Friday, April 20, 2018

US Envoy: Trump Intent on Bringing Home Americans Held in N. Korea

Nike Ching, Voice of America

Image from article, with caption: People watch a television news screen showing pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 29, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump has "made a very firm commitment to work as hard as possible to try to return" American detainees and Japanese abductees from North Korea, said William Hagerty, the U.S. ambassador to Japan. ...
Earlier this month, the Trump administration was said to be looking into incentives for North Korea, including the consideration of establishing a U.S. liaison office in Pyongyang, if the North were to take concrete actions toward denuclearization, according to media reports quoting South Korean government sources.
"We are aware of these reports. I cannot go into details regarding internal U.S. government preparations, but a comprehensive, whole-of-government effort in support of the president is under way," said Katina Adams, spokeswoman for the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

"We will do things differently; now is the time for bold action and concrete steps toward denuclearization. In the meantime, the global maximum pressure campaign will continue until North Korea denuclearizes," Adams told VOA, adding that the U.S. was committed to having close coordination with South Korea and Japan on a unified response to North Korea.

When asked about the veracity of the reports about a liaison office, Heather Nauert, acting undersecretary of state for public diplomacy [JB emphasis] and public affairs, said recently, ​"I've seen those reports. I highly doubt that that is something that we would do." ...

Changing Perceptions: How Pakistan should use Public Diplomacy

Rameen Khan, Modern Diplomacy

uncaptioned image from article

Traditionally in International Relations the concept of “hard power” remained the basic focus for states so as to achieve power and dominance in international anarchic system but with the changing scenarios in the age of globalization, economic interdependency and rapid spreading of information through various tools, “Soft Power” concept emerged which had great impact on states’ foreign policies. This term of soft power was first coined by Joseph Nye in mid-1960’s [JB - sic; on when the term "soft power" was actually coined, see] which could be defined as the ability of the state to influence others without coercion and this soft power technique basically revolves around three major instruments such as Culture, political values, and foreign policies. Apart from soft power concept, there is another basic concept called as “Public Diplomacy[JB emphasis]. This could be described as the further dimension of soft power because by practicing Public Diplomacy state [sic]can initiate their soft power policies and can achieve the desired outcomes by winning the hearts and minds of foreign audience and non-governmental entities because by doing so it will enable government and decision making bodies of foreign states to act accordingly.

In context of South Asia particularly taking into consideration the important developing state Pakistan whose basic concern is to maintain friendly and neutral relations with other states Public diplomacy could, however, help it to maintain its relations in the regional complex structure where India is seen as the dominant power and alongside India the powerful rise of China as an external actor in South Asia. By efficient usage of Public diplomacy, Pakistan can improve its bilateral ties with the neighboring states.

The image of Pakistan in foreign media is portrayed as the state which is full of many internal and external challenges and it is also not portrayed as the safe country to travel into. In order to improve the image, Pakistan firstly needs to improve its relations with states within the region and for that India which is considered as hostile neighbor Pakistan should effectively use its public diplomacy tool it should introduce exchange programs because by educating youth and by deploying positive image in their minds Pakistan can influence them which could bring change in the coming years and also by increasing tourism activities. This would make foreigners aware of the fact that Pakistan is a secure state. Similarly, cultural activities, sports diplomacy, literature, art, and media could also have a great impact so as to change the perceptions.

Hence it could be suggested that for the development of state it is important for Pakistan to improve its public diplomacy by changing perceptions of public and elite of neighboring states it should take basic steps which could change the negative image which is in limelight since 9/11. Pakistan by enhancing the public diplomacy in other states as the tool to implement its soft power policies would, however, be able to economically, culturally and politically improve its stance in the International arena.

Rival speedsters in friendly reunion

Jung Da-min,; original article contains an additional photograph, "A screen shot from Kodaira's Twitter account"

Image from article, with caption: Lee Sang-hwa, right, and Nao Kodaira. The two top speed skaters attended a talk show Thursday about how Tokyo can emulate the success of the PyeongChang Games in 2020.

Two months ago, at the PyeongChang Olympics, the two speed skaters were arch rivals.

Now in Tokyo for a special event and out of uniform, they were behaving more like best friends. In PyeongChang, Lee Sang-hwa, winner of the women's 500-meter sprint gold medals for two consecutive Olympics, settled for a silver, while Nao Kodaira got the gold.

"When we are together, laughter is spontaneous," Lee said, but added a condition: "Not in a competition."

Lee remembered crying after discovering she didn't win the gold at PyeongChang. "I burst into tears when Kodaira gave me heartwarming consolation." Kodaira gave the crying Lee a hug.

After their Tokyo meeting, Kodaira shared a photo of the two on her Twitter account.

"I wanted a little more private time with her, shopping and eating delicious food together, but I had to head back to Nagano for training," her tweet reads.

Luge racer Park Jin-yong, Lee Hee-beom, president of the PyeongChang Olympics Organizing Committee, and Ambassador for Public Diplomacy [JB emphasis] Park Enna also attended the Tokyo talk show.

Attendees from the Japanese side include cross-country skier Yoshihiro Nitta, Toshiaki Endo, acting minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and Daichi Suzuki, commissioner of the Japan Sports Agency.

The US said that Russia is covering his tracks chemical attack, at the same time preventing the inspectors of the OCPW

Jan Hartman,

image from article

The United States has reliable information that Russia and Syria were trying “to carry out sanitization of the” places of alleged use of chemical weapons in the Duma, at the same time trying to delay the inspectors from the Organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons (OPCW) to the crime scene. This was announced on Thursday at a press briefing, acting assistant Secretary of state for public diplomacy [JB emphasis] Heather Noarch.

“We have reliable information that indicates that the Russian authorities are cooperating with the Syrian regime to prevent and delay the access of these inspectors to the Duma (Damascus suburb)… Russian officials cooperated with the Syrian regime for the disinfection of the place of alleged attacks and eliminate the evidence of chemical weapons use,” said Neuert.

She noted that today, 12 days after the alleged chemical attack, the OPCW experts have been unable to get into the Duma. ...

Gillian Mak '18 to Malaysia as Fulbright English Teaching Assistant

Hamilton College News

Mack image from article

Gillian Mak '18.

Gillian Mak ’18 has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Malaysia.  Mak explained why she chose Malaysia for her teaching. “First, I have a family connection. My grandmother moved to the United States for college, and we still have a significant amount of family there-- though I have never visited,” she said.
As a world politics major, Mak said she’s most interested in East and Southeast Asia. “I worked on that region at the State Department, and wrote my thesis on the Philippines, so I find the region fascinating.”                                           


Major: World politics
Hometown: Mount Juliet, Tenn.
High School: Wilson Central High School
Campus Activities: Student Assembly Vice President, Co-Founder Asian Student Association
Last summer she interned at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Office of Public Diplomacy [JB emphasis] in Washington. During her spring 2017 semester on Hamilton’s Program in Washington, D.C. she was elections intern at non-profit APIAVote.
At Hamilton, Mak is co-founder and served as programming chair of the Asian Student Association. She served as vice president in 2017 and for two terms as secretary for Student Assembly.
Mak is a team leader for Hamilton’s Levitt Center and represented Hamilton on the HELIO program in Hiroshima, Japan in fall, 2017. She is also an 1812 Ambassador for Hamilton’s Advancement Office.
The Fulbright ETA Program places U.S. students as English teaching assistants in schools or universities overseas, thus improving foreign students’ English language abilities and knowledge of the United States while increasing their own language skills and knowledge of the host country. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright is the largest U.S. international exchange program.

