American Daily: September 27, 2014 (weekend update)

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

27 September 2014

The timeline for this nomination is still unclear. There are rumors that the White House is going to announce it immediately; the NPR article mentioned Solicitor General Donald Verrilli as the frontrunner. But whoever the nominee turns out to be, the process will turn into an opportunity for Republicans to pour all their frustration and anger at Holder down upon him or her. And in a time where opposition to this president on the right has been intensely racialized, no one apart from the President himself stirs those feelings more than Eric Holder.
  • American politicial journalism and the fall of Gary Hart.
As anyone alive during the 1980s knows, Hart, the first serious presidential contender of the 1960s generation, was taken down and eternally humiliated by a scandal, a suspected affair with a beautiful blonde whose name, Donna Rice, had entered the cultural lexicon, along with the yacht — Monkey Business — near which she had been photographed on his lap. When they talked about him now in Washington, Hart was invariably described as a brilliant and serious man, perhaps the most visionary political mind of his generation, an old-school statesman of the kind Washington had lost its capacity to produce. He warned of the rise of stateless terrorism and spoke of the need to convert the industrial economy into an information-and-technology-based one, at a time when few politicians in either party had given much thought to anything beyond communism and steel. But such recollections were generally punctuated by a smirk or a sad shake of the head. Hardly a modern scandal passed, whether it involved a politician or an athlete or an entertainer, that didn’t evoke inevitable comparisons to Hart among reflective commentators. In popular culture, Gary Hart would forever be that archetypal antihero of presidential politics: the iconic adulterer.
  • Is the Republican Party really thinking about renominating Mitt Romney in 2016?
I think Republican voters understand this, even if some Republican consultants do not, which means that as long as there is somebody else who fits the party-unifying profile — most likely Rubio, possibly Christie, maybe a gubernatorial dark horse — a Romney campaign would lead the polls based on name recognition and then collapse upon contact with political reality. And since, again, I came to admire Romney more than I expected by the end of his last unsuccessful campaign, I hope for his sake that he realizes as much, and finds another, saner way to serve the country he so loves.
Back in 1999, the average household made $56,895 in today’s dollars. That number took a hit when the dot-com bubble burst and never reached the same high note again. It plummeted once more during the Great Recession and has slinked lower through the recovery. That middle-of-the-road household is now making $51,939. In other words, for the past 15 years, a growing economy has failed to translate into rising incomes.

Starbucks may have been a decent signifier of effete urban liberalism in, oh, 1995; but, in 2014, when you can cool off with a frappuccino at the Super Target in Denton, Texas, I’d say Starbucks is pretty Middle American. And, while Chick-fil-A may have a conservative Christian corporate culture—with its president’s public opposition to gay marriage and its longstanding policy that all of its stores are closed on Sunday—it’s hardly an exclusively exurban or rural phenomenon, hence its current plans to massively expand its number of stores in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Bookmark and Share

Print This Post 0 Comments

American Daily: September 25, 2014

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

25 September 2014

  • Obama's success in assembling an Arab coalition to fight Islamic State.
The Arabs of the Gulf (Arabian Gulf, Persian Gulf, take your pick) have overcome their fear of Obama's irresolution and joined him publicly in this campaign. This has happened for two reasons: One, Obama made a convincing case to U.S. allies that he's in the ISIS fight for the long-term. The Gulf Arabs are exposed, almost existentially so, to the ISIS threat, so they obviously feel that the U.S. is not pivoting away from them (to borrow a term). The second reason is embedded in the first reason: the president was pushing on an open door. Precisely because the Arab states fear ISIS so much, they needed to take a bit of a leap of faith with a man they haven't trusted since the "red line" crisis of last year. That said, Obama's critics will attempt to downplay his achievement in building this coalition. They shouldn't. Getting this set of countries to act in their own defense has never been an easy task.
O’Malley is the most active. He is hiring in Iowa and doing pretty much everything an obscure but viable candidate can do at this stage. Sanders, and now Webb, aren’t doing much beyond talking. Warren denies she is running even as she does candidate-like things, and is pointedly refusing to pledge that she won’t run. And Biden is in a holding pattern: He’s not organizing a real campaign, but has declared himself a potential candidate. We can't know how many of these Democrats will actually be running in 2016, or even in spring 2015.
Octavious Burks was arrested more than 10 months ago in November 2013 for attempted armed robbery, possession of a weapon by a felon, disorderly conduct, and possession of paraphernalia.

