Sunday, January 28, 2018

Crown jewel: the soft power of William and Kate’s Nordic visit

Caroline Davies, [original article contains links.]

Queen Victoria image (not from article) from

Royal couple will offer plenty of photo-ops but their real aim is to bolster Britain’s influence

The former prime minister David Cameron once described the UK as “the soft power superpower”, while the government told a 2014 House of Lords select committee the monarchy was “a unique soft power and diplomatic asset”.

Not all share the FCO’s steadfast belief in royalty’s soft power. “Visits abroad by the royal family may raise the profile locally of the UK,” said Gary Rawnsley, a professor of public diplomacy at Aberystwyth University who has researched soft power. However, research showed that “this does not necessarily convert into affection for the UK – its values or its policies. Neither do such visits change opinion about or behaviour towards the UK, especially when relations at government level are fraught.

“Audiences can have high levels of positive opinion about the royals, but a low opinion of the British government and the way it behaves at home and abroad,” Rawnsley said.

The British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and education opportunities, believes such visits have enormous value for its work. Rachel Launay, its country director in Germany, said of the Cambridges’ visit last year: “People wanted to see a couple who portray a fresh modern image of the British royal family.” The visit meant the “the British Council had the opportunity to introduce them to creative Germans and Brits who are setting the cultural agenda in Berlin together”.

Queen Victoria was extremely savvy about soft power, marrying off her children to European royalty, which makes this trip almost a family affair for William.

King Harald of Norway, 80, is the Queen’s second cousin while King Carl Gustaf XVI of Sweden, 71, is her third. William, 35, and Kate, 36, will be escorted by Princess Victoria, 40, and Prince Daniel of Sweden, 44, and Prince Haakon, 44, and Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, 44, during their visit.

And so will endure the familial links with future sovereigns of Europe. ...

Iranian-American Baquer Namazi temporarily released from Iranian jail over health concerns

Katherine Lam, Fox News

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An 81-year-old Iranian-American dual national was temporarily released from prison on Sunday over health concerns after the U.S. and Iran conducted backchannel discussions about releasing American prisoners, according to a State Department official. ...

The U.S. has been in backchannel discussions with Iran to release the Namazis and other American citizens, Steve Goldstein, the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, told Fox News.

He added that Iran, “to be truly humanitarian,” must release these American prisoners immediately. ...

Fallacious and Poorly-Crafted Arguments in Support of Qatar Belong in the Dustbin of History, No Matter Who Makes Them

Irina Tsukerman,

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What exactly is the Jewish community getting out of a relationship with Qatar at the current juncture? ...

All we have to rely on is the messaging passed on by the select few who were chosen. And they have, quite, simply failed to convey the very vulgar answer to an equally base question that nevertheless is at the center of the discussion: “What’s in it for us?” We can very well see what’s in it for the people who actually went. In the best case scenario, they were made to feel important from an in-person meeting with the Emir and high level officials. Furthermore, in good faith they entered believing they were doing important public diplomacy work on behalf of the community. The problem is, the community itself did not select them to do this work in this particular instance; the Emir did through the judgment of a professional lobbyist. By that token, then, these people represent the perspective not of the community that made no such collective decision as to propriety of their actions, but by a foreign government and its agents. ...

