President Trump Addresses The ‘Muslim World’

PunditWire readers may recall my analysis of the intellectually and technically unsatisfactory speech by President Obama in Cairo. Now we have the first major overseas speech given by President Trump, delivered in Saudi Arabia at the heart of the ‘Islamic World’. How did he do?

Continue reading President Trump Addresses The ‘Muslim World’

Faulkner Trending

Carl_Van_Vechten_-_William_FaulknerThere’s a note trending now among forty former practitioners of public diplomacy, each one narrating zany experiences in the field from the glory days from when the United States “did” culture overseas.  Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, and others went at great personal and financial sacrifice to serve their country by charming publics in hostile nations, and freeing the human spirit in ways that transcended political differences.  They were great heroes, yet to be replaced as we seek to tweet ourselves out of the Islamic State and Putinism.  Long may our efforts live, and all power to the tweet if that is what strikes people’s consciousness, really.

We know that William Faulkner used to chart out his drinking binges on the calendar.  Faulkner was America’s Proust. His Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1950 was possible only through the connivance of his family, who X’d out dates on the calendar and deceived him to think it was a week later than it really was.  This is good urban myth but I take it as true.  December 10 he gave one of the most memorable of Nobel speeches, speaking of “the ding-dong of doom” in an age of nuclear proliferation bringing humans to the brink of annihilation. Continue reading Faulkner Trending

President Obama: Another Egypt Speech

President Obama PunditWire readers have already seen how President Obama’s famous Cairo speech in 2009 did not address the real issues Egypt was facing.

Now in sweltering Egypt in 2013 the deeper problems of that country are well and truly out in the open, with hundreds dead. President Obama has interrupted his vacation to put out a new and substantive statement on the deteriorating situation in Egypt. How does this one measure up? Continue reading President Obama: Another Egypt Speech

That Obama 2009 Cairo Speech – in Retrospect

Pres. Obama in Cairo 2009 As a former Ambassador myself, I can tell you that once a vast unhappy crowd starts carrying pictures of your country’s ambassador and calls for her/him to pack up and go home, things have gone badly wrong in the bilateral relationship. Thus with US Ambassador Anne Patterson in Cairo. She is seen by large parts of Egyptian society as a symbol of incompetent US meddling. She is denounced for getting too ‘involved’ in Egyptians’ affairs or for backing the wrong side, or both.

How did US diplomacy in the Middle East reach this sorry pass? I can’t help feeling that the famous speech delivered by President Obama in Cairo in June 2009 gives us some clues. Continue reading That Obama 2009 Cairo Speech – in Retrospect

When Words Fail

A Protester in Egypt

It’s February 8, 2011 and Hosni Mubarak is still President of Egypt. On one level, that’s completely unsurprising, given that he’s held the job for 30 years. But on another level, given the dramatic events of the past two weeks, a culminating event sometime before the Super Bowl seemed inevitable. Late last week, the White House began communicating through a variety of channels that it was time for Mubarak to go … but today, they hedged, saying that change doesn’t have to come quickly. Continue reading When Words Fail