"The war in Iraq was lost as it started."
--American diplomat Peter Van Buren; uncaptioned image from; see also.
Instead of Isolating Putin’s Russia, U.S. Must Offer Alternatives - Nikolas Gvosdev, worldpoliticsrevew.com: "Putin is scheduled to take part in the BRICS summit in Brazil in July, where the 'isolated'
Russian president will take his place alongside the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa. This is where the U.S. rhetoric about the international community most visibly begins to lose out in the arena of public diplomacy. Visually, the G-7's claim to speak on behalf of the global family of nations is undermined by an alternate forum whose countries and leaders more accurately reflect the make-up of the globe. All one has to do is compare the summit photos of the G-7 and the BRICS to assess how their respective diversity—or lack thereof—will play out on the front pages of newspapers around the world. It is unfortunate that so many in the U.S. policy community never took the phenomenon of the BRICS seriously, in part due to its modest origins and limited scope (although the forum is now moving toward developing more-enduring building blocks, such as a development bank)." Image from
Turkey and United States conspire to issue April 24 statements: Harut Sassounian - armenpress.am: "[T]he Publisher and Edior of 'California Courier' Hrut Sassounian state in .. [a] new article ... as follows: 'In a speech delivered in Australia late last year, former US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans revealed for the first time that the State Department regularly conferred with the Turkish Embassy in Washington on the content of the US President’s annual April 24 statement on the Armenian Genocide.
This clearly reflects the degree of collaboration between Turkey and the United States on the genocide issue, and even more appalling, American officials’ succumbing to the gag rule imposed by a denialist regime! ... Turkey is reportedly ... energizing the mediating efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group to resolve the Karabagh (Artsakh) conflict through public diplomacy.'" Image from
Changes to student visa program could have big affect on tourism economy - Christie Rotondo, shorenewstoday.com: "The international workers, or J-1 students, a nickname that comes from the type of visa the students have, come to shore areas throughout Cape May County through a summer work travel program that’s been offered for decades through the U.S. State Department. But now, local officials and business owners are concerned that including reforms to the J-1 visas and summer work travel program in Congressional immigration and human trafficking legislation could destroy the program, which they say helps seasonal employers ... stay open longer and extend the tourism season. ... Critics of the program ... say that in recent years the summer work travel program has become a way for employers to hire cheap labor, marketed as a cultural exchange.
The Center for Immigration Studies, an independent Washington research organization, has also pointed to abuses within the program, like when hundreds of foreign students working in Hershey, Pa. protested in the summer of 2011. Those students claimed that they were underpaid, working too many hours, and excluded from experiencing American culture. ... About 100,000 students come to the United States each year through the program, and stay for four months. They spend three months working, then are permitted to travel for a month. The students work with sponsors, organizations designated by the State department to see to the day-to-day administration of the program. In June of 2013, the Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which focused on sweeping immigration reform. Included in that bill were several proposed measures aimed at protecting international students with oversight regulations, such as limiting the fees sponsor organizations can charge students to come work in the United States, which usually cost upwards of $1,000. It also made it illegal for sponsors to lie or present misleading information to prospective student workers, as well as make information about fees, costs and services publicly available on their websites, among other changes. While that bill has not yet been taken up in the House, another bill, called the Fraudulent Overseas Recruitment and Trafficking Elimination, or FORTE, act, would make it illegal for sponsors to charge international student workers fees to participate in the program. The FORTE Act was introduced in the House just last month, and is currently in committee. Uncaptioned image from entry
American hip-hop artistes [sic] connect with 'baul' music - zeenews.india.com: "Kolkata: American hip-hop artistes have discovered during a recent Kolkata tour that they share much in common with the 'baul' singers of West Bengal. 'I never heard her before and though I couldn't understand the language it just went straight to my heart. We have found that hip-hop and 'baul' are similar in two aspects - spirituality and touching social issues,' New York-born hip-hop rapper Sheikia Norris said. Reciprocating the feelings, Kolkata singer Malabika Brahma who follows the 'Baul' mystic minstrel traditions
said she also could connect with hip-hop music. A team of young American hip-hop singers are in Kolkata under a US government programme 'Next Level' which promotes civic activism and fosters cross cultural creative expression and exchange in diverse communities around the world. Levantine Public Diplomacy`s Paul S Rockower, who has also joined the team of artistes, said both hip-hop and 'baul' are mediums of expressing what is going on deep within you. 'Through music and dance we express our thoughts and feelings on what`s happening around us. So there is a spirituality angle involved into it as well as the discussion on social issues,' he said explaining the common ground for 'baul' and hip-hop.'" Image from
Should Hillary Clinton embrace Obama's foreign policy? - Frida Ghitis, cnn.com: "With the White House taking control of most big foreign policy areas, Clinton found a separate path, launching a campaign of public diplomacy, traveling to 112 countries, drawing large crowds and making headlines.
