Monday, February 15, 2010

February 15

“Yeah, yeah.”

--The sarcastic reply of Columbia philosopher Sidney Morgenbesser, to the assertion of the eminent linguistic philosopher J. L. Austin of Oxford in a lecture that there are many languages in which a double negative makes a positive, but none in which a double positive makes a negative; image from


There Is No Freedom Without Bread! 1989 and the Civil War That Brought Down Communism [Review of Constantine Pleshakov, There Is No Freedom Without Bread! 1989 and the Civil War That Brought Down Communism, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009]

– John Brown, American Diplomacy (February 15)


State Cyber Advocacy: A Working Paper in Preparation for the Herzliya Conference 2010 - Noam Lemelshtrich Latar, Gregory Asmolov, Alex Gekker. This paper reflects the opinion of its authors only. Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya; Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy; Institute for Policy and Strategy 2020. Via NG


U.S. Public Diplomacy Still Ineffectual in Islamic World – Philip Seib, Huffington Post: "[T]he Obama magic has lost its pizzazz.

The rhetoric about the United States might not be as angry as it was during George W. Bush's presidency, but there is ample bitterness derived from hope turned sour. ... [T]ension -- not the exuberance immediately after The Speech [Obama's Cairo speech] -- shapes the context in which American public diplomacy in the Muslim world must now proceed." Seib Image from article. See also: "After the honeymoon: Electing Barack Obama president won't be enough to improve America's standing in the world" – John Brown, Guardian (26 June 2008)

PR Offensive - Steve Saideman, Saideman's Semi-Spew: "I think the most surprising part of the big offensive in Helmand is how much attention it is getting back in the U.S. and Canada. Each day, the papers are filled with stories about offensive, and the messaging getting out has mostly been exactly what NATO would have wanted. ... So, of course, I wonder what has happened to the NATO I have come to know and love--one that could not communicate basic math to an AP calculus class (no offense to my pals in NATO public diplomacy).

Clearly, this effort in Helmand has at least four targets: · the Taliban types in the area; · the Afghan population--to show them that ISAF gets it and is operating differently than in the past · the Afghan government--that they better do well here, because they will have fewer excuses · the publics in the US and other troop contributing nations--to show them that ISAF can be successful as much of the new conventional wisdom on casualty aversion (thanks to Peter Feaver) focuses less on body bags coming home and more on the perception of success. That is, people will be less opposed to a military mission if it is seen as successful." Image from

U.S. Special Envoy to Muslim World: Will It Matter? – Nancy Snow, Huffington Post: “President Obama has more special appointees than there will be combined gold medals awarded to Canada, the United States, Norway, Austria, Sweden, Russia and Germany at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. The latest administration appointee is Rashad Hussein, an Indian-American Muslim who's just been appointed Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. He's a hafiz of the Qur'an, a term reserved for a Muslim who has memorized the entire religious text. ... Mr. Hussein's appointment is designed to actualize the global goodwill that Obama's Cairo speech generated. The Cairo speech in June 2009 was a rhetorical masterpiece, but with continued civilian deaths in Afghanistan and no major movement on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Obama effect is not at the high water mark it was last summer in Egypt.”

Mercenary ambassadors: U.S. integrity depends on severing ties with corporate mercenaries - Editorial, "Blackwater, the controversial private military contractor, which now operates under the conveniently forgettable moniker 'Xe Services,' has been grabbing headlines again. Their checkered past includes, massive no-bid contracts from the U.S. government, a 2005 incident in which employees fired 70 rounds into an occupied car without provocation and the shooting of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in 2007.

In spite of such grave and blatant violations, U.S. authorities have repeatedly made excuses on Blackwater’s behalf, allowing reckless hired guns to evade justice. ... Now, unbelievably, Xe Services is up for a new Pentagon contract worth $1 billion for training Afghanistan’s police forces. The United States needs to permanently cut its ties with this organization that fans the flames of anti-Americanism, uses force inappropriately and excessively and defrauds the American people. We can ill afford to have this ambassador represent our nation." Image from

'Irregular' Agenda - Philip Greene, (subscription) - Google entry: "The Navy increasingly works closely with nonmilitary governmental and nongovernmental organizations, engaging in public diplomacy."

Small talk 2.0: Government social networks - comparative analysis - Yaron Gamburg, small talk 2.0: Diplomats (and non-diplomats...) talking about social media, diplomacy, and what is in between - Diplomacy 2.0: "In the last two years we've seen an uprecedented growth of Gov2.0. One of the most vivid expressions of the collaboration and sharing by governments through the tools of Web 2.0 were social networks of government employees and communities.

