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A Business, Diplomacy & Foreign Policy Publication

May - June 2013 • $7.95

BUSINESS • POLITICS • SPORTS • ENTERTAINMENT • MILITARY & DEFENSE • CONGRESS

D I P L O M A T I C C O N N E C T I O N S B U S I N E S S edition | M a y - J une 2 0 1 3

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BMW of Rockville. Ownership Simplified.

BMW of Rockville (formerly VOB BMW) Home of Priority 1 Service. No Appointment Necessary. Just Drive In. • Special Diplomatic Pricing from BMW • Pre-Approved Leasing Plans • $1 Buy-Out Leases Also Available • State Department Registration • 120 Free BMW Loaner Cars • $0 Charge Maintenance on All New BMWs for up to 4 Years or 50,000 Miles Please contact our Diplomatic Program Specialist Nicholas Popovici at 1-888-445-6023 to learn more about our program.

1300 Rockville Pike Rockville, MD 20852

1-888-445-6023 BMWRockville.com

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Your Connection to Diplomatic Leasing 1-410-828-6200 | 1-888-919-6427 AdmiralLeasing.com

Offices Baltimore • Rockville, MD

We Offer: • All Makes and Models • Closed-End Leases • Finance Leases • Personal Leasing for Diplomats

• Maintenance Plans • Nationwide Delivery of Vehicles to Your Location • State Department Registration (Diplomatic Tags)

Arnold Wollman awollman@admiralleasing.com 2

- Vehicle Leasing Since 1979


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Let us provide a peaceful retreat alongside the power of the Pentagon.

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Let us connect you to 170 world-class stores that share your sense of style. Let us serve you monumental views from the comfort of our club lounge. Let us welcome you to our home with the language from yours.

Experience The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City. To reserve your next group meeting or special event, contact our Director of Diplomatic Sales at 703-412-2794 or visit ritzcarlton.com/pentagoncity.

©2012 The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC


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Our students go places. Fewer than 50 Middle School teams nationwide qualified for Nationals. Ours is one of them.

First here, then anywhere.

Contact Karyn Vella at 585.641.5282 or kvella@allendalecolumbia.org Rochester, New York | AllendaleColumbia.org

DiplomaticConnections_7.25x4.75_May2013_MECH2.indd Diplomatic Connections Private Schools Section 1/2 PAGE -- 7.25” (w) x 4.75” (h) Pub Date: May 2013 Pdf Due Date: 04/23/13

acsrochester.org

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EDUCATION • EDUCATION • EDUCATION

independent schools

4/23/13 1:24 PM

Five Week Academic Summer Program June 30 - August 2, 2013 Grades 7 through 12 Make-up credit offered

Course Offerings: English, history, math, science, Spanish, computers, ESL, Learn to Learn Program, SAT Prep, English Language Institute

. .. .

All Boys Boarding School for young men who have not yet realized their full potential 100% College Placement

860.823.3861

. stmct.org .

1:1 Tutorial Program

Located on scenic Gardner Lake in southeastern Connecticut

admissions@stmct.org

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Our VIP Services are your path to:

• Secure Future • Sound Investment • U.S. Residency and Passport

• Opportunity • Elite Education • A New Life for Your Family

We assist diplomats, entrepreneurs and successful professionals from around the world to make sound investments in the United States for the purpose of growing their investment capital while achieving the fastest path to U.S. residency. Contact our VIP & Diplomatic service representative today at

888-888-4802 or by email: info@usiicenter.com

www.usiicenter.com

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LE LYCéE FRANÇAIS de Los Angeles

EDUCATION • EDUCATION • EDUCATION

independent schools

A Europeaninspired education for today’s global community

• • •

“we teach the world”

Preschool - 12th Grade • U.S. & International College Preparatory we invite you to attend our open house

www.LyceeLA.org

MESCO

M E T R O P O L I TA N E N E R G Y S AV E R S C O . , I N C .

MESCO Home Improvement provides custom residential remodeling in the Washington Metropolitan Area for homeowners who are serious about quality and integrity.

At MESCO Home Improvement we believe in old world craftsmanship and a process that treats you as a respected partner. Our client relationships are based on trust, integrity and promises kept. Whether you remodel one room or the whole house, remember to choose a company whose name is synonymous with quality and integrity . . . MESCO Home Improvement.

