Sunday, October 19, 2008

October 19

“Our friendship arcs across the sky like a rainbow. The Soviet Union and our country will be together for ever and ever. Our friendship towers over us like a rocky peak above the waves. The warmongers will crack their skulls against that rock.”

--Words of a song written by Czech author Milan Kundera in his youth

Mr. President, can you tell him I am a C.I.A. officer? Maybe he will take me more seriously.

--Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to George W. Bush, regarding Russian PM Putin


Barack Obama and Fred Astaire: What a Pair! – John Brown, Notes and Essays


Sending the wrong message to the rest of the world – Robert Campbell, Architectural Record: “[T]o most people, including me, the [US Berlin] embassy looks like a lonely fortress, withdrawn from the city behind wide swaths of what I can only call no-man’s-land, which isolate it like a noxious germ on a microscope slide. Sometimes the strip of no-man’s-land is filled with a hideous forest of black bollards; at other times, it’s hidden behind a fence of fierce, tall steel palings. … Any building, of course, must possess two basic qualities: It must function for its users, and it must express some meaning to the world outside. ‘It’s an office function, not a museum,’ we were told by the American ambassador, William Timkin. But a building cannot help being a bearer of messages. And if it there were no desire to broadcast a message, why would we build the embassy in such an internationally prominent location? At Berlin, alas, the message is clear: We hate and fear the world around us, so we’ve retired behind a moat of defendable space.” VIA Bill Middleton.

Young Tribal Voices: Radio Theater In Pakistan – Hal, EARS Inc. Blog: “Educational Arts Resource Services, Inc., a company founded and run by Hal Ryder (Faculty, Theater Department), was invited to do a project in Peshawar, Pakistan this past summer, entitled Young Tribal Voices. Professor Ryder and Cornish alumna and Theater Department Faculty, Kerry Skalsky (Theater ’89), spent five weeks working with students from the University of Peshawar and Kohat to create and present radio plays dealing with social issues, intended for broadcast into the tribal areas in NW Pakistan. The workshop culminated with a live radio broadcast in Pashto, that included four plays written and performed by the students, a professional radio MC, and live music in front of a live audience. After the project, James K. Glassman, the new undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, mentioned the project as an initiative in the war of ideas. The project has been funded for the students to write 52 more plays and broadcast them in the next year. Hal Ryder spent a week this month in Washington D.C. debriefing the project with Department of State officials and discussing future options. “

US-China Cold War - Speedy Gonzalez, Es De La Dea: “After planning the war against Iraq, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz now heads the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board that recommends a Cold War against China. … The Secretary [of State]’s hope has been for ISAB to provide ‘independent insight, advice, and innovation,’ and serve as ‘a single advisory board, dealing with scientific, military, diplomatic, political, and public diplomacy aspects of arms control, disarmament, international security, and nonproliferation … ’”

Turkey needs a Präsenz Schweiz – Kerim Balci, Today’s Zaman: A recent Turkish media delegation visit to Switzerland organized by the country's official public diplomacy agency has revealed Turkey's urgent need for a similar agency. Präsenz Schweiz (Presence Switzerland) invited a group of Turkish journalists for a three-day visit to Zurich, Bern and Lausanne in order to introduce the Turkish media to the Swiss democratic system and economy ahead of the first ever Swiss presidential visit to Turkey.

New approaches to halt Iran's nuclear program - Bennett Ramberg, Jerusalem Post: “For the mullahs, one value dominates - preservation of the theocratic regime. In this view a nuclear Iran provides security, international influence, self-confidence, prestige, scientific infrastructure, economic modernization and energy diversity while buttressing popular support. Iran's values, however, can become the West's sword. Consider a kaleidoscope of alternatives [among them] … Sow nuclear fear. Iran, obviously, resides in a dangerous neighborhood. Use public diplomacy to cultivate popular fear that nuclear plants are radiological hostages to terrorist malevolence, military attacks and accidents. Reiterate this question: Do nuclear values outweigh multiple nuclear risks and economic costs for a country with abundant oil, natural gas and solar energy resources?”

