Saturday, April 30, 2016

Quotable: John Kerry on religion and U.S. foreign policy

Friday, April 29th 2016
"The more we understand religion and the better able we are as a result to be able to engage religious actors, the more effective our diplomacy will be in advancing the interests and values of our people,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in remarks at Rice University on April 26, 2016.

The Secretary cited many of his initiatives that support this key insight:  meetings with Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sunni and Shia Muslim leaders, representatives of Jewish communities in Europe and the United States, American Hindus, and Orthodox Christians; a new Office of Religion and Global Affairs; a special envoy on anti-Semitism; a special representative to Muslim communities; an expanded Office of International Religious Freedom; and an envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.  He mentioned new training for Foreign Service Officers.  The speech closed with long excursions on development and climate change.

This gist is long on key points and short on the many issues and examples the Secretary mentioned, so the entire speech is worth reading.  There were only glancing mentions of Public Diplomacy – the Sawab Center, for instance – but Secretary Kerry’s words suggest many themes and initiatives for speeches, the social media, publications, audiences, conferences, education, and exchanges.  Here are some key quotes:

  • It is absolutely true the State Department is a secular institution and that, from its founding, the United States has maintained a formal separation, obviously, between church and state, and nothing that we’re doing seeks to or does cross any of those lines. This means that in our foreign policy, we don’t advocate on behalf of any particular set of religious beliefs or express a preference for one faith over another – or even for religious belief over non-belief.

  • But this doesn’t mean that religion is irrelevant to our approach to world affairs, and particularly in this globalized, different world we are living in today.

  • Consider that four out of five people on Earth align themselves with one religious tradition or another, and that over the centuries, religious teachings, movements, and conflicts have done as much as any secular ideology or economic force to determine the political context and geographical boundaries that define the international arena.

  • Religion today remains deeply consequential, affecting the values, the actions, the choices, the worldview of people in every walk of life on every continent and, obviously, also here at home. It is a part of what drives some to initiate war, others to pursue peace; some to organize for change, others to cling desperately to old ways, resist modernity; some to reach eagerly across the borders of nation and creed, and others to build higher and higher walls separating one group from the next.

  • Most religions are internally diverse, reflecting multiple schools of thought, regional variations, and complicated histories. And the actions of religious communities, like all communities, are embedded in the political, economic, and cultural environment in which they are carried out. That is why religion as it is actually lived does not always look the way that we expect or have the impact that we anticipate. It is also why our engagement with religious actors has to extend beyond designated leaders to the rank and file.

  • . . . historically the State Department has tended to downplay the role of religion or pay attention only when religion is deemed a problem, a threat, a challenge. The department has not traditionally had the resources or made the necessary commitment to systematically analyze the importance that religion holds for the success or failure of our foreign policy.

  • One of my predecessors, Madeleine Albright, pointed out that when she entered the office as secretary of state, she had advisors on political, military, economic, developmental issues, but none on the key topic of religion. Now that has changed . . .

  • There was a time when engaging on religion with people overseas meant having meetings almost exclusively with men – and usually very old men. Today, we are in touch with a much more diverse group of figures: female religious scholars shaping the interpretation of sacred texts in Indonesia; women in the Gambia working within their religious communities to end the practice of female genital mutilation or cutting; religious activists in many countries who speak up on behalf of inter-religious cooperation and the rights of minorities.

  • The importance of our outreach efforts was demonstrated even more dramatically in 2014, when the terrorist group Daesh – ISIL, as people call it – began seizing territory in Syria and Iraq, over-running major cities, murdering civilians, raping and enslaving women and girls, selling them on the chopping block to their fighters or giving them as a gift for the fight. And we learned of these outrages firsthand because of the contacts of our religious freedom office – the contacts that they had developed with religious minorities here and in the Middle East, especially the Yezidi population in northern Iraq.

  • In the time since, Daesh has continued to target religious minorities. They continue to kill Yezidis because they are Yezidis, Christians because they are Christians, Shia because they are Shia. In my judgment – and I registered this last month – Daesh is responsible for committing genocide against these groups in areas under its control.