301.921.0708 office 301.370.9922 cell mescoajj27@gmail.com www.mescohomeimprovement.com

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FREE Estimate Second Story Additions Major Remodels & Design & Planning Renovations including: Earth-friendly Roofing / Siding Landscaping Design & Installation

Bathrooms / Kitchens Sunroom Installation Decks / Porches / Patios Finished Basements

Gates & Fences

QUALIFIED EMBASSY CONTRACTOR

D I P L O M A T I C C O N N E C T I O N S B U S I N E S S edition | M a y - J une4/25/13 2 0 16:11 3 PM 11


The STEM University™ Discovery is the critical ingredient in the recipe for scientific progress. Without it, humankind remains stale, stagnant.

The Global MBA. A degree with some added marks.

Florida Tech researchers commit themselves to expanding the current boundaries of knowledge and its applications, always striving to extend the horizon. Their leadership and expertise serve student success and improve the human condition.

Now accepting applications. That’s what makes Florida Tech The STEM University.™ www.fit.edu • (800) 888-4348 Florida Institute of Technology does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, color, religion, creed, national origin, ancestry, marital status, age, disability, sexual orientation, Vietnam-era veterans status or any other discrimination prohibited by law in the admission of students, administration of its educational policies, scholarship and loan programs, employment policies, and athletic or other university sponsored programs or activities. Florida Institute of Technology is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, baccalaureate, master’s, education specialist and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Florida Institute of Technology. MK-345-413

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To learn more visit : weatherhead.case.edu/ globalMBA


EDUCATION • EDUCATION • EDUCATION

independent schools

RanneyEarlyChild_DIPLOMATIC CONNECTIONS 4/24/13 2:32 PM Page 1

GREAT BEGINNINGS Last a Lifetime • A year-round affordable program for Beginners (age 3) and Pre-K students where summer academic programs and camp are FREE • FREE before and after school co-curricular programs

• Spacious classrooms equipped with SMARTboards, iPads and dramatic play center with new puppet theater • Dynamic science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes

RANNEY SCHOOL E S TA B L I S H E D 19 6 0

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KNOWLEDGE

|

VISION

www.rma.edu 800-272-1172 For advertising opportunities, please contact 202.536.4810 ext4 or DGriffith@diplomaticconnections.com

|

HONOR

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May 8, 2013

S AV E T H E D AT E Diplomatic Connections is Hosting Another

D iplomatA ppreciation Reception On May 8, 2013

at the JW Marriott Essex House New York A Prestigious Central Park South Address

SDate-half-Essex 2.13.indd 1

2/20/13 2:17 PM

October 10, 2013

S AV E T H E D AT E Diplomatic Connections is Hosting Another

eception D iplomatA ppreciation R On October 10, 2013

at the Peninsula New York Fifth Avenueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Most Alluring Address

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2/18/13 10:23 PM


October17, 2013

S AV E T H E D AT E Diplomatic Connections is Hosting Another

D iplomatA ppreciation Reception On October 17, 2013

at the Fairmont Washington, D.C. Georgetown Washingtonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fashionable West End and adjacent to historic Georgetown

SDate-half-Fair13.indd 2

2/23/13 2:37 PM

November 5, 2013 S AV E T H E D AT E

Diplomatic Connections is Hosting Another

eception D iplomatA ppreciation R On November 5, 2013

at the The Peninsula Beverly Hills 9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd. Beverly Hills, California 90210 One of Southern Californiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Best Addresses

D I P L O M A T I C C O N N E C T I O N S B U S I N E S S edition | M a y - J une 2 0 1 3 SDate-half-BHills13.indd 1

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11/5/12 8:17 PM


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DIPLOMATIC CONNECTIONS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Dawn Parker AssistantS to the Editor Chanel Cherry, Ashley Gatewood BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Executives Evan Strianese; Mongoose Atlantic, Inc. – Stephen Channon, Amber Smith and Dominique Griffith DESIGN & CREATIVE KDG Advertising, Design & Marketing msocha@kdgadvertising.com Contributing Designer Larry Smith DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENTS and CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Roland Flamini, James Winship, PhD, Monica Frim, Meghan Lawson, F. Lewis Bristol, Oliver Dowell Lloyd, Mike Mosettig Event Coordinator Assistants Amy Nyhuis; Sarah Pomeroy, Sophia Schmidt, Katarina Henneböhl, Colleen Tan, Jessica Zhang