It was a soft power approach, but it raised America's profile, advancing women's rights along with one of her top policy goals. In 2010, she explained that 'my big-picture commitment is to restore American leadership ... everything I've done is in in furtherance of that." Image from, with caption: Bygones: A Clinton-Emanuel embrace
Hasbara, public diplomacy and propaganda - Reuven Ben-Shalom, Jerusalem Post: "Here are my top 10 hasbara tips: 1) Enough with Iran! (Convey the point and move on). And for heaven’s sake, use the word 'existential' sparingly. 2) Be timely and relevant. No one cares about 12-hour-old news, when the other side’s lies have become the perceived reality. 3) Determine the target audience and engage partners with respect, professionally, and at eye level. 4) Don’t talk too much. Refrain from lecturing and preaching. Stick to facts and figures, backed by documented proof. 5) Operational organizations should focus more on showing the 'what' and 'how' and leave the 'why' to policy- makers.
The IDF does not need to justify every policy, only to implement it. 6) Balance threats and defense with softer issues. Sometimes it’s better to talk about drip irrigation than Iranian nuclearization. 7) Demonstrate modesty. We’re not perfect. Talk about our weaknesses, flaws and mistakes. 8) Address internal challenges, not only external threats. 9) Demonstrate our values and morals by personal and organizational example, not with slogans. 10) Relax. Smile. The fate of Israel is not going to be determined by one conversation. The writer is a former pilot in the IAF, founder of Cross-Cultural Strategies Ltd. and project manager at CockpitRM." Uncaptioned image from entry
Facebook wins case over anti-Jewish page - Julian Hattem, thehill.com: "A top appeals court sided with Facebook on Friday in a case over a page on the website calling for violence against Jewish people. A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss the case, because Facebook cannot be held responsible for the content on its site, no matter how egregious.
The decision is a victory for tech companies that allow users to publish material online and confirms provisions of a law that has been crucial for many social media sites. In 2011, conservative lawyer Larry Klayman sued Facebook over a group page on the site called 'Third Palestinian Intifada,' which encouraged Muslims to rise up and kill Jewish people. The Internet giant took the page down after a request from Israel's public diplomacy ministry, but Klayman said that it was not fast enough. The company’s move 'amount[ed] to a threat of the use of force against non-Muslims, and particularly Jews,' he said. In siding with Facebook, the court relied upon a portion of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that protects social media companies from being liable for content published by others." Uncaptioned image from entry
Dershowitz, ex-justice ministry official face off over how to fight boycott, lawfare - Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post: "Renown [sic] lawyer and Israel activist Alan Dershowitz and former deputy attorney-general for international affairs Shavit Mathias on Tuesday had a surprising face-off over how best to fight the BDS and lawfare campaigns confronting Israel. ... Dershowitz advocated making Israeli policy decisions based solely on Israel’s national interests. He warned that worrying too much about how decisions would impact Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions and lawfare would place Israel at the mercy of these campaigns.
Matias implied agreement that Israel's decisions needed to be made in accordance with its national and security Interests. However, while not saying that territorial concessions should be made in direct response to delegitimization, Mathias did say that delegitimization needed to be combated with public diplomacy, with a variety of tools and that Israeli policy makers needed to take heed also of delegitimization when making policy. More specifically, unlike Dershowitz, she was also of the view that resolving the Israeli-Palestinians conflict was the long-term key to stopping delegitimization in its tracks." Image from entry, with caption: Man holds boycott Israel sign
Ethiopia to Send Delegation to Egypt - allafrica.com: "Ethiopia will send a public diplomacy delegation to Egypt soon to boost the people-to-people relation, said Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to the minister Dr Tedros Adhanom the delegation is expected to enhance the overall diplomatic relations with Egypt. The Ethiopian government has decided to send the delegation because of its desire to strengthen cooperation with Egypt, he noted. The delegation consist[s] [of] representatives of the public wing, the parliament, religious institutions, renowned persons, private sector and media, among others."
