LIVE STREAM at 11:15am EST: Conversations with America Featuring Steve Clemons and Farah Pandith

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For better or worse, the word most associated with President Obama’s foreign policy is “engagement.” Many in the United States and throughout the world perceived the Bush administration as heavy-handed, abrasive, and too unwilling to listen to other nations’ hopes, fears, and perspectives.
President Obama was (is?) viewed as someone with the family background, humility, and empathy to show the world a difference face of America.
Engaging everyone – old allies, emerging powers, enemies, foreign publics, NGOs, corporations, Muslim communities – that, more than anything, is the Obama administration’s “theory of the case” as it seeks to lead the world in the 21st century.
A significant aspect of this engagement strategy has been to use new media and public diplomacy to express more effectively what America is and why it is carrying out the policies that it does.
One outgrowth of this is the State Department’s “Conversations with America” series. The series is designed to provide “an opportunity for [State Department officials] to discuss a range of issues, important issues with people within the United States and around the world.”
Past conversations have featured Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Bob Blake, Center for Strategic and International Studies/South Asia Director Teresita Schaffer, World Affairs Councils of America Chairman Ambassador Marc Grossman, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.
Today, Friday, July 9 from 11:15am – 12:00pm EST TWN Publisher and New America Foundation/American Strategy Program Director Steve Clemons will join Farah Pandith, the State Department’s Special Representative to Muslim Communities, to discuss the United States’ engagement with Muslim communities around the world.
The conversation will stream live here at The Washington Note, and the State Department’s official blog,
DipNote.
Viewers can submit questions during the live chat at this link.
– Ben Katcher

Comments

23 comments on “LIVE STREAM at 11:15am EST: Conversations with America Featuring Steve Clemons and Farah Pandith

  1. David says:

    Seems more likely to me that big oil and multinationals in general who are pissed about “An Incovenient Truth,” the same folks who pounded the supposed smoking gun e-mails showing that climate change scientists were cooking the books to sell what Inhofe called the greatest hoax ever perpetrated, would be behind the castration of Gore. This is standard character assassination at a level practiced by very powerful corporate interests, not the political machinations of a single person. I am also dubious that Hillary is out to sabotage Obama. Virtually the entire Democratic national party, with the exceptions of some champions in the House, is hostage to right-wing Jewish special interests, as are progressive Jews in Israel and the United States. No less than Lawrence Wilkerson is now suggesting that it was neocon Zionistas in the Bush administration who convinced him to invade Iraq not for reasons of US interests but for reasons of perceived Israeli interests. I have no way of knowing, only suspecting what seems most likely the case, but Wilkerson is in a position to have some insights.
    W, on the other hand, refused to sign off on Cheney’s demands that the US green light Israeli airstrikes against Iran. Perhaps either he saw a glimmer of reality or else advisers who knew this was an insane idea prevailed toward the end of his presidency.
    One thing I think you will see unfold is Obama coming to the realization that the people with whom he attempted to compromise are not about anything but destroying his presidency. His caution and deferring to the private sector, qualities lauded by Washington pundits, are what, if anything, will prove his downfall. Ken Salazar was a nod to the oil sector, and apparently Obama believed that offshore drilling was safe. He certainly knows better now. He could have nationalized the response, but to what purpose? Only the oil industry has the equipment or the technology to deal with a catastrophe like this, and federal control of the private sector, however much sense it makes to me in this context, is for the average American tantamount to the Sovietization of America. Fox News would run with that meme 24/7, a meme laid down immediately by Rand Paul and embraced by the neo-McCarthyist teabaggers, and a meme with more traction among the general public than anything insightful about a healthy relationship between government and the private sector.
    People might be furious with BP, but they do not want a moratorium on deepwater drilling and they do not want the government “climbing on the backs of the private sector,” nor do they want the government taxing corporations or the wealthy in any meaningful way. Taxes are bad, greed is good, the government can do no right, and everyone is government in corrupt, whereas private sector capitalism is the source of all good and is self-correcting. Also, as Ronald Reagan so famously opined, the correct goal is to “get government off the backs of the people.” My question at the time was Where the hell are you going to put it?
    My point here is that we as a society have our heads so far up our colons that reality-based, fair-minded actual reform is probably not possible, although I am congenitally incapable of giving up the fight.