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To contact an advertising executive CALL: 202.536.4810 FAX: 202.370.6882 EMAIL: info@diplomaticconnections.com DIPLOMATIC CONNECTIONS WEBSITE DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT IMS (Inquiry Management Systems) 304 Park Avenue South, 11th Floor New York, NY 10010 TOLL FREE: 877.467.8721 X701 Website: www.ims.com Marc Highbloom, Vice President marc@ims.ca Maria D’Urso, Project Manager Mariad@ims.ca CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHY Zacarias Garcia, Paula Morrison, United Nations Foundation, Rene Redfield Shaw, Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS To order photos from the events go to: www.diplomaticconnections.com Send any name or address changes in writing to: Diplomatic Connections 4410 Massachusetts Avenue / #200 Washington, DC 20016 Diplomatic Connections Business Edition is published bi-monthly. Diplomatic Connections does not endorse any of the goods or services offered herein this publication. Copyright 2013 by Diplomatic Connections All rights reserved.

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Cover photo credits: Presidents Peres and Obama with Israeli PM Netanyahu, Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images; Jordan’s King Abdullah II and President Obama, Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images; Palestinian President Abbas and President Obama, Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images; Dennis Rodman, Stephen Lovekin/ Getty Images; South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images; Kathy Calvin, United Nations Foundation and Anne Richard, U.S. Department of State, United Nations Foundation; Peng Liyuan, Feng Li/Getty Images; Presidents Xi Jinping and Putin, Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images; OAS Spanish Ambassador Hevia, Zacarias Garcia, Diplomatic Connections and Italian Ambassador Bisogniero, Zacarias Garcia, Diplomatic Connections


Airlines and TOURISM TAP Portugal INSIDE BACK COVER Turkey 3 APARTMENTS and HOUSING Dittmar Realty – Courtland Towers 75 Dittmar Realty – Randolph Towers 75 AUTOMOTIVE - CARS and LIMOUSINE SERVICES Admiral Leasing 2 BMW of Rockville 1 EUROPE by CAR 12 Jim Coleman Cadillac 4 Jim Coleman Toyota 5

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Catering Maison Culinaire 23

Fashion and Accessories Bloomingdale’s 96

COMMUNICATIONS InTouch USA Wireless Communications 94

HOME IMPROVEMENTS, CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTORS, DESIGN/REMODELING Metropolitan Energy Savers Co., Inc. 11

Diplomatic Connections Events

Diplomatic Connections Reception, May 8 at The JW Marriott Essex House New York, New York................................................................14 Diplomatic Connections Reception, October 10 at The Peninsula New York, New York......................14 Diplomatic Connections Reception, October 17 at The Fairmont Washington, DC Georgetown.... 15 Diplomatic Connections Reception, November 5 at The Peninsula Beverly Hills, Los Angeles California...................................................................................15 EDUCATION – INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS Allendale Columbia School 9 Case Western Reserve University 12 Florida Institute of Technology 12 French-American School of New York 13 Le Lycee Francais de Los Angeles 11 Montverde Academy 11 Ogden International School of Chicago 12 Randolph-Macon Academy 13 Ranney School 13 St. Thomas More School 9 Weatherhead School of Management 12 Westover School 13

HOTELS, DINING and ACCOMMODATIONS The Concordia Hotel Washington, D.C. 37 [The] Fairfax at Embassy Row 52 & 53 Fairmont Washington, DC – Georgetown BACK COVER [The] Hay-Adams 22 InterContinental – Cleveland Clinic 36 JW Marriott Essex House New York 41 [The] Madison 95 Mandarin Oriental Washington, D.C. 56 Peninsula Beverly Hills INSIDE Front COVER Peninsula New York 74 Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City 6 Trump Hotel Central Park New York 57

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Humanitarian Roll Back Malaria Partnership 8 Investment U.S. International Investment Center 10 Spa Red Door Spa – Elizabeth Arden 7 TRAVEL, PASSPORTS AND VISAS VFS Global 10

ENTERTAINMENT [The] Embassy Series 23

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Featured Articles Alliance Francaise 54 China’s First Lady – Peng Liyuan 76 Dennis Rodman in North Korea 58 Diplomatic Connections March Reception 66 Diplomatic Connections April Reception 86 Italy – Interview with Ambassador Bisogniero 18 OAS – Interview with Ambassador Hevia 42 President Obama’s trip to the Middle East 26 United Nations Foundation International Women’s Day 38

