On the web: Libyan relations, FEMA’s new head, the power of communication, and Afghanistan past and present…

– With the fortieth anniversary of Muammar Qaddafi’s rule fast approaching, Chatham House’s Molly Tarhuni takes a look (pdf) at Libya’s gradual reemergence onto the international stage. Four decades on, she suggests, and the basis of Anglo-Libyan relations remains much the same however.

– Over at Atlantic Monthly, Amanda Ripley profiles Craig Fugate, the new head of FEMA and a man with “a reputation for telling it like it is”. “Already”, she suggests, “Fugate is factoring citizens into the agency’s models for catastrophic planning, thinking of them as rescuers and responders, not just victims”. Moreover, Ripley continues,

he has changed FEMA’s mission statement from the old, paternalistic (and fantastical) vow to ‘protect the Nation from all hazards’ to a more modest, collaborative pledge to ‘support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together’.

A far cry, it would seem, from Michael “Heckuva Job” Brown.

– Harvard academic Joseph Nye, meanwhile, explores the importance of good communication for effective leadership. Obama’s ability to convey a resonant narrative has succeeded in rebuilding some of the US’s soft power, he argues, though the jury is still out on whether actions can match the towering oratory.

– Elsewhere, Victor Sebestyen reflects on the Soviet experience in Afghanistan during the 1980s – “Defeat in the hills around Kabul”, he suggests, “led directly – and swiftly, within months – to the fall of the Berlin Wall”.

– Finally, fast-forward to next week’s Afghan elections and the NYT takes a look at the campaign of presidential hopeful Ashraf Ghani. Reuters has some of the key election details here. Stephen Colbert, meanwhile, jests with the “Ragin’ Cajun”, James Carville, former political consultant to Bill Clinton and who regular readers will know has been advising Ghani. Don’t miss the video.