Whither US Public Diplomacy?

In writing on the symbolic irony in President Bush’s visit to Monticello, (above) I took note of James Glassman’s recent statement that “our mission is not to improve America’s standing in the world.” Glassman’s comment, as the new Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, deserves more context and question. Glassman was appearing on June 23rd, with Shibley Telhami, on the PBS NewsHour, responding to recent bashing of the American government’s al-Hura Arabic language broadcasting program. Criticisms had been particularly pointed on the CBS 60 Minutes program and in the Washington Post, with the most intense fury focusing on al-Hura broadcasting speeches by Hizbullah leader Nasrallah.
Glassman had tried to short-circuit Telhami’s contention that US broadcasting has so little to show for itself, if the money was wisely spent, or if it had any chance of improving world views of America. Thus Glassman’s statement that “improving America’s image was not its mission.”
But just what then is the mission of Public Diplomacy and its broadcasting board of governors? Glassman answered that,

“Our job is to be professional broadcasters, to show the world, to show people in places like Tibet, and in Burma, and Tajikistan what a free press is like and to tell them what’s happening in their own countries.”

This is difficult terrain, as within seconds, Glassman contends that broadcasting Hibzullah’s Nasrallah was a mistake, because he’s a terrorist. Yet were al-Hura to be a “free press” impressing “the other” with how free America’s media really is, then by Glassman’s guideline, it should be able to report Nasrallah’s comments. For better or worse, Nasrallah is a “happening” in Lebanon.
I have some empathy with Glassman. He follows Charlotte Beers, Karen Hughes, et. al. into a thankless, intensely controversial role. Critics, including those within the US government, commonly proclaim that its US policies, not the medium of broadcasting, that are to blame for poor perceptions of America in the world.
Yet if anything, Mr. Glassman, perhaps reflecting his recent roles at the American Enterprise Institute, has been quite enthusiastic about the role of public diplomacy in “winning” hearts and minds abroad – in itself. Indeed, Glassman in February 2005, defined public diplomacy as,

“the promotion of the national interest by informing, engaging and influencing people around the world. … Of course, policy counts most, and many foreigners simply disagree with our policies – in Iraq, on the environment, on trade. But we have a better chance of winning them over if we explain ourselves well.” (from 2/21/05 Scripps Howard News Service oped)

Glassman, as of 2005, was an enthusiastic proponent of US public diplomacy actively endeavoring to “influence” foreign publics – the “opinions of mankind.” His department’s own web site still quotes him as saying, “The task ahead…. [is to] engage in the most important ideological contest of our time – a contest that we will win.”
But when faced with the enormous difficulty of the task, we have the new Secretary declaring that, “our mission is not to improve America’s standing in the world.”
So which is it? To influence or not to influence; to engage or not; to “win” but “not improve America’s image?” Hopefully Mr. Glassman will help us untie the knot in the near future. Til we get that clarity, any readers want to take a crack at resolving this apparent tension? Am I being more dense than usual?
For discussion, two documents: First, a still excellent 2003 Harvard Review article by legendary US Ambassador Chris Ross, who offers “seven pillars of public diplomacy.” Much “wisdom” herein; Move over Lawrence. I especially think Mr. Jefferson would approve of Ross’s #7:

“The final pillar of public diplomacy recognizes that the United States must build the foundations of trust and mutual understanding through a genuine commitment to dialogue. We must listen to the world as well as speak to it. The failure to listen and to provide more avenues for dialogue will only strengthen the stereotype of the United States as arrogant, when, in fact, we are often only being inattentive.”

Secondly, consider the important 2003 Study, “Changing Minds: Winning Peace,” a report of the Congressional Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World. Chaired by another former Assistant Secretary of State, Edward Djerejian, the report helped lay the groundwork for dramatic increase in spending and reorganization of America’s “public diplomacy” efforts.
The report’s very title speaks of “changing minds” — presumably that would include improving America’s standing in the world. Members of the advisory group included Chris Ross, Shibley Telhami, and… James Glassman.

Conetta continues discussion of ‘Necessary Steps’ report

Contribution from Carl Conetta of the Project for Defense
Alternatives to the discussion on the ‘Necessary Steps’ report on how to
withdraw from Iraq,

sent June 28, 2008 in response to the comments
made on the report
by Helena Cobban, June 25

Published here by
permission of Carl Conetta and under JWN’s usual Creative Commons
license (main principles: always give attribution; don’t use for
profit-making endeavors without negotiating specific permission.)