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  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I talked to friend the other day that is convinced Hillary is behind the Al Gore castration, and is working behind the scenes to derail a number of Obama policies. Her goal? To cement a win in a Presidential bid. Who knows on the Al Gore thing, but one thing is for sure, she hasn’t done Obama any favors in regards to Isr/Pal affairs.

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  3. The Pessimist says:

    I recall a question being asked of The Hillary regarding Medvedev before he became the president of Russia. She stumbled badly at pronouncing his name correctly, she was corrected by the off-screen reporter and The Hillary then dismissively responded, “whatever” before simply walking away without even attempting to address the question.
    It was at that moment where I realized just what a completely arrogant and condescending person she was. I can’t dismiss the idea that Medvedev and Putin most likely have also seen that interview and from day one have simply tolerated her as a means of Russia/US diplomatic protocol.
    I was literally dumbfounded when The Wonder Kid from Chicago named her to be the Secretary of State. I thought that his victory would be the perfect opportunity to bury the Clinton political team for the ages. But nooooo, Wonder Kid throws them a lifeline and she

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  4. Sand says:

    “…The longstanding dearth of essays, comments, or opinions regarding Hillary Clinton, on this blog…”
    Comment: You mean like the time when Hills, and her ‘top-notch aides’ got the Queen’s birthday wrong — lol — says it all really.

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  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The longstanding dearth of essays, comments, or opinions regarding Hillary Clinton, on this blog, is inexplicable coming from a host and an organization that claims an interest in foreign policy. To read this blog, one could almost believe that the office of Secretary Of State, and Hillary Clinton, do not exist. In short, its bizarre.
    http://original.antiwar.com/roberts/2010/07/09/hillary-clintons-latest-lies/
    Hillary Clinton

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  6. JohnH says:

    Speaking of natty, Iran has followed in the footsteps of France’s defining acceptable women’s head covering. Except that Iran decided to issue a guide to acceptable men’s hair styling.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/06/AR2010070601751.html
    Now I wonder…whose “style police” will bear the brunt of criticism?
    My bet is that it won’t be France!

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  7. WigWag says:

    The definition of “natty” from dictionary.com

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  8. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks for watching so carefully Wig…but natty? Fact is a got a bad case of poison oak or poison ivy when in Aspen — so any nattiness we’ll blame on that. Khalilzad is a friend — and I have written at TWN and in other interviews with him about his being the highest ranking Muslim American. Thanks for watching — best, steve

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  9. WigWag says:

    The discussion was interesting despite being a bit boiler-plate. Steve, who always looks good, looked particularly natty. Ms Pandith was eloquent and prepared; she is obviously a skilled diplomat because she managed to respond to the few difficult questions that there were without being overly substantive. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s what diplomats do. Hopefully she has a bright future in the diplomatic community.
    A few things stood out to me:
    1) Ms Pandith mentioned that one of her first trips abroad after being appointed was to Nigeria. What she did not mention is that the violence between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria has been especially horrendous and ugly. Nor did she mention that as Pentecostalism continues to expand its influence in Africa, tension between Muslims and Christians is likely to get worse; in fact it

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  10. Don Bacon says:

    re: engagement, a recent news report:
    The US president has accused China of “willful blindness” in remaining silent over North Korea’s suspected sinking of a South Korean warship in March.
    Barack Obama said he hoped that Hu Jintao, his Chinese counterpart, would recognise that North Korea crossed a line in the sinking of the Cheonan warship, which killed 46 South Korean sailors.
    The remarks were made on Sunday in Toronto, Canada, where Obama was attending the G20 economic summit.//
    The UNSC today condemned the sinking of the South Korean warship, Cheonan, in a carefully worded statement that avoided naming North Korea as the perpetrator. There are doubts about the cause of the sinking, as well as concern with the sloppy handling of the sinking inquiry.
    The sinking of engagement with China, characterized by intemperate presidential speech, also ought to be condemned.

