- 21st Century Statecraft In The Obama Administration--Same Ploys, Different Toys?
- The evils of corporate influence on elections
- If ... you must 072810
- Beware of turks bearing glass houses
Posted: 28 Jul 2010 08:44 AM PDT
Back in June the State Department's Special Advisor on Innovation Alec J. Ross and Policy Planning staffer Jared Cohen led a delegation of tech companies to Syria. But Ross and Cohen are not mere wonks, as they demonstrated while in Syria:
So this is supposed to be the wave of the future, though not necessarily the future of social networking. After all, we already know all about that. Instead, Ross and Cohen are supposed to be the harbingers of the future of statecraft.
And they credit Hillary being its godmother! Be that as it may, this 21st century statecraft is supposed to be more than just different packaging, one more way to communicate and get your message across:
I don't know what spaces Ross and Cohen are talking about, but in that same space called Twitter where they are talking about frappucinos on the one hand and Guinea elections, people are talking about anything and everything that concerns them--and they bring along their ideologies. If anything, what Facebook and Twitter bring to the table is the ability to disseminate a message more broadly and coordinate groups for action more effectively.
He goes on to note that defending this new technology with a dismissive "you don't get it, old man" just does not cut it. A response like that by itself just does not differentiate between the good and the bad in any idea.
Narrowing the goal of statecraft down a bit, Ross has been working on using Twitter in the field of digital public diplomacy--
Like most tools, it works great when spreading you message to people who think the same as you and organizing them. However, there is nothing in such a tool that inherently makes a message more impacting.
Returning to the recent visit Ross and Cohen made to Syria, one of the justifications given was to make this new technology and infrastructure more widely available. While they obviously view this as an agent of change, the fact that Assad was willing to allow this for discussion implies that he is not nearly as afraid of this as Ross and Cohen might assume.
Rami G. Khouri, Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut wrote When Arabs Tweet, and explains why. Even with Facebook, Twitter and blogging--not to mention more established media such as Al Jazeera satellite television--what exactly is being achieved?
Instead, he concludes, the way for the US to really make a difference is through its actions, not its words--no matter how they are packaged technologically. Sounds like an old formula, no?
One cannot take seriously the United States or any other Western government that funds political activism by young Arabs while it simultaneously provides funds and guns that help cement the power of the very same Arab governments the young social and political activists target for change.
...Like I said, the United States and other Western governments should apply more honesty and intellectual rigor to their assault of our digital world than they did in their military invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
It all comes down to a US foreign policy, making wise decisions with the help of knowledgeable people who can make decisions beyond their ideologies--recognizing what does not work and being willing to change accordingly.
It's hard work.
Which may explain the attraction of using Facebook and Twitter in the first place.
by Daled Amos
Posted: 28 Jul 2010 04:29 AM PDT
In October 2002, New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Toricelli was sinking in the polls, so Democrats convinced him to drop out of the race and replace him with former Senator Frank Lautenberg. New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled that the substitution was legal.
For the editors of the New York Times were enthusiastic.
New Jersey's Supreme Court made the right call yesterday when it ruled that the State Democratic Party could substitute Frank Lautenberg for the discredited Robert Torricelli as its candidate in November's election for the United States Senate. The ruling appears to clear the way for a vigorous if necessarily abbreviated campaign, thus giving New Jersey voters the choice they deserve.
But as the late William Safire pointed out:
All summer the Senate Democratic boss, Tom Daschle, was minimizing the ethical shortcomings of Senator Robert Torricelli. Despite public airing of his lapses, Democratic primary voters chose the New Jersey fund-raiser to be their party's candidate.
What was going on was the last minute changing of the rules to ensure that the Senate seat would remain in Democratic hands.
Because of this (and many other reasons) I can't take the editors of the Times seriously when the argue in Keeping Politics in the Shadows, that the failure of the Disclose act hurts our democracy.
Corporations are more likely to make larger donations, they said, while union members and their smaller donations are protected from disclosure. Of course, one of the founding principles of campaign finance reform is to encourage large numbers of small donations from donors of all kinds, while reducing the influence of wealth. This is not an ideological proposition; it is fundamental to ensuring a fairer political process.
Really, I don't care what the "founding principles" of campaign finance reform are, those who wish to give, find ways to skirt the laws. And I don't fear corporations having undue influence in elections.
Well actually I do. I believe that the media, specifically newspapers have an outsize influence on our elections.
Take a newspaper endorsement. It should be the equivalent of a paid ad. The pretense is that editors of a newspaper are more informed than the general population and therefore their endorsement should somehow carry more weight. Any candidate who gets an endorsement is sure to include it in his subsequent advertising.
And of course in the last election, the Times ran a hit piece on John McCain alleging that he had an inappropriate relationship with a female lobbyist. Again, that is usually the province of a campaign's opposition research. Again that's worth something.
So if the Times is so concerned about corporations spending more than $600 to influence an election, perhaps then it could start by reporting fairly about a campaign. Or if they're going to trash one candidate, they should charge the other's campaign for the research they do. And declare their endosement as a contribution. That way we know how devoted the Times as a corporation is to a specific candidate and judge its credibility on reporting on the issues accordingly.
Posted: 28 Jul 2010 04:21 AM PDT
If you haven't read The Zionist League for Preemptive Self-Defense at Freson Zionism ; you must.
Posted: 28 Jul 2010 03:56 AM PDT
PM David Cameron of England, yesterday, gave a speech in Turkey in which he pandered to the Islamist Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan, in which he alleged, among other things, that Gaza was a "prison camp." As is typical of the New York Times's The Lede blog, Robert Mackey takes great delight in highlighting criticisms of Israel. Mackey, at least, posted an objection from the Israeli ambassador, but still the focus of the post is on the condemnation of Israel and not on how accurate it was.
In reference to a snarky article in the Independent, Elder of Ziyon writes:
The problem in Gaza has never been available goods - it has been poverty for the many unemployed people, unemployed in a large part because of Hamas policies. Remember the Erez Industrial Zone and what happened to that? Israel kept it open as long as it could until the terror attacks that Hamas performed there became too much. Thousands of employees lost their jobs as a result.
No, the Elder wasn't addressing Cameron, but the critique applies to the PM too.
And Daniel PIpes, points out a different aspect to the Turkish hypocrisy regarding Israel that Cameron validated. (Again, this was written before Cameron's remarks, but it applies to his "prison camp" comment.)
This Turkish rage prompts a question: Is Israel in Gaza really worse than Turkey in Cyprus? A comparison finds this hardly to be so. Consider some contrasts:
Contrary to Cameron's assertions, Israel was justified in stopping the flotilla and Gaza is not a prison camp. These are points that Mackey could have emphasized in opposition to Cameron's reckless charges.
But it's the New York Times, you can't really expect better.
UPDATE: To his credit, Jackson Diehl isn't impressed:
Standing alongside Cameron, Erdogan compared Israel to the "pirates of Somalia" and added that people in Gaza "are living under constant attacks and pressure in an open air prison." That was fairly mild stuff for the Turkish PM, who regularly accuses Israel of "state terrorism" and last month called it an "adolescent, rootless state."
Crossposted on Yourish.
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