Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March 25

"I don't want 'constructive criticism.' I want praise."

--The late Auberon Waugh, cited in TLS (The Times Literary Supplement, March 6, 2009), p. 36; image from

"I've reviewed a great many books, and some I've reviewed so favourably I went and read them afterwards."

--What a critic can no longer boast about, according to J.C. in above cited TLS, p. 36


NEW BLOG: James K. Glassman Blog: Economics, Investing, Public Diplomacy, and More

Middle East: Obama draws lessons from Bush setbacks - Oxford Analytica: “Just two months into his term in office, Obama has undertaken a series of high-profile moves designed to signal that the region is a priority, including: granting his first interview in office to Al Arabiya television … and moderating the tone of US rhetoric towards Iran. This suggests that the president intends to reshape Washington's approach to the Middle East, without repeating his predecessor's tendency to exaggerate the likely scope and pace of change. …

His change in tone has begun to make a difference in terms of public diplomacy and US 'soft power'. This change in approach seems to have permeated private as well as public diplomacy, as the administration has sought engagement with Syria. … The administration appears to have learned useful lessons from Bush's regional policy setbacks, and is unlikely to make the same mistakes. However, it may not have sufficiently probed its own assumptions and planned for contingencies in the event that its regional diplomatic push fails to advance its policies on Iran, Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Image from

More discussion of Obama's Nowruz message to Iran: Kim Andrew Elliott Discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Obama to woo Turks, Armenian pitfall awaits - Alistair Lyon, Reuters: "Obama's April 5-7 visit is a nod to Turkey's regional reach, economic power, unrivalled diplomatic contacts and status as a secular Muslim democracy that has accommodated political Islam. … 'It's a symbolic piece of public diplomacy at a time maybe not of crisis, but great uncertainty in U.S.-Turkish relations,' said Philip Robins, a Middle East expert at Oxford University. Turkey will not be the venue for Obama's promised major speech in a Muslim capital, but Lawrence Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said his stop there was still a way to emphasize his message of reaching out to Muslims.' Image from

Taliban Threat, James Morrison, Embassy Row, Washington Times: 'In his speech earlier this month, Mr. Haidari [Ashraf Haidari, political counselor at the Embassy of Afghanistan] said the [NATO] alliance has failed in three key areas by dispatching too few troops, failing to coordinate military and civilian reconstruction efforts and neglecting a ‘public diplomacy’ strategy to win the hearts and minds of Afghans.'

First 100 Days: What not to do in public diplomacy - Kristin Lord, Reuters: “[I]n truth, America’s new public diplomacy team can accomplish much by following that age old maxim: first, do no harm. … Public diplomacy is a tough business. Success usually goes unnoticed, but failures can resound globally. Avoiding missteps is impossible but avoiding … mistakes will give America’s next public diplomacy leaders a useful head start.”

The Future of Public Diplomacy - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner: “To be relevant in the modern struggle of minds and wills, the Secretary of State must have an empowered Under Secretary coordinating America's public diplomacy and global engagement. Failure to act risks not only the future of the State Department but America's national security in general.”

Foreign Policy: Sen. - Reinaldo Sanford: “Worldwide vox populi towards the U.S. is alarmingly low and while we [com]plain about this, our allies likewise as our enemies us[e] public diplomacy such as cultural centres to hike thought of themselves around the cosmos. … Interrogation to the Blogosphere: How can public diplomacy assistance hike existence view of the United States? How is the Obama disposal different from the Shrub disposal therein respect? What would you view an American cultural Centre abroad? Is cultural imperialism, for instance the globalisation of McDonald 's, American pop, and American movies, a descriptor of public diplomacy? What can the average American brawl to attempt to increase contact and understanding between themselves and aliens?"

Essentials Of New Diplomacy: - Johnson1, The New Diplomacy: The Reflective Blogs of the Students on the New Diplomacy Module At London Metropolitan University: "[P]ublic diplomacy is very important in the 21st century due to intense globalization and interdependence. We now live in a world whereby states borders are easily permeable as well as global issues like global warming, starvation, [poverty], that calls for public awareness. … [P]ublic diplomacy and the influence of NGO’S on world politics have created a new platform for states to struggle in monopolization and compete with the new global order. What can be said, is that politics or diplomacy remains the same, only with exception of few innovations." Image from

