Monday, November 3, 2008

November 3

“Thank God and Greyhound you're gone.”

--old country tune; cited at; cartoon by Mr. Fish


American dream expelled from Syria - Sami Moubayed, Asia Times: "A belated victim of the United States raid into Syria on October 27 was the American school in Damascus. The institution has been a controversial satellite of US interests in Syria since its founding more than a half-century ago, and it has often been featured as political football during the two nations' turbulent, often bitter relationship."

Integrated strategy to improve global image - Carola McGiffert, Washington Times: "Brand America has lost its luster. But it is not too late to polish our wares and present them anew to the American people and the global community. This will take what is called smart power. Smart power is the deft integration of hard power - military and economic might - and soft power - the ability to influence through attraction and inspiration. Smart power has been well defined by Harvard's Joseph Nye and former Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who co-chaired a commission on the issue at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) last year. The Nye-Armitage Commission concluded that addressing the main foreign and economic policy challenges facing America today requires the full spectrum of smart power tools and issues, from public diplomacy and educational exchanges to economic development, health and energy security to counterterrorism and nuclear nonproliferation.” Image from

The Near Future of the Middle East: Predictions and Prescriptions -, Salam Press: "Julia Bennett, a research assistant at Tufts University’s Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, summarizes the predictions and prescriptions offered up by participants at a conference the Center held last March 27-28. ... [Among the] Prescriptions: ‘Employ a smart power model in Iraq that incorporates international aid, foreign language expertise, public diplomacy, military training, and higher education’.”

Asian Views of America's Role in Asia 2008 - Han Sung-Joo, Tommy Koh and C. Raja Mohan, Asia Sentinel: Excerpt from an exhaustive 303-page report by the Asia Foundation on America’s relationship to Asia and the challenges it faces over the next president’s reign: "The United States would be well advised to set a good example of upholding the very values it espouses. US allies in the region are acutely aware of America’s poor image among their own public and want the next administration’s foreign policy to pay special attention to public diplomacy. How the US engages not just Asian governments, but the Asian people through education and cultural opportunities should be of equal consideration to the above issues when strategizing and implementing foreign policy. Both Americans and Asians will benefit if the political, intellectual, and cultural bridges between our peoples are strengthened."

Reason #4: The Rest of the World is Voting Obama!; #3: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the War on Terror – Carol, Hockey Moms for Obama: "Crucially, Obama’s vision for Iraq, Afghanistan, and al Qaeda does not portray Islam or Muslim peoples as enemies -- as the McCain/Palin team and supporters do (wink, wink) -- but as peoples to work with, to learn from, and to support. Obama realizes that the war on terror needs to be a war on poverty and lack of opportunity and on the unchecked US power so representative of the Bush/Cheney years."

Sunday, November 2, 2008 - Yankeereb, Recordor et Credo: “The Obama-Biden (in the context of Civilian National Security Force (CNSF]) plan calls for ‘universal voluntary public service.’ He has proposed to ‘expand AmeriCorps from 75,000 slots today to 250,000,’ improve ‘programs that connect individuals over the age of 55 to quality volunteer opportunities,’ ‘double the Peace Corps to 16,000 by 2011’ and ‘set up an America's Voice Initiative to send Americans who are fluent speakers of local languages to expand our public diplomacy.’… When I first heard this term ‘CNSF,’ I had two reactions. One was a recall of Hitler’s youth corps, the Brown Shirts. The other was Hitler’s SS Corps.”

al-Qaeda [hearts] Karl Earl Mundt - Abu Muqawama: "Speaking of Obama (and public diplomacy), the Guardian's Gary Younge has been spewing the most vile garbage about America for the past five years. This is a guy who once equated the first post-Katrina elections in New Orleans (which later resulted in the re-election of Ray Nagin, a known white supremacist) as ‘genocide.’”


The U.S. Election -- Views From RFE/RL's Region, RFE/RL: As the United States heads into the November 4 election, RFE/RL asked analysts from Iran to Moldova what the vote might mean for their countries.

Weary of Bush, Arab world has hopes for Obama: Call for change wins support among many across Middle East - Robert W. Gee, Austin American-Statesman

Obama, the two-dimensional candidate - Mark Steyn, Washington Times: “The two-dimensional idea of President Obama is seductive: To elect a young black man of Kenyan extraction and Indonesian upbringing offers redemption both for America's original sin (slavery) and for the more recent perceived sins of President Bush - his supposed enthusiasm for sticking it to foreigners generally, and the Muslim world in particular. And no, I'm not saying he's Muslim. It's worse than that: He's a pasty-faced European - at least in his view of state power, welfare and taxation.”

Dreams from His Father’s Land: Kenyans back Obama - Travis Kavulla, National Review: As a senator and a candidate, Obama has cemented the United States’ reputation as a cosmopolitan, upwardly mobile society. Indeed, many people in Western Kenya profess amazement that America would have a Luo president before Kenya does, and marvel at how an affluent society can elevate the grandson of a villager before the much poorer Kenya could manage to do so.