Department Press Briefings: Department Press Briefing - April 19, 2018

Newsroom America Feeds

Heather Nauert
[State] Department Press Briefing
Washington, DC
April 19, 2018

image of U.S. Embassy Berlin from

QUESTION: It’s a new topic; it’s kind of a random one. But it’s about this story about the U.S. embassy in Germany, who paid a couple of speaker [sic] – or one of them was the embassy in Berlin and another one was the consulate in Frankfurt – that have paid, as speakers, people that have been public critics of President Trump, one of them calling – comparing his rhetoric on ISIS to – comparing his rhetoric to ISIS. Do you – can you confirm that these people have been hired by the U.S. embassy, and why – why haven’t they been vetted? I just think it’s really weird.

MS NAUERT: This has been subject of quite a deal of conversation here in the building over the past few days. I’ve certainly read the reports, and I’m familiar with what you’re talking about. The person who was brought over to our embassy in Germany is someone who was a Holocaust survivor, and had been a outspoken person on the subject of extremist groups. And he was brought to our embassy to speak in that capacity. And so it was believed, I’m told, by our folks at the embassy, that his background carried particular weight in talking about ISIS and extremist activity with the German public who would come in. This was a part of one of our speakers programs where in Germany they host 70 to 80 speakers every single year, and our people will look through their backgrounds and decide who to invite on behalf of the embassy on the basis of their credentials, but we don’t look at their politics when we’re inviting those people over. Our embassy was not aware of this individual’s comments that he had made, inflammatory comments that he had made in the past, and I can just say that he was brought over in accordance with the speakers program that the United States Government hosts at many embassies around the world. The person’s air travel was covered and then also received some sort of a stipend.

QUESTION: I mean, we’ve spoken a lot – you’ve spoken a lot from this podium – about how the Foreign Service is completely apolitical and serves administrations Republican and Democrat, and is there a concern that something like this could have a negative light on the Foreign Service, that they’re not supportive of the President’s agenda?

MS NAUERT: And let’s make sure that we are splitting this out. We have the Foreign Service here at the State Department, and I have found every single Foreign Service officer that I’ve worked with to be highly, highly professional, and apolitical, for that matter.

QUESTION: So was this person hired by --

MS NAUERT: I can’t – I don’t know this person’s identity. I believe this person was a locally employed staff working in concert with some of our other colleagues at the embassy in Germany. We also have our civil servants. Look, this is a 75,000-member organization. My understanding – and we’ve been dealing with this today and yesterday – is that this person – that we were not aware of this person’s comments that the person has said in the past, and certainly that puts the – in my view – the State Department – people are right to ask questions about did you look at this person’s background. In my personal view, yes, people should take a look at the types of things that people have said to not put the State Department or our embassies in an embarrassing light. Obviously this was an oversight on the part of the embassy – that’s my personal view, an oversight, because I don’t necessarily think that’s a good thing, to bring in somebody who would make those types of comments – but on the other hand, we also believe in free speech. So there’s a sort of a delicate balance there.

QUESTION: But isn’t it – I understand what you’re saying about free speech, but isn’t it kind of self-defeating when an embassy would have a guest that’s publicly critical of --

MS NAUERT: Yeah. I happen to agree with that. I happen to agree with that completely. Would I have that person speak at a party that I’m hosting, where it come back and make me look poorly? No, absolutely not. But this person was selected based on the person’s credentials, that this person had been a Holocaust survivor, that this person was some sort of an expert on violent extremist groups, and that was the topic of the conversation that he was brought in to discuss. I have been told by all my colleagues that we were not aware of this person’s comments that he had made that were derogatory of the administration.

QUESTION: Wait, hold on a second. This seems – sounds like you’re about to head down a really slippery slope. I’m not familiar with this story, I don’t know what these inflammatory comments were, but are you suggesting --

MS NAUERT: You can Google it there. (Laughter.) Just Google it, Matt. I know you like to look things up. Or Dave Clark, he’s the one who’s the expert --

QUESTION: There’s no wifi in here and the service is really bad.

MS NAUERT: He’s the expert of looking things up while we’re doing this.

QUESTION: Anyway, I’ll take a look at whatever it is, but this seems – are you suggesting that the U.S. embassies abroad will now disqualify anyone who has been critical of the administration from speaking?

MS NAUERT: People are brought in – I gave you my personal opinion, okay – people are --

QUESTION: But you went further. You said you wouldn’t invite someone to a party so you would make it look bad. I mean, is there some kind of purity test going on? (Laughter.) Loyal – you have to swear allegiance to --

MS NAUERT: No, Matt, I’m just – simply mean as sort of a public entity, okay. At your company or any company of that sort, you’d have to – you have to think about appearances and how things look.

QUESTION: Well, yeah, but --

MS NAUERT: So people are brought in to speak on behalf of our – at our embassies.

QUESTION: But he’s not speaking on behalf --

MS NAUERT: Let me finish, please


MS NAUERT: Regardless of their political affiliations.

QUESTION: Okay. And that’s a good thing, you think, right?

MS NAUERT: I typically think that that is a good thing, yes. That is a very good thing.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, if these comments were so outrageous and extreme --

MS NAUERT: Because we believe in different types of voices.

QUESTION: -- then maybe that’s something, but --

MS NAUERT: Would I have made that choice? No, I personally would not have made that choice, and that was my point.

QUESTION: But this – these speakers do not speak on behalf of the administration.

MS NAUERT: Understood, yes. Yes.

QUESTION: Presumably they speak on behalf of themselves, so I’m not sure what – I mean, so if – are you saying – advocating the idea that if someone has been critical in the past – just critical, saying “I think policy X is not a good idea” – that they wouldn’t – that they would then be disqualified from being invited?

MS NAUERT: Matt, I don’t think we really enjoy --

QUESTION: I don’t know what the guy said, so --

MS NAUERT: I don’t --

QUESTION: I’m just asking if it’s a good public diplomacy [JB emphasis] stance for one of your speakers to – talking about ISIS and comparing the President’s rhetoric to ISIS. That’s all I’m asking.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS NAUERT: There you go. Enough said.


MS NAUERT: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: I had an immediate follow up to this one. Is this the same --

QUESTION: Oh, go for that, and then I’ll --

QUESTION: Yeah. Sorry. The --

MS NAUERT: So much cooperation today. Very – cooperating nicely.

QUESTION: We have a friendship. It’s nice.

MS NAUERT: Yes, exactly.

