afkham, appointed today. Was head of public diplomacy. pic.twitter.com/MO3Lso0AQj. See also (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
Sharing the gains of cooperation - Pu Zhendong, China Daily: "Liu Guijin, China's former ambassador to Zimbabwe and South Africa and current president of the Asia-Africa Society of China, says mutual benefits and win-win results should be the cornerstones of all Chinese economic activities in Africa. ... Liu, who retired last year after a diplomatic career of more than 40 years, was also the special representative of the Chinese government on African affairs. He has handled several important assignments in Africa, with the most notable being his role as special envoy of the Chinese government in Darfur in 2007. 'As the special representative of China in Africa, I was responsible for clarifying China's stance on several important topics of interest, mostly through public diplomacy and conflict mediation measures.
It was not only a reflection of China's new diplomatic stance in Africa, but also of the way forward,' Liu says." Image from article, with caption: Liu Guijin, former Chinese diplomat and leading expert on African affairs, says that the Chinese government will continue to increase its input in Africa.
Most misunderstood country in the world: Projecting soft image of Pakistan - Malik Muhammad Ashraf, pakistantoday.com.pk: "We often hear our leaders hankering about projecting soft image of Pakistan internationally and calling for a paradigm shift in the conduct of our foreign policy, with greater emphasis on public diplomacy as an effective and indispensable ingredient of the strategy to achieve the desired objectives. But an incisive look at what has been happening over the years in regards to realigning our foreign policy objectives with the new emerging global realities and the new mechanisms evolved as a consequence of the ability of the emerging technologies to expand the horizons and options available to conduct public diplomacy, our record shows a rather regressive approach steeped into a visceral aversion to the well thought out and well researched decision making processes. The focus regrettably remains on traditional diplomacy and mechanisms devised to promote and facilitate state-to-state relations rather than public diplomacy which from its previous
emphasis on developing contacts between a state and publics of another state has of late transited into the realm of people-to-people contacts on bilateral level as well as state-to-global audience outreach. A phenomenon made possible by the new technologies like internet, digital communications and new techniques of public relations on the global plank through the use of the vast array of media outlets. Pakistan is the most misunderstood country in the world and the phenomenon of terrorism and religious extremism, arguably, is a leading factor in distorting its image on the global level. Pakistan as a front line state in the war on terror has suffered the most in men and material, has helped in dismantling the terrorist network of Osama bin Laden but regrettably our allies and western countries look askance at our endeavours, doubt our commitment to the cause at hand and decidedly remain oblivious to our national and strategic interests in the region. ... Traditional diplomacy has its own advantages and efficacy but it cannot match the power of public diplomacy conducted through media in changing perceptions and attitudes of the people and influencing their judgments. Pakistan needs a sustained and well orchestrated effort to use the power of media and the PR regime to address the issue of image building in the larger and long term interest of the country. Ashraf image from article
Russian interpretation of direct dialogue - messenger.com.ge: "Sometime ago, Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili expressed readiness concerning engaging in direct dialogue with Abkhazian and South Ossetian citizens. Ivanishvili was referring to the possibility of conducting dialogue with the occupied regions’ people and overcoming the current obstacles in relations. The statement suggested that solutions to the various problems can be found in public diplomacy. Direct contact, sharing of common joys and sorrows, mixed marriages, creating joint business ventures and similar activities, would facilitate the alleviation of the strain between Georgia and the separatist regions. 'Georgia’s democratic development and economic process will turn Abkhazians and Ossetians towards us and finally convince them that Georgia is their motherland,' stated Georgian PM. Just couple of week’s later Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, commented and provided an interpretation regarding the Georgian PM’s words. He emphasized that Russia welcomes the Georgian government’s position with regard to direct dialogue with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia’s desire is for Georgia to sign a direct agreement with the breakaway regions on the non-use of force. So, According to Lavrov, the reality is that Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia will sign the agreement. The position is absolutely unacceptable for Georgia, as signing such a document would represent indirect recognition of the occupied regions as independent juridical entities – independent states. Of course, neither Ivanishvili nor any other future leader of Georgia will take this step. Moreover, Georgia categorically demands that an agreement on the non-use of force be made and signed by equal, internationally-recognized entities, between Georgia and the Russian Federation. Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze, commenting about Lavrov’s statement, stressed that Lavrov gave the wrong interpretation of Ivanishvili’s statement."
