Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.Google, as it has done before, decided to use its massive platform to voice its stance to the public on LGBT rights in the context of the Sochi Olympics.
Google hasn’t shied away in the past from taking political positions in its popular doodle images on its google.com homepage. Thursday’s doodle is no exception. It features a rainbow-colored illustration of popular Winter Olympic sports, including alpine skiing, hockey, curling, and ice skating. Google’s homepage also includes a quote from the Olympic Charter regarding discrimination, a reference towards Russia’s strict anti-gay laws that have drawn criticism from many pro-gay advocates: “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” –Olympic Charter [Neon Tommy]
And Canada takes the gold!
Good analysis on the battle for the media between Western reporters and Russia as Sochi kicks off.
Again, the evidence of failure is incontrovertible and embarrasing, but it is also, in the scheme of things, minor. So far, nothing major has happened. Ski jumps have yet to collapse, trains have yet to derail, there’s just some cold water and an upside down toilet lid. It’s inconvenient and, yes, it’s funny, but here’s where I agree with Yakunin: it’s the tone. There’s a fine line between fair criticism and schadenfreude, and the Western press has been largely well on the side of the latter. I’d also argue that there’s something chauvinistic, even Russophobic in it. The Europeans may not be ready for their Olympics, but, okay, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and hope for the best. The Chinese prepare for theirs ruthlessly, but we don’t understand them so whatever. We railed on Romney for daring to criticize the preparedness of our British friends, and we wrote in muted tones about Athens not being ready in time for their Olympics, but with the Russians, we gloat: Look at these stupid savages, they can’t do anything right. [The New Republic]
Interesting that Voice of Russia’s response to “media’s ‘crusade’ against Sochi” was posted on February 3rd. I feel like they jumped the gun by a couple of days.
The Western press is once again brimming with a fresh wave of anti-Sochi slander. The new round is dedicated to the supposedly “skyrocketing” costs of the games, or the “bacchanalia of waste and corruption” as Steven Lee Myers of the New York Times so poetically expresses it. Fresh ammunition was provided by a new propaganda report concocted by the “opposition investigative blogger” (more Opposition than investigative), Alexey Navalny. Navalny is one of 10 to 20 Russian figures which the Western press refers to as “the leaders of the Russian opposition.” Navalny’s report is actually nothing less than a rehash of a report that Boris Nemtsov, another one of these “opposition leaders”, already published half a year ago. Navalny is adept at finding plagiarism in other people’s work, so let’s see if Nemtsov will accuse Navalny of using his words and ideas without giving credit. [Voice of Russia]
[Update: forgot to add this earlier] One of the most telling Olympic stories thus far: Russian embassy in DC has no events planned thus far to celebrate the games.
Pass the pirozhki! With all eyes turned to Sochi, seems like the ideal time to showcase all things Russian, doesn’t it? Well, da. But Russia’s officials in Washington, unlike previous host country embassies, have taken the opposite approach to the 2014 Winter Games. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak has invited about 200 guests to a private viewing party at his residence Friday morning, but that event is closed to the media. There were no embassy-sponsored events leading up to the Games, and no other Olympic parties or public celebrations scheduled at this time, according to a spokesman. [Washington Post]
Global Times may be a bit premature in announcing that Chinese President Xi Jinping has won sports diplomacy at Sochi.
Russia may have forced diplomacy go to public. Interesting play for the mediated public diplomacy upper-hand.
After months of taking grief for snooping on foreign leaders, the Obama administration found itself on the other side on Thursday after a private telephone call between two American diplomats appeared on the Internet in a breach that the White House tied to Russia. In the recording, an assistant secretary of state and the ambassador to Ukraine are heard talking about the political crisis in Kiev, their views of how it might be resolved, their assessments of the various opposition leaders and their frustrations with their European counterparts. At one point, the assistant secretary uses an expletive in a reference to the European Union. The conversation opened a window into the American handling of the crisis and could easily inflame passions in Kiev, Brussels and Moscow, where the role of the United States has been controversial. The White House on Thursday suggested that Russia, which has jockeyed with the United States and Europe for influence in Ukraine, played some role in the interception or dissemination of the conversation. [New York Times]
Fun example of the problem with framing when using Twitter: is this tweet lambasting the credibility of Russia or pointing out the arrogance of the U.S. State Department? (Also, who knows when this picture was actually taken.)
Excellent points from Philip Seib on the difficulty of promoting soft power as a means of foreign policy without structural change.
The “immaculate destruction” facilitated by such weapons makes it easier to drift into war. When there is little cost to using hard power, policymakers may set aside their moral compass, relegating soft power to the domain of wimps. Soft power advocates share some of the blame for this. They have been distracted by cutesy projects such as “gastrodiplomacy,” which may produce a few newspaper articles about the virtues of kimchi or mushy peas, but are unlikely to have any lasting effect on their audience. Soft power proponents tend to forget that the purpose of soft power, as with public diplomacy more broadly, is to advance the strategic interests of your country. The goal is not be “nice” or transiently popular, but to advance toward your foreign policy goals. Public diplomats are not social workers, and they should not allow themselves to be seen as such. [Huffington Post]
[Chart]: Mobile internet usage hits 65% globally: http://t.co/wxqvc7xZk1 Important 2 keep in mind 4 #digitaldiplomacy strategy — Anja Tuerkan (@AnjaTuerkan) February 6, 2014
Russia’s marketing of its female athletes at Sochi is… let’s say “less-than-progressive.”
I guess if you’re a female athlete in Russia, this is just a part of the deal. Unless, of course, it’s really true that the Russian [Slavic?] women enjoy presenting themselves as hypersexualized objects available for use by [straight] men. [Hmm.. Really doubt it.] The saddest part, however, is that this becomes a tool not just for the amusement and entertainment of the domestic public, but for the international audience as well. Do they really have nothing better to show for the Olympics that they need to resort to such cheap tactics? Or do the organizers hope that this might make up for all the public diplomacy disasters and blunders already happening [and many more to come, I’m sure]? [Global Chaos]
All-too-brief editorial in an Indian paper first praises Coca-cola’s multi-lingual Super Bowl ad, then points out that using Hindi to represent Indian-Americans was a poor choice considering the population.
But those protesting against the “Balkanisation” of the US by this subversive multilingual commercial —that has America the Beautiful sung in Hindi too among other foreign languages — should actually rejoice about the untranslatable, true-blue American word that the sponsoring company has taken to the remotest corners of the planet: cola. Admittedly, like “burger” and “hotdog”, the origin of the word “cola” may lie elsewhere — in this case, Africa — but its current usage is definitely American i n origin, as opposed to the majority of other words the US inherited from its former colonial master across the Atlantic. As long as those words remain unique, the ego of the average American should be assuaged. [The Economic Times]
Vietnam’s international broadcasting arm highlights the country’s 2013 cultural diplomacy efforts.
Vietnam’s cultural diplomatic activities were widely carried out in 2013 and in close association with political and economic diplomacy, they have contributed to making Vietnam better known to international friends. They also helped overseas Vietnamese representative agencies organize events to introduce Vietnam to the world. [VOV5]