Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Visit to the State Department

Earlier today my colleague Shane Greer and I went to the State Department to meet the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs (could she have a longer job title?!) Colleen Graffy. We were rather early so we stood outside the building in the morning sunshine on a grassy knoll. The place seemed to be crawling with secret service agents and eventually one sidled up to us and asked what our business was. I explained we had an appointment with Colleen Graffy so he asked us to go into the building. I asked if that was an order and he smiled and said it was more of a request. I didn't dare ask what might happen if we preferred to stay in the sunshine. It was only once we were in the building that we found out President Bush was due in the building to swear in Condi Rice's new Deputy, John Negroponte. We quickly vacated the grassy knoll.

We spent an hour with Colleen Graffy, who used to be based in London as chairman of Republicans Abroad. She was even in the Conservative Candidates List (she has dual nationality) for the last election. Colleen has responsibility for building relations with 45 different countries, including most European countries. She is clearly totally au fait with British and European blogs and we talked about how new media was affecting politics and political communication. Indeed, she's going to have one of the 18 Doughty Street citizen journalist cameras and file films for us when she's on her overseas travels.

We then went on to a lunch at the Heritage Foundation for a speech by Walid Phares, the author of THE WAR OF IDEAS: JIHAD AGAINST DEMOCRACY. At the ensuing lunch he told us he thinks that Britain is the battleground for the War of Ideas and he is very concerned that the Jihadists are winning. He told how on a train journey from Leeds to London an attempt was made to recruit him to the 'cause'. His book will be published in England soon. The blurb says...
From Afghanistan and Iraq to Europe and the United States we are engaged in one of the most heated wars of all time. In this incisive new book, the man that has been called--the only one to understand the mind of the jihadist--shows that the most important battle is actually taking place in the hearts and minds of the world's population. This is the war of ideas, where ideology is the most powerful weapon of all. Phares explores the beliefs of two opposing camps, one standing for democracy and human rights, and the other rejecting the idea of an international community and calling for jihad against the West. He reveals the strategies of both sides, explaining that new technologies and the growing media savvy of the jihadists have raised the stakes in the conflict. And most urgently, he warns that the West is in danger of losing the war, for whereas debate and theorizing rarely translate into action here, ideas and deeds are inextricably linked for the forces of jihad.

8 comments:

Voyager said...

So you went to The Fudge Factory at Foggy Bottom did you Iain.....which policy viewpoint did you finally emerge with, I hear they have all varieties on offer ?

Indigo said...

Iain, are you going to meet any Democrats or other normal people?

There is no such thing as the "war on terror".

Stephen Tolkinghorne said...

Remember the addage of an Imam, who in a more enlightened moment actually told the truth, he said:

"Because of your democracy we will dominate you, and because of your tolerance we will destroy you."

The battle is already lost.

Anonymous said...

No doubt you congratulated John Negroponte on his $ 100 laptop idea, as it means you will be able to extend your readership into the southern hemisphere as well !

Glad you listened to those social security boys - they might have whispered something into their wrists and you would never be seen of, or heard of, again...

Bryan Appleyard said...

A Jennifer's Diary aspect is creeping into this blog.

Roger Thornhill said...

Stephen Tolkinghorne : The battle is already lost.

For you, maybe.

Adam said...

Stephen Tonkinghorne

Never fear; the sky falling will demoralise our enemies! Victory is at hand!

Voyager said...

John Negroponte on his $ 100 laptop idea,

Oh it's his idea is it ? No doubt he invented the motor car too !

Try MIT