Frequently dismissed as trivial or unimportant because untrue, rumors are a potent in the information war that characterizes contemporary conflicts, and they participate in significant ways in the struggle for the consent of the governed. As narrative forms, rumors are suitable to a wide range of political expression, from citizens, insurgents, and governments alike. The authors make a compelling argument for understanding rumors in these contexts as "narrative IEDs," low-cost, low-tech weapons that can successfully counter elaborate and expansive government initiatives of outreach campaigns or strategic communication efforts. Narrative Landmines - The Explosive Effects of Rumors in Syria and Insurgencies Around the World [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Apr 4, 2013 -
Allan B. Calhamer
, creator of the board game Diplomacy
, passed away
on February 25th. Despite the game's success he never made a living off it, and worked for many years as a mail carrier in La Grange Park, Illinois. Chicago Magazine published a profile
of him in 2009.
posted by 23
on Feb 28, 2013 -
Gu Kailai, the wife of senior Chinese party leader Bo Xilai
, has been arrested for the murder of an English businessman
. Bo, until his sudden fall from power this year
, one of the most popular politicians in China, the leading figure of the Chinese New Left
and Party Committee Secretary of the megacity of Chongqing, has completed his downfall by being expelled from the politburo and stripped of all party positions. The collapse started in February, when his top lieutenant, Wang Lijun, was suddenly demoted and then fled to the US consulate for a day
- supposedly, either attempting to defect or to give incriminating evidence on Bo and Gu to the Americans for safekeeping. [more inside]
posted by strangely stunted trees
on Apr 10, 2012 -
The Anglo-Moroccan connection originates in the quarrels between the two half-sisters Queen Elizabeth i and Queen Mary i. Elizabeth suspected that Mary's husband, Philip ii of Spain, had designs on England, and she was consequently interested in an ally who could join in attacking Spain. On the Moroccan side, there was considerable enthusiasm for expelling the Spanish and Portuguese from the several Moroccan coastal cities they had conquered. The Moroccans also wanted naval support in case of further encroachment by the Ottoman Turks, who were eager to extend their empire west from Algiers into Morocco. It was for this last reason that the Moroccan sultan Ahmad al-Mansur was unwilling to collaborate with the Ottomans despite Ottoman consideration of an invasion of Spain: He preferred instead an alliance with the English.
An 'Extreamly Civile' Diplomacy
: a short history of early Anglo-Moroccan relations
via the always wonderful @bintbattuta
posted by timshel
on Jan 13, 2012 -
"Davis didn’t have time to ponder their motives. The intersection of Jail and Ferozepur roads was packed with cars, bicycles, rickshaws, and pedestrians; the motorcycle pulled around his car and stopped just ahead of it. Shamshad, on the back of the bike, turned. He raised his pistol. He cocked it.
" [Black Ops and Blood Money
posted by vidur
on Jun 15, 2011 -
"At a hearing of the Lahore Sessions Court convened for security reasons at the Kot Lakhpat Jail today, CIA contractor Raymond A. Davis was arraigned on double homicide charges and then quickly acquitted and released. Attorneys for Davis and the victims' families announced that they had entered into an agreement in which Davis offered compensation to the families -- $1.4 million total -- and they forgave him.
" [more inside]
posted by vidur
on Mar 16, 2011 -
"Meanwhile, Important Politician stretches out in his business class seat and listens to his wife talk about the pearls! And the silk scarves! And the amazing food! And IP thinks back to that Foreign Service Officer he just met. And he thinks: what a great life that guy has! He goes to parties at the President's mansion. He drinks fancy wine. He drives around in air conditioned motorcades, with people saluting him as he walks into government buildings. He goes hiking - in the middle of a work day, even! - on the Great Wall. What a cushy life he leads, thinks Important Politician.