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  11. Don Bacon says:

    Simple — Muslims are ten percent of the population in France. Compare them, discrimination-wise, not to Muslims in the US but to Latinos and African-Americans.

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  12. WigWag says:

    What I find interesting about the poll, Don Bacon and JohnH, is how differently Americans and Europeans view the issue of Muslim garb.
    In this regard, the results of the poll are revealing.
    Question: “Do you approve or disapprove of a ban on veils that cover the whole face?”
    France: Disapprove 17% Approve 82%
    Germany: Disapprove 28% Approve 71%
    Great Britain: Disapprove 32% Approve 62%
    Spain: Disapprove 37% Approve 59%
    United States: Disapprove 65% Approve 28%
    The Europeans, across a spectrum of nations, approve of legal restrictions on what Muslim women can wear by overwhelming margins. Conversely, Americans disapprove of legal restrictions on what Muslim women can wear by overwhelming margins.
    The deeper meaning of these numbers can be accounted for by any number of theories but the results are startling.
    It seems to me that a clever guy like Steve Clemons could fashion an interesting question for Farah Pandith based on these findings.

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  13. Don Bacon says:

    The burqa hoo-haw has nothing to do with engaging Muslim communities.
    The European female fertility rate is like 1.6, indicating a declining population, and they’re afraid of all this Arab culture contamination — particularly in France — which will fill the partial vacuum. It’s similar to the racism in the American southwest against the Hispanic ‘reconquista’.
    Add a little Christian anti-female repression and a dose of protection from a government corruption scandal*, and the furor over 2,000 women in France who actually wear a burqa is (or should be) a minor distraction.
    In other words, it’s a guy thing.
    *The Islamic burqa is being used by Sarkozy and his cronies as a distraction from the real issue of allegations of state corruption relating to the L’Or

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  14. JohnH says:

    Wigwag, you might be interested in a French view of what’s behind the burqa controversy:
    “The rise of the National Front, and the far right in general, in the European elections is not unconnected with the amount of public attention devoted to minor issues, while important matters are claimed to be too complex for ordinary mortals to understand. With the fiasco of the regional elections behind him, Sarkozy is about to tackle pensions reform. The social and financial stakes are high and the French government will naturally do all it can to distract the punters by reviving the ‘debate on the burqa’.
    The answer to this disingenuous move is not to get bogged down in the muck by defending the burqa. Still less to claim that anyone

    Reply

  15. WigWag says:

    Speaking of engaging Muslim communities, this report from Pew Research Center, is very interesting.
    http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1658/widespread-support-for-banning-full-islamic-veil-western-europe-not-in-america?src=prc-latest&proj=forum

    Reply

  16. Sand says:

    Carroll… You obviously seem to have the ability to ‘tune’ into the Machiavellian mindset — however, IMHO just don’t succumb to it — just use it to see the other side.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machiavellianism

    Reply

  17. Don Bacon says:

    CAIRO, Jun 15, 2010: Special Representative to Muslim Communities for the United States Department of State Farah Pandith arrived in Egypt Tuesday to build on President Barack Obama’s Cairo speech last year, the US embassy in Cairo said. [That was Jun 4, 2009 -- talk about a decent interval! Why so long?]
    “In the Arab and Muslim world there is a disappointment at the Obama administration. Today, one year after his speech, no major steps have been taken in the issues he has discussed and made promises in,” said Hassan Abu Taleb, international relations expert at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
    “Having a special representative for the Muslim World come here is a positive step, maybe a bit late but it’s still in the right direction. However, we need to know whether the visit is simply for public relations public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most and to portray a positive image of the US government, or her role would surpass PR and build on last year’s speech which entailed cooperation in the different social, economic and cultural aspects,” he explained.
    CS Monitor, April 12, 2004:
    Aid is central to Washington’s relationship with Cairo. The US has provided Egypt with $1.3 billion a year in military aid since 1979, and an average of $815 million a year in economic assistance. All told, Egypt has received over $50 billion in US largesse since 1975. “Aid offers an easy way out for Egypt to avoid reform,” says Edward Walker, the US ambassador to Egypt from 1994 to 1998. “They use the money to support antiquated programs and to resist reforms.”
    and what has $50bn bought? A bunch of pissed-off Egyptians, that’s what. Pew Report: In Egypt, America

