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The Daily: For November 6, 2013

November 6, 2013 6:46 am by: Category: The Daily Leave a comment A+ / A-

photo credit: AFP via RFERL

Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.

Hamish Mcrae comments that Twitter is a prime example of how the U.S. affects the world via its “generous” soft power.

But the really stunning aspect of Twitter is the way American society keeps throwing up technologies that change the world. And mostly one part of the US. Again and again it is a group of people in California who keep doing it – from operating systems for computers, to commercial use of the web, to Google, to tablets, to Facebook, to this. The rest of the world gets the benefit. It is a form of “soft power”, the expression coined by Joseph Nye of Harvard to express the ways in which US influence goes beyond its military muscle. But it not deployed by the US to increase its standing. These are technologies that the US has in effect given the rest of the world, in some cases free, or almost free. If it is soft power, it is also huge generosity and people should perhaps acknowledge that a little more than is sometimes evident. [The Independent]


When and how should the foreign services use Twitter?

Foreign services and ambassadors should first and foremost ask themselves what is their primary objective in each country. If engaging with the local population and local media is essential to fulfill their mission, then developing social media activities should be high on the ambassadors’ priority list. If not, then social media is certainly not a must. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and so on are just tools to implement a strategy, not the other way around. However, in addition to the traditional closed-door diplomatic approach, every day we are witnessing the growing benefits of public diplomacy.   Governments’ foreign policy stands are increasingly being driven by their public opinion. Engaging with and convincing foreign public opinion can be essential to win over their leaders, to build international support and strengthen foreign alliances. In that respect, social media clearly plays an essential role. [Diplomat Magazine]



A comprehensive seminar given by E. William Colglazier, the science and technology adviser to the U.S. Department of State, back in August on the role of science diplomacy in the third millennium ran in the Latin American Herald Tribune. It is worth revisiting.

Let me end with a sentiment that I learned from another mentor, Bruce Alberts. He is a distinguished biochemist at the University of California at San Francisco, former president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, former U.S. Science Envoy to Indonesia, and former Editor of Science Magazine. He has emphasized that the values and ethics that come from doing science are congruent with democratic values. Both the scientific revolution and the democratic revolution grew out of the Enlightenment. Science values the individual, relies on freedom of inquiry and the entrepreneurial spirit, rewards excellence and merit, bases decisions on evidence, supports academic freedom, relies on peer review, and encourages transparency via publication. Science is also an agent of change, is an equalizing force in society, works for the common good, and is a source of optimism about the future. So the ultimate connection between science and diplomacy is shared values, which is the fundamental reason why science diplomacy is a strategic asset for democratic countries. [Latin American Herald Tribune; original]


Did FIFA just resolve the Cyprus divide?

FIFA announced on Tuesday that it had brokered a landmark deal between the Cyprus Football Association and its opposite number which runs the game in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north. World football’s governing body said the accord marked a “major milestone” in the history of football in Cyprus, a country which has been split in two for four decades … Though FIFA officials declined to reveal details of the deal — such as the potential creation of a united league or letting Turkish Cypriots play for Cyprus — FIFA chief Sepp Blatter underlined the symbolism of football diplomacy moving faster than the political variety. [Global Post]



When judging the actions of the “Iranian people” based on external news reports, its important for the American public to remember the divided and complex nature  of its own population for a more nuanced understanding.

At this point, it may be difficult to determine what it is exactly that “the Iranian people” think. And that’s to be expected. Before looking outward, Americans should look inward, realizing that much as there are divisions within our own country, there are divisions in others, and it is often difficult to categorically make statements about the political stance of an entire population. This is what listening in public diplomacy is about: gaining a nuanced understanding of a population, its history, its culture, its politics, and how it is impacted by American policy. Of course, part of understanding the politics in that country is analyzing how the public factors into that process. Rouhani may very well be playing a very nuanced political balancing act on the public stage at home in order to carry out his negotiations on the nuclear issue. We cannot expect Iran, or Rouhani himself, to explode in a wave of completely pro-Western celebration or rhetoric. [American Security Project]


North Korea developed its own tablet computer, and it is sold with a pre-loaded “foreign literature” section that includes “Les Miserable,” “Gone with the Wind,” “An American Tragedy,” and other selections.

North Korea has its own version of the iPad—it’s called the Samjiyon. Internet access is tightly controlled by the human-rights-allergic regime, so the device is merely another conduit for state propaganda. It comes pre-loaded with games, a multi-language dictionary, and an interesting collection of eBooks in the “foreign literature” section. University of Vienna professor Rüdiger Frank gave the world an inside look at this selection of foreign books in a recent review of the Samjiyon for 38 North. [Mother Jones, 38 North full review via PDiN]



The Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami has worked to resettle defecting Cuban ballet dancers into the U.S., a difficult transition.

To reach the United States, where as Cubans they could gain privileged entry, the group rode buses from the Yucatán to Nuevo Laredo, on the Texas border, 1,600 miles in all. In transit and while crossing the bridge over the Rio Grande, they tried not to talk, fearing that their accents might encourage thieves to steal their passports. Once the dancers arrived in Florida, they were given shelter, support and training by the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami. The director of that company, Pedro Pablo Peña, came to the United States in 1980, in the Mariel boatlift, so he understood the disorientation and uncertainty the dancers were feeling. [New York Times]



Iran opened the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran for the 34th anniversary of its seizure by Islamist students. Here are a series of pictures of its now museum-like nature.

November 4 is the 34th anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by Islamist students who held 52 U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days. The 1979 crisis triggered a break in diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States and led to decades of mutual hostility. Today, the former embassy building houses a museum that is only occasionally open to the public. Here’s a rare look inside the historic site. [RFERL]


ballet defectors FIFA foreign service resettlement tablet William Colglazier
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About Michael Ardaiolo

Michael Ardaiolo is currently a student in Syracuse University's Public Diplomacy Master's Program: M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and M.S. in Public Relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. In addition, he is a recovering record slinger, a Criterion Collection addict, an NBA obsessor, and a struggling student of the Korean language.

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