On Saturday Carl Conetta, who
was a member of the “experts’ group” for the recent “Necessary Steps”
report, sent me this thoughtful response to
my JWN comments of June 25.
of what he wrote
he  keyed directly to the rows in the table in that
post.  So as soon as I have time, I shall make a  new
column for the table and insert his comments into it.  It’s a
good discussion. ~HC

Here’s what Carl wrote:

I found
your review of the report thoughtful and
helpful. Probably the most thorough and thoughtful review that the
report will
receive. So thank you. Important additions and amplifications as


some of the points of difference you
mention, my comments:

Handoff to UN. I tend toward your view, but
there were differences among participants about UN capacities, Iraqi
of UN authority, and whether leaning heavily on the UN would really
congressional concerns about post-withdrawal stability. Personally, I
think the
first two of these concerns are resolvable. But whatever the nature of
the UN
mandate after US withdrawal, it would have to be sell-able to an Iraqi
that is pretty sick of occupation by foreigners.

Arab-Israeli conflict. I agree that much of
the instability that troubles the Muslim world gains impetus from this
But I don’t think resolution of it is essential in order to
reduce the risks of
post-withdrawal bloodshed and chaos in and around Iraq. And the latter
was the aim of the report.  Baker-Hamilton linked the two
theaters with a
bigger vision and agenda in mind. If, indeed, reducing the risks I
mention are
contingent on progress in the A-I conflict, then we’ll be in
Iraq a long time.
Conversely, some of the international mechanisms that would be
established as
part of the Task Force agenda might contribute indirectly to progress
in the A-I
conflict (mostly by building cooperation with Syria and
Iran).  Of course,
progress in A-I disputes would be helpful to stability in
Iraq.  And the
issue, IMHO, is as important.

Elections and constitution. I think the
balance of opinion on the TF was that this would follow on the new
reconciliation” process and/or be a necessary part of it. There was
concern, I think, that specifying too many requirements here would
withdrawal or undercut withdrawal sentiment. Also, some debate and
tension about
what constitutes ongoing meddling. So we had to balance different
Anyway, I agree that Iraq’s long-term stability requires a
rewrite. I think that the present election system is also flawed.
Moreover, this
needs to be overseen by the United Nations.

You’re right that not enough was said about
repatriation and assistance to IDPs. But I don’t think anyone
intended to
exclude or impede these options. The point was that
repatriation will be a
long task and perhaps not preferred by the displaced Iraqis. The
concern here was not to subtly compel repatriation when many may just
want to
get the hell out and stay out for a while. Still, most will want to
return, if
not right away then soon or eventually. I think we all support that
And the report should have said more about how we could facilitate


Continue reading “Conetta continues discussion of ‘Necessary Steps’ report”

Comment on the new report on withdrawal from Iraq

The Massachusetts-based Commonwealth Institute has just issued an excellent report (PDF here) calling for a “responsible” withdrawal of US troops from Iraq that is “quick, careful, and generous.” Also, I believe, total– though I’m not seeing this spelled out in my quick reading of the Executive Summary.
It looks like an excellent initiative, and they already have two members of the US Congress signed up in support of it.
I’ll look in more detail at the report’s contents later. But I just want to make a personal comment here.
I have been working steadily and publicly for the past three years to sketch out and promote the idea of a US troop withdrawal from Iraq that is speedy, total, orderly, and generous. (Wording sound familiar here?) And I know that many of the people associated with this project read my work fairly regularly. Some of them I know personally. So I am really disappointed that none of them ever contacted me to ask me to work with them on this in any capacity, and they never even cited any of my numerous writings on the subject as far as I can see.
They have an advisory group of 14 people, listed on p.30 of the PDF document there. All of them (except one, see below) are male. Surprise, surprise. One of the four members of the “Organizing Committee” listed there is female. I don’t know her.
Why is this yet another, so egregious instance of the ambitious professional male elevator at work? I have worked professionally on Middle East and strategic issues for 34 years. What does it take for a woman to get some acknowledgment and respect in this field? A sex-change operation?
Honestly, I don’t think most of the “left” (which is what most of these people are) is any better on gender-inclusion issues than the right. It sometimes feels fairly depressing.
But I soldier on.

