Malaysian fatwas: No tomboys, no yoga

by Norman Vasu* Here is a brief report on two recent Fatwas from Malaysia that are raising some eyebrows.  The first one was issued on October 23, 2008.  Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council released an edict banning “tomboys” in the Muslim-majority country. The mufti of Malaysian state of Perak, Harussani Idris Zakaria, maintained that the Council was concerned that an increasing number of Muslim girls are behaving like tomboys and some of them engage in homosexuality. […] Read more »

State Dept. Blogging One Year Later (Part 4): State Department 2.0

by Nicholas Brody This is the fourth part of a five part series on about the one-year anniversary of the State Department’s Dipnote blog. In Part 1 we focused on reviewing DipNote management and processes. In Part 2 we looked at what the State Department bloggers were writing about. In Part 3 we conducted an in-depth content analysis of reader comments on the blog.  In this post I look at the larger context of Web […] Read more »

State Dept. Blogging One Year Later (Part 3): What DipNote Readers Have To Say

By Edward T. Palazzolo and Dawn Gilpin (With analysis support from Nick Brody, Jesse Herrera, Krista McNaughton, and Jordan Wolff) This is the third post in a series about the one-year anniversary of the State Department’s Dipnote blog. In Part 1 we focused on reviewing DipNote management and processes. In Part 2 we looked at what the State Department bloggers were writing about. In this post, we focus on our analysis of all the readers’ […] Read more »

Moving beyond the obvious: Zawahiri on Obama

by ZS Justus A recent audio recording from al-Qaeda #2 Zawahiri sends a series of “messages” to President-elect Barack Obama. News outlets have quickly grabbed one of the more provocative excerpts from the recording, Zawahiri’s labeling of Obama as a “house negro.” Several blogs have followed suit including hotair, gateway pundit, commentary magazine, the moderate voice, and right voices among others. I suppose the desire to label someone a “racist” is just too much to […] Read more »

Can Facebook Defeat Terrorism?

by Steven R. Corman In two recent briefings, one for the MSM and one for bloggers, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Jim Glassman spoke approvingly of an incident that took place in Colombia earlier this year.  It involved Facebook and a march against Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), a Bolivarian revolutionary guerrilla organization.  FARC is classified as a terrorist group by the government of Colombia, the United States, and the European Union […] Read more »

Strategic Communication for an Administration-in-Transition

by Bud Goodall The headlines from WatchAmerica show worldwide optimism and support for President-Elect Obama.  Yet, despite this large and welcoming window of public diplomacy opportunity, there are still 10 weeks to go before President Obama is sworn in and can officially represent America.  In the meantime, we have a world waiting to see if we have, in fact, something newer and better to offer under a new administration while the old and roundly discredited […] Read more »

GAO: Improving U.S. Image is Top Priority

by Steven R. Corman The GAO has just released a report on the 2009 Congressional and Presidential Transition.  Number five on the hit parade of urgent issues is improving he U.S image abroad (good beat, but it’s kind of hard to dance to). The GAO says that to accomplish this, policy makers must “improve their strategic planning, coordination, and performance measurement efforts;” “enhance the substance and sharing of government audience research efforts; and” “address a […] Read more »

Resisting Wahhabi Colonialism in Yogyakarta

by Mark Woodward* (Yogykarta, October 2008) Accounts of the “War of Words” or the “Battle for the Soul of Islam” or whatever else one choose to call the ideological struggle between “radicals” and “moderates” in the Muslim world tend to focus on elite level intellectual discourse that is largely divorced from the daily realities of Muslim life. This is understandable. Most western observes of Muslim life are political scientists or pundits who are at home […] Read more »

Hope and Wait and See

by Steven R. Corman In a widely-read white paper published last year, my colleagues and I pointed out that strategic communication operates in a complex worldwide system.  One feature of such systems is that they can develop inertia, stubbornly insisting on interpreting messages in standard ways, practically no matter what the message is.  Such is the case, we judged, with U.S. public diplomacy in recent years. In such a situation what you need is a […] Read more »