Friday, October 30, 2009

October 30

“The scandal only begins once the police have put an end to it.”

--Austrian author Karl Kraus; cited in Times Literary Supplement (October 9, 2009), p. 22; image from


Clinton takes advice on Pakistan last day - AFP: "Clinton has spent three days in the troubled nuclear-armed Muslim state, which President Barack Obama has put at the heart of the war on Al-Qaeda and where increasing attacks have killed 2,400 people in two years.

Kicking off a last day of public diplomacy, the US diplomat held open-air talks with representatives from the country's northwest, which borders Afghanistan and where areas are thick with Al-Qaeda-linked and Taliban militias. Clinton has focused on trying to strengthen the civilian government and counter rising public anti-Americanism, but has been frustrated by fears that a 7.5 billion dollar non-military aid bill violates Pakistan's sovereignty." Image: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik (R) paying their respects at the shrine of 17th century Muslim saint Shah Latif Bari Kazmi, also known as Bari Imam, in Islamabad from

Clinton Meets Pakistan Tribal Chiefs After Urging Al-Qaeda Exit - Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Bloomberg: "Clinton’s three-day public diplomacy push to demonstrate America’s long-term commitment to Pakistani democracy and development has proved an uphill battle. As she expressed solidarity with Pakistan over hundreds of lives lost in the wave of bombings, she has faced repeated questions over American aims in the region."

Hillary Alleges Pak's Complicity with Al-Qaeda - Rezaul H Laskar, Outlook:

"Clinton's public diplomacy push has focussed on reiterating America's long-term commitment to Pakistan but she has faced pointed questions during her public interactions over US aims in the region." Image from

Clinton talks tough to Pakistan: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared concerns about whether Pakistan is committed to fighting extremists and tracking down Osama bin Laden - Saeed Shah, "While Clinton is meeting top Pakistani civilian and military officials, her visit is focused on public diplomacy. She told the students in Lahore that 'I am well aware that there is a trust deficit' between the countries. American officials were baffled by the intensity of criticism leveled at a recent U.S. aid bill, which imposed tough conditions on Pakistan. They seemed unaware of the need to put their case before the country's Urdu-language news channels. `A lot of this visit is about taming the beast that is the Pakistani media. They had not understood the vernacular news channels and the power they've gained in the last few years,' said Cyril Almeida, a columnist for Dawn, a Pakistani daily newspaper."

Lahore, we say, is Pakistan's Heart ... - "...and yesterday, Mrs Clinton heard it straight from the heart - one has to give Hilary C credit for actually getting out and about and right into the heart of Pakistan.

But winning it over will be easier said than done, never mind the hopeful noises one hears in the US media--be it corporate, public, or alternative. ... The US, after all, is coming right out of a complete and utter defeat on the propaganda, sorry, PR, sorry, Public Diplomacy front on the Kerry Lugar Bill." Image from

Clinton vows US will stand by Pakistan - Christophe Schmidt, The Age: "On a day devoted to public diplomacy, Clinton covered her head and chest with a royal blue scarf to visit the shrine of a Muslim saint in the capital Islamabad before touring the 16th century Badshahi mosque in Lahore. Accompanied by Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Clinton closed her eyes and pressed her fingers together in prayer, then gave alms to the needy at the Bari Imam mausoleum near the heavily guarded seat of government."

Pakistan called top foreign policy problem - Sara Israelsen-Hartley, Deseret News:

"'The elements of a democracy — accountability, transparency, effectiveness and so on — are critical ingredients for how a long-term resolution will be found in both Pakistan and Afghanistan,' said Gerald Hyman, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. And getting to that point requires improved diplomacy and communication, said John Hughes, former editor of the Deseret News as well as a former U.S. assistant secretary of state and an assistant secretary-general of the United Nations. 'Our public diplomacy in this country is in serious disarray,' Hughes said. 'I think we need to give some serious consideration as to what has to happen.' Hughes explained how terrorists in Afghanistan have mastered the use of television and social-networking Internet sites to promote their violent agendas. 'More than half the battle is taking place in the battleground of media,' he said. 'It's a media race for hearts and minds.' Hughes recalled the vital role of radio, with examples of Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, in promoting democratic values, and called for a renewed focus on communication and diplomacy." Image from

