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January 2016

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Clack

George Clack is the former director of the State Department's Office of Publications, where he also served as creative director for the Internet magazine "eJournal USA." Previously he was editor-in-chief of America Illustrated, USIA's Russian-language magazine distributed in the Soviet Union. He currently teaches literature and social media at Johns Hopkins University and Howard Community College.


 

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American Diplomacy Links—January 2016     

"The Fascism of the Affluent"
The rise of extreme nationalism and fascism in the 1930s is usually explained in terms of the outcome of World War I, which ruined Europe's economy, leading to a global economic crisis and mass unemployment.  But given the affluence today of the United States and Europe, what accounts for their citizens' attraction to the politics of frustration? First and foremost, writes Fischer, there is "a fear based on the instinctive realization that the 'White Man's World'… is in terminal decline. And migration is the issue that brings that prognosis home to today's angst-inspired nationalists."
By Joschka Fischer, Project Syndicate. Fisher was German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor from 1998 to 2005. He played a key role in founding Germany's Green Party, which he led for almost two decades.
https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/affluent-fascists-western-politics-by-joschka-fischer-2015-12

"Is Donald Trump a Fascist?"
It's an easy label to toss at an opponent, but Peter Bergen has compared Trump's campaign  persona to the classic 2004 study The Anatomy of Fascism by American historian Robert O. Paxton. Bergen says Trump clearly meets four of the five criteria on Paxton's checklist of the foundational traits of fascism. The only trait he doesn't share with the fascist movements of 20th-century Europe is "the beauty of violence and the efficacy of will when they are devoted to the group's success."
By Peter Bergen, CNN.Bergen is CNN's national security analyst, a vice president at the New America foundation, and a professor at Arizona State University. He is the author of the forthcoming book United States of Jihad: Investigating America's Homegrown Terrorists.
http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/09/opinions/bergen-is-trump-fascist/index.html

"Is Fascism Back?"
The man who wrote the definitive book on European fascism says the temptation to call Donald Trump, the Tea Party, the National Front in France, and radical Islamist assassins "fascist" is understandable, but it is not historically accurate and he explains why. We will have to make do with more ordinary words, he concludes: "religious fanaticism for the Islamic State, reactionary anarchism for the Tea Party, and self-indulgent demagoguery on behalf of oligarchy for Donald Trump. "
By Robert O. Paxton, Project Syndidacate. Paxton, a professor emeritus of history at Columbia University, and is the author of The Anatomy of Fascism and three books on Vichy France.
https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/is-fascism-back-by-robert-o--paxton-2016-01

"Where the Iran-Saudi Showdown Will Erupt Next"
The lack of trust between these two regimes is likely to make settling the conflict in Syria more difficult, stir trouble in Bahrain (where a Sunni monarchy rules a predominantly Shiite populace), and prolong efforts to defeat ISIS.
By Matt Purple, the National Interest. Purple is deputy editor of Rare Politics, a Web site seeking to advance conservative principles through discussion of current issues.
http://nationalinterest.org/feature/where-the-iran-saudi-showdown-will-erupt-next-14830

"Saudi Prince: War with Iran Not Going To Happen
The kingdom's influential deputy crown prince tells the Economist magazine that Saudi leaders do not foresee an Iran-Saudi war and that such a war would mean catastrophe for the conflict-wracked region.
Al Jazeera English.
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/01/saudi-arabian-prince-war-iran-happen-160107160941727.html#

"When Truman Announced the H-Bomb"
In announcing its H-bomb test, the North Korean government said it would never be the first party to use such weapons and that it had no choice but to acquire the world's "most powerful nuclear deterrent" when its gravest adversary was a leading nuclear-weapons power. "Nothing is more foolish than dropping a hunting gun before herds of ferocious wolves," the announcement concluded. The invocation of nuclear deterrence, a fierce adversary, and the march of science is quite similar to the U.S. president's assurance to the world 63 years ago that the United States was not interested in offensively deploying so devastating a weapon as the H-bomb.
By Uri Friedman, the Atlantic. Friedman is a senior editor at the Atlantic, where he oversees the Global section. He was previously the deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy.
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/01/north-korea-truman-hydrogen-bomb/423060/