    Update Thurs. morning:
    I’m informed that Nadje al-Ali of London’s SOAS, who’s listed as a advisory group member, is female. I’m sorry not to have known or noted that. So we have one out of 14.
    One member of the advisory group told me he had simply answered a call from Chris Toensing to participate, and agreed to do so. But why did no-one on any of these groups (organizing or advisory) ever think of drawing on the considerable amount of thinking and writing I have done on precisely this “How to get out of Iraq” issue over the past years? I note that the Commonwealth Institute is headquartered in the Boston area, where certainly my writings on this topic in the CSM and Boston Review would have had wide circulation.
    I still believe the “ambitious male professional elevator” I mentioned above is a real factor– and the picture of who was in the two groups bears out this assessment.
    Like many of my female friends, I have seen this elevator at work in many, many different contexts, and I might describe them here in some future posts. But so many men still aren’t even aware it exists; aren’t aware there’s a gender-exclusion problem; and are mystified (or worse, defensive and upset) when people tell them there is.

Farzaneh Milani on “Hostage Narratives”

Our University of Virginia friend, Professor Farzeneh Milani, has just published a brilliant review essay in the current issue of Middle East Report, “On Women’s Captivity in the Islamic World.”
Drawing from her own forthcoming book, long in the works, Milani analyzes how the Muslim woman is commonly reduced in American “non-fiction” bestselling pulp to being a “virtual prisoner…. the victim of an immobilizing faith, locked up inside her mandatory veil—a mobile prison shrunk to the size of her body.”
Here’s a splendid thematic excerpt:

“The recent spate of memoirs and autobiographies involving Muslim captors and their native or non-Muslim victims, a mutant category I call “hostage narratives,” puts a new and fascinating twist on the familiar theme of women’s captivity in the Islamic world. It is no longer mainly Western men who recount the tales of confinement, but women who recount them firsthand…. It is women’s own longing to escape, their own urgent plea to be liberated. The hostage narrative relies on the authority of personal experience, shares an insider’s perspective and commands more trust and legitimacy. Written in English, addressing Americans directly and concerned with national and international security for good measure, this category of literature fetishizes the veil.”

In formulaic works, from Mahmoody’s Not without My Daughter to Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran to Ali’s The Caged Virgin, women languish within a gulag, crying out for “liberation” from without. For this review essay, Milani avoids questions about the motives, agendas, or even veracity of the writers or publishers. Instead, Milani wants to know what makes us in the west so readily receptive to such stark presentations.
The analysis is laced with political implications, and Milani locates the genesis of the modern “hostage narratives” to a political event: the US-Iran hostage crisis.

An indelible sense of anguish etched itself into the collective memory of a justifiably outraged nation. “America in Captivity” was the headline that summed up the mood of a country in psychic pain. Like harrowing flashbacks of a trauma, hostage taking became a recurrent theme in books and films and news clips about Iran and, by extension, the Islamic world.

Wittingly or otherwise, American publishers have kept Americans largely hostage to sterile memories, now nearly 3 decades old.
Milani is not entertaining “illusions” and concedes that “repression, autocracy, political and religious purges, censorship, and gender inequity” within Islamic realms are realities that should be, and are, widely studied. Yet as I too have written, Iran in particular is “a land of paradoxes, a society in transition.”

“[N]o one can accuse the Islamic Republic of intolerance toward its own contradictions, particularly when it comes to the treatment of women. Indeed, two competing narratives of womanhood exist side by side in Iran today. Iranian women can vote and run for some of the highest offices in the country, but must observe an obligatory dress code. They can drive personal vehicles, even taxis and trucks and fire engines, but cannot ride bicycles. (an irony I explored here at jwn last July – scott) They are seated away from men in the back of buses, but can be squashed in between perfect male strangers in overcrowded jitney taxis. They have entered the world stage as Nobel Peace Laureates, human rights activists, best-selling authors, prize-winning film directors and Oscar nominees, but cannot enter government offices through the same door as men. “

More accurately then, life for Iranian women reflects a “complex mixture of protest and accommodation, of resistance and acquiescence.” The Monitor’s Scott Peterson recently captured this “ebb and flow” experienced by Iranian women; the problems grab the headlines, the push-back less so.
Milani’s review essay deserves close consideration, particularly her plea to fellow Americans to stop “suspending our critical judgment” and to seek out the competing narrative of the undiscovered Muslim woman. In her, Milani suggests we shall find

“a moderating, modernizing force, a seasoned negotiator of confined spaces, a veteran trespasser of boundaries, walls, fences, cages, blind windows, closed doors and iron gates.”

