Monday, March 16, 2009

March 16

"Hollywood and MTV have done more to promote the idea of America as a desirable and admirable society

than the Voice of America or the Fulbright scholarships."

--Former United Nations Under-Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor; image from


The Academy vs. the Ayatollahs - Mike Medavoy & Nathan Gardels, The Wrap: "[T]raditional public and cultural diplomacy, which is aimed at persuading foreign publics of America's merits, should be inverted. In the global age, Americans have become inextricably tethered to others of whom we often have little understanding. As we move into the future, Americans not only need to develop a cosmopolitan capacity for empathy and understanding of those with whom we share this shrinking planet; we need to be educated to embrace the rules of engagement for globalization which require forging common and fair rules of the game. … Hollywood could become more than the purveyor of amusing distractions in hard times. It could be part of the ‘deep coalition’ to help make the world safe for interdependence, which must be America's global strategy as it moves into an era where it will not always be on top.” Image from

World to US: The more we know, the less we like you - Shawn Powers, Intermap: “Last week, Gallup released its findings from a 2008 survey of 4349 adults around the world and reported that there was an inverse relationship between the level of access people have to communications infrastructures and their approval of U.S. leadership. Put simply: the more access people have to information, the less likely they were to be supportive of U.S. leadership. … [M]any PD initiatives today, like the State Department’s efforts to reach out and engage Arab bloggers, Colleen Graffy’s Tweetfest, DipNote, the Rapid Reaction Communications Unit and, of course, Alhurra each operate with the fundamental premise that once we get our message out there in its entirety, people will come around to our point of view. As it turns out, this premise is simply not true. Indeed, the more connected a global citizen was, i.e. the more likely they were to have access to the communiqué of American policies, the less likely they were to support American leadership." Image from

Iran Issue No. 1: It Should be Human Rights, Not Nuclear Weapons - Mariam Memarsadeghi and Akbar Atri, Washington Post: “The administration should be clear in any discussions and its public diplomacy that it expects Iran to hold free and fair elections, with no candidate disqualified.”

Asia-Pacific Strategy - Ralph A. Cossa and Brad Glosserman, Korea Times:

“What's needed now is a clearly articulated vision of America's future role in Asia and a well thought out strategy for getting us from here to there.… The Obama administration should broaden and deepen diplomatic, economic and cultural engagement; invest in professional competence/capacity building; provide leadership in addressing climate change and energy security; and rebuild America's public diplomacy capabilities.” Image from

METROPOLIS NOW! A Selection of Chinese Contemporary Art Opens at Meridian International Center March 25
- PRNewswire-USNewswire: "The following is being released by Meridian International Center: Meridian International Center, in partnership with the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) in Beijing, and the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Washington, DC will open METROPOLIS NOW! A Selection of Chinese Contemporary Art at Meridian International Center on March 25, 2009. … The journey of METROPOLIS NOW! began when the Embassy of China reached out to Meridian as a project partner for the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations because of its distinguished Art for Cultural Diplomacy program, as well as its history of collaboration with China on artistic, professional, and cultural exchanges.“

Bellas Artes: Chelsea Art Galleries visit Havana – Jeremy Faulkner, Cultural Diplomacy News: “As a sign of improved relations between the United States and Cuban governments, Havana’s Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes will showcase work from 28 art galleries from New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood as part of the museum’s Tenth Havana Biennial. The event, titled ‘Chelsea Visits Havana’ will debut the 27th of March with the sponsorship of Fundación Amistad. … Sponsor Fundación Amistad, a practitioner of cultural diplomacy, sees the event as a historic opportunity to use 'the power of art to surmount the cultural, political and social boundaries between the United States and Cuba.'” See also; image from item in exhibition from

Legendary regional and international artists, collectors, curators and filmmakers unite for Art Dubais Global Art Forum_3 – Press release, Eye of Dubai: “Day three, 19th March, is hosted by ADACH (Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage). The programme will focus on key issues that are driving the projects of the Authority forward starting with Contemporary Culture and Living Tradition. The mission of ADACH is Cultural Diplomacy from the Perspective of the Arab World as a Constructive Conversation with the West.”

