Tuesday, June 9, 2009

June 9

“When the phone does ring — once a week — I’m thrilled.”

--Transplanted American (to Japan) Pico Iyer


Obama in Normandy -- Mistakes Were Made

- Heritage Foundation: "The president’s penchant for apologizing for his country in speeches to a global audience has by now become almost commonplace, as if to wash his hands of the mistakes of his predecessors – or what he considers to be mistakes. On some level, the White House clearly considers this presidential approach to be the essence of U.S. public diplomacy in the Obama era, and it is compounded by the apologies issues by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well." Image from

Obama, the new Wilson? - Rob, Arabic Media Shack: "On the one hand, if you have a US President whose personal story is attractive to some people in the Middle East, there is nothing wrong with trying to use it as a tool of Public Diplomacy. But the usefulness of this approach is only going to last for so long. Those in the Arab world who were enthusiastic about the speech, are, because they believe it represents a new era in US foreign policy. Notice how their articles are usually prefaced with things like 'give him a chance.' They consider the speech not an end in itself but a sign that policies are going to change."

Turning a new page? Maleeha Lodhi – The News: "The Cairo speech marked President Obama's latest and most significant outreach to the Muslim world. After his inaugural address in which he called for a new way forward based on 'mutual respect and mutual interests', he pressed this theme in an interview to the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV network, a videotaped message to the Iranian people on Nauroze, and his speech to the Turkish Parliament. These public diplomacy initiatives, capped by the Cairo address, have several interrelated objectives, which include: a) to repair the image and standing of the US among Muslims that was especially battered during the Bush years; b) to create the atmosphere and space to restart the Middle East peace process; c) engage vigorously in the battle of ideas to drain support in the Muslim world for violent extremism; and d) to challenge Muslim communities to rethink some of their positions on issues ranging from religious freedom to Israel. … In weaving into his speech a nuanced recognition of Muslim grievances President Obama demonstrated both a grasp of history and an ability to understand the Muslim narrative. Disappointingly the speech did not show similar understanding and empathy for South and South West Asia." Image from

A few more items about Obama's Cairo speech - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

'Special Report' Panel On Obama's Trip OverseasFox News: "[Bret] Baier: Nina, perhaps some are saying the president should spend some public diplomacy back here on Capitol Hill and less so overseas, because the real problem are the people behind this. Nina Easton, Washington Bureau Chief, 'Fortune' Magazine: It is interesting. I think that the Guantanamo episode, it was an interesting contrast, because that's where the soaring rhetoric meets reality. And on this trip we have the soaring rhetoric. We had, I think all the kind of Obama-style labels, brand names came out in this. We had 'hope.' We had 'change.' We had 'empathy.' And we even had a dash of audacity in that he told reporters after he left the Middle East that he expects serious progress this year on Middle East talks. So, you know, it's a view of the world which I think is going to come to be tested, which is that if only we were nicer, if only they liked us more, we'd have fewer enemies." Image: ~~ An Overview of the Rhetorical Situation ~~

Smart Power and the Diplomatic Surge - Daryl Copeland, The Mark: "The first 100 days of the Obama administration, as reflected especially in pronouncements by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, have unleashed a torrent of commentary on the resurgence of public diplomacy and nation branding. Harvard Professor Joseph Nye - the guru of soft, and now smart power - is becoming almost a household name. … Smart power does not seem the right instrument with which to address … global issues. Instead, a transformational form of public diplomacy - guerrilla diplomacy, if I may - seems to me a more attractive, effective alternative."

Summary of Amendments Submitted to the Rules Committee for H.R. 2410 - Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 Summaries derived from information provided by sponsors Listed in Alphabetical Order June 08, 2009 1:51 PMU.S. House of Representatives: Committee on Rules: "#41 Revised Would broaden the experience within the Foreign Service and encourage Foreign Service officers to pursue a functional specialty by making it mandatory

to develop a functional focus during an officer's first two years as well as creating a more diverse promotions panel where functional and regional specialists are evenly distributed. It would require the State Department to make materials from libraries and resource centers, including U.S. films available over the internet when possible and for the advisory commission on public diplomacy to gauge the effectiveness of online outreach authorized under section 214." Image from

Strike the Last Word - The Weekly/Daily Strike-6/8/09: "All in One The House will consider a few substantive bills this week after dealing with suspension bills today and tomorrow. First, the House will presumably vote on the aforementioned war funding bill. Next comes a bill to authorize funding for foreign operations for fiscal year's 2010 and 2011. The bill has some substantive changes in it, including the creation of a Public Diplomacy Reserve Corps."

Baseball Matters at the State Department Communications Shop - Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers: "[L]ast week we got word of P. J. Crowley's allegiance to the Boston Red Sox. Crowley is a longtime national security spokesman who was just OK'd by the Senate as the assistant secretary of state for public affairs. … Crowley also said that Judith McHale, under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, is a New York Yankees fan." Image from

Speeches, 6/8/2009: Opening remarks at International Press Institute World Congress by Pertti Torstila Secretary of State – Ministry for Foreign Affairs for Finland: "Public diplomacy is the modern term which the Foreign Ministries of our countries use in order to achieve policy goals through the public and in co-operation with other public diplomacy partners. The story of the Finnish MFA is no exception and the world media is our close and critical partner."

"Mussolini Is Dead; We Are Still Here!" - Addis Fortune: Neil Kinnock (Lord), chair of the British Council: “I am not a pacifist and neither is the British Council but we understand the ongoing veracity that when people are bullied, they will fight back. But if international relations were left at that, it would be a very dangerous and ugly world.

Even if it were left at formal diplomacy - government to government diplomacy- such as it is, still would not be enough for it would not reach the people in the various countries belonging to the various cultures, opinions and persuasions. The reason we exist and the reason we started out was to develop what we now call, in phrases that I coined, 'People to People Diplomacy' or 'Public Diplomacy', which goes along side the more formal diplomacy." Image from


The Importance of Being Obama - Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Perhaps the best indication of how Obama played in Cairo is the reaction of his competitors for the hearts and minds of the Muslim world. The Iranian-backed, Lebanon-based guerrilla group Hezbollah, an influential radical Saudi cleric and the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood all warned followers not to be taken in by Obama's seductive words -- which suggests a fear that Obama had been dangerously effective.

America's first Muslim president? - Frank J. Gaffney Jr, Washington Times: Whether Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim or simply plays one in the presidency may, in the end, be irrelevant. What is alarming is that in aligning himself and his policies with those of Shariah-adherents such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the president will greatly intensify the already enormous pressure on peaceful, tolerant American Muslims to submit to such forces - and heighten expectations, here and abroad, that the rest of us will do so as well. Image from

Hillary Clinton's troubling transformation on Israel - Morton A. Klein, Jerusalem Post

False Choices For Russia - Lev Gudkov, Igor Klyamkin, Georgy Satarov and Lilia Shevtsova - Washington Post: "We are not calling on our American democratic colleagues to 'promote' democracy in Russia.... But we do not understand how one can hope for cooperation while ignoring Russia's internal development and the principles on which the state functions." Image from

North Korea’s Cruel Verdict - Editorials, New York Times: American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling have already paid a huge price for doing their job. They should be freed immediately.

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