Thursday, November 13, 2008

November 13

“I wasn’t really naked. I simply didn’t have any clothes on.”

--Josephine Baker, about dancing

“An ambassador is not simply an agent; he is also a spectacle.”

--Walter Bagehot, British economist, about diplomacy


Public Diplomacy Can Help Restore Lost U.S. Credibility - Doug Wilson, Change for America: National Security Policy, A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President, Center for American Progress Fund: “Effective public diplomacy works to understand and help shape foreign public opinion and effectively integrate it into the policymaking process in order to help realize our national security and foreign policy goals. To accomplish this goal, the new president will have to work to restore, recruit, and retain a quality corps of skilled public-diplomacy practitioners and give these men and women the credibility they need to engage with skeptical or hostile foreign publics. He also will have to put new exchange and communication tools to use to convince public opinion leaders around the world to listen to the United States, to help the world better understand our values and motives, and to give us and our policies the benefit of the doubt. The 44th president must select a knowledgeable professional to serve as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy.” Via

On Obama and Tempering Skepticism – Karim El Assir, Outsider On The Inside: “Obama is very likely to leave an indelible mark on American foreign policy. … Of particular interest to this writer is his counter-terrorism plan, audaciously named his 'Plan to Defeat Terrorism'. And while that won’t happen, Obama’s plan stands out for the manner in which it details the role that communication will play in this endeavor. In an effort to shore up support for extremists, the plan mentions the importance of speaking directly to Muslim audiences, and training diplomats in media skills and foreign languages in order to provide an American presence on foreign satellite networks. As part of a large scale public diplomacy effort, Obama’s plan aims to build new ‘America Houses’ that would serve as cultural centers in regions of the world where anti-Americanism is so fervent it may play a role in driving people toward extremist groups. The plan also makes mention of providing alternative options for education in countries where Islamic schooling, prone to the absorption of extremist thought, tends to dominate.”

A challenge for Greek Public Diplomacy – International Communication Policy Forum: Eftychia Papachristou: Communicating the next EU enlargement: Turkish candidacy - a challenge for Greek Public Diplomacy, MA International Communication Dissertation, University of Leeds 2008: “From ‘Socrates’ and ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’ to ‘Erasmus-Mundus’ and ‘Euro-Mediterranean Partnership’, it is more than obvious that the European Union deploys multidimensional and coordinated Public Diplomacy activities, even if very often they are not called as such due to fears of confusing Public Diplomacy with propaganda. One of the greatest political challenges the EU currently faces is communicating the Turkish candidacy and its integration to the European values and norms.” PHOTO: Siesta time on Panormos beach, Mykonos island, Cyclades.

Charm offensive, or offensive charm? - Daniel Kennelly, Conventional Folly: “[W]e can still count our lucky stars that China is probably the only major country on earth that does public diplomacy worse than we do.”

Coming Distractions: Two Kinds of Time - Robert A. Kapp, The China Beat: Blogging How the East Is Read: “It gives me great joy to celebrate the reappearance of the best book on China that I have ever read, Graham Peck’s Two Kinds of Time, nearly six decades after its original publication. … Peck himself went to work for the Office of War Information (OWI), one of the U.S. government’s earliest efforts to employ what is now called ‘public diplomacy.’”

Time to go? - 123Goclick News: “Farid Popal is first secretary for political affairs and public diplomacy at the Embassy of Afghanistan in London. He believes it is essential that the UK forces remain in the region. “

Brazilian Obama - Paul Rockower, Levantine: “With Professor Cull away, my Public Diplomacy class had a guest lecturer from our Diplomat-in-Residence Mark Smith. His lecture was more a fascinating talk of anecdotal stories of doing press and public diplomacy work from the US Embassy in the USSR. He had some terrific stories of KGB intrigues and other assorted tales from the Cold War. … After class, I attended a USC Center on Public Diplomacy lecture with Paulo Sotero, who is director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center. He had some greats words to say about Obama's election, calling it the best Pub D act ever. He discussed Brazil's public diplomacy efforts, its role in South America and its oft touted potential that is finally being realized.”

So...How Many Days Now...70? - Joy Tomme, Ratbang Diary: “And Karen Hughes on CNN’s Situation Room...where’d she come from and what’s she been doing since her days as Bush’s counselor and holder of the world’s silliest title, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy? Talk about ignorant! She’s still defending George Bush but now she’s also mouthing gummy platitudes about how wonderful president-elect Barack Obama is in his blackness. (Oh please! tell me born-again-stupid Hughes is not going to manage Palin’s born-again-crass political career. Although it would be a boon for the comics.)”


Suddenly America is cool again — can you believe it? - Garrison Keillor, Baltimore Sun: The world expects us to elect pompous yahoos, and instead we have us a 47-year-old prince from the prairie who cheerfully ran the race, and when his opponents threw sand at him, he just smiled back.

Obama and Gitmo – Editorial, Washington Times: President-elect Barack Obama plans to close the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay as soon as he is sworn in as president Jan. 20. Giving terrorists access to the U.S. legal system is hardly a cost-free exercise, as a seemingly naive Mr. Obama appears to believe.

