Friday, October 10, 2008

October 10

“And a former Army chief compared him to Alexander the Great, slicing the Gordian Knot of Iraq.”

--Peter Spiegel, Los Angeles Times, regarding General David H. Petraeus

"Gore gave a (relatively) polished talk about the American empire, banal in content, cheap in tone, and delivered to the accompaniment of smiles of vast self-satisfaction."

--Historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., a propos of writer Gore Vidal


Public diplomacy… - Adam Isacson, Plan Colombia and Beyond: “Here, from the U.S. embassy website, is an October 1 photo from the recent visit to Colombia of James K. Glassman, the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Glassman (third from left) is in charge of all U.S. government efforts to educate foreign citizens about the United States and to improve our country’s severely flagging image abroad. … Glassman has a long career as a journalist and columnist, and as an expert in conservative think-tank circles. His official bio fails to mention, though, that he authored a bestselling 2000 book that, in hindsight, may have one of the most embarrassing titles ever: 'DOW 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting from the Coming Rise in the Stock Market.' (Used copies are retailing on at one cent.) With the Dow continuing to fall vertiginously ... Undersecretary Glassman may wish to spend less time on market prognostication and more time working on the U.S. image in South America.”

Watching Diplomacy Part II: Relocating the US Embassy in London – Melinda Brouwer, Foreign Policy Association: U.S. Diplomacy: A Great Decisions 2008 Blog: “What are your thoughts on the move? What might the implications of the move be for the conduct of U.S. diplomacy?”

The X Factor - Caroline Jain, Public Diplomacy: How to build and manage the perception and reputation (usually of a country) to a global audience: “It is … clear to me that if we continue to Islamise extremism, terrorism, and radicals (hell, I was pretty radical in my youth) we are playing right into the hands of the small group of murderers (and I mean small – some estimate Al Qaeda as being less than 500 strong).”

Report: The "militarization" of diplomacy exists and is accelerating – Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: The American Academy of Diplomacy came out with a critical and honest assessment of the militarization of America’s public diplomacy. The report emphasizes the lack of personnel, expertise, and overall resources to … effectively do the job required.” See also.

The Modern DoD: Guns, Money, and... Public Diplomacy? - T. Greer, The Scholar's Stage: World affairs as seen by your average day 12th-grader: “A strategic epiphany has occurred in the halls of the Pentagon; the Department has realized that if they want to emerge victorious from Iraq and Afghanistan, if America wishes to be kept safe from terrorist attacks, then the use of diplomacy and development is imperative to our success.”

Senator urges suspension of Iraq publicity Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., on Thursday sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates asking him to suspend $300 million in contracts for civilians to produce pro-American news stories, entertainment programs and public service ads in Iraq until the Senate Armed Services Committee and the next administration review the contracts.

Ban, Ban, Propaganda-Ban - The Bling Cycle: War, Politics, & Media: If Congress is to take seriously the task of curbing Department of Defense propaganda it will need to examine the changing structure and activities of Defense Public Affairs.

BBC Expands Both Internet and Radio Coverage in Russia While Voice of America Retreats – Ted Lipien, FreeMediaOnline: “[B]ureaucratic politics are playing a major role in the U.S. broadcasting board’s decisions on Russia and may explain why VOA is forced to pursue a no-radio, Internet-only strategy when most experts agree that the multiplatform and multimedia approach adopted by the BBC is far more prudent and more effective. … [James] Glassman, who is now the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, ha[s] been [among those who are] the strongest opponents of resuming VOA radio broadcasts to Russia.”

We Want Obama Say Murrow Foreign Journalists at Syracuse University - Nancy Snow, Huffington Post: “Tonight I attended a dinner honoring a group of international journalists from Northern Africa who are here at Syracuse University as part of the Edward R. Murrow Journalism Program sponsored by the State Department. After dinner we had an hourlong dialogue led by Dennis Kinsey, Program Director for our dual degree masters in public diplomacy program. Many journalists said that while they like the American people and American movies, they are not supportive of the Bush-led War on Terror … to no one's surprise, they all hoped that Obama will win on November 4th.”

