Saturday, June 13, 2009

June 13

"I can't even hunt squirrels no more, because I'm not permitted to own a firearm."

--Lynndie England, of Abu Ghraib fame; image from cited article

“They’re adults; they know what industry they’re in.”

--Steven Hirsch, chief executive of the sex-movie company Vivid Entertainment; cited in Gardiner Harris, “H.I.V. Found in 22 Actors in Sex Films Since 2004,” The New York Times


An Army of One? Debating the "Obama effect."Foreign Policy: "Since taking office, it's safe to say that Obama had made the United States more popular, but some commentators have gone further, attributing events -- ranging from Hezbollah's defeat in Lebanon's elections, to newly conciliatory gestures from the Kremlin, to the unexpected rise of Mousavi -- to the power of Obama's personal diplomacy. But can one man's speeches (or his mere existence) really change the course of political developments around the world? We asked seven sharp political observers to weigh on whether the 'Obama effect' really is inspiring change throughout the world, or whether he is getting credit for developments that would have happened anyway. In these seven smart takes, which range from the enthusiastic to the sharply skeptical, another question arises: Even if Obama is really having an impact, is it really wise to run U.S. public diplomacy as an army of one? Can the Obama effect survive after the enthusiasm for Obama himself has faded? ... 'Gabor Steingart: The euphoria surrounding every one of the new U.S. president's performances abroad is certainly most valuable for the reputation of the United States, and it's fair to call him [Obama] a master of public diplomacy. But for the peace process in the Middle East, creating so much enthusiasm could actually backfire.'" Image from

Let's applaud the change in US policy - Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star, Lebanon: "One of the fascinating developments taking place before our eyes these days is the evolution of America's power and presence in the Middle East - though it remains to be seen if this is a truly constructive change in policy or merely a temporary cosmetic repackaging of failed old ways. … The signs of change are real, if still limited in scope: Sending rhetorical love notes to Iran, dropping uranium enrichment-linked preconditions on talks with Iran, sending envoys to Syria, lowering the rhetoric on Hizbullah in Lebanon, speaking out forcefully on the unacceptability of continued Israeli settlement activity, and making dramatic public diplomacy gestures on American relations with Islamic societies." Image from

Jefferson On Soft Power: Behind Obama’s Cairo Quote - Nicholas J. Cull, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy: "[T]he real problem is whether President Obama’s actions will conform to the Jeffersonian rhetoric. The president may be speaking about wisdom in the use of power, but are his deeds conforming to his words?"

O(h) Ricardo- what are you guys thinking at Journal Communications? - DJ Haugh, "How exactly has the country benefited from this [Obama’s] 'effective' public diplomacy? Despite breaking tradition and bowing to the head of another country (sorry, I forgot that depends on what your definition of 'bow' is), most of the Arab world still seems to dislike us. Considering the missile test and probable underground nuclear test, North Korea doesn’t seem all that impressed with our 'effective' public diplomacy. The governments of the E.U. seem less wowed with President Obama than their citizens did last year with Candidate Obama. Effective, isn’t it?"

Where did that 7 million figure come from? - Eric Fingerhut, Capital J, Jewish Telegraphic Agency: "Jewish leaders thought it had been debunked

years ago, but in President Obama's Cairo speech last week, there it was again – the claim that 7 million Muslims live in the United States. … For instance, Karen Hughes, then undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, used the figure twice, first with college students in Saudi Arabia in 2005 and the next year at a U.S.-Arab Economic Forum. … The problem is that there appears to be hardly any basis in fact for the 7 million figure." Image from

Judith McHale at CNAS: Public Diplomacy: A National Security Imperative - Leadership Management Blog: "I found her [McHale’s] speech to be good and full of promise but as several observers note, it was light on specifics. But, considering she’s been in for two weeks and in the bull pen for only a couple of months (most of which were at a distance from State in contrast to Jim Glassman’s extended, unfortunate, and unnecessary six month lead time during which he was far more engaged), she still needs to pick her battles." Image from

Foreign Policy blogger: US international broadcasting "rarely taken seriously" - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy: "US international broadcasting would not have its present weekly audience of 175 million (second only to that of the BBC world services), if it were perceived as 'propaganda and thus rarely taken seriously.'"

House Panel Approves $8.7 Billion for SOCOM in FY-10 - NewsStand [full text available by subscription only]: Entry from Google : “... defense secretary 'to submit a report on the assessment of the department's strategic communications workforce and on use of military public diplomacy. ... "

New York Arts Festival Aims To Dispel Misconceptions About Islam – Nikola Krastev, RFE/RL: "Vishakha Desai is the president of the New York-based Asia Society, which together with BAM and New York University are the main organizers of the Muslim Voices festival. She says it is a lucky coincidence that the opening of the festival came just a day after U.S. President Barack Obama's speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, and adds that culture and arts are some of the most effective ways to promote public diplomacy." Image from

Diplomatic Impropriety of (soon to be) U.S. envoy to Sri Lanka Butenis: Her Bangladesh Profile - Daya Gamage, Asian Tribune: "Patricia Butenis’ role as American ambassador in Bangladesh during her 14-month tenure in 2006/07 provoked widespread controversies and questions about diplomatic propriety. … The senior Foreign Service Officer Ms. Butenis has now been nominated by the Obama administration to be its next ambassador to Sri Lanka. … Now, she arrives in Sri Lanka when this South Asian nation is engulfed in a broad political debate which has spilled over the territorial boundaries to the international arena in which her employer is much in the middle of the discussion. … Sri Lanka is yet to identify her strategic communication and public diplomacy to convince the community of western nations that the defeat of the Tigers means not the silencing of the voice of the Tamil minority."