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Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero on Italy’s year-long culture blitz and what it’s all about By Roland Flamini Time was that when an ambassador agreed to an interview, the subject was foreign affairs. But the practice of diplomacy has changed significantly in the past decade, and with it the role of ambassador. In today’s competition-driven global economy, for example, chiefs of mission are in part super-salesmen for their country’s exports. Twenty-four-hour news cycles have also made ambassadors and their embassies centers of quick response to developments affecting their respective countries — using all the hi-tech tools of the communications trade. This year, Italy wrapped the different elements of the new diplomacy in one giant cornucopia of art, music, literature, design, science, technology and innovation, and unleashed it on the American public as “2013: Year of Italian Culture in the United States.” Heavily underwritten by Italian business, the project ranges in scope from a celebration of Giuseppe Verdi’s 200th anniversary to scientific research, and from an exhibition of the contents of the Medici family’s jewelry box to Italian cinema festivals in several U.S. cities (including Atlanta, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Los

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Angeles, Miami and San Francisco). The point man of this massive project, Italy’s Ambassador to the United States Claudio Bisogniero, took time out in March from criss-crossing the country to open exhibitions and chair discussions to talk to Diplomatic Connections about “2013: Year of Italian Culture in the United States,” and other issues. Sitting in the grand salon of Villa Firenze, the gracious ambassador’s residence, he began by outlining the bi-lateral implications of the project. Ambassador Bisogniero: Well, first of all we want to strengthen the already solid relationship between Italy and the United States. We think that for a country like Italy, culture is really an excellent way to establish ties stronger than we have today, but also it’s a way for us to try to foster some stronger bonds between institutions, American museums and Italian museums, universities, research centers. Ideally, I would like each of the scheduled events to be the springboard for longer term relationships. When I look at an event that lasts, let’s assume from March 15 to April 15, I’m more interested in what happens on the 16th of April, in the


H.E. Claudio Bisogniero, Ambassador of Italy to the United States

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legacy it carries — what happens the day after, with those research centers, those universities. Diplomatic Connections: So, the intention is to strengthen your presence. Ambassador Bisogniero: In a way, yes it is. The Italian presence here, but also ties between American institutions and those back home. Diplomatic Connections: It’s a two-way street for American technology directed towards Italy and — Ambassador Bisogniero: There’s also an economic dimension to the whole initiative, and there are companies that are in the United States with their technology, and they are financing many of these events. So, we also see it as a way to promote the presence and the knowledge about Italian companies in the United States. Finally, there is also another aspect that is rarely mentioned, and this is the focus on the younger generations. We want to reach out to the younger generations through a variety of events, some of them based on contemporary music and jazz, and design and technology and research. In Washington, we have an event based on the Metro system with beautiful posters of Italy on the Washington busses and subway cars, and also very short Italian poems — one to three verses translated into English. This is a way for us to reach out to a wider audience than the one that would normally go to museums and opera houses. Diplomatic Connections: What about the timing. Why in 2013? Ambassador Bisogniero: When the Then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was asked at a press conference what she thought about “2013: The Year of Italian Culture in the United States,” her reply was “2013? Well, for me every year is the year of Italian culture,” and I think she has a point. Diplomatic Connections: But the year also marks several anniversaries. Ambassador Bisogniero: Obviously 2013 is important. It is, for instance, the 200th anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi, and, of course, yes, several works by Giuseppe Verdi are planned, including the opera La Forza del Destino in Washington, DC; and we will have Riccardo Muti in Chicago conducting a series of prestigious concerts. 2013 is also the 500th anniversary of the composition of the famous book “The Prince” by [Niccolò] Macchiavelli, a work which is very much up-to-date in today’s world politics. It’s also the 700th anniversary of [Giovanni] Boccaccio [author of “The Decameron”], another very distinguished Italian — and I could go on and on, so I think Hillary Clinton had a point. Every year, 20

