Friday, November 14, 2008

November 14

"Nicolas Sarkozy saved the President of Georgia from being hanged 'by the balls' — a threat made last summer by Vladimir Putin, according to an account that emerged yesterday from the Élysée Palace. . . .The Russian seemed unconcerned by international reaction. 'I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls,' Mr Putin declared. Mr Sarkozy thought he had misheard. 'Hang him?' — he asked. “Why not?” Mr Putin replied. 'The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein.' Mr Sarkozy, using the familiar tu, tried to reason with him: 'Yes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?” Mr Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: “Ah -- you have scored a point there.”

--Glenn Greenwald, "A positive aspect of the Bush legacy," Salon; photo: Testicules de taureau (Bos taurus domesticus) de race Charolaise (Puy-de-Dôme (63), France).

“Basically, there’s nothing left to cut.”

--Nobel-prize winner Paul Krugman, on the US economy


Edward Bernays, one of the fathers of the field of public relations, on propaganda and public relations with a polemic insert from Steven Pinker’s The Staff of Thought


Mr. Obama's Promise - The editors, America: The National Catholic Weekly: “Mr. Obama’s choices for secretary of state and a new ambassadorial corps should signal a renewed commitment to engagement and public diplomacy and should indicate that the inflexibly ideological and self-interested policies of the current administration are relegated to the recycling bin of history.”

Commentary: Letter to Obama on the Muslim world - By Arsalan Iftikhar, CNN: “Your unenviable task will be to undo the catastrophic policies of George W. Bush and his fellow neoconservative ideologues, facing the specter of al Qaeda's sinister terrorism while undertaking public diplomacy efforts addressing anti-Americanism around the world.”

'Soft Power' to Help US Restore International Respect - Kang Hyun-kyung, Korea Times: “[T]he Center for American Progress Action Fund … put forth a set of guidelines in four major policy areas including diplomacy and economic policy for President-elect Obama in a 657-page policy recommendation book, titled `’Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President.'’ Experts said that Obama will have to use new exchange and communication tools to convince public opinion leaders around the world to listen to the United States, and to help the world better understand its values and motives. They suggest that he should select a professional to serve as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy to conduct a comprehensive review of public diplomacy missions.”

AdAgeChina: Obama, China, and Public Diplomacy - SiliconHutong: “ [for subscribers only] just posted my Viewpoint article on Obama and public diplomacy. My core point: If Obama is to keep his hard choices from backfiring with China, he must make his case to both the Chinese government and the Chinese people. …Conventional diplomacy will form a part of the effort to enlist that support, but it will not be enough. Instead, Obama and his team will need to undertake an unparalleled effort of public diplomacy, and one that shuns the tools and tactics of the Cold War for strategies, approaches, and messages more appropriate to a world rendered naked by the Internet.”

Turning the transmitters on ourselves - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: “Come to think of it, when foreigners come to the United States as part of State Department public diplomacy exchnage programs, is that a violation of the Smith-Mundt domestic dissemination prohibition? The nice thing about Smith-Mundt is that is has always been unenforceable, even during the shortwave era of international broadcasting, and especially now in the internet age. But Smith-Mundt did prevent the government from diverting funds intended for international communication to a cheesy domestic PR campaign to advocate US policy goals. I'm afraid that might happen if Smith-Mundt is repealed. Americans have always had access to international news and foreign perspectives. In past years, they had to buy shortwave radios to get this content. Now it's a simpler matter of finding websites, such as BBC, other international broadcasters, newspapers abroad,, etc. No taxpayer money need be used. If all the U.S. international broadcasting (VOA, RFE/RL, RFA, MBN, Radio/TV Martí) were combined, it would result in a global newsgathering entity that could compete with the likes of BBC and Al Jazeera. Americans would benefit from having access to such a news service. The trick is to ensure that the funds for international broadcasting are spent on international broadcasting, with domestic consumption strictly a fringe benefit.”

The Defense of the Nation - Carol Gee, The Reaction: “Public Diplomacy as an element of national security has been an abysmal failure under the Bush administration. Here is an example: 'USC Study of Alhurra Withheld from Public; Inquiries of Network's Operation Deepen' from the 11/4/08 ProPublica.'”

Voices Of America: U.S. Public Diplomacy For The 21st Century – Events, Brookings: “On November 25, the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World and Foreign Policy at Brookings will host Kristin Lord, who will present Voices of America, a new Brookings report on the effectiveness of public diplomacy that includes specific recommendations for the next administration. Drawing on extensive research, approximately 300 interviews and the advice of a distinguished board of ten advisers, Voices of America presents a comprehensive vision for U.S. public diplomacy in the twenty-first century. It argues for the creation of a new non-governmental organization to tap extensive private sector expertise and mobilize the talents of Americans and partners around the world. The report also presents wide-ranging recommendations regarding strategy, leadership, organization, resources and methods of U.S. public diplomacy and how this important instrument of statecraft should be integrated into a broader foreign policy strategy.”

