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February 7, 2005
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Salzburg, Austria

I have spent the weekend here at a conference entitled “Broadcast Media in the 21st Century: Engaging the World”. The Salzburg Seminar and Washington DC’s Center for Strategic and International Studies brought together about 35 Arab and western journalists for a long weekend of discussions about how we perceive the world, the Middle East, our profession and each other. There were a smattering of people from outside either broadcasting or the media, but it was mostly television people and mostly Americans and Arabs.

Washington, Feb. 4, 2005 -- There are those who -- no doubt -- were disappointed that President Bush did not mention public diplomacy per se in his State of the Union address. But others heard it by association:

Salzburg, Austria

There can be no denying that Sunday’s Iraqi elections went better than expected. I honestly did not think I’d be saying this, but the vote, whatever the final tally may prove to be, was something of which both Iraqis and Americans can be proud. Even the death of an estimated 36 people in election-related violence was, in the twisted logic of today’s Iraq, a relief: the sad fact is that many Iraq-watchers, myself included, would not have been surprised by a body count ten times that size.

Washington, DC -- OK, if The New York Times says so, it must be true, right?

Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Washington, DC--What will happen to news media if freedom spreads throughout the world, a hope articulated by President Bush in his inaugural address?

It will be a world where local television stations with Eyewitness News formats feature "Five on Your Side," "Traffic and Weather Together," and sports, of course, and news about women and kids. News you can use, in other words.

At least that’s what seems to be shaping up in Iraq, where more than 20 local TV stations are now licensed to broadcast.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 -- U.S. public diplomacy should be centered in a new federal agency with triple the current staff levels, according to a White Paper issued today by the Public Diplomacy Council, a non-partisan organization based here.

The report also recommends permanent off-budget funding for international exchanges, increased funding for international broadcasting and a cabinet-level interagency coordinating committee.

January 25, 2005

Atlanta

Historically, the United States has favored a Sunni-run Iraq. In part, this represented a status quo with which we were familiar and comfortable. More recently Iraq’s ruling Sunnis (led by Saddam) pitched themselves to Western governments as a bulwark against the menace of post-revolutionary Iran. On top of this, our friends in the region are mostly Sunni-ruled and all of them were scared after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

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