Can Mrs. Clinton Control CIA In Afghanistan? - Ahmed Quraishi, International Analyst Network: "Mrs. Clinton's visit was so carefully choreographed that US diplomats launched a strict vetting process to determine which Pakistani television anchors should be allowed to participate in a 'pool interview'. The point was to exclude anyone critical of US policies ['anti-American' to US diplomats]. This sharply contrasts with the statements Clinton has been giving here, like this one she gave to the television anchors, 'It is especially critical that we do more of what you're doing today with your colleagues so that I have a chance to answer the questions that are on the minds of the people of Pakistan.' But when time came for the real questions, she dodged them. So much for a successful public diplomacy."

Clinton's visit good but reservations on KLB remain - Samiullah Koreshi, Pakistan Observer: "These days Hillary Clinton is visiting Pakistan. A welcome visit and a kind of gesture to make amends for the offensive KLB, through direct approach to people of Pakistan. In the context of public diplomacy a new name for old practice, public relation exercise, she was exposed directly to the people. Quite clearly her charming manners down to earth style were indeed the first ever in recent days experience of American approach to Pakistan. ...

[O]ne could see the difference in her human approach and the arrogant style of Holbrooke." Image from

Somebody give her a seekh kebab and some gow – Rosita, "The unfortunate punch line to the Hillary Goes to Pakistan joke is that we just gave them $7.5 billion goddam dollars. Excuse me, we just borrowed $7.5 billion dollars from the Chinese to give to Pakistan. ... $ 7.5 billion we’ve given to these people. In August, Richard C. Holbrooke, the US 'special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan' (all these weird never-before-seen titles rearing their ugly heads), and Judith McHale, the 'under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs' (appunto), went over to Pakistan to fulfill their dark desires of writhing naked on the floor while being spit upon by contemptuous Muslims. I well realize that in these postmodern times we don’t want to condemn such kinkiness, but do they really have to do it on our dime, while representing us?"

State Department’s “DanceMotion USA” to Bridge Cultural Divides - Mitchell Polman, "America’s pop culture exports are the boon and bane of the country’s reputation abroad. But there is one cost-effective way to change people’s perceptions of American society. It is to show people abroad an aspect of American life and culture that is very different from what they are exposed to when they turn on their television sets. Through its public diplomacy programs, the Department of State works to educate foreign publics about aspects of American culture that they otherwise may never see or hear. For example, few people overseas are aware of the fact that the U.S. is considered an innovator in the field of contemporary dance. A new State Department-sponsored initiative that is set to begin early next year will work to change that. DanceMotion USA, a program coordinated by State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) will send three contemporary dance companies to three countries each in different regions of the world."

America's new crusader castles:

Across the Middle East, the US is building heavily fortified embassies which cut off diplomats and create hostilities
- Simon Tisdall, - ‎ "The way the new embassies tend to physically cut off America's diplomats from the countries they are supposed to connect with is one good reason, among many, why Washington might want to rethink its laager policy. While effective security is obviously important, the worldwide rise of America's diplomatic fortresses undermines the kind of 'soft power' outreach and public diplomacy that the Obama administration earnestly espouses." Image from

NATO - Keynote Address by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the conference ''NATO-UAE Relations and the Way Forward in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative'' - Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 29 Oct. 2009 - ISRIA: Rasmussen: “Let me start by thanking you, Sheikh Abdallah, and the Government of the United Arab Emirates, for your gracious hospitality, and for welcoming the North Atlantic Council and myself to your country. I should also like to congratulate you for your initiative to organise today’s conference together with NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division. I have been looking forward to coming here, early on in my tenure as NATO Secretary General, to underline the importance of NATO’s dialogue and cooperation with the countries of the Gulf region, and to discuss with you how we can take our relationship forward.”

[Review of Joseph Nye, Jr., Soft Power: The Means to Success in International Politics] - "The United States is still by far the most attractive country in the world though it is not the most powerful one. Despite all the wrongdoings, its democracy and respect for individual rights and freedoms keep the United States popular in the minds of the billions around the globe.

