Saturday, November 29, 2008

November 29

“Never Deploy Military Means in Pursuit of Indeterminate Ends.”

-- The title summarizing the all-­important decisions by President Johnson that turned Vietnam irrevocably into an American war in 1965 (from the book, Lessons In Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam by Gordon M. Goldstein)

“The Smartest Man in the Room Is Not Always Right.”

--Former United States ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke, regarding McGeorge Bundy


3 Streaming Live: James Glassman on Public Diplomacy 2.0, Helene Cooper on her Memoir of a Lost African Childhood, and Barton Gellman on Richard "The Angler" Cheney – Steve Clemons, Washington Note: "Monday and Tuesday this next week, I have three events I am chairing at the New America Foundation . … The first features Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy James K. Glassman who will be speaking on the subject, ‘Public Diplomacy 2.0.’ Glassman will be sharing his thoughts on how new technology, including social networking, is changing the face of public diplomacy - specifically, how new technology fits Glassman's new approach to engaging with foreign audiences by convening and facilitating rather than preaching and directing. Glassman recently spoke at the New America Foundation after assuming his responsibilities (his talk can be viewed here) and made the sensible but not heard enough statement that a chief goal of American public diplomacy should not be trying to get the world to love America -- but rather to help those with grievances and those who want to protest their situation to find non-violent ways to do so. That was a lot more sensible than much of what I heard from either Glassman's predecessor, Karen Hughes, or from the Cheney wing of the Bush White House. Glassman's event will stream live at The Washington Note from 10:00 am til 11:30 am EST on Monday, 1 December.”

Internet Killed the Terrorist Star – Troy, Man Bites Dog: [See Special Briefing To Announce the Alliance of Youth Movement, James K. Glassman, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Jared Cohen, Policy Planning Staff, State Department] "Now, I'm not going to criticize strategies that have had effectiveness against groups like FARC, but the situation in Colombia is light years away from the situation here in America. Starting a facebook group called 'Terrorism Sucks!' and getting a bunch of people to join it isn't exactly winning the War on Islamic Fundamental Militancy. Google bombing Osama Bin Laden doesn't have the same effectiveness as actually bombing him. MTV has never been cool. This is a pointless exercise in media warfare where it isn't going to have much effect. But whatever. If you want to ostracize Al Qaeda online, be my guest. I just can't help but think that there might be more intelligent uses of that counter terrorism cash.”

Big Brother Coming For Your Kids...Now! U.S. government taps Facebook, Google, MTV to "Fight Terrorism" - Another Voice (Rev. 18:4): “Recruiting the youth through 'online youth groups' in order to begin programming them to be mindless but obedient new world order junior-zombies. That's a fact and this Big Brother U.S. government-Google-Facebook partnership shows just how big and powerful this next phase of 'population mind control' is to be.”

The Obama/Clinton State Department: Diplomatic Strength is Essential - Gregory Hilton, Armed Forces Radio Network, posted at The DC World Affairs Blog: “President Bush will leave his successor with a strong military but a lack of strength in diplomacy. The American cause is misunderstood in many parts of the world, and our efforts in recent years to appeal to global hearts and minds have not been successful. Our communication failure is especially ironic, because America invented both Hollywood and Madison Avenue. … America’s message is not getting across largely because there is little coordination of overall strategy. I hope the Obama Administration will name an individual who will not confine themselves to the State Department corridors but act as a public diplomacy czar in coordinating many divergent programs. At present, there is too much overlap and many vital outreach efforts are ignored.”

How Should Obama Confront Terror? – J. P. Green, Democratic Strategist: “The policies of the Bush Administration have exponentially increased the number of terrorists, particularly impressionable young people, who are willing to do harm to America and its citizens. Bush's policies have been so disastrous in this regard that it would be hard for the Obama Administration not to improve America's image in the communities where terrorists thrive. The Bush Administration long ago abandoned any sincere effort to meet this challenge, as collateral damage of his ill-conceived military occupation of Iraq. … President Obama could make a tremendous contribution to both U.S. national security and better relations with the rest of the world by providing the leadership needed and the necessary investment to enhance 'public diplomacy' as a higher priority of our international relations.”

Fate of the war on terror: some modest advice for the Obama administration - Ibrahim Kalin, Today’s Zaman, posted at Narrator: “Over the last seven years, the war on terror has been fought more on ideological and political than military grounds. Despite the assurances of the early Bush administration that the war on terror is not a war on Islam and the Muslim world, it has been perceived as just that. This cannot be brushed aside as an issue of misperception or bad public diplomacy. The policies implemented under the name of the war, including the disastrous management of Afghanistan and Iraq after their invasions, have turned the war on terror into a new adventure of nation-building.”

New administration must undue RFE/RL's anti-diplomacy abroad, 11-29-08 - Lev Roitman, Herald News: “Not always… is U.S. public money spent by RFE/RL in the best interests of the radio nor, accordingly, U.S. public image. Under Jeffrey Gedmin, RFE/RL is embroiled in ugly lawsuits with its former employees who, contrary to the strict requirements of Czech labor law, were fired without any reason given to them and with no warning whatsoever.”

Women and Islamic resistance - Maria Holt, “The testimonies of … many … women in Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories, formed the starting point for a conference on women and Islamic resistance which took place at the University of Westminster on November 7. … The discussion then moved to Lina Khatib’s presentation on women 'as public diplomacy tools'. Dr Khatib, who is based at Royal Holloway, examined the work of the Museum of Martyrs in Tehran and suggested that the Iranian regime uses women, including Lebanese and Palestinian women, as public diplomacy tools to promote a positive image of itself as an Islamic democracy.” PHOTO: Section of the Museum of Martyrs.

