Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.
An inauspicious start for Russia leveraging the Sochi Olympics to improve its image (at least in the west).
Amid continued debate over whether or not Sochi is prepared to host the 2014 Olympics, which begins Thursday, reporters from around the world are starting to check into local hotels — to their apparent grief. Some journalists arriving in Sochi are describing appalling conditions in the housing there, where only six of nine media hotels are ready for guests. Hotels are still under construction. Water, if it’s running, isn’t drinkable. One German photographer told the AP over the weekend that his hotel still had stray dogs and construction workers wandering in and out of rooms. [Washington Post]
So the RT took on China’s public diplomacy apparatus in a rather well-written piece. There are a few fun passages though when reading this and being aware of the Russian international broadcasting context. Such as:
China’s record spending on the Olympics, estimated at a total of $42 billion, which is a large sum for a developing country, especially in comparison with the Athens Olympics budget of $15 billion in 2004 and the London Olympics coming in at $35 billion in 2012. Beijing considered the Olympic Games to be very important in the sense of public diplomacy, particularly in creating the image of a “nice country,” which is favorable to everyone. However, Western countries failed to understand the Chinese message, since there is a sharp difference in Western and Chinese values. Besides, even before the beginning of the Games, critics attacked China on issues ranging from human rights to food safety and the environment. Furthermore, some human rights groups called on the US and the European Union to react more forcefully and boycott the 2008 Olympics. [RT]
(Also, can’t decide if I love or hate “op-edge.”)
Thanks @rabiasquared for my first tweet! See http://t.co/ZgoJ0AE5EJ for props to Coke’s multi-linguistic #AmericaIsBeautiful spot.
— James Thomas Snyder (@jamesthomsnyder) February 4, 2014
To celebrate his one year anniversary as U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry reactivated his Twitter handle.
On his first anniversary as secretary of state on Tuesday, John Kerry celebrated by reactivating his Twitter handle. “It only took a year but @StateDept finally let me have my own @Twitter account,” Mr. Kerry tweeted with the hashtag #JKTweetsAgain, as if to suggest he had been held hostage for the last year without a BlackBerry … The next iteration of Twitter diplomacy has arrived — one that involves augmenting, sometimes even replacing, the carefully scripted and vetted language of official State Department and White House statements with the choppy patois of Twitter. [New York Times]
Thanks to all for the warm welcome back. Can’t believe I stayed away for so long! #JKTweetsAgain @StateDept
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) February 4, 2014
Very interesting piece on the Western reaction to the homosexuality laws recently passed in Africa.
Early in January, the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill was passed by the National Assembly in Abuja and then signed by the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan. Following this, the parliament of Uganda passed similar legislation. Both laws decreed the same things: that homosexuality is illegal, and its practitioners and promoters risk state-sponsored sanctions in the jurisdictions involved. In Nigeria, the new law not only forbids marriage of same-sex couples, but also carries up to 14 years in prison for individuals convicted of promoting a homosexual lifestyle, soliciting and/or participating in homosexual relationships. The development of this issue, particularly in Nigeria, has set off a renewed debate on the topic of homosexuality in the global arena, with the public diplomacy implications coming into fresh focus. Understandably, this debate also touches on Western-Non-Western relations. [CPD Blog]
American Security Project gets to the elemental question for the week: Are the Olympics an opportunity for public diplomacy?
The Olympic Games are often touted as an opportunity for nations to set aside their differences and come together to celebrate excellence in athletics. A huge production is made of the bi-annual event, which can cost billions of dollars and attracts leaders and spectators from around the globe. This year’s games are reported to have cost Russia $51 billion (yes, you read that correctly… billion with a “B”)—making it the most expensive Olympics in history. But are they really the best opportunity for public diplomacy? [American Security Project]
20 yrs ago today the 1st email between leaders was sent from @carlbildt to @billclinton pic.twitter.com/MSJOVLjUuC #DigitalDiplomacy HT @bjornly
— Digital Diplomacy (@DigiDiplomats) February 4, 2014
Good read by a reporter researching American soft power in Nigeria. (Check out more of her stories here.