According to the complaint, his $30,000 bail — which he cannot afford — was set with no individualized hearing. As such, he has been in the Scott County Detention Center since then. He has not been indicted in all that time.
  • In 1982, the CIA produced a document portraying its most-hated clichés as fictional animals.
Mounting tensions, according to the CIA
Pictured: "Mounting Tensions"
  • What happens to the US border with Mexico when the Rio Grande moves?

The whole point of setting the border between Mexico and the United States at the deepest channel of the Rio Grande was that the river was not supposed to move. That was the thinking in 1848, when, following Mexico’s defeat by the United States and surrender of its vast northern lands, boundary surveyors from the two countries were tasked with reinventing the border. The choice of the river for the boundary’s eastern half had been obvious: its use as a territorial marker stretched back into the region’s Spanish colonial past, and it was hard to miss and often difficult to cross. But even as he filed his report on the completed boundary survey, in 1856, Major William Emory cautioned that the river might be an unreliable partner in border making. “The bed of the river sometimes changes,” he wrote, “and transfers considerable portions of land from one side to the other.”

Bookmark and Share

Print This Post 0 Comments

The Islamic State and the othering of Islam

By Matthew Phillips in Sydney, Australia

24 September 2014

The blog is currently featuring posts written by post-graduate students from the USSC 6903 Foreign and National Security Policy class, taught by Dr. Sarah Graham. You can see more of their posts here.

Members of IS

Members of IS holding the distinctive black flags of the Islamic State

The recent atrocities committed by members of the Islamic State terror group have reinvigorated the debate in Western nations about the nature of the Islamic faith. Images of the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff are truly shocking and bring the reality of the situation on the ground in Iraq and Syria into sharp focus on our television screens.

But what do these images have to do with Islam, a faith with over 1.5 billion adherents worldwide?

Political leaders of pluralistic nations such as the United States and Australia have been at pains to disassociate the Islamic State and radical extremism with moderate Islam. US President Barack Obama recently said that “ISIL speaks for no religion” and that “No just God” would stand for what they do. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has stressed that the threat is extremism and terrorism, not any particular community or faith. Even George W. Bush referred to Islam as a religion of peace in the days following 9/11 in an attempt to reach out to American Muslims.

Read More

President Obama

President Barack Obama condemning the killing of James Foley

Politicians are saying all of the right things to promote inclusivity, social cohesion, and tolerance of Islam.

The problem, however, is they are also saying all of the wrong things. Warnings not to associate Islam with terrorism are interspersed with moralistic language that presents IS as an incomprehensible other — a force of darkness in the dualistic world of good and evil. Barack Obama has described IS as a “cancer” spreading across the Middle East, Secretary of State John Kerry has forthrightly claimed that the “despicable hatred” and “evil” of IS “must be destroyed,” and Tony Abbott considers it to be a “death cult.”

All of the above may be true. But to the average citizen struggling to understand the religious, ideological, and geopolitical complexities of the situation, the messages from political leaders must become somewhat blurred. The use of acronyms such as IS (Islamic State), ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) contain one constant: Islam.

While the intent in political discourse may be to convey that IS is violent, radical, and completely detached from the moderate and peaceful Islamic faith, the association is often formed nonetheless. Islam becomes an ideological other that is associated with the medieval tribalism and violence that have no place in the post enlightenment Western mode of thinking that celebrates liberalism, individual freedom and human rights. 