Olympians in DC - Martha Heinemann Bixby, Save Darfur blog: “At the State Department, Cheri and Mike [Two Team Darfur athletes - Cheri Blauwett and Mike Altman] helped the Bureau of African Affairs celebrate their 50th birthday. At the small celebration, we learned about intiatives that the Office of Public Diplomacy is engaged in throughout Sudan. We also heard from members of the Sudan Program Group, who talked about the US government’s emphasis on protection, especially the deployment of 4,000 new peacekeepers by the end of the year.”

Special Panel Discussion: Doing Business In The Middle East - Faegre & Benson, International Business Briefing 2008: Among the participants in the panel is Congressman Keith Ellison -- “An active proponent of building relationships with the Middle East, Keith has made five trips to the region and has worked in cooperation with the State Department in support of their public diplomacy efforts in the Arab and Muslim world.”

Open Letter to Ambassador Seche – Jane Novak, Armies of Liberation: “An Urgent Message to US Ambassador in Yemen … . I am hopeful that that the Government of the United States will take advantage of a rare opportunity, provided by the U.S. Judiciary, to promote the success of our public diplomacy efforts with the Yemeni people. The opportunity to which I refer has been provided to us as a result of the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (New York), which vacated the conviction against the Yemeni cleric Mohammed al-Mouayad and his assistant, Mohammed Zayed, due to major evidentiary errors that permeated their trial.”

Distinguished Speaker Series: Paulo Sotero – Brazil: USC Center on Public Diplomacy: The USC Center on Public Diplomacy is proud to host Paulo Sotero, Director of the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center, as part of the Center's Distinguished Speaker Series on the Public Diplomacy of the Emerging Great Powers. Mr. Sotero will discuss the Public Diplomacy efforts of Brazil.

More money for culture and public diplomacy abroad: In connection with the Government’s promotion of culture, an increase of NOK 10 million in funding for culture and public diplomacy abroad has been proposed - Norway Post

You Can’t Handle the Truth: Psy-ops propaganda goes mainstream - Sharon Weinberger, Slate: “Strategic Communication Laboratories, a small U.K. firm specializing in ‘influence operations’ made a very public debut this week with a glitzy exhibit occupying prime real estate at Defense Systems & Equipment International, or DSEi, the United Kingdom’s largest showcase for military technology. … ‘If your definition of propaganda is framing communications to do something that’s going to save lives, that’s fine,’ says Mark Broughton, SCL’s public affairs director. ‘That’s not a word I would use for that.’ Then again, it’s hard to know exactly what else to call it. (Company literature describes SCL’s niche specialties as ‘psychological warfare,’ ‘public diplomacy,’ and ‘influence operations.’) … The company’s work is based on something that even the spokesman admits you ‘won’t find on the Web’: the Behavioral Dynamics Institute, a virtual lab led by Professor Phil Taylor of Leeds University.”

Monday, October 6, 2008 - Our first real day on the EU! - CynKC: “After we finished the ARD [German Public Radio and Television Studios] tour we headed over to the GMF offices for a NATO briefing with Johnathan Parish, Senior Policy Advisor, NATO Policy and Planning, Office of the Secretary General and James Snyder, Public Diplomacy Division. They gave us lots of information about NATO and how NATO and various other organizations work together, however, what I found most interesting was the discussion on how they don't work together.”

John McCain's Terrorist Connections – John K. Wilson, Huffington Post: “Obviously, McCain has no regrets about supporting the Contras. McCain named Otto Reich as his adviser on Latin American issues, even though Reich was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. In the mid-1980s, Reich ran the U.S. Office of Public Diplomacy and illegally coordinated with the CIA to run a ‘White Propaganda’ campaign planting bogus op-eds written by his speechwriters in newspapers. In 1987, the Republican Comptroller-General formally found that Reich had broken the law.”


