Monday, June 8, 2009

June 8

"If I sense a potential romantic partner refuses to assimilate to my bubble-world of romance, love, and all that schmaltzy stuff, I can deport him. The self-centered mama’s boy deports poor women from his egomaniacal bubble world all the time. 'She must assimilate or I will devastate', he explains. He works in public diplomacy."

--The author of the Philobusters Blog; image from


Netanyahu to Outline Talks - Joshua Mitnick, Wall Street Journal: "President Barack Obama's public diplomacy, culminating with last week's speech at Cairo University, has gotten favorable coverage in Israel -- even though he is demanding Mr. Netanyahu buck the base of his coalition and become the first Israeli leader to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem." Image from

Arabs want action, not words, from Obama - Bayann Hamid, Asheville Citizen-Times: "More important than what Obama says during his Cairo address will be the actions his government takes subsequently. If the last eight years revealed anything about U.S. relations with Arab nations, it is that U.S. rhetoric and public diplomacy efforts are useless if they do not correlate with U.S. actions."

United States: Obama, Muslims and the (Still Far Away) West - Fareed Mahdy, IDN InDepthNews: "In one of his brightest public diplomacy shows so far, U.S. president Barack Obama delivered in Cairo on June 4 his long-awaited goodwill speech to the Muslims. But his great eloquence did not convince anyone, nor has it raised any hopes for concrete solutions to the huge conflicts facing Muslim peoples from Palestine to Iraq through Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Somalia and an elongated etcetera." Image from

Obama on religious freedom - Dennis R. Hoover, Halfway to Concord: "What is needed now is a more comprehensive integration–intellectually and institutionally–of religious freedom into the mainstream of US foreign policy. This would not require new legislation so much as strategic vision and political will. Promotion of religious freedom should not be treated as a special-interest humanitarian issue but rather should be integrated into US democracy promotion, education of diplomatic and military personnel, counterterrorism strategy, public diplomacy, international law, and more."

TV debates electrify campaign – Perham, Debate Politics Forums - "Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has now traded bare-knuckled verbal blows with both of his reformist challengers in American-style live televised debates that have electrified

the atmosphere before Thursday’s watershed elections. On Saturday night he and Mehdi Karrubi, a septuagenarian former speaker of parliament, accused each other of corruption, scorned each other’s foreign policy and clashed over Iran’s troubled economy. … And Mr Karrubi scoffed that the president, known for his lurid anti-American rhetoric, had written letters to both George W Bush, the former US president, and his successor, Barack Obama, without receiving a reply. Here, Mr Ahmadinejad appeared on more comfortable ground. He defended the letters as a “kind of public diplomacy” and insisted his foreign policy had strengthened Iran’s global standing and served the Islamic Republic’s interests." Image from

Russia's Nukes: Back Moscow’s New Nuclear Strategy and the Old MAD Principle - Andrei Shoumikhin and Baker Spring, The Cutting Edge - "The Putin and Medvedev governments have developed an elaborate system of asymmetric responses to American and Western policies and programs that they deemed threatening or inimical to Russian interests. For example, in ballistic missile defense, in which Russia lacks the funds to develop equivalent Russian strategic defensive systems, it moved to develop strategic offensive capabilities with a strong anti-ABM component. The anti-ABM component was backed by a large-scale public diplomacy campaign, active measures, and influence operations to generate public opposition to the deployment of missile defense systems in Europe." Image from article.

Romania: Bogdan Aurescu to meet Azerbaijani Foreign Minister - "Secretary of State for Strategic Affairs Bogdan Aurescu will pay a working visit over June 8-11 to Azerbaijan, where he will meet Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, reads a release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. … Our country [Romania] assuming the mandate of a NATO contact point embassy to Azerbaijan means taking the necessary steps with a view to ensuring a communication channel for the NATO policies in the partner state and the support in carrying out NATO activities, especially the public diplomacy ones locally. "


Muslim music, arts festival opens in New York - Masood Haider, "A 10-day festival of music and arts, dubbed as ‘Muslim Voices’, opened in New York on Saturday night with a rendering of Sufi music to jam-packed house. …

The festival was organised jointly by Asia Society, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and the New York University’s Centre for Dialogue. The organisers say they collaborated on the project to build a cultural bridge of understanding. Through music, dance, film and the visual arts, a global tapestry of Muslim artistes are advancing cultural diplomacy." Image from article

Hearing Muslim Voices - Katherine Marshall, Washington Post: "A pageant that open[ed]in New York on June 5, Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas, sets out to fill some of the gaps and to challenge or change the preconceptions Americans have about Muslims. … 'Cultural diplomacy' is one of those phrases that can mean very different things to different people - diplomacy that is nuanced to different cultures, a symphony orchestra performing in North Korea to open doors, or improbable sports events link touring ping pong teams. Perhaps the most promising avenue for cultural diplomacy is to help break through barriers that owe much to sheer ignorance or prejudice. Culture is about identity and history, but it is also about emotion and it can bring joy and insight. Marveling at the trance of whirling dervishes or struggling to follow a long sufi chant can pave the way to a different kind of discussion about respect and insult."

Americans should realize diversity of Muslim voices - Vishakha N Desai, Karen Brooks Hopkins and Mustapha Tlili – Detroit News: "A 2005 report by the U.S. State Department's Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy called for a new vision of cultural diplomacy that 'can enhance US national security in subtle, wide-ranging and sustainable ways.' In 2008, a bipartisan group of American leaders -- the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project -- convened by Search for Common Ground and the Consensus Building Institute, issued a report calling for a new direction for U.S. relations with the Muslim world. A primary goal of this effort would be 'to improve of mutual respect and understanding between Americans and Muslims around the world.' It is time for U.S. citizens to commit themselves to working alongside the Obama administration to turn a new leaf in relations with the Muslim world. The first step is to make a concerted effort to become better educated about the multifaceted societies that comprise the one billion-strong Muslim population throughout the world." Image from

Van Cliburn 2009: Bulgarian offers sublime performance as finals begin: - Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News: "As part of a free four-part symposium on cultural diplomacy, Dallas Morning News classical music critic Scott Cantrell … host[ed] a critics' roundtable.”

