Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad definitely got the villain treatment during his recent US visit, but Mosaic asks whether it's Americans he's even talking to. After all, getting tough with Uncle Sam earns big points in the Middle East.
WHY THEY DON'T LIKE US: WOULD YOU FOLLOW THE COUNTRY THAT BUNGLED IRAQ? - ANNE APPLEBAUM (WASHINGTON POST, OCTOBER 2): The U.S.?s closest friends really dislike is not our traditional pushiness, our violent movies or even our current president (though they don't like him much) but our incompetence. We've been bad at looking after our allies over the past five years, bad at thanking them or compensating them for military contributions to Iraq, bad at maintaining very basic aspects of public diplomacy, such as student-exchange programs.
CAN'T WIN WITH 'EM, CAN'T GO TO WAR WITHOUT 'EM: PRIVATE MILITARY CONTRACTORS AND COUNTERINSURGENCY - P. W. SINGER (POLICY PAPER, FOREIGN POLICY AT BROOKINGS, SEPTEMBER): 'The Blackwater episode resonated negatively not merely inside Iraq, but throughout the Muslim world. Every single media source led with the episode in the days that followed, focusing in on how the US could hire such '...arrogant trigger-happy guns for hire, mercenaries by any other name.' as UAE based Gulf News put it. ... Ironically, the incident occurred at the very same time that Secretary of State Rice was in the region at a conference, hoping to jump start the Arab-Israeli peace process, an effort that many think is key to sucking the poison out of U.S.-Muslim world relations. Instead of a public diplomacy coup for the U.S., the regional press instead focused on what the leading Arabic newspaper al Hayat titled as Blackwater... Black Conference.'
SEN OBAMA IRAQ SECURITY CONTRACTORS AMENDMENT WINS APPROVAL IN SENATE PRESS RELEASE (NH INSIDER, SEPTEMBER 28): Excerpt from a letter (September 28) from Senator Barack Obama to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: 'I am concerned about the impact of this [Blackwater] incident, as well as others since the private contractor role at Abu Ghraib, on our overall effort to win the wider 'war of ideas' that is required to defeat terrorism. This recent incident and other incidents have been widely reported in the Muslim world, with negative implications for U.S. efforts. The result is that not only are the private contractors being blamed, but so is the U.S. government. Has the State Department conducted an analysis of the consequences of turning over such functions in a contingency operation zone to private contractors? Is this outsourcing actually hurting, rather than helping, our public diplomacy efforts, especially our efforts to win 'hearts and minds'?"
CHIEFS DECRY WAR IN PAKISTAN - WILLIS WITTER (WORLD AFFAIRS BOARD, OCTOBER 2): Pashtun tribal chiefs, who for centuries have held sway in the Hindu Kush mountain range along the border with Afghanistan, say they are being thrust into an Iraq-style war between violent Islamists and the Pakistani army. The views of chiefs underscore the difficulty of the State Department's effort to implement a key goal of public diplomacy -- to convince the Muslim world that the United States is not an enemy of Islam.
DIPLOMATS AND BUREAUCRATS IN THE BLOGOSPHERE - K. DANIEL GLOVER (BELTWAY BLOGROLL, NATIONAL JOURNAL, OCTOBER 2): When diplomats and federal procurement folks join the blogosphere, you can rest assured that blogging is no longer just a fad -- and that's exactly what happened last week. The State Department launched a blog called Dipnote in advance of a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. "With Dipnote," wrote Sean McCormack, the assistant secretary of State for public affairs, "we are going to take you behind the scenes at the State Department and bring you closer to the personalities of the department. We are going to try and break through some of the jargon and talk about how we operate around the world." Other State Department officials who have posted entries are: Noel Clay, a press officer in the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and Under Secretary Karen Hughes.
DECONSTRUCTING AHMADINEJAD?S VISIT: WHEN PUBLIC DIPLOMACY IS NOT PUBLIC DIPLOMACY E.C. NISBET (FRAMING CONFLICT: THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, OCTOBER 1): http://framingconflict.blogspot.com/2007/10/deconstructing-ahmadinejads-visit-when.html
AGAINST MUSLIMS: NEOCONS USE CNN TO CONTINUE PSYOPS AGAINST AMERICAN MUSLIMS - (SUBUL AL-SALAM, OCTOBER 1): 'It should be noted that CNN is a branch of the 4th Army PSYOPS group staffed the National Security Council's Office of Public Diplomacy (OPD), 'a shadowy government propaganda agency that planted stories in the U.S. media supporting the Reagan Administration's Central America policies,' as Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting revealed way back in 2000.'
DOD APPROVED STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION PLAN FOR AFGHANISTAN (MOUNTAINRUNNER,SEPTEMBER 30): http://mountainrunner.us/2007/09/dod_approved_strategic_communi.html
9/11 IS OVER - THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN (NEW YORK TIMES, SEPTEMBER 30): Before 9/11, the world thought America's slogan was: 'Where anything is possible for anybody.' But that is not our global brand anymore. Our government has been exporting fear, not hope: 'Give me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints.' Guantánamo Bay is the anti-Statue of Liberty.