Obama & Gitmo: End the demagoguing and know the facts before making policy - Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review: Now, after all their bombast about the urgent need to close the facility -- the better, they harangued, to improve our standing in the “international community” (compared to whose prisons Gitmo is actually a model of humaneness) -- the president-elect must face a harsh reality. For the American community, Gitmo was never the problem, and closing it will not solve anything.

Indefinite Detention Center: Why you shouldn't expect Guantanamo to close any time soon - Joseph Landau, New Republic: Figuring out how to try defendants, while sending home those who've been cleared of charges, will require serious agility and will take serious time. Shuttering that part of our history won't be as easy as one would have hoped.

Obama Pressured to Back Off Iraq Withdrawal - Gareth Porter, The promotion of Robert M. Gates as President-elect Barack Obama's secretary of defense appears to be the key element in a broad campaign by military officials and their supporters in the political elite and the news media to pressure Obama into dropping his plan to withdraw US troops from Iraq in as little as 16 months.

The Iraq Refugee Crisis: Scattered Families - Johanna Berrigan, Counterpunch: Recently, the U.S. government announced that it had reached its goal of 12,000 Iraqi refugees for this fiscal year. The United States plans to take in a minimum of 17,000 Iraqis over the next 12 months and an additional 5,000 under a special visa program for Iraqis who formerly worked for the U. S. military. This new goal is inadequate, and unjust.

The Iraq Math War: Epidemiologist Les Roberts knew his tally if Iraq's civilian dead would generate debate - Robin Mejia, Mother Jones: There's no longer much doubt that Iraq's civilian casualties number in the hundreds of thousands. This grim statistic continues to elude most Americans. According to a February 2007 AP poll, Americans' median estimate of the number of Iraqis killed since the invasion was just 9,890. And while the Pentagon has presented limited estimates of civilian casualties, it has yet to release any numbers for the total toll since the invasion.

Ahmadinejad's Letter To Obama, His Response, and Its Impact on the Islamic World - Omid Memarian, Huffington Post: While anti-Americanism has become the Islamic Republic's identity, talking to Iran will diminish the Ayatollah's revolutionary image and force the Iranian government to play a more responsible role and end mischief in the Middle East. Obama's response to Ahmadinejad's letter could be the first step toward drawing a new foreign policy framework in order to bring the United States on the right track.

How to Put the Squeeze on Iran: Cutting off its gasoline imports may be the only peaceful way to get Tehran to abandon its nuclear weapons program - Orde F. Kittrie, Wall Street Journal

Obama and Missile Defense: On this critical issue, the president-elect is not off to a good start - John R. Bolton, Wall Street Journal

Russia vs. Obama – Editorial, Washington Times: The time for proactive action regarding Russia has arrived.

Red Herring: Russian aggression and the genocide excuse - James P. Rubin, New Republic: America and Russia share a large number of common interests; we can and should work together on non- proliferation, climate change, terrorism, and the Middle East peace process. But we must also see to it that Russia pays a heavy price for its use of force in August.

Medvedev's Missile Myth - Alexander Golts, Moscow Times: By convincing Medvedev to immediately go for the jugular the day Obama was elected president, the siloviki were probably hoping that by provoking the new U.S. president with the threat of Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, this would force Obama to take a more hawkish stance toward Russia. In this way, Russia could help turn the clock back to the good old neocon days under the administration of George W. Bush.

Barack to Reality: Obama's Victory Didn't Magically Eliminate America's Problems And Enemies - Christopher Hitchen, Slate: There are vicious enemies and rogue states in increasing positions of influence throughout the world. Yet many Obama voters appear to believe that the mere charm and aspect of their new president will act as an emollient influence on these unwelcome facts and these hostile forces. IMAGE: from Mother Jones

The World Without US - Jamie Glazov, Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Mitch Anderson, a Romanian-born documentary filmmaker living in the U.S. He was among the last few refugees from Communism during the late eighties. An electrical engineer by trade, Anderson turned to documentary filmmaking in 2004. His new film is The World Without US, a journalistic investigation filmed on four continents. Visit his site at

Academia Meets Social Marketing - Shiv Singh, Adweek: Whether it is about social networks and social influence or the creation and growth of online communities, academic research can guide us as we navigate the uncharted territories of the social Web and online communities.

The real and deep purpose of propaganda... - Paul Anthony Melanson, La Salette Journey

Sorry, Makeover was Temporary - Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog I keep track of Condoleezza's hairdo so you don't have to: PHOTO: United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice greets people on the floor of the General Assembly hall at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008. The occasion was the gathering of world leaders attending a two-day U.N. conference to promote a global dialogue about religions, cultures and common values.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig). COMMENT: "Ooooh, what a letdown! We all got so totally excited by Condi's makeover, but it's all gone, repossessed by the RNC, no doubt. Condi, you should grab hold of that stylist and never let go. Oh well, carry on. The Hairdo Alert Level™ has been lowered, disappointingly."


Truck laden with fruit. From Boing Boing


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