Israeli and Palestinian perspectives

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Wikipedia says that "hasbara" refers to public relations efforts to disseminate abroad positive information or propaganda about the State of Israel and its actions. An further "While hasbara literally means "explanation", its exact import in its current usage is debated. Gideon Meir has said that there is no "real, precise" translation of the word hasbara in English or any other language, and has characterized it as public diplomacy, an action undertaken by all governments around the world with the growing importance of what Harvard professor Joseph Nye termed soft power. Gary Rosenblatt describes it as "advocacy". … Hasbara has been described as "pro-Israel propaganda" and "the new user-friendly term for Israeli propaganda" but while "propaganda strives to highlight the positive aspects of one side of a conflict, hasbara seeks to explain actions, whether or not they are justified."
I live in a country where newspapers don't report about stabbing, but about Israeli police shooting women and children and where tv stations report that Israel "attacked again" Gaza. The German term "Steine" means "stones". This term is used when rocks and bricks are thrown against Israeli soldiers - with this formulation not only danger is talked down, but journalists also consciously choose the passive form to avoid mentioning who throws rocks. Therefore I think it's about time for hasbara, it's time that Israel tells the other side of the story.
And yes, there are also Jewish Israelis who are violent and I condemn this strongly. I am also sure there are more examples of Jewish violence and also some from the near past. Yet there is something to add: it's a minority of a Jewish minority who is violent. Politics, Rabbis and Israeli society condemn these attacks and I never heard about people distributing sweets. These individuals are not honored as good examples, heroes or martyrs; they don't get monuments or buildings named after them. Police investigates against these criminals and since recently politics and courts use the term "terror attack" also for such crimes. I believe it's about time to tell the world these differences and it's a fact that women wearing a hijab can go shopping in Mamilla or Malcha mall, but religious dressed Jewish women would get problems in some of the eastern parts of Jerusalem (and in Mea Shearim everyone who doesn't belong there can get difficulties). Hasbara in this meaning has not necessarily to do with fake news or whitewashing a story but with showing a more detailed picture - and I am convinced that a solution for the problems of the region can only be reached with these additional pieces of the puzzle.

DFAT exhibition showcasing 'modest Australian fashion' does not represent us

The Australian [text available only with subscription]

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From Google search: "The post goes on: 'The emerging modest fashion market can help advance Australia's public diplomacy objectives.' How so, exactly? The post is illustrated with glamour shots of women covered head to toe, as if this is the ideal. This does not represent Australia. This is not Australian womanhood."

Fulbright Language Scholars Train 200 English Language Teachers in Ondo, Oyo States. [full text available only with subscription]

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[Citation from Google search:]Alumni of the U.S. government sponsored Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Program recently concluded a four-day workshop for primary school English Language teachers in Ondo and Oyo states. The FLTA Alumni under the aegis of Fulbright Language Scholars Association of Nigeria received a public diplomacy grant ‎from the United States Consulate General in Lagos to train…

Not a Good look: Inside Nikkie Haley's Retreat to Trump Island

Abigail Tracy, Vanity Fair

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After a successful start at the U.N., Haley appears to be trading diplomacy for a more valuable political prize: Donald Trump’s base.

By the depraved standards of the Trump administration, Nikki Haley’s first year as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations was an unlikely success story. ...
Over the last several weeks ... Haley has undergone a transformation that has perplexed the U.N.’s reserved diplomatic community, which is ensconced within the Midtown redoubt of Turtle Bay on Manhattan’s far East Side. After attaining a certain level of respectability, Haley rapidly migrated to Trump island—threatening to destroy North Korea, cutting off funds to countries that voted against the U.S. on Israel, and routinely condemning the Iran nuclear deal—a potentially dangerous place for those with future political ambitions. “Weirdly, what we’ve seen [in recent weeks]—the hectoring, the public diplomacy, the lack of calculation—is actually more like what her critics were predicting a year ago,” Gowan [JB - Richard Gowan, a U.N. expert and professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs] sighed. “And it’s not a good look.” ...

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Voice of America's failure in Iran and China

Ted Lipien, Washington Examiner

Image from article, with caption: Both Voice of America and Radio Farda have come under intense criticism from anti-regime Iranians for continuing to propagate the Obama administration line on Iran.

On this year’s Martin Luther King Day, I had the pleasure of watching, quite coincidentally, two phenomenal historical films with human rights themes.

The first was a documentary on repression and censorship in communist-ruled China. The second was a newly released Hollywood feature film, “Milada,” based on true historical events surrounding the imprisonment, trial and execution by the communists of Czech human rights champion Milada Horakova.

Anyone could learn a lot from these two films what a real struggle for human rights is about. And the people who really should watch them are the Obama administration holdover officials still in charge of the failing, tax-funded Voice of America and the dysfunctional Broadcasting Board of Governors agency. These two federal entities are responsible for the dramatic failure of U.S. media outreach during the recent Iran protests.