THE POLITICS OF CONFIDENCE - ROGER COHEN (NEW YORK TIMES, OCTOBER 1): The unpopularity of George W. Bush has led many to believe global America-hating will ebb once he leaves office on Jan. 20, 2009. That's a dangerous assumption. It's dangerous because the extent of American power will continue to invite resentment whoever is in the White House, and because America's perception of the terrorist threat will still differ from that of its Asian and European allies.
COUNTING CIVILIAN DEATHS IN IRAQ MICHAEL DOBBS (WASHINGTON POST, OCTOBER 1): Without more information from Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) on the methods used to combine American and Iraqi data, it is impossible to tell whether Petraeus is "cooking the books," in the charged language of the recent MoveOn.org ad.
TRENDS IN IRAQ - MICHAEL O'HANLON (WASHINGTON TIMES, OCTOBER 1): The bottom line, that must not be forgotten amid all the competing reports and confusion and politics, is that U.S. government databases show clear and significant reductions in Iraqi civilian fatalities over the course of 2007.
OUR DISGRACEFUL REFUGEE SCORE CARD: WHY DOES THE U.S. TAKE IN FAR FEWER REFUGEES -- ESPECIALLY IRAQIS -- THAN IT SHOULD? - ANNA HUSARSKA (LOS ANGELES TIMES, SEPTEMBER 29): Whether on purpose or by lack of commitment, the Bush administration failed to meet its own minimal standard of offering a haven to a few thousand of the most vulnerable Iraqis. This is wrong. Such failure makes the U.S. lose hearts and minds across Iraq.
IRAQ "BRAINS" DREAM OF STUDYING ABROAD - (ISLAMONLINE.NET & NEWS AGENCIES, OCTOBER 1): Troubled with the daily car bombs and threats of violence, Iraq's top-notched students want to escape the chaotic future of their war-ravaged nation.
SUBCONTRACTING THE WAR EDITORIAL (NEW YORK TIMES, OCTOBER 1): Iraqis -- whose hearts and minds the Bush administration insists it is finally winning -- were infuriated by the reported killing at of least eight Iraqis, including an infant. killings, by guards from Blackwater USA, assigned to protect American diplomats. The fact that American diplomatic activity in Iraq nearly came to a halt when Blackwater was grounded for a few days shows how much American operations have come to depend on mercenaries.
THE SHADOW ARMY - JANINE R. WEDEL (BOSTON N GLOBE, SEPTEMBER 30): The Iraq war has exposed the dangers of contracting out vital state functions to private actors.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE IRAQI: BLACKWATER AND PRIVATE MILITARY FIRMS IN IRAQ - WAJAHAT ALI (COUNTERPUNCH, SEPTEMBER 29/30): As of September 2007, Blackwater continues its convoy movements on the streets of Iraq. The black heart of American private military firms in Iraq has a strong, healthy pulse indeed.
BLACKWATER WAVES: THE PRIVATE SECURITY FIRM HAS MADE PLENTY OF ENEMIES IN IRAQ AND IN WASHINGTON ? EDITORIAL (WASHINGTON POST, OCTOBER 2): For some time to come, Blackwater or other security companies will be needed to protect senior U.S. diplomats and other personnel. The focus of the current reviews should be ensuring that they conform to the standards governing U.S. troops and can be held accountable when they commit excesses.
THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE - PETE HEGSETH (NATIONAL REVIEW, SEPTEMBER 30): The sounds of silent progress in Iraq will eventually overcome the steady drumbeat of defeat here at home.
YOU CAN'T WIN WITH CIVIL WARS: HISTORY TEACHES THAT CONFLICTS LIKE IRAQ DRAG ON AND RARELY PRODUCE PEACE DEALS - BARBARA F. WALTER (LOS ANGELES TIMES, OCTOBER 2): The sad irony of the civil war in Iraq is that by deposing Saddam Hussein, we've created a situation that is likely to remind us of why we supported him for so long in the first place.
THE END OF BONAPARTISM AND THE WAR ON TERROR JUAN COLE (INFORMED COMMENT: THOUGHTS ON THE MIDDLE EAST, HISTORY, AND RELIGION, OCTOBER 1): For the 'globalized business' crowd, the Iraq war was not a sacred mission, as it was for the Neoconservatives, but rather just another lowering of barriers to investment and business (which might also have opened the Arab world up, which would have been all to the good).
HISTORY AND THE DRUMBEAT OF WAR - JAMES CARROLL (BOSTON GLOBE, OCTOBER 1); Fortunately the Bush administration's generic embrace of "preventive war" is discredited by Iraq, which is the main reason to hope no preemptive attack on Iran is coming.