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  18. WigWag says:

    So what type of questions is Steve interested in for Farah Pandith, the State Department’s Special Representative to Muslim Communities? Is he looking for tough, probing questions or is he looking for soft ball questions designed to merely mimic a substantive encounter?
    If he’s looking for probing questions, he might try these:
    1) You are a proud Muslim woman but you wear neither the Hijab nor the burqa; do you believe it is acceptable for Muslim men to insist that Muslim woman attire themselves in religious garb against their will?
    2) Although it has been widely criticized by some prominent Muslim clerics, female circumcision is practiced widely throughout the Islamic world. Should the United States cut-off all economic aid to any nation (whether majority-Muslim or not) that refuses to outlaw female genital mutilation?
    3) There are 47 majority Muslim nations in the world today; of these 20 make it illegal or extremely difficult to practice any faith other than Islam; why is religious intolerance so much more prevalent in the Islamic world than elsewhere?
    4) The Swiss have banned the construction of minarets; does the United States consider that to be a racist act.
    5) Geert Wilders and his political party recently received an extraordinarily large number of votes in the recent Dutch election. Just as more and more Americans seem hostile to Mexican immigrants, more and more Europeans seem increasingly hostile to Muslim immigrants. Why do you think that is and what do you think it bodes for the future of relations between Europe and the Islamic world?
    If Steve is looking for softball questions, he might try these:
    1) Can you give us a status report on President Obama’s effort to reach out to the Islamic world?
    2) The President has visited several Islamic nations already; can you tell us which ones he might visit next?
    3) What is the Administration doing to make clear that discrimination against American Muslims won’t be tolerated?
    4) After alot of initial enthusiasm, President Obama’s program to show Muslims that America is not their enemy seems to be floundering right along with the Arab-Israeli peace process; what can the Administration do to remedy this?
    5) Bill Clinton was called by many “America’s first black President” even though he obviously wasn’t black. Would President Obama be proud to be remembered as America’s first Muslim President even though he isn’t Muslim?

    Reply

  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hillary Clinton’s idea of “engagement” seems to consist of;
    “Fuck you very much. There, you’ve been engaged. Now we’re gonna sanction ya, ya dirty evil doer”.
    If Steve and Ben are wondering who Hillary Clinton is, they can probably bring themselves up to speed by asking someone in the arms industry who their favorite pin-up is. I understand she’s a regular participant in Netanyahu’s wet dreams as well.

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  20. Don Bacon says:

    from the Pew Global Attitudes Project
    June 17, 2010
    . . . America

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  21. Don Bacon says:

    This is what US engagement looks like. (h/t Google)
    (These are all from the US Secretary of State)
    Clinton criticizes Russia for occupying Georgia
    Clinton criticises Israel’s plans
    Clinton Criticizes Brazil’s Iran Diplomacy
    Clinton Criticizes Burma
    Clinton Criticizes Afghan Womens’ Rights Law
    Clinton Criticises China over Internet Censorship
    Hillary Clinton criticizes Vietnam
    Clinton Criticizes Netanyahu’s Economic ‘Peace Plan’
    Clinton criticizes Israel plan to raze Palestinian homes
    US Secretary Clinton criticizes Ethiopia’s government
    Clinton criticizes Iran and Syria at American Jewish Conference
    Hillary Clinton criticises Canada over Arctic talks
    Hillary Clinton Criticizes “Organized Religion”
    Secretary Of State Clinton Criticizes Controversial Afghan Women
    Clinton criticises Israeli breach of ‘road map’
    Clinton criticizes North Korean activities
    Clinton Criticizes New Armenian Media Law
    Clinton criticises Russia over Georgia bases

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  22. JohnH says:

    Engagement is one of the neutral words, notable for its ambiguity. Engagement runs the gamut from military engagement to the final step before being wedded.
    But sadly, engagement in the Obama administration is nothing more than slick PR. Obama “engaged” exactly once with Iran and then immediately stopped engaging when Iran didn’t accede. Obama has never engaged with Hamas.
    Obama talks better than Bush but behaves the same.

    Reply

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