The China human rights documentary, “History’s Mysteries: Those Who Listen in the Dark,” was uploaded to YouTube in 2015 with English subtitles by the VOA Mandarin Service. As it happens, the VOA Mandarin Service is now in conflict with the VOA and BBG management. One of the producers of the VOA film is being threatened with firing by VOA’s and BBG’s senior officials. Two other VOA Mandarin Service journalists, one of them a former political prisoner in China who appears in the VOA documentary, are also facing firing by holdover managers who were appointed during the Obama administration.

The current dispute is not about the 2015 historical video, although the Obama-era management had put a stop to producing new ones of the same type. These brave Chinese-American refugee journalists, who are now on administrative leave with pay, are being threatened with punishment for questioning orders from managers, including VOA's director and deputy director.

In April 2017, the senior management wanted to shorten a live interview with Chinese businessman whistleblower Guo Wengui. The journalists opposed the management’s decision, rightly fearing loss of credibility and accusations of caving in to pressure from Beijing. The negative response from thousands of Chinese social media users that followed the management’s decision has been incredibly damaging for VOA's credibility. Some of the most prominent China scholars in the U.S. have written a letter to the BBG in defense of VOA Mandarin Service broadcasters.

The Obama-era management swears up and down that pressure from the Chinese government, which included calls from the Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Washington, had nothing to do with their decision on shortening the Guo Wengui interview. They accuse the VOA Mandarin staffers singled out for punishment of being bad journalists for not reaching out sufficiently to communist officials for responses to any accusations from the whistleblower.

It’s a ridiculous claim on the part of the management because Chinese communists are not in the habit of responding directly to such accusations. And in any case, VOA Mandarin Service did obtain and presented at some length general responses from the regime to Guo Wengui’s allegations. China scholars in the U.S. have described these VOA journalists as “among the best in the Chinese journalistic community worldwide.”

This also illustrates a much larger failure of the current management as shown in VOA’s coverage of the Iranian protests. Both VOA and Radio Farda (the latter also managed by the BBG as part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) have come under intense criticism from anti-regime Iranians for continuing to propagate the Obama administration line on Iran. One Iranian journalist and former political prisoner in Iran tweeted:

“Dear Americans, the U.S. taxpayer-founded [sic] @VOANews & @RFERL never took the right stance on #IranProtests as well as they have done in favor of Mullahs. It's shameful. #ReformBBG.”

VOA’s English-language coverage was particularly atrocious. In reports under such headlines as, “Iran's Revolutionary Guard: People, Security Forces 'Have Broken the Chain' of Unrest” and “Rouhani Rejects Trump's Support for Iranian Protesters,” VOA has presented at length the regime’s propaganda, including outright lies, with hardly any balance or response from the protesters. VOA was late in starting its reporting on the protests and improved its coverage only slightly in a delayed reaction to outside criticism. It happened too late and did not amount to much.

My guess is that even former President Obama would be ashamed of VOA’s recent Iran and China coverage, even if he is still defending his nuclear deal. So would be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who in 2013 had called the Broadcasting Board of Governors “practically defunct.” Retiring House Foreign Affairs Committee Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., had called the BBG "dysfunctional" and "rudderless." The agency is a national security disaster requiring a bipartisan fix. President Trump should immediately nominate a new BBG CEO who, unlike the current Obama-era appointees at the agency, would be vetted and confirmed by the U.S. Senate and stay clear of domestic partisan politics.

In the meantime, these holdover officials would benefit from watching the two human rights films. They might discover that Czechoslovak anti-communist hero Milada Horakova died for the very same principles being defended by the VOA Mandarin Service journalists they want to see fired. During the Cold War, I had worked alongside some of the best Czech and Slovak VOA broadcasters. We would have never tolerated the kind of coverage that VOA gave in recent weeks to the Iranian protests.