  • . . . because we believe that the protection of religious and ethnic minorities is a fundamental test not just of our leadership, but of civilization itself. And make no mistake, this is not a war of civilizations against each other. This is a war of uncivilized, of barbarians against civilization.

  • We think that people ought to be free to choose, to change, to practice, to speak and teach their religion anywhere without fear or intimidation. And this freedom of religious and ethnic identity is not contingent on numbers. Religious minorities should have the same rights as majorities; that’s our belief, that’s who we are in the United States, and that is the norm that we seek to uphold in country after country.

  • . . . as Rabbi Abraham Heschel warned, “Speech has power and words do not fade. What starts as a sound ends as a deed.”

  • It shouldn’t be necessary, but silence has been misinterpreted too many times in the past to risk it again. Make no mistake: The United States remains unalterably opposed to bigotry in all forms, including anti-Semitism, and our commitment on this point, I am telling you, will never weaken, never waver, and never change.

  • . . . President Obama is leading this coalition, with the active participation of many Arab and Muslim states, in order to defeat Daesh at its core in Syria and Iraq and in order to strengthen the capacity of partners to counter violent extremists wherever they arise. Now, this effort is being prosecuted on many fronts, my friends, and it is designed to deprive the terrorists of the safe havens that they seek, degrade their leadership at the same time, hammer their sources of revenue, and discredit their ideas.

  • . . . we are doing that in so many different ways: with the new center that opened in the UAE in Abu Dhabi, where Arabic speakers are using all the social media and we’re countering on a daily basis; a new one opening in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia – this is happening. We’re making progress.

  • . . . we still don’t have a fully satisfactory answer as to why some people – married, educated, older – fall under the lethal spell of terrorism. But I got news for you: We got some pretty good clues.

  • Denial of fundamental freedoms, including religious freedom, deprives people of voice and dignity, and it tends to force legitimate religious and political activities underground, and it fills many with an anger that makes them far more susceptible to terrorist recruiters.

  • . . . we have to have a multigenerational plan of our own to stop terrorists and see that hope wins out over despair. Today, the vast majority of young people live in developing countries. The median age in Germany is 46; in the United States it is 37; in the Middle East and North Africa, it’s about 21. Country after country, 65 percent under the age of 30, 60 percent under the age of 25, 50 percent under the age of 21.

  • Now, I got news for you: Hundreds of millions of them need to go to school tomorrow and they’re not going to go to school tomorrow. That means just to keep pace, we will have to create hundreds of millions of new jobs each year at a time when new technologies are making many old jobs obsolete.

  • . . . religious leaders particularly can remind us that public budgets are not just about numbers; they are also moral documents. What we choose to invest in reflects what we consider the best measure of real success to be. A rising GDP is obviously desirable; we all want that. But other benchmarks are far more relevant to whether young people feel a greater stake in building their countries up rather than tearing them down. Most religions understand that truth.

  • So did Senator Robert Kennedy when he said in the 1960s, “Our gross national product” – which is what we called it then – “does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to country. It measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

  • The good news that I see is that for all the challenges that our differences present today, all of the major religions share a sense of universal values. They seek to define the things that make life worthwhile, a moral truth based on the dignity of all human beings.

  • Religions differ widely in their origins, their texts, their rites, their beliefs. But amid that diversity, there are common and often eloquent commitments to help the disadvantaged, to pursue peace, to follow the Golden Rule, and respect the fundamental dignity of every single human being. Over the decades, many of those concerns found an echo in such documents as the UN Charter, the UN Declaration on Human Rights. So today, when we act to uphold international standards of justice and law, we are at the same time heeding Abraham Lincoln’s admonition to “do right as God gives us to see the right” and John Kennedy’s observation in his inaugural, “Here on Earth, God’s work must truly be our own.”

US official hails UAE values; see also "Human rights in the United Arab Emirates."

image (not from article) from

Stengel is a prominent writer and journalist who was the editor of Time Magazine for seven years.

