This just in...
I may not have time to blog right now, but luckily there are plenty of others doing a great job.
Check out this great piece on The Word Unheard
(brief excerpt follows):More Lebanese Blogger Coverage: 188 Cell Phone Photo Slideshow!
What a day for Lebanon! Once again, their courage, passion and love of freedom serves to humble this American...A MUST SEE! Ya Libnan is still at it and at it well……for a 188 photo slide show. Amazing work, rsh!…and a first person report from Monday’s HUGE Independence Demonstration…
Back to the protest, everyone was gathered as they have never done before at Martyr's Square. There is no specific age group or gender or social class or religion. Everyone was singing patriotic songs and expressing their anger and dismay with different slogans – with the main themes being "7orriyyeh, Siadeh, Istiklal" (Freedom, Sovereignty, Independence) and "7akeekah, 7orriyyeh, Wi7deh Watanniyyeh" (Truth, Freedom, National Unity). Strangers were saluting each other with a wave of a flag, a nod, or simply a genuine smile. I couldn't help the flurry of questions that popped to mind: Where were we during the last 5 or 10 years? What were we waiting for to express such solidarity and such nationalistic pride? The last time anyone of us carried a Lebanese flag (if ever) was during some school event or at Cub Scouts a long time ago. Did we have to lose an icon such as Mr. Hariri for us to react? Unfortunately, a good deal of us were afraid to participate in such protests. You would hear statements such as: "They are taking down names" (whoever 'they' are), "we would go to jail"
Then see Re-branding America in The Boston Globe (brief excerpt follows):
Of course, it may be hard to imagine the United States, or any other country, implementing Anholt's comprehensive nation-branding strategy. But taken less literally-as a policy critique, rather than as a program-Anholt's argument is simply a business-flavored version of what Bush's critics have been saying all along: Talking about freedom and democracy won't get us very far if those efforts are competing with Abu Ghraib and the Patriot Act. In a media-saturated world, image matters, and people won't listen to our sales pitch if our policies send a conflicting signal. In other words, we've got to ''live the brand.''
Nation-branding as a discipline is the confluence of two seemingly disparate fields: marketing and diplomacy. In the 1960s, marketers became interested in what is called the ''country of origin'' effect. Why is it, they asked, that simply sticking a ''Made in Japan'' label on a stereo boosts its value by 30 percent? Clearly, they argued, there was something about Japan itself-perhaps its reputation as a technically savvy society-that made consumers value Japanese technology over similar products from, say, Brazil. What are the roots of these national stereotypes, and how can marketing take advantage of them? And what if Brazil wanted to develop its own high-tech export industry? How could it change those stereotypes?
At the same time, throughout the Cold War the United States operated countless programs in what is known as public diplomacy, from Voice of America radio to CIA-funded magazines, such as Encounter and Look. Unlike propaganda, which spoke directly about the superiority of American values, public diplomacy fostered pro-Western sentiment through the open exchange of ideas and the dissemination of American culture.
During the 1990s, however, public diplomacy was scaled back, a mistake that the 9/11 Commission highlighted in its report. (''If the United States does not act aggressively to define itself in the Islamic world,'' the report declared, ''the extremists will gladly do the job for us.'') But it's not enough simply to revive Cold War strategies, argues Anholt. In a world increasingly connected by ubiquitous 24/7 media, there has to be a ''brand'' strategy-the message has to be coordinated and consistent, and it has to respond to stereotypes already in circulation. Nation-branding, then, is what you get when you take traditional public diplomacy strategies and add marketing tools designed to change national perceptions.
Finally, A Guy in Pajamas provides a link to an excellent piece for Saint Paddy's Day.