" A proposed pay cut
is not going down well with some Foreign Service Officers
posted by vidur
on Feb 26, 2011 -
, premier of China, is in the middle of his first state visit to the US, whose pomp and circumstance reflects China's growing economic stature and role in world affairs. Due to the linguistic and political differences between the US and China, few Americans know very much about Hu. Many of them will have had their first real look at him during an extended and surprisngly candid joint press conference
held with President Obama and lasting well over an hour - something which never happens in China. Fears (or possibly hopes) of a trade war between the US and China a year ago
have faded, and instead a trade deal involving $45 billion of American exports was announced, to mixed reactions
. He was received less kindly
by Congress, whose members expressed disquiet about everything from trade deficits to human rights and whose leaders declined
to discuss matters over dinner - perhaps because they did not wish to be lost in the high-powered crowd of attendees. [more inside]
posted by anigbrowl
on Jan 20, 2011 -
The Wikileaks Cablegate scandal is the most exciting and interesting hacker scandal ever. I rather commonly write about such things, and I’m surrounded by online acquaintances who take a burning interest in every little jot and tittle of this ongoing saga. So it’s going to take me a while to explain why this highly newsworthy event fills me with such a chilly, deadening sense of Edgar Allen Poe melancholia.
But it sure does.Bruce Sterling on the world of post-Wikileaks diplomacy.
posted by Artw
on Dec 22, 2010 -
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year
, NATO may lose in Afghanistan
, the UK gets a regime change
, China needs to chill
, India's factories will overtake its farms
, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum
, the stimulus will need an exit strategy
, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2"
, African football
will unite Korea
, conflict over natural resources will grow
, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled
, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable)
, technology will grow ever more ubiquitous
, we'll all charge our phones via USB
, MBAs will be uncool
, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest
, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world
. And so the Tens
The Economist: The World in 2010
. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane
on Nov 14, 2009 -
Three part BBC documentary
analyzes and documents the revolution and the long struggle of Iran and the West to come together ever since the revolution. The documentary shows interviews with a wide range of world leaders who reveal the inner dealings of all governing adminstrations from the past thirty years, both from within Iran’s own adminstration and from the Western counterparts.
posted by semmi
on Aug 5, 2009 -
The Obama administration has repeatedly threatened to conceal future information of terrorist threats from the British government, unless the British government disobeys the High Court ruling requiring them to release information about the US government's acknowledged torture program. This may be a breach of the Convention Against Torture. Glenn Greenwald
has new evidence. Previously.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94
on May 12, 2009 -
From A-lister to Aid worker: Does celebrity diplomacy really work?
Rock stars," asked Homer Simpson, with his customary sagacity, "is there anything they don't know?" Only these days, of course, it's not just rockers but movie stars
and businessmen – and indeed anyone with an above-average
public profile – who, for one reason or another, are intent on telling the rest of us how the world should be changed for the better.
Or at least
, that's how it seems. So much so that a conference of eminent professors
of international relations assembled recently in The Hague to explore
the modern phenomenon of what they call "celebrity diplomacy
", amid fears that it has reached the point
where superstar lobbyists are damaging the traditional workings of international diplomacy and global politics.
posted by infini
on Jan 16, 2009 -
In 2009, a remarkably gifted politician, confronting a remarkably difficult set of challenges
, will have to learn to say "No we can't"
, Guantánamo will prove a moral minefield
, economic recovery will be invisible to the naked eye
, governments must prepare for the day they stop financial guarantees
, we will judge our commitment to sustainability
, scientists should research the causes of religion
, we will all be potential online paparazzi
, English will have more words than any other language
(but it's meaningless), Afghanistan will see a surge of Western (read: American) troops
, Iran will continue its nuclear quest
while diplomacy lies in shambles
, the sea floor is the new frontier
, we should rethink aging
, (non-)voters will continue to thwart the European project
-- but cheap travel will continue to buoy it
-- though it has some unfinished business to attend to
, and a Nordic defence bond will blossom
.The Economist: The World in 2009
. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane
on Nov 27, 2008 -
The Stakes, 2008.