QUESTION: You’ve just given us your personal opinion about an act of public diplomacy. You’re under secretary of state for public diplomacy. Could you give us your opinion as the under secretary of state for public diplomacy on this decision? Are you admonishing the Berlin embassy?

MS NAUERT: I would have to speak to the person who made the decision and have that conversation myself and better understand all of the details and how those decisions were made before making further comment on that. Okay.

QUESTION: Okay. Sorry.

MS NAUERT: Okay. Thanks. Hey.

QUESTION: Thanks. ...

It’s a Start

Matthew Brodsky,

image from article, with caption: The remains of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center in Damascus, April 14.

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In the White House, apparently, it is worth 105 missiles if it shows the suffering of women and children from a lethal combination of sarin and chlorine gas. President Donald Trump’s response, obliterating three chemical-weapons-related facilities in Syria, demonstrated that the United States will not stand idly by when certain chemical weapons (CW) are used against civilians. Coaxing the chemical genie back into the bottle was the right decision even if it came some five-and-a-half years after President Barack Obama declared “a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized” in Syria would constitute a red line. ...

Beyond its importance in reestablishing some measure of deterrence and degrading the Syrian regime’s ability to use such weapons in the future, the aerial assault demonstrated that the United States is capable of striking at will inside the capital of murderous dictator Bashar al-Assad. As a result, it finally puts to rest the absurd notion propagated by the Obama administration and its supporters that the United States couldn’t operate in or over Syria because of Assad’s top-notch Russian-made air defense systems.

There were also ramifications for the use of social media platforms and their place in public diplomacy [JB emphasis]. In a week in which Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by Congress for creating the preferred fake news platform for those seeking to fix elections, President Trump turned to Twitter to broadcast his intention to rain down fire and fury on Syria, taunt Assad as a “Gas Killing Animal,” and dare Russia to shoot down U.S. missiles.

Twitter came out on top as Trump’s nastygram landed on its intended audience. With a single tweet, the president scattered Russia’s vessels from its Mediterranean port at Tartous, had Assad’s men abandoning their air bases and rapidly relocating air assets near Russian positions, and sent Iran-backed militias, including Hezbollah, scurrying from their posts and hunkering down in safer quarters. America’s enemies rightly fear U.S. military power when Trump dons the hat of commander in chief and wields Twitter like a sword. ...

As far as punitive action is concerned, the Trump administration could have done far more to deter Assad in the future. For instance, the United States could have hit his presidential palace in Damascus on Mount Mezzeh, which is just a stone’s throw away from the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center that the coalition struck with 76 missiles. The administration could have combined that strike with a message to Putin as well by leveling Assad’s summer residence and palace in Latakia on the Mediterranean coast, near Russia’s Khmeimim air base.

Instead of merely striking at the heart of Assad’s CW program, as the Pentagon put it, President Trump could have taken out the rest of the sites associated with CW production, storage, and delivery. He could have further hindered Assad’s ability to slaughter the Syrian people by cratering his runways and airfields, destroying his air assets, and targeting what remains of his Soviet-era air defense systems. Of course, such a plan would necessitate the tactical element of surprise to catch Assad’s aircraft in their hangars before they were repositioned near Russian assets. That would rule out early-morning Twitter rants that spell out martial stratagems. Such a target set would further degrade the regime’s military capabilities. ...

The Saudi Export of Ultra-conservatism in the Era of MbS – an Update

James M. Dorsey,
image (not from article) from
There has long been debate about the longevity of the Saudi ruling family. One major reason for doubts about the Al Sauds’ viability was the Faustian bargain they made with the Wahhabis, proponents of a puritan, intolerant, discriminatory, anti-pluralistic interpretation of Islam.

It was a bargain that has produced the single largest dedicated public diplomacy [JB emphasis] campaign in history. Estimates of Saudi spending on the funding of ultra-conservative Muslim cultural institutions across the globe and the forging of close ties to non-Wahhabi Muslim leaders and intelligence agencies in various Muslim nations that have bought into significant, geopolitical elements of the Wahhabi worldview are ballpark. With no accurate date available, they range from $75 to $100 billion. ...

Furious staff condemn Madrid closure of Catalonia’s public diplomacy counc

Greg Russell,; see also: "Noam Chomsky among signatories on letter calling for release of Catalan political prisoners,"

Image from article, with caption: Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy

STAFF at Diplocat – the Public Diplomacy Council [JB emphasis] of Catalonia – have issued their last communique after it was “liquidated” by the Spanish government following its imposition of direct rule on the wealthy north-eastern state under Article 155 of Spain’s constitution.

A highly-critical statement from the body’s employee assembly denied it was one of “those unnecessary organisations … created to participate in the development of the secessionist process”, as claimed in the closure decree.

Diplocat, which included banks, council and business groups, universities and sports organisations such as FC Barcelona among its members, was created in 2012, having evolved from the Catalan Pro Europe and Catalonia World platforms.

As such, says the employee assembly, it was not created for “secessionists purposes”.

“During the year 2017… Diplocat has organised debates and seminars on municipal diplomacy and on integration policies of refugees. Furthermore, Diplocat has organised projects abroad related to green energy and about urban territory management.”

It was not aimed at setting up relationships with foreign governments, but at “broadcasting the Catalan reality to individuals and entities abroad”.

The assembly said it was not for Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party (PP) to evaluate the necessity of the body, but that it was for the Catalan government and the 38 members of the council to decide if Catalonia should have an entity like Diplocat: “Activities aimed at explaining Catalonia’s situation abroad have oen been organised upon the request of foreign universities or think tanks expressing their interest in Catalonia.

“Diplocat, in these conferences, has laid out the wish of the majority of the Catalan citizens to have the right to decide, but Diplocat has never taken part regarding independence ... the specific order from Diplocat’s board.”

The statement said the assembly believed that by closing Diplocat, the Spanish government had “exceeded” its authority, even under direct rule.

“Suppressing an organisation like Diplocat, a legal and legitimate public-private council of 39 members that represent the Catalan society in a broad and transversal way, infringes Article 2 of the self-same Spanish constitution,” it said.

“Article 155 does not enable the Spanish state to dissolve autonomic bodies, as the actions taken have to be temporary and not definitive. It seems that what bothers the Spanish Government is not Diplocat’s possible [and untrue] drive towards independence ... but that Catalonia is outside the circles controlled by the powers of the Spanish state, its foreign ministry and its embassies.

“We encourage Diplocat’s 39 members to publicly express their opinion on the closing of the council and to show their rejection if … they believe that this is an unfair and arbitrary decision that goes against Catalonia’s interests and its civil society.”

One insider added: “As you all know, silencing dissenting voices is one of the basic characteristics of authoritarian states."

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Opinion: Chinese outbound: Is this ‘a thing’?

Yunzi Zhang,

image (not from article) from

THE Chinese outbound tourism market has grown substantially around the globe. Here, residents of Saipan have become very familiar with Chinese tourists walking, driving and shopping around. I think it would be great if we can all learn more about this market, as it does have a strong presence in this community.