Seoul eyes 'comfort women' appeal - ecns.cn: Seoul may follow Beijing's lead and submit an application to UNESCO to record for future generations the trauma that 'comfort women' experienced and archive them as part of the UN Memory of the World program, a senior Republic of Korea diplomat said on Thursday. Preserving the painful memories of the 'comfort women' is a shared duty of great urgency for East Asia, and is not an issue of 'political maneuvering', senior diplomats and observers from China and the ROK said. Kim Dong-gi, director-general for cultural affairs of the ROK's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a China-ROK public diplomacy forum held in Beijing that he noted Beijing's application, and that the two nations share a common history in this regard. Although Seoul is considering submitting an application, an official one has not yet been made, according to Kim. 'The spirit of UNESCO is to pursue peace, and we are able to cooperate,' Kim said. Tokyo protested on Wednesday against China's decision to submit an application. It has turned a blind eye to the behavior of its Imperial Army in forcing Asian women into sexual slavery, and has attempted to make the 'comfort women' issue a diplomatic bargaining chip, some observers said. Li Zhaoxing, president of the China Public Diplomacy Association and former foreign minister, said Japanese politicians 'should have a correct understanding' of historical issues. He made the remarks amid growing concerns among Japan's Asian neighbors about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's explicit denouncement on Monday of the 'Kono Statement', which apologized for Japanese wartime atrocities. ... Zhou Qing'an, a professor of public diplomacy at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said, 'The frequent denial or denouncement of the Kono Statement made by Japanese politicians has projected one of the darker sides of Japan's national image.'"
Does China Care About its International Image? - chinadigitaltimes.net: "After summarizing the regionally varying China-related findings of a recent BBC World Service/Globescan poll on the global perceptions of 24 countries, University of Macau assistant professor Dingding Chen asks, ‘Does China care about its international image?’ From The Diplomat: … There are … possible explanations for the seeming inconsistency between China’s national image campaigns and its recent assertive behavior. First, it could be that China does not genuinely embrace the idea of national image or soft power. [...] … [...] [A] second reason could be that China does care about its national image but the problem is that China is inexperienced or even clumsy in promoting its national image.
Indeed, in recent years China has put in lots of resources into its ‘public diplomacy’ which has generated mixed results. Just think about how much money Beijing spent on the Beijing Olympics 2008 to promote China’s positive image. It is abundantly clear that Beijing does want to present a positive and peaceful national image to the international community. Nonetheless, it could well be that officials in China who are in charge of promoting national image are incompetent or there is no coordination between different ministries and actors such as the Foreign Affairs ministry and the military.” Image from
Experts point way to 'build a better dream' as Xi set to visit ROK - China Daily: "'The Chinese Dream' of national rejuvenation and the Republic of Korea's 'new era of hope and happiness' can dovetail to the benefit of both countries and the region, senior diplomats and analysts said as President Xi Jinping prepares to visit Seoul.' Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao outlined the benefits of further cooperation when he read a congratulatory letter from Foreign Minister Wang Yi to the Second China-ROK Public Diplomacy Forum in Beijing on Thursday. The forum, with the theme
'Building a Better Dream', attracted about 240 government, think tank and business representatives from both countries. 'Beijing has been pursuing the 'Chinese Dream' to revitalize the country, while Seoul is carving out the 'second miracle on the Han River' and building 'an era of happiness', ' Wang said, adding that people from the two countries should walk side by side toward these converging goals." Image from
EU launches campaign to combat sexual violence against minors during World Cup - europa.eu: "Between 2007-2013, the European Commission provided €61m in funding to Brazil for EU-Brazil relations (eg trade, human rights, economic and social development and the environment). Between 2014-2020, the European Commission will provide €7.5m in funding to Brazil for EU-Brazil relations (higher education with Erasmus Mundus and a Sectorial Dialogues project, which includes among other themes, human rights, environment and science and technology).