The UAE is imbued with values, ideals and ideas that should be exchanged and disseminated worldwide, the US official has said.

Richard Stengel, US Under-Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, was delivering a lecture entitled: "Public Diplomacy and the role of Social Media" to Zayed University students. It was attended by Dr Riad Abdul Latif Al Muhaidib, Vice-President of Zayed University, Professor Marilyn Roberts, acting Provost of the University, administrative and teaching staff, officials and students.

Stengel is a prominent writer and journalist who was the editor of Time Magazine for seven years. He was appointed to his current post in 2013. Stengel authored a number of books, including one he co-authored with Nelson Mandela.

He told the students that their "digital voice" can contribute to shaping the future of the UAE.

The US official emphasised that the social media can be more effective tool in the hands of young Arabs to fight extremism and violence if properly used since it is an effective soft power that can spread the message of tolerance, understanding and modernity on a larger scale and enhance the impact of their countries in various global arenas.

He pointed out that the public diplomacy is a soft power because its represents the culture of a country and its ideas against rough military force. "Your country is imbued with values, ideas and ideals that you should exchange and disseminate worldwide," Stengel said.

In response to a remark by one of the students that it is difficult to differentiate between the public diplomacy and propaganda, Stengel said that the two things are different: in public diplomacy, "we use facts based on information, while the propaganda is in an attempt to convince people and influence them by using false or erroneous information."

The Art and Craft of Diplomacy

USC Center on Public Diplomacy

Apr 29, 2016; see also John Brown, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Cultural Diplomacy," American Diplomacy
PD News headlines this week showcased the convening powers of art and cultural diplomacy. South Korea will be the “guest of honor nation” at this year’s Bruckner Linz Music Festival in Austria, continuing the festival’s efforts to “expand cultural exchange with other countries,” while in Canada, a new arts venue seeks to enrich the “cultural bridge between China and Canada” by increasing the presence of Chinese art and culture. Other headlines looked at the public diplomacy impact of literature and art festivals in Cuba, Senegal and Russia. 

Obesity in Foreign Affairs

Peter Bridges, American Diplomacy

image from

One of America's great evils is bureaucratization, at all levels of our national life including our conduct of foreign affairs. Maybe “bureaucratization” is too long a word; perhaps we might call it office obesity. In any case the phenomenon goes undiscussed in the ongoing debate between Republicans who call government simply bad and Democrats who insist, equally uncritically, that it's good. ...
But the bureaucratic pyramid also bulges at the very top. In my State Department Biographic Register for 1959 I find that Secretary of State Christian Herter had two under secretaries and two deputy under secretaries. Today there are two deputy secretaries and a total of six under secretaries. (One of the under secretaries, to be clear, supervises Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, in a sense replacing the Director of the U.S. Information Agency that was amalgamated into State some years ago.)
Is there a reason for such proliferation? Until some years ago one heard it argued that the world had become more complex, and therefore so must the Department of State and the whole foreign-affairs machine. A counter-argument, seldom heard, was that the situation required not a more complex machine but a more efficient one. ...
I do not mean to suggest that the Department of State is more bureaucratized than other Federal agencies or non-government agencies. Look, for example, at our foreign aid agencies. We have more than one, including aid run out of the Pentagon. (Politico reports that the Pentagon's budget for overseas military aid more than tripled from 2008 to 2015.) In 2004, largely because of dissatisfaction with the work of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Millennium Challenge Corporation was created to provide assistance to other countries through a competitive selection process, based on a country's ruling justly, seeing to its people's health and education, and providing economic freedom. It is relatively modest in size, with less than 300 headquarters positions as of 2015, and it seems to work well; but the creation of the MCC left in place USAID, which, unlike USIA, escaped amalgamation into State, and which today still has around ten thousand professionals. ...

From Facebook: What kind of public diplomacy thinking?