American splendour: With Archie scheduled to wed, S Subramanian ponders the comic character’s career in public diplomacyThe National: "The aspirations of today’s 10-year-old Indians are still tethered to America, but they are no longer built by children’s literature. Instead, they are shaped by our stock villains: television and the internet.

In their reruns of Friends, kids around the world get Archie redux: still plenty of rampant dating, partner-swapping and all-American pizza, but this time in Manhattan instead of Middletown, USA. Online, between MySpace and YouTube alone, there is enough detail to build a more updated, more nuanced image of America then we could ever hope to glean from Archie. Something so quaint as a comic book can’t hope to compete. … Archie is now sold primarily at supermarket checkout counters next to tabloids and gossip magazines. … It’s easier to lavish nostalgia upon the fictitious, elemental America of Archie, an America that is unfamiliar to Americans because it probably never existed, and so an America that belongs very much to us." Image from

Better policing could quell racist attacks - Greg Sheridan, The Australian: "Since the earliest days of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and its predecessors, Australia has conducted public diplomacy abroad.If you added up all the money Australia has spent on public diplomacy in the past and added it to all the money we are likely to spend on public diplomacy in the next 20 years, you couldn't buy a tenth of the bad publicity Australia has had in India, and at a less intense level in many other parts of the world, over this [ an assault on an Indian student in Adelaide]."

EU arms embargo against China 'absurd', says ambassador - Andrew Willis, "China's ambassador to the European Union, Mr Song Zhe, told an audience in Brussels on Friday (12 June) that the EU arms embargo against the Asian giant was radically out of step with the otherwise deepening relations between the two sides. … Franz Jessen, head of the China unit in the European Commission directorate for external affairs, said relations between the EU and China had evolved considerably since the two sides signed a Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) in 1985. … 'Ambassador Song Zhe has taken public diplomacy to new levels in the last couple of years,' he said, with other commission officials confirming that China's mission to the EU in Brussels has been highly effective in getting its message across." Image from

The Visegrad Four and YATA [Youth Atlantic Treaty Organization]– The Yata Blog: "[T]he Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary are part of a Central European Alliance, the Visegrad Four. The V4 was established for the purposes of cooperation and furthering their European integration. … [T]he Euro-Atlantic Center (YATA Slovakia) has organized in cooperation with representatives of all V4 YATA national chapters … in financial cooperation with NATO Public Diplomacy Division an essay writing competition 'Quo Vadis V4?'"

Climate Thoughts - Don't keep them to Yourself - "Now it is possible to read many of the thoughts passing through people’s minds on the issue of climate change and add your own personal thoughts to the collection of climate thoughts a three-dimensional version of the globe-like COP15 logo. 'We want the world public to actively engage in the debate and let concerns and views be known to political leaders in a simple and powerful way', says Klavs A. Holm, ambassador and Head of Public Diplomacy at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs." Image from

Katharine, A World Not Our Own - "A budding public diplomacy scholar, [sic] this blog is intended to follow my journey through the study of PD via travels, people-to-people encounters and various internships and opportunities in my life."


Cyberwar: Privacy May Be a Victim in Cyberdefense Plan - Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger, New York Times: A plan to create a new Pentagon cybercommand is raising significant privacy and diplomatic concerns, as the Obama administration moves ahead on efforts to protect the nation from cyberattack and to prepare for possible offensive operations against adversaries’ computer networks.

Chinese Muslims face culture shock in Palau - Tomoko A. Hosaka and William Foreman, Washington Post: They came from a land of scorching deserts, snowcapped mountains, camels and mosques.

Now after several miserable years imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, 13 Muslims from China will try to resettle on the tiny Pacific nation of Palau - a land of lush beach resorts. Some residents said Friday they are afraid of the former prisoners, while others worried they won't adjust to life here. Image: Palau – The Ultimate Diving Adventure

Why the hell should I feel sorry, says girl soldier who abused Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison: In this deeply disturbing interview, the trailer trash torturer who appalled the world by appearing in shocking 'souvenir' photographs remains utterly unrepentant and says she has 800 MORE torture photos that could rock the White House - David Jones, Daily Mail

Russia's Ideological Crusade Against Ukraine - Taras Kuzio, Eurasia Daily Monitor: The Levada Center recently found that 62 percent of Russians hold a negative view of Ukraine with only the United States and Georgia being seen in a worse light. At the same time, 91 percent of Ukrainians hold positive views of Russia, a reflection of media pluralism and the lack of state directed propaganda against Russia.

Putting the prop in propaganda - Princess of the Obvious: "In case you think your usual television is too mainstream, look what I found! A promo for a North Korean television show! Jaw. Open. It's like those Soviet propaganda musicals from 1930s/40s that I saw when a kid only times eleven. I think my brain checked out at dancing Kim Jong Il army people and never came back.I am going to laugh otherwise I'll cry."


Goats enjoy living in their own tower

--from boingboing

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