Tuesday, July 28, 2009
"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will begin a seven-nation trip to Africa on August 5 at the 8th U.S. – Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (known as the AGOA Forum) in Nairobi, Kenya.
This trip will highlight the Obama administration’s commitment to making Africa a priority in U.S. foreign policy. This will be the earliest in any U.S. administration that both the President and the Secretary of State have visited Africa.
The Secretary will travel to South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde. In each nation, she will emphasize Africa as a place of opportunity, built on an ethic of responsibility. She will underline America’s commitment to partner with governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and private citizens to build societies where each individual can realize their potential.
In her bilateral meetings and other events, she will encourage new solutions to old challenges, harnessing the power of innovation and technology to provide a foundation for future stability, human development, and sustainable economic growth. She will stress the importance of facilitating social and economic entrepreneurship, encouraging a new generation of young African scientists, small business leaders, entrepreneurs and civic leaders who are solving real problems and establishing new models for economic success and social advances, with women as full partners in this progress. And she will discuss ways to foster good regional governance, partnering with regional leaders to band together to prevent conflict and violence, including gender-based violence, democratic erosions, and transnational threats."
"I am young and I want to live. But I say to those who would eliminate my voice: 'I am ready, wherever and whenever you might strike. You can cut down the flower, but nothing can stop the coming of the spring.'"
"Dust has been thrown into the eyes of the world by your governments. You have not been told the truth. The situation now is as catastrophic as it was under the Taliban for women. Your governments have replaced the fundamentalist rule of the Taliban with another fundamentalist regime of warlords. [That is] what your soldiers are dying for." Instead of being liberated, she is on the brink of being killed."
Read more at Huffington Post.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
- U.S. Ratings Soar in Western Europe, Rise Elsewhere, Spurred by Obama’s Image
U.S. ratings in Western Europe have risen to pre-Bush levels.
- Belief that Obama will “do the right thing in world affairs” is nearly universal in Western countries, where lack of confidence in Bush was endemic for much of his time in office.
- Opinions of America have also become more positive in key countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, reflecting optimism about Obama.
- Israel stands out as the only public among the 25 surveyed where U.S. favorability has dropped.
- U.S ratings are driven more by personal confidence in Obama than by opinions of specific policy decisions, analysis shows.
- U.S Image Improves Only Modestly in Muslim World; Cairo Speech Gets Mixed Results
U.S. favorability ratings nearly doubled in Indonesia, where most know of Obama’s family ties to the country.
- Modest gains are evident in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, but animosity toward the U.S. is unabated in Turkey, the Palestinian territories and Pakistan.
- Even so, significant percentages express confidence in Obama to “do the right thing in world affairs” even in nations where the U.S remains unpopular.
- U.S. favorability ratings slipped 13 points among Israelis after Obama’s June 4 Cairo speech and rose only marginally (5 % points) among Palestinians.
- The number of Palestinians saying that Obama would consider their interests when making policy rose from 27% before the speech to 39% afterward.
- For the first time, confidence in the American president tops confidence in Osama bin Laden in most Muslim nations surveyed.
- Approval for Most Obama Foreign Policies – and High Expectations for Future
- Large majorities in almost all countries surveyed support the decisions to close Guantanamo and withdraw troops from Iraq.
- But most publics, including majorities in NATO nations surveyed and Pakistan, oppose sending more troops to Afghanistan. Only Israelis and Americans support the move.
- Most think that Obama would seek international approval before using military force.
- While most global publics think Obama will take into account the interests of their country when making U.S. policy, most say that the U.S. is not currently doing so.
- Optimism exists, especially among Western Europeans and Canadians, that Obama will get the United States to take action on climate change.
- Overwhelming numbers around the world continue to see the U.S as having a big – often bad – influence on their own countries. After steady declines from 2002 to 2008, the 2009 survey finds renewed support among allies for U.S.-led efforts to combat terrorism– except among most Muslim publics.
Danforth commented on the report saying, "It's great to be popular but I don't see where it gets us. [This] popularity is a result of a more passive approach of terrorism," citing the favorable opinions of the closing of Guantanamo, the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and the dissatisfaction for advancement of the US role in Afghanistan. Madeleine Albright disagreed with Danforth saying that "the way that the Bush administration fought terrorism," in her belief, "brought more terrorism." The press conference was best summed up by Albright, "It is nice to be liked, people don't have to say they're from Canada anymore when they travel." A statement I could related to.