Many ask the question whether the Chinese outbound market should be a research subject in itself. For example, Japanese tourists in the 1980s’-90’s also had a great impact on the world tourism industry. In the economic sense, it is true that both markets have contributed greatly to destinations’ local GDP. But the Chinese outbound market is different in several ways.

First, the market is gigantic. China now produces the world’s largest outbound market, and this is both in number of travelers and travel expenditure. The market accounted for about 21 percent of world international travel spending ($261 billion, 2016 UNWTO data), and this was about 10 times of 2006 ($24 billion, 3 percent). And, the trips were conducted by 8.7 percent of the Chinese population. If to be compared with the ranking of country GDP, their total spending would be on the Top 50 list, surpassing Finland, Portugal, Vietnam and Greece.

Second, we are in a digital revolution that has stimulated Chinese outbound’s growth in an unprecedented way. Internet- and mobile-oriented technologies have mushroomed in China. This is also the case for many other countries. It allows faster information-sharing about tourism products, and online word-of-mouth is powerful in changing people’s perceptions of a place. Social media almost was non-existence in the late 20th century. Therefore, the Chinese outbound market has emerged in a unique environment, and its impact is oftentimes magnified in the media. And this alone creates a lot of attention.

Lastly — perhaps the most important condition we need to recognize — the Chinese outbound market develops in the context of a rising China. Tourism development is a national strategy to reinforce China’s own economy and foreign diplomacy. In 2017, tourism contributed 11 percent of China’s GDP. Though still a small percentage compared with other industries, its function lies in boosting employment rate. Domestically, the concept of “integrated tourism” tries to make all regions, territories and terrains become of tourism interest for travelers. Tourism development, as an important policy, is rapidly spreading to provinces, towns and even villages. One interesting campaign now is the “toilet revolution.” City-level governments are busy building new and renovating old public restrooms. Many have developed mobile apps so that users can conveniently find those near them.

On the other hand, China sees tourism as a diplomacy tool. Public diplomacy [JB emphasis]can be strengthened when two cultures meet in a tourism setting. Research evidences attest to this, as human-to-human interactions foster mutual understanding. Culture is a necessary element of tourism, as we develop emotions in encounters with other people. Even in a completely natural environment, I believe that we react to the meaning of the place (given by people), rather than to the place itself. Because of this, China encourages its citizens to go abroad. Of course, this inevitably showcases the Chinese way of conduct, perceived both good and bad. In addition, the government advocates for visa-free or easier visa processing when negotiating with foreign entities. For example, a U.S. tourism visa for Chinese nationals is valid for 10 years, and the same for a tourism visa to Canada. Eligible people may also obtain a visa to Japan with 3- or 5-year validity. As for Europe, the visa application process has simplified. For example, the Italian Embassy in Beijing promises a processing time of 36 hours. Though allowing more Chinese to enjoy a leisure trip, the expansion of the market has made certain destinations dependent on Chinese tourists. In turn, this may become a leverage for China when it comes to foreign affairs. In 2017, we observed a decline of Chinese outbound travel to Korea because of the political dispute between the two governments. Therefore, to diversify the population of tourists at a destination is detrimental. However, this is easier said than done. After all, China has the biggest population on Earth — more people means more tourists. Statistically, it is difficult to keep a balance.

Thank you, and I welcome your views about the Chinese outbound market.

The writer is assistant professor, hospitality management, School of Business, Northern Marianas College

Losing The Battle: How China is Outperforming the USA in Sub-Saharan Africa

Henry Hama, Modern Diplomacy

uncaptioned image from article

If the United States hopes to regain its dominance in SSA [Sub-Saharan Africa] , it must change its paternalistic behavior towards African countries and it must regard China as true competition. The United States must discontinue rhetoric to discourage SSA countries from doing business with China, particularly when it is not presenting any alternative options. This will only alienate the United States from the very countries with which it wishes to strengthen bilateral relations. Instead of attempting to undo progress China has made in SSA, the United States must compliment those works and find ways to build capacity across African countries and sustain those new capabilities.

Africans desire economic independence. However, that can only be achieved through aiding them in the building of their own capacities rather than just making them dependent on the US. America must continue to encourage SSA build strong governing institutions. It is imperative to understand that democracy is more conducive to economic development because of the protection and balance of these various institutions. Developing countries need an institutional framework that supports a market economy, which include distinct institutions that foster exchange by lowering transaction costs and encouraging trust as well as those that influence the state and other powerful actors to protect private property and persons rather than expropriate and subjugate them respectively. The United States must do more to differentiate itself from China and become the preferred partner of choice across sub-Saharan Africa. So far, its strategy seems to be too focused on just criticizing China’s efforts and ignoring the legitimate relationship advantage it has built over the last decade. Unfortunately for America, the time has passed where the countries of Africa automatically will choose the US over all other competitors. The longer it takes America to realize this, and adapt to it competitively, the longer it will remain an African also-ran.

As Castro goes, US and Cuba still good frenemies | Opinion

Mac Margolis, Bloomberg View, Sun Sentinel

Image from article, with caption: In this Dec. 20, 2014 file photo, Cuba's President Raul Castro, left, shakes hands with Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, at the closing of the legislative session at the National Assembly in Havana

n April 18, Miguel Diaz-Canel will be sworn in as the new Cuban president. The transition is a landmark for the island nation, where for the first time in six decades a Castro will not be in command. It will also shift the mental landscape of a region which — even as memories of Latin dictators and Yanqui imperialism fade — can still swoon to the revolution that was.

No one expects Cuba to radically change course. Although Raul Castro is officially stepping aside, he'll go no further than the top slot at the Cuban Communist Party, where eminence grise is the new khaki. And don't expect a truce in the sexagenarian feud between Havana and Washington, which has only escalated under Trump.

Yet Cuba and the U.S. also are bound by strategic interests that have remained remarkably solid despite the continuing vitriol over the Florida Strait. Even as public diplomacy [JB emphasis] festers, in recent months shared policy initiatives, technical cooperation pacts and binational task forces have survived and, in some cases, even strengthened.

It's not just the emergency ops, such as the joint rescue mission earlier this month by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Cuban Border Guard to intercept a boatload of Haitian refugees drifting off the coast of Cuba. Both nations touted the heroics of the island's fire brigade, which in February swooped down to help stop a wildfire that threatened the U.S. military base in Guantanamo — a remarkable gesture given how the gringo outpost has long chafed on Cuban pride.

Cuba and the U.S. have long coordinated to patrol the maritime borders, and dousing the Guantanamo fire was only possible because of two decades of joint natural disaster response drills by U.S. troops with the Cuban military's Frontier Brigade.

Transnational crime also has drawn the Americas' signature enemies closer. Although neither side flaunts it, Havana and Washington have collaborated for more than two decades to interdict drug shipments, human traffickers, cross-border crime cartels, money launderers, and more recently even Medicare cheats. U.S. authorities say Cuba could do more to prosecute international outlaws. Yet the 16-country Financial Action Task Force of Latin America recently acknowledged Cuba's efforts to identify terrorist groups and starve them of assets as “complete and consistent.”