Bush; Middle East trip; Nixon

Our justifiably beleaguered president, G.W. Bush has been describing how he sees his “legacy” to the world in a breathtaking series of interviews with Hebrew-language and Arabic-language media. The WaPo’s Dan Froomkin has provided a helpful digest of these interviews, here. You can read the whole texts as posted on the White House website, on the sidebar here.
From Froomkin:

    “I can predict that the historians will say that George W. Bush recognized the threats of the 21st century, clearly defined them, and had great faith in the capacity of liberty to transform hopelessness to hope, and laid the foundation for peace by making some awfully difficult decisions,” Bush told Yonit Levi of Israel’s Channel 2 News…

And so it goes on. And on and on and on…
Froomkin, quite accurately, describes Bush’s utterances as “particularly delusional as he heads to a region that remains traumatized, angry and distrustful on account of Bush’s disastrous war in Iraq, his antagonism of Iran and his perceived crusade against Islam.” He also notes that

    Bush’s self-image contrasts sharply with his image among his fellow Americans… [A] CNN poll in November found that 58 percent of Americans rated Bush either a poor president, a very poor president, or the worst president ever.

So why is this sad sack of a guy being foisted onto the peoples of the Middle East at this time? I guess a first explanation might be simply that he is delusional. He really does not see the effect he has had on the world. (If you read the longer texts of these interviews, though, you’ll see that he repeatedly argues that “we can’t really judge the Bush presidency today, or for a very long time into the future….” Which means he probably is aware, if not of the effects of his actions on others, then at least of his low popularity figures.)
Another strong possible sign of his delusionality might be the degree to which he speaks about himself in these interviews in the third person.
From reading Froomkin I also learned of this recent WaPo op-ed in which the venerable former Senator George McGovern argued for Bush’s impeachment. McGovern noted that back in 1974, when calls to impeach Pres. Nixon were gathering steam, he had stood aside from that campaign, because he thought if he joined it that would look like an act of political vengeance against the man who had beaten him in the 1972 presidential election.
But then comes this zinger:

    [T]he case for impeaching Bush and Cheney is far stronger than was the case against Nixon and Vice President Spiro T. Agnew after the 1972 election. The nation would be much more secure and productive under a Nixon presidency than with Bush. Indeed, has any administration in our national history been so damaging as the Bush-Cheney era?

He notes correctly that neither party in the Congress seems eager to start impeacghment hearings. But he writes:

    Bush and Cheney are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world. These are truly “high crimes and misdemeanors,” to use the constitutional standard.

I I drew a different comparison here yesterday between late-Nixon and late-Bush, noting that Bush’s desperate attempt to get out of Washington and foist himself on the Middle East looked strangely evocative of the foreign trips Nixon made during his last months in office in 1974. One of those Nixon trips was indeed also to the Middle East. Someone who knows a lot about that era recalled to me recently that one of the strangest things that happened was when, during a meeting with the whole Israeli cabinet, someone raised the question of what to do about terrorism. Nixon replied that he knew what should be done! He jumped to his feet, assumed the crouch of a Chicago gangster and whirled his imaginary machine-gun around in front of him in a way that, if the gun had existed, would have mowed down the whole Israeli cabinet. “That’s what should be done!” he told the astonished cabinet members.
I wonder if GWB’s particular form of delusionality also involves amateur theatrics?

