Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 28

"And I had one answer. Lady GaGa."

--U.S. Ambassador to Japan, John V. Roos, replying to questions from think-tankers on what can be done in order to strengthen the strategic, economic and people-to-people relations between Japan and the United States; Lady Gaga image from


Article about the Baghdad Country Club


What about Indonesia? - "As the US makes more use of Australia as a part of its Pacific defense system, it will need to turn up the public diplomacy in Southeast Asia

to counteract the Jihadist agitprop that is certain to be an unwelcome byproduct." Image from

Liberian Government Sets Record Straight on Embassy Spy Allegation - "Last month, the Liberian Embassy in Washington was accused of spying on Liberians in the United States in a hunt for those believed to be against the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The allegations infuriated many Liberians in the United States who called on President Sirleaf to look into the matter. The government sent a high-power delegation to the United States led by national security advisor H. Boima Fahnbulleh to set the record straight. Both the government delegation and Liberians in the United States met at a town hall meeting Sunday to exchange views on the spy allegation. ... The

Liberian Ambassador to the United States, Charles Minor, says he did not send any spy email ... Ambassador Minor says he has commissioned an investigation to look into the spy allegation. But some Liberians have called for his recall because they say public diplomacy under Ambassador Minor’s tenure has failed and that he has been selective in his dealings with Liberians in the United States." Minor image from

Foreign Ministry safeguarding national interests: Salehi - "Salehi [Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi] said that the Foreign Ministry is passing through a sensitive period in the history due to the enemies multilateral pressure on the country using different scenarios and security provocations and soft war to disrupt foreign relations. He said that the Foreign Ministry is closely monitoring the international events away from propaganda campaign and is modifying relations with every individual country in line with the goals of the Islamic Republic of Iran and guidelines of Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and the President. Salehi said that over three million expatriates are living abroad who accounted for a potential capacity for the public diplomacy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Elsewhere in his address, Salehi acknowledged restructuring of Foreign Ministry to keep up with the international and national requirements. He said that parallel services have been cancelled and new sections have been set up including public diplomacy and the economic department to coordinate diplomatic relations with economic cooperation at the regional and international levels." Salehi image from

Policy Watch Russian hostages in Iraq - Full On Community Powered: "One of Moscow's principal foreign policy aims has been to prevent opposition to Russian intervention in Chechnya from rising up in the Middle East and the broader Muslim world. ... Part of Moscow's aim ... seems to be to convey to Muslims that Russia supports so many causes dear to them that they should not concern themselves over what is happening in Chechnya. Moscow would prefer that Muslims actually support Russian actions there, but will be grateful if they are merely indifferent -- just as long as they do not actively support the Chechen rebels. Remarkably, this Russian public diplomacy campaign has largely succeeded. ... Clearly, though, this Russian public diplomacy campaign has not worked with the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq."


As soldiers leave, U.S. diplomats face huge Iraq challenge - Andrew Quinn, Reuters: As the last American soldiers leave Iraq, the U.S. State Department assumes the reins of a complex and risky operation, the success or failure of which could determine whether the costly nine-year U.S. engagement with the country finally bears fruit. U.S. diplomats, shielded by thousands of security contractors, will seek to monitor Iraq's fragile political evolution and push ahead with civilian aid programs designed to demonstrate

the benefits of U.S. friendship. Their aim is to secure an alliance with a nascent democracy neighboring Iran that, as a key oil producer, has seen its strategic importance to Washington increase sharply amid the political turmoil engulfing the Middle East. But analysts say that, without U.S. military protection, they may end up trapped in fortified diplomatic bunkers while bureaucrats at home struggle with the logistics of organizing and securing one of the biggest U.S. diplomatic endeavors ever undertaken. Via. See also. Image from

The Pentagon's Vindication: So much for those stories about former generals and war 'propaganda' [subscription] - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: U.S. forces left Iraq this month, but at least one Iraq war tradition has continued: Years after politicians and pundits manufactured a headline-grabbing controversy to tar the Bush-era Pentagon, investigators have found no wrongdoing. That's the conclusion of the Defense Department's Inspector General after a two-year probe of the Pentagon's program for briefing retired military officers who sometimes appeared on television and in some cases had ties to defense contractors.

