Friday, November 7, 2008

November 7

Photo from Boing Boing

“With him we get a president with the political intelligence of a Bill Clinton harnessed to the steely self-discipline of a Vladimir Putin. (I say this admiringly.)”

--Charles Krauthammer, regarding Obama

"До чего эти пиндосы тупые! (Can you believe how dumb those Amuricans are?)"

--Translator Michele Berdy, in her article, "New Ways to Insult Americans," Moscow Times


BBC Interview with Gore Vidal on the US election


Improving US Image Abroad Top Priority for President-Elect Obama - Nancy Snow, Huffington Post: “What we urgently need now, as GAO points out, is a core of properly trained public diplomats who can communicate well in an intercultural context. … International broadcasting is our mainstay in public diplomacy, but think about it. What influences you? For me, it's a person I trust, someone who sits across the table from me in dialogue and who I may end of collaborating with on some project. … The election of Barack Obama was a positive step to help stem the tide of anti-Americanism but Obama's victory alone can't overcome all the resentment that has built up over the years. We Americans need to listen more, talk less, and truly engage people in a spirit of mutual understanding.”

Of honor, history and expectations - Chuck Raasch, USA Today: “[Obama’s] signature achievement of getting elected against big odds, as grueling as it was, nonetheless leaves many questions about how he will act as commander in chief and chief executive of a government that is more involved in Americans' lives than virtually any time in history. As a welcoming gift, the Government Accountability Office on Thursday issued its top "urgent issues" for the next president, [including public diplomacy].”

Will Obama Improve America's Global Image? - Sunny Lee, Korea Times: “Overall, the Chinese media, which had maintained a neutral attitude until the election, has become ebullient after Obama's win. … In the Oriental Morning Post, Zhou Qingan, a public diplomacy expert, said ‘Why do we pay attention to the American election? It's because it will bring a new change to us. It's because we want to preserve some positive order. The changes Obama will make and the changes Obama will not make, will directly influence the future relationship between China and the United States. That's why we pay attention to the American election.'’' PHOTO: A vendor sells newspapers featuring U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on their front pages in Shanghai, China, Thursday.

NBTA Congratulates Obama - TTG live, UK: "The National Business Travel Association congratulated president-clect Barack Obama on his victory and offered its support to the incoming administration in undertaking issues important to the corporate travel industry…. NBTA president Kevin Maguire said: ‘We see great synergies in the goals of our members and those of president-elect Obama, and will work with his Administration to advance those common goals. Obama’s public diplomacy agenda and promises to work cooperatively with world leaders and businesses are good news for the increasingly multinational business community.’"

MSU’s International Education Week to address hot-button issues - MSU Today, MI: “Public diplomacy discussions, Nov. 18-19, at MSU’s International Center. David Firestein, deputy executive director and senior advisor in the U.S. Department of State on Public Diplomacy, will discuss foreign perceptions of the United States and American perspectives of China and the U.S.-China relationship.” LEFT: David Firestein

State department comes to Air War College - Capt. Jennifer Lovett, Maxwell Gunter Dispatch, AL: The three-day exchange between the state department and the defense department started in 2004 to allow AWC [Air War College] students to interact with Foreign Service officers to gain perspective on interagency cooperation. ‘The program is of great benefit to AWC students who learn about the state department, diplomacy and public diplomacy, and to state department participants who learn about the military,’ said Dr. Steve Burgess, AWC Department of International Security.”

The Other Pianist: A North Korean musician tours the United States - Katherine Eastland, Weekly Standard: “The song that moved Kim [Cheol Woong] to defect from North Korea upon returning home from Russia was Richard Cleyderman's 'Autumn Leaves.'… When Kim played at the State Department [during his recent tour], top U.S. officials were meeting with North Korean officials to salvage delicate nuclear weapons negotiations and see whether America should, as they later did, strike the Dear Leader's country from the terror blacklist. But he didn't brush back his coattails and play in America to make just a political statement. He came to stress the primacy, and efficacy, of art, and that it can be used for good just as fiercely as it can be used for ill."

