Foreign Policy News and Commentary Update October 19, 2007
GWU: THE MEDIA AND MISPERCEPTIONS MARC LYNCH (ABU AARDVARK, OCTOBER 17): "Last night, as part of the launch of our new Institute for Middle East Studies here at GW ... Hafez al-Mirazi, the long-time Washington bureau chief for al-Jazeera and host of the extremely popular talk show From Washington ... suggested that the American Arabic-language TV station al-Hurra would have been far more useful to American foreign policy if it had simply concentrated on presenting America in all its complexity and diversity to the Arab public, instead of trying to compete with al-Jazeera in its coverage of Palestine or Egypt. I happen to agree with that suggestion, and have made it myself many times, but that doesn't mean that he isn't right!"
A GUIDE TO A SUCCESSFUL NOVEMBER CONFERENCE? (ISRAEL POLICY FORUM, OCTOBER 10; POSTED OCTOBER 19 BY MEDIA FOR FREEDOM ): "President Bush has announced an international meeting devoted to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be held in the fall, presumably mid-November, and likely in Washington, D.C. This is a potentially important step in moving the stalled peace process forward ... . While we cannot speak for the Saudis or the other Arab countries, we assume that if they saw the bilateral Palestinian track moving forwards, and as commitments are implemented on the ground, with verification, a step by step approach to normalization would be acceptable to them. If it is not, the process could easily get stalled. What kinds of steps do we have in mind? Public diplomacy at home in preparing Arab populations for peace, government sponsored academic discussions on regional trade commissions/contact groups, convening regional security groups to discuss security architecture, etc."
SHARED VALUES REVISITED - SHELDON RAMPTON (PRWATCH.ORG, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND ACCURACY, OCTOBER 17): "Shared Values" -- television ads that the U.S. Department of State produced to improve the image of the United States in Muslim countries shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks -- was part of a public relations campaign launched by Charlotte Beers, a former Madison Avenue advertising executive who was appointed by Colin Powell as U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and asked to help "rebrand" the United States to give it a friendlier image in Muslim countries. "Shared Values" campaign was an abject failure.
PUBLIC DIPLOMACY NEEDED MORE THAN EVER ON BRINK OF INCURSION - AYªE KARABAT (TODAY?S ZAMAN, OCTOBER 18): Turkey's preparations for a possible operation into northern Iraq accelerated yesterday as lawmakers voted in favor of a government motion authorizing an incursion to hit outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) bases in northern Iraq. However, if these moves are not accompanied by effective public diplomacy Turkey may pay a steep price for the operation, experts warn.
TV NEWS WAR GOES GLOBAL ROD PROCTOR (NEWSMAX, OCTOBER 18): CNN may have started it all, but international 24-hour television news is rapidly expanding as a bevy of nations are kicking off their own 24-hour multi-language services, in what observers describe as a global battle of egos and ideas.
BAGHDAD EMBASSY CONTRACTOR AIMS FOR MORE BUSINESS - DAVID PHINNEY (ROUGH CUT, OCTOBER 10): Sloppy construction, safety problems, bribes, slave-like labor practices, missed deadlines, internal disputes and inflated costs -- the new $600-million US embassy compound in Baghdad is swamped in a rising deluge of allegations from lawmakers and the news media. Meanwhile, the former Washington representative for the Kuwait-headquartered contractor now building Baghdad embassy project is actively negotiating to buy the contractor's US partner company -- along with contracts for classified embassy work around the world that the US State Department awarded the two companies.
LOVE AND WAR CHRISTOPHER DICKEY AND JESSICA RAMIREZ (NEWSWEEK, OCTOBER 22): This is not just a different kind of war, it's also a different kind of American military than existed 40 or 50 years ago -- one that may talk about engaging hearts and minds, but spends many of its resources trying to keep them at a distance. The insistent demands of "force protection" and the insidious efficiency of the insurgents' bombs and booby traps have isolated the American soldier from the population he or she was once tasked to liberate. We may not lament the lack of bars, dance halls and whorehouses for today's troops. But in Iraq there's hardly any human contact at all that isn't at the point of a gun.