“Cuba used to be an incredible blind spot in the Caribbean and so a safe haven for international criminals,” William LeoGrande, a professor at American University, told me. “The joint crackdown has forced traffickers to shift routes, and that success is one reason so many security professionals have been arguing against rolling back the Obama-era policy of approximation with Cuba.”

Geoff Thale, a Cuba expert at the Washington Office on Latin America, agrees. “There have been six separate technical exchanges between Cuba and the U.S. in the last year or so,” Thale said in an interview. “Despite the chill of the Trump administration, it's clear the U.S. Coast Guard, Southern Command, and the Drug Enforcement Administration all believe that Cuba is an important barrier to crime.”

This isn't capitulation to Washington's agenda, but the same strain of pragmatism that has driven Cuba to embrace some reforms of its shambolic economy. “As Cuba reintegrates into the global economy and engages with countries in its own hemisphere, it understands the growing risks of money launderers and international crime groups,” said Thale. “So it's in their interest to rein this in.”

Some clear-thinking officials in Washington also have taken note. “There's a growing awareness that a stable, functioning Cuban government is an important force for hemispheric stability,” sociologist Bernardo Sorj, a Latin America scholar at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, told me. “Though there's little love lost between the two countries, the question is what will happen tomorrow if Cuba destabilizes.”

More than neighborly good will, U.S.-Cuban cooperation speaks to a broader awareness of the challenges of hemispheric security — one that has weathered years of the brute diplomacy that so many of the region's ideologues have favored, and which threatens to rear up again.

Beating world-class criminals will be just as daunting as reinventing the New World's oldest command economy. But the U.S. and Cuba share too many interests and vulnerabilities to indulge the hoary antagonisms of last century's quarrel.

Inside Rex Tillerson’s Ouster

Ronan Farrow, The New Yorker

The last days of his brief and chaotic tenure as Secretary of State

Image from the article, with caption: Before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was abruptly fired, he oversaw a State Department that appeared to be plunged into chaos at every level.

Rex Tillerson’s team was fighting again. “So, who’s going to go in with him?” Margaret Peterlin, his chief of staff, was saying. She looked me up and down with an expression that suggested she’d discovered a pest in the house. We were standing at the wide double doors into the Secretary of State’s office on Mahogany Row, the opulent, wood-panelled corridor on the seventh floor of the State Department’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, which houses the most powerful offices in American foreign policy. Steven Goldstein, the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs [JB emphasis], folded his arms and stared daggers at Peterlin. “Well, I guess I won’t be,” he told her. “Heather can go.” Goldstein tilted his head toward Tillerson’s spokesperson, the former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert. Peterlin narrowed her eyes at Goldstein. “Are you sure?” she said, with theatrical displeasure. Goldstein didn’t reply. Tillerson strode up to the door, cutting the tension. Nauert and Peterlin joined the interview, along with Tillerson’s director of policy planning, Brian Hook. Goldstein remained outside. (Peterlin said that she was following a rule enacted by Secretary Tillerson that only one communications officer be allowed in his interviews.)

Such discord often simmered just under the surface in the year before Tillerson’s unceremonious firing in March, according to multiple members of his embattled inner circle. Often, it emanated from Peterlin, a formidable attorney, U.S. Navy veteran, and former congressional staffer who helped draft the Patriot Act after the September 11th attacks and guided Tillerson through his confirmation process. When she was passed a note indicating I’d arrived that day, she’d given the rest of the team an ultimatum: from the public-relations staff, only Goldstein would be permitted in the interview. Goldstein had pointed out that Nauert, as spokesperson, would be responsible for answering ensuing public questions. Peterlin insisted that there was simply no room. One staffer present said that there was another motivation: Peterlin had been lobbying to get Nauert fired. (Peterlin said that she did not lobby to fire Nauert, and pointed out that Nauert still holds her position as spokesperson, today.) The standoff hadn’t been resolved by the time I was ushered in to see Tillerson, nor as I left, when a second contretemps erupted over who would stay behind with the Secretary. (Goldstein again insisted on Nauert, visibly vexing Peterlin.) This squabbling barely qualified as drama, but displaying it so openly in front of a reporter was at odds with the kind of tightly organized messaging prized by most of Tillerson’s predecessors. It provided a small window into a State Department that appeared to be plunged into chaos at every level. ...

Until Tillerson was finally fired, in March, rumors of his demise were relentless. Mike Pompeo, the former C.I.A. director, whom President Trump nominated to replace Tillerson, was one popularly cited successor. Trump’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, was another. The perception that Tillerson had a rivalry with Haley appeared to be a source of particular vexation for the Secretary and his team. The day I met with him, they were still reeling from an announcement Haley had made about plans to withhold U.S. funding for U.N.R.W.A., the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees. Tillerson hadn’t been consulted. In a series of tense e-mails, Haley’s press office told Tillerson staffers that it had checked with the White House instead. Tensions between Secretaries of State and U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations were nothing new, but this enmity seemed to run deeper. “Holy shit,” the source close to the White House said, “I’ve never seen anything like the way he’s treated her . . . it’s shocking.” Tillerson’s “rage” toward Haley had drawn the disapproval of even the President, the source added. Goldstein, the former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, attributed unflattering accounts from White House sources to disgruntled rivals. “What is said is the furthest from the truth,” he said. ...

In the months before his firing, Tillerson attempted to soften his messaging, praising the value of the Foreign Service in a Times Op-Ed and a “60 Minutes” interview. The guillotine finally descending suggested that the warmer embrace was unwelcome. Last month, Tillerson himself became the latest diplomat to receive a pink slip. “Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become your new Secretary of State,” Trump tweeted. “He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service!” As was increasingly the norm, the State Department was the last to know. “The Secretary did not speak to the President and is unaware of the reason,” a statement from Goldstein read. ...

How US diplomats abroad can save the country from Trump

Maira Khan,

image from

“Hate crime and Islamophobia increase after Trump Victory.”

It was the main headline published in an English language newspaper in UAE.

That headline was not unique for the rest of the world. It was rather a great shock for the much of the world because of voters’ endorsement of a person who believes in racism or ethnic differences. Muslims are not the only target of this hate that the election of Donald Trump unleashed. African Americans are uniting under one flag because racism increased to its extreme during the Trump era.

Now the US diplomats must learn to deal with Trump presidency and its effects which is a horrific reality. At this point it may be reasonable to be pessimistic about public diplomacy [JB emphasis] in the coming years.

Professionalism has constantly been required as a counterbalance to politics, and now that will be of extreme significance. While operating under extraordinarily difficult situations, FSO will continue to assist as a backbone of American diplomacy. Many other foreign governments will probably distrust Trump’s America and their publics even more so. Assuming that Trump’s appointees and the Congress value in on the public diplomacy and hence fund them, it is of utmost necessity that American diplomats from around the world rectify their work to meet new realities.