The negative perception of Islam generated by political discourse and the media is having an effect on public opinion, with a recent poll finding that Americans’ attitudes towards Arabs and Muslims are getting worse. Favorability for Muslim Americans was just 27 per cent following recent events in the Middle East, down from 36 per cent in 2010. In addition, a Pew poll last month found that Muslims were perceived more negatively in the United States than not only all other religious groups, but also atheists.

Pew poll

Pew Research Center: American's Ratings of Religious Groups (July 2014)

The poor understanding of the role of Islam in the contemporary conflict in Iraq and Syria is exacerbated by the consistent use — by both politicians and media alike — of specific religious terminology with minimal explanation and context. So what exactly is a Sunni? A Shiite? An Alawite? A Caliphate? A Jihadist?

It all starts to sound foreign. Alien. Other.

Where is a copy of Islam for Dummies when you need one?

Wait, never mind. Good and evil. That, I can understand.


Bookmark and Share

Print This Post 0 Comments

American Daily: September 24, 2014

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

24 September 2014

  • Assessing President Obama's address to the United Nations on climate change

Like most speakers, Obama highlighted how climate change is already affecting his country: “In America, the past decade has been the hottest on record. The city of Miami now regularly floods at high tide. In our West, wildfire season lasts most of the year. The alarm bells keep ringing.” And Obama nodded to Sunday’s People’s Climate March, saying, “Our citizens keep marching. We have to answer the call.”

What advocates of these candidates and movements never successfully answered, however, is how they would overcome the long list of institutional factors that make a third-party bid so difficult. A third-party candidate confronts the huge organizing and infrastructure advantages of the major parties, the difficulty of securing nationwide ballot access, the winner-take-all allocation of Electoral College votes and the fact that the House of Representatives decides the winner of a deadlocked Electoral College.

  • What the theory of "political time" tells us about Joe Biden's future.
With so few available observations, it’s hard to get a good read on exactly why this is. But we can get some help from the theory of political time. Skowronek’s theory, published in The Politics Presidents Make (first in 1993 and then in 1997), rests on the idea that some presidential politics is a combination of affirming and repudiating the past. Because vice-presidents represent powerful continuity with the outgoing regime, this theoretical framework is useful for us to think about when that continuity might have the best chance for political success. Under what conditions would the electorate welcome more of the same?
Political news abhors a vacuum, and when trying to appeal to a broader audience, it's inevitable that journalists will boil everything down to the question of "who is going to win?" Data journalism isn't changing that. All that's changing is that people are freaking out over fluctuations in statistical models instead of just daily polls.

Last week, a Senate committee held a hearing on the unlikely possibility of D.C. statehood. In attendance were Senators Thomas Carper, a Delaware Democrat, and Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, and Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives. Along with nine panelists, they were there to discuss the New Columbia Admission Act, a bill that would incorporate the lion’s share of D.C. as the 51st state in the Union, preserve a federal enclave of monuments and buildings within the new state, and grant the District’s nearly 650,000 residents full representation in Congress. Currently, citizens of the nation’s capital are denied voting equality at the congressional level and significant autonomy locally. This set-up makes D.C. an anomaly among American municipalities and arguably relegates its residents to second-class citizens.

Bookmark and Share

Print This Post 0 Comments

A harbour in the tempest

By Shalailah Medhora in Sydney, Australia

24 September 2014

Shalailah Medhora is the recipient of the 2014 US Studies Centre – World Press Institute media fellowship and is contributing to the blog while in the United States.

Celeste Douglas

MS57 principal Celeste Douglas

MS57 looks just like a jail from the outside.

The concrete façade of the middle school is cold and harsh, and its windows are covered with metal bars. There are no green oases where children can play; in fact, you don’t hear children at all from the outside.

Heavy doors behind spiked fences open to reveal police officers standing guard near the sign in desk. The fellows and I have to show ID and give a signature before we can enter the building.

I must admit, this school in the hard-edged Brooklyn suburb of Bedford-Stuyvesant is unlike any other school I’ve ever visited. I’m a little taken aback.

