Our round-up of news, notes, tips and tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.
Is it possible for Bashar al-Assad to rejuvenate his international reputation after overseeing years of Syrian civil war? Believe it or not, Neal Rosendorf points out a potential historical parallel to Assad in Francisco Franco in this compelling piece.
While most policy analysts are currently preoccupied with the crisis in the Ukraine, there remains the ongoing bloodbath in Syria, which to date has claimed 150,000 lives. It is now clear that Bashar al-Assad will not be removed from power in the foreseeable future; and over the long term he is likely to preside permanently over a rump Syrian state. If this proves to be the case, will the Assad regime’s self-inflicted damage to its international reputation prove so great that Syria will be doomed to permanent isolation from the U.S. and the West? Could Assad, tarred in some quarters as “Butcher Bashar,” ever rehabilitate his blackened international image? Quite possibly. History provides a powerful example of a near-universally reviled dictatorship that undertook a major international reputation-rebuilding program, which ultimately proved highly effective: postwar Franco Spain. [CPD Blog]
— Petri Hakkarainen (@PHakkarainen) April 24, 2014
Both the European Union and China are playing up their mutual admiration through media channels in order to balance the U.S. influence in each.
A close, friendly, and constructive relationship with the EU is significant for China in a number of respects. First, China “going west” is a reflection of mutual interests with the EU. Second, it demonstrates that China does not want to be completely tied to relations with the U.S. Further, it highlights Beijing’s determination to build a multipolar world order. As Beijing advocates for a “new type of great power relations” with the U.S., it also seeks to enhance its relations with other major powers. The EU is obviously among Beijing’s top priorities. This leads us to a question: If the U.S. finds itself falling short on its commitments to its allies and key partners, while China continues its rise and keeps “building bridges” across the globe, will the U.S. start to think more seriously about China’s vision for a multipolar world order? [The Diplomat]
— Yeni Diplomasi (@YeniDiplomasi) April 24, 2014
Latin American countries are turning toward culinary nation brands in order to attract international tourism.
With the increase in the popularity of food tourism and passion for new food experiences, countries are realizing that they can cash in not only on their iconic sights, but also on their culinary nation brand. When a country turns its foods into a national brand that is good for business. Culinary nation branding is part of the evolving field of culinary diplomacy which uses food and cuisine as a tool of international relations. It is no coincidence that countries like Thailand, South Korea, and the United States have started promoting themselves with their cuisine. Some of the strongest culinary nation brands are in Latin America, Peru and Mexico have the strongest ones, but other countries are betting their kitchens on a new positive identity. That is why trade and tourism ministries are seeking out their best chefs, restaurants, and culinary traditions. [Voxxi]
Popularized internationally by an acclaimed documentary, 89-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono is becoming a gastrodiplomacy tool of Japan.
President Obama kicked off the first leg of his tour of Asia on Wednesday with some sushi diplomacy. He dined with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a revered and tiny temple of sushi in Tokyo called Sukiyabashi Jiro. The subterranean restaurant, with just 10 seats at the counter, was made famous by the 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Obama emerged with a thumbs-up review. “That’s some good sushi right there,” he said. “It was terrific. Thank you so much.” [NPR]
— Ariën Breunis (@BreunisA) April 23, 2014
Celebrity diplomacy is a perilous tactic (though this was obviously not planned): Justin Bieber stumbles into a volatile East Asian conflict.
During a visit to Tokyo with his mother on Wednesday, Justin Bieber posted photos of himself at Japan’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine on his Instragram account, sparking outrage in some Asian countries. As outrage spread across social media sites in China and South Korea, China’s Foreign Ministry took the unusual step of directly addressing the issue. “I don’t know the political stance of this Canadian singer, but China’s view on Japanese leaders visiting the Yasukuni Shrine is clear and consistent,” a spokesperson with the Foreign Ministry said, South China Morning Post reported. He added: “I hope this singer can learn more about the history of Japanese militarism, and the wrongful historical and militaristic views promoted by the shrine after the visit.” [The Diplomat]
In contrast, check out the Prince and Princess of Wales much more successful celebrity diplomacy trip to Australia.
This is succession planning. It’s about laying down memories in Australia against the time the Queen dies. The first tour is the one that matters – the tour with the young couple and the baby, the gloss not worn off their marriage and possible princely misdemeanours of the child far in the future. The same plans brought the Prince and Princess of Wales to the rock 30 years ago. Little has changed. Fleet Street grandees flew across the world for the first showing of William. The same plan worked for George. If you’re a royal photographer you need a supply of baby pictures. They’re an asset for life. [The Guardian]
#digitaldiplomacy is not diplomacy without diplomats. It is diplomacy with 1000 times better equipped, communicative and engaging diplomats.
— Gökhan Yücel (@goyucel) April 22, 2014
photo credit: CPD Blog