Pentagon Propaganda Programmers Pardoned; Pro-War News at Eleven - Jeff Huber, Lamentably, much of the American population’s cognizant skills have fallen far beneath the level of a slow child’s. So when standard citizens see the likes of McCaffrey and Jacobs

appearing on NBC as military analysts (yes, they’re baaaaaaaaaack), it won’t occur to them that these are the same retired bums who have been lying to them about our Woebegone Wars all along. Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance. Image from article, with caption: Look at those yo-yos. That's the way you do it.

Pentagon Concludes: Pentagon Propaganda Program Perfectly Propa, er, Proper - Brian Doherty, Reason: "From the Times of New York: 'A Pentagon public relations program that sought to transform high-profile military analysts into “surrogates” and 'message force multipliers' for the Bush administration complied with Defense Department regulations and directives, the Pentagon’s inspector general has concluded after a two-year investigation.' ... While not meaning to suggest that the government had no obligation to answer questions from its citizens or the press, I'm not sure it's part of its necessary powers to gin up a program like this to make sure seemingly independent analysts say what the government wants it to say."

Does Posting Jihadist Material Make Tarek Mehanna a Terrorist? How the outcome of Mehanna's trial could rewrite the line between speech and crime - Adam Serwer, Mother Jones: Convicting Mehanna, a Massachusetts resident whom prosecutors describe as a longtime terrorist wannabe, on conspiracy charges stemming from his alleged attempt to seek terrorist training or lying to investigators is one thing. Convicting him based on his alleged pro-jihadist

internet advocacy could establish a legal path to stamping out extremist propaganda on the web. At the same time, in the view of some civil libertarians, the case could narrow the right to free speech by allowing the government to successfully prosecute the expression of radical or unpopular views as a crime. The verdict could come as soon as next week. Image from

Iraq's Tenuous Post-American Future: Washington needs to expand its intelligence efforts with Baghdad and continue training its troops [subscription] - Paul Bremer, Wall Street Journal

How to Save Iraq From Civil War - Ayad Allawi, Osama al-Nujaifi, Rafe al-Essawi, New York Times: The United States must make clear that a power-sharing government is the only viable option

for Iraq. Unless America acts rapidly to help create a successful unity government, Iraq is doomed. Ayad Allawi, leader of the Iraqiya coalition, was Iraq’s prime minister from 2004-5. Osama al-Nujaifi is the speaker of the Iraqi Parliament. Rafe al-Essawi is Iraq’s finance minister. Image from

Giving Yemen a Chance - Editorial, New York Times: The Obama administration is reportedly preparing to admit President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen into the United States for medical treatment. It is not an easy call. But admitting Mr. Saleh, under strict conditions, offers the best hope for speeding his exit from power and ending the repression that has cost hundreds of Yemeni lives.

Al Jazeera English reaches 250 million homes -- including 5 million in the USA - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

Kremlin spin-doctor pays price for protests - Charles Clover, Financial Times: The Kremlin’s propaganda mastermind has become the most prominent head to roll in the Kremlin since mass protests against the government began in Moscow earlier this month.

Vladislav Surkov is to take up a new role as deputy prime minister in charge of modernisation, while his old role as Russia’s √©minence grise in charge of spin and political manipulation is to be assumed by Vyacheslav Volodin, one of the leaders of the ruling United Russia party. Surkov image from

South Korean Groups Launch Propaganda Balloons Into North - Sangwon Yoon, South Korean civic groups and defectors from the North said they launched balloons today that will float across the border to deliver leaflets containing criticism of the late Kim Jong Il and his son and successor, Kim Jong Un. Forty activists set off 10 balloons that also carried dollar bills, said Jang Se Yul, head of the North Korea People’s Liberation Front, a Seoul-based group of former North Korean soldiers and officers who defected to the South. The regime in Pyongyang, which today bids farewell to Kim Jong Il with a state funeral, has previously characterized such acts as provocations that could ignite a war.


"[N]o president has ever relied so extensively on the secret killing of individuals to advance the nation’s security goals."

--Greg Miller, "Under Obama, an emerging global apparatus for drone killing," Washington Post; image from article, with caption: A crew chief from the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron completes post-flight inspections of the RQ-1 Predator after one of its sorties in Balad Air Base, Iraq.

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