For the full report visit this Pew website: http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=264.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
After the briefing, I had another meeting in the "Main State" building. There are several off site annexes; the Foreign Press Center is located across town. Waiting for my meeting, I wandered around the building to discover a whole city! There was a dry cleaners, a post office, a gym (the one Condi worked out in everyday), two convenient stores, two gift shops (anyone want any souvenirs), a cafeteria complete with fro-yo and several food choices.
After being lost in the huge maze of a building, I found my way to my meeting. I attended a EUR/PPD meeting which is the public diplomacy meeting (PPD) for the European Affairs bureau (EUR). In the meeting I ran into a familiar face, Mark Smith, who was the diplomat in residence at USC MPD. The meeting was an opportunity for people from all related offices to share their PD projects. The Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) reported on its ongoing program "Democracy Is..". To find out more on what IIP does click here.
Monday, July 20, 2009
"As President Obama visited Ghana last weekend, U.S. ambassadors and State Department Public Diplomacy personnel created unprecedented engagement with people in Africa and around the world. We worked under the leadership of the White House and built on our initial experiments in new media global outreach at the time of the President's Cairo and Moscow speeches. We interacted directly with hundreds of thousands of people, helped the President to engage tens of millions, and showed the world that America listens and wants to engage.
This was a model of creative public diplomacy for the 21st century. I believe that it is embodied in what Secretary Clinton calls "smart power." We broke new ground in using technology to engage nontraditional audiences. The centerpiece was a creative White House initiative that bridged new media and old. Macon Phillips, Katie Stanton, and others at the White House Office of New Media should take a bow, as should the entire State Department team.
Before the speech, we set up an SMS, or texting service, throughout Africa and invited people to text the President in either English or French. Nearly 16,000 did so, from 87 countries in Africa and beyond. Our embassy in South Africa partnered with a mobile-based social networking site and garnered an additional 200,000 questions and comments from throughout the continent.
And as the President spoke on Saturday, we sent simultaneous SMS highlights of the speech to over 12,000 people in some 80 countries in French and English, and solicited their feedback via text message. We posted hundreds of those messages on America.gov, the State Department's Public Diplomacy Web site, and on whitehouse.gov.
In return, the President answered questions selected from this massive influx by three African journalists in a podcast that we dubbed into French, Swahili, Portuguese and Arabic, in addition to the original English. On the screens here behind me, I believe, you can see a visual representation of the words the President used in his speech and of the words used by those who texted him. We'll also show you what the questions looked like on the White House Web site.
So you can see this came out of the President's feed, and then the responses -- and you can see by the sort of prominence of the words, those which resonated with the community, obviously "Obama" being a huge one, but all the things -- and you can see -- if you focused on it, you see some of the concepts that came throughout his speech.
Next slide. Then what we did, because we wanted to continue this community, was a map of the world with comments popping up where they came so others could check in and could see how they were doing.
What made all this work were ambassadors and a corps of professional foreign service officers and locally engaged staff at embassies and consulates overseas. They provided the ideas and advice we needed to bridge our electronic efforts here with real live people overseas. And they carried out the face-to-face personal engagement that will always be the heart of successful public diplomacy.
Our overseas teams worked with local media to enable them to broadcast the President's speech and report on his trip to Ghana. They invited audiences to ambassadorial residences, cultural centers and movie theaters to view and discuss the speech. Ambassadors and public affairs officers led panel discussions and spoke to local and regional media to amplify the President's themes.
Here are just a few examples. Our embassy in Freetown gave micro-grants to dozens of cinema centers throughout Sierra Leone that showed the speech live, free of charge, to all comers, reaching thousands in even far-flung corners of the country.
Our Mission to the African Union in Addis Ababa invited 200 representatives of 53 African countries to a speech screening and discussion. In this hemisphere, in the Dominican Republic, our embassy hosted a screening of the speech with Spanish subtitles for university students and conducted a discussion afterwards. In Canada, our embassy and consulates actively reached out to the Afro-Canadian groups throughout the country.
Audience response, both in person and online, was overwhelmingly positive. Embassy anecdotes and SMS messages alike show that the President's speech and our efforts to help him engage with people struck a chord.