Diplomacy in an Age of Faith: The United States is a religious nation, but neither scholars of U.S. foreign policy nor its practitioners have taken religion very seriously - Thomas F. Farr, Catholic Education Resource Center: “Various strategies for engaging Muslims have been floated and withdrawn, from the ill-fated Shared Values Initiative to the Muslim World Outreach program. … Assessing the performance of the departing public diplomacy czar, Karen Hughes, the political scientist Robert Satloff observed that she saw her job as increasing U.S. poll numbers, not engaging in Islam's war of ideas. … The problem is rooted in the secularist habits of thought pervasive within the U.S. foreign policy community. … The IRF Act created an office in the State Department, headed by an ambassador at large, to monitor religious persecution around the world, to issue an annual report on religious freedom, and to produce an annual list of the worst persecutors. …

Washington [should] more fully [integrate] religious considerations into its foreign policy. The message cannot be carried by one ambassador in one small office in the State Department who is unfortunately perceived as the representative of a special interest. This must be addressed within the department by, among other things, elevating the ambassador's authority. But much more will be required than bureaucratic reshuffling. Major policy changes will be necessary if religious freedom is to contribute to U.S. national security." Image from

The Bottleneck at State – Charles J. Brown, Undiplomatic: “Inside the State Department, you can’t know who does what without a scorecard. Every position/bureau has a one- to three-letter abbreviation — even the Secretary, whose office is called 'S' inside the building. There are six undersecretaries, each of which also has a single letter abbreviation: Political Affairs (P); Management (M); Democracy and Global Affairs (G); Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (R); Arms Control and International Security (T); and Economic Affairs (E). … So why am I telling you all this? Because nearly six weeks into the Administration (and four months since the Obama transition team started work), four of the six positions — G, R, E, and T — all remain unfilled.” See also (1)(2)

Juan Cole has a point! - Bazar Dispatch: “There are several media outlets funded by Washington DC and other western governments. I can name a few that broadcast in Persian for Iran without any search. There is Radio Zamaneh from Netherlands, BBC Persian Radio and TV from London, Radio Farda from Prague and of course Voice of America (VOA) Radio and TV from Washington DC and French Radio, German and .... so there is no shortage of western media presence in the Muslim World, or at least in Iran for that purpose. However instead [o]f talking Jefferson, Lincoln, Adams, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington these outlets talk about domestic issues of these countries. They try to act as domestic media, or Iranian media in this case. They are run by journalists from opposition or anti regime groups and usually are there to advocate their points of view. Treated by suspicion by authorities they always imply that they are advocating freedom of speech and democracy in Iran. Well if hearing that from a monarchist or a former Marxist, who used to advocate totalitarian regimes themselves, is not funny, I do not know what it is!” Image of Juan Cole from

News from the Book Tour - Juan Cole, Informed Comment Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion: "Here is a response to a point I made [see above entry] in my talk at the Prose and Politics bookstore on Monday night in DC. I had complained that there are no Arabic-language centers for the study of America at any university in the Middle East. There is some American studies, but mostly done in English in English departments. And, key works like the writings of Thomas Jefferson have not been translated. I proposed that some chairs be endowed. Bazar Dispatch suggests that US efforts on media and public diplomacy have ignored the key task of informing people of the region about America."

American universities beckon Brunei students - Azaraimy HH, Borneo Bulletin: “In a bid to offer an insight into studying in America, the US Embassy in Brunei yesterday hosted a special live video teleconference from the US Department of States in Washington DC with Zul Fakhri Maidy, a Brunei student currently studying in the United States. … Zul Fakhri was joined by a panel from the US Department of States which included Rhonda Ferguson-Augustus, a Public Diplomacy Officer at the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs.”

Public Diplomacy and the Universal Language – Paul Rockower, Levantine: “In Cultural Diplomacy class today, we were discussing Music as Diplomacy. … First, we had an interesting presentation by Erin about ‘The King and I,’ and how it is essentially a form of cultural imperialism. … Then we had another interesting presentation by Linda about the NY Phil playing in North Korea. …

Finally, we had a guest, Ms. Sabina Rakcheyeva, an incredible violinist from Azerbaijan. … She discussed her own experiences in music diplomacy, sharing a story about being in Lichtenstein, playing at a conference that had both Iranian and American diplomats. … I mentioned the notion that music can also be confrontational. Ask a Holocaust survivor about Wagner.” Image from

Nowruz and Cultural DiplomacyCultural Heritage News: “Given the importance of Nowruz and its extensive cultural role among various Eastern nations, it can be utilized as a parameter for establishment of intercultural discourse. The potentials of Nowruz can be utilized more than ever for forging cooperation with other nations within the framework of Iran cultural diplomacy. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been mulling a proposal made by UNESCO National Commission in Iran in 2004 (international conference of countries celebrating Nowruz held in Tehran) to globally register this international heritage. It is hoped that this task will be fulfilled in 2009.”