India: Tiptoeing To The Top - Newly Paul, Neon Tommy:“India's ability to manage its diversity in an age of globalization and wield its "soft power" internationally, especially among its neighboring countries, could well make it a world leader in the near future, author, columnist and former United Nations Under-Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor said at a talk at the University of Southern California. … Tharoor spoke to a group of students and professors as part of USC's Center on Public Diplomacy's Distinguished Speaker Series.” Image from

Vietnam House in Germany marks 1st anniversary: VIETHaus, a center in Berlin designed to promote Vietnam’s trade, investment, culture and tourism in Germany, celebrated a year of operations on March 7 - SGGP: “The chairman of the VIETHaus - AG Company, Nguyen Xuan Hung, highlighted the centre’s achievements over the past year. … He added that the centre is planning to host a wide range of activities in the coming time, particularly when Vietnam focuses on cultural diplomacy this year, and marks 35 years of diplomatic ties with Germany and the 1,000th founding anniversary of Hanoi in 2010. Vietnam House in Berlin." (Photo: Tuong Thuy)

Terrorism: How we should be handling the situation - David Cios, Research Papers: “Our total defense budget is about 515.4 billion dollars, and of that fortune, only 1.3 billion is dedicated to public diplomacy costs, and of that, only about 150 million dollars were spent in the past on Muslim majority countries. This is certainly no way to wage a war of ideas, and it is the main reason we have remained unsuccessful in that area so far. If we have any hope to reach a long term success in this war on terror, we must shift our focus from short term solutions to long term ones; we must change our main method of fighting from using aggression to battling peacefully.”

Taxpayers will fund W's asinine "policy institute"? - TPM: “Very offensively, Bush and SMU plan for their loser establishment to be a living policy ‘institute.’ …

We will be funding this masturbatory indolence? What will they be discussing, the Rumsfeld Formula for Victory? How to Create a New Great Depression? Infuriating Russia at Taxpayer Expense? The Gonzalez Years? How We Prevented 9/11? The Jurisprudential Theories of Harriet Miers? The Public Diplomacy of Dick Cheney? Winning Afghanistan? Taxation and Budgeting for Our Future? How We Reined In Iran? Hero of Katrina? Catching Bin Laden?" Image from

Philly OA Study Group 1 - Mutedstep: “Just had my first study session with other Foreign Service Officer candidates. It was my first time organizing one, so I didn't know what to expect. Fortunately, everything went well and it was very productive! The four of us (randyloafer, chellabella, athicks, and me) all come very different backgrounds and walks of life. Two of us are management cones, one is political, and one is public diplomacy. We met online through the FSOA Yahoo Group, and all of us are taking the Oral Assessment for the first time.”


All You Need Is Diplomacy: Hillary Clinton's world tour - James Rosen, Weekly Standard:

Aided by her celebrity status and politician's knack for working a crowd, Secretary Clinton demonstrated a common touch that suggests she may be able to bring pressure to bear on her foreign counterparts, especially the authoritarian ones, from the ground up, a capability they should rightly fear. Image from

America's Imperial Foreign Policy - Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post: The problem with American foreign policy goes beyond George Bush. It includes a Washington establishment that has gotten comfortable with theexercise of American hegemony and treats compromise as treason andnegotiations as appeasement.

Clean Up Time at Foggy Bottom? - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View: Akin to the deregulation of American’s financial institutions, the antiquated, opaque, and overly hierarchical system which governs this country’s diplomatic corps has more than run its course. The problems are now widespread. The U.S. deserves better. An impartial outside investigation is where to start. The time is now.