In Niger, which is currently going through a constitutional crisis, audience members at the embassy screening stood up during the speech and cried out, "He speaks for us." A young South African texted, "President Obama, I'm 20 years old, can't believe that we've actually been given this opportunity. Thank you." A Zimbabwean who had fled that country to Mozambique texted, "Thank you, sir, for that uplifting speech." He went on to say, "I will stay and contribute to the democratic reforms in my country of Zimbabwe."
I think that the enthusiasm of Africans, especially young people, to use technology to engage with us shows the very potential and promise of the continent that the President stressed in his speech. Africans are as technologically capable and eager for connections with the world as any people on Earth.
I'm proud that the State Department could partner with the White House to help the President build a conversation with citizens in Africa and beyond, creating and sustaining the kind of global dialogue that, as Secretary Clinton said today in her speech, makes America a smarter and stronger nation.
Q Can you tell us anything about the State Department's efforts to disseminate his speech in Moscow, since that was --
UNDER SECRETARY McHALE: Certainly.
Q -- not broadcast widely live?
UNDER SECRETARY McHALE: That's correct. One of the things that we're looking at, and I think it's an important point, is that each of these events that we want to do we want to tailor it specifically for the event. In the case of Moscow, we did have public diplomacy outreach, but it was more regional. Given the nature of the speech, we felt it was more appropriate to be a regional outreach, and so we did a variety of things.
We had a texting initiative that we did around the Moscow speech. We also have developed a Facebook community and following, which is really interesting, because we launched it following up on Cairo, and we found the group migrated with us to Moscow and is continuing to grow. It grew about 25 percent with the Africa initiative. So Facebook became a key component -- but also understanding what were the tools that the individuals in that region were using, which was somewhat different. And so we had a presence on the applicable tools there. And we're going to continue to do that.
Q Just a quick question. How do you guard against only reaching the elites if you're using these new media methods?
UNDER SECRETARY McHALE: Well, we're not just using new media. One of the points that I wanted to make in the Africa situation is that new media will work in certain places, but it's a tool, not a strategy. And I believe that quite passionately. And so we're going to use it where appropriate to reach certain targeted demographics. But, frankly, in the case of Africa, we had free cinemas, we had radio outreach. We understand -- we know very well that throughout Africa, radio is the predominant media.
And so we were very careful to be sure that the speech was accessible to the largest population by understanding what is the media infrastructure in each country. And it's one of the strengths of the embassies, is that they understand that and they report it to us, and we tailor each of these initiatives to the available infrastructure.
So it's designed to reach sort of less-affluent populations. It is designed to reach deep into these countries. And I think if you got to read some of the questions, you would be pretty amazed at the reactions that we got and the feedback that we got from our embassies. It reached very, very deep into these areas.
Q In Afghanistan and Pakistan, how do you plan to use public diplomacy to win over the people?
UNDER SECRETARY McHALE: Well, in every country in the world, we have a pretty active public diplomacy program and plan. And in both of those countries, which I've been sort of looking at quite intensely recently, we have a number of public diplomacy initiatives in each of those countries, appropriate to the country. So, for example, in Pakistan, we have, as you probably know, a very robust exchange program. We have more Fulbright students coming from Pakistan than anywhere else in the world. We have high school students coming over from Pakistan. So there are a number of initiatives that we will continue to do that.
Same thing in Afghanistan, where a lot of our efforts are focused on building Afghan capacity to sort of deal in a lot of different areas. So we have very aggressive plans and programs in both of those countries, and we have public diplomacy initiatives in every country in the world."
Friday, July 17, 2009
"For the interviewees, responding to questioning by journalists on FPC
tours is never a cakewalk. We typically ask our embassies around the world to
recommend highly motivated, highly professional journalists for participation,
and their questions often probe difficult aspects of the relationship between
the U.S. and their countries. This tour has been a professional as well as
cultural exchange for our guests, and we’ll hopefully be able to round things
out with the only appropriate introduction to Atlanta: hot dogs, cheese fries,
and super-sized cups of Coca Cola when the Braves play the New York Mets tonight
at Turner Field."
Monday, July 13, 2009
As one of the many perks of interning at the DoS, I was able to attend the swearing-in of Philip (P.J.) Crowley as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Public Affairs in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department. I stood among DoS Public Affairs staff, family and friends, all gathered in the room with wine and took in the majestic ambiance of the room. It was beautiful, and included some of the most beautiful gifts and artifacts in the history of the State Department.