Until we meet the principal, that is.

Celeste Douglas is nothing like the stern authoritarian you’d expect to be running the place. She’s young, and clad in a bright blue dress accessorised with funky silver jewellery. She greets us with a genuine smile as she takes us up to the main part of the school.

As soon as we’re on the second floor, the vibe of the place changes. There are paintings made by students up on the walls, and the sounds of a Grade 7 dance class are bouncing throughout the hallway.

Bedford-Stuyvesant is a disadvantaged area. Most of its inhabitants are African American, and the area has been a cultural hub for black culture for decades. It has spawned rappers and musicians, most famously, Jay Z.

In the 1980s the area experienced a crack-cocaine epidemic. The public schools, which under-performed even before the drug wars, became a hotbed for criminal behaviour.

“When I went to this school, it was gang-infested,” says former pupil Sophia Williams, who is currently the parent coordinator of MS57.

“To be honest, I don’t know how it remained open.”

But remain open it did. And now, it has been transformed, even though the 250 or so students remain largely disadvantaged.

Read More

Ninety per cent are black and the other ten per cent are Latino. The school doesn’t have one single white student.

Few of the students live in two-parent households. Some have parents who are drug addicts, or in jail. Many are malnourished.

The principal argues that poverty plays a big part in young black and Hispanic students playing up in school, and breaking the law outside of it.

“When you’re hungry and angry, certain things happen,” Douglas says.

The small number of enrolments means Douglas knows each child well. She understands their circumstances and often helps out with food, rent or extra coaching and encouragement.

She reminds me of a teacher from a Hollywood movie — the ones where young ambitious teachers get sent to underprivileged schools and end up winning the hearts of the students who were, until she arrived, without prospect.

The difference is, this is real life.

Douglas is open about how her thorough dedication to her work has taken a toll on her life. It’s put a strain on her marriage, finances, and her health. She’s put off having children for a while, admitting she can’t manage childrearing with her current workload.

“It [my work] is my life,” she says. “You can’t do this job properly any other way.”

“The job is — I don’t want to say impossible — but it’s impossible to sustain it.”

Other staff members have noticed the long hours and dedication she puts in.

“Not only did [Douglas] bring the grades up, she was able to create an honours program out of that,” parent coordinator Sophia Williams says.

“I call her an educational skills gangster,” she laughs.

Those skills extend beyond just teaching disadvantaged kids how to read and write. MS57 prides itself on teaching integrity and character, too.

“Grit and perseverance are two of the most important attributes you can have,” the principal says. “Aptitude alone will only get you so far.”

That mantra seems to be working for the middle school.

Around 50 per cent of high school students in New York go on to enrol in college. The average for MS57 students is 65 per cent.

“I want them to be smarter, kinder, nicer, and change the world,” Ms Douglas says.

Looking back on it, maybe the cold concrete façade of the school isn’t about keeping students contained inside, like a jail.

Maybe it’s actually a harbour in the tempest, a place where kids who’ve have a tough life in every sense of the word can come and be the best version of themselves.

“My goal is that they come in here and shut the outside world out,” Douglas says.

So far, she’s succeeding.


Bookmark and Share

Print This Post 0 Comments

American Daily: September 23, 2014

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

23 September 2014

  • The US has begun air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria.

Raqqa, an Isis stronghold, was among the targets of the operation, which began in the early hours of Tuesday morning local time. The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdulrahman, told Reuters by telephone in Beirut that the air strikes hit checkpoints in Raqqa city and surrounding areas. Dozens of Isis fighters were killed or wounded in the attacks, he said.

  • Turkey: America's cautious partner is the fight against IS.