Via BC on Facebook
What kind of public diplomacy thinking as the U.S. Vice President arrive in Iraq aboard a military C-17A? There is nothing an Air Force C-17 can do that a VC-25 from the 89th Airlift Wing can't do -- and the latter aircraft proudly say "United States of America" down the side.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Public Diplomacy Adviser

Australian High Commission

image (not from announcement) from

Full-time: 36.75 hours per week
Position number: TBC
Starting Salary: £39,163 per annum 
Classification: LE 5
We are currently recruiting for a full-time Public Diplomacy Adviser on a temporary contract. The brief for this role during this period will be to focus on a number of public diplomacy activities whilst the permanent Cultural and Public Affairs Adviser is on maternity leave.
We are looking for an energetic and motivated person to join our small team and lead on many of the High Commission’s public diplomacy activities.
The successful candidate will lead the High Commission’s public engagement strategy across a range of areas - using cultural, economic, science, sporting and other platforms to engage, inform and influence opinion leaders, academics, think-tanks, business and civil society to promote Australia’s interests in the United Kingdom.
This exciting role requires someone creative, who is looking to build on an already strong network of contacts, has excellent judgement and can work autonomously.  
He /she will be expected to provide advice on policy issues, manage the High Commission’s partnerships and sponsorship agreements and contribute to public diplomacy strategies.
He/she will also need to be social media-savvy, working closely with our Communications Team on our digital diplomacy strategy and our online community hub (AusNexus), and propose innovative ways for the High Commission to engage with the public, especially outside London.
The successful candidate will work as part of a small team using cultural, economic, science, sporting and other platforms to engage, inform and influence opinion leaders, academics, think-tanks, business and civil society to promote Australia’s interests in the United Kingdom
Responsibilities will include planning and managing projects and events for the High Commission, from cultural receptions to lectures, visit programs or functions at the High Commissioner’s residence. Strong organisational skills are therefore essential, along with creative flair and an eye for detail. Flexibility and ability to cope under pressure and with changing priorities are also important.