The highlight of the event was meeting Undersecretary of Public Diplomacy Judith McHale who was not so guarded by "her people" at this event and was walking around chatting here and there. My colleague and MPD classmate, Matthew Wallin and I jumped at the opportunity to introduce ourselves to her. She was welcoming but quickly dismissed us as she off-handedly invited us up to her office "some time." Stay tuned as I am determined to take her up on her polite offer.
Friday, July 10, 2009
"The key question among development watchers is that, considering that development is broader than just assistance, any sort of consideration of coherent policy towards countries needs to take into account trade, in addition to aid," one Washington development expert said on condition of anonymity. "The question is whether ... the QDDR will be a planning tool for the State Department ... or will it really extend beyond to be a more comprehensive tool."
After thanking the DoS staff for their hardwork, Clinton then took several questions and comments from the packed house of DoS staffers. Some of the comments included requests for showers in the building for those who want to walk or bike to work, to the use of the Firefox Internet browser and the focus on disability issues. The Secretary was looking beautiful as ever, smiling and addressing us graciously despite her healing elbow. Gotta love her!
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Props to Levantine 18's post on the holiday.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Today a group of DoS interns and I went to the Saudi Arabian Embassy for a "tour." I put the word tour in quotes because it wasn't so much a tour around the embassy as it was a walk to the theater room to watch a video on Saudi Embassy and dress up time. The embassy was of course very nice. The video was about 15 minutes long and showed the basics, Saudi's scenery, its architecture, its culture, its health care system and, of course, its royalty. After the video, a half Saudi, half American man with a very new york accent told us about the great Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which was interesting coming from a man who grew up in New York and clearly wasn't a conservative Muslim. Our guide opened the forum open to questions, which started off with "Is it true one has to be invited to get a visa to visit Saudi Arabia?" The answer was basically yes. He talked of how the country was trying to open up to tourism, but taking baby steps there. He explained that the country gave out group visa's for set and approved tour groups. No individual visa's were yet given for travel. Slipping in a Public Diplomacy question, to a man I wasn't sure would know what PD was, I asked how the embassy was reaching out to the American public to present Saudi Arabia to the public? I was right to be unsure, as he basically told me they hired an outside firm to do "all that stuff".. "it wasn't handled inside the actually embassy. I thought back to Dr. Geoffrey Wiseman's class discussion on lobbying firms and how they represent countries such as Saudi Arabia. Of course, I knew of course the event I was sitting in was part of the embassy's Public Diplomacy strategy, as were the organized group tours to the country, probably perfectly orchestrated to show the best side of Saudi. Our guide did mention the embassy did participate in cultural festivals around the country to share Saudi culture. A fellow colleague asked about the constitution of Saudi- The Koran is the official "constitution", however, about 15 years ago, after the first gulf war, Saudi did write a basic governing structure.From there the interns started getting a little more courage and asked the questions we all wanted to ask but didn't want to be "that guy." Many women in the group brought up human rights and women's rights questions. Surprisingly, I felt our guide was pretty honest and candid (as much as he could be), in answering our questions. (or maybe MY misperceptions have tainted my view) He acknowledge that Saudi isn't on the top of the praise list as far as human rights go. "The State Department knocked us down a little." He talked of how Saudi should be seeing the role of women change as the "younger generation of women become educated and "get out of the kitchen." He talked of women diplomats, bankers and such. "It's up to the women, some are comfortable with the traditional role" of being a housewife and a mother. "It would be nice to see them have the option. And they do. It's a welcome change."
One intern asked how the Saudi people feel about American culture, music, fashion, dress, etc. He assured us that the "majority of people like US culture" and are not offended by it, but it was true a "few" extreme people are offended by it. He insisted that most Saudi's watch American TV and listen to our music.
There was more discussion on how the events of 9/11 affected the country especially since some of the attackers were Saudi citizens. "We want Americans to know we do not support those people," he insisted. He told of how he was sure Bin Laden recruited Saudi's "to drive a wedge between the US-Saudi relationship." And that Al Qaeda wants to see the Saudi government fall "Before the US criticized Saudi for suppressing dissidents. After 9/11 they criticized us for not doing enough to suppress them."
He talked of all that Saudi was doing in conjunction with the US to combat terrorism, even dismissing clerics who preached anything that contradicts the Saudi "vision of peace."