I sincerely hope that the BBG holdover officials won’t succeed in carrying out their threat to fire VOA journalists. If they do, it would be yet another disaster under their watch. The White House and the Congress must act quickly in a bipartisan fashion to restore order and effectiveness to U.S. international broadcasting and digital media outreach.

Ted Lipien is a former VOA acting associate director.

China-U.S. Rubs Only Get More Raw

Tim Ferguson, Forbes

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If China’s long game to subsume Taiwan in fact as well as in form is to be hastened, as various indicators suggest, this poses inescapable menace. Although without diplomatic heft, Taiwan represents both advanced capitalism and a democratic ideal that will be difficult for any American government to abandon. Congress remains a hotbed of support for the Taiwanese, with a remarkably bipartisan disregard for Beijing. (Only Russia seems to deflect the popular animus.) The considerable resources that China has poured into often-clumsy public diplomacy in the U.S. ought to be regarded as one more wasteful state enterprise. ...

How Sharp Power Threatens Soft Power

Joseph S. Nye Jr, (article contains images and additional links); see also (1) (2)

The Right and Wrong Ways to Respond to Authoritarian Influence

Nye image (not from article) from

Washington has been wrestling with a new term that describes an old threat. “Sharp power,” as coined by Christopher Walker and Jessica Ludwig of the National Endowment for Democracy (writing for and in a longer report), refers to the information warfare being waged by today’s authoritarian powers, particularly China and Russia. Over the past decade, Beijing and Moscow have spent tens of billions of dollars to shape public perceptions and behavior around the world—using tools new and old that exploit the asymmetry of openness between their own restrictive systems and democratic societies. The effects are global, but in the United States, concern has focused on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and on Chinese efforts to control discussion of sensitive topics in American publications, movies, and classrooms.

In their National Endowment for Democracy report, Walker and Ludwig argue that the expansion and refinement of Chinese and Russian sharp power should prompt policymakers in the United States and other democracies to rethink the tools they use to respond. They contrast sharp power, which “pierces, penetrates, or perforates the political and information environments in the targeted countries,” with “soft power,” which harnesses the allure of culture and values to enhance a country’s strength. And democracies, they argue, must not just “inoculate themselves against malign authoritarian influence” but also “take a far more assertive posture on behalf of their own principles.”

Today, the challenge posed by Chinese and Russian information warfare is real. Yet in the face of that challenge, democratic governments and societies should avoid any temptation to imitate the methods of their adversaries. That means taking care not to overreact to sharp power in ways that undercut their true advantage. Even today, that advantage comes from soft power.


In international politics, soft power (a term I first used in a 1990 book) is the ability to affect others by attraction and persuasion rather than through the hard power of coercion and payment. Soft power is rarely sufficient on its own. But when coupled with hard power, it is a force multiplier. That combination, though hardly new (the Roman Empire rested on both the strength of Rome’s legions and the attractions of Rome’s civilization), has been particularly central to U.S. leadership. Power depends on whose army wins, but it also depends on whose story wins. A strong narrative is a source of power.

Soft power is not good or bad in itself. It is not necessarily better to twist minds than to twist arms. Osama bin Laden neither threatened nor paid the men who flew aircraft into the World Trade Center—he had attracted them with his ideas. But although soft power can be used to evil ends, its means depend on voluntarism, which is preferable from the point of view of human autonomy.

Hard power, by contrast, rests on inducements by payment or coercion by threat. If someone puts a gun to your head and demands your wallet, it does not matter what you want or think. That is hard power. If that person is trying to persuade you to freely give up your wallet, everything depends on what you want or think. That is soft power.

Sharp power, the deceptive use of information for hostile purposes, is a type of hard power. The manipulation of ideas, political perceptions, and electoral processes has a long history. Both the United States and the Soviet Union resorted to such methods during the Cold War. Authoritarian governments have long tried to use fake news and social disruption to reduce the attractiveness of democracy. In the 1980s, the KGB seeded the rumor that AIDS was the product of U.S. government experiments with biological weapons; the rumor started with an anonymous letter to a small New Delhi newspaper and then was propagated globally by widespread reproduction and constant repetition. In 2016, an updated version of the same technique was used to create “Pizzagate,” the false rumor that Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager had abused children in a Washington restaurant.