About the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
The role of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is to advance the interests of Australia and Australians internationally. This involves strengthening Australia’s security, enhancing Australia’s prosperity, delivering an effective and high quality overseas aid program and helping Australian travellers and Australians overseas.
The department provides foreign, trade and development policy advice to the Australian Government. DFAT also works with other Australian government agencies to drive coordination of Australia’s pursuit of global, regional and bilateral interests.
About the Position
The role of Public Diplomacy Adviser is offered initially on a eleven months fixed term contract with a brief to focus on a number of public diplomacy initiatives during the period that the permanent Cultural and Public Affairs Adviser is on maternity leave.
The role works as part of a team to plan and deliver the High Commission’s public diplomacy strategy, providing advice on policy issues and promoting Australia’s interests in the UK.  He/she is also responsible for managing Post’s strategic partnerships and sponsorship agreements and certain elements of the public diplomacy budget.
The key responsibilities of the position include, but are not limited to:
  • Help plan, develop and deliver the High Commission’s public diplomacy strategy – including cultural, science, sports and economic diplomacy initiatives – and ensure projects achieve desired outcomes with appropriate evaluation and reporting.
  • Provide internal and external strategic advice on public diplomacy and cultural policy, and other government matters of public engagement issues and activities.
  • Represent the High Commission at committees, meetings and events including briefing and negotiate with external contacts on complex and sensitive issues relating to Australia’s public diplomacy priorities.
  • Support the High Commissioner, Deputy High Commissioner and Public Diplomacy Manager in high level meetings as required.
  • Develop sponsorship and partnership agreements that support the High Commission’s public diplomacy program.
  • Plan and manage public diplomacy events across a range of areas.
  • Draft briefs, talking points, speeches, reports, correspondence and respond to public enquiries.  Deliver speeches as required.
  • Maintain a good working knowledge of current Australian and UK Government policies, including those relating to public and cultural policy, arts advocacy and funding.
  • Be the first point of contact for the cultural and community sectors and develop and maintain productive relationships with key stakeholders, including government agencies and the wider cultural sector and community groups
  • Manage the High Commission’s online community hub (Australian Nexus) and support other High Commission social media channels through the development of targeted content
  • Manage certain aspects of the High Commission’s Public Diplomacy Budget and, as required, supervise the work of casual employees/contractors in the Public Affairs Branch as required.
  • General administrative duties as required.
  • Knowledge of a range of public diplomacy policies, sectors, issues and activities including as they relate to culture, sport, environment, science etc.
  • Understanding of broader Australian Government policies and priorities and guidelines.
  • High level communication and analytical skills; the ability to build and maintain relationships and a well-developed understanding of relevant policies and issues.
  • Excellent leadership, communication and negotiation skills to manage complex and sensitive situations and issues, with an awareness of their possible impact on strategic, political or operational outcomes.
  • Strong stakeholder management skills, including external and internal partners.
  • Sponsorship and contract management.
  • Planning and management of multiple projects and events.
  • Supervise project delivery staff and provide expert advice to agencies within the Australian High Commission.
  • Work independently managing complex projects and relationships.
  • Represent the Australian High Commission at public forums, including representation through social media and broadcast forums (such as Australian Nexus).
  • Sound understanding of digital technologies and their capabilities for the public diplomacy program.
Selection Criteria
To be considered for this role applicants are expected to provide good evidence, in both the application form and at interview; of the following experience, skills and knowledge.
A. Highly developed ability to analyse complex issues, make sound judgments and achieve outcomes, working autonomously and/or as part of a team.
B. Demonstrated experience in public diplomacy, public relations or public affairs, including project delivery and events management. 
C. Excellent communication skills.  Demonstrated ability to negotiate, consult and advocate to achieve results. Experience using digital media.
D. Strong existing network of contacts and interest in building and maintaining relationships with external stakeholders. This includes government agencies and the wider cultural sector, public diplomacy and community groups.
E. Excellent working relationships: demonstrated team-working, interpersonal and people management skills including experience working with senior level officials, executives and stakeholders.
F. Maintain exemplary standards of conduct, integrity and professionalism. Adaptability, initiative and flexibility to undertake a range of tasks.
G. Experience with sponsorship and contract management.
How to apply
Applications close at 12 noon (GMT) on Monday 9 May 2016. Interviews are currently scheduled for week commencing 23 May 2016.
Late, incomplete and/or ineligible applications, including those that have not adequately addressed each selection criteria, will not be considered for engagement.
Candidates interested in this position must submit a complete application, including the following documents as separate attachments:
1. UK-Based Application Form (including an address to the each of the selection criteria);
2. Your current CV
3. The Diversity and Equal Opportunities Monitoring Questionnaire.
Please include all attachments as electronic documents - do not print and scan the application form.
Applications are to be submitted to: note: the Diversity and Equal Opportunities Monitoring Questionnaire will not be passed to the selection committee for this role. It will be held confidentially by the Human Resources Department for statistical monitoring purposes only. You may submit this attachment in a separate email if you wish, to
Note: Please submit the application form as an electronic document and check that your application form has been completed in full upon submission. In some circumstances application forms can come through blank and require resending.

Advisor - Culture and Public Diplomacy

Last updated: 28.04.2016 //
The Royal Norwegian Consulate General in Mumbai, covering Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, was re-opened in November 2015. The Consulate General is located in new premises at Bandra Kurla Complex. The opening of the Consulate General is a reflection of the rapid increase in the bilateral relations between India and Norway, especially commercial/business relations in the area of jurisdiction. The Consulate General will have a total six staff in addition to a commercial section, Innovation Norway (three staff). Staff from the Norwegian Seafood Council and the Norwegian Business Association in India (NBAI) are also located in the consulate General.
Responsibilities and tasks
  • Planning, implementation and follow-up of culture and public diplomacy activities in accordance with the strategic plans for the Consulate General.
  • Produce information material for website and newsletter
  • Draft talking points/speeches/articles
  • Assist in organizing visits from Norway to the Consulate General’s area of jurisdiction
  • Organizing expert trips/press trips to Norway
  • Master level degree from University within the areas of responsibilities and tasks.    
  • Fluent in written and spoken English and Hindi
  • At least five years of work experience, either from government, international organisations, civil society, academia or private sector
  • International experience either related to work or studies is an advantage
  • Knowledge of Norway is an advantage
Personal skills
  • Ability to work independently as well as in a team setting.
  • Openness, transparency and good communication skills are essential
  • Proven ability to building networks with relevant organizations and individuals in government, civil society, academia, the media and the private sector.
  • Honesty, integrity, tolerance and respect for all individuals across social and professional distinctions are fundamental requirements
Terms and conditions
  • The Consulate General is following Indian law with respect to employment rights
  • Salary in accordance with education/experience
    • Social security benefits will be in accordance with the social security legislation in India.
    • Working hours: Monday-Friday 09:00 - 16:00. 25 days annual vacation.
For further information please contact by telephone no. 022-61330700, Consul General, Mr. Torbjørn Holthe or Deputy Head of Mission, Consul Mr. Tor A. Dahlstrøm.
Applications by 16th May 2016 to:

Master of Public Diplomacy team shares top prize in USC Global Case Challenge

Image from entry, with caption: The winning team from MPD with competition adviser and judge -- left to right Hui Guo, Yuan Huaqing, professor Roberto Suro, professor Pam Starr, Chengcheng Niu and Biaojie Lin. Photo by Sarah Lee

A team of four MPD students -- Hui Guo, Chengcheng Niu, Huaqing Yuan, (MPD ‘16) and Biaojie Lin (MPD ‘17) – scored a victory in USC’s first Global Case Challenge, mounted by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute and the Graduate Policy and Administration Community, both affiliated with the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. They shared the top spot in the competition with a team from the Price school when the judges declared there was tie for first place.

This year’s challenge required students to consider the European Union’s refugee crisis and propose two policy recommendations for the US government. The competition had two stages: a policy memo writing round and a presentation round. The winning team – one of two from the MPD to enter the competition – learned of the challenge from the Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars Facebook group and thought that it might be an exciting way to apply what they had been learning in the MPD degree.

The youngest member of the team – Lin – noted that preparing for the challenge "wasn’t an easy process for us not just because of the looming final week of the semester, but also because our team comprised only Chinese students. It was difficult for us to view the refugee crisis in America’s shoes. We spent several sleepless nights researching the E.U.s case and trying to think of feasible recommendations for the United States."

Lin considers his MPD class work to have been an excellent preparation: "Although this was a public policy challenge, we still incorporated what we have learned in our public diplomacy courses, especially PUBD 504 (Global Issues in Public Diplomacy) to the design of our proposal."

Their winning proposal borrowed the concept of the Carbon Trade Market and culminated with a comprehensive humanitarian aid package. The team proposed the establishment of a Federal Inter-state Coordination Committee to engage every state in the negotiation process of accepting refugees in the U.S.; and an aid package to better the living situations of refugees in their home countries partly through public diplomatic tools including exchanges and cultural diplomacy.

Speaking for the team Lin said: "Frankly speaking, earning the first prize in this case challenge wasn’t our goal when we started out. It was such a wonderful experience getting our ideas recognized by renowned professors in the Price School and leaders in the field of public services. We attribute our success to the logical foundation of our policy memo, which got us through to the presentation round, and our well-prepared answers in the Q&A section. We have learned a lot in this process not just by reading all the materials concerning the refugee crisis and American policies, but by thinking of ways to incorporate what we have learned in our MPD classes to a proposal and by hearing our fellow contestants’ plans. All in all, it has been a truly enlightening process and we wish there can be more chances in the future to participate in such events."

Responding on behalf of the MPD degree the degree’s director professor Nick Cull said: "I was delighted when MPD students entered this competition and I am over the moon that one of those teams has won first place. The success of this team is testament to the creativity of these four students and of their fellows in the MPD program, who have consistently done such impressive work over the ten years we’ve been running. Special credit should go to my colleague and veteran public diplomacy professor Bob Banks who runs PUBD 504 and places such emphasis on rigorous planning. I appreciate the hard work of our own professor Pamela Starr, who served as a judge, and of professor Roberto Suro, director of the Tomas Rivera, who served as faculty advisor and sponsor, and especially, Sarah Lee, a student in the Master of Public Policy program at Price who directed the challenge. I’ve no doubt MPD students will be back next year to defend the title!"