Irrespective of how long the “Trump era” lasts – four years? Eight years? Or longer? – basic elements of the American environment will remain pure and clean by the kind of behavior showed during the election campaign. American academic life and arts will maintain their honour. Education in America will continue to be an attractive opportunity for millions of young students overseas. These are public diplomacy assets and they cannot be weakened or damaged by the state of affairs in Washington under one president only.

Perhaps the biggest challenge anticipating public diplomats will be helping foreign publics distinguish between Trump’s values and the traditional American values. Many questions were raised after Trump came to power – Can people from other ethnicities or colour feel safe while visiting America? Can women expect to be respected while in America? Is US still worthy of rivalry or competition? – Answering such questions for American government would not be easy, especially if campaign affectation becomes presidential bombast.

But what is more important is that the public diplomacy will be of extreme significance as more and more people throughout the world benefit from having access to the different tools of technology and information. It would be crucial for the foreign publics to enhancing US foreign policy and the state’s long-term security, no matter who the American president happens to be. Possibly, the Trump administration would understand this.

Hollywood's malicious propaganda dehumanizes all Russians

Michael McCaffrey,; original article contains links.

Uncaptioned image from article

A closer inspection of America’s relentless Russophobic propaganda campaign reveals that it isn’t just the news media spreading hatred of Russia and Russians, but Hollywood as well.

America’s unrelenting propaganda assault on Russia began by demonizing Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is routinely blamed for every evil that occurs under the sun, and according to the establishment media, there is nothing too evil that the Bond super-villain Putin cannot accomplish.

The US likes to personalize its enemy into one caricature so that Americans have an effigy onto which they can project their fear and loathing. A brief glance at recent history shows this to be true as the US used the same playbook with Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and Kim Jong-Il.

Sometimes, when an enemy lacks the requisite charismatically evil leader to fit the propaganda bill, the US will demonize whole peoples, for example the Japanese in World War II. The dehumanizing of the Japanese people, instead of a single leader, is what convinced Americans to accept the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and the use of nuclear weapons on Japan to end that war, which is in marked contrast to Americans’ attitudes towards German-Americans.

In the current propaganda war with Russia, the US seems to be taking a unique hybrid approach. Putin is certainly held up as an icon of evil but Russians and people of Russian descent are as also being demonized and in some very insidious and disturbing ways.

For instance, James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, told NBC in an interview, “…the Russians, who typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain-favor, whatever...”

Clapper’s statement maligns all Russians, even Russian-Americans, as genetically duplicitous and diabolical. Such repulsive xenophobia isn’t just good old-fashioned American Russia-hating, it is fast becoming US policy.

Also, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election has deemed all people “of Russian descent or nationality” to be potential targets of its investigation. There are 3 million Russian-Americans in the US, and according to the committee, they are now all suspects.

In the same vein, Senator Dianne Feinstein demanded that Facebook turn over to the Senate any data related to “Russia-connected accounts.” Feinstein broadly defines Russia-connected accounts as “a person or entity…that may be in some way connected to Russia, including by user language setting, user currency or other payment method.”

Feinstein and Clapper’s Russophobia and totalitarian instincts are chilling, and they will find little resistance from the American people who are being surreptitiously indoctrinated by Hollywood to believe that Russians are inherently devious miscreants.

It has been well established that Hollywood is the propaganda wing of the Pentagon and the intelligence community, and that it has effectively indoctrinated Americans to whole-heartedly support the nation’s belligerent militarism and to see the US as always the well-intentioned hero.

So it is no surprise that Richard Stengel, former managing editor of Time magazine (2006-2013) and under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs under President Barack Obama (2014-2016) [JB emphasis], saw the success of the Pentagon-Hollywood alliance in shaping public opinion and tried to emulate it. It was revealed in a trove of hacked Sony emails released by WikiLeaks, that in 2014, while officially serving in the Obama administration, Stengel approached Hollywood studios asking for help in countering “Russian narratives.”

Stengel was wise to ask for Hollywood’s assistance, as entertainment is a much more insidious form of propaganda than “fake news.” It is designed to manipulate emotions and audiences have been conditioned to allow it to do so. Viewers willingly let their guard down and suspend their disbelief when they watch a film or television show, and therefore their critical thinking function is reduced and they become much more pliable and vulnerable to propaganda.

It is in this state of vulnerability when their emotions are triggered and their conscious mind is bypassed, that the nefarious ideas of the propagandist are implanted in the viewer’s unconscious. This is why businesses pay so much money for “product placement” in films and why the Pentagon has embedded itself so deeply into the entertainment industry.

The extent to which Stengel’s conversations with Hollywood bigwigs convinced the studios to act is not yet fully known, but since he made his plea to the studios, Hollywood has churned out a steady stream of films that have portrayed Russians as a deplorable people.

Some of the most prominent of them were Child 44 (2015), the story about a Russian serial killer starring Tom Hardy, Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies (2015) starring Tom Hanks and Atomic Blonde (2017) starring Charlize Theron, both about nefarious Cold War Russian spies, and Bitter Harvest (2017), the story of famine induced by Joseph Stalin upon Ukrainians in the 1930s. These films, all set during the Cold War (except for Bitter Harvest), uniformly portray Russians as treacherous, vicious, malicious and merciless.

On television, there has been the recurring anti-Russian storyline on the hit Netflix show House of Cards, where a remorseless and repugnant Putin-esque Russian leader cynically destroys people’s lives.

Last month the newest batch of films and television shows hit screens with the same theme of degrading and dehumanizing the Russian people as their propaganda predecessors.

Red Sparrow is the story of a former ballerina turned Russian super spy trained in the sexual arts and stars the highest paid actress in the world, Jennifer Lawrence. The Death of Stalin is a dark comedy about the power struggle in the Soviet Union to fill the void after Stalin’s death. And the hit FX television show The Americans is about a couple living in Cold War America in the 1980s who are actually deep undercover Soviet spies.

Red Sparrow is a prime example of Hollywood’s attempt to incite Americans to distrust and dislike the Russian people. The film is set in modern day Russia but feels decidedly Cold War in its depiction of the country as a bleak frozen tundra inhabited by the most paranoid and despicable of people.

Every Russian man in the film is a vicious murderer, pedophile, rapist or traitor…and in the case of the lead villain played by Matthias Schoenaerts, a Vladimir Putin look-a-like, all of the above.

Red Sparrow’s Russian women fare no better as they are all cold-blooded, conniving, manipulative whores who are only proficient at sex, ballet or both.

The Death of Stalin is a considerably better film than Red Sparrow, but that only means it is a more effective propaganda tool.

In the film, under a veneer of humor, all Russians are portrayed as deceitful, corrupt, unscrupulous monsters only interested in selling out their comrades, gaining power and then brutally abusing it.

The television show The Americans by its premise alone also ingrains in its audience the idea that Russians are not to be trusted because they are instinctively a deceptive and plotting people.

The trudging up of the Cold War is an easy propaganda device that triggers old anti-communist and anti-Soviet fears among Americans. It is striking to note that Hollywood is portraying Russians solely in terms of the Cold War but not in regards to World War II. That is because Russia’s role in defeating Hitler and ending the war in the Pacific is a heroic one and would undermine the foundation of Cold War enmity upon which the current Russophobic narrative is built.