AL QAEDA IN IRAQ ON THE RUN: MAYBE THE U.S. CONGRESS WILL SAVE IT? - CLIFFORD D. MAY (NATIONAL REVIEW, OCTOBER 18): Col. Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., who commands a 'surge' brigade based in a mixed Sunni and Shia area near Baghdad, Grigsby, Jr.: "We do not commute to work," he said. "We live in the towns with the people we are here to help"
VICTORY IS WITHIN REACH IN IRAQ - MICHAEL A. LEDEEN (WALL STREET JOURNAL, OCTOBER 20): Not a day goes by without one of our commanders shouting to the four winds that the Iranians are operating all over Iraq, and that virtually all the suicide terrorists are foreigners, sent in from Syria. We have done great damage to their forces on the battlefield, but they can always escalate, and we still have no policy to direct against the terror masters in Damascus and Tehran.
THE MORAL DILEMMA OF LEAVING IRAQ: IT STARTED AS BUSH'S WAR, BUT WE ALL OWN IT NOW -- AND IT'S TIME WE TOOK A HARD LOOK AT WHAT THAT MEANS. CONVERSATIONS WITH MORE THAN 50 EXPERTS, FROM GENERAL PETRAEUS' ADVISERS TO ANTIWAR ACTIVISTS (MOTHERJONES.COM, OCTOBER 18)
IT'S THE RESISTANCE, STUPID - PEPE ESCOBAR (ASIA TIMES, OCTOBER 17): The ultimate, unspoken taboo of the Iraq tragedy is that the US will never leave Iraq, unless, of course, it is kicked out. And that's exactly what the makings of a unified Sunni-Shi'ite resistance is set to accomplish.
UPGRADING AUTHORITARIANISM IN THE ARAB WORLD - DESPOTS 2.0 EFFWIT (SWEDISH MEATBALLS CONFIDENTIAL, OCTOBER 17): A new Saban Center for Middle-East Policy (Brookings) report looks at the methods in which Arab regimes are dealing with the rising political expectations of their citizens and states that "in broad terms ... what has emerged in the Arab world is a hybrid approach to the management of the internet and new media communications technologies that is characteristic of authoritarian upgrading.?
BUSH WARNS OF WORLD WAR III WITH IRAN (THINKPROGRESS, OCTOBER 17): Asked about Iran's nuclear ambitions at his press conference today, President Bush warned for the first time in public of the risk of 'World War III' if Iran gets nuclear weapons.
US WW III RHETORIC 'BASELESS' (PRESS TV, IRAN, OCTOBER 20): A senior Iranian lawmaker has dismissed the recent remarks by US President George W. Bush against Iran as 'baseless' and 'propaganda.'
WILL WE FALL FOR WAR VS. IRAN? ANDREW GREELEY (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, OCTOBER 17/COMMON DREAMS): It would appear, according to news reports, that the hard-liners in the Bush administration, led by the vice president, are pushing for a war with Iran.
RESIGN, RETIRE, RENOUNCE WHAT SHOULD GENERALS DO IF BUSH ORDERS A FOOLISH ATTACK ON IRAN? - FRED KAPLAN (SLATE, OCTOBER 17): 'If there is a run-up to an Iranian war, what would the generals do? This is not an easy question. But here is my proposal (an easy proposal, some would charge, correctly, since I'm not in the military): If the top officers up and down the chain of command all agreed that an attack on Iran would be a disaster, on whatever grounds, they should do all they can to sway the president -- and anyone who has influence over the president -- against it. They should arrange to be called before congressional committees and to be asked awkward questions, which would elicit their critical replies. At the final hour, they should threaten to retire or resign en masse and, if that didn't work, they should follow through.'
