Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March 4

“decision simulation”

--What Dr. Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State, will teach

at Stanford University (total undergraduate fees to $48,843 next year); above image from, below from; see also John Brown,

"'10 Percent Intellectual': The Mind of Condoleezza Rice"


Lugar: Time for U.S. to 'get back in the game' of public diplomacy - Senator Richard G. Lugar homepage. Via Len Baldyga.

Smith-Mundt: Censorship American Style? - Gregory L. Garland, American Diplomacy: “A provision of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 prohibits the Voice of America and all other organs of public diplomacy from disseminating within the United States material intended for foreign publics. … For all the talk about the need for a more effective public diplomacy or strategic communication, we’re shooting ourselves in the proverbial foot by preaching freedom of the press overseas while practicing censorship at home. …

Nevertheless, don’t repeal Smith-Mundt. It creates a statutory firewall between resources intended for foreign audiences and those used domestically. Tear down that firewall, and it will be a matter of time before resources and personnel who focus on talking about America overseas are diverted in favor of domestic ‘public affairs,’ the short-term political imperative of any administration.” Image from

Smith-Mundt and Domestic DisseminationDarren Krape Blog: “I feel Smith-Mundt does need to be revisited with new legislation for one key reason: information is global, in a way never envisioned by the original drafters of the act. Restricting the distribution of a book or movie was easy when it was intricately tied to a physical medium (a rivalrous good, to use an economist term). … Ultimately, I think the real goal here should be transparency. The main objective with the ban on domestic dissemination is to prevent the U.S. government from surreptitiously influencing the American public. If viewers, domestic and foreign, are fore-warned that the content they are viewing was created by the government, they can then make their own judgments as to its veracity.” Image from

Deep Background: Boos for AlhurraAmerican Conservative (by subscription only)

Michelle Kwan's diplomatic skills - Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times: “A change in the White House hasn't changed Michelle Kwan's status as a U.S. public diplomacy envoy. Kwan, the five-time world figure skating champion and nine-time U.S. champion, got the diplomacy appointment during the George W. Bush administration. Although he's out of office, she's still serving, and her blog discusses her latest trip for the State Department.”

Cloak and letters - Matthew Lu, Free Exchange: “Mr Obama's team clearly recognizes the advantages of cloak-and-dagger negotiations. Diplomacy in public ought to be used to make a point that diplomacy in private cannot be used for. Public diplomacy, before the days of open dialogue, could be used to emphasize which points a country will not compromise. … Private diplomacy hammers out the more malleable points. Like literary devices, neither type of diplomacy can be used all the time if one wishes the device to remain effective; I'm glad this administration seems to be using public diplomacy, so far, very sparingly. The more sparing the use of public diplomacy, the more effective its employment.” Image from

Copycat Hydra? - Ancient Coin Collecting: Comments Related to Issues of Cultural Property Management and Other Topics of Personal Interest: “A reading of the list of offices within DOS makes it very clear that the structure, as one might expect, is pyramidal and there does seem to be an office for everything imaginable. … Another [position is] Under Secretary is the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs: ‘This position manages units that handle the department's public communications and seek to burnish the image of the United States around the world.’ Some might say that these are the ‘Spin Doctors’. Beneath this Under Secretary is the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. I'm not sure how effective that Bureau has been in recent years as Americans are not viewed these days in the most favorable light. Be that as it may, the thing that seems peculiar to me is that the people who know about trade and business are not the people who evaluate requests for trade restrictions on coins. In fact, those people do not even seem to be in the loop.”

Clean Energy Dialogue: A Bridge Too Far? - Donald Barry, Embassy, Canada: “Some observers are disappointed that Obama and Harper did not follow the precedent set by Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan in 1985, when they appointed special envoys whose work allegedly paved the way for the 1991 Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement that ended the long-running bilateral acid rain controversy. But Reagan never took the need for action seriously and the emissaries had little impact on the outcome. The accord came about as a result of Canada's public diplomacy efforts to mobilize U.S. political support, the endeavours of key environmental groups and congressional allies, and the responsiveness of Reagan's successor, George Bush.” Image from

NATO's New Direction - Wojciech Michnik, Krakow Post: "[Friday the 19th of February was an extraordinary day for Krakow residents. Almost the whole city centre was shut down because of various political events that required special security measures. NATO's informal summit was only one of various meetings that were held that day. Krakow's think tank, the Institute of Strategic Studies, in cooperation with NATO's Public Diplomacy Division hosted a two-day conference on Euro-Atlantic security titled, 'NATO before the Jubilee Summit ? Does the Alliance Need a New Strategic Concept?'"