I am talking about special type of government network that are open for all Internet-users, and in principle, anyone who is interested on Government 2.0 can join these networks. ... Govloop[:] It was the first social network of any national government. It was created in 2008, and since then succeded to become a real phenomenon of Gov2.0 in the US and abroad. It created a lot of excitement in the web 2.0 community, and served as an inspiration for other such networks. Today there are more than 24.000 members in Govloop and 670 different groups. ... Agency-based groups are in general less active, and among the leading groups are State Department, Homeland Security and Department of Defense. ... OvdeiMedina[:] Israel Public Sector social network, was created also in August 2010. It has very decent membership numbers - 127 people, and 12 groups. The most active groups are agency based: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel Police. Another active group is dealing with Public Diplomacy." Image from

Al Jazeera to "On The Media": We are not a target of H.R. 2278 [the bill the House of Representatives passed in December that imposes sanctions on broadcasters deemed a threat to the country] - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Opposition unplugged? And more Iran media updates - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

VOA Persian tilts in favor of Tehran? (updated) - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Working -- and sleeping -- at VOA during the "snowpocalypse" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Heart and trust - Postimees, Estonia: "Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said in the interview to Postimees thought: not all things are committed in foreign policy are made through the newspapers. Все вещи наверняка не делаются. All things are certainly not done. Как ни жаль журналисту, общественность и в самом деле никогда не сможет узнать о непосредственных переговорах руководителей государств или их беседах за рюмкой коньяка. No matter how sorry for the journalist, the public and in fact never be able to learn about direct negotiations the Heads of State or their conversations over a glass of cognac. Засекреченные на 75 лет памятные записки останутся надолго в золотом фонде международной политики. The classified for 75 years, the memorials will remain for a long time in the golden fund of international politics. Classic foreign policy has always been the preserve of the elites of various countries, of which the common people were not supposed to know. В наше же время широко открытое информационное пространство - обычное дело даже в общении элит. In our time wide open information space - a common thing even in communication elites."

Large Broom Still Needed - Patricia H. Kushlis, Whirled View:

"I’ve said earlier and I will say so again, the State Department has long had the reputation for having highly competent officers, but a very weak administrative structure. The system has traditionally rewarded a small number of senior level Foreign Service Officers who essentially clawed their way up through a very competitive, secretive, convoluted system and an overly hierarchical structure. ... Clearly too much power has been allowed to concentrate over the years in the hands of a small group in the Bureau of Human Resources: the checks that should be place in any large organization are lacking. ... So Hillary, how about shaking this up." Image from

Nature Diplomacy
- Naomi Leight, Public Diplomacy Corps: Public Diplomacy for the Public: “This weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to Pioneertown and Joshua Tree National Park.

The weekend was incredible but that is neither here nor there, however, nature inspires. Seeing thousands or millions of stars in the sky without the glaring city lights makes the world look insignificant. The vast emptiness of the desert is beauty in nothingness. These natural wonders make people kinder and more open. From fellow hikers on the trail to fellow Pioneertown guests, people are just people. I think it would be a great PD initiative to bring all different types of people out into the desert or into deep forests and drop them off for a week with only each other, the essentials. A PD ‘Survivor’ of sorts. I bet by the end of the week issues that were once significant in terms of national conflicts (or others) would become irrelevant and the light of people-hood would shine through. Just a thought...” Image from article

Former Christian Science Monitor Editor Becomes Foreign Service Officer - Joe Grimm, "While the news industry is frantically searching for solutions and new directions, journalists' lives have been disrupted by cutbacks and job changes. Poynter Online wants to help by sharing how-they-did-it snapshots from people who overcame employment challenges.


Age: 35

New job: Foreign service officer, U.S. Department of State. Studying Serbo-Croatian language in advance of my first assignment to Embassy Sarajevo as assistant cultural affairs officer. My wife and I will be moving to Sarajevo in July and we'll spend the next two years there before our next assignment to who knows where.

Old job: I spent 12 years as a newspaper journalist, most recently as Europe editor of The Christian Science Monitor. This job entailed overseeing coverage of Europe, Canada and Russia. Previously, I was the environmental reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Biggest change so far: It's been a total career change and I've had to adjust my perspective significantly. The State Department encourages intellectual independence -- the Foreign Service truly places a high value on constructive dissent -- but in the end, my job entails defending and supporting the policies of the United States 24/7." Image from article


WWI pro-reading ad - Boing Boing

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