Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy effects the world each and every day.
The big story from Friday was Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announcing via Twitter that he spoke to U.S. President Barack Obama over the phone while leaving the UN summit. It was the first time an Iranian and American president spoke directly to each other since 1979, and stranger yet, Rouhani chose Twitter as the means of disseminating the news.
As Twitter heads toward its high value IPO, the attention is on its revenue and growth numbers. However, a big part of the story is the pervasiveness and influence of the messaging service. Compared with Facebook, with over a billion users, Twitter is a midsize town, with about a quarter of the audience. But the town is buzzing and spinning the news at high speed and frequency as events around the world unfold, such as the historic phone call between the President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, marking the first time U.S. and Iranian leaders have directly communicated since the 1979 Iranian revolution. [CNET]
Public-private partnerships have proven to be an effective way of delivering American foreign assistance, improving its economic soft power in the process.
Just has important to this shift in strategy was the recognition that partnerships with the private sector showcase America’s strongest assets abroad—its business, scientific and cultural capabilities. These aspects of America’s soft power are remarkably well regarded around the world, even where the U.S. is not seen very positively. More than half of Jordanians and Egyptians indicate they like the way America does business, even though overall favorability toward the U.S. in both countries is below 20 percent. [The Diplomatic Courier]
— Max Terzini (@maxterzini) September 30, 2013
The United States returned a 2,700-year-old silver drinking cup to Iran last week as relations continue to thaw.
“The return of the artifact reflects the strong respect the United States has for cultural heritage property — in this case, cultural heritage property that was likely looted from Iran and is important to the patrimony of the Iranian people,” the State Department said. “It also reflects the strong respect the United States has for the Iranian people.” [NBC News]
During her address at the UN, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the new government will put economic diplomacy at the center of its foreign policy.
In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Ms Bishop said there was an intrinsic connection between the security and stability of governments and economic development. “Good governments understand that providing a secure and stable environment for their citizens is their most fundamental task,” Ms Bishop said. “But that task is tied inextricably to the strength of their economy.” [The Australian]
— Soraya Aydin (@soraya_aydin) September 30, 2013
At an event hosted by the USC Center of Public Diplomacy, Carleton University professor Ira Wagman discussed the pros and cons of celebrity diplomacy.
In terms of the effectiveness of celebrity diplomacy, Wagman brought up the question of just how much money celebrities donate. “There are major issues with celebrity campaigns. We place an incredible emphasis on these people, but what does it do at the end of the day?” Wagman said. [Daily Trojan]
Cuba announced that it will allow its athletes to sign foreign contracts, which could stem defections and possibly improve relations with the US.
Cuba announced Friday that athletes from all sports will soon be able to sign contracts with foreign leagues, a break with a decades-old policy that held pro sports to be anathema to socialist ideals. It’s a step toward the day when the road from Havana to Yankee Stadium might mean simply hopping on a plane rather than attempting a perilous sea crossing or sneaking out of a hotel at midnight in a strange land. [AP]
— APDS (@USC_APDS) September 29, 2013
The Israeli Embassy in Ireland continues to create controversy, this time with a poorly-worded tweet.
The “tweet and delete incident” was not the first time the digital-diplomacy output of Israel’s embassy in Dublin has drawn controversy. Last December, the embassy posted an image of Jesus and Mary on its Facebook page, accompanied by the following text: “A thought for Christmas . . . If Jesus and mother Mary were alive today, they would, as Jews without security, probably end up being lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians. Just a thought . . .” [The Irish Times]
Canadians John Greyson, filmmaker, and Dr. Tarek Loubani, jailed in Egypt without charges on August 16, had their imprisonment extended for another 45 days.
“John and Tarek were simply witnesses on August 16th to a very bloody series of demonstrations where Tarek was trying to do emergency medical care simply because he was there and people needed a doctor at that point,” Greyson told CBC News on Sunday. “I don’t know why the Egyptian government continues to press this case. It seems ludicrous from our standpoint.” Greyson is urging the prime minister to step in. [CBC News via PDiN]
Fulbright officially cancels all 2013-2014 grants in #Egypt. Very sad.
— Eric Trager تراجر (@EricTrager18) September 29, 2013
— Lena O (@LenaOsipova) September 28, 2013
— Soraya Aydin (@soraya_aydin) September 28, 2013