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there are so many things related to Italian culture. Diplomatic Connections: Another thing that comes to mind is that it’s a good way to counter some of the negative atmosphere resulting from the eurozone crisis. Ambassador Bisogniero: It goes without saying, for a country like Italy, culture is a very strong asset. So, of course, we like to showcase our best facets and to promote our very strong points. I think Italy has few rivals around the world in terms of culture; very few countries can compare to our great cultural traditions. It’s just natural that we try to put on record what is good for us. But frankly, this is not only about the great Italian cultural and artistic tradition. Obviously, it’s there and it’s a great point from which to begin, but the project is also about today’s Italy. It’s about innovation. It’s about design, science and technology. It’s about research. We want to promote our great Italian history and cultural tradition, which we are proud of, but also Italy’s creativity and eagerness to the future. Diplomatic Connections: And your role is to travel around the country more than you do already to promote this ambitious program. Ambassador Bisogniero: My role, together with my excellent staff, is to try to put this whole thing together, which was a major effort in terms of finding the right events, the right hosts among the states’ museums and opera houses, and the funding for them. Diplomatic Connections: Yes. Talk about the funding of “2013: The Year of Italian Culture in the United States.” Ambassador Bisogniero: Given the financial crisis, this is not the time when we can seek government funding for an event like this. So unlike other similar events, which we did in other parts of the world in the past few years — in China and in Russia — in conjunction with the government in Rome, we decided not to seek large state financing for this. So what we’re using are limited available funds, but mainly significant private sponsoring through a form of public-private partnership; this is something quite normal in the U.S., but frankly not as common in Europe, and in Italy in particular. But it’s turning out to work quite fine. We’re talking about 200 events in 50 American cities involving more than 80 American museums, universities, opera houses, concert halls, so this is a major event; and to have been able to do it with virtually limited public funding and important private funding I think is an excellent model for Italy. Diplomatic Connections: You have a Ministry of Culture as well as a Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Which one of you has

taken the lead in this project?

Ambassador Bisogniero: Well, initially, the Foreign Ministry, as in the past, has taken the lead. But, we’re working very, very closely with the Ministry of Culture and with other institutions to join forces and to make this possible. Diplomatic Connections: From your personal point of view, which is the most ambitious single event in this program? Ambassador Bisogniero: We began on December 12th with high works, with the Michelangelo statue [of DavidApollo] from the Museo del Bargello [in Florence] and it doesn’t get any better than that, which was a huge success both on the opening night and in terms of numbers. We continued with the Capitoline Brutus in Boston, the celebrations for cooperation in space between Italy and the U.S. in Washington and Philadelphia, fine cuisine appointments in New York, Washington and Los Angeles. All these events have a different character in themselves, encompassing a variety of sectors and involving a wide range of cities. In November, I was in Los Angeles and I inaugurated two events. One was an exhibition of early Florentine art at the Getty Museum which included seven works by Giotto, and you know how rare it is to show even just one Giotto! The next day, I went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to open an exhibition with eight Caravaggios. In a speech I said that, you had in LA seven Giottos and eight Caravaggios thanks to this program. There is no other city in the world where that is the case. This tells you that this is an extremely rich calendar. And yet, this is only the beginning! I mentioned the concerts by Riccardo Muti in Chicago. We’re working on major events at the Metropolitan [Museum] in New York, where we will bring the stunning bronze figure of the Boxer at Rest. Also, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington will host Leonardo’s Codex on Flight. These are just a few events. We have Pinocchio performances all over the U.S. and Piccolo Teatro di Milano will perform Eduardo De Filippo in Chicago. There are several displays of Barrique, which are wonderful wooden design objects hand-crafted from the staves of old barrels by some of the young men and women at San Patrignano [Europe’s largest drug rehabilitation center], not to mention a wide range of scientific seminars all across the United States. Diplomatic Connections: It’s also a matter of penetration, isn’t it? Of being in areas that could be considered offthe-beaten-track for such initiatives. Ambassador Bisogniero: Oh yes, no city in the United States is remote. But we are in locations like Pittsburgh, we’re

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addition to the normal work of the embassy, I presume?

Ambassador Bisogniero: Yes, it is. So, it’s a big strain. I hate to say it, but it’s such a rewarding kind of activity that there’s a great deal of enthusiasm for the work. Diplomatic Connections: Another issue that has your personal attention, as well as that of the embassy, is social media. It’s a curious shift in the diplomatic practice, which is that diplomats used to talk almost exclusively to other diplomats, and in a language not many outsiders understood. Yet, now you are talking to people you’ve never even met. How does this change the way you function? Ambassador Bisogniero: Completely. One of the very first things I did when I got here was to open my Twitter account. I use it on a daily basis, writing and responding and reading it. There are a couple of ways in which social media have changed the way we do business. Firstly, you cannot just talk anymore only to the usual customers for your work. You really need to be able to reach out and to respond promptly to instances and arguments and questions that come from society. That leads you to being much quicker — there’s an element of speed, there’s an element of having to listen and to register what kind of input you are getting from the general public. So it has changed the way we do things