What’s new is not the basic model; it’s the speed with which such disinformation can spread and the low cost of spreading it. Electrons are cheaper, faster, safer, and more deniable than spies. With its armies of paid trolls and botnets, along with outlets such as Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, Russian intelligence, after hacking into the e-mails of the Democratic National Committee and senior Clinton campaign officials, could distract and disrupt news cycles week after week.

But if sharp power has disrupted Western democratic processes and tarnished the brand of democratic countries, it has done little to enhance the soft power of its perpetrators—and in some cases it has done the opposite. For Russia, which is focused on playing a spoiler role in international politics, that could be an acceptable cost. China, however, has other aims that require the soft power of attraction as well as the coercive sharp power of disruption and censorship. These two goals are hard to combine. In Australia, for example, public approval of China was growing, until increasingly alarming accounts of its use of sharp power tools, including meddling in Australian politics, set it back considerably. Overall, China spends $10 billion a year on its soft power instruments, according to George Washington University’s David Shambaugh, but it has gotten minimal return on its investment. The “Soft Power 30” index ranks China 25th (and Russia 26th) out of 30 countries assessed.


Although sharp power and soft power work in very different ways, the distinction between them can be hard to discern—and that’s part of what makes responding to sharp power difficult. All persuasion involves choices about how to frame information. Only when that framing shades into deception, which limits the subject’s voluntary choices, does it cross the line into coercion. It is this quality—openness and limits on deliberate deception—that distinguishes soft from sharp power. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to see.

In public diplomacy, when Moscow’s RT or Beijing’s Xinhua broadcasts openly in other countries, it is employing soft power, which should be accepted even if the message is unwelcome. When China Radio International covertly backs radio stations in other countries, that crosses the line into sharp power, which should be exposed. Without proper disclosure, the principle of voluntarism has been breached. (The distinction applies to U.S. diplomacy as well: during the Cold War, secret funding for anticommunist parties in the 1948 Italian election and the CIA’s covert support to the Congress for Cultural Freedom were examples of sharp power, not soft power.)

Today’s information environment introduces additional complications. In the 1960s, the broadcaster Edward R. Murrow noted that the most important part of international communications was not the ten thousand miles of electronics, but the final three feet of personal contact. But what does that mean in a world of social media? “Friends” are a click away, and fake friends are easy to fabricate; they can propagate fake news generated by paid trolls and mechanical bots. Discerning the dividing line between soft and sharp power online has become a task not only for governments and the press but also for the private sector.

As democracies respond to sharp power, they have to be careful not to overreact, so as not to undercut their own soft power by following the advice of those who advocate competing with sharp power on the authoritarian model. Much of this soft power comes from civil societies—in the case of Washington, Hollywood, universities, and foundations more than official public diplomacy efforts—and closing down access or ending openness would waste this crucial asset. Authoritarian countries such as China and Russia have trouble generating their own soft power precisely because of their unwillingness to free the vast talents of their civil societies.

Moreover, shutting down legitimate Chinese and Russian soft power tools can be counterproductive. Like any form of power, soft power is often used for competitive zero-sum purposes, but it can also have positive-sum effects. For example, if China and the United States wish to avoid conflict, exchange programs that increase American attraction to China, and vice versa, can be good for both countries. And on transnational challenges such as climate change, soft power can help build the trust and networks that make cooperation possible. Yet as much as it would be a mistake to prohibit Chinese soft power efforts simply because they sometimes shade into sharp power, it is important to monitor the dividing line carefully. Take the 500 Confucius Institutes and 1,000 Confucius classrooms that China supports in universities and schools around the world to teach Chinese language and culture. Government backing does not mean they are necessarily a sharp power threat. The BBC also gets government backing but is independent enough to remain a credible soft power instrument. Only when a Confucius Institute crosses the line and tries to infringe on academic freedom (as has occurred in some instances) should it be treated as sharp power.