THE TURKISH FRONT REVIEW & OUTLOOK (WALL STREET JOURNAL, OCTOBER 20): Ankara is an indispensable partner for America. The U.S.-Turkey friendship is too important to let it be ruined by parochial politics in either country.
OUR FRAYING ALLIANCE WITH TURKEY: ANKARA'S ANIMOSITY TOWARD THE U.S. HAS ITS ROOTS IN MUCH MORE THAN A GENOCIDE BILL - GRAHAM E. FULLER (LOS ANGELES TIMES, OCTOBER 19): We had better get used to the fact that Turkey, strengthened by its popular democracy, is going to pursue its own national interests, regardless of Washington's pressure. Few Turks want it any other way.
GENOCIDE BATTLEGROUND - AUSTIN BAY (WASHINGTON TIMES, OCTOBER 19): 'Historical horrors like the Armenian genocide really don't have anniversaries or centennials, or at least they shouldn't. They do deserve recognition and remembrance as instructive history, but recognition should not do damage to the present. The year 2015 -- or 100 years after the Armenian massacre -- strikes me as the perfect time to pass the resolution.'
TURKEY'S TRAVAIL - CAL THOMAS (WASHINGTON TIMES, OCTOBER 19): There should be no rush to condemn a genocide that took place more than nine decades ago (and the very word "genocide" is in dispute as a description).
PELOSI'S ARMENIAN GAMBIT - CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER (WASHINGTON POST, OCTOBER 19): The Turks are indeed friends, giving us indispensable logistical help in our war against today's premier perpetrators of crimes against humanity -- al-Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan. Friends don't gratuitously antagonize friends who are helping to fight the world's foremost war criminals.
PUTIN'S HOSTILE COURSE EDITORIAL (WASHINGTON TIMES, OCTOBER 18): For the most part, Mr. Putin is working to damage U.S. interests, and his "anti-imperialist" policies are reminiscent of Soviet-era behavior.
RUSSIA'S DNA: AND PRESIDENT BUSH'S CYA EDITORIAL (OCTOBER 19): At a White House news conference Wednesday, Mr. Bush questioned "whether or not it's possible to reprogram the kind of basic Russian DNA, which is a centralized authority." In so doing, he echoed the laziest thinking of cultural determinists.
WHAT HU JINTAO REALLY MEANT ? EDITORIAL (BOSTON GLOBE, OCTOBER 18): The speech by China's president, Hu Jintao, to the Communist Party Congress on Monday was a reminder of how much the world misses George Orwell. Socialist democracy, in Hu-speak, means no democracy at all.
PORTENTS OF A NUCLEAR AL-QAEDA - DAVID IGNATIUS (WASHINGTON POST, OCTOBER 18)
APOCALYPSE NOW? - STEPHEN HOLMES (NATION, OCTOBER 29): In Nemesis, the third volume of "an inadvertent trilogy" that includes Blowback (2000) and The Sorrows of Empire (2004), Chalmers Johnson has no patience for those who attribute 9/11-style terrorism to a clash of civilizations or an unchanging "Salafi radicalism" and its irredeemably wicked adherents. He argues that anti-American rage, rather than emerging fully formed from a highly malleable religious tradition, has been triggered by decades of immoral and illegal behavior by American officials and proxies abroad. But Johnson's determination to establish that subsequent harms to America are caused by prior American misdeeds often seems fanciful.
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO UNCLE SAM - FYODOR LUKYANOV (MOSCOW TIMES, OCTOBER 18): The United States' failure to achieve primacy in international relations has been analyzed by just about everyone, including the Americans themselves. And there is nearly universal agreement that the world is now moving into a new, multipolar phase. Most people welcome the transition, anticipating that it will usher in a fairer and more equitable global order. Only one question remains: How will it actually function?
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"I am relevant."
--President George W. Bush; cited in Dan Froomkin, "Bush: 'I Am Relevant'" (Washingtonpost.com, October 17)