As Hollywood and the news media continue to indoctrinate Americans with an anti-Russian animus, US audiences will become even more susceptible to stories, like the Skripal poisoning, that feed the anti-Russian narrative no matter how tenuous or divorced from the facts they may be.

The problem of Hollywood and America’s Russophobia will only get worse, and that is troubling for all of us, because in this current climate, a war with Russia seems possible, and that would be a movie without a happy ending.

Michael McCaffrey is a freelance writer, film critic and cultural commentator. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he runs his acting coaching and media consulting business.

Attack on Confucius Institutes motivated; Editor: Mo Hong'e

image (not from article) from

Editor's note: Recently several U.S. senators including Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton and Joe Wilson have appealed to the U.S. Congress to list Confucius Institutes as "foreign agents" according to the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Two experts share their views on the issue with China Daily's Liu Jianna. Excerpts follow:

Hardliners have hijacked the U.S.' trade policies

Li Haidong, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University

The latest assault on Confucius Institutes in the United States is part of concerted efforts to limit the engagement and exchanges with China by forces hostile to China. Even the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission affiliated to the U.S. Congress, in its annual report issued in November, has demanded that Chinese media outlets in the U.S. be listed as "foreign agents".

The Foreign Agents Registration Act was enacted in 1938 to restrict political propaganda by Nazi Germany. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the act requires people acting as agents of foreign powers in a political or quasi-political capacity to disclose their relationship with the foreign government, and their related activities, including receipts and disbursements of funds. However, the wanton or dubious use of FARA will create serious problems for even normal cultural and civil exchanges between China and the U.S..

This raises the question: Why some U.S. politicians are targeting cultural programs and exchanges organized by China? The fact is, what we see today is the inevitable development of the debate on China's policies in the U.S. from 2014 to 2016, which gave U.S. hardliners the upper hand in bilateral relations. The debate also revealed the Trump administration is reducing its engagement and increasing its efforts to contain China.

New fronts have opened up in the "anti-China war" thanks to the efforts of the hardliners. Given these facts, the targeting of Chinese cultural and exchange programs by certain U.S. politicians is not hard to explain. Policies unfavorable to China and Sino-U.S. relations are being introduced because there are no political elements to effectively counter the hardliners' assault on China. This shows the tide has turned in Sino-U.S. relations and U.S. President Donald Trump is only following the trend, which incidentally he also helped start.

Despite the US' confrontational moves, however, China can still take some measures to ease tensions on this front. For instance, it can encourage nongovernmental exchanges to clear the US' doubts over government-funded programs. But more dexterity and agility should be applied when dealing with Sino-U.S. ties in these gloomy times.

U.S. has no reason to doubt Chinese culture

Wang Lili, deputy dean of National Academy of Development and Strategy, and an associate professor at Renmin University of China

Certain U.S. politicians and opinion leaders have increasingly labeled China's cultural programs in and exchanges with the U.S. states as activities aimed at exporting authoritarianism, with Confucius Institutes bearing the brunt. Some of them have even used a concocted concept of "sharp power" to question China's overseas cultural activities.

Reflecting the Cold-War mentality and double standard, it can be seen as part of the China-containment strategy adopted by some Western countries. Voices in favor of containing China and engaging in strategic competition with it have taken hold in the U.S. media and other fields, with some anti-China hawks giving the bugle call for battle. This should explain why Chinese overseas cultural exchange programs, including those through Confucius Institutes, have been targeted.

Yet China urgently needs to conduct public diplomacy [JB emphasis] and strengthen cultural exchanges with other countries, including the U.S., as these are major channels to improve soft power and the national image, build trust and promote peace. To achieve this goal, the following measures should be taken.

First, public diplomacy should be diversified to fully mobilize the non-governmental forces, including think tanks, mass media and business enterprises. Second, the importance of Chinese culture should be explained. And third, new media should be wisely and extensively used to better conduct public diplomacy and spread Chinese culture.

The peaceful rise of China is an irreversible trend. So, the U.S. should abandon its prejudices against China and properly evaluate China's public diplomacy and cultural exchange programs. Only through all-embracing cultural exchanges that seek harmony in diversity can we make the world a better, more diverse and colorful place for future generations.

April 24 Special Event : "Public Diplomacy (PD): Toward a More "Diplomatic" World"

by American Center in Moscow


Interested in public diplomacy [JB emphasis], history and international relations? Join a special event at the American Center, where Professor Alan K. Henrikson from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University will speak about Public Diplomacy (PD) and moving toward a more “diplomatic” world.

The talk will recount the antecedents of Public Diplomacy and discuss the role of Edward R. Murrow as head of USIA during the Presidency of John F. Kennedy. And also the close friendship and intellectual exchange that President Kennedy had with Ambassador Edmund A. Gullion who, as Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, established in 1965 The Edward R. Murrow Center for the Study and the Advancement of Public Diplomacy. This is widely considered to be the origin of the term “public diplomacy” in its contemporary use by governments around the world.

In the course that Professor Henrikson is teaching now at MGIMO University and also in his talk he reaches out beyond foreign ministries and tries to engender throughout more of the wider public “a diplomatic understanding”. The notion that among other things implies: taking a longer view; a certain humility about knowing what is absolutely right or wrong; a realization that formal agreements (and “deals”) need to be implemented and that they sometimes have unintended consequences; an appreciation that cultures are different and that the world has a lot of group-plurality in it, along with an understanding that “we are all in this together” — generally, a sense of history. As Henry Kissinger is said to have said, “History is the only policy science.”

Alan K. Henrikson is the Lee E. Dirks Professor of Diplomatic History Emeritus and founding Director of Diplomatic Studies at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, where he taught American diplomatic history, contemporary U.S.-European relations, global political geography, and the history, theory, and practice of diplomacy. During the academic year 2010-2011 he was Fulbright Schuman Professor of US-EU Relations at the College of Europe in Bruges. In November 2014, March 2015, and April 2017 he taught at the Estonian School of Diplomacy in Tallinn. In the autumn of 2016 he lectured at the Australian National University in Canberra and for the National University of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City and at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam in Hanoi.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy; Notice of Meeting; original entry contains links.

A Notice by the State Department on 04/16/2018

image (not from entry) from

The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy [JB emphasis] will hold a public meeting from 10:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 8, 2018 at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, room 203-02 (First St NE, Washington, DC 20515).

The public meeting will be on The Future of American Spaces and feature panelists discussing the role that nearly 700 American Spaces, including Binational Centers, play in supporting engagement with foreign publics around the world. These diverse venues are the U.S. government's primary public locations abroad and foster ongoing people-to-people connections between the United States and foreign audiences.

This meeting is open to the public, members and staff of Congress, the State Department, Defense Department, the media, and other governmental and non-governmental organizations. An RSVP is required. To attend and make any requests for reasonable accommodation, email Michelle Bowen at by 5 p.m. on Friday, May 4, 2018. Please arrive for the meeting by 10:15 a.m. to allow for a prompt start.