But let's recall that Turkey was unwilling to be part of the coalition during the Iraq War in 2003. It probably has the same concerns now that it had then: too little clarity on the post-war political solution. Turkey has long been critical of the West's handling of Syria's Bashar al-Assad, wanting tougher action against the dictator. Turkey may fear that action against ISIS will strengthen Assad, particularly given that US plans for the endgame in Syria aren't clear. To top it off, the US Senate has only just approved the appointment of a new ambassador to Ankara, John Bass, who will have to manage a delicate and extremely high-stakes negotiation process as he settles in. The Obama Administration will need to appreciate that Turkey is status conscious, focused on what the ultimate political order in its region will look like, and doesn't take a simplistic view about the sources of Islamist radicalism. These are, in fact, eminently reasonable positions for Turkey to take. It will be up to the US to account for them and be flexible and attentive if it can.

Like George W. Bush before them, McCain and Graham are militaristic optimists. They want America to bomb and arm its way toward a free, pro-American Middle East. Cruz is a militaristic pessimist. He mocks the Obama administration’s effort to foster reconciliation “between Sunnis and Shiites in Baghdad” because “the Sunnis and Shiites have been engaged in a sectarian civil war since 632.” Notably absent from his rhetoric is the Bush-like claim that Muslims harbor the same desire for liberty as everyone else. Instead of mentioning that most of ISIS’s victims have been fellow Muslims, Cruz frames America’s conflict in the language of religious war. “ISIS right now is the face of evil. They’re crucifying Christians, they’re persecuting Christians,” he told Hannity.

Neither CRs nor omnibus bills are great ways to legislate. Contemporary politics may demand their use, but lawmakers and their institution surely pay a price for regularly ceding some or all of their power of the purse to bureaucrats. CRs give undue weight to past decisions, even as present conditions change. Omnibus bills may be an improvement over CRs. But even those legislative vehicles undermine congressional capacity, of late in short supply.

The Observer is hardly alone. When The Oregonian quit using “Redskins” and other Native American names to refer to sports teams in 1992, few followed. But as the debate over the name has intensified over the last year, the number of outlets and individual journalists choosing not to use it has grown rapidly, with the Observer, the Washington Post’s editorial board and the New York Daily News the most prominent among outlets that recently to dropped it. TV networks are getting in the game too: CBS, Fox, NBC, and ESPN all decided to give their on-air talent and reporters the option to avoid saying the name during NFL broadcasts this season, and some of their most notable names have chosen to use “Washington” exclusively.

Bookmark and Share

Print This Post 0 Comments

American Daily: September 22, 2014

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

22 September 2014

Not having the episode “hanging over his head puts him back where he started from,” said Chuck Laudner, an Iowa-based strategist for former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign. “He’s still a rock star and a compelling guy, even if he is too moderate for some conservatives. We’re glad he’s on our team.”
WNBC, the NBC affiliate in New York City, reported Thursday that a federal investigation into politically-motivated lane closures last year on the George Washington Bridge has yielded no link to Christie.
A hush fell over the room as some of the most powerful women in the Democratic Party took their seats on a panel to discuss women’s economic security. Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate in waiting and first among equals, sketched out the challenges. Women hold two-thirds of minimum-wage jobs, she said, and three-quarters of the jobs that rely on tips, like waitresses, bartenders, hairstylists. In many states, the minimum wage for tipped workers is as low as $2.13 an hour.
Although a Census report released this week shows the poverty rate declined for the first time since 2006, Clinton said it also found that more women are likely to be impoverished even if they’re working. She urged a “fair shot” for women, and if you’ve been watching the PBS series on the Roosevelts, FDR’s New Deal, and TR’s Square Deal, you can begin to imagine Clinton’s campaign taking shape.
  • A newfound conservative interest in Canada.
You may remember your liberal friends threatening to move to Canada after George W. Bush was re-elected. But something surprising has happened in the last few years: Conservatives have fallen in love with Canada. The conservative journalist John Fund wrote in National Review this month that Canada is becoming “more American than America.” That’s the same John Fund who wrote a 1995 Wall Street Journal staff editorial calling Canada “an honorary member of the third world.” A lot can change in two decades.
  • Conservative trouble in Kansas.
The Thomas Frank vision, of a fighting populist Democratic Party prying working-class whites from the Republican Party with blunt appeals to economic populism, bears almost no resemblance to the events in Kansas. Mostly, liberals have benefited from right-wing self-destruction. To the extent that they have a deliberate strategy, the Democrats are attempting essentially the opposite of Frank’s ­prescription—they are trying to cobble together their base with the traditional, Bob Dole fiscal conservatives. Dole, the iconic Kansas postwar Republican, ridiculed and resisted the wave of supply-side economics when it appeared in the 1980s. Ultimately he gave in and ran for president in 1996 promising sweeping, budget-busting tax cuts like those Brownback has enacted. The old Dole’s brand of fiscal ­conservatism—or the Eisenhower brand, to cite another Kansan—seemed to have expired, but it is taking its vengeance from beyond the political grave.
  • In 1987, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders recorded a folk album.

