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Until We Pay Up, We'll Just Clam Up

"The most powerful weapon in the struggle against extremism is not bullets or bombs -- it is the universal appeal of freedom," President Bush said in Prague last week, echoing a speech given 50 years ago on the Senate floor by John F. Kennedy. (Associated Press)

Ah, yes. Here's John F. Kennedy, speaking on the Senate floor 50 years ago next month: "The most powerful single force in the world today is neither communism nor capitalism, neither the H-bomb nor the guided missile -- it is man's eternal desire to be free and independent."

Lost in Translation

Meanwhile, however much Bush folks complain about the U.S. press, it's the Japanese press that's been giving them fits of late.

First the Daily Yomiuri on May 20 wrote of a split between Condoleezza Rice and President Bush over Washington's criteria for designating a country a sponsor of terrorism. At a Camp David summit in April, Rice is said to have implied that unless a nation harmed Americans, it would not get the terrorist designation.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly thought this meant that North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens would not count.

Bush, the paper said, contradicted Rice's explication of the policy and backed the Japanese point of view on the matter.

That article sparked a formal diplomatic complaint by the United States about the leaking of private diplomatic chats.

But then, on May 31, the Kyodo News, also reporting on the summit, quoted Bush as saying that Washington had "screwed it up" in handling the situation involving a freeze on North Korean funds in a Macau bank, which derailed an agreement on North Korean nukes.

Register Checks Out

Administration officials can stop defending Larry Register, the non-Arabic-speaking editorial director of U.S.-funded, Arabic-speaking Alhurra Television, who was blasted for, among other things, giving lots of coverage to the Iran-hosted Holocaust-denial conference.

Register quit on Friday, telling the Broadcasting Board of Governors that he had been hit by "smear campaigns" and "unwarranted, unfair . . . attacks, especially those in the Wall Street Journal," that were hurting the station.

Register was replaced by Daniel Nassif, Radio Sawa's managing director and a native Arabic speaker.

Asked Monday about Register's resignation, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that "as far as I can tell, he did the job to the best of his ability. I think everybody should thank him for taking on what was a difficult assignment and to wish him all the best in his future endeavors." Well, there you go.

Gordon Gins Up New Gig

David Gordon, a former academic, House aide, CIA analyst and now vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, is said to be moving to the State Department to head the policy planning shop, replacing Steve Krasner, who recently returned to his professorship at Stanford.

Gordon, a highly regarded, certified deep thinker, had run the CIA's Office of Transnational Issues, which deals with matters such as global energy and economic security and financial issues.

Goodbye, blue Danube; hello, Green Zone.

Keeping Up With . . .

Former State Department deputy spokesman Phil Reeker, who went off to be No. 2 in the embassy in Budapest and is just arrived in the Green Zone in Baghdad, a "must" stop for career foreign service folks who want eventual advancement, to be spokesman for Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Reeker's wife, Solveig, also a foreign service officer, is also working for Crocker.

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