Missed me? how about this? – Nasa, A Piece of My Mind: “Extremist groups like al Qaeda are also using military style video games to recruit young Muslims for their cause, the US Defense Department told Congress. According to Dan Devlin, the Defence Department's Public Diplomacy specialist, ‘What we have seen is that any video game that comes out ... they'll modify it and change the game for their needs.’”

Visa waivers – The World Next Week, Oxford Analytica: “From Monday, seven new countries will join the list of nations eligible for the United States’ Visa Waiver Program. The programme allows citizens of accepted countries into the US for tourism or business for up to three months without requiring them to obtain a visa, and the new entries are the culmination of a 2004 roadmap for expanding the scheme. … Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has been surprised to learn that many outsiders are critical. There are a number of reasons for this. One is the perceived prejudice over which countries are allowed to join the scheme, with developed counties predominating. While a case can be made that the law enforcement systems of qualifying countries are more sophisticated, the public diplomacy impact of the perceived discrimination is strongly negative. No African, Latin American or Middle Eastern countries are eligible for the scheme.”

Public Diplomacy is Changing the Odds – [Ali Fisher], Wandren PD: A testing ground for new possibilities: “There have been many attempts to pin down what Public Diplomacy is about, and as I’m currently finishing editing The Trials of Public Diplomacy, this has been at the forefront of my mind. Rather than seeking another definition to encapsulate (or exclude) certain actors, methodologies, or bureaucracies, I’ve been seeking to think about what PD is it at its core. To me it is attempting to influence behaviour to change the odds of certain outcomes occurring.” Cited at

BFF Launches Youth Development Campaign - Analyst (Monrovia): “The Global Youth Day activities … were climaxed by a field trip to the Public Diplomacy Section of the US Embassy in Monrovia, where the participants were given opportunity to watch the debate of US presidential candidates, Barrack Obamba and John McCain.”

RI spearheads Asian forum for sharing democratic gains - Hyginus Hardoyo, Jakarta Post: “Having initiated an Asian forum on democracy, the Foreign Affairs Ministry's office of public diplomacy is spearheading strategic directions for the region through the upcoming Bali Democracy Forum.”

U.S Dept of State, Gbinigie, Zulu, others laud SWGN - Azuh Amatu, Showbiz Bits With Azuh Amatus: For The Hottest And Most Authoritative Gists In The Nigerian Showbiz Industry: “Several stakeholders within and outside the nation’s motion picture industry, globally known as Nollywood, have applauded the recently held one-week workshop of the Screen Writers Guild of Nigeria (SWGN). Speaking at the closing ceremony of the epoch event, which was jointly organized by the US Department of State and SWGN, Mr. Andrien Gbinigie, a Nollywood enthusiast and Chairman/CEO of Atlantic Overseas, applauded the guild for its giant strides and enormous contributions to the development of Nollywood and the motion picture industry in general, over the years. … Gbinigie … was thankful to the US Department of State, and Mary Lou Johnson-Pizarro, the Public Diplomacy Officer, for accepting to partner the guild and flying in the key resource person, Prof. Myla Churchill, from the New York Film Academy.”

Event: Nov. 19: U.S. Policy in Iraq: The Challenges Ahead: Charles Francis Adams Lecture; Richard Schmierer, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (Middle East Affairs) - Boston News Desk: “Mr. Schmierer is a career Foreign Service Officer and member of the Senior Foreign Service, rank of Minister-Counselor. He is the author of Iraq: Policy and Perceptions (Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University, 2007). Mr. Schmierer received the State Department's 2005 Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy, conferred by The Fletcher School.”

Quoting History: Policies and Actions Must Anticipate Psychological Impact – Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: “Eisenhower … [o]n several occasions … testified in Congress in support of the Smith-Mundt Bill. … Sources: Total Cold War: Eisenhower's Secret Propaganda Battle at Home and Abroad and The Cold War and the United States Information Agency: American Propaganda and Public Diplomacy, 1945-1989.”

Marc Lynch on Emanuel - Ibn Yaaqub Al-Amriki: Musings of Another Poli-Sci Grad Who Thinks He Knows (And Actually Wishes He Did) About The Middle East: “Here is a good post by Marc Lynch (aka Abu Aardvark ...) about Rahm Emanuel's appointment as Obama's chief of staff. One thing I like about Abu Aardvark is his focus on the importance of public diplomacy and strategic communication, two things with which I have a bit of experience and the importance of which I think is often overlooked.”

Friday, November 14, 2008 - Paul Rockower, Levantine: “We had an interesting class today in my contemporary Public Diplomacy course. Prof. Gilboa had us read a few articles about the EU's public diplomacy effort. … So how do you sell the EU? Not in EUrocracy that is the current norm of EU PD. Boring or nonsensical stuff.”