In 1987, while serving as Burlington’s mayor, Sanders recorded an album of folk classics for the defunct BurlingTown Recordings label. We found it in the archive search for "Bernie Beat," the new digital guide to Sanders' colorful political career that launched today on the Seven Days website.

Bookmark and Share

Print This Post 0 Comments

American Daily: September 18, 2014

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

18 September 2014

Williams is a Vermont secessionist. As far as he knows, he is the only elected official in Vermont—he’s on a school board—who avowedly favors the state’s divorce from the union, a return to its pre-1791 status as an independent republic. The idea was starting to catch on in the Green Mountain State when George W. Bush was president. It faded after Barack Obama replaced him. The reasons were not mysterious.

  • Trying to defeat Islamic State is the wrong way to look at the conflict.
Counterterrorism campaigns do not neatly fit into our black-and-white descriptions of the way conventional wars begin and end. There will never be "victory" in the sense that terrorists will stop trying to attack the United States. What there will be, instead, is managed risk. A constant effort to detect and degrade the threat. A balance of measures — political, military, legal, and otherwise — focusing on the capacity of terrorists to create havoc outside their geographical boundaries. Preventing them from obtaining or developing weapons of mass destruction.
  • Eroding the "undue burden" protection from US abortion law. 
In other words, the members of the Fifth Circuit panel seem to believe that anything short of a nationwide ban on abortion does not amount to an undue burden on women’s rights. This is the argument that will soon be heading to the Supreme Court. Will the Court’s conservatives—who appear to have, with the addition of Anthony Kennedy, a one-vote majority on this issue—define the “undue burden” test into meaninglessness? Or will they junk the test altogether and give states an even freer hand to restrict abortion rights? O’Connor has been gone from the Supreme Court for nearly a decade. The question, now, is whether her great achievement will soon be gone, too.
  • Would the Roosevelts have been able to win the presidency today?
The lesson of the nomination and election of Barack Hussein Obama is pretty simple: Presidential nominations, and therefore the presidency, are open to far more people than during the first half of the 20th century. It’s possible that a few of the old restrictions remain, but the old idea that the presidency was only for a very limited group of citizens is dead and gone.
In fact, the main reason to question whether FDR and TR would have been presidents in the 21st century isn’t whether they would have been excluded; it’s whether they could have survived all the competition from people who really were excluded back then.
  • Why do political parties lie about their history?

People largely don't come to see themselves as a Democrat or Republican because they agree with the party's current positions, but because of a more abstract psychological bond. People affiliate with a political party because they feel that people "like them" are members of the party. The social groups they associate with the party are groups they like or belong to. This is why, on most issues, when people discover that their personal opinion differs from their party's position, they change their opinion rather than their partisanship.

Bookmark and Share

Print This Post 0 Comments

Stop Americans from joining IS with propaganda

By Mark Cross in Sydney, Australia

15 September 2014

The blog is currently featuring posts written by post-graduate students from the USSC 6903 Foreign and National Security Policy class, taught by Dr. Sarah Graham. You can see more of their posts here

During an interview at the Naval War College, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said, “We are aware of over 100 US citizens who have US passports who are fighting in the Middle East with ISIL forces. There may be more; we don’t know.” Additionally, Matthew Olsen, the Director at the National Counterterrorism Center, claimed that at least 1,000 European passport holders are fighting in Syria and Iraq as well.