Richer ICCR on expansion mode: Director General - Thaindian News: "India wants to highlight the country’s rich cultural diversity by introducing cultural cells across the world on the lines of British Council, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations’ (ICCR) new director general Virender Gupta said. … India, he said, would see more of cultural diplomacy and linkages in the years to come. What has sustained India down the decades is its culture, he said." Image from

Tick tick tick… - ndinesh, Mutiny: "We had an India-Africa trade summit last year and our trade agreements with nations in the African continent are getting better as we speak, but until we give as much priority to our social and cultural diplomacy in the region, until we expand our vision to look beyond just the economic incentives we gain by immigrating there…well, we have a time bomb on our hands."

Moving with the times: An update on dance and music in the reformasi era - Monika Swasti Winarnita, Inside Indonesia: "In contemporary Indonesia, traditional dance and music genres maintain their role as integral expressions of the values, worldviews and identities of ethnic communities. As their forebears have done since time immemorial, the Indonesians of today frequently perform these traditional genres at ceremonies, rituals and rites of passage events like marriages.

Recently, some of these performances have also taken on new meanings as they fulfil new functions in tourist promotions or cultural diplomacy. These new meanings have not always been well received by observers. … Performances at events such as Independence Day celebrations and cultural diplomacy gatherings remove these performances from the specific ritual contexts in which they developed. Furthermore, the critics argue that these new meanings play a symbolic role on behalf of national culture: the traditional performances of Indonesia’s ethnic groups, when considered together, form a colourful mosaic that in turn expresses Indonesia’s motto, ‘unity in diversity’." Image from

Indonesian batik gains popularity in Namibia - Toary Worang, The Jakarta Post: "Walking down Windhoek's busy streets, or other parts of Namibia for that matter, you will notice a large number of Namibians wearing batik shirts. … Given this fact, the Indonesian Embassy in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, organized a series of batik workshops to teach Namibians about batik. … 'The purpose was to bring the two countries and two peoples closer through batik, which is also part of cultural diplomacy,' the Indonesian Embassy in Namibia stated in a press release."

Sex, film industry are like sesame twins - Duro Adeseko, Dennis Ugbudian and Rachael Agunta, Daily Sun: "Professor Ahmed Yerima, the Director General of the National Arts Theatre: 'So, many things are going on, cultural diplomacy is taking place. At the same time our major spirit is to make sure that the National Troupe works.'” Image from

Tiananmen, Twenty Years Hence: What France Has Forgotten - Harold Hyman, Culturekiosque: "Harold Hyman is a Franco-American journalist, based in Paris, specializing in foreign affairs and cultural diplomacy."


Careful rhetoric with Muslim states - Marco Vicenzino, Boston Globe: Optimists

expect the dawn of a new age in US foreign policy in the Middle East and beyond. Pessimists regard Obama's rhetoric as just words. Realists express cautious hopefulness. The fundamental need for more constructive engagement, however, must begin with an improved rhetoric with Muslim-majority states. Image from

Ask Not for a Great Line - Roger Cohen, New York Times: All the rhetorical groundwork the president has now laid -- on Iran, Israel-Palestine, the Muslim world -- will come to nothing if high principle is not matched by street-smart cunning and maneuver.

More On Cairo - Daniel Larison, Eunomia: Criticisms of Obama's Cairo speech.

Yes I Can – Stanley Fish, New York Times: By all the evidence we have, Obama’s completely in charge, making decisions, giving instructions, deploying resources, assigning tasks — a combination point guard, quarterback and clean-up hitter.

And if he gets results, as he seems to be doing, that’s O.K. But it may not be O.K., as a matter of rhetoric and politics, to advertise it. An occasional passive construction to soften the claim of agency would be a good idea (even though the grammar books warn against it). It’s one thing to be calling the tune; it’s another to proclaim it in every sentence. Image from

NY Times Explains Propaganda in Its Guantanamo Stories - David L, Daily Kos

Experts Say Full Disclosure May Not Always Be Best Tactic in Diplomacy – - Globo Diplo

Measuring Success in Afghanistan – Editorial, New York Times: Protecting Afghan civilians must become the central purpose of American military operations in Afghanistan.

Losing the media war to the Taliban - Robert Haddick, Foreign Policy


"Big stuff going on in the world. President Obama gave a big, historic speech yesterday in Egypt. ... President Obama impressed listeners by beginning his speech with the traditional Islamic greeting, 'As-salaamu alaikum.' Yeah, it's very cool. Yeah, it was especially impressive because a year ago, President Bush opened with, 'Shalom, amigos.'"

--Conan O'Brien

"President Obama gave the historic speech at Egypt's Cairo University. Yep. Yeah, the crowd at Cairo University loved Obama's speech, especially the joke he made about their rival, Cairo State."

--Conan O'Brien

"President Obama's continuing his world tour. Yesterday, he was in Egypt. Did you see that? He visited the pyramids of Giza and he called them 'awe-inspiring.' That was an improvement over President Bush's tour of the pyramids. He called them 'pointy.'"

--Jimmy Fallon

From: The Latest From Late Night Comedians - Bulletin News, U.S. News & World Report; image from

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