Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March 19

Abbreviated Edition

“The situation in Ukraine continues to develop. Vladimir Putin signed a treaty this morning that formally absorbs Crimea into the Russian Federation. So if you felt bad because you didn’t know where Crimea was, don’t worry, it’s gone.”

--Seth Meyers, via Bulletin Intelligence, LLC (by email); Facebook image from LOS, with caption: here it is: the moment Khrushchev gave Crimea away (on this 1954 event, see)


Department of State by State: "For about a 1% investment of the Federal budget, the State Department yields a large return for the American people by protecting U.S. national security, promoting our economic interests, providing services, and reaffirming our country’s exceptional role in the world. The map [click on the above] represents just some of the direct effects State Department programs have in American communities." Via JB on Facebook


Michelle Obama's personal dedication visible on first lady tour agenda - Wang Xiaonan, Global Times: "US first lady Michelle Obama kicks off her first China trip today. The itinerary includes a meeting with her Chinese counterpart Peng Liyuan, interaction with high school and university students, and visits to cultural sites. As her third solo overseas travel as the first lady of the US, Obama's China trip has inevitably led to speculations that she is attempting to compensate for her husband's absence from Beijing during his Asia trip in April. But in fact, President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend the 2014 APEC Leaders' Meeting in Beijing in November, and it is unusual for a US president to visit a country more than once within a year.

It is, therefore reasonable and justified for Barack Obama not to include China as a destination. ... She will shun political statements and engage in soft diplomacy, which may alleviate some conundrums in current bilateral relations. Although Sino-US ties are determined by the strategic interests of the two countries, first lady diplomacy will definitely help the general public across the Pacific Ocean dispel misunderstandings. ... Obama's solo travel is closely related to her strong personality and Washington's deliberating influence on the world stage. It is more of an individual case than an example for the worldwide diplomatic paradigm. There is no denying that soft power, including public diplomacy, is gaining a firmer foothold in a globalized and interdependent world where the use of hard power, especially warfare, will incur immense costs for a country. China should embrace this experience and give full play to the role of public diplomacy." Uncaptioned image from entry

China media: 'First lady' diplomacy - "Media are discussing the power of 'first lady diplomacy' as Michelle Obama prepares to start a week-long visit to China on Thursday. ... The Beijing Times comments that Mrs Obama's visit is a form of 'soft diplomacy' and that good 'first families' relations could help ease tensions between Beijing and Washington. 'Recently, issues such as the South China Sea, China-Japan relations and the Crimea problem have strained China-US ties, so 'first lady diplomacy' will help soothe some of the negative emotions towards the US,' Chen Mingming, a member of China's Foreign Ministry of Public Diplomacy Advisory Committee, is quoted as saying." Image from entry, with caption: Can "first lady" diplomacy influence US-China relations?

China’s stance on Ukrainian issue means support for Moscow - “'China’s stance is undoubtedly not a neutral one, it is tantamount to support for Moscow,' believes chief researcher at the Institute of the Far Eastern Studies, Deputy Director of the Russia-China center Sergei Uyanaev. 'China has its own view of the global balance of forces, and the events in Ukraine, seen from this perspective potentially violate its interests, primarily because of a possible NATO advance eastwards,' he told Itar-Tass in an interview. As for Beijing’s cautiousness in relation to the referendum in Crimea, this, the expert believes, corresponds to thousand-years-old traditions of Chinese diplomacy - 'do not showboat', to put it in a nutshell. 'They do not officially approve of the referendum in Crimea, as they do not want complications, but via unofficial sources such as public diplomacy they make clear hints they are ready to support Russia,' said Uyanaev."

Secretary John Kerry holds town hall meeting with W and M Diplomacy Lab students - Georganne Hassell, "William and Mary students attended a town hall meeting Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in which the Diplomacy Lab program was announced. William and Mary is a pilot partner in the Diplomacy Lab program, which launched in November 2013 under the Project on International Peace and Security (PIPS) at the university. The Department of State’s Senior Advisor for Civil Society and Emerging Democracies, Tomicah Tillemann, created the initiative, which brings students and faculty together in small teams to research diplomatic challenges that have real-world application in current foreign policy. ...

In a talk titled 'Making Foreign Policy Less Foreign,' Kerry discussed current diplomatic challenges in international law in Ukraine and the State Department’s continued work towards international cooperation to address issues in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, South Central Asia and around the world. Kerry also touched on the importance of maintaining stability in foreign policy through relationships, as well as the significant role that commerce plays in public diplomacy. He unveiled the Department of State by State project at the meeting, which is an online interactive map that details how foreign policy efforts have brought economic development to each state." Uncaptioned image from entry

Department Of State Public Schedule March 19, 2014 - "UNDER SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS RICHARD STENGEL 9:30 a.m. Under Secretary Stengel meets with U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Adam Namm, at the Department of State. 3:15 p.m. Under Secretary Stengel meets with U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Theodore Sedgwick, at the Department of State."