Israel expects U.S.-Iran talks under Obama - Barak Ravid, Haaretz: “[O]ver the past two months the Foreign Ministry has put together a four-pronged plan for a new diplomatic campaign against Iran. … A fourth team will deal with issues of public diplomacy - writing articles in leading newspapers around the world, conducting press briefings, engaging in public relations efforts against the Iranian regime on university campuses, and disseminating intelligence against Iran in the media.”

Sobre El Mundo Mundial - José María, Sobre el mundo mundial:“Es lo que el Departamento de Estado llama ‘public diplomacy’, la diplomacia de su gobierno dirigida no a otro gobierno sino a la población de otro país. No se llama propaganda, ni intoxicación, ni agitación política, ni engaño sino "diplomacia pública" y lo dicen con toda claridad. Y obsérvese que en esta diplomacia se incluyen los programas de entretenimiento (si no ‘panem’, por lo menos ‘circenses’) y no se excluyen los spots publicitarios puros y duros.”

The Block Leave Round-Up - Confessions of a PowerPoint Ranger: "And two weeks of pre-deployment block leave comes to a close. Strangely enough, my leave periods are often more hectic and activity-filled than my time at work (if that were possible). The highlights: … Started another book over this last weekend: Practicing Public Diplomacy, by Yale Richmond, in which the author discusses how American embassies spread American culture and values throughout the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. It's an incredible lesson for today, when the US faces even greater hostility abroad, and designs its embassies more like fortresses than as showcases for American values. In fact, I'm submitting an article to Small Wars Journal about this very topic.“

FBI investigated LDS President Hinckley to see if he was a spy - Nate Carlisle - Salt Lake Tribune: “Four decades before he became president of the LDS Church, the U.S. government investigated whether Gordon B. Hinckley was a foreign spy. The answer appears to be no, according to an FBI file released last week. The file shows that in 1951 the FBI conducted a background check on Hinckley in anticipation of him receiving a government job. The job would have been with Voice of America … Matthew Armstrong, a public diplomacy consultant who has studied American propaganda, said anyone applying for Voice of America was scrutinized in those days. Only people applying to work in the atomic weapons program received a more-thorough background check, Armstrong said. ‘There's just great concern the State Department folks that were going to be involved in [Voice of America] were going to be sympathetic to the Communists,"’Armstrong explained.

Maris Pasquale, Peter Pachios
– Weddings/celebration, New York Times: “Maris Pasquale, a daughter of Pamela B. Pasquale and Michael F. Pasquale of New York, was married Saturday to Peter Louis Pachios, a son of Luanne D. Pachios of Scarborough, Me., and Harold C. Pachios of Cape Elizabeth, Me., and the stepson of Claudia C. Pachios. … His father is a partner in Preti Flaherty Beliveau & Pachios, a law firm in Portland, Me. From 1999 to 2002, the bridegroom’s father was the chairman of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.”


Translation Is Foreign to U.S. Publishers - Motoko Rich, New York Times: It is a commonly held assumption that Americans don’t like to read authors who write in languages they don’t understand. To help spur more translations, government-sponsored cultural agencies in Europe and elsewhere subsidize -- or fully cover -- the cost of translating books into English.

The Torture Time Bomb: The Bush administration's approval of the abuse of detainees is a toxic legacy for the next US president - Philippe Sands, Guardian/Common Dreams

Economic Puzzles: Suddenly, Europe Looks Pretty Smart - Nelson D. Schwartz, New York Times: During the last 10 days Europeans have proved more nimble than Americans at getting to the root of the global financial crisis, whatever they may have lacked as innovators.

U.S. Loses Its Grip on Europe - William Pfaff, Truthdig: Some Europeans seem to have decided that the postwar era of American leadership is over.

Will Transplanting the Strategy in Iraq to Afghanistan Save the Day? – Ivan Eland, Paying off the Taliban not to fight probably won't work, and the Afghan war likely cannot be salvaged. The US should withdraw its forces from Afghanistan and concentrate on pressuring the Pakistani government into finding and turning over bin Laden.

Moving Towards a 'Grand Bargain' in Afghanistan - Jim Lobe, Increasingly frustrated by the "downward spiral" that the U.S. intelligence community sees in Afghanistan, the Pentagon appears to be moving in support of engaging leaders of the resurgent Taliban who are prepared to disassociate themselves from al Qaeda.

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