Sunday, October 4, 2009

October 4

“Hollywood has the best moral compass.”

--Harvey Weinstein, American movie producer, commenting on the Roman Polanski case; image from


Worldview: U.S. must strengthen relations with Pakistan - Trudy Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer: "Unless the United States develops a strategy for reaching Pakistanis, with real stories of U.S. aid - not fake 'public diplomacy' - the local population will continue to view us with hostility, no matter how much aid money we send there. That hostility translates into gains for al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Richard Holbrooke,

Obama's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, is well-aware of this problem. Yet, despite lots of talk, no solid U.S. media strategy for Pakistan has gotten off the ground. When I ask Pakistani colleagues what U.S. officials should do, they quickly provide a list: 1. Pay attention to Pakistani media. Have U.S. officials constantly appear on Pakistani TV, even hostile channels such as GEO (Holbrooke did it) and challenge every media lie. Be more proactive. … 2. Put a team of U.S. media specialists on the ground in Pakistan, who know the language and the culture and can devise new ways to communicate with Pakistanis - whether by FM radio, or Internet, or interviews. 'Recreate a USIA for Pakistan,' one Pakistani journalist told me, a reference to the wretched decision in the 1990s to disband the U.S. Information Agency. 3. Publicize the good work the United States does inside Pakistan. … 4. Above all, listen to the 16 percent of Pakistanis who want good relations with the United States, and to Pakistani-Americans." Image: Holbrooke met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on his South Asian tour

Kerry Luger Bill has created a lot of furore in Pakistan. while government is portraying it as an achievement it has many detractors who say we are selling the nation… At awaam we have decided that you can read the bill for yourself and decide… - Awaam by Vision21: "TITLE I–DEMOCRATIC, ECONOMIC, AND DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE FOR PAKISTAN SEC. 101. AUTHORIZATION OF ASSISTANCE. (a) In General- The President is authorized to provide assistance to Pakistan– … [inter alia] (5) to strengthen public diplomacy."

India's big Afghan presence worrying: Qureshi

The Nation, Paskistan: "Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, now on a public diplomacy tour of the United States, has questioned India's large-scale presence in Afghanistan, saying the Indian level of engagement there must be commensurate with their interests." Image from

Towards a Theory of Influence - David Steven – Global Dashboard: "Chapter by Alex Evans and David Steven in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office publication, ‘Engagement: public diplomacy in a globalised world’ (July 2008)."

The Sacred Brain Trust - George Heymont, My Cultural Landscape: "I recently had a chance to re-experience Dan Hoyle's whirlwind one-man show about the year he spent researching oil politics in the Niger delta. When I first saw Hoyle

perform Tings Dey Happen (the show premiered at The Marsh in January of 2007), I was amazed by the depth and breadth of his dramatic skills. … According to Hoyle: 'Tings Dey Happen was created based on my year in the Niger Delta as a Fulbright scholar studying oil politics in 2005-2006. When I travel to Nigeria, I will be taking the show home, in a sense. I think it’s a great credit to the U.S. State Department that my show is the face of American public diplomacy, especially given my [infamous] impression of a former ambassador. Nice to know diplomats like to laugh, too. Though the tour was funded as part of the anti-corruption public speakers series, they are billing it simply as a show that chronicles some of the struggles of everyday Nigerians. From my conversations with them, the State Department folks are excited to put on a show, not a lecture series.'" Hoyle image from article


NY Philharmonic shelves Cuba trip: The New York philharmonic performed in North Korea last year New York's Philharmonic Orchestra has put off its first trip to Cuba after sponsors were barred from visiting the Communist-led countryBBC News: "The visit was viewed as an

unprecedented show of cultural diplomacy between the US and the reclusive state, which have endured frosty relations for decades. Havana was due to host two concerts by the orchestra at the end of next month. It said that its plans received the support of President Barack Obama's administration. But long-standing restrictions on the travel of US citizens to Cuba caused logistical problems." Image from

The Secret of the Dancing Boxes Revealed – David Pogue, New York Times: "Last week, I joined a panel on 'cultural diplomacy' at Syracuse University. (As best as I can figure it out, cultural diplomacy means changing hearts and minds of other countries through the arts.) At lunch, I sat next to fellow panelist Shen Wei, who may be the most effective cultural diplomat ever born: He was the principal choreographer of the stunning opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Hundreds of millions of people saw that performances, which changed many perceptions of China along the way. … All the same, Mr. Shen told me he’d prefer not to take on such an assignment again. Today, he lives in New York and runs his own dance company—no headsets required."

