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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Two Appointments 

Courtesy of Zemblan patriot M.D.: Jim Lobe, writing at AntiWar.com, suggests the appointment of Karen Hughes as Minister of Propaganda to the Muslim World may be a positive development, if only because she has the clout to counterbalance Cheney. As one senior official told Lobe, Hughes is "one of the very few people who can actually deliver bad news to the President":
The decision to put Hughes, who, along with Karl Rove, has been Bush's closest political adviser since he first ran for Texas governor in the early 1990s, under Condoleezza Rice at the State Department took insiders by surprise.

It suggested that Rice is building a major power center at Foggy Bottom, one that is capable of ensuring that she can penetrate the circle of foreign policy hardliners led by Vice President Dick Cheney and bolstered by national security adviser Stephen Hadley, and his deputy, J.D. Crouch, any time she wants . . . .

"[Hughes's predecessor in the job, Margaret Tutwiler] really did understand that Washington's image problems in the Arab world were being driven by its policies and could not be addressed simply by sophisticated advertising and message-spinning," said James Zogby, director of the Arab-American Institute. "But that was something the White House didn't really want to hear."

That was also the conclusion reached by two high-powered panels on public diplomacy over the last two years, which called on the administration both to sharply increase funding for public diplomacy efforts focused particularly on the Islamic world and to reject the comforting and oft-repeated neoconservative nostrum that many Muslims "hated" the U.S. for "who we are" rather than "what we do."

"'Spin' and manipulative public relations and propaganda are not the answer," according to an October 2003 report, "Changing Minds, Winning Peace," by the Council on Foreign Relations and the James Baker Institute whose principal author, former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Edward Djerejian, was present at Hughes' nomination ceremony Monday. "Foreign policy counts."

"Public opinion cannot be cavalierly dismissed," the report said. "Citizens in these countries are genuinely distressed at the plight of Palestinians and at the role they perceive the United States to be playing, and they are genuinely distressed by the situation in Iraq."

A second report released last fall by the Defense Science Board (DSB), which is made up of private-sector and academic experts appointed by Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, reached a similar conclusion. It called on U.S. policymakers to spend more time "listening" to their intended audience and use messages that "should seek to reduce, not increase, perceptions of arrogance, opportunism, and double standards [by the U.S.]."

"Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies," the DSB wrote in a direct challenge to the administration's own propaganda. "The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states."
Lobe is a bit more skeptical about the selection of Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank:
"I've been trying to get my head around the logic of Wolfowitz being the head of the Bank, and I just can't get there," said the director of one U.S. development group who asked not to be identified.

Wolfowitz's 35-year public and academic career, notably lacking in direct experience either with banking or development, let alone the Bank's supposed core mission of poverty reduction, has also steered a wide berth around both Africa and Latin America, two regions of enormous importance to the Bank.

Aside from a two-year stint in the late 1980s as ambassador to Indonesia, the post where he reportedly gained his interest in Islam, Wolfowitz has never lived in a developing country.

When his possible nomination was first brought up two weeks ago, the reaction was overwhelmingly skeptical, and the Pentagon almost instantly knocked it down.

In a Mar. 7 op-ed entitled "Clueless on the World Bank," Washington Post international economics columnist Sebastian Mallaby expressed relief, noting that, while Wolfowitz has some qualities that might recommend him for the job, "his association with the Iraq war makes him … anathema to most World Bank shareholders" – a consideration that, depending on the reaction of European governments, could still kill his nomination.
It is frightening to contemplate, but other neocons seem to regard Wolfowitz as an ameliorating influence on the Pentagon:
Indeed, another neoconservative expressed concern that Wolfowitz's departure from the Pentagon could dilute the administration's proclaimed commitment to democratic change.

"The president has sent pretty clear messages about that, but the number of senior administration officials who truly believe in the [democratic] tenets of the Bush Doctrine is relatively small," Tom Donnelly, a national-security analyst at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) told IPS. "I for one am a little nervous about how policy itself may change."

"He might rather have been secretary of state, but that job was already taken," Donnelly added. "This is an administration that has been sort of inbred and has relatively few individuals to move around to these jobs."
We will not even try to top John Aravosis's line from AmericaBlog: "He single-handedly destroyed Iraq, so we figured we'd give him 150 more countries."

UPDATE: Dueling quotations, from Think Progress:
“If we want stability on our planet, we must fight to end poverty. Since the time of the Bretton Woods Conference, through the Pearson Commission, the Brandt Commission, and the Brundtland Commission, through to statements of our leaders at the 2000 Millennium Assembly - and today - all confirm that the eradication of poverty is central to stability and peace.” – Outgoing World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn, 10/3/04

VERSUS

“These people are not fighting because they’re poor. They’re poor because they fight all the time. ” – President Bush’s nominee for World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, Congressional Testimony, 6/6/96

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