Notes from Granada

We’re staying in Al-Baicin, the old “Arab” city here, on the steep hillside opposite the Al-Hambra. As we walked to the downtown this morning, we saw two pomegranate trees growing in a garden high above the small, cobbled small street we were on. They were heavy with red fruit, which brought the boughs down over the high retaining wall, and many of the fruits had split open. Some had even fallen to the cobbles. I guess it was for this fruit– the eponym of the hand grenade, and itself bloody red inside– that the city was named. The steep hillside all around show many traces of long-abandoned terracing. Maybe it was once like Lebanon.
But nothing is like the Al-Hambra.
We haven’t visited it yet. Last night, its several parts hung like vast, pregnant pearls in the night sky on the ridge opposite us. We arrived yesterday, and today is a national holiday, the “Fiesta of la Hispanidad”, so we couldn’t get tickets to get into the Al-Hambra.
I’m still trying to figure out what this fiesta is all about. It has apparently been timed to coincide with Columbus’s (imputed?) birthday.
So many countries seem to want to claim the old conquistador as their own! In the US, “Columbus Day” is a national holiday– celebrated last Monday, I believe; and always strongly supported by Italian-Americans. I think the Italians and Catalans also try to claim him as “theirs.”
There seems to be intense significance to the fact that Granada– the last city on this peninsula to be held in Arab hands– fell to Ferdinand and Isabel’s Reconquista in the very same year that Columbus made contact with what he thought was “the Indies.” The inaugural year of the emergence of European powers into world hegemony?
I’ve been looking at “historical memory” issues here as if through a many-layered palimpset. There is the continuing/ returning/ re-emerging question of Muslim-Christian relations and the memories associated with that. There’s the much more recent issue of the Civil War and the whole Francoist era, and the many very live issues around the memorializing of that. And now, Spanish army units are in Iraq, Lebanon, and Afghanistan, so there are emerging-memory issues connected with that.
Also, I haven’t seen much indication anywhere– though maybe I’ve missed what there is?– that the Spanish people have been coming to any kind of serious reflection on the harms that their rulers and their corporations did in their names during their extremely brutal period of conquest and rule in, especially, South America.
… Yesterday, the English-language edition of El Pais led with the story that on Wednesday, the Zapatero government reached an agreement “to ensure that all Franco-era plaques, street names and statues that still adorn Spanish cities and towns are removed once the controversial Law of Historical Memory goes into effect.”
Inside the paper, General Jose Enrique de Ayala, who had previously commanded some “coalition” units in Iraq, writes an intriguing analysis of the situation in Afghanistan, in which he urges that the NATO/ISAF forces serving there should shift towards seeking a deal with “moderates” among the Taliban, with the aim of winning a stronger internal peace inside the country that will allow for a faster and less chaos-inducing withdrawal of western forces than would be possible without such a deal.
Then on the facing page, there’s a thoughtful piece of reporting on the fact that many of the Spanish forces who have been killed in action in Lebanon or Afghanistan have been younger in age. Someone called Mariano Casado, associated with the Unified Association of Spanish Soldiers (AUME) is quoted as saying of the soldiers who get killed, “Sometimes they’re almost children. They are 18, 19, 20 years old, and they’re not prepared psychologically or militarily to face real risks and situations in which there is no way out… ”
The reporter there, Natalia Junquera, quotes several paratroopers who have served in Lebanon or Afghanistan who said they had felt well prepared before deployment. But they were also in their 30s.
I found it interesting that two of those she quoted– men serving in Spain’s paratroop forces– were described in passing as being of Mexican and Ecuadorian nationality.
So it is not only the US army that these days is scooping up men from distressed areas of central America and putting them into an army in which not enough of its own citizens are ready to serve?
… Lorna and I did get caught up in a smallish procession this morning, organized presumably in connection with the fiesta of La Hispanidad. There were some very embarrassed-looking young men in extraordinary “medieval” getouts– white tights, silky jerkins, funny hats with large feathers; quite a lot more medieval-looking participants including maybe the City Council?; an army band; an army unit with semi-automatic weapons and white gloves; and a civilian-looking band.
The rightwing party, the PP, had called on citizens to make the fiesta a great festival of patriotism with flags and national colors, etc. In the not-large crowd in downtown Granada we saw two people with flags, and the general response to the procession could best be described as desultory.
It made me think of some of the community-oriented Independence Day parades I’ve witnessed and even on occasion participated in, back in the US. The very best was the Palisades Parade in Washington DC, which back in the early 1990s had some fantastic gay percussionists (the “Different Drummers”), who didn’t just drum but also twirled batons and flags and generally camped it up in high spirits along MacArthur Boulevard there; a group of African-American equestrians in snazzy getouts; all the local pols coming and throwing candy to the kids; squads of kids on decorated bikes; the owner of a local porta-potty business who contributed a flatbed truck with porta-potty tied on top and his son and other kids doing tableaux vivants around it; and various other wonderful and wacky participants… Ending up with free lemonade and hot-dogs down there at Palisades Park.
Or the Lewis Mountain Neighborhood Parade in Charlottesville, with Chip Tucker reading the preamble to the Declaration of Independence before a rag-tag bunch of residents would process down to the dell with kids on bikes and pets well decorated in red-white-and-blue– some years even the neighbor bringng her prize chickens on a little cart… and again, it would all end up there with hot dogs and half-melted ice-cream.
This one didn’t look nearly as much fun. But Viva La Hispanidad anyway, provided content of the idea is no longer Francoist.