ABC targets Asia's affluent - Michael Body, "The ABC's international operation, the Australia Network, is targeting the 'rising middle-class of Asia' and should not be jeopardised, according to ABC managing director Mark Scott. While the Australia Network catered to 'the harried traveller abroad' or the 'expat living in the region', Mr Scott said it agreed with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade [DFAT] to also target Asia's middle class. Mr Scott didn't explicitly address criticism the ABC was working at odds with the federal government with recent news coverage, although he argued the independence of the ABC's news service was crucial to Australia's 'soft diplomacy aims and ambitions'. 'One of the things that stands out about Australia in the region, is our robust independent democracy and our free press,' he said, noting other regional broadcasters were 'amazed yet greatly impressed that the ABC is funded by government but independent of government'. 'The trust and confidence -- so hard to win, so easy to lose -- that's been established by the ABC in the region over the years should not be jeopardised,' he said. He also pointed to the export of ABC talent into Asia. 'There may be no more powerful weapons in the world of soft diplomacy than B1 and B2,' he said in a speech, entitled The New Age of Public Diplomacy, for biannual international affairs magazine The Sydney Globalist. The ABC runs Australia Network under a $223 million, 10-year contract for DFAT, a contract it was given controversially after two independent evaluations recommended Australian News Channel's Sky News win the tender. It has come under fire recently for airing news stories arguably detrimental to Australia's interests, including coverage of asylum-seekers and leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden revealing spying on Indonesia. Mr Scott said he was 'deeply sympathetic to the view of some in DFAT that their public diplomacy budget, at less than $5m apart from Australia Network, is too small', but axing the network would be 'a step backward'. 'It is worth remembering that every major Western government currently pursues their soft diplomacy in international broadcasting through public broadcasters,' he said. 'Every one of these broadcasters is transforming over time to create and distribute digital content.'"

Nigeria: FG Announces 'Soft' Counter-Terror Strategy - Ronald Mutum, "The Federal Government yesterday unveiled a new approach to tackling insurgency in the country. National Security Adviser Mohammad Sambo Dasuki announced the new strategy in Abuja. He said said the new approach, dubbed 'Nigeria's Soft Approach to Countering Terrorism', includes adopting a means of de-radicalising extremists and stopping others from being radicalised. ... The new strategy also aims at making the fight against extremists apolitical- with people of

different political affiliations coming together to fight the scourge of insurgency. Government will train about 200 journalists on reporting in conflict zones as well as civil servants on strategic communication and public diplomacy, Dauski said. ... He explained that the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program which is a component of the soft approaches initiative is aimed at involving all tiers of government, including traditional, religious, civil society and community leaders in stopping radicalization. 'The program utilizes existing structures within and outside government to deliver targeted programs and activities that further the overall goal of stemming the tide of radicalization and through families, communities, faith based organizations build resilience to violent extremism,' Dasuki said. He said the de-radicalization plan targets convicted terrorists through prison programs engaging them in theological, ideological and entrepreneurial value change that leads to a change in behavior." Image from entry. See also.

And the award for the best Slovenian ambassador goes to… Slovenian athletes! - "Very little conversations with the foreigners omit the sports topics – not just because sport is something universal with a global appeal, but especially because sport is an area Slovenians can be really proud of. The recent success at the Sochi Olympics certainly proves so. ... Such compliments should not serve as the opium for the masses – we still have to get back to reality and think about how to improve political and economic situation in the country. However, the above-mentioned examples teach us one thing: sport is a great tool for diplomacy. ... While traditional diplomacy is conducted mainly by the state actors, sports diplomacy as a form of public diplomacy extends well beyond such an understanding and includes a variety of state and non-state actors.

Sports diplomacy can be used to improve and refine the image of a country, to boost peace and promote friendly relations among nations, to promote trade and tourism, to encourage international development and to integrate minorities. ... Both economic diplomacy and broader foreign policy goals can be facilitated by sports diplomacy. This is not to say that sport should be a priority in our foreign policy; however, it can serve as a good supporting tool that can bring investments in the country, present a nice picture of Slovenia, increase international awareness and knowledge about our small country, help with promoting the national brand 'I Feel Slovenia' and offer politicians and diplomats a neutral environment to discuss serious issues." Image from entry

Independence Day torch lighting ceremony to honor 14 women - "Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, who heads the Knesset's Symbols and Ceremonies Committee, approved on Tuesday the final list of women who would be honored in the traditional torch lighting ceremony that ushers in Independence Day events.

This year, the ceremony's theme is 'The Era of Women -- Achievements and Challenges.' ... The committee selecting the women who will be honored in the ceremony included Yitzhak Sonnenschein of the Center for Public Diplomacy, former Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser, Israel Hayom columnist Emily Amrousi and several other prominent figures." Image from entry, with caption: Last year's torch lighting ceremony

West Bengal - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "The Indian State of West Bengal could do so much to promote its culture and cuisine, which is unique from the rest of 'Indian food.' Bengali cuisine is a very under-appreciated form of South Asian cuisine. I was flipping through a little guide book about cultural tourism in West Bengal, and there was the typical logo of a nation branding effort, and some attempts to showcase the culture. But an active Indian state like West Bengal could do an amazing amount of paradiplomacy to show off its unique cuisine and culture."


"Then, in 1954, a decision was made to transfer Crimean Region to Ukraine, along with Sevastopol, despite the fact that it was a federal city. This was the personal initiative of the Communist Party head Nikita Khrushchev.

What stood behind this decision of his – a desire to win the support of the Ukrainian political establishment or to atone for the mass repressions of the 1930’s in Ukraine – is for historians to figure out. What matters now is that this decision was made in clear violation of the constitutional norms that were in place even then. The decision was made behind the scenes. Naturally, in a totalitarian state nobody bothered to ask the citizens of Crimea and Sevastopol."

--President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (imperial garb at left); via MT on  Facebook

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