To respond to the threat, democracies should be careful about offensive actions. Information warfare can play a useful tactical role on the battlefield, as in the war against the Islamic State (or ISIS). But it would be a mistake for them to imitate the authoritarians and launch major programs of covert information warfare. Such actions would not stay covert for long and when revealed would undercut soft power.

In the realm of defensive measures, meanwhile, there are some steps that democratic governments can take to counter the authoritarians’ aggressive information warfare techniques, including cyberattacks on political processes and elections. Democracies have not yet developed adequate strategies for deterrence and resilience. They will also have to be more attentive to making sure that Russian and Chinese soft power programs, such as Confucius Institutes, do not slip into “sharp” power. But openness remains the best defense: faced with this challenge, the press, academics, civic organizations, government, and the private sector should focus on exposing information warfare techniques, inoculating the public by exposure.

Fortunately, that is another edge that democracies have over dictatorships. It is true that the openness of democratic societies provides opportunities for authoritarian governments to employ age-old techniques of information warfare. But openness is also a key source of democracies’ ability to attract and persuade. Even with the mounting use of sharp power, they have little to fear in open competition with autocracies for soft power. By reducing themselves to the level of their adversaries, democracies would squander their key advantage.

Tillerson Is 'Doomed' and Has 'Ruined' the State Department, Republican Says

Greg Price, Newsweek; see also (1)

image (not from article)  from
However long his tenure as the nation’s top diplomat might last, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s future was described by a Republican as “doomed” and that he had “ruined” the State Department, according to a report published Wednesday morning. ...

Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein pushed back on any talk of Tillerson leaving his post early and said the rumors were made by "people who wanted to create avenues through which there would be an opening for secretary of state." ...

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Over a year on, still no U.S. ambassador to South Korea

Seungmock Oh,

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With Mark Lippert's departure last January and the post remaining vacant, has diplomacy suffered?