Some have suggested that foreign aid should be delivered with more subtlety and that public information campaigns, which run now and again on local radio stations, should be more substantive in trying to counter misgivings and reservations about what Nigerians refer to in pidgin-English as “the white man’s medicine”. In response, the U.S. mission in Nigeria no longer brands its projects with its logo and the usual “from the American people” boldly splashed beneath. Taiwo Olawale, project manager with WOFAN, a local non-governmental organization that collaborates with USAID to provide water-pumps, says this preemptive measure, which started in 2013 was aimed at protecting communities where these projects are sited because it could, “make them vulnerable to attacks by those who hold extreme views about the West.” [Boston Review]
[Mediated PD] VOA/RFA hit back at news “fabrication” claim in Cambodia http://t.co/XDkD3sfU9G #publicdiplomacy @suPD
— Michael Ardaiolo (@mpardaiolo) February 4, 2014
Very interesting piece on the tensions between the Gülen movement and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for control of Turkey’s soft power.
This vast network has allowed the Gülen movement to become a global representative of both conservative Islamic values and “Turkishness,” spreading the country’s language and culture abroad. It has benefitted Turkey by consolidating Turkish soft power and advancing Ankara’s interests around the world, all while increasing the Gülen movement’s popularity and prestige in both in Turkey and on the international stage. But over the past few years, cracks have begun to appear in the AKP–Gülen movement alliance, revealing deep tensions and bringing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan into direct conflict with Fethullah Gülen. Now, these erstwhile allies are locked in a power struggle and on the verge of becoming bitter enemies. And the Gülen movement’s robust transnational network of support and influence, once an asset to the AKP, could provide Gülen and his supporters an avenue to confront the Turkish government. [Carnegie]
[Today in PD] Behind Sochi’s Futuristic Logo http://t.co/W6vQ4DrIXa #publicdiplomacy #newtechnologyeurope
— USC Public Diplomacy (@PublicDiplomacy) February 4, 2014
Sad to see Ambassador McFaul go. Hopefully he had an influence on how future ambassadors approach their public diplomacy tools.
U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul, the architect of President Barack Obama’s effort to reset relations with Russian, announced on Tuesday that he is stepping down after two turbulent years in Moscow. McFaul, a Stanford University professor who signed on as an unpaid adviser to Obama during his first presidential campaign, moved with him to Washington and served for three years on the National Security Council before taking up his first diplomatic post as ambassador to Russia. [New York Times]
#SouthKorea‘s #Kimchi Diplomacy http://t.co/gzQLyNGL10 #gastrodiplomacy h/t @lagatamontesa
— Gastrodiplomacy (@gastrodiplomacy) February 4, 2014
So Turkey released their new promotion posters for 2014… wow, just wow.
Turkey unveiled its new promotion posters for 2014, with the theme “Home of [insert (sometimes proper) noun here]“. When I first saw some of the posters, I really was not sure whether this was an official campaign or a spoof. As various news outlets reported the event as such, I assume it is an official campaign – though the content of the posters make it very difficult to believe that. [Reaching the Public]
A new map of global thought leaders http://t.co/1MC1RhSwC7 ranks me as #28. Gore, Habermas and Peter Singer are top 3. For what it is worth?
— Joseph Nye (@Joe_Nye) February 4, 2014
Nippon continues its series of public diplomacy explainers based on a Japanese symposium.
During the discussion that followed, all the panelists emphasized the importance of close cooperation through twin cities schemes, something touched upon by Kent Calder in his keynote presentation. It was suggested that by twinning cities not just between Japan and the United States but also across the Sea of Japan with Korea, China, and Southeast Asia would be an effective way to bring new vitality to exchanges on a regional level, without becoming tangled up in the historical problems that tend to complicate bilateral relations. Calder said he believed this would be a useful contribution to improving international relations in Northeast Asia. [Nippon]
#publicdiplomacy only makes sense and achieves lasting effects if it’s bilateral: not government to people, but people to people.
— Simon Anholt (@SimonAnholt) February 5, 2014
Short video from Michelle Kwan and the U.S. Department of State promoting sports diplomacy at the Olympics and Paralympics.
photo credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images