• Public Diplomacy

    Blair ‘convinced Bush’ not to launch strike at Al-Jazeera

    From the Scotsman.com website comes an extremely disturbing headline that is likely to cause a huge furor in the United States, Middle East, Europe, and the rest of the world: Blair ‘convinced Bush’ not to launch strike at Al-Jazeera. TONY BLAIR had to persuade US President George Bush not to launch a military strike on the studios of TV station Al-Jazeera. New reports claim the two leaders debated an attack on the station which has broadcast video messages from al-Qaida head Osama bin Laden and leaders of the insurgency in Iraq, as well as clips of dead British and US soldiers. This possible revelation (subject to proven authenticity) would validate…

  • Civil-Military Relations,  Public Diplomacy

    White phosphorus: who knew what and why? did they care?

    What do people hear when the news says the "the Pentagon now admits using white phosphorus despite earlier denials"? It sounds a lot like the United States Armed Forces lied. What the public hears, both foreign and domestic, is another cover-up. Critical to the real story, especially this one, is who really said what and what is the "Pentagon". An analysis on the BBC News website (16 Nov 05) used that exact phrase (emphasis mine): The Pentagon’s admission – despite earlier denials – that US troops used white phosphorus as a weapon in Falluja last year is more than a public relations issue – it has opened up a debate…

  • Public Diplomacy

    Are we safer?

    This article requires little additional commentary, although much could be said to explain & reinforce the commissions statements. From FT.com (14 Nov 05) US – 9/11 body attacks White House: The US commission that investigated the attacks of September 11 2001 warned on Monday that the government was failing to move quickly to isolate terrorist groups and discourage weapons proliferation. The report gives failing grades of “insufficient progress”, “minimal progress” and “unfulfilled” on US efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMD), better defining the US message to the Muslim world, and establishing clear standards for terrorist detention among all members of the US-led coalition fighting the…

  • Civil-Military Relations,  Public Diplomacy,  Terrorism

    58 percent question his integrity

    From the WashingtonPost: Bush’s Popularity Reaches New Low. 58 percent in poll question his integrity. Currently 39 percent approve of the job he is doing as president, while 60 percent disapprove of his performance in office — the highest level of disapproval ever recorded for Bush in Post-ABC polls. Examining the Bush Administration’s record in military security policy reveals a key marker of democracy is derisively dismissed. Outsourcing of key military, and hence political, missions in the “Global War on Terror” to private military forces is corrosive to effective and practical political leadership, ownership, and management that are not lost on the military elites. While the popularity rating is more…

  • Public Diplomacy

    Reporters not Reporting

    In another case of the reporter making and framing the news instead of reporting on it, Wolf Blitzer takes pains to defend a reporter and a friend whom he worked with a long time ago. During the 26 October 2005 episode of The Situation Room, Blitzer goes head to head with a former CIA agent on the Plame outing.

  • Public Diplomacy

    My state is big

    From the department "Did they really say that?" comes this well-thought out statement from Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes: "My state of Texas is very big. So you can imagine my surprise to learn that your country, Indonesia, is three times bigger than my big state of Texas."FT.com

  • Public Diplomacy

    Delivering the Good Word

    Special Operations Command is looking to compete with Kinko’s. Well, not really, they are looking for a deployable print production center will allow PSYOP forces to produce print products in forward operating locations, meaning the system must be sustainable outside of garrison environmental conditions. In other words, a portable print center capable of providing literature wherever PSYOPS / Special Forces are operating. Text and images would be received through an existing PSYOPS system or hard media. Interesting potential for public diplomacy deep in denied media territory. I wonder if this could be used for remote libraries and learning centers? Or even helping media outlets get started?

  • Public Diplomacy

    Clash of Common Sense

    Richard Clarke’s recent commentary in The Atlantic is a must read today. It’s opening paragraph: Imagine if, in advance of Hurricane Katrina,thousands of trucks had been waiting with water and ice and medicine and other supplies. Imagine if 4,000 National Guardsmen and an equal number of emergency aid workers from around the country had been moved into place, and five million meals had been ready to serve. Imagine if scores of mobile satellite-communications stations had been prepared to move in instantly, ensuring that rescuers could talk to one another. Imagine if all this had been managed by a federal-and-state task force that not only directed the government response but also…

  • Africa,  China,  Peacekeeping,  Public Diplomacy,  War

    Chinese Peace Corps + Energy Exploitation

    In the spirit of challenges of securing energy sources and "hearts and minds" comes an article in the People’s Daily Online: The 12 young volunteers from places such as Beijing, Sichuan and Yunnanwere going to Ethiopia in Africa to begin a six-month service work in methane exploitation, Chinese-language teaching, physical education, health care and information technology. This Chinese Peace Corps is now in competition to win the hearts and minds with a Peace Corps perceived to be co-opted by the Defense Department. The long term goal for China is clearly cultural and technological imperialism as they seek to recreate a multi-polar world. From the recent UNOCAL take-over attempt by CNOOC…

  • Public Diplomacy

    Guides to Britain, Iraq (for WWII GIs but also for today)

    Before returning from a term at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, a friend gave me a book a great little book: Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain 1942. This was issued to American GIs headed for the to-be-UK and is full of great little bits. Here are but a few of them: "The British have theatres and movies (which they call "cinemas") as we do. But the great place of recreation is the "pub". The English language didn’t spread across the oceans and over the mountains and jungles and swamps of the world because these people were panty-waists. [The] British [are] reserved, not unfriendly. It is always impolite to criticize…