Another Journalism Scandal – the Debat/ABC case

Item: A “counter-terrorism expert” of dubious credentials has been fabricating reports for leading media organizations. Imagine that.
The “expert” in question is one Alexis Debat, whom the London Times (Murdoch Media) cited as their source for the following screaming headline, “Pentagon ‘three-day blitz’ plan for Iran.”

“THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert.
Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for “pinprick strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military,” he said.
Debat was speaking at a meeting organised by The National Interest, a conservative foreign policy journal. He told The Sunday Times that the US military had concluded: “Whether you go for pinprick strikes or all-out military action, the reaction from the Iranians will be the same.” It was, he added, a “very legitimate strategic calculus”.

That is, why bother hitting just narrow targets inside Iran somehow connected to violence against Americans in Iraq? Because we can “calculate” that Iranians will hit back hard with additional assets, then we better pre-emptively strike at the retaliatory capability too. And thus, smash the entire country. (Does this logic have an echo to last summer in Lebanon, 2006?)
One problem for the story, the “expert” source of this revelation stands accused of being a disinformation specialist, one who for years has been embedded with ABC News and Washington’s influential Nixon Center think tank. This no doubt is a fast moving story, and I have my own file of Debat doozies, including a disputed April 3rd ABC report of this year that the US, via Pakistan, was secretly providing support to Baluchi insurgents against Iran.
I’m also recalling a widely cited Debat essay, published in The National Interest, from last December 8th, wherein he argued against the Baker-Hamilton Commission recommendations (“There’s nothing we can offer Iran or Syria that they would be interested in”) and instead cynically argued for “a further empowerment of the Sunni militias….” Why, because “the ensuing chaos… would apply significant pressure on the Shi‘a leadership in Baghdad.” (and somehow result in a Milosevic style Dayton deal.) One wonders if Debat also works for Petraeus.
Debat’s present troubles apparently owe to his penchant for publishing long – and faked – interviews, in France’s Politique Internationale, with major American and international figures, including Alan Greenspan, Colin Powell, Bill Gates, Nancy Pelosi, Kofi Annan, and a recent “scoop” with Presidential Candidate Barrack Obama. Debat’s reputation for fabricating stories supposedly was whispered about, but not publicly exposed until a September 7th report in Rue89 . Debat’s initial denial only made matters worse.
ABC now claims they (quietly) “demanded his resignation” in June (without clarifying when they got it). ABC is also sticking to the lame line that the integrity of their reports was not compromised. The Nixon Center cut Debat loose only after the “Rue89” story. Debat’s reports are now disappearing fast from the net.
For more of the details on the scandal, including a hint that Debat claimed he was a Pentagon contractor, see Laura Rozen’s MoJO blog entry. In “Subject to Debat: What did ABC Know and When Did It Know It?,” Rozen observes,

“Overall, the picture of Debat that emerges from these interviews is of a smart, ambitious and cunning operator who would claim to be getting text messages from Middle Eastern intelligence operatives while at meetings with Ross and others at ABC, with tips that seemed too good to be true (which some colleagues believe were bogus), yet were used as “exclusives.”