The new Partnership Instrument (PI), for which projects are under preparation, will also contribute with new resources for cooperation with Brazil in several sectors such as climate change, renewable energy, public diplomacy, and promoting trade and investment, among other areas." Image from entry
Let's Nip Apple Row in the Bud - [scroll down link for entry] - Letter to the Editor, Myles Duffy, Glenageary, Co Dublin - Irish Independent : "A rationalisation of embassies, consulates and the 19 IDA Ireland [Industrial Development Authority Ireland] overseas offices, as a well as the combination of public diplomacy with the skills and know-how to secure foreign direct investment, would surely mean that Ireland's efforts in the foreign direct investment sphere would be more focused, defensible and successful."
In Extremists' Iraq Rise, America's Legacy - Dexter Filkins, New Yorker: What Americans left behind was an Iraqi state that was not able to stand on its own.
What we built is now coming apart. This is the real legacy of America’s war in Iraq. Via JM. Image from entry, with caption: Thousands of Iraqis flee Mosul as militants attack.
Iraq in Peril: Prime Minister Maliki Panics as Insurgents Gain - Editorial, New York Times: The United States simply cannot be sucked into another round of war in Iraq. In any case, airstrikes and new weapons would be pointless if the Iraqi Army is incapable of defending the country. Why would the United States want to bail out a dangerous leader like Mr. Maliki, who is attempting to remain in power for a third term as prime minister? It is up to Iraq’s leaders to show leadership and name a new prime minister who will share power, make needed reforms and include all sectarian and ethnic groups, especially disenfranchised Sunnis, in the country’s political and economic life — if, indeed, it is not too late.
Just what are Obama's options in Iraq? - Editorial, Los Angeles Times: If a terrorist is plotting an attack on Americans, it shouldn't matter whether he is located in Yemen or Iraq.
But that doesn't mean the U.S. should deploy aircraft — manned or unmanned — to shore up Maliki's government. If there was a time when the U.S. could control events in Iraq, that time has long passed. Obama should remember that as he ponders his "options." Image from
The Big Burn: The Sunni-Shiite Conflict Explodes in Iraq - David Brooks, NEw York Times: We now have two administrations in a row that committed their worst foreign policy blunders in Iraq. By withdrawing too quickly from Iraq, by failing to build on the surge, the Obama administration has made some similar mistakes made during the early administration of George W. Bush, except in reverse. The dangers of American underreach have been lavishly and horrifically displayed. It is not too late to help Syrian moderates. In Iraq, the answer is not to send troops back in. It is to provide Maliki help in exchange for concrete measures to reduce sectarian tensions. The president says his doctrine is don’t do stupid stuff. Sometimes withdrawal is the stupidest thing of all.
The Terrorist Army Marching on Baghdad: The Iraqi military simply may not be capable of launching a sufficient counteroffensive - Jessica Lewis, Wall Street Journal: Iraq needs the United States. U.S. Special Operations forces would provide invaluable early-targeting support to Iraqi army units preparing for battle. Airstrikes on ISIS strongholds between Mosul and Bayji would help Iraqi ground forces maneuvering to retake Mosul and Tikrit.
The U.S. Army could also provide logistics and other support to the Iraqi military. The Iraqi forces will require additional training, maintenance assistance and battlefield planning support before launching a full counteroffensive. The U.S. can provide it. Drone strikes and other measures suited for combating a terrorist group won't suffice against ISIS. This is a terrorist army, bent on having its own country. Image from
Bush, Cheney created the Iraq mess; why not make them try to fix it? - Paul Whitefield, Los Angeles Times: Send Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney over there to Iraq and let them try to negotiate a solution. And tell them they can’t come home until they’re successful. Here’s hoping that Obama really can pull a rabbit out of a hat and somehow persuade the Iraqis to, you know, actually stand up and fight for their country. And maybe, with a little push from us, this rebel group will prove more paper tiger than snarling beast.