Israel's new Cultural Diplomacy: Israel looks to change its image abroad - Gil Shaham, Cultural Diplomacy News: “Israel’s Foreign Ministry has received an extra $2 million dollars for programs to improve cultural and information diplomacy. Israel is currently under intense scrutiny and criticism from global audiences, according to world surveys which Israel is closely following.”

An Israeli foreign minister who won’t wear velvet gloves - Alan Philps, The National: “Following the Gaza invasion, Israel is losing the support of Turkey, a key regional ally, and in parts of Europe it is increasingly seen as apartheid-era South Africa on the Mediterranean. The Israeli foreign ministry might as well scrap its multimillion dollar cultural diplomacy initiative.” Image from

Dubai hosts Global Art Forum - Middle East Online: “The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) organised Thursday a series of seminars and panel discussions. … [including] … a dialogue of 'Cultural Diplomacy from the Arabic Perspective, Constructive Dialogue with the West' with the participation of Cynthia Schneider; an expert in cultural diplomacy, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution, a professor of diplomacy and culture at Georgetown University, Washington, Zaki Nusseibeh and Dr. Sami Al Masri with Szanto acting as a moderator.” See also

Cultural diplomacy: the ends and the means - Thanh Nien Daily: "The notion of cultural diplomacy works both way. It means using culture to promote the country’s image and using diplomatic missions to promote the country’s culture."

The value of culture - Polish Market: “Our greatest value is people, the great creators of Polish culture ... said Rafał Skąpski, president of Polish Cultural Foundation, director of the Polish Publishing Institute (PIW) in conversation with Maciej Proliński."

The Nuclear Family of Man - John O’Brian, Japan Focus: “The overriding proposition of the [photographic] exhibition [The Family of Man] … which opened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1955, was that people are the same the world over, regardless of differences in geography and culture. At its crudest, the exhibition proposed that indigenous peoples living in Hokkaido are no different than Upper East Side millionaires living in New York. … Under the auspices of the United States Information Agency the exhibition traveled the world, beginning its European tour in West Berlin and a second tour in Guatemala City. The logic of these two cities as the initial points of departure was dictated by Cold War diplomacy. … The Family of Man was a benign cultural demonstration of American political values. From the point of view of cultural diplomacy it was a spectacular success, even traveling to Moscow in 1959.” Image from

de Institute for Liberty and Democracy – Allison Doolittle, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: “[T]he Institute for Liberty and Democracy. This NGO was quite good at PD. The ILD was founded by the Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto. His book, the Other Path, outlined the value of tapping into the informal economy as an alternative to 'The Shining Path,' or Sendero Luminoso. At ILD, I was impressed by a series of concrete grassroots PD efforts used in a campaign to formalize assets in the early 90's in Peru.”

New York Police Muslim Chaplain's Darker Side - IPT News: “NYPD Muslim Chaplain Khalid Latif has received lavish praise from the press, and even from a part of the US government. However, closer examination raises some disturbing questions. … Going even further, on September 18, 2008 the State Department's, part of the Department's Public Diplomacy thrust, had headlined, 'Imam Khalid Latif Builds Communities of Faith and Diversity,' which presents a Latif 'deeply committed to interfaith dialogue and community service as integral parts of what it means to be Muslim in a modern, multicultural world.' The State Department subsequently reprinted the article in what it described as 'the richly illustrated book Being Muslim in America.' A more pertinent question concerns his commitment to free speech.”

Strategic Communication: Report of the Defense Science Board – admin, Strategic Communications: “Now available in print to the general public, this book is a reprint of the 2004 report of the Defense Science Board on developing a global strategic communication strategy to fight the war on terror. This work is a formative document on strategic communication and is a fundamental requirement for the student and practitioner of public diplomacy, public affairs, international broadcasting, psychological operations, and information operations.”