A Test That's Sure to Come - Jackson Diehl, Washington Post: For the past few months several familiar U.S. adversaries have been waiting out the Bush administration while painstakingly setting up traps they can spring on the incoming president.

McCain, Obama and national security – Editorial, Washington Times: When it comes to defense and foreign-policy issues, Sen. John McCain is by far the superior choice to become the next president of the United States.

The Limits of Change: What to expect from the Obama administration on the foreign policy front – Justin Raimondo, Obama has long stressed he would immediately begin escalating the Afghan campaign, and perhaps open up a new front in Pakistan. Certainly the Bush administration has laid the groundwork for this eastward shift of U.S. military resources – and so the stage is set.

Will the Next President Be Any Better? – Alan Bock, To the self-designated indispensable nation, the sovereignty of others is optional, to be violated whenever the "sole superpower" decides it needs or wants to do so. Such arrogance has long been implied, but the Bush administration has made it explicit and clearly wants to plant it so deeply that a McCain or Obama administration will have little choice but to continue to live by the Bush rules.

Two, Three, Many Grand Bargains? Jim Lobe – A series of interlocking "grand bargains" backed by the relevant regional players as well as major global powers -- aimed at pacifying Afghanistan; integrating Iran into a new regional security structure; promoting reconciliation in Iraq; and launching a credible process to negotiate a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Arab world -- must offer a very tempting, if extremely challenging, prospect to any new resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

What will a new president do for the arts? What would an Obama or McCain presidency do for the arts? Or will the new President's hands be tied by the economic turmoil? Morgan Falconer – Times (London): Obama wants an “artist corps” to go into schools and ginger up disadvantaged schoolchildren, and there's talk of more money for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Of course, Obama's talk of boosted funding may be moot now that America is facing recession. McCain's “priorities” may have to be Obama's as well. But even without an economic downturn, the arts could probably expect lean times under McCain, as he has a record of voting to abolish or cut funding for the NEA.

New Beltway Debate: What to Do About Iran - Carol Giacomo, New York Times: What is significant is that inside Washington’s policy circles these days -- in studies, commentaries, meetings, Congressional hearings and conferences -- reasonable people from both parties are seriously examining the so-called military option, along with new diplomatic initiatives.

Gates's nuclear brief – Editorial, Boston Globe: Defense Secretary Robert Gates has suggested that upgrading America's nuclear weapons is a good way to discourage proliferation around the globe. Gates's key recommendations for securing, modernizing, and reducing the US nuclear stockpile should be heeded by Congress and by the next president.

RT Expert View: In the eye of the beholder - Peter Lavelle, Russia Today: This week RT [Russian Today] solicits views on Russia’s image in the Western media. Some foreign commentators seem to be eager to see a "sinister Kremlin plot" whenever there is even the slightest chance to blame the world’s woes on the Russian Government.

Foreclosed: The George W. Bush Story - Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch: Bush will leave a country functionally under the gun of foreclosure, a world far more aflame and dangerous than the one he faced on entering the Oval Office. But he won't suffer.

The state of America after BushObserver: This week the George W Bush era will draw to a close. His was a momentous presidency, shaped by some of the most epic events in recent history -- 9/11, the protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the meltdown on Wall Street. But how will history judge President Bush? Seven leading US authors reflect on his eight years in the White House, and the type of America that the 43rd president is leaving behind.

Running against Bush - Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post: By claiming that the enemy in the war is generic "terror" rather than a worldview embraced by millions of people throughout the Islamic world, Bush made it impossible for his advisers to develop a coherent strategy for war. After the 2006 Congressional elections, Bush embraced the Powell-Rice policy of European style appeasement.

Political ad watch: Soviet propaganda images in Obama's campaign - P.M. Jaworski, “Of course, Soviet-era art is pretty stunning. … For those of us of Polish descent, like me, or those of us who suffered under the Communist monstrosity either in the past or currently, these images are associated with one of the worst periods in human history. That art work, and the associations it likely brings to mind, should be reserved for modern museums, not recycled for political purposes. Ever."

1944 - Nazis Use Garden in Propaganda Film - Michael Levenston, Doctor Bulldog & Ronin: The SS, seeking to exploit the beautification efforts undertaken at Theresienstadt in preparation for the Red Cross visit of June 23, 1944, decided to produce a film about the ghetto for propaganda use in Germany. Entitled “Der Fuehrer Schenkt den Juden eine Stadt” [The Fuehrer gives the Jews a City], its purpose was to show the pleasant life of Jews in a town that was generously given to them by the Nazi regime, in contrast to the hardships faced by Germans under the Allied bombardment.

Propaganda film among war exhibits - The Press Association: A British war propaganda film will be one of the exhibits at the National Museum to mark the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I. The propaganda film, made by the British War Office, focuses on The Battle of the Ancre on the Somme from September to November 1916.

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