The death of James Foley, an American journalist who was likely killed by a British citizen working with the Islamic State terror group, along with the death of Douglas McCain, an American citizen fighting with IS in Syria, calls attention to the number of Westerners fighting in the region. British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he aims to confiscate passports and possibly strip British citizenship from those fighting with IS, and the American public is calling for the US government to do the same.

The US government has the authority to confiscate American passports of suspected IS fighters and limit their international travel. This is often done when someone is awaiting trial or is a suspect in an investigation. However, it is more difficult to strip their citizenship. Only in rare situations does the United States have the authority to take away an individual’s citizenship involuntarily, as the government cannot leave someone stateless.

Confiscating passports and possibly stripping US citizenship will not solve the problem; it is only a response to the realisation that there are American citizens working with IS. The United States must address the cause of the problem itself: why are Americans joining IS in the first place?

Read More

The United States should look to new — or perhaps old — methods to fight IS. During the Cold War, the United States spent millions on various tools of propaganda. Most of this was coordinated through the US Information Agency, USIA, whose purpose was to inform and influence public opinion by promoting American goals. This influence on public opinion, both abroad and in America, played a major part in winning the Cold War. However, USIA was dissolved in 1999 and, currently, only a small number of people within the Department of State are devoted to influencing public opinion.

IS relies heavily on social media and YouTube to gain fighters, financial support, and a sympathetic audience internationally — and it has been working to their advantage. With propaganda, IS seems to be beating America at its own game. The Department of State finally released an Anti-IS propaganda campaign titled “Think Again, Turn Away” to discourage Americans from joining the extremist cause. Even though the United States has been “messaging” through social media in English, Urdu, Arabic, and Somali for three years, the budget is extremely low and likely less than what IS is spending.

The United States must be proactive and reach out to both an American and international audience before IS does. Taking away passports and restricting US citizenship may help in a few specific situations, but the United States must remember how it won the Cold War: not solely through an arms race and covert military operations, but also through propaganda. Americans mastered propaganda during the twentieth century and developed social media. Now, the country must use it to gain advantage over IS. 


Bookmark and Share

Print This Post 0 Comments

American Daily: September 15, 2014

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

15 September 2014

  • "Why America's Iraq strategy will work and why Australia should take part."
Iraq does threaten core Australian interests. The existence of ISIS-stan increases the terrorist threat faced by Australians both in Australia and in our region (not to mention places Australians like to travel, such as Europe). This is because, as has been mentioned many times now, Iraq and Syria are providing military skills to extremists from Australia, but also neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia the Philippines, and around the world. These fighters are also developing connections with other extremist groups that will make them a more lethal threat in years to come.
The law allows a cop to shoot someone if the cop has a reasonable belief that his life is in danger or that the victim is a felon. But the officer is required to show that his actions were justified every single time he pulled the trigger, not just the first time. According to an independent autopsy report, Brown was shot at least six times.
The Wall Street Journal devoted a major article to the efforts by President Obama and several governors to address the skills gap. According to the piece, employers in manufacturing can't hire workers with the right skills. If employers can't get enough workers then we would expect to see wages rising in manufacturing.
They aren't. Over the last year the average hourly wage rose by just 2.1 percent, only a little higher than the inflation rate and slightly less than the average for all workers. This follows several years where wages in manufacturing rose less than the economy-wide average.
"Criminal justice policy was very much driven by public sentiment and a political instinct to appeal to the more negative punitive elements of public sentiment rather than to be driven by the facts," he said.
And that public sentiment called for filling up the nation's prisons, a key part of the 1994 crime bill.

Rich towns

Bookmark and Share

Print This Post 0 Comments

« Prev Next »

Recent Posts