Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 18

"I regard nothing as more delicate or more intimately associated with the policy of the administration than propaganda. ..."

--President Woodrow Wilson; cited in Elmer E. Cornwell, Jr., "Wilson, Creel, and the Presidency," The Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Summer, 1959)

“We have a Facebook page … . But we don’t allow people to look at Facebook in the office. So we have to go home to use it. I find this bizarre.”

--One official of the Department of Homeland Security


Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict & Interdependent Capabilities; from


Other Matters: Cultural Diplomacy - Rifftides: “The USIA [United States Information Agency]'s functions, we were told, would be taken on by the State Department, but State has done little with them during a period when the US has been in crucial need of international good will. The Bush administration began taking down the Voice of America. It appears that the VOA has little chance of regaining its extensive international outreach which, of course, included a major component of jazz broadcasting. The most recent Rifftides posting about the VOA travesty ]

came immediately following the election of President Barack Obama. With all that the new administration faces, cultural or public diplomacy cannot be a main priority, but in the long run it is still of vital importance. … Senator Lugar recommends … a revitalized US cultural diplomacy policy, a good beginning. To read all of his article and an assortment of opinions about it from Foreign Policy readers, follow this link.”

A Necessary Engagement: Reinventing America's Relations with the Muslim World

- Emile A. Nakhleh, Joanne J. Myers, Carnegie Council: MYERS: “I'm Joanne Myers, Director of Public Affairs Programs, and on behalf of the Carnegie Council … Today it is a pleasure to welcome Emile Nakhleh, who came from New Mexico to be with us. He will be discussing his book, A Necessary Engagement: Reinventing America's Relations with the Muslim World, which will be available for you to purchase at the end of the program if you so choose. … It is a forward-looking roadmap that focuses on engaging Arabs and Muslims rather than a backward-looking critique. He argues that effective public diplomacy must be a unified effort pursued at the federal government level and should also be driven by a presidential declaration that reaches out to all Arabs and Muslims. While some of the suggestions that Mr. Nakhleh will discuss may have already taken hold, as evidenced by the rhetoric in President Obama's Inaugural Address, along with his subsequent interview with Al Arabiya television and with his appointment of George Mitchell as Special Envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, America still has a long way to go to implement a new public diplomacy that will change Muslim attitudes towards the United States. While we know about the challenges, there are also many opportunities.” Image from

Getting it right in Afghanistan - Thomas A. Schweich, Delaware online: “As the administration completes its strategic review of Afghanistan policy, I urge Democrats and Republicans, our allies abroad, and the Karzai government to come together on key points before it is too late: [among them] Public diplomacy in Europe. Some U.S. allies have largely maintained their effort in Afghanistan as a way to cooperate with the United States despite opposing the war in Iraq. They defined whatever mission their publics would accept, and NATO accepted that incoherence as the price of cooperation. Obama needs to get Europeans to understand that the most immediate threat to peace is the globalized extremism developing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which has already reached into Europe. Greater dialogue will result in a more unified European commitment and possibly more troops.” Image from

Government 2.0 Meets Catch 22 - Saul Hansell, New York Times: “The Central Intelligence Agency uses Facebook to recruit employees. The State Department uses it as part of its 'public diplomacy' efforts, such as a page for the embassy in Jakarta. … But there are at least as many pages created on Facebook that are about the agencies that are not officially sanctioned.' Facebook page that represents itself as an official State Department page, there is another unofficial page,” one participant said. The government already maintains a list of all federal blogs, and some wondered if it should do the same for social networking pages.”

Internet and Anti-Americanism – yuanyuan, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: “So I tend to believe that internet users in the world are at least the middle-class who has time to surf the internet and care about these issues, like the Iraqi War, which tarnished America’s image abroad to a great degree. Poor people’s priority concern is surviving, let alone what is going on in the foreign world. Nye calls this class-related snobbery intellectual snobbery which also accounts for the anti-Americanism.”

Mexican PD - Paul Rockower – Levantine: One thing that really struck me while down south o' the border was the need for Mexico to do a lot more public diplomacy. A number of gringo friends told me I was nuts and was headed down to a war zone. That perception seems to be dominant, as Rosarito was absolutely vacant. Yet it was absolutely fine. The ghetto bird (helicopter) currently circling over my place in LA reminds me why I feel more unsafe here. Mexico need to do some serious PD outreach to counter the perception that it is Baghdad on the border.”

Review exposes DFAT deficits - Philip Dorling, Canberra Times: “Commissioned by independent Lowy Institute for International Policy, Australia's Diplomatic Deficit finds Australia's diplomatic and foreign policy tools are not keeping up with globalisation and are ill-equipped to cope with new foreign policy challenges including the growing importance of multinational corporations, non-government organisations, terrorists and transnational crime in shaping the world. … It slams Australia's public diplomacy as ''lacklustre, poorly integrated and untargeted''. The report recommends investment in new media, such as blogs and Wikis, and a reorientation of cultural diplomacy ''away from elite audiences towards key target audiences such as youth, potential leaders and Islamic communities''. See also

O Fea Lou Teine? - Matt's Samoa Blog: “Where’s your girl?” In training, we were warned that we’d get this question often, and they were not joking. While I don’t get this question every day, I sometimes get it multiple times a day, so I’m going to say I answer this question about once a day on average. I get this question from my host family, from my pule, from other teachers, from shopkeepers in town, from passengers on the bus, from Peace Corps staff, and from whatever other random Samoan I bump into. It seems to be the conversation starter of choice; a way to break the ice. … Very rarely is the Samoan actually enquiring into my social life. It’s only a conversation starter, and if I can take their lob and hit it back with a joke, that’s sufficient. But even more than that, it’s a sort of social litmus test. Perhaps the ground out isn’t a big deal. But with the base hit comes feelings of good will. So in the interest of public diplomacy, o fea lo’u teine? E moe lo'u teine i lo’u fale. E moe umi tele!”

