Thursday, November 20, 2008

November 20

"Public diplomacy! Whatta euphemism! But for what, exactly?"

--Comment by Lulu Maude, a reader of Princess Sparkle Pony’s Photoblog (pls. scroll down link for item)


This is sort of sad: Bush Horribly Unpopular At G20 Summit, Wonkette: “What is up here? George Bush is not shaking anybody’s hand, nobody’s shaking his hand, it is an international diplomatic crisis!”


Streamline, Don't Swell, Our Foreign Affairs Machine - Peter Bridges, Huffington Post: “In foreign affairs, Obama needs to make the State Department what it was once: our government's efficient arm for dealing with the world in situations short of war. Send home half or more of all those embassy attachés from elsewhere, and then simplify the organization of the State Department (and not just State), so that negotiation again means dealing with other governments and not endless meetings inside and between agencies. It took Senator Jesse Helms to bring the U.S. Information Agency back inside State. Should not Obama bring our aid and trade-promotion programs back to State? USIA veterans still wonder if State puts enough weight on public diplomacy; would it do so if aid and trade were also in State's hands?” On USIA see.

The best public diplomacy is less public diplomacy. And other advice for the new administration - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "’Instantaneous global communications make it impossible for the U.S. government to segregate information intended for domestic and foreign audiences; the Smith-Mundt Act must be amended accordingly.' From 'Basic Principles on Improving U.S. Public Diplomacy,’ Public Diplomacy Council, 17 November 2008. [Elliott Comment:] An interesting if blood-chilling proposal from the Public Diplomacy Council. It would be good for them to issue a paper to describe what content they intend us domestic audiences to receive. Actually, because the BBC can now restrict its broadcast archives to UK users, and its commercial website to non-UK users, this means that the new age of 'instantaneous global communications' includes means for the Smith-Mundt domestic dissemination prohibition finally to be enforced.” On the Smith-Mundt Act, see.

President-elect Obama, we need a new kind of public diplomacy - Kim Holmes, Washington Times: “At the end of the day, strategic communications - the sum total of the government's efforts to influence foreign opinion - is bigger than public diplomacy. It also must explain the purposes of foreign policy to Americans. Americans are understandably averse to government ‘propaganda,’ if propaganda means deception and manipulation. This is not the same thing as the government explaining to citizens what it is trying to accomplish with their tax dollars.” On the anti-propaganda tradition in the U.S., see.

C stands for Culture – and America Centers - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View: “[E]ven though the outgoing administration can point to increased funding for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in more recent years, a pittance of it has gone to cultural programs. The lion’s share – except for the two-way Fulbright scholars and researchers program - has been spent on one-way inbound educational ‘exchanges.’ …. Obama’s right about the need to establish, or re-stablish, our Centers or America Houses overseas, but they should also be reopened in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.” On the Bureau of Educational and Cultural affairs, see.

re: "C stands for Culture – and America Centers"Consul-at-arms: “I'm not a PD guy specifically, although I admire and value my PD colleagues. And while my FS career began after USIA was absorbed into the Department, I had worked for State in other capacities for years. I had the opportunity, even at a fairly late date, to visit still-open American cultural centers and libraries. Let me not put too fine a point on it: every closure of an American library or cultural center was a victory for those who hate America and want to spread that viewpoint around unimpeded.”

Events at the Center: Improving Russian-American Understanding through Cultural Exchanges: Cosponsored by the Likachev Foundation, St. Petersburg, and the Open World Program, Washington, DC - Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Rifftides - Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters... , “Murray Fromson has issued the first plea I've seen from a heavyweight journalist to president-elect Obama for a rescue of the Voice of America. Rifftides has often written about that broadcast agency's central role in cultural diplomacy during the Cold War, particularly about the vital part Willis Conover played. I have deplored the Bush administration's attempts to dismantle the VOA at a time when the United States needs friends around the world. Here are two excerpts from Fromson's column today on the Huffington Post web site.”

Public Diplomacy Experts Urge Obama to Stop the Broadcasting Board of Governors from Silencing the Voice of America - and Free Media Online Blog – “The Public Diplomacy Council, a nonprofit organization which includes former diplomats, academics and other foreign policy experts, has called on President elect Obama and Congress to take urgent action in reforming publicly-funded U.S. international broadcasting. The Council blames the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), whose members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate to manage U.S. international broadcasting, for ignoring strategically important target areas such as Russia, the Balkans, India and the Western Hemisphere.”

A Thanksgiving Message to President Elect Barack Obama About the Voice of America – QuoVadis, and Free Media Online Blog: “The members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors have made many mistakes over the past decade. As President, you will have the unique opportunity to reverse those mistakes. And if you do, America’s Voice can once again be heard loudly and clearly throughout the world and regain its place as the beacon of liberty to the world.” On Broadcasting Board of Governors, see.