He then brought the Q&A to a break because another man had entered and asked for 4 female and 2 male volunteers. I jumped at the chance to participate in God knows what. We were asked to follow the man into the back room and dress in traditional Saudi dress. We then modeled the beautiful clothes to the crowd for our cultural lesson. Which was fun but disappointing since we were asked to leave all camera's and phones with security. And that concluded our "tour" of the embassy. Interesting.. but defiantly more to be desired.
Pandith was the senior adviser on Muslim engagement in the European and Eurasian region at the State Department, a position created for the first time in the US. She served on the National Security Council focusing on Muslim engagement and combating extremism. She also worked for USAID served in Afghanistan in 2004.
Pandith immigrated to the US from India. She attributes her personal experience as an Muslim immigrant as an example of how others can successfully integrate themselves into American society.
"I’m an American Muslim, and that’s part of the way in which I look at things,See her State department briefing below or read the transcript here.
that’s the lens with which I look at things. And if you look at the diversity of
Islam in America, it’s multifaceted, it’s nuanced. Our mosques are in every
state of our nation. Muslim Americans are from more than 80 different ethnic
backgrounds. Why do I mention this to you? Because I think when you think about
approaches for engagement, I take that with me as I think about things....
There’s not one program that is going to be the magic program to engage with
"What we want to do is build dialogue, not because we think there is a
misperception, okay? It is to offer an opportunity through different types of
mechanisms to have a dialogue. And I think that that’s very important. If
misperceptions come up, that can be addressed. But it’s not an approach that
says you don’t understand these three things and we’re going to make sure you
understand them. That’s not what – that’s not what this is about. This is about
conversation. This is about communication."
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
We started in Emancipation Hall, named in honor of the enslaved laborers who helped build the original Capitol, which is underground. This large room is lined with statues from the National Statuary Hall collection. "Luminaries include Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of the television, and King Kamehameha of Hawaii, whose gold-caped statue towers over the others." We were then escorted to a theatre to watch an orientation video, "E Pluribus Unum," named for the motto found on the Seal of the United States meaning "out of many, one." This video was exceptionally well done and very interesting and had that "proud to be an America" effect, as I'm sure was intended. Our guide then took us into the main Rotunda, which was beautiful. The paintings and high ceiling, and architectural detail was impressive. We then walked through a room of statues originally extended to be the galleries but had proved to have bad sound quality and not enough room for the other states that later joined the union. We were then escorted to the crypt, whose name deceives its visitors, as no one had ever been buried there though this was the rooms original purpose. The crypt contained more status of famous statesmen (and state-women) and such. We did not go to the galleries where the House and Senate convene because I did not go to my Representatives to get passes. I'll have to make sure to do that in the next couple weeks.
We were then left to wander around on our own. There is a gallery of high tech videos, displays and even touch screen quiz games that allow visitors to learn more about the goings-on in the capital. Overall, short trip but worth it to feel a little closer to the process that is American democracy.
Check it out to find contributors such as Eytan Gilboa, Andrew Cooper and Evan Potter "offer a framework for defining and analyzing the behavior and characteristics of middle power nations."
"In today's increasingly multipolar world, with only one country considered a
true superpower, the middle is where most of the nations that influence shifting
international agendas exist. This crowded space necessitates particularly
innovative public diplomacy if countries are to distinguish themselves, and
garner international attention for their niche causes. In short, it is a
contested space where the players themselves struggle to determine what roles
they want to take on.
In addition to dealing with the inherent problems of crafting public diplomacy strategies that prove complementary to domestic and foreign policy priorities, many of these countries must also confront a scarcity of resources related to their size, and must operate within their respective geopolitical realities. Many middle power countries must perform a balancing act, carving out a space in which they are indispensable to the international community and in command of the attention they crave, while continuing their development at home. They have fewer opportunities in the international spotlight, therefore it is all the more imperative that their messaging, and branding, is strategic and memorable. It must convey their capabilities and aspirations; replacing outdated stereotypes with realistic contemporary narratives. The fact that middle powers often engage in multilateral coalition building and exercise good global citizenship speaks to the rising importance of norms-building in the 21st century, as well as the spirit of collaboration implicit in the concept of "new public diplomacy."
PD is a publication of the Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars (APDS) at the University of Southern California, with support from the USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School, USC College’s School of International Relations, the Annenberg School for Communication and USC Annenberg Press.
Its mission is to provide a common forum for the views of both scholars and practitioners from around the globe, in order to explore key concepts in the study and practice of public diplomacy. PD is published bi-annually, in print and on the web at http://www.publicdiplomacymagazine.org/.