Mark Lippert, the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, left his post on January 20 last year.
Since then, Park Geun-hye was impeached, Moon Jae-in rose to power, and North Korea conducted over 20 missile launches as well as its sixth nuclear test.
And yet as international sanctions correspondingly strengthened – spearheaded in large part due to pressure from Washington – inter-Korean talks came almost out of nowhere this January, something the South Korean president was, however, quick to credit to Donald Trump for personally.
Yet throughout this one year period – one of the most turbulent years surrounding the peninsula in recent decades – the U.S. has lacked an ambassador in Seoul, with the embassy being temporarily led by Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Marc Knapper.
And though the name of CSIS Korea Chair post-holder Victor Cha has come up repeatedly in media reports – including at NK News – as being the likely nominee for the ambassador role, no formal submission has yet to take place.
Such a long period without an ambassador in Seoul is unusual. Since the George H.W. Bush administration took office in 1989, no vacancy of the post has ever extended beyond nine months.
From a big picture perspective, it’s true that the Trump administration has not shown any real urgency about filling important executive branch roles: only 241 of 635 key positions requiring Senate confirmation have been confirmed a year since inauguration.  
Such a long period without an ambassador in Seoul is unusual
But while some 60 ambassador roles remain to be filled worldwide, as of January 12, according to the Department of State, the Seoul vacancy is particularly glaring in light of the fact the Senate confirmed nomination picks for ambassadors to China and Japan – two other principal stakeholders on the North Korea issue – by July 2017.
Marc Knapper (front, left) has carried out many of the ambassador’s official duties | Photo: U.S. embassy in Seoul
What, then, is the cost of the U.S. ambassador post remaining unfilled for so long, with no immediate prospects for a candidate like Cha to arrive in Seoul?
“It’s a particularly strange posting not to fill, given the importance of coordination with Seoul and the need for public diplomacy towards South Korean citizens,” said Andray Abrahamian, a visiting fellow at the CSIS Pacific Forum.
“So much of diplomacy is about signaling and this current situation certainly doesn’t indicate to South Koreans that those things are being focused on.”
Local watchers in Seoul agree to some extent, but said the overall picture remained largely positive.
“The absence of the U.S. ambassador has triggered worries in South Korea,” Dr. J. James Kim at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, told NK News.
2018, in particular, could pose challenges due to several pending issues between the two countries, Dr. Kim continued, such as “defense cost sharing, free trade agreement (FTA), and the North’s nuclear armament…”
Meanwhile, Kim Hyun-wook, an associate professor of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy which educates the South’s diplomats, said the absence of a U.S. ambassador had “lowered the quality” of contact between the two countries.
With President Trump’s provocative language about the North raising concerns in the South, as well as concerns in DC growing over the Moon administration’s approach to welcoming North Korea to the Olympics, it’s not a good time for a disconnect to emerge in understanding between the two countries.
“The absence of the U.S. ambassador has triggered worries in South Korea”
But despite the lack of an ambassador, official communications between the two countries have continued without any real hindrance, an official at South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) focused on North America told NK News.
President Trump’s unconventional style has made diplomacy all the more important | Photo:
“It would be better if we had a U.S. ambassador, but there is no problem in the two countries’ communications,” the source said.
And things have been helped by the fact that Knapper has been a “very good” chargé d’affaires, the source continued, adding that communication between the two countries is “very smooth.”
However, Knapper’s position as top diplomat at the embassy came from the void of Obama-pick Lippert’s departure, meaning he was “not appointed by President Trump,” said David Straub, an LS research fellow at the Sejong Institute in Seoul.
As a result, he has to be “careful” and his activities have to be “less public” and “less outspoken,” something which makes a”significant difference,” Straub explained.
Nevertheless, the countries can always communicate via South Korea’s embassy in the U.S., as well as via counterpart talks such as at president-to-president or minister-to-minister level, another MOFA spokesperson told NK News.
And for structural reasons, it appears no significant problems are likely to arise.
For when looking back at 2017, Asan’s Dr. Kim said overall U.S.-South Korea relations and communications were well managed, evidenced by the fact the countries conducted two successful summits since Trump came to power.
“It would be better if we had a U.S. ambassador, but there is no problem in the two countries’ communications”
The U.S-South Korea alliance is very “systematic” and therefore “stable,” Dr. Kim explained, with high-level communication between the two countries’ presidents much more important than the existence of an ambassador in Seoul.
Rumors about a likely role for Victor Cha in the Trump administration – himself a former NSC senior director during the George W. Bush era – have been circulating since the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin named him as having being tapped for the posting in April last year.
But while Cha’s name has since been explicitly linked to the ambassador post in multiple news reports – and despite the hiring of Sue Mi Terry to join CSIS as a Senior Fellow, a potential successor figure for his Korea Chair responsibilities – the U.S. government is yet to formally nominate him to the post.
Victor Cha is seen as the likely candidate| Photo: Ha-young Choi
For now, the appointment of Cha as ambassador to South Korea is nothing more than a “rumor”, the MOFA official said, neither denying nor confirming if his appointment was true. Until the White House officially announces the nomination, MOFA won’t be able to confirm it, the source said.
And for their parts, both the Department of State and U.S. embassy in Seoul also declined to confirm any plans surrounding the ambassadorial appointment.
However, the U.S. government actually obtained South Korea’s official agreement – a so-called agrément – to appoint Cha as ambassador to Seoul about a month ago, according to Straub, attributing the information to U.S. government officials.
It is a “mystery,” then, why the White House still has not passed on Cha’s appointment to the Senate for approval, said Straub, a former U.S. Department of State diplomat with decades of experience on Korea.
Dr. Kim of the Asan Institute speculated the delay could be linked to Cha’s breadth of experience concerning the job, with a “huge amount of documents” likely needing to be reviewed as part of clearance processes.
Kim Hyun-wook, the associate professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, said that the delay was not exceptional, drawing attention to broader human resource management issues that the Trump administration had encountered since its early days. President Trump is known to have rejected many of the recommended candidates for governmental positions due to his personal taste, he said.
And Abrahamian, the Pacforum fellow, said “overall, Trump has done a poor job of alliance maintenance when it comes to Korea.”
“Just before the Olympics would be a great time for the Trump Administration to finally get someone in position to signal that during all the North Korean outreach, the U.S. will be there and remains a good partner,” he said. “Will that happen? Who knows.”
Whatever the reason for the delay, it appears that Washington is happy with its current representation.
“We have a charge d’affaires in South Korea…(and) we are confident that our embassy there is in good hands,” a Department of State spokesperson told NK News.