Louis Garden

in Hartford, in Reno, Nevada, Kansas City — as many as 50 cities around the country. Diplomatic Connections: In other interviews, you have emphasized the role of Italian-Americans in this project. Please talk a little about that aspect. Ambassador Bisogniero: The Italian-American community in this country is a huge point of reference for all of our activities — economic, cultural. We find that there is an automatic response from this community of 26 million people of Italian descent. They are very proud of being American, but at the same time very proud of their Italian descent and their heritage. Their response when we put this whole thing together has really been outstanding all over the country. So even if the initiative is targeted to the U.S. as such, well beyond the Italian-American community, I can tell you that their role has been fundamental in making this the success that it is. Diplomatic Connections: How has the community helped the project? Ambassador Bisogniero: In some instances, they have helped us put together events, find the right location or provide support for those events. In a variety of ways, depending on the initiative, they’ve tried to help. Diplomatic Connections: And this project is going on in

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immensely. Also, in a more natural way; after the Sandy hurricane, I used it, and the embassy used it in a very positive way to disseminate information, to inform about the weather trends, to inform about whom to contact in case of problems. For the embassy, the consulate and general public it turned out to be a great tool. The people really appreciated having this hour-by-hour kind of information. It was also useful during the recent elections to inform the general public on the modalities of the election, where to vote and to reach out to a large audience that this was really very important. I think the Italian Embassy is among the more advanced in the use of social media. Diplomatic Connections: Particularly important to Italian-Americans because many of them vote in the Italian elections. Ambassador Bisogniero: Those who have an Italian passport can vote in the Italian elections. Diplomatic Connections: What kind of things do people Twitter you about? Ambassador Bisogniero: Well, they react to developments, they ask practical questions relating to consular issues such as how can they get a certain document. There’s an immediate way to respond. I think the fundamental element

of all this is the connection. At a time when a ministry, a government, has a certain image of a certain disconnect with society, Twitter allows us to really connect and provide answers in a way that regular email does not allow. You send an email to a department and you don’t know exactly when you’ll get an answer. With Twitter, it happens immediately.

Diplomatic Connections: Have you ever been cyberattacked?

Ambassador Bisogniero: Not that I know. It’s a danger to which we have to pay very careful attention. Diplomatic Connections: What are the most pressing elements of an ambassador’s job in 2013? Ambassador Bisogniero: I think that what the ambassador has to do today is a lot of explanation about the positions that are taken back home on the most important international issues, economic trends, financial trends, domestic policy. Herein lies a change. The world is much more interconnected today than it was 20 years ago. Obviously, events that occur in certain parts of the world have an immediate impact on the economic and financial markets in the U.S., in Japan, in Asia. So from that point of view, the immediacy of the information one gives — and the exactness of that information — is very important. n

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Obama and Netanyahu Use Political Successes to Reboot Bilateral Relations and Regional Diplomacy Israeli President Shimon Peres, U.S. President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Lod, Israel in March of 2013. This was President Obamaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first visit to Israel and the West Bank; his trip encompassed three days of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. 26

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By James A. Winship, Ph.D.


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President Obama (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) sample matza bread offered to them by small robots during a tour of a technology exposition at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on March 21, 2013.

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arack Obama made certain that the first foreign trip of his second term as President of the United States was to meet with the leaders and the people of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. The agenda was to reset relationships that had been strained by the domestic political requirements of each country and the complex of conflicts that make the broader Middle East region a tinderbox of revolutionary political change. These include competing aspirations for power, and a difficult dialog struggling to define the nexus between differing interpretations of religious faith and its role in political rule. The presidential trip was a pointed reminder that diplomacy contains important elements of emotion and heartfelt national identity alongside the sometimes arcane calculus of national security concerns. These concerns encapsulate a range of issues â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the nuances of seeking multilateral support within the United Nations Security Council for ever-stiffer sanctions against violators of the regional order and those seeking to break out of the nuclear non-proliferation regime plus the complex trade-offs of diplomatic negotiations seeking to break the persistent log-jam in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, recognizing their past differences, were candid about the impact


their respective re-elections had on their diplomatic relations. From Netanyahu’s point of view, despite his election year tilt toward Mitt Romney, Obama is now president of the United States for the next four years. From Obama’s point of view, Netanyahu survived a re-election challenge that has weakened the right-wing of Israeli politics, affording him an opportunity to display somewhat greater flexibility in dealing with the multiple regional challenges facing Israel.

