PM edition — get yr links while they’re fresh & hot (after the jump):
Stakes is high: Eli Bardenstein on how Pillar of Defense may put more than Israel’s international standing in peril:
It’s still too early to assess the extent of legitimacy that will be awarded to the current operation, “Pillar of Cloud.” While US President Barack Obama, in a talk with Netanyahu, has expressed support of the operation and Israel’s right of self defense, it is not unlikely that the Israeli premier heard a more complex message from Katherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign minister.
Staging a remarkable production of rhetoric that started on Sunday [Nov. 11] in a bid to prepare the international community for an Israeli military operation in Gaza, Netanyahu knew he would be given limited legitimacy — pointing fingers at this time is really irrelevant — and he took action to extend it as much as possible. As the hours go by, Netanyahu will undoubtedly feel the international pressure that would limit his actions in Gaza.
Yet the issue of garnering international legitimacy for launching an operation in Gaza isn’t the greatest problem facing Netanyahu and his government. The real price is the relations with Egypt.
While novel and perhaps unprecedented, the IDF’s campaign raises more questions about the nature of social media, and the role it plays on the modern battlefield. The IDF’s updates are coming fast and furious, but the information isn’t necessarily being verified in real time. It is possible that the IDF could be spreading misinformation strategically.
It also raises questions about the role of the companies themselves.
Are these practices within the bounds of the Twitter and Facebook Terms of Service? Even from a close reading, it is difficult to tell. According to Twitter’s rulebook, users are not permitted to “publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others,” nor are users allowed to use Twitter “for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities.” That includes tweets both foreign and domestic, as Twitter’s “international users agree to comply with all local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable content.”
Facebook’s ToS cites similar bylaws, telling users not to post content designed to incite violence or hate speech.
But under what area do the IDF’s activities fall? Is Israel on sturdy ground if it restricts its Twitter activity to mere reportage of events happening on the ground? Should a tweet such as this — where the IDF advises Hamas leaders not to “show your faces above ground in the days ahead” — be considered a threat? [Somebody in SF certainly took it that way — for 40 minutes, anyway — ed.]
Meanwhile, John Allen Gay questions the rationale behind the IDF’s bellicose tweets:
While there are also repeated references to rocket attacks on Israel, the tone of remarks like these invites questions about who the IDF is attempting to reach, for this does not seem to be an attempt to convince key foreign publics that Israel is acting rightly. It seems instead to be aimed at sectors that are already supportive of Israel. Does Israel feel so isolated that its PR mavens have abandoned all hope of broad international support, even when attacking a loathsome extremist group?
Many figures in the Netanyahu government appear to have this mindset. While it likely has little impact on decisions to launch a deterrence campaign like this one in Gaza, it has unsettling implications for the broader peace process, for the crisis with Iran, and perhaps ultimately for Israel’s liberal political system.
Balance is key: Mercedes Allen believes Western allies must work in solidarity with besieged LGBT activists in Uganda and other African nations without succumbing to colonialist impulses:
Diplomacy is a loaded game, and one nation cannot (should not) impose its worldview upon another. We can’t sit aside while genocides happen either, though, so it takes a complex approach to try to address the latter without committing the former. And unfortunately, there are self-interested parties — including other Western ones — that will exploit any attempt at assistance as evidence of meddling, in order to deflect from or even fuel their own political games. And given that HIV assistance is a primary objective of many relief efforts, there can certainly be a potential financial benefit for exploitative parties to do so.
What needs to be done is complex, but includes networking with and empowering women and LGBT people in those nations, so that they can lead their own activism within the cultural context that westerners often clumsily don’t understand enough. The reason that the accusations of colonialism and attempting to dictate resonates with the African peoples is that in the past, that is very much what governments have attempted to do. It’s best countered by supporting and empowering communities to lead for themselves.
First things first: pick a theme of unrestrained optimism. Shed any Afro-pessimism or proclivity for real politik. Use terms like “dynamic”, “emergent”, “middle class” and “last investment frontier”. Remember it’s about unrestricted growth beyond history or capacity: since both are “adjustable”, the former by revisionism the latter by “new technology”.
Go for catchy sound-bites: like “Africa is rising“, the “African Century” or “Africa’s Moment”, even if all this might have happened before and may never again. Dwell only on what is going up, not on what might go down. Remember, one’s political risk is another’s commercial treasure.
Refer to the great African economists: Bob Geldof, Bono, Madonna, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, or whoever might next walk the Hollywood red carpet.
To sound “deep and historic” cite Niall Ferguson. Always genuflect before Nepad, Transparency, Good Governance, Inclusive Growth, Peer Reviews andMo Ibrahim: Tony Blair does, and it seems to work for him. If that fails, cite the economic wisdom of that illustrious “Africanist” Gordon Brown (who spent one whole month on the continent).
Ike is dead: Amy Davidson says Petraeus apologists are making things worse for women in the military by peddling a misleading stereotype:
What does all the talk about how a general deserves a mistress say to a lieutenant facing unwanted advances from a superior officer, or a specialist who has been assaulted in her barracks? (One of Petraeus’s former aides has said that the affair began after he resigned form the military, but his relationship with Broadwell, who is an Army reservist, was such to cause unease even in Afghanistan.) For that matter, what does it say to military families struggling to keep marriages together in the face of multiple deployments? The same week that Petraeus was exposed, a woman who is now an Army captain testified at a hearing in a preliminary court-martial hearing for Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair. She said that she had been pressured to continue an affair with him; in the beginning, “I was extremely intimidated by him. Everybody in the brigade spoke about him like he was a god”; by the end, she said, he was threatening to kill her if she didn’t perform oral sex on him. According to press reports, when prosecutors asked if he could tell that she was unwilling, she said, “Yes, I was crying.” Not every story is about a halter-topped starry-eyed counterinsurgency groupie. The archetype Broadwell’s case and clothes are meant to bolster is not only insulting and distracting; it is more often useless.
Here’s something I worry about: Will the fallout from the Petraeus scandal make it even tougher for military women to rise to senior rank? In the military as in the civilian world, career advancement often has as much to do with informal mentoring relationships as with formal education or qualifications. No one bats an eye when the (male) boss goes out running or drinking with his (male) subordinates, but post-Petraeus, how many male senior officers will do the same with female subordinates? Not a lot — and though such risk-aversion may reduce any appearance of impropriety, it will also reduce the odds that women will get the crucial mentoring that is provided so freely to their male colleagues.