Influential Diplomats, Lawmakers and S&T Leaders Explore Promise—and Challenge—of Science Diplomacy – News, The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): “Despite critical unresolved questions over the financing and organization of science diplomacy, the time is ripe for renewed efforts by U.S. scientists and engineers to reach out to colleagues overseas for capacity-building initiatives and collaborations on issues such as climate change, public health, and energy.” Courtesy Alan Kotok.

"On-call" Scientists: AAAS Initiative Connects Scientists with Human Rights Organizations - News, The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Courtesy Alan Kotok.

Jet lag a drag on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd - Steve Lewis, Herald Sun: “[A] defensive-sounding spokesman for the Indonesian Government explained the [Bali Democracy] [F]orum was about promoting the virtue of democratic reform. ‘This is not a forum among democracies, this is a forum about democracies,’ said Umar Hadi, director of public diplomacy in Indonesia's Foreign Ministry. ‘The objective is to strengthen and promote regional co-operation on democracy.’"

Registration is now open plus other announcements - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: “Registration for the Smith-Mundt Symposium – A Discourse to Shape America’s Discourse – is now open. Registration is free, open to the public, and required to attend the event on Tuesday, January 13, 2009. The Symposium will be held at the Reserve Officer’s Association across the street from the Senate and House office buildings in Washington, D.C. For details on this event, see”

Tyranny of the Majority: Israel-Bashing as Spectator Sport at Turtle Bay - David Brumer, Brumspeak: David Brumer: “Media analyst, writer, and consultant on Middle Eastern affairs. In 2005 he received ‘Congressional Recognition for Excellence in Public Diplomacy in Support of Israel’ on behalf of his work with The Israel Project. David works as a geriatric social worker and psychotherapist."


Press and "Psy Ops" to merge at NATO Afghan HQ: sources - By Jon Hemming, Reuters - The U.S. general commanding NATO forces in Afghanistan has ordered a merger of the office that releases news with "Psy Ops," which deals with propaganda, a move that goes against the alliance's policy, three officials said. U.S. General David McKiernan, the commander of 50,000 troops from more than 40 nations in NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), ordered the combination of the Public Affairs Office (PAO), Information Operations and Psy Ops (Psychological Operations) from December 1, said a NATO official with detailed knowledge of the move.

Don't expect 'change' to change much - Bishop Council Nedd II, Washington Times: “Several months ago, I joined another friend at a coffee shop in Cairo, Egypt. She told me that the minute Mr. Obama was elected president, the entire world would view America differently (with the implication of positive change). If none of the other very high expectations of Mr. Obama's supporters are met, I at least hope she is right with that one prediction.”

Obama Can End Iraq War 'Responsibly' - Peter Dyer, Perhaps the most profound and far-reaching way for the U.S. to assume full responsibility for the war in Iraq would be for President Obama, as chief executive, to order the arrest and trial of those who incited and initiated the unprovoked, illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The battle for Iran - John Tirman, Boston Globe: History suggests that the more belligerent the United States is, the more rigid Iran will be. More coercion is not only demonstrably ineffective, but likely spurs the sorts of reactions in Tehran that the international community abhors.

Iran Shaping Up As Key Foreign Policy Challenge For Obama: Will the Obama administration change Washington's approach to Tehran? - Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL: For nearly three decades, Iran and the United States have traded accusations and threats. But when Barack Obama is inaugurated as U.S. president on January 20, that long-standing status quo could finally begin to change.

A Latin America blueprint: Obama might find useful a report that recommends the U.S. overhaul its relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean – Editorial, Los Angeles Times: A Brookings Institution report released Monday that urges an overhaul of U.S. relations with Latin America and the Caribbean.

Heed Russia's Warnings About Further NATO Expansion – Ivan Eland, The Russian-Georgian war ever, should have made both Ukraine and Georgia leery of depending entirely on a faraway nation for security, given the reality of Russia's local conventional military superiority and nuclear deterrent. Ultimately, if it came down to sacrificing US cities in a nuclear war with Russia to save these two non-strategic countries, the United States would most assuredly balk.

Samantha Power Working On Obama's State Department Transition Team - Matthew Lee, Huffington Post: An adviser to Barack Obama's presidential campaign who was forced to resign earlier this year after calling Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton a "monster" is now working on the transition team for the agency Clinton is expected to lead. State Department officials said Friday that Samantha Power is among a group of foreign policy experts that the president-elect's office selected to help the incoming administration prepare for Clinton's anticipated nomination as secretary of state.

National Security Pick: From a Marine to a Mediator - Helene Cooper, New York Times: The selection of General Jones will elevate another foreign policy moderate to a team that will include Robert M. Gates, a carry-over from the Bush administration, as defense secretary and Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. By bringing a military man to the White House, Mr. Obama may be trying to cement an early bond with military leaders who regard him with some uneasiness, particularly over his call for rapid troop reductions in Iraq.


Shoppers on "Black Friday"; from BagnewsNotes

Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death - Robert D. McFadden and Angela Macropoulos, New York Times:

"The throng of Wal-Mart shoppers had been building all night, filling sidewalks and stretching across a vast parking lot at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, N.Y. At 3:30 a.m., the Nassau County police had to be called in for crowd control, and an officer with a bullhorn pleaded for order.

Tension grew as the 5 a.m. opening neared. Someone taped up a crude poster: 'Blitz Line Starts Here.'

By 4:55, with no police officers in sight, the crowd of more than 2,000 had become a rabble, and could be held back no longer. Fists banged and shoulders pressed on the sliding-glass double doors, which bowed in with the weight of the assault. Six to 10 workers inside tried to push back, but it was hopeless.

Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him. Others who had stood alongside Mr. Damour trying to hold the doors were also hurled back and run over, witnesses said."
Video of event at

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