"Experts Weigh In: What Is the Future of al-Qaida and the Islamic State?"
Brookings Middle East expert William McCants and Barak Mendelsohn, author of a new book on al-Qaida, consider whether the two rival Islamic organizations will continue to remain at odds; which has the most effective strategy at the moment; and what political changes might happen in the coming year that will reconfigure their rivalry for leadership of the global jihad.
Brookings Blogs. Mendelsohn is an associate professor of political science at Haverford College and a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI). He is author of the new book The al-Qaeda Franchise: The Expansion of al-Qaeda and its Consequences.
http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/markaz/posts/2016/01/07-future-of-al-qaida-and-isis-mendelsohn-mccants? utm_campaign=Brookings+Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content= 25079194&_hsenc=p2ANqtz--7GM4dFm5NojhtVP72QIqPY6cgzk6clgpi_uDohpomGusn9LwnHm672ZUxjhB-aQDCy_jBvOVn0ToLXm4Ti3SXZNb0HQ&_hsmi=25079194

"Three Great Speeches of 2015: A Foreign Policy for 2016"
Paul Berman summarizes three exemplary European speeches on Islamic terrorism and democratic values. They were delivered by British Conservative PM David Cameron, French Socialist PM Manuel Valls shortly after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and the British Labor Party's shadow foreign minister, Hilary Benn. All call for a condemnation of the Islamist ideology; a passionate hostility to anti-Semitism; and a revitalization of the ideals of the anti-fascist left of long ago.
By Paul Berman, Tablet. Berman writes about politics and literature for various magazines. He isthe author of A Tale of Two Utopias, Terror and Liberalism, Power and the Idealists, and The Flight of the Intellectuals.
http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/196070/three-great-speeches-of-2015

"Negotiating the Whirlwind"
An in-depth profile of Secretary of State John Kerry, including his views on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, a look at his role in the Iran nuclear negotiations, and his disagreements with President Obama on Syria.
By David Remnick, the New Yorker. Remnick is the editor of the New Yorker magazine.
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/21/negotiating-the-whirlwind

"Russia's Moving Targets"
What are Russia's goals in Syria and Ukraine? The author says that under Putin plans shift and targets move because "the most important goals, the ones the Kremlin really cares about, are the domestic ones. The Russian politician thrives on conflict, not on achieving policy objectives or specific military targets."
By Maxim Trudolyubov, the Kennan Institute's Russia File blog. Trudolyubov is a senior fellow at the Kennan Institute and the Editor-at-Large of Vedomosti, an independent Russian daily.
https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/russias-moving-targets?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonvaTNe%2B%2 FhmjTEU5z16O8rXq6g38431UFwdcjKPmjr1YIJRMZnI%2 BSLDwEYGJlv6SgFSLHMMa12z7gLX

"The Evaluation Revolution in Public Diplomacy"
The author, an experienced public diplomacy officer, says current U.S. PD efforts lack an "evaluation culture," one that "encourages and supports objective, rigorous, honest analysis of the impact (or lack thereof) of the public and press engagement we labor at every day." For a  revolution in evaluation to be successful, she says, we must make major shifts in the way we think about public diplomacy.
By Carissa Gonzalez. Ambassadors Review, Council of American Ambassadors. Gonzalez is a former business strategy consultant who will serve as the head of the Public Affairs Section in Doha, Qatar, from 2016 to 2019.

"This Is the Best Photoshop the U.S. Government Has Ever Produced"
How the U.S. embassy in Moscow turned the tables on Russian propagandists and made Ambassador John Tefft a meme in response to a doctored photo of him attending a protest.
Max Seddon, Buzzfeed. Seddon is a Buzzfeed News world correspondent.
http://www.buzzfeed.com/maxseddon/the-state-department-has-finally-learned-how-to-use-twitter#.ii40BvaXk

"ISIS Is a Revolution"
"While many in the West dismiss radical Islam as simply nihilistic," this anthropologist author says, "our work suggests something far more menacing: a profoundly alluring mission to change and save the world." All world-altering revolutions are born in danger and death, brotherhood and joy. How can this one be stopped?
By Scott Atran, Aeon Essays. Atran is the director of research in anthropology at the CNRS, École Normale Supérieure, and a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford. He is co-founder of Artis Research, and the author of Talking to the Enemy (2010) and In Gods We Trust (2002).
https://aeon.co/essays/why-isis-has-the-potential-to-be-a-world-altering-revolution

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