Jewish Diplomatic Corps to rejoin World Jewish Congress - worldjewishcongress.org: "The Jewish Diplomatic Corps (JDCorps), an international network of Jewish professionals engaged in public diplomacy will be reintegrated into the structure of the World Jewish Congress (WJC)
and see its global budget and staff boosted. The corps’ precursor was set up in 2006 under the auspices of Peleg Reshef of the WJC. Today, the network comprises 130 young Jewish lay leaders from 30 countries world-wide." Image from entry
Adjournment Speech by The Hon Mr Ian Hansen 22/8 - Hon Mr Ian Hansen, MLA, falklandnews.com: Hansen: "I think the achievements of the past four years have been quite significant. I am not going to run through them all but certainly one that stands out to me is the fact that the public diplomacy move has been concentrated on the last four years. Certainly over the last two or three anyway it s been really quite successful and in some ways rather a brave and controversial move but I believe it has paid off." Image from
Adjournment Speech by The Hon Mr Mike Summers 22/8 - The Hon Mr Mike Summers, MLA, falklandnews.com: Summers: "Madam Speaker, Honourable members, it seems as though I spent little time in this House during the course of this year and little time in the Falklands. And for that I apologise to those who I have a duty to represent. But it is part of the public diplomacy process that my Honourable Colleagues have mentioned and in the central part of our work."
Adjournment Speech by Roger Edwards 22/8 - The Hon Mr Roger Edwards, MLA, falklandnews.com: Edwards: "I think we leave the Falkland Islands in a much stronger position, particularly public diplomacy where we have certainly countered the political lies and threats by Argentina and we have spread the message about the Falklands across the world."
First Resident Ambassador to Canada Takes Office - news.err.ee: Gita Kalmet, Estonia's first resident ambassador to Canada, presented her credentials to Governor General David Johnston in Ottawa yesterday. ... Kalmet, born in Tallinn in 1959, attended the Estonian School of Diplomacy and Oxford University.
She has been with the Foreign Ministry since 1993 and was appointed ambassador to Holland in 2006. Since 2011, she has worked as the head of the ministry's public diplomacy department." Image from entry, with caption: Gita Kalmet (left) and David Johnston.
Public Diplomacy and the Third Metric - James Pamment, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "The metrics used by PD practitioners do not determine the metrics used by students and scholars. They may be focused on money and power, but we retain the right to analyse PD campaigns according to criteria such as fairness, inspiration, wisdom, generosity, and well-being. While I do think PD research is better when it accurately represents the perspectives and problems of practitioners, one of the most important contributions a PD scholar can offer the field is alternative metrics rooted in reliable data."
New Rule-Makers in the CSR Game: The Dominican Labor Movement - Chanelle Yang, PD News–CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "I spent the past few weeks in the Dominican Republic with United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), witnessing workers’ grassroots efforts to further basic human rights in the workplace. Conducting cultural diplomacy, American college students of USAS also work closely with Dominican workers to reform corporate social responsibility."
Braii Diplomacy – Paul Rockower, Levantine: “A great article in The Salt on Braii Day as a means to bring South Africans together. A ‘braii’ is a traditional South African barbecue with boerewors (delicious South African beef sausages with coriander and nutmeg), and I did many of these when I was in SuidAfrika. Reminds me that I need to write an article I have been trying to get around to on South African gastrodiplomacy via braii, biltong and
cuisine. Braii diplomacy would be great culinary cultural diplomacy outreach to Cape Malay Texas and Memphis, and places like South Korea, among many others.”
All the Presidents' Chefs – Paul Rockower, Levantine: “A good piece on the Club des Chefs des Chefs and the culinary diplomacy therein.”
Obama Will Seek Syria Vote in Congress - Peter Baker, New York Times: President Obama stunned the world and paused his march to war on Saturday by asking Congress to give him authorization before he launches a limited military strike against the Syrian government in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack. In an afternoon appearance in the Rose Garden, Mr. Obama said he had decided that the United States should use force but would wait for a vote from lawmakers, who are not due to return to town until Sept. 9. Mr. Obama said he believed he had the authority to act on his own, but he did not say whether he would if Congress rejects his plan.
War in Syria: Wading Into Chaos But What Happens After? – By Domani Spero, DiploPundit: The ‘we’re going to war’ news is on a furious march today.
U.S. must act against crimes against humanity - Editorial, Washington Post: Some ask why the
On Syria, a measured response: Though a military strike appears likely, Washington should resist the siren call of regime-change - Editorial, latimes.com: Although conventional weapons cause death and injuries, since World War I chemical weapons have rightly been viewed by civilized nations as particularly abhorrent; if their apparent deployment in Syria goes unpunished, other governments and movements might be emboldened to violate that taboo, with far-reaching and potentially tragic consequences. The U.S. has made it clear that Syria would be better off without Assad. It has promised additional aid to some rebel groups and has worked to ensure that a post-Assad government would be democratic and inclusive. But a U.S. military campaign designed to overthrow Assad would be dangerous and provocative.