Commenting on the competition professor Suro noted: "Our hope was to get teams of students thinking about what the United States could learn from the refugee crisis in Europe and the multiple policy failures it has produced. The results exceeded everyone’s expectations. Nearly 30 students participated. They all worked hard and demonstrated a lot of creativity and talent in both their analyses and presentations. The winners were truly exceptional."

Engagement Can Be Anywhere

“Engagement” can be a confusing term, as it means different things to different people.  To me, it implies a commitment to do whatever you can to support a cause, a program, a community – even a country other than your own. 
In my work, I have been fortunate to help further the international education agenda at my university and also to work to improve awareness of peacebuilding and conflict resolution strategies in the war-torn areas of the southern Philippines. 
I think the concept of engagement implies a continual striving to do what you can to empower and also bring together different sectors of your university, region and the world towards a desired end result. 
I have been able to work for thirteen years with the U.S. State Department to bring Muslim, Christian and indigenous youth from the southern Philippines together with American youth and NGO leaders of diverse background here in the Chicago region. The Philippine Youth Leadership Program is a very rewarding public diplomacy project, as you can visibly see the transformation in young people struggling to build a more inclusive society. 
More recently, with a grant from the Fulbright-Hays Foundation, I have been able to take American high school and community college instructors to the Philippines to learn about human rights issues in a very different cultural, economic, political and historic setting. 
In that way, I am happy to know I have contributed to improving the international understanding of young people in my own country and in my other country of specialization.
I’m Susan Russell, and that’s my perspective.

Cleopatra: The queen of public relations?

Shannon Bowen, PRWeek; see also.

Cleopatra is an enigmatic and well-known historical figure. What comes to mind when you think of her? Beautiful seductress? Maybe. Naval commander and brilliant military strategist? Less likely those depictions spring to mind, but they are true. What about public diplomat, researcher, trail-blazing feminist, and public relations pioneer? Also true.
Cleopatra is a popular historical figure in film and literature, but her skill as a strategic communicator has been overlooked. Cleopatra was, as far as history records indicate, the first woman sovereign to rule alone for a period of more than a decade. Her leadership showed skilled use of PR and public diplomacy — in fact, she could be considered a pioneer of public relations. Some would say the pioneer of certain strategies and tactics.
In a public relations history study, I spent over a decade combing historical records related to Cleopatra. Her skilled use of public communication and diplomacy helped forestall the fall of Egypt to the Roman Empire. I used the theory of models in public relations to classify and describe Cleopatra’s ancient communication activities, and concluded that they held stunning parallels to advanced and strategic uses of communication practiced today in modern PR.
Cleopatra was an exceptionally well-educated intellectual, skilled in chemistry, economics, mercantile strategy, military theory, law, and linguistics. She was the first Pharaoh to speak to the diverse peoples of her empire in their own languages, in which she was fluent in as many as 10.
Her public relations activities ranged from vast pseudo-events to form support for her rule among strategic publics to offering tax incentives to politicians who supported her policies. She used straw polls and a vast network of spies, with the power to respond on her behalf, to research situations and strategize before acting.
Using public relations, she provided public information on agriculture and commerce for use by the people of Egypt, such as information on floods and the irrigation of crops. She used massive press agentry events with long processions of performers and athletes, horses, musicians, rare animals, and gifts of food for the spectators.
Many historians recorded the lavish gifts she offered to heads of state, such as giving to Mark Antony and his officers her prized Arabian horses outfitted with silver bridles. Historians note that Cleopatra made use of the seductive power of spectacle.
My research concluded that Cleopatra was a truly advanced, research-based ruler who used public diplomacy and public relations in her reign. She was the world’s last Pharaoh, yet the first woman to rule alone, and was a pioneering strategic communicator in her own right.
But, first, why is this knowledge uncommon?
History is written by the victors. After the defeat of Antony’s army by the Roman invaders led by Octavian (who did not accept her surrender), she subsequently committed suicide. Octavian ordered events surrounding her death and reign blotted from the historical record, as her at-the-moment still living son with Julius Caesar threatened Octavian’s rule. "Too many Caesars are not a good thing," he was famously counseled.
Cleopatra challenged Roman rule militarily, and Egyptian gender roles for women stood in stark contrast to those that were acceptable in Rome with its male-dominated society. Historians agree that Roman propaganda was intended to destroy the legacy of this Queen by rebranding her from leading intellectual to wanton hedonist. Unsurprisingly, there is no surviving original record of Cleopatra’s last days or death.
Cleopatra used what is modernly called public relations: she segmented her publics and spoke differently to different publics, depending on their message needs and the strategic goals of the communication. She used sophisticated forms of research for the ancient era, such as straw polling, establishing an informal communication network, and used public diplomacy to create favor among publics foreign and within her empire. Cleopatra was successful at using inventive public relations to provide almost two decades of prosperity and Roman protection for her empire, until her death in 31 BC.