Jing Wang: China - CPD Distinguished Speaker Series, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: ”The USC Center on Public Diplomacy is proud to host Professor Jing Wang as part of the Center's Distinguished Speaker Series on the Public Diplomacy of the Emerging World Powers. Join us this fall as Professor Wang discusses the Public Diplomacy efforts of China and her latest book Brand New China.”

Upset with AIG? How About Your Bailout Funds Supporting Tiger Woods and Europe's Soccer Stars? - James Warren, Huffington Post: “[James] Glassman is a financial journalist and former magazine and newspaper publisher who just served as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the lame-duck final months of the Bush administration. That was the job previously held by Bush acolyte Karen Hughes and meant to improve our worldwide image. (In fact, if you read Glassman's speeches during his fleeting tenure, you'd wish his eminently sensible, less bellicose, tack had been central to Bush's initial foreign policy strategy).”


How to make US foreign aid work: Give recipients a say in where the money goes - Raymond C. Offenheiser and Rodney Bent, Christian Science Monitor: Give recipients a say in where the money goes - Raymond C. Offenheiser and Rodney Bent, Just as American taxpayers are concerned about how their money is spent, recipients of help in the form of money abroad want to know that they are getting the most value from each dollar spent. They can help us spend wisely. Image from

Using the 'T' word: A report by the International Committee of the Red Cross lifts the veil of secrecy from the torture of detainees in CIA prisons - Our view, Baltimore Sun: President Obama has said his administration won't countenance the torture of prisoners. But finding out exactly how the nation went so wrong over the last eight years is an essential first step toward ensuring it won't happen again.

Prisoners of W-- Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal: By now, President Obama's lather-rinse-repeat approach to the legal war on terror is familiar: He lambastes his predecessor, then makes cosmetic changes that leave the substance of Bush policy intact. But Mr. Obama's decision last week to renounce the term "enemy combatant" is almost a parody of this method, given that the "new standard" for detaining terrorists is identical to the old one.

Ice Water and Sweatboxes: The Long And Sadistic History behind the CIA's Torture Techniques - Darius Rejali, Slate

Gitmo's General: The U.S. can't risk releasing detainee Ghassan Abdullah al Sharbi - Thomas Joscelyn, Weekly Standard

The Global Impact: U.S. Human Rights Abuses in the War on Terror - Joanne Mariner, CounterPunch

President Obama, Talk To The Taliban - Jon Soltz, Huffington Post

Will He Sell Himself Into His Own Defeat? Obama and the Empire - Bill and Kathleen Christison, CounterPunch: Obama has by now clearly shown that he does not want to be the American leader who loses the American empire. There are indeed forces in both the United States and Israel that want a clash of civilizations and are definitely not against further wars, and these forces are powerful.

Talking with the Mullahs: Obama thinks he has a bright new idea. In fact, Clinton and Bush tried it, and failed - Michael Ledeen, National Review

Loving Our Enemies, The People of IranCommon Dreams: I had hoped to join a recent peace delegation headed late February for the maligned nation of Iran, but was unable to make it. In the end, only six of the twenty delegates received visas. Among those who did go were my friends David Hartsough and Father Louie Vitale, OFM. They returned brimming with fondness, hope and heartening stories.

A Decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind – Martin Peretz, New Republic: “There is also the question of the Obama administration. I believe that, though it will put itself through contortions to placate Arab and Muslim countries on the matter of what Samuel Huntington called ‘the clash of civilizations,’ it will not succeed.“

U.S. may widen strikes in Pakistan - David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt, International Herald Tribune: President Barack Obama and his advisers are considering expanding the war in Pakistan beyond the tribal areas to strike at a different center of Taliban power.

Tottering Pakistan – Editorial, Boston Globe: To improve America's standing with the Pakistani public, President Obama needs to avoid actions that would allow the United States to be identified with any one party or individual contesting for power.

Letter From Europe: U.S. and NATO allies facing hard questions - Judy Dempsey, International Herald Tribune: At NATO’s 60th anniversary summit meeting next month, the stage is set for celebrations and self-congratulations. But President Barack Obama may have to face some very uncomfortable questions about the alliance’s future.

All Along the Watchtower: The War on Terror has arrived in Latin America, and is headed our way - Mario Loyola, National Review: We have to strengthen our ties of alliance, cooperation, and friendship with the countries of Latin America. But in extending that hand of friendship we should not shy from calling on them to do their share.

Learning to love the bomb - Adam B. Lowther, Boston Globe: The truth is nuclear weapons remain a fundamental aspect of our national security. Without them, the American people will face greater, not less, danger and adversaries willing to exploit our perceived weakness.

Tony Platt on Wall Street Terror Attack [Review2 of The Day Wall Street Exploded by Beverly Gage] - Tony Platt, Truthdig: Gage challenges the assumption widely expressed after 9/11 that “terrorism is something utterly new in the American experience, a horror without a past.” To illustrate this point, she focuses on the rise and fall of the American anarchist movement from the 1880s through the 1920s, and the state’s response to early 20th century radicalism, which talked up “propaganda by deed” and to back up its rhetoric made considerable use of dynamite, Alfred Nobel’s contribution to science in 1866.

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