Applications for W2W America 2009 are now available - nukta77: "'Women2Women - Jordan' will tentatively take place from July 5 - July 13, 2009 in Jordan. … A fee of $500.00 (USD) will be charged to each admitted student. … Those chosen to take part in the conference had to have demonstrated interest in leadership development, the democratic process and public diplomacy. The conference is our effort to empower young women to become future leaders.”

Llamado para estudiantes 3º y 4º- Comunicacion social (Audiovisual) - Archivos e Información del SIL de la UCU: “The U.S. Embassy in Montevideo is seeking a university students who meet the requirements below and who would be interested in achieving practical experience through a volunteer internship in the following sector: Public Affairs Section - Visual and Audio Communication shop - The student intern will gain experience in audio-visual communication working with radio and television equipment … . This can be a very interesting opportunity to obtain practical experience in a challenging environment, practice the English language and gain experience with the latest developments in public diplomacy, international commercial relations, and administrative practice.” Image from


'Guardian' slammed for 'Hamas propaganda' - Jonny Paul, Jerusalem Post: Jewish groups have accused the Guardian newspaper of marketing Hamas propaganda and constructing falsehoods, after three stories over two days accused Israel of perpetrating war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.

The War Hasn’t Been Tried: Nothing will be possible in Afghanistan without a fight - Rich Lowry, National Review

Against Surge Logic: Why do we need another surge in Afghanistan? Because we've done nothing but resort to surges in the past - Matthew Yglesias, American Prospect:

We owe it to the Afghan people to try in good faith to offer security and a start rebuilding their country before we conclude that we need to radically restrict our goals and settle for stand-off airstrikes against high-value terrorist targets. But at the same time, the administration needs to avoid a losing bet that sticks us with a quagmire. Image from

The Case for a Middle Path in Afghanistan - Ilan Goldenberg, Huffington Post: The president could choose to go all in. He could choose a minimalist strategy. Or he could opt for something in the middle. The president has no good options, but the best option is to pursue a middle of the road approach for at least the next 12-18 months. If it proves to be ineffective, the president should then move to a minimalist strategy.

CT or COIN? Obama must choose this week between two radically different Afghanistan policies - Fred Kaplan, Slate:

The advocates for a more purely counterterrorist (or CT) approach -- led forcefully by Vice President Joe Biden -- point out that, after all, we're in Afghanistan only because of al-Qaida and therefore we should focus on that threat and leave the rest to the Afghans. The counterinsurgency (or COIN) advocates argue that the best way to keep al-Qaida at bay is to dry up its support by earning the trust of the civilian population, building roads, creating jobs, and striking power-sharing deals with tribal elders. Image from

These Colors Cannot Run... Afghanistan - Norman Solomon, Common Dreams: With chillingly familiar echoes, goes the perverse logic of escalating the war in Afghanistan. "Strategic patience" -- more and more war -- will be necessary so that those who must die will not have died in vain.

Pain Iran Can Believe In: Diplomacy has no chance without tougher energy sanctions - Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal

Bush's 'folly' is ending in victory - Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe: Six years after the war in Iraq began, it is ending in victory. As in every war, the price of that victory was higher than we would have wished. The price of defeat would have been far higher.

Military Translators at War: Why interpreters serving with US troops in Iraq are revolting - Bruce Falconer, Mother Jones: The more than 2,000 Arab Americans currently working for the US military as contract linguists in Iraq are marked for death.

Mexico Isn’t a Failed State — Yet: But we need to protect ourselves now - Mark Krikorian, National Review: We must start preparing now for the mass refugee flows that are inevitable if the Mexican state ultimately fails and either cedes political control of much of the country to the cartels or disintegrates entirely in a replay of the multi-sided civil war called the Mexican Revolution. Image from

Watershed Moment on Nuclear Arms – Editorial, New York Times: President Obama must reaffirm his campaign pledge to transform American nuclear policy that is still mired in cold war thinking.

To lift the US economy, lift sanctions on America's foes: Profit, not patriotism, keeps companies afloat - Bryan R. Early, Christian Science Monitor

Secretary Rice sides with Bush, not Cheney; says Obama deserves 'our silence'USA Today: Former secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tells NBC-TV's Jay Leno this evening that she's taking the same approach as former president George W. Bush: "My view is we got to do it our way; we did our best. We did some things well, some things not so well. Now, they get their chance. And I agree with the president. We owe them our loyalty and our silence while they do it.” Video of interview; image from


Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Consul-At-Arms said...

Thanks for the link. I've linked back to you here:

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.