Eight of the Washington Monthly's
contributing editors "consider the looming challenges that America is likely to face—in the economy, education, the courts, and other areas—during an Obama or McCain presidency, and how, based on what we know about the two men, they are likely to handle them." [more inside]
posted by homunculus
on Oct 14, 2008 -
The Trade Surplus and the Olive Tree
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has seen its loan portfolio drop 73 per cent since 2003. Nobody seems to be defaulting on their loans lately, and there hasn't been a big bailout
The IMF's summit this week in Singapore will look at this issue and how to better the world balance of trade
betweed the developing world and the industrial economies of the west. But is there really a place
(warning: PDF) for the IMF in the trade agreements between China
and the US
posted by parmanparman
on Sep 15, 2006 -
admits denies making mistake!
Starts off new relationship with conservative German chancellor by personally insulting her. "We are not quite sure what was in her head."
- a senior Bush administration official, referring to Merkel. This after Condoleeza Rice gave Merkel private assurances and made a public statement
in which she said "when and if mistakes are made, we work very hard and as quickly as possible to rectify them. Any policy will sometimes have mistakes . . . we will do everything that we can to rectify those mistakes."
Obviously, Condi was mistaken. The Bush administration does not make mistakes.
posted by insomnia_lj
on Dec 6, 2005 -
-- Lloyd Axworthy was Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs for five years (1995-2000). Now that he's no longer in government, he doesn't need to be so diplomatic.
posted by winston
on Mar 3, 2005 -
Is a political solution on the horizon in Iraq?
Time Magazine reports that US military commanders are negotiating with Sunni nationalist insurgents or the first time.
"There are some hints of compromise: insurgent negotiators have told their U.S. counterparts they would accept a U.N. peacekeeping force as the U.S. troop presence recedes. Insurgent representative Abu Mohammed says the nationalists would even tolerate U.S. bases on Iraqi soil. 'We don't mind if the invader becomes a guest,' he says, suggesting a situation akin to the U.S. military presence in Germany and Japan."
posted by trinarian
on Feb 22, 2005 -
Campaign Contributions and U.S. Ambassadors In 1972 President Nixon appointed thirteen noncareer ambassadors to Western European countries; eight of them had contributed at least $50,000 to his reelection campaign...(-Source, scroll to item 2.) In 1980
a federal law was created to combat this, stating that ambassadors must "possess clearly demonstrated competence, including, to the maximum extent practicable, a useful knowledge of the principal language or dialect of the country in which the individual is to serve, and knowledge and understanding of the history, the culture, the economic and political institutions and the interest of that country and its people. … Contributions to political campaigns should not be a factor in the appointment."Currently
1/4 to 1/3 of U.S. Ambassadors are noncareer appointees, not experienced diplomats, causing criticism since the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Critics point out that neither the Pentagon, the CIA nor any other U.S. government agency must shoulder the burden of a significant cadre of "nonprofessionals" encumbering senior field positions. (-Source.)HERE is the current tally of Embassy Row and their campaign contributions
, including Clark Randt, Jr
, former Geo W Yale fraternity brother who defended Bush against drug allegations during Bush's last campaign. "Rangers" and "Pioneers" abound. Mauritius
is sunny, tropical, and expensive
(Inspired by this AskMe question.)
posted by Shane
on Oct 14, 2004 -
An American in Mongolia. A new breed of American soldier—call him the soldier-diplomat—has come into being since the end of the Cold War. Meet the colonel who was our man in Mongolia, an officer who probably wielded more local influence than many Mongol rulers of yore.
posted by kablam
on Feb 20, 2004 -
Stumbling Into War
by James P. Rubin, From Foreign Affairs
, September/October 2003
Why did most of the world abandon Washington when it went after Saddam Hussein? The war in Iraq could never have been an easy sell, but nor should it have been such a difficult one. The Bush administration badly botched the prewar maneuvering, presenting a textbook study in how not to wage a diplomatic campaign.
posted by y2karl
on Sep 21, 2003 -
Salon interviews John Brady Kiesling. JBK:
"The talking points were pretty pathetic. They may work at home, but they do not work with an audience of sophisticated people who have some experience with the world, who are profoundly nervous about the Middle East and terrorism, and would like to see some signs of intelligent life in American foreign policy."
Are Americans too isolationist for their own good?
posted by skallas
on Mar 19, 2003 -