Obama starts well with Muslims but must do more: He has to follow up with real engagement - Lawrence Pintak, Christian Science Monitor:

To be effective, the Obama administration must talk to all the players, not just those approved by Israeli or Arab regimes. If we're willing to flirt with the Taliban, why wouldn't we sit down with Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood? Image from

Where are Africa's Obamas? The president's fairness and honesty should serve as a powerful example to the continent's leaders - Wangari Maathai, Los Angeles Times

The Kremlin's Propaganda Ministry - Yevgeny Gontmakher, Moscow Times: Officially, Russia doesn't have an propaganda ministry. Nonetheless, we are still seeing a Soviet-like government propaganda machine that manipulates people's consciousness and public opinion.

Poll: Iraqis feel upbeat about their future, say they are less concerned about violence - Meera Selva, Associated Press, Baltimore Sun: Iraqis are more upbeat about their future and less concerned about violence and insecurity, according to a poll released Monday. The survey conducted by broadcasters ABC, BBC and NHK shows that 21 percent of Iraqis feel their life is very good compared with 13 percent in March 2008. Iraqis are also still unhappy with the way the U.S. and coalition forces have carried out their responsibilities in Iraq, with 69 percent saying they have done quite a bad job or a very bad job -- similar to the 70 percent last year.

Pakistan in Turmoil - Barbara Crossette, Nation: The political confrontation in Pakistan poses multiple problems for the United States.

The Israeli-Arab War Online - Ethan Pack, Alongside the digitally reinforced hostilities, traces of common interest are breaking through Arab and Israeli new media.

On YouTube, blogs, and social networking sites, the extreme terms of the ongoing violence are at once documented, exchanged, and translated for each side in turn. In this medium at least, Arabs and Israelis are way ahead of their political representatives. Image from

Freeman and the Coming War on Iran - Juan Cole, Informed Comment: Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion: The Israel lobbies and the Neoconservative element among them in particular want the US to do to Iran what it did to Iraq, i.e. attack it, put it to the flames, and break its legs for decades to come.

Obama's "new" enemy combatant policy disappoints - Glenn Greenwald, Salon: So far the new administration has only made cosmetic changes to Bush's most extreme policies regarding civil rights and executive power.

US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites - Mark Danner, New York Review of Books: Guided by the President and his closest advisers, the United States transformed itself from a country that, officially at least, condemned torture to a country that practiced it.

Europe’s Hedging on Inmates Clouds Guantánamo Plans - William Glaberson and Steven Erlanger, New York Times: Some countries have begun raising questions about the risks and requirements if they accept prisoners.

Obama's missile test – Editorial, Boston Globe: Only in direct, give-and-take negotiations can North Korea be persuaded to close down its missile and nuclear programs.

The world's great genocide test - Nat Hentoff, Washington Times: George W. Bush was the first head of state to call the Sudan holocaust genocide. But it continued, and grew. Barack Obama's administration is "urgently" reviewing what should be done. We'll see.

Condoleezza Rice, This is Your Life! - Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog I STILL keep track of Condoleezza's hairdo so you don't have to: PHOTO: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, left, who is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, greets former Secretary of State George Shultz, right, before her talk to an economic summit at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., Friday, March 13, 2009. Rice described how the world economic downturn could affect the international political landscape. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma). COMMENT: "Well, gosh, Condi certainly seems more comfortable with Shultz than with Maddy. And now that she's off the world diplomatic stage (Phew!), I see she's turned her attention to economics. Or something. Few reporters saw fit to cover this momentous occasion, so thank goodness for the San Diego Union-Tribune: 'This is a crisis going to the heart of issues of governance, of how to provide for a population,' she said. 'It will most certainly have an effect on the willingness of countries around the world to affirm the model of economic development that has been most dominant since the collapse of the Soviet Union.' And that, I suppose, is what happens when she's around Shultz: misty watercolor memories of the 80s, a time when Condi was able to pretend much more convincingly that she was an expert on something... anything."

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