Qorvis Signs Top Republican Communicator Karen Hanretty – Press Release, Market Watch: “Qorvis Communications, a leading independent communications firm, announced today that Karen Hanretty, most recently the Communications Director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, will join the firm in December as a Managing Director. … Hanretty, who has been a national political commentator for Fox, CNN and MSNBC for the past five years, joins the agency's senior political strategists, including … Managing Director Matt J. Lauer, a top advisor on public diplomacy during General Colin L. Powell's term as Secretary of State and Operation Iraqi Freedom--all of whom are successful in breaking through the background noise and getting the message to members of both parties."

Announcement: "I am happy to inform all interested parties that the papers of Dr. Leo Crespi are as of today now in the collection of the Seeley G. Mudd University Library, Princeton University. As some of you know the work spans Leo's teaching years at Princeton, his public opinion surveys in Germany under HICOG and WAPOR and his twenty plus years at USIA. The deed of gift stipulates that the papers are open to the research public immediately.Please contact Daniel Linke, Curator of Public Policy Papers at the Mudd Library with any questions regarding this collection. All the best, with thanks,Leo would be pleased. Jeff Crespi" Via Len Baldyga.


America Doesn't Need 'Rebranding' - Froma Harrop, Real Clear Politics: No other people so fervently seek the admiration of others as do Americans. On the left, that tendency is obvious. There has been much talk of Obama "rebranding" America as a liberal land of race-blind equality. It is remarkable how many Americans, young people especially, yearn for an "openness seal of approval" from people in countries whose records on racial integration is worse than ours.

Secretary of State Clinton? - Alex Koppelman, Salon: The talk about Hillary Clinton possibly being named as secretary of state in Barack Obama's administration appears to be more than just talk.

Hillary Clinton a contender for secretary of state - Andrew Ward, Financial Times

Change in intelligence? Signals that Obama will reform the bankrupt culture undermined by his embrace of Tenet cronies - Melvin A. Goodman, Baltimore Sun: President-elect Barack Obama is sending conflicting signals on whether he intends to change the bankrupt culture of Washington's intelligence community and to introduce genuine reform to the Central Intelligence Agency.

Barack Obama Takes Charge: Time to Leave Iraq - Doug Bandow, The US troops need to come home. Quickly. And completely.

Obama's Chance to End the Fantasy That Is Star Wars: The US has spent $160bn – only to increase the danger to itself and the rest of us - Johann Hari, Independent/Common Dreams: Of course, if Obama ditches Star Wars, the neoconservatives will accuse him of "backing down" and "showing weakness". But is it really sensible to keep spending $10bn a year on an act of self-harm just to save face? The story that began with Reagan's dementia-fantasies should end with Obama's empiricism.

Obama's missile gap: The president-elect is caught between bellicose threats from Moscow and hawks at home – Editorial, Los Angeles Times: Obama must engage Russia on many fronts, not fan its fears. For example, he needs Russia to fully support economic sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. And because Russia doesn't want a nuclear-armed Iran any more than the United States and Europe do, there's a good chance the Kremlin can be brought on board -- perhaps even in exchange for scrapping the missile shield program.

How Many Villages Must We Bomb Before We Find bin Laden? William Pfaff, Truthdig: Washington’s purpose in attacking what historically has been the most stubbornly impenetrable region of Asia is to lay hands on a man who might not be there and even if he is will undoubtedly leave before American troops arrive -- if they arrive.

How to Win in Afghanistan: A minisurge is not enough. We need more Afghan security forces - Michael O'Hanlon, Wall Street Journal: Working with President Hamid Karzai, the new American administration must make rightsizing the Afghan security forces among its very top priorities.

Burma's junta shows contempt – Editorial, Boston Globe: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee should confirm President Bush's highly qualified nominee, Michael Green, to the recently created post of special representative and policy coordinator for Burma. His mission - to work for the restoration of democratic governance in Burma - is more pressing than ever.

Lead Balloon - Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog I keep track of Condoleezza's hairdo so you don't have to: PHOTO: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, left, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad, listen as President George W. Bush addresses the Culture of Peace meeting of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, Thursday Nov. 13, 2008. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams). COMMENT: "OK, this was obviously somebody's idea of edgy humor to put together a thing called 'Culture of Peace' and then... ha, ha... invite George Bush to speak. Isn't that hilarious? No? Whoops, I forgot irony died. From the looks of things, I'd say Condi 'n' Khali totally didn't get it, either. She used to look so fascinated when he spoke!"


Roderick Conway Morris, "Forgotten art of French illustrator George Barbier is rediscovered at Fortuny Museum show," International Herald Tribune

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