Is Russia Winning in Central Asia? - Martin C. Spechler and Dina R. Spechler, Diplomatic Traffic: “With regard to its public diplomacy aimed at creating a positive image, Russia is not escaping blame for atrocities and environmental depredations committed in Central Asia during the Soviet period. President Islam Karimov[of Uzbekistan] has recently announced two new buildings to commemorate victims of the Russian 'colonial regime.'”

Nobel testimony to be heard in townTelegraph, Calcutta: “Nadine Gordimer, South African writer, Nobel Laureate and one of the first people Nelson Mandela wanted to meet after he emerged from prison, will arrive … on November 10 to deliver a lecture. … She is visiting the country on an invitation from the public diplomacy division of the ministry of external affairs. She arrives in Mumbai on November 7 and will be in Calcutta till November 13, when she leaves for New Delhi.”

Jihad Against Free Speech -, K/N Redaction “The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) is an Islamist supremacist organization. Composed of 57 member states with Muslim majority populations, the OIC is the largest Islamic body in the world. … In June of 2008, the OIC reported on the 2007 opening of its Washington, DC office which works to engage OIC politically. Karen Hughes, then-undersecretary of public diplomacy at the State Department, spoke at the opening ceremony. She lauded OIC’s effort to pass the resolution on combating defamation of religions. She also advocated a program called 'citizen dialogue' which she started in order to address Muslims’ sense of isolation. However, Muslims abroad indicated that they were not interested in meeting with U.S. government officials or non-Muslim Americans, so she sent Muslim-Americans as envoys to foreign countries for the so-called dialogue."


Obama Victory (SLIDESHOW) - Huffington Post. Above photo from India.

The Roving Eye: The keys to the country - Pepe Escobar, Asia Times: Geographically, the United States of America ends here at the tip of Florida. Politically, the long Bush night of the soul also ends here - in slightly over 70 days. Historically, led by a cool black man with a weapon of mass seduction - his unlimited soft power - this passage of time has the potential to be the prelude to a new day dawning.

Obama Win Changes Perceptions AbroadNPR: Obama's victory isn't just a symbol of racial progress in the United States. For many people around the world, the victory is a sign of change in American attitudes and offers hope about their own aspirations.

Propaganda: Yanks no longer "Ugly Americans" – Tyrus, - “We're now ‘cool’ because we elected a black president? Our entire national image has gone from being evil and arrogant to being 'cool' and of a higher moral character because people were sick of George W. Bush?”

Let the disappointment begin - Muhammad Cohen, Asia Times: The world's investment of hope in Obama will likely fare little better than shares or property investments in 2008.

Obama's foreign policy picks: Academics from top-notch universities likely lead the list of potential advisors - David Milne, Los Angeles Times: Hiring hotshot academics from the nation's top universities is a peculiarly American practice. In no other nation on Earth do elected leaders take political scientists so seriously. The good news is that Barack Obama's intellectuals are fine scholars who have produced some thought-provoking books and articles on the best way to deploy American power. The bad news is that Walt Rostow and Paul Wolfowitz were also fine scholars who had produced interesting books and articles on the best way to deploy American power.

Neocons Plot to Co-Opt Obama - William Pfaff, Truthdig: A big struggle over control of Obama’s foreign policy has already begun with his first White House staff nominees. Many of the people currently advising him, and all of those behind past Bush policies, are going to tell him his administration must choose between “weakness,” on the one hand, and “strength” plus “global leadership,” on the other hand. The latter means a quest for American hegemony that wouldn’t be any more successful under Obama than it was under Bush, and along the way would destroy his presidency just as it destroyed George Bush’s.

A welcome dilemma for newly reelected Kerry - Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe: Kerry is not only eyeing the secretary of state's job, he has emerged as a top contender for Foggy Bottom.

Obama's Washington: The O-List - TNR Staff, New Republic: Many of Kerry's top fund-raisers and policy aides now populate Obamaland. The senator himself, who gave Obama a critical endorsement in January, is a candidate for secretary of state.

