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Amman, Jordan

There is a peculiar disconnect when you talk to Westerners here and in Baghdad about the upcoming Iraqi elections.

January 3, 2005

Amman, Jordan

A few days ago The Washington Times wrote glowingly of election coverage plans at Al-Hurra, the US-funded Arabic-language satellite TV station. Correspondents all over the place. US-style rolling coverage of the returns as they come in. A slew of pre-election documentaries and talk shows designed both to air the issues at stake and to teach people the mechanics of voting.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 2 -- A key post in global soft power will soon be vacant: James Wolfensohn confirmed today that he expects to step down as president of the World Bank when his current term ends this spring.

Amman, Jordan

I watched quietly from my window as 2004 turned to 2005. Fireworks sprouted from the horizon in four or five places – some of them large parties or hotel celebrations, others private revelry. The explosions and firecrackers continued for the better part of half an hour (with the left-overs being set off throughout the day today).

US government criticized for slow aid, but tsunami relief attracts record private donations online

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 -- By the time President Bush spoke publicly yesterday and promised U.S. leadership in tsunami relief, a wave of donations from individuals had swept over the Internet.

Amman, Jordan

Earlier this week the New York Times carried a long article about American preparations for next month’s Iraqi elections. The piece focused on a plan, currently being considered by the United States, to guarantee a certain number of seats in Iraq’s National Assembly and/or its cabinet to Sunni Arabs regardless of the result of the actual vote.

December 26, 2004

Amman, Jordan

Saturday morning in Amman was so foggy that, in our own way, we actually did have a white Christmas. On the 23rd Mecca Mall was as crowded as any American mall on the day before Christmas Eve (though since Thursday is the end of the work week here it was difficult to say how much of that was holiday traffic as opposed to the ordinary weekend crush), with virtually every shop displaying holiday decorations of some sort.

Amman, Jordan

I’d hate to be a US official working on public diplomacy issues in the Middle East these days. Promoting American values and policy. Convincing a skeptical audience that the United States is not an evil, imperial power. How is one supposed to do these things when the bosses back in Washington seem hell-bent on undermining those sentiments in the interest of short-term political gain, or simple bloody-minded payback?



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