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Friday, March 18, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Recent developments in Tunisia, Egypt, and increasingly throughout the rest of the Arab world have certainly been encouraging, and they raise the critical question of what happens next. How will these states be able to make the transition from the discredited authoritarian regimes of the old order to the new, democratic systems that people throughout the region are demanding? The problem is that authoritarian regimes, by definition, do not possess the mechanisms necessary for peaceful democratic transitions. There is generally no constitutional framework for genuine democracy, and political opinion has been repressed for so long that nobody really knows which group or party enjoys genuine support. The obvious solution is to hold an election -- but with which participants, on what basis, and within what constitutional framework? South Africa's constitutional negotiations in the early 1990s may provide an instructive example for these new democracies to study." (FW de Klerk)


"Inside the administration, senior officials were lined up on both sides. Pushing for military intervention was a group of NSC staffers including Samantha Power, NSC senior director for multilateral engagement; Gayle Smith, NSC senior director for global development; and Mike McFaul, NSC senior director for Russia, who has 30-plus-years of experience advocating for democracy and human rights. On the other side of the ledger were some Obama administration officials who were reportedly wary of the second- and third-degree effects of committing to a lengthy military mission in Libya. These officials included National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was also opposed to attacking Libya and had said as much in several public statements. Not all of these officials were in Tuesday night's meeting. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called into the meeting over the phone, a State Department official confirmed. She was traveling in the region to get a first-hand look at how the new U.S. Middle East strategy is being received across the Arab world. Denied a visit with Egyptian youth leaders on the same day she strolled through Tahir Square, Clinton may have been concerned that the United States was losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the Arab youth at the heart of the revolution." (ForeignPolicy)


"The old order has crumbled in the Middle East, and it will never be the same again. But what made it crumble? The experts who had been arguing that the youth in the region constituted a listless generation that did not care about freedom and democracy, that, if it was politically active at all, tended to follow the lead of the Islamists, have been proved wrong. It is the victory of youth, the generation that was believed to be lost, which, free of fear, overthrew corrupt dictators and brought about the revolution. Youth, said the philosopher Martin Buber in a speech in 1913, is the eternal chance (Glueckschance) mankind possesses. And it is of course true that older generations are usually much less willing to dare; they lack passion, idealism, enthusiasm. They see above all difficulties and dangers and the risks of change, in politics even more than in other human endeavors. They think of a hundred reasons why change for the better is dangerous if not impossible. Consequently, young people have always been in the forefront of the struggle for freedom and against tyranny. They have always been the pioneers of revolutions. When the French revolution broke out, Robespierre was 33, Saint Just, the fiercest of them, was 22, and Danton, considered an old man, was just 30. At the time of the Russian revolution of 1917, all the main actors were under 40—with the exception of Lenin who was in his forties and who was called therefore 'starik,' the old man." (Walter Laquer)



"Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said March 18 that Libya would positively respond to the U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a no-fly zone over Libya. The statement was soon followed by a declaration by Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa of an immediate unilateral cease-fire and halt to all military operations. Tripoli added that it was ready to open “all dialogue channels with everyone interested in the territorial unity of Libya,” that it wanted to protect Libyan civilians, and that it was inviting the international community to send government and nongovernmental organization representatives 'to check the facts on the ground by sending fact-finding missions so that they can take the right decision.' The Libyan declaration comes as members of the NATO military alliance were ramping up for airstrikes authorized by the United Nations against troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. French diplomatic sources have been quoted as saying airstrikes could start 'within hours.' Libya’s move potentially throws a wrench in plans to establish and enforce a no-fly zone — and take additional military action — against the Gadhafi government. France and the United Kingdom have led the international community in its push to intervene in Libya. Washington had signaled that it would let the European nations lead. Italy, formerly a strong Gadhafi supporter, announced March 18 that it would consider supplying aircraft to the intervention, as did Norway, Denmark and Belgium. By offering a cease-fire and inviting nongovernmental groups to conduct fact-finding missions, however, Gadhafi is betting that the European nations will lose the political justification for an attack and that political disagreements over military action within European nations can further weaken their already weak resolve." (STRATFOR)


"Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day in New York with temperatures touching 60. It was also St. Patrick's Day which meant the entire town north of 42nd Street and east of Sixth Avenue (essentially midtown) was just about impassable/impossible ... Down at Michael's, Keith Kelly of the New York Post gathered together his annual Kelly Gang – this year was number 7 which brought out a great crowd of Kellys including the Police Commissioner whose son, Greg Kelly, was honorary chair. It's kind of a cocktail reception, not to mention the irresistible Michael's hors d'oeuvres, but Keith Kelly has turned it into a fundraiser to help others. In fact, they've even incorporated. This year, the funds raised will go to Catholic Relief Services in Haiti and Tuesday's Children, which is a non-profit family service organization that has made a long-term commitment to every individual who was directly affected by the events of September 11th. Kelly Gang's board of founders are Christina Kelly, Editor/Writer; Ed Kelly, President/ CEO American Express Publishing; Jim Kelly, Contributing Editor of Vanity Fair; Kate Kelly Smith, Vice President and Publisher, House Beautiful; Keith – 'Media Ink' columnist for the Post; Kirk Kelly, Folksinger 'Paddy on the Railway'; Mike Kelly, CEO of the Weather Channel; Ray Kelly, NYPD Commissioner; Tom Kelly, writer/producer, CBS 'Blue Bloods,' and the late Michael Kelly. To date, The Kelly Gang has raised more than $300,000 for worthy causes, including the family of the late writer Michael Kelly." (NYSocialDiary)

"Paper co-founder Kim Hastreiter made her debut on the wheels of steel on Tuesday at Mr. Mickey's weekly Tuesday at SoHo Grand Party. Kim, OR DJ OMG, worked her magic spinning everything from Pink Martini to Celia Cruz to the O'Jays to Barry White. The kids couldn't get enough of it." (Papermag)


"President Obama came under new pressure Friday to broaden talks about government spending to include tax and entitlement reform. Sixty-four senators — 32 Democrats and 32 Republicans — called for the expanded talks in a letter to Obama. The letter was circulated by Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who were able to get a supermajority of the Senate within 24 hours. It urges Obama to 'engage in a broader discussion about a comprehensive deficit-reduction package. Specifically, we hope that the discussion will include discretionary spending cuts, entitlement changes and tax reform,' the letter states. It endorses the report late last year from Obama's fiscal commission as a basis for the conversation. 'As you know, a bipartisan group of senators has been working to craft a comprehensive deficit reduction package based upon the recommendations of the Fiscal Commission,' the letter states. 'While we may not agree with every aspect of the Commission’s recommendations, we believe that its work represents an important foundation to achieve meaningful progress on our debt.' The letter does not specify what entitlements and tax reforms should be included in the talks." (TheHill)

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