The United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy appraises U.S. Government activities intended to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics. The Advisory Commission may conduct studies, inquiries, and meetings, as it deems necessary. It may assemble and disseminate information and issue reports and other publications, subject to the approval of the Chairperson, in consultation with the Executive Director. The Advisory Commission may undertake foreign travel in pursuit of its studies and coordinate, sponsor, or oversee projects, studies, events, or other activities that it deems desirable and necessary in fulfilling its functions.

The Commission consists of seven members appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The members of the Commission shall represent the public interest and shall be selected from a cross section of educational, communications, cultural, scientific, technical, public service, labor, business, and professional backgrounds. Not more than four members shall be from any one political party. The President designates a member to chair the Commission.

The current members of the Commission are: Mr. Sim Farar of California, Chairman; Mr. William Hybl of Colorado, Vice Chairman; Ms. Anne Terman Wedner of Illinois; and Ms. Georgette Mosbacher of New York. Three seats on the Commission are currently vacant.

To request further information about the meeting or the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, you may contact its Executive Director, Dr. Shawn Powers, at

Shawn M. Powers,

Executive Director, Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, Department of State.

[FR Doc. 2018-07847 Filed 4-13-18; 8:45 am]


Celebrating books and libraries through memorable stories

Image from article, with caption: US Ambassador Kenneth I Juster interacts with kids

CHENNAI: On the occasion of the US National Library Week, the American Centre at the US Consulate recently organised a reading session for school kids. At the event, US Ambassador Kenneth I Juster read out pages from the award-winning book The Phantom Tollbooth written by Norton Juster (his uncle) to children from Akshar Árbol International School.

“Back when he was writing this, my uncle had no children and so he would tell my brother and me what he was going to write about. We would keep asking him when it would be published and so he had dedicated this book to the two of us,” he recalled. He said that the book was published in 1961, and continues to be a top-seller.

The Phantom Tollbooth is a children’s fantasy adventure novel focused around the theme of love for education and adventure that comes with intellectual exploration. It has also been adapted into a film, opera and a play, apart from being translated into different languages. “He is an architect by profession and wrote this during his spare time. He is a very dedicated author” he said.

This year’s theme for the Library Week is ‘Libraries Lead’. Juster emphasised the importance of reading, the value of libraries and life-long learning. The concept of National Library Week started in 1958, and it is sponsored by the American Library Association and libraries across the country. It is observed as a time to celebrate the contributions of libraries and librarians to promote library use and support.

“As children it is really exciting to get their hands on books and learn more about a wide array of topics. It is also the responsibility of parents to find a way to get these kids to the library,” said Lauren Lovelace, US consul for Public Diplomacy [JB emphasis] and Public Affairs. She also said that they plan to conduct similar programmes and events at the American Centre including the screening of films for children. “We also have this competition coming up in May where we see how many books students can read during the summer,” she said.

One copy of the books was given to Madras Literary Society, and another to the US Consulate library.

Friday, April 13, 2018

View Vacancy - Public Diplomacy and Communications Officer (GRC18.164)

The British Government is an inclusive and diversity-friendly employer.  We value difference, promote equality and challenge discrimination, enhancing our organisational capability. We welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds. We do not discriminate on the basis of disability, race, colour, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, veteran status or other category protected by law. We promote family-friendly flexible working opportunities, where operational and security needs allow.

Job Category
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Policy & Political roles)

Job Subcategory
Communications, Press and Media

Job Description (Roles and Responsibilities)
The British Embassy in Athens is part of a world-wide network representing British political, economic and consular interests overseas and is looking to recruit a full time Public Diplomacy and Communications Officer (A2) to join the team as soon as possible.

The successful candidate will assist with delivery of Embassy Communications strategy. You will also deliver specific events and projects on Public Diplomacy as requested.

Main Duties and Responsibilities
  • Public Diplomacy (50%): Plan, deliver and evaluate events and small scale public diplomacy projects. Undertake logistics and accounting work with suppliers and Corporate Services Department. Act as the GREAT campaign point of contact.  Handle general public enquiries (liaise with sections and Partners Across Government to answer enquiries, signpost customers to source of information, etc.); 
  • Communications (30%): Deliver digital content and manage Embassy’s Social Media accounts. Assist wider Embassy teams in delivering communications around campaigns, visits and events; 
  • Media monitoring (20%): Lead media monitoring and reporting (daily in-house summaries, reports to London and ad hoc reporting). Assist Communications Manager in media relations (handling media queries, drafting press releases and background briefs).
Essential qualifications, skills and experience
  • University degree or equivalent (Communication, Marketing, PR, Media);
  • 2 to 3 years of relevant work experience;
  • Fluent English and Greek (oral and written); 
  • Relevant experience in PR and event management; 
  • Budget awareness; 
  • Knowledge of content management systems, social media and campaign management tools; 
  • Knowledge of social media platforms, awareness of digital trends and practical knowledge of using digital tools (e.g. social media, blogs); excellent organisation skills, ability to deliver under tight deadlines and changing priorities;
  • Ability to work independently and flexibly;
  • Good communication and people skills (e.g. producing written long and short-form content);
  • A team player with strong customer focus and ability to work with external partners;
  • A creative approach to problem-solving and a high level of attention to detail.
Required competencies
Seeing the Big Picture, Making Effective Decisions, Managing a Quality Service, Delivering at Pace

Application deadline
25 April 2018

A2 (L)

Type of Position
Full-time, Permanent

Working hours per week

Europe, Eastern Europe & Central Asia


Location (City)

Type of Post
British Embassy

Number of vacancies

Starting monthly salary (EUR)
1,665.62 (Gross)

Start Date
1 June 2018

Other benefits and conditions of employment
This is a permanent full-time position (37.5 hours per week) subject to a probation period of 1 year.  The British Embassy offers a competitive   remuneration package, 24 days annual leave entitlement (increased to 26 after 2 completed years of service), a training package and flexible working opportunities. Monthly salary for this position is EUR 1,665.62  (Gross), currently payable 14 times a year (as per Greek labour law). An individual personal  development plan will be agreed with the successful candidate.

The successful candidate will be subject to confirmation of a background and security clearance. Anyone with right of residence and employment in Greece may apply, including all EU / EEA citizens and the family members of EU / EEA nationals exercising a treaty right in Greece.

Staff recruited locally by the British Embassy is subject to terms and  conditions service according to Greek employment law. All applicants should have the right to live and work in Greece. The British Embassy does not sponsor work permits.

Additional information
Please note that the deadline for applications is 23:55 on the day mentioned in the above field “Application deadline”.

We advise you to allow enough time to complete and submit your full application, since only applications completed and submitted before the deadline will be considered.

Please be aware that the deadline for submitting applications is considered to be the time zone for the country where the vacancy has arisen.

Please be advised that the British Diplomatic Missions will not be able to meet the travel costs incurred when travelling to the interview, nor the costs connected with relocation if offered a job.