Free at last? Judge's order freeing Chinese Guantanamo detainees is a victory for civil liberties – Editorial, Baltimore Sun

As Fears Ease, Baghdad Sees Walls Tumble - Stephen Farrell, Alissa J. Rubin, Sam Dagher And Erica Goode, New York Times: Market by market, square by square, the walls are beginning to come down. The miles of hulking blast walls, ugly but effective, were installed as a central feature of the surge of American troops to stop neighbors from killing one another.

Gates says US talks with Taliban conceivable - James Blitz, Financial Times: Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said on Thursday night that Washington could “ultimately” contemplate the idea of negotiating with the Taliban to secure a political settlement in Afghanistan, if the Afghan government were to pursue such talks.

Can the US be pals with the terrorist Taliban? McCain and Obama need to say if they back Karzai's talks with the Afghan Taliban – Editorial, Christian Science Monitor

The Surge That Failed: Afghanistan under the Bombs - Anand Gopal, TomDispatch: This is a war to be won by constructing roads, creating jobs, cleaning up the government, and giving Afghans something they've had preciously little of in the last 30 years: hope. However, hope is fading fast here, and that's a fact Washington can ill afford to ignore.

Afghan talks widen US-UK rift - Gareth Porter, Asia Times: The beginning of political talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, revealed by press accounts this week, is likely to deepen the rift that has just erupted in public between the United States and Britain over the US commitment to an escalation of the war in Afghanistan.

US standing in Caspian drips away - M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times: US influence and prestige in Central Asia and the Caspian region has again plummeted.

The President Who Will Deal With Iran - Michael Gerson, Washington Post: Attempting to destabilize the Iranian regime from within -- by covert action and support for dissidents -- does not seem realistic on a four- or five-year timeline. American capabilities in this regard are limited, and Iranian repression of reformers is ruthless. So if a nuclear Iran is truly unacceptable, we may be left with the use of military force.

The Great Game in Africa: Washington's emerging containment strategy - Thomas M. Skypek, Weekly Standard: The African continent is quickly becoming a proxy battleground for Washington and Beijing, as the latter's appetite for emerging markets and raw materials grows.

Welcome to the Third World, America - Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: “I know that our mammoth economy bears little resemblance to Argentina’s, or Brazil’s, or any of the other economies I covered in South America. I know that we’re dealing with a mortgage meltdown and a credit crisis, not runaway inflation. But one thing is the same: The feeling of free-fall into some sort of abyss.”

America the Banana Republic: The ongoing financial meltdown is just the latest example of a disturbing trend that, to this adoptive American, threatens to put the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave on a par with Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Equatorial Guinea - Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair

The American Empire, RIP: The 'declinists' were right – Justin Raimondo, Standing alongside the hubris that brought down the financial edifices of Bear Stearns and Goldman Sachs is the foreign policy corollary: the triumphalism of the neoconservatives, who imagined that American military power could solve all the world's problems: or, at least, most of our own. They sneered at the "declinists," like Paul Kennedy, who pointed to "imperial overstretch" as the cause of our impending economic and geopolitical demise.

Splitsville: Cambodian couple saw home in half to avoid messy divorceUSA TODAY: An estranged Cambodian couple married for nearly 40 years have split their home 50-50 -- sawing it in half to avoid the country's complicated, expensive divorce laws, the BBC tells us. Moeun and Nhanhy Rim also divided their land into four parcels -- one for each of them and their two children.

1 comment:

albertjames said...

The U.S. financial crisis that has all but certainly thrown the world's largest economy into recession is also prompting pronouncements that what had been dubbed "the American century" is over...Yet others say, "Not so fast!" and predict the American era will continue – in part because the world has devised no alternative to it. If nothing else, the need for coordination in the face of the globalized economy's first epic financial crisis will provide a test of where America's power and leadership really stand, they add.
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