Zawahiri: Obama is the anti-Malcolm X - Juan Cole, Informed Comment: Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion: "Ayman al-Zawahiri attacked Barack Obama in a video released on the internet on Tuesday. … The headline in most comments on the video was that al-Zawahiri used a racist slur against Obama, calling him a ‘house Negro’ … . Al-Zawahiri has seen a lot of Muslim politics, and if he is this afraid of Obama, it is a sign that the new president has enormous potential to deploy soft power against al-Qaeda, and al-Zawahiri is running scared.”

Ayman al-Zawahiri's racial epithet - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: “State needs to respond both to U.S. audiences (ostensibly DipNote's mission) and abroad ('s mission).”

More on Zawahiri and Racism - Spencer Ackerman, The Washington Independent: “In the brief period since the release of Ayman al-Zawahiri’s “House Negro” tape, bloggers have gone crazy celebrating the U.S.’s free-of-charge good fortune. … In both policy and public-diplomacy terms, the clay is still wet. Why haven’t we seen the State Dept.’s blog hit the Zawahiri ‘House Negro’ tape yet?”

What Zawahiri's Message Says About Obama and Al Qaeda - Ilan Goldenberg, Huffington Post: "First and foremost, Al Qaeda is an organization that thrives on propaganda. It paints the United States as an evil empire that oppresses its own minorities and has little regard for the rest of the world. Al Qaeda uses these types of narratives to raise funds and recruit. The Bush administration played right into this trap. Its 'with us or against us' mentality and invasion of Iraq damaged America's image around the world and reinforced Al Qaeda's narrative."

Al Qaeda, Obama and Pakistan - Marc Ginsberg, Huffington Post: "Ultimately, the war against Al Qaeda will not be won on the battlefields of Waziristan alone. Ayman al Zawahiri's unwelcomed reemergence from his cave today is a sad reminder how much the Bush Administration's failures are being dumped into Barack Obama's lap."

Al-Qaeda is not the only threat - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: “John Sullivan, the co-founder of the Los Angeles Terrorism Early Warning group and lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, focusing on emerging threats, reminds us that Al-Qaeda is not the only threat. As such, public diplomacy and strategic communication planning that focuses only on Al-Qaeda is too limiting.”

Tweeting Public Diplomacy - Alyssa Rosenberg, "I've written quite a bit about a push by State Department employees, diplomacy non-profits, and some legislators to increase the size of the Foreign Service, and especially to ramp up staffing of public diplomacy officers, the people who are tasked with getting out there in other countries and actually talking to folks there about who the U.S. is. And so I was pleased to see today via the always classy-looking State Department blog DipNote, that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, Colleen Graffy, is Twittering a public diplomacy mission to Bucharest."

Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Receive Fulbright Prize - Notice to the Press, Office of the Spokesman, Department of State, Washington, DC: "Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Goli Ameri and the Fulbright Association will co-host a ceremony honoring Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on Friday, November 21, 2008, at 11 a.m. in the Dean Acheson Auditorium of the U.S. Department of State. The 2008 J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding will be awarded to Archbishop Tutu for his work for peace in South Africa and elsewhere. The prize carries a $50,000 award provided by The Coca-Cola Foundation."

U.S. public diplomacy: two men on base - Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy:
“It's interesting that two of the four public diplomacy envoys are baseball stars. The number of baseball-playing nations is finite: USA, Canada, countries of the Caribbean basin, Japan, Taiwan, and perhaps a couple of others. But the appeal of Ripken and Griffey is certainly apparent in places like Nicaragua. And baseball is more international than, say, U.S. football.”

Peace Corps in a Bottom-Up and Troubled Era - Yossef Ben-Meir, MediaMonitors: “There is nearly universal agreement that the United States needs urgently to rebuild its image in the world. [Peace Corps] Volunteers, as good neighbors and in their dedication to meeting human needs, contribute to public diplomacy and to goodwill among nations.“

Full Disclosure: Philanthropy and Diplomacy - Philanthropy: A Great Decisions 2008 Blog: “The Clintons are in the headlines again - and for two of my absolute favorite topics: transparency and public diplomacy. I’m giddy with excitement at all the ways you can slice the conversation - marriage, careers, national security, politics, philanthropy, international development, republicans/democrats, and can she do it?”

Expected to Receive a Shot in the Arm from Visa Waiver Program Expansion - Hospitality Trends: “The Travel Industry Association (TIA) heralded today's official expansion of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which is estimated to bring approximately one million new visitors to the United States annually. ‘Adding friends and allies to the Visa Waiver Program strengthens U.S. security, boosts America's vital public diplomacy efforts and stimulates U.S. economic growth,’ said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association.”

NATO countries should resume military ties with Russia - (NSI News Source Info),
Defense-Technology News -"NATO member countries should restore relations with Russia, including in the military sphere, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly has said in a resolution. ... 'The resolution passed by the Plenary Session held on 18 November urged governments and parliaments of NATO member countries to re-establish wide-ranging co-operation, particularly in the military sphere, and to improve and expand public diplomacy efforts with Russia,' the alliance said in a press release."