I suspect there’s more to it than just “cunning” ambition; this is ambition with a neoconservative-style agenda. Rozen also raises key questions about ABC’s internal handling of Debat “scoops” and its present investigation. That is, will Brian Ross’s now tainted “investigative unit” be tasked with investigating itself? (For example, will it touch that Valentines’ Day 2003 story about Udai Hussein being more brutal than his father – the one that cited Debat and was part of media blitz to justify invading Iraq?) Lastly, “enquiring minds will want to know” if ABC will drop the Cheney-like insistence that, “it was confident that all of Debat’s reports for ABC had been vetted and multiple sourced and were standing up to scrutiny.”
Added note: In this excellent “attytood” comment, Will Bunch of The Daily News points out a “neoconservative” link to Politique Internationale – the French journal that long posted Debat’s fabricated interviews. (The journal’s recent claims that they didn’t know how “crazy” Debat was are, on the face of them, absurd. How many complaints did they get over how many years?) Turns out no less than the infamous Amir Taheri has been an editor at PI from around 2001 until recently. Remember Taheri ? Top “star” in Mdme Benador’s stable of neoconservative propagandists, Taheri was the author of the May 2006 “Yellow Stars for Iranian Jews” disinfo fabrication.
Birds of a feather flock together.

A 9/11 Blessing

(This is Scott writing)
For the past six years, I haven’t had any birthdays. 9/11’s come and go – mostly go. It just hasn’t seemed right to celebrate anything on a day when every American will remember the searing horrors of six years ago.
Lately, I’ve been reminded anew of life’s fragility. An admired Professor recently lost her husband of many decades. Then a brilliant friend lost precious two-year-old son Jude after a tragic pool accident. He and his family now head back to Lebanon, where ironically, I pray they can find peace and “home.” My own long-time mentor is facing a serious heart surgery soon; he has too many much needed books, from Jefferson to Iran, yet to write!
Yet I met a sweet little angel just a few hours ago who already has changed my outlook on life, and 9/11 in particular. Her name is Jessica Anne Harrop, and she’s all of 7 lbs, 2 oz.
Forgive my happiness; she’s beautiful.
Jessica is also my first grand-child.
Special thanks to my son Keith and his lovely wife Rachel for such a present! Rachel is doing well, though she’s understandably very tired after a delayed and rather long delivery.
Yet it was especially considerate of Jessica to take her time – an extra week – in arriving so she could share a birthday with her… hey, what am I now?
A grandpa? I am sooooo not ready for this. Folks think I’m not old enough; my career’s on hold; I’m not even “gray” yet.
Not to worry Jessica dear, panic attack over. You’re a bright and inspiring new Light in our lives. May our world yet be a saner and happier place with you in it.

“Consider the blameless; observe the upright; there is a future for the man – and woman – of peace.”
— Psalm 37:37

Last call: Middle East library seeks loving home!

JWN readers might recall that a month ago I posted this notice here, about the professional library of my dear, recently departed friend Misty Gerner:

    The Deborah J. Gerner Collection
    Before her passing in June the much-loved scholar of Middle Eastern affairs, Dr. Deborah J. Gerner expressed her hope that the professional library she had assembled over many years might find a home where it could be of use to new generations of enquiring minds. The collection comprises over 1,900 books, some 90 materials in other media, and near-complete series of periodicals like IJMES, JPS, MEJ, etc., from around 1983 through 2005 or 2006. Nearly all the materials are in English, are in good condition, and were published between 1983 and 2006 (though a few are older.)
    The collection would make an excellent “starter library” for any college or research institution seeking strongly to enhance its offerings in M.E. studies. If we could find help in covering shipping costs, then shipping it to a suitable institution in the developing world would be attractive. Dr. Gerner did, however, leave a bequest to support the incorporation of this collection into the library of the recipient institution, whether in North America or overseas. Please contact Helena Cobban (hcobban’at’gmail.com) for further information about the collection or with any suggestions you have regarding a suitable recipient institution (your own or another), or possible sources of help for transoceanic shipping.

Since then I’ve received some intriguing expressions of enquiry regarding the library. But along the way I realised that many non-US university-type people were probably still on vacation, and may not have seen it. So I thought I should re-post it. And this time, I’ll put a bit of a deadline onto it so we can get this process moved along in a way that is both expeditious and fair…
So if you know of an institution that might be interested in the DJG Library, please could you email me at the address above with at least an initial expression of interest before October 31.