The risk of taking on Syria: Quick strikes rarely achieve enduring political goals -- and often produce more costs or unintended consequences than benefits - Robin Wright, latimes.com: As the U.S. and its allies take on Syria, they need to ensure that the costs do not ultimately outweigh the benefits, and that another military mission doesn't backfire.
Obama's limited Syria goals: The aim of any U.S. military action in Syria won't be to topple Assad's government but to deter it from using chemical weapons - Doyle McManus, latimes.com: Obama's immediate goal is to keep the crisis over chemical weapons limited, and to deter Assad from using them again. His medium-term goal is to keep the Syrian civil war within manageable bounds in hopes that the pro-Western rebels will gain strength. It's not a promising picture. The war could continue for years, claiming more dead on all sides. And, in the end, the moderates may lose. But the alternatives all look worse. Deterrence may be the least bad option there is.
Loose Lips on Syria: U.S. leaks tell Assad he can relax. The bombing will be brief and limited - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: The attacks are primarily about making a political statement, and vindicating President Obama's ill-considered promise of "consequences," rather than materially degrading Assad's ability to continue to wage war against his own people. There is likely to be no good outcome in Syria until Assad and his regime are gone. Military strikes that advance that goal—either by targeting Assad directly or crippling his army's ability to fight—deserve the support of the American people and our international partners. That's not what this Administration seems to have in mind.
The Wise Men of Iraq Give Us Counsel About Syria: Karl Rove, Bill Kristol, Paul Bremer, Elliott Abrams, and other experts speak - James Fallow, The Atlantic: Perhaps you will be surprised to learn that the experts recommend resolute military measures. Or perhaps you won't, since that is what they recommended for
Strike on Syria targets could draw U.S. into civil war - Ernesto Londono and Ed O'Keefe, Washington Post: An imminent U.S. strike on Syrian government targets in response to the alleged gassing of civilians last week has the potential to draw the United States into the country's civil war, former U.S. officials said, warning that history doesn't bode well for such limited, retaliatory interventions. U.S. diplomat Christopher Hill, dispatched as special envoy to Kosovo, said there was an expectation that U.S. military intervention would be short and decisive. Some thought the bombing campaign would last a few days, he said, but it dragged on for 78. "The problem is that people expect, when U.S. military assets are deployed, that we will do so until the regime goes away."
Syrian rebels used Sarin nerve gas, not Assad’s regime: U.N. official - Shaun Waterman, The Washington Times: Testimony from victims strongly suggests it was the rebels, not the Syrian government, that used Sarin nerve gas during a recent incident in the revolution-wracked nation, a senior U.N. diplomat said Monday. Carla del Ponte, a member of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told Swiss TV there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof,” that rebels seeking to oust Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad had used the nerve agent. But she said her panel had not yet seen any evidence of Syrian government forces using chemical weapons, according to the BBC, but she added that more investigation was needed.
Bomb Syria, Even if It Is Illegal - Ian Hurd, New York Times: As a legal matter, the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons does not automatically justify armed intervention by the United States. There are moral reasons for disregarding the law, and I believe the Obama administration should intervene in Syria. But it should not pretend that there is a legal justification in existing law. Image from
How to Legitimize Intervention in Syria - Carol Giacomo, New York Times: While President Obama can’t expect much from Congress, he should still, at a minimum, secure backing from legislative leaders for military action. It would be better if the United States, Britain and their partners sought authorization, and legal justification, from the United Nations Security Council for any military action. Whatever Mr. Obama decides to do on Syria, he needs to clearly explain to the American people the legal basis of any operation, his strategic and tactical intent and how he plans to keep the United States from getting mired in another Middle East war.
Let’s Not Have Another War (Syria Edition, A Handy Checklist) - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: Regarding intervening in Syria, he United Nations does not say to do it. The United Kingdom voted against it, the first time in two decades the U.K. has not supported U.S. military action. The U.S. Congress will not have an opportunity to vote on it, though many members have reservations. Many in our own military have doubts. Half of all American oppose it. Why does the president insist America must attack Syria? Obama’s reasons seem vague at best, something from the 19th century about “firing a shot across Assad’s bow” as if this is a pirate movie.
The Chemical Evidence: Kerry echoes Bush in making the case on WMD in Syria - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: Mr. Kerry and the Administration are making a compelling case against the depredations of Bashar Assad and the need for a forceful world response. What they haven't done is make a case that their military punishment will be enough to match the magnitude of the harm and threat they describe.