Analysis: So, nu, can we? - Amir Mizroch and Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post: Even if, in an impossible-to-imagine worst-case scenario, Obama wanted to fundamentally change the US-Israeli relationship, it is unlikely he would be able to do so.

Time to appoint a Middle East envoy – Editorial Comment, Financial Times: Obama should soon name a special envoy for the Middle East with plenipotentiary powers to mediate and negotiate on behalf of his incoming administration.

Iran extends an early friendly hand - Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times: The question becomes whether or not the specific adjustments in the US's Iran policy will be perceived as deep and meaningful enough to move Iran's rulers away from their decades-long aversion to restoring normal relations with a country still regarded as the "Great Satan.”

Getting Along With Obama - Vladimir Ryzhkov, Moscow Times: Obama inherited a slew of thorny problems on the foreign policy front -- above all, a very unstable Iraq and a worsening situation in Afghanistan. But overall, we can expect a general improvement in the U.S. position and a global resurgence of trust in Washington -- with one large exception: Russia. Whether the Kremlin would like to admit it or not, the truth is that the political fate of Putin and Medvedev will depend largely on how quickly the Obama administration can pull the United States out of its financial crisis. LEFT: Pushkin, the renowned Russian poet of African ancestry.

A Polish missile crisis? – Gideon Rachman, Financial Times: The Russians deploying missiles in a way that threatens American strategic interests and poses a test for a new, young, charismatic American president - what does that remind you of? JFK and Cuba, of course.

Georgia Claims on Russia War Called Into Question - C. J. Chivers And Ellen Barry, New York Times: Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the longstanding Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression. PHOTO: Georgian forces fired rockets at South Ossetia in August.

Talking the talk with Seoul - Donald Kirk, Asia Times: The United States president -elect and the South Korean president were clearly reading off prepared scripts when they went through a 10-minute conversation that avoided their single-most urgent disagreement. That is the Korea-US free-trade agreement (FTA) that Barack Obama, during his campaign, strongly opposed as a threat to Michigan motor vehicle workers.

A smarter North Korea policy: It will take a combination of diplomacy and blunt threats - Bennett Ramberg, Christian Science Monitor

Credit crunch and lack of faith sees Bush appointees hunting jobs – Tim Reid, Times (London): Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State, is set to become a political science professor and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution think-tank, run by Stanford University, where she was Provost before joining the Bush administration.

Condi Sees Her Legacy Sailing Off into the Sunset Without Her - Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog I keep track of Condoleezza's hairdo so you don't have to.


"Mary had gone in naked, I had put on my old brown trunks. Mary looked very pretty and white. But she was ripened by the summer sun where her face and neck and arms had been exposed while working on her garden, and the tan of her forearms and the reddening tints brought out in her rather pale skin were in harmony with her blue suit of overalls and made her seem almost luscious. When I kissed her after we'd eaten as she was lying in her new rather shiny pink latex bathing-suit, with its skirt chopped smartly off just at the base of her buttocks (it was when she was standing up, though, that you noticed this)—the shoulder-straps down so as to leave her breast bare, I kissed her wide red fleshy and rather amiable mouth, which had character, while she shaded her eyes from the sun with her hand, it (her mouth) seemed to me naked and made me think of the lips below. At this point we finished the yellow wine and went on to the screen of the scrub-pine."

--Literary critic Edmund Wilson on author Mary McCarthy

PHOTO (Iran) from Huffington Post


Peteykins said...

I always dislike hearing people use the phrase "ugly American," because the man referred to as such in the original novel was a good guy.

Also: I'm kinda hoping for Bill Richardson rather than Kerry. Do you have an opinion on the matter?

John Brown said...

Highly esteemed Ms Princess Sparkle Pony,

Your judgement on the Ugly American is indeed worthy of note, and I much appreciate it.

Re future appointments in the Obama administration, I really have nothing to say, except a joke in the Balkans when I was serving there as Press and Culture Officer in the mid-199O's at the Belgrade American Embassy:

"What's the most dangerous place in the Balkans? Between Dick Holbrooke and a TV camera."