When Itinerary Becomes Diplomacy The itinerary for Obama’s trip was carefully orchestrated to allow time for extensive bilateral talks between leaders, but also to engage in a carefully calibrated series of diplomatic sign acts designed to touch people’s hearts as well as to demonstrate Obama’s awareness of the deep historical memories and emotional commitments cherished by different national and faith groups. After landing in Tel Aviv, location of the American Embassy in Israel, Obama toured an “Iron Dome” missile battery near the city. It highlighted the critical role that this jointly developed Israeli-American missile defense system played in deflecting the worst effects of repeated missile attacks from the Gaza Strip. From there, he proceeded to Jerusalem, official capital and literal heart of Israel’s national identity, for discusIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and President Obama visit the shrine of the book and view the Dead Sea Scroll on March 21, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. This was President Obama’s first visit as president to the region, and his itinerary included meetings with the Palestinian and Israeli leaders as well as a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

sions and a working dinner with Netanyahu. President Obama began his second day in Israel with visits to the Israel Museum to view the Dead Sea Scrolls followed by a visit to a technology exposition touting the latest Israeli innovations and high-tech entrepreneurship. He then traveled to Ramallah on the West Bank, administrative capital for the Palestinian National Authority, where he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad before visiting the Al-Bireh Youth Center. Back in Jerusalem, Obama gave a nationally televised speech before attending an official dinner hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres. He presented Obama with Israel’s Presidential Medal of Distinction, the country’s highest civilian honor awarded to persons “who have made an outstanding contribution to the State of Israel or to humanity, through their talents, services or in any other form.” The third day of the trip began with President Obama participating in wreath-laying ceremonies on Mount Herzl at the graves of Theodor Herzl (1860 – 1904), who laid the intellectual foundations for the modern Israeli state and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (1922 – 1995), the Israeli general, statesman and prime minister who was assassinated by a right-wing Israeli extremist who rejected Rabin’s signing the Oslo Peace Accords with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The Oslo Accords created the Palestinian National Authority and gave it control over portions of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in exchange for the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) agreement to renounce violence. The PLO and the state of Israel exchanged mutual assurances of recognition of the other as a part of that agreement. From Mount Herzl, President Obama moved on to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, where he participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Hall of Remembrance. Next to the Wailing Wall, a surviving piece of the ancient Second Temple, the Yad Vashem Memorials to the victims of the Holocaust are virtually a sacred site and the most emotionally engaging symbol of modern Israel’s existence as a sovereign state. In the afternoon, Obama traveled to Bethlehem in the Palestinian territories where he visited the Church of the Nativity, marking the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, with Palestinian Authority President Abbas before traveling on to Amman, Jordan, for meetings with King Abdullah II. Before returning to the United States, the President visited the ancient stone-cut city of Petra, which has become symbolic of the Jordanian state.

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and President Barack Obama give a joint press conference following meetings at the Muqata, the Palestinian Authority headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 21, 2013.

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In a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama was quite explicit about his goals for the visit, chief among them touching the hearts of the people and leaders with whom he met and listening carefully to their concerns . . . including their disagreements. “My main goal on this trip,” Obama underscored, “has been to have an opportunity to speak directly to the Israeli people. I want to make sure that the Israeli people and the Israeli government consistently understand my thinking and how I’m approaching this problem. And I want to understand how the Israeli government and the Prime Minister are approaching this problem to make sure that there are no misunderstandings there.” If the Obama schedule was heavy on symbolic visits, it was also laden with multiple opportunities for on- and offthe-record conversations with key leaders. While transcripts

of their conversations are not available, Netanyahu and Obama made clear in their press conference the range of topics that had been discussed in depth. These included: reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations based on the two-state model, continuing U.S.-Israeli defense cooperation, the situation in Syria and Iran’s on-going nuclear development program. Netanyahu vividly expressed his concern about, “Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons,” and reiterated his view that, “in order to stop Iran’s nuclear programs peacefully, diplomacy and sanctions must be augmented by a clear and credible threat of military action.” For his part, President Obama was anxious to smooth over the personal element in his relations with Netanyahu. “This is our 10th meeting,” Obama recalled, though it was his first visit to Israel since becoming

Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

Rediscovering the Meaning of Friendship and the Hard Realities of Security


Turning