Redeploy U.S. troops to Iraq: Another view: At this point, the only way to roll back ISIS is to redeploy U.S. troops to Iraq on the ground - Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, USA Today: The presence of ground troops would allow the U.S. to exercise leverage in Iraq in pressuring the central government to integrate ordinary Sunni Arabs into political and economic life in Iraq. Without such reforms, the prospects for peace in Iraq are remote.
The Iraq Debacle: An extended civil war is likely. A terrorist caliphate is possible - Review and Outlook, Wall Street Journal: Mr. Obama now faces the choice of intervening anew with U.S. military force or doing nothing. The second option means risking the fall of Baghdad or a full-scale Iranian intervention to save Mr. Maliki's government, either of which would be terrible strategic defeats.
The alternative is to stage an intervention similar to what the French did in Mali in early 2013, using a combination of air power and paratroops to defeat or at least contain ISIS. But that would be an admission that Mr. Obama's policy in Iraq has failed. Meantime, somebody needs to start thinking about evacuating U.S. personnel from our Embassy in Baghdad. Maybe the helicopter is already on the roof. Image from
The Middle East’s mounting danger - Editorial, Washington Post: For years, President Obama has been claiming credit for “ending wars,” when, in fact, he was pulling the United States out of wars that were far from over. Now the pretense is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain. Total withdrawal can instead lead to challenges like that posed by Iraq today, where every option — from staying aloof to more actively helping Iraqi forces — carries risks. The administration needs to accept the reality of the mounting danger in the Middle East and craft a strategy that goes beyond the slogan of “ending war responsibly.”
Why US military aid alone can't save Iraq [New York Times Op-Ed]- Nussaibah Younis, economictimes.indiatimes.com: The Obama administration must help the Iraqi government retake the city of Mosul from Islamists and stem their march toward Baghdad.
But military aid will not be enough. For lasting success, the United States must compel Iraq's divisive leadership to pursue government by reconciliation just as vigorously as it pursues battlefield victory. Image from
While Obama Fiddles: The fall of Mosul is as big as Russia's seizure of Crimea - Dan Henninger, Wall Street Journal: Iraq may be transforming into (a) a second Syria or (b) a restored caliphate. Past some point, the world's wildfires are going to consume the Obama legacy. And leave his successor a nightmare.
Reassuring Eastern Europe - James P. Rubin, New York Times: Instead of spending money to transport troops and equipment in and out of Eastern Europe, President Obama should adopt a bolder strategy: American and NATO forces should have new, permanent bases in Poland and elsewhere on the territory of NATO members in Central and Eastern Europe. American forces would be welcomed there and host countries could bear a substantial portion of the costs. The main objection to such a move is that it would contradict a 1997 accord called the NATO-Russia Founding Act. In that accord, NATO pledged no “additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces” in the East. But circumstances have changed.
Obama and Abbott: The U.S. and Australia make common cause in the Pacific - Barack Obama and Tony Abbott, Los Angeles Times: Australia welcomes and fully supports the U.S. effort to rebalance its foreign relations with a greater focus on Asia and the Pacific, a shift that recognizes that America's future is inextricably linked to the people and nations of the world's fastest-growing region.
Under an initiative our nations agreed to in 2011, U.S. Marines and aircraft are now training with their Australian counterparts in northern Australia. Image from entry, with caption: President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia meet with reporters following a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office.
Obama's Foreign Policy Fails His Own Test: U.S. influence is on the wane thanks to a series of unwise decisions - Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal: 'Don't do stupid sh—." That is the description of President Obama's foreign policy, as crafted by White House message mavens and articulated by the president himself. A crude, meaningless phrase cannot substitute for statecraft, and the administration's actions—or often enough, its inaction—fail to meet his own test.
ONE MORE QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
“Americans ... are obsessed by three C’s: control, competition and choreography. ... Not long ago in Boston, I was watching a basketball game with a friend.
I asked him how the ultra-politically-correct United States could — figuratively speaking — embrace both feminism and cheerleaders. The answer was, 'Feminism is good. Cheerleaders are good-looking.' Then he borrowed my binoculars. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t checking out the progress of feminism. Does that contradict what I was saying earlier about not discussing your women colleagues’ appearance? So be it. Add 'contradiction' to our list of American C’s."
--From: Beppe Severgnini, How to Explain Americans, New York Times; image from