The Diplomat’s Music Test: Branding New and Old Diplomacy at the Beginning of the Nineteenth and Twenty-First Centuries

The Diplomat’s Music Test: Branding New and Old Diplomacy at the Beginning of the Nineteenth and Twenty-First Centuries [due March 23, 2018]

Introduction: Understanding Musical Diplomacies—Movements on the “Scenes” 
Read first chapter
Author: Damien Mahiet

Publisher: Springer International Publishing

Published in: International Relations, Music and Diplomacy

[Table of contents (12 chapters)]


In the debates on the best way to conduct diplomacy, music marks a divide between practitioners of the new and the old. From the middle of the twentieth century to the present, music has been a flagship of new programs in cultural and public diplomacy. Conversely, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, musical diplomacy appeared to betray a misguided attachment to Ancien Régime practices and the enjoyments of good society. These opposite assessments both foreground the social composition of international relations and the ways music can inform it. Indeed, music and dance test a diplomat’s very conception of who makes up the diplomatic scene and how. Not surprisingly, the branding of diplomacies as old or new has tended to obfuscate the broader spectrum of practices in either of the time periods considered in this chapter. A component of protocol, music plays a part in the conventional script of official interactions while allowing the host to underscore cultural differences, power hierarchies, and cooperative aspirations. Music thus offers occasions for faux pas, misinterpretation, snubs, and other out-of-character communications, but it also provides opportunities to build affiliation and redefine the roles adopted in negotiation.

Georgetown University Event: Jumpstart January 2018: Cultural Diplomacy and Educational Exchange

JumpStart January 2018: Cultural Diplomacy and Educational Exchange


Join us for the opportunity to explore careers where public diplomacy and soft power intersect; leading to the "exchange of ideas, information, art and other aspects of culture among nations and their peoples to foster mutual understanding." Georgetown alumni and others will offer insights on their unique career paths.
 Wednesday, January 24 at 12:30pm to 2:00pm
 Healey Family Student Center, Social Room
3700 O Street NW, Washington, DC 20057

Sounds of Kolachi

Carolina Performing Arts,

[The presentation of Sounds of Kolachi is part of Center Stage, a public diplomacy initiative of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the US Regional Arts Organizations, with support from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Center Stage Pakistan is made possible by the US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. General management is provided by Lisa Booth Management, Inc.] Note: Format of entry is different from that of the original.

“Sounds of Kolachi’s distinctive sound sets it far apart. The band-cum-orchestra left audiences enthralled.” –Express Tribune (Pakistan)
Like an Indian Ocean blast from the seaport megacity it calls home, the new 10-piece supergroup of vocalists and instrumentalists from Karachi (formerly known as Kolachi) blurs raga and western harmony, counterpoint and South Asian melodic lines, all without losing the groove. In this instantly listenable ensemble, South Asian classical instruments like the sitar and bowed sarangi are on equal footing with electric guitar and rock rhythm section. Guiding the journey, composer, theorist and singer Ahsan Bari spins outrageous, bluesy, modal riffs. Like the West’s Son Lux or The National, Sounds of Kolachi defies boundaries in its mix of classical, avant-garde, jazz and rock music.
16-17 Sufi Web Link

CPD Blog - Publications | USC Center on Public Diplomacy

The CPD Blog is intended to stimulate dialog among scholars and practitioners from around the world in the public diplomacy sphere. The opinions represented here are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect CPD's views. For blogger guidelines, click here.
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