Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy effects the world each and every day.
The op-eds keeping coming: new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani writes that the world needs to adopt a “constructive approach to diplomacy.”
We must pay attention to the complexities of the issues at hand to solve them. Enter my definition of constructive engagement. In a world where global politics is no longer a zero-sum game, it is — or should be — counterintuitive to pursue one’s interests without considering the interests of others. A constructive approach to diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rights. It means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives. In other words, win-win outcomes are not just favorable but also achievable. A zero-sum, Cold War mentality leads to everyone’s loss. [The Washington Post]
In an effort to devise a new digital diplomacy strategy, the U.S. State Department hired Macon Phillips, “the 2008 Obama campaign’s digital guru.”
In 2011 and 2012, after the bureau spent the money to promote its Facebook postings, the number of fans on the State Department’s English language Facebook pages grew from about 100,000 to 2 million for each page, according to the May inspector general’s report. But “buying fans” did not necessarily translate into engagement. For instance, the report found that many postings had fewer than 100 comments or shares. [The Washington Post]
— Inner City Press (@innercitypress) September 19, 2013
While the world was paying close attention to Russian-American diplomacy this week, Russia leveraged its relationship with Azerbaijan to convince Armenia to sign a security alliance.
No one pretends that Armenia was attracted by Russia’s soft power. By way of explanation, President Serzh Sargsyan explained that Armenia depends on Russia for it security, and that Armenia has a large diaspora living in Russia. This sounds odd: Most security alliances, NATO included, don’t require their members to join a customs union, and the presence of immigrants in one country doesn’t usually affect trade policy in another. But Armenia has been made anxious in recent weeks by Russian diplomatic overtures toward Azerbaijan, Armenia’s main rival, as well as by anti-immigrant rhetoric from Russian officials. The Armenians took the hint: If they signed the trade deal with Europe, Russia might sell more arms to their rival and expel the Armenians who live in Russia. [Slate]
— Jesper Daniek Saman (@jdsaman) September 19, 2013
The American Security Project releases a fact sheet in order to demonstrate that propaganda, despite its emotional ties, is still a prevalent aspect of U.S. foreign policy.
This fact sheet briefly presents the definitional, institutional, and legislative history of propaganda as it relates to public diplomacy and the U.S. Government. It does not purport to place a moral judgment on its use. While not an exhaustive analysis, it is intended to familiarize readers with a useful overview of this issue, and provide a basis from which the reader can analyze communication they may refer to as “propaganda.” [American Security Project]
An editorial on the Russia & India Report dismisses soft power as a “a vague and vacuous term.” (Ed.’s note: So vague, apparently, that the author refutes his argument by example in the second-to-last paragraph.)
So what changed? Russian military power did. As long as Russia was regarded as a superpower that could eyeball the United States, it was cool to wear a hammer and sickle clip. People around the world signed up for Russian language classes, the elites of Libya and Iraq sent their children to study in the Moscow, and Russia was widely respected. So basically, it was Russia’s military might that filled up university classrooms teaching Dostoevsky; it wasn’t Dostoevsky’s writings that attracted people to Russia. [Russia & India Report]
— Elina Melgin (@elinamelgin) September 19, 2013
The latest project from Kamal Mouzawak’s food diplomacy farmers’ market is Atayeb Falastine, which focuses on the cuisine of the Palestinian diaspora in Lebanon.
Souk El Tayeb, the first farmers’ market in Lebanon, has been doing wonderful work to “share food, traditions and hospitality in a way that has helped bring together fractured communities” in Beirut and throughout Lebanon. Expanding beyond farmers’ markets, the organization now includes restaurants which offer cooking classes and catering, as well as hosting events and appearing at food festivals. One of their most recent projects, Atayeb Falastine (which translates more or less as “deliciousness of Palestine”), highlighted the cuisine of the Palestinian diaspora in Lebanon. Women from two camps prepared traditional Palestinian dishes for catering, with the goal of “highlighting Palestinian history, traditions, and food” while also empowering the cooks and improving their livelihoods. [Culinary Diplomacy]
Barry Tomalin cites higher education as one of Britain’s strongest soft power tools: its “trump card.”
One in 10 students in British higher education comes from another country. This creates an unparalleled international atmosphere. Students on undergraduate, diploma and post-graduate courses can benefit from high levels of scholarship and derive a sense of participating in a global environment by living and working with people from other countries … It’s also interesting that the much more relaxed social environment that has developed in UK academia since the 1960s means that foreign students find staff much more accessible than in many other countries when they need tutorials and personal advice. [INTO]
— AIED Council (@AIEDCouncil) September 19, 2013
Humza Yousaf pens an editorial arguing that an independent Scotland will both represent its citizens more appropriately as well as create a new, progressive voice on global issues.
From day one after a successful vote for independence, we will begin negotiations with the UK Government to safely and securely remove nuclear weapons from our soil as soon as possible. Furthermore, we have committed to enshrine within our nation’s written constitution our fundamental opposition to Scotland ever having nuclear weapons in the future. By doing so, we will play our part towards a safer and more peaceful global society by showing leadership to others so we can realise the dream of a nuclear weapons free world. [Al Jazeera]
Does the wide support in Afghanistan of its football team display a nascent national unity?
Mr. Kubiš, who heads UNAMA, called Afghanistan’s 2-0 victory over India in the South Asian Football Federation Championship earlier this month “an historic achievement” … “In a display of national unity and national pride the streets filled with dancing, flag-waving crowds,” he said. “Following decades of war which devastated the country’s institutional and social fabric, the South Asian Football Federation Championship win was a welcome sign of Afghanistan’s gradual return to normalcy and success on the international stage.” [UN News via PDiN]
— Brandon Turner (@BT_in_LA) September 20, 2013