Show of Farce: Obama's Syria approach defies satire - James Taranto, Wall Street Journal: Indications are that the Obama administration's response will be to drop a few bombs, break some stuff, and maybe kill a few bystanders. That comes nowhere near being a just punishment for the crimes alleged.
In trying to help Syria, an intervention would destroy it - Steven A. Cook, Washington Post: The complex and dreadful evolution of the conflict has shaken the moral and strategic justifications for intervention, even a short one focused on punishing the regime for its use of chemical weapons and deterring future use. American and allied cruise missiles would be degrading the capability of the regime’s military units to the benefit of the al-Qaeda-linked militants fighting Assad — the same militants whom U.S. drones are attacking regularly in places such as Yemen.
Absent on Syria - Editorial, New York Times: As President Obama moves toward unilateral military action in response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria that killed more than 1,400 people, he is doing so without legal justification and without the backing of two key institutions, Congress and the United Nations Security Council. Both have abdicated their roles in dealing with this crisis.
Cameron's Defeat on Syria Is Also President Obama's: The prime minister's loss in the House of Commons was the first on such a question since 1782 - Daniel Johnson, Wall Street Journal: President Obama has "led from behind," which is as much as to say that he has not led at all. This abdication of leadership is apparent in the president's naïve mishandling of the disintegration of the old order in the Middle East, in his failure to anticipate or respond adequately to the wave of Islamist extremism that has imperiled Western interests in the region, and above all in his arrogant treatment of America's closest ally, Israel.
A Much Less Special Relationship - Roger Cohen, New York Times: Something broke in the U.S.-British bond with the Iraq invation. It is now clear that Barack Obama, for all the hopes vested in him, has failed to rebuild it. Britain and the United States will continue to matter a great deal to each other. But for anyone who believes in the ultimate beneficence of Pax Americana, in the values of the trans-Atlantic world and in the critical importance of American credibility on the red lines it draws for global security and against the horrors of gassing, the British vote represents a bleak turning point.
Egypt and the limits of democracy: For now, a liberal dictator may be better than an elected thug - Tsvi Bisk, latimes.com: The events in Egypt are causing a great deal of moral and intellectual confusion in Western circles, preoccupied as they are with the concept of democracy (after all, ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was elected).
Populist sentimentality abounds. But better a liberalizing dictator than an elected thug. Morsi was an elected thug; Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi, the head of the Egyptian armed services and now in charge of the nation, might turn out to be a liberalizing dictator who at least protects minorities and women. Image from article, with caption: Supporters of army chief General Abdel Fattah Sisi carry his portrait and wave the Egyptian flag in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
U.S., China and an unthinkable war: Both have planned for a conflict they hope to avoid - David C. Gompert and Terrence K. Kelly, latimes.com: Although the China-U.S. agenda is jammed with pressing issues, from cyber espionage to currency rates, time must be found to improve procedures and channels to defuse crises and avert military miscalculation, lest the unthinkable becomes unavoidable.
And political leaders in each capital should not wait for a crisis before scrutinizing war-fighting plans and insisting on ones that strengthen, not weaken, stability. Given the stakes, plans to win must not be allowed to make war more likely. Image from entry, with caption: President Barack Obama is seen with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Annenberg Retreat of the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Arab revolutions pose [sic] - Joseph Nye, Jr., Washington Post: When we cannot be sure how to improve the world, prudence becomes an important virtue, and grandiose visions can pose a grave danger. This is sometimes forgotten by those who want Obama to place bigger bets in the revolutions of today’s Middle East.
Obama's Foreign Failure: The world hasn't lived up to his Pollyannaish expectations - Pete du Pont, Wall Street Journal: Overall the Obama foreign policy team seems to suffer from a Pollyannaish approach to the world. They do not seem to understand that those who hate America will hate us, and will try to harm us, whether our president is Bill Clinton, George W. Bush or Barack Obama. They do not seem to understand that the U.S. president simply declaring the war on terror to be over or that al Qaeda is decimated and on the run does not make such things true. They do not understand that, while it's good to extend an offer of peace to those who hate us, those who continue to abuse that effort and harm others need to know with certainty that they will feel the appropriate unpleasant consequences. They fail to understand it's OK to "speak softly" only as long as our enemies know we've got that "big stick" and are not afraid to use it.
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22 Chinese Signs That Got Seriously Lost In Translation - buzzfeed.com. Among them:
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War Propaganda And Media Lies Within The Syria Conflict - YouTube