Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18

Abbreviated edition

--Image from

"Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everyone else."

--Anthropologist Margaret Mead

"[W]e have a lot of fun and we’re basically saying that we’re not just stuffy diplomats, but also like anybody else, like Slovaks."

--Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Theodore Sedgwick


Amid Nuclear Talks, Iran Pushes Diplomacy Online - "On Wednesday, diplomats from the United States and Iran — along with five other world powers — go back to Geneva and the negotiating table. They'll be discussing a possible deal to limit Iran's controversial nuclear program, which has sparked international tensions for a decade. ... Just before the last round of negotiations, the website launched, apparently the work of the Iranian government.  ... It's clearly an attempt to reach out to the outside world, most notably, the United States," says journalist Robin Wright, a distinguished scholar in the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center. ... Wright, who also maintains the website The Iran Primer, says that the online push by Iran's leaders amounts to 'the most ambitious public diplomacy campaign since Iran's 1979 revolution.' ... 'One of the most interesting things about Iran's public diplomacy campaign is that it is certainly much more ambitious and aggressive than anything the Americans are doing," she says. 'In a Twitter war, the Iranians are winning decisively.'" Imge from

'Slovaks can do something about it' - "The Slovak Spectator spoke to Sedgwick [outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Theodore Sedgwick] about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the rule of law and the business environment as well as his diplomatic mission here in Slovakia. ... TSS: Even Slovaks who know very little about diplomacy may have noticed you performing in a band with several diplomats. How has this experience enriched your mission here? TS: We’ve had a lot of fun with the band and this is something that shows that music is a medium to communicate very effectively with people. I went to a wonderful concert last night by an American mezzo-soprano and she communicated with people on a very emotional level, while showing the best of the US. I don’t know if my piano playing shows the best of the US, but we have a lot of fun and we’re basically saying that we’re not just stuffy diplomats, but also like anybody else, like Slovaks.

It’s been very positive for public diplomacy. TSS: What are some of the highlights of your diplomatic mission to Slovakia which you will remember long after you have left the country? TS: I’ve had a wonderful time here, your country is a beautiful region, and Bratislava is so centrally located that within a very short time you can go to so many beautiful places, while it is such a culturally rich environment. In terms of my diplomatic accomplishments, I have most enjoyed programmes to cultivate entrepreneurship and connections between the US and Slovakia by bringing Slovaks to the US. The projects we are doing are not just about me or the embassy staff, but they work through local NGOs, which then adopt them. I am very proud of the programme Re-Start Slovakia, which challenges Slovaks to come up with the idea to use social media to fight corruption, suggesting that Slovaks can do something about it. Sedgwick image from article

Assistant Secretary For Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan - Department of State Public Schedule Monday, November 18, 2013, posted at "2:00 p.m. Assistant Secretary Ryan delivers remarks at the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board Quarterly Business Meeting, at Pitzer College, in Claremont, California. 4:00 p.m. Assistant Secretary Ryan delivers remarks at University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy 'Conversations in Public Diplomacy” series, in Los Angeles, California. 6:00 p.m. Assistant Secretary Ryan attends the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board dinner, in Claremont, California.'"

Egypt: NCHR Chairman - Egyptian-Russian Cooperation On Human Rights Essential - "During meeting with a Russian public delegation in Cairo, Chairman of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Mohamed Fayek stressed the importance of public diplomacy in fostering relations between countries at the official and diplomatic levels. He highlighted the importance of maintaining reciprocal relations between Egypt and Russia in a way that serves the interests of the two peoples, affirming the significance of having an Egyptian-Russian joint cooperation in the field of human rights as an essential cornerstone for the regional and international cooperation."

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s visit to China this month has been postponed to next year - "Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s visit to China this month has been postponed to next year. ... Persad-Bissessar, in June, during the

visit of President Xi, said Government was also considering the establishment of a Trinidad and Tobago cultural institute, which will be attached to the Diplomatic Mission in Beijing. She said the centre would promote this country’s creative industries through cultural exchanges, training seminars and cultural exhibitions in China and could also feature highly in Trinidad and Tobago’s public diplomacy initiatives in Asia." Image from

The Economic Benefits of Major Int'l Summits – Can They Be Estimated? - "[Comment by]: TK 8:30 am on November 18, 2013 ... [I]t's the geopolitics of organising international summits and the nation branding that accompanies it. This is in effect public diplomacy at work and what Joseph Nye would term 'soft power'."


Israel's policy of erasure: A path to peace between Israelis and Palestinians requires not simply dealing with settlements but with the whole complex of displacement, suffocation and erasure - Saree Makdisi, The revelation last week that Israel wanted to plan for 20,000 new settlement housing units received the usual outraged responses from around the world. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, mindful of a backlash in the midst of the Iran nuclear negotiations, walked the revelation back, but not very far. Just a few days earlier, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, in Israel trying to keep peace talks afloat, reiterated the U.S. view in an interview: "We do not believe the settlements are legitimate. We think they're illegitimate." the settlement program is only one component of a broad complex of Israeli policies that has come to define the rhythm and tempo of life for Palestinians, not only in the occupied territories but inside Israel itself. These policies express Israel's longstanding wish to erase the Palestinian presence on land it considers its own.

Give Snowden Asylum in Germany - Malte Spitz and Hans-Christian Ströbele, New York Times: It’s a hopeful sign that the surveillance frenzy of the American intelligence agencies is being reviewed and that their activities are likely to be better supervised and limited in the future. This also has to apply to foreign countries, especially America’s allies. The planned discussions between German and American legislators are welcome and necessary, both to exchange information and talk about much-needed reforms.

We have to mend our relationship, reduce the reach of intelligence agencies and bring their work under the rule of law in order to protect the right to privacy and free, unmonitored communication that both Germans and American hold dear. But we still owe a basic debt to Mr. Snowden. We demand an immediate change in the government’s policy. Edward Snowden should be given a safe residence in Germany or in another democratic European country and be allowed to stay permanently if he wants to. Image from


"When Brandeis University president Jehuda Reinharz stepped down three years ago, he moved back into his old faculty office. But unlike most history professors, Reinharz does not teach any classes, supervise graduate students, or attend departmental meetings. He did not bother posing for the department photo. The chairwoman for Near Eastern and Judaic Studies said she did not even know whether he was officially a member of her department. Yet Reinharz remains one of the highest paid people on campus. He received more than $600,000 in salary and benefits in 2011, second only to the

new Brandeis president, according to the school’s most recent public tax returns. And that’s on top of the $800,000 Reinharz earned in his new job as president of the Mandel Foundation, a longtime Brandeis benefactor. ... The one area where Reinharz was specific about how he spends his time was his own research, including a book he is co-writing on the history of the donkey in literature, arguing that the animal is often used as a substitute for people. 'There are smart donkeys, stupid donkeys, evil donkeys, etc., and no one has ever contemplated this on a large scale,' said Reinharz, who commissioned an artist to make a wood carving of a donkey that stands proudly on his desk. 'It’s probably the most ambitious topic I have ever contemplated.'"

--From Todd Wallack, "A gilded goodbye for many private college leaders: Presidents’ retirement pay and perks can run into the millions, one more driver of soaring college tuition costs," Boston Globe; via PR on Facebook; image from

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