Iran and #BlackLivesMatter

Muhammad Fraser-Rahim,

image from article

It is hard to discern the direct aim of Iran’s interest in engaging with Black American communities. Tehran might intend to counter Saudi-backed religious and ideological influence or it might sincerely want to aid communities of color in the U.S. who are affected by a spectrum of challenges. In any case, engaging with the larger Black American community, whether Muslim or not, offers an opportunity to counter some of the historical tensions between the U.S. and Iran through the alternative dimension of public diplomacy. As Ralph Bunche, the black American diplomat and 1950 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his 1940s mediation on Israel, argued:
Carefully chosen Negroes could prove more effective than whites [in diplomacy to the “dark world”], owing to their unique ability to gain more readily the confidence of the Native on the basis of their right to claim a good relationship.
Only time will tell whether any of the public overtures made by Iran in an effort to connect with African Americans will actually resonate. However, the desire to address the grievances of a large segment of the US population represents an important feature of Iran’s foreign policy.

Kuwait, US officials discuss boosting mutual cooperation

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KUWAIT, April 27 (NNN-KUNA) -- Undersecretary of Information Ministry Tarq Al-Mezrem discussed on Tuesday means of enhancing media and cultural ties, and youth affairs with visiting US Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Affairs Richard Stengel.

During the meeting, Al-Mezrem stressed that such meetings are chances to foster strategic relations between Kuwait and the US in the areas of media, culture and youth.

Kuwait supports all international efforts aiming to combat the deviant through and terrorism, and seeks always to protect its youth against these phenomena.

Meanwhile, Stengel lauded the depth of relations between the two friendly countries, affirming that achievements made over the last 25 years, after Kuwait's liberation, is a source of pride for all Kuwaitis and him.

He underlined the urgency of combating the deviant and terrorist thought through media and all modern communications, indicating that this takes a long period of time.

He called for promoting mutual cooperation in all fields, mainly media, culture and youth.

KUNA's Acting Director General and Editorآ­inآ­Chief Saad Alآ­Ali affirmed the agency's abidance by media responsibility towards focusing on the country's efforts aiming to combat terrorism and the deviant thought.

All institutions of the State of Kuwait, including KUNA, are keen on showing the real image of Islam to the West that promotes the concept of peaceful co-existence among all nations and religions, Al-Ali said.

Undersecretary of Ministry of State for Youth Affairs Sheikha Al-Zain Al-Sabah stressed the ministry's eagerness to strengthen and develop youth's capabilities in all fields.

The ministry's strategy seeks to hold discussions with youth so as to resolve problems facing them, she said.

The meeting was attended by National Council for Culture, Art and Letters (NCCAL) Assistant Secretary General for Arts Sector Mohammad Alآ­Asousi and US Ambassador to Kuwait Douglas A. Silliman.

Stengel is on an official visit to the country in order to take part in the 6th meeting of the communication group of the international coalition against the so-called Islamic State (IS), that is co-chaired by the UAE, the US and Britain.