Looted Pieces of Cultural Patrimony: 2 Nations Claim Historic Paintings - Jerry Markon, Washington Post, posted at Cota 1061:“'Our cultural heritage is something we protect and take care of,' said Jose Mariategui, head of public diplomacy at the Peruvian Embassy."

Decline of Ortega's Nicaragua: U.S. missing a chance to mend fences in Latin America? - James Glassman, Washington Times: “I wish the new secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, had made Latin America, not Asia, the focus of her first trip. … [A] prosperous Nicaragua - both as a trading partner and a stable democracy that doesn't play footsie with the likes of Venezuela - is, absolutely, in the best interest of the United States.” James K. Glassman traveled to Latin America as the Bush administration's undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.

Advertising Hall of Fame Luncheon - SmartBrief:

“Join us to celebrate those who have made advertising great. … [among them] Charlotte Beers, past chairman, JWT, past Chairman & CEO, Ogilvy & Mather, and undersecretary of state, public diplomacy.” Image from


Scientists in U.S. fear visa trouble will drive foreign students away - Cornelia Dean, International Herald Tribune: People at universities and scientific organizations who study the issue say they have heard increasing complaints of visa delays since last fall, particularly for students in science engineering and other technical fields. A State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that delays of two or three months were common and attributed the problem to "an unfortunate staffing shortage."

Another Persian Language International Broadcaster - Katharine, Global Media Monitor: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Tajikistan's Emomali Rahmon, and Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai are said to join on March 21st in a meeting of “Persian speaking countries.” The three countries are said to be working on the launch of a television channel dedicated to the broadcast of programs in Persian, “providing an authentic source of information for all interested in the culture.”

Implications of the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore – Aly Jiwani, Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: About a dozen militants armed with rocket launchers, grenades, and AK 47s attacked the team bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team en route to play a match at Lahore's Qaddafi Stadium. In 2004, cricket was used as a tool of diplomacy when the the sports ties between India and Pakistan were revived. But for militants who do not want to see peace, the breaking of sporting ties is a breakdown in diplomacy and friendship.

Obama message for Islam? - James Zumwalt, Washington Times: Mr. Obama should challenge Muslim leaders to tear down the wall separating Islam from other world religions, thus recognizing universal human equality.

The Thirty Days of Barack Obama - Elizabeth Drew, New York Review of Books: Obama gave his first televised interview in the White House to an Arab television station, to tell, he said, "the Arab world and the Muslim world" that the United States "is not your enemy." This was part of his strategy—a rather large undertaking—of trying to appeal to Arabs and Muslims not to follow radical leaders, and of sending this message in various forms (including in his inaugural address). Image from

Fired Up: Obama's New Foreign Policy - Jacob Heilbrunn, Huffington Post: Just as President Obama is jettisoning the laissez-faire approach that the Bush administration adopted toward the financial markets, so he is abandoning its refusal to meet and cut deals with America's adversaries, whether it's Russia, Syria, or Iran.

Build on Bush's Middle East progress: Despite Bush's early mistakes, Obama's team can keep valuable momentum there. - Robert Zelnick, Christian Science Monitor

Staying Alive: Why Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell will not succeed in Israel - Shmuel Rosner, New Republic: Putting up a show is becoming a habit for the Obama team in the Middle East. The main event: engage Iran. The sideshow: push the peace process forward. Unfortunately, chances for success in both cases seem quite similar. Image from

More of the same: The Obama administration offers nothing new on Middle East conflict, but extends conditional financial aid to Palestinians to rebuild Gaza Strip – Our View, Baltimore Sun

Finding Ways to Stay in Iraq - Scott Horton, The door is left wide open for more troops to be sent back into Iraq. The U.S. "embassy" in Baghdad – a monument to the hubris that gripped America's imperial court as it rushed to launch this war, and a symbol of their contempt for the democracy they proclaim so loudly to uphold and deliver to the world – is now the size of a small city-state within the heart of Baghdad.