India to open 16 culture centres - IANS, "Riding on the soaring popularity of yoga and Bollywood, India is poised to nearly double its network of cultural centres across the globe in places as diverse as the US, Africa and Latin America.

The opening of new cultural centres is an important initiative in cultural diplomacy to achieve range and depth of cultural coverage, said Karan Singh, president of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), here Friday." Image from

Queen's Cavalry to exhibit traditional equine skills - Eman Mohammed, "Visitors to the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (Adihex) will be treated to a special performance by a UK equine musical display team from Queen Elizabeth's Cavalry. The performance, which will be held at the show for the first time, starts this evening.

Mohammad Khalafi Al Mazroui, director-general of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach), said the performance was in the framework of cultural exchange. 'The cultural exchange between nations is essential in the development of progress [by] human civilisation. Adach has given... great attention to strengthening their capacities in this area, and through the development of activities related to cultural diplomacy,' Mazroui said at a press conference held yesterday at Emirates Palace." Image from article


The Distance Between ‘We Must’ and ‘We Can’ - James Traub, New York Times: The question boils down to this: How grave a price would Americans pay if Afghanistan were lost to the Taliban?

Still Not Tired - Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times:

If Mr. Obama decides to send more troops, the most important thing is not the number. It is his commitment to see it through. Image from

10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan: Reform or Go Home - Op-Ed Contributors, New York Times

Chasing Olympic gold - Oliver North, Washington Times: The counterinsurgency strategy for how to win in Afghanistan has been carefully prepared by Gen. McChrystal. If Mr. Obama wants to be remembered for something other than playing politics with the Olympics,

he needs to bring Gen. McChrystal to Washington and have him testify before Congress - and soon. Image from

In Afghanistan, Training Can Look a Lot Like Fighting - Carlos Lozada, Washington Post: As President Obama and his national security team debate strategy for the war in Afghanistan, some of the options on the table involve a greater focus on training and strengthening the Afghan security forces. To an American public -- and an administration -- that may be reluctant to send more troops to a faltering, eight-year war, the notion of helping the Afghans fight for themselves could seem particularly attractive. But it's an appeal that should be tempered.

What I Saw at the Afghan Election - Peter W. Galbraith, Washington Post: President Obama needs a legitimate Afghan partner to make any new strategy for the country work.

However, the extensive fraud that took place on Aug. 20 virtually guarantees that a government emerging from the tainted vote will not be credible with many Afghans. Image from

Obama's Looking Glass: When Believing Is Not Enough - George F. Will, Washington Post: Regarding Afghanistan, President Obama might believe he can effect a Houdini-like escape, uninjured, from the box his words have built. Regarding Iran, he seems to believe that its leaders can be talked or coerced (by economic sanctions) out of their long, costly pursuit of nuclear weapons by convincing them that such weapons do not serve Iran's "security."

Obama bungling the threat: A murky approach on national security – Mike Rogers, Washington Times: The world's security doesn't have the luxury to wait for more Iranian stalling.

Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan is the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee's terrorism and human intelligence subcommittee and a former FBI Special Agent
. Image: Vandals Litter Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers’ Office With Anti-War Sentiments.

Brilliant chessmanship - Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, Washington Times: Like back-winding in a sailing race, Iran has gotten ahead of the United States and its allies that met for the nuclear talks in Geneva Thursday. Iran pulled a rabbit out of the diplomatic hat in the form of a self-disclosure to the International Atomic Energy Agency about a second uranium-enrichment plant in Qom.

Internet no longer in the US government's domain - Kim Andrew Elliott discussing International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy

Subtleties of contemporary propaganda - in a glass eye: Impressed with Leni Riefenstahl’s romantic films, Adolph Hitler recruited her to document the 1933 congress of the Nazi party. After making that first party film, Riefenstahl

complained to Hitler that she had not been allowed sufficient creative control. In 1934, she was given wider latitude. She employed several camera crews for various angles; she constructed tracks for dynamic panning shots; she built mechanical camera elevators. The film she created is a masterpiece of propaganda, entitled Triumph of the Will. Decades later, Riefenstahl insisted in interviews that Triumph of the Will was a documentary, not a propaganda film. The distinction, she explained, was that her film had no narrator commenting on the scenes, telling the viewer what to think. This is a clever but unconvincing defense. The film has no narration because it needs none—its propagandistic message is made so clear through visual cues that any voiceover would be redundant. Riefenstahl Image from

Propaganda PostersThe Verona Relapse: "While browsing on, I came across their awesome selection of vintage propaganda posters and thus, my new set was born." Below image from article

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