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Saturday morning in Amman was so foggy that, in our own way, we actually did have a white Christmas. On the 23rd Mecca Mall was as crowded as any American mall on the day before Christmas Eve (though since Thursday is the end of the work week here it was difficult to say how much of that was holiday traffic as opposed to the ordinary weekend crush), with virtually every shop displaying holiday decorations of some sort.
I’d hate to be a US official working on public diplomacy issues in the Middle East these days. Promoting American values and policy. Convincing a skeptical audience that the United States is not an evil, imperial power. How is one supposed to do these things when the bosses back in Washington seem hell-bent on undermining those sentiments in the interest of short-term political gain, or simple bloody-minded payback?
WASHINGTON Dec. 20 -- Thomas P.M. Barnett is sizzling.
Earlier this month, Barnett gave a much-discussed lecture at the Pentagon's annual Highlands Forum (link broken, but see description here).
This weekend I did something I’ve never done before: I bought an artificial Christmas tree. For someone who grew up in New England this was a big step. There have been Christmases (like that one in Saudi Arabia back in the ‘80s) when I did without, or made due with a scruffy bush. But it was a source of pride that I had never before permitted a fake tree inside my home.
So, the next Palestinian Authority president will not be selected in a real, competitive election after all. Earlier this week Marwan Barghouti pulled out of next month's contest to replace Yasser Arafat. His move clears the way for Mahmoud Abbas's ascendance to the post. A
number of other candidates remain, but none have the name recognition, street credibility or organizational clout that is lined up behind Abbas (who is commonly referred to as Abu Mazen).
WASHINGTON - Dec. 15 "Engaging the Arab and Islamic Worlds through Public Diplomacy," a new book about U.S. public diplomacy, was released this morning at a news conference with William Rugh, the book‘s editor, and several of its contributors.
“Our report is different,” Rugh said.” Our report is based on the understanding of experts in the Arab world and the Islamic world, and most of the authors have longtime experience in the field of public diplomacy as public diplomacy practitioners.”
Based on the newspaper reports from Morocco it sounds as though the Forum for the Future did not go especially well. The Forum, which was probably Colin Powell's final overseas trip as secretary of state, brought together foreign ministers and other senior figures from the United States, a number of European nations, 20 Arab nations, Turkey and Afghanistan.
Amman, Jordan – 11 December 2004
Yesterday I wrote about the opportunities the Palestinian election and, to a lesser extent, the slow rise of a new generation of Arab leaders offer for people throughout this region. Today I want to talk about what the US can and should do to help this process along.
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