U.S. Out How? The Moral Dilemma of Leaving Iraq – Special Report, Mother Jones

Justice in Iraq: The court that convicted Saddam shows temperance towards his henchman – Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal: The Iraq the U.S. liberated is worthy of the world's respect and support.

What Today's Vietnam Says About Tomorrow's Iraq - Peter Osnos, Daily Beast: Vietnam is no dreary Soviet-style police state, but it is clearly supervised by authorities that hold all meaningful power and have the means to enforce it, if necessary. You can’t help wondering what it will be like to visit, say, Iraq in 34 years, and whether the mayhem and bloodshed of our sojourn there will seem to have been worth it.

Obama's Iran Crisis: It's arriving faster than he thinks – Review & Outlook, Wall Street Journal: The Administration not doubt that an Israeli strike on Iran, however necessary and justified, could put the U.S. in the middle of a broader Middle East war. If Mr. Obama wants to avoid a security crisis in the first year of his watch, he will have to get serious about Iran now. Image from

Sideshow or Preview? Iran threatens two neighbors - Christian Whiton, Weekly Standard: Without a tough plan to check Iran on all fronts, the Obama administration may find itself dealing with an Iran that is not only nuclear, but on the march throughout the region.

Iran Amok : Dennis Ross's mission impossible - Michael Crowley, New Republic: The real problem may be that the Obama team remains far from clear about how to deal with Iran.

Wahhabism in the Balkans: Islamist aggression heats up in Kosovo - Stephen Schwartz, Weekly Standard: Some Albanians fear that the Islamists are counting on the United States to abandon Kosovo. But in Kosovo, at least, local Muslims do not need foreign encouragement to defy the extremists.

In Praise of Mexico's War on Drugs: Complacency and corruption are the real enemies - Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal: The plain political fact is that drug legalization in the U.S. is not going to happen as long as a powerful moral and social consensus opposes it. To make the case for it now while Mexico bleeds is an exercise in fecklessness.

What Mexico urgently needs are stronger institutions of state, beginning with its army but also including the judiciary and the police. Image from

A lethal export to Mexico – Editorial, Boston Globe: Mexico has become synonymous with gun violence and drug trafficking, and the power of drug cartels has lately increased, causing a surge in violence. This is not just a Mexican problem. According to US and Mexican law enforcement oficials, 90 percent of the guns picked up from criminal activity are purchased in the United States.

Obama should press for Colombia free-trade pact: The deal has languished in Congress. Under Obama's trade agenda, it has a future – Editorial, Los Angeles Times

China Planning Military Outpost in OrbitDiscovery Channel: "I think they're going to get a lot out of it, in terms of propaganda," she said. "This is China trying to get resources wherever they can," said China space expert Joan Johnson-Freese, head of the Department of National Security Studies at the Naval War College in Rhode Island

One France is enough - Roger Cohen, International Herald Tribune: The Republicans under Bush destroyed the American economy and what America stood for in the world. But that does not change the fact that Obama, in his counter-revolution, must be careful to steer clear of his French temptation - "étatisme" - the state as all-embracing solution rather than problem. Image from

The He-Kept-Us-Safe Theory: Did Bush administration policies prevent 9/11 from happening again? - Timothy Noah, Slate: This is the sixth essay in a series of eight exploring why the United States suffered no follow-up terror attacks after 9/11. To read the series introduction, click here.

Twitter: We Can Do What Google Can't: Venture Capital Backer Says Search Is Reason It Walked Away From Facebook Deal - Michael Learmonth, Advertising Age: In the future, searches won't only query what's being said at the moment, but will go out to the Twitter audience in the form of a question, like a faster and less-filtered Yahoo Answers or Wiki Answers. Users would be able to tap the collective knowledge of the 6 million or so members of the Twitterverse. Here's how it might work: Someone posts a query on, say, the best basketball shows (is @The_Real_Shaq listening?), or what to look for in a single-malt Scotch, or where to have a drink at 6 p.m. in New Orleans. Then the Twitter community (hopefully) comes back with useful links or other information.


(image: Justin Sullivan/Getty. caption: The parking lot sits empty at an out-of-business Circuit City store January 27, 2009 in San Rafael, California. The Conference Board announced today that the Consumer Confidence Index fell to 37.7 from a revised 38.6 in December.) From BagnewsNotes

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