An open letter to President-elect Obama (I)
- Faruk Loğoğlu, Hurriyet: “Surveys consistently indicate a very unfavorable opinion of the U.S. in Turkey. This underlines the need to implement a broad public diplomacy strategy to win the hearts of the Turkish public. That should be one of the tasks of your Administration.”


Obama and foreign policy: It shouldn't be personal - Lionel Beehner and Vikram J. Singh, Los Angeles Times: World leaders are breathing sighs of relief at the passing of the George W. Bush era. But they risk becoming overly infatuated with Obama. When they look into his eyes, they would do well to seek out American national interests, most of which stay relatively constant across administrations. Whenever foreign policy gets too personalized and chummy, the world is worse off for it.

Closing Gitmo Is Just the Beginning: Building US credibility on human rights will be a long-term project - and closing Guantánamo might just be the easy bit - Suzanne Nossel, Guardian/UK/Common Dreams

More Advice for Obama: How Guántanamo Can Be Closed: Andy Worthington, Counterpunch

Obama’s War: In Afghanistan, the change we need is a shiny new COIN - Clifford D. May, National Review: Although we are not currently defeating the Taliban and other belligerent groups in Afghanistan, we can prevail -- if the incoming administration is prepared to fully resource a sophisticated counter-insurgency strategy similar to that implemented by General David Petraeus in Iraq. The key was transitioning to counterinsurgency -- COIN -- a form of warfare that requires many boots on the ground.

Taliban, US wrestle for the upper hand - Syed Saleem Shahzad
Asia Times: In NATO headquarters in Kabul and Brussels it has been realized that the level of the Taliban's control in Afghanistan is such that they are inching towards a serious escalation of the violence which could create serious turmoil right in the heart of Kabul.

The US strikes deeper in Pakistan - Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times: There is now a genuine alliance between the Pakistani military and US forces against the common foe of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Previously, under former president General Pervez Musharraf, this relationship was blurred by pockets of latent sympathy on the side of the Pakistanis for the militants.

Pakistan PM: US Airstrikes ‘Intolerable’Truthdig: American airstrikes in Pakistan aren’t sitting so well with the locals. Pakistan PM Yousuf Raza Gilani summoned the American ambassador for a refresher course in “sovereignty and territorial integrity” on Thursday. According to the Washington Post, the two countries have agreed that the U.S. can keep bombing Pakistan if Pakistan can keep complaining about it.

Getting Past Mythmaking In Georgia - Anne Applebaum, Washington Post: Western leaders should support Georgian democracy, not particular Georgian democrats, and prepare a unified response to the Russian military escapades to come. And while the propaganda battle rages in the meantime, stay well on the sidelines.

Obama, Misha and the Bear - Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times: Because Russia behaves irresponsibly -- including its latest disgraceful threat to base missiles near Poland -- the temptation in the Obama administration will be to continue with NATO expansion and perhaps even with the ill-advised missile system for Europe. (We have so many better ways to spend money!) Instead, let’s engage Russia as we engage China -- while still bluntly calling Russia on its uncivilized behavior.

Obama Should Look Into Putin's Record, Not His Eyes: The U.S. has the chance for a fresh start on Russia relations - Garry Kasparov, Wall Street Journal: Will Mr. Obama's desire to be the toast of Europe come at the expense of democracy in Russia?

The Real Issue Isn't a Shield in Central Europe - Fyodor Lukyanov, Moscow Times: If Obama's pledge to incorporate multilaterism into U.S. foreign policy begins with developing a global missile-defense system in close cooperation with other countries, this will be a very constructive step toward building a new multipolar model for global affairs.

Internet drives China to loosen grip on media – Reuters, International Herald Tribune

The Agents of Change on Obama's Transition Team - David Corn, Mother Jones: Tom Donilon, a partner at the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers, who was assistant secretary of state for public affairs in the Clinton administration, is in charge of the group focusing on Foggy Bottom.

Clinton Decision Holding Up Other Obama Choices - Helene Cooper, New York Times

That crucial bond - Thomas Friedman, International Herald Tribune: When it comes to appointing a secretary of state, you do not want a team of rivals.

Obama's First Drama: Hillary Clinton – David Corn, Mother Jones: Being secretary of state isn't just about giving speeches and touring the world as a celebrity, it's about managing (and now reviving) the creaky and beleaguered foreign policy apparatus of the United States. And Clinton's résumé is not strong on that front.

What's needed at State – Editorial, Boston Globe: Obama shouldn't appoint Hillary Clinton -- or anyone else -- to the vital post of Secretary of State until he is sure his nominee is capable of reviving a much-diminished State Department.

Hillary Clinton to State? - Editorial, Washington Times: If Mrs. Clinton is nominated as secretary of state, it will be in spite of her record and judgment and the problems created by her husband's lucrative speechmaking. There is too much at stake on the foreign-policy front to nominate Mrs. Clinton.

Brief Case - 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 arrives on Capitol Hill for a briefing with lawmakers on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008 in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci). COMMENT: "Condi wore a pretty new suit yesterday. I like the taffeta shawl collar. And... uhhh... well, that's pretty much it."

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