A HEADLINE YOU'RE NOT READING: IRAN READY TO WORK WITH US ON IRAQ - ANTHONY KAUFMAN (HUFFINGTON POST, OCTOBER 1)
AN IRANIAN UNIVERSITY INVITES BUSH TO SPEAK - ROBIN WRIGHT (WASHINGTON POST OCTOBER 2)
BUSH VS. IRAN: TO BOMB OR NOT TO BOMB? ? EDWARD M. GOMEZ (SFGATE.COM, OCTOBER 1)
BLOGGING AHMADINEJAD IN TEHRAN - TOM PARKER(NEW YORK TIMES, SEPTEMBER 30): Excerpts of what Iranian bloggers had to say about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?s visit to Columbia University.
GUEST POST: THE INVENTION OF AN ANTI-CHRIST - JON STOKES (TOM PAINE, SEPTEMBER 28): The 'wingers need an Antichrist, the Bushies need a pretext, and the Israelies need protection... All of this makes Ahmadenijad the Most Dangerous Man Alive, and someone whose country must be invaded at all costs.
ANNALS OF NATIONAL SECURITY: SHIFTING TARGETS -- THE ADMINISTRATION?S PLAN FOR IRAN. - SEYMOUR M. HERSH (NEW YORKER, OCTOBER 8): http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/10/08/071008fa_fact_hersh?printable=true
SHIFTING TARGETS - KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL (NATION, OCTOBER 1): The Administration is intent on taking us into another military disaster -- which will destabilize the region and the world and make the US less secure.
SO WHAT ABOUT IRAN? HOW TO MAKE IRAQ LOOK LIKE WHIPPED CREAM - URI AVNERY (COUNTERPUNCH, SEPTEMBER 29/30):
One thing I am ready to predict with confidence: whoever pushes for war against Iran will come to regret it.
THE REGION: AHMADINEJAD'S AGENDA BARRY RUBIN (JERUSALEM POST, OCTOBER 1): Ahmadinejad's goals are his control over Iran, Iran's control over the Persian Gulf area (especially Iraq), Israel's destruction, Iranian leadership of the Middle East, and even world domination, in roughly that order.
THE USUAL SUSPECT - JEFFREY GOLDBERG (NEW REPUBLIC, OCTOBER 1): The unmistakable message of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is that the destruction on September 11 was caused in significant measure by the Jews. Who really benefits from making anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism seem so indefensible?
ISRAEL'S TOY SOLDIERS - CHRIS HEDGES (TRUTHDIG, OCTOBER 1): .
BUSH, OIL AND MORAL BANKRUPTCY RAY MCGOVERN (TOMPAINE.COM, OCTOBER 1): So why the pressure for a wider war in the Middle East in which any victory will be Pyrrhic for Israel and for the U.S. The short answer is arrogant stupidity; the longer answer?what the Chinese used to call "great power chauvinism" and oil.
A SMALL OUTBREAK OF MIDEAST HOPE - JIM HOAGLAND (WASHINGTON POST, SEPTEMBER 30): The belated U.S. mediation in the Middle East led by Condi Rice does illuminate three long-term changes that have to be taken into account in judging whether the secretary of state can wring agreement on principles from Olmert and Abbas.
WINNING UGLY: IRAQ DOESN?T NEED TO BE A KODAK MOMENT - VICTOR DAVIS HANSON (NATIONAL REVIEW, OCTOBER 1): The current orthodoxy that America is losing the war on terror inside and outside Iraq, while bereft of allies, is simply not true. Instead we are winning; it's ugly perhaps, but winning nonetheless.
A TERRORIST BILL OF RIGHTS? EDITORIAL (WASHINGTON TIMES, OCTOBER 1): This week, House Democrats say they plan to hold hearings on a misguided bill that would grant habeas corpus rights to terrorist detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. The proposal would allow terrorists to publicly challenge their status as detainees in the U.S. court system, fracturing the cohesive structure already in place to ensure that highly dangerous suspects are held and processed in a secure and timely fashion.
TERROR DATABASE GETS PLENTY OF HITS - SARA A. CARTER (WASHINGTON TIMES, OCTOBER 1): The Terrorist Screening Center has detected more than 40,000 people trying to gain entry into the U.S. who either associated with terrorist groups or were known terrorists themselves, and the database is only going to get better, says the agency's chief.
NOT A NATION AT WAR - DONALD H. HORNER JR. (BALTIMORE SUN, SEPTEMBER 28): The minuscule size of our armed forces relegates the "global war on terror" to the status of other out-of-sight, out-of-mind activities. We follow this war about as much as we pay attention to the daily operations of the Department of Agriculture.
U.S. IS TOP ARMS SELLER TO DEVELOPING WORLD - THOM SHANKER (NEW YORK TIMES, OCTOBER 1): The United States maintained its role as the leading supplier of weapons to the developing world in 2006, followed by Russia and Britain, according to a Congressional study to be released Monday. Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia were the top buyers.