However, the American people should be vigilant against those who are bent on squandering the United States' credit for their narrow tribal and ethnic interests. Without such vigilance, no amount of public diplomacy can restore the positive US image of the good old days... Commissioner of the concept 'soft power', Nye argues that the US should refocus on public diplomacy in order to fix its tarnished image around the world.. It is a book worth reading.. (New York: Public Affairs Press 2004, 192pgs.)" Image from

Strange Annual Cycle in PD/SC Definition Debates? - Steven R. Corman, "A debate has once again re-ignited over the relative meaning of Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication."

Il Nuovo Ruolo Delle Rp Nelle Relazioni Diplomatiche - "Dalla collaborazione tra Ferpi e Ministero degli Esteri emergono nuovi e interessanti elementi concettuali per le Relazioni Pubbliche. Diplomatici e relatori pubblici, un percorso in parallelo verso la public diplomacy
e la stakeholder relationship governance." Image from


With Candor, Clinton Confronts Pakistani Government On Al Qaeda Leaders [no link] - BulletinNews: Media reports are casting Secretary of State Clinton's comments yesterday during her visit to Pakistan as highly unusual. ABC World News called them "rather blunt and rather remarkable. This is the quote from today, where she basically accused the Pakistani government of being complicit in hiding Al Qaeda. She said, 'Al Qaeda has had safe haven in Pakistan since 2002. I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government,' meaning the Pakistani government, 'knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to.'" NBC Nightly News referred to Clinton having "some very tough words today for the Pakistani government." At a "town hall, university students challenged Clinton asking whether they could trust America. One student confronted her saying, the US is pressing Pakistan to do what it doesn't want to do, reclaim tribal territories from extremists."

Clinton replied, "That's up to Pakistan. I mean, if you want to see your territory shrink, that's your choice, but I don't think that's the right choice. In fact, I think that's a very self-destructive choice." The CBS Evening News reported that "the danger in blunt talk that's as hot as the Al Qaeda accusation is that it could anger America's friends and not change that anti-American mood." The AP calls Clinton's remarks "unusually blunt" and "startling, coming after months of lavish public comments from her and other American officials portraying Pakistan's leaders as finally receptive to the war against militants inside their own country." The Washington Post calls Clinton's comments "the most direct public statement of a US argument long made in private," and the New York Times reports that "it is extremely rare for an official of Mrs. Clinton's rank to say publicly what American politicians and intelligence officials have said in more guarded ways for years." AFP, however, reports, "A US official, speaking to journalists on board Clinton's plane from Lahore to Islamabad, said there was nothing contradictory in her remarks and her mission to strengthen ties between the United States and Pakistan." Image from

Mrs. Clinton in Pakistan – Editorial, New York Times: If Washington is ever to enlist Pakistan as a reliable ally, it is going to have to do a much better job of explaining itself. And it is going to have to insist that Pakistan’s leaders start explaining the real stakes to their citizens and the real benefits of an alliance with the United States. Mrs. Clinton’s trip was an important start — but only a start.

Pentagon officials won’t confirm Bush propaganda program ended - Brad Jacobson, Raw Story:

The covert Bush administration program that used retired military analysts to generate favorable wartime news coverage may not have been terminated, Raw Story has found. Image from

Close Gitmo and give detainees their day in court New legislation may make it easier for the Obama administration to keep its word and close the infamous detention center. Whether the detainees are to be tried in federal courts or military commissions would remain unresolved – Editorial,

On the war's front lines: Why Obama needs to send more troops to Afghanistan - David Ignatius, Washington Post:

The goal isn't to transform Afghanistan into a 21st-century showplace but to buy enough time for the country's army and government to fight their own battles. Image: Don Carols Espinoza Send More Troops acrylic on rag paper from

Muddled thinking on Afghanistan:The administration is losing control of the Afghan agenda – Editorial, Washington Times

What we can achieve in Afghanistan - Robert B. Zoellick, Washington Post: Progress is possible if safety is strengthened, the Afghan government assumes ownership, its partners build development through the choices of the Afghan people, and Afghanistan's neighbors decide they are better off with a successful state than with a perilous buffer zone that could send trouble back across their borders. The writer is president of the World Bank Group.

A familiar war in Afghanistan - Eugene Robinson, Washington Post:

Afghanistan's status as a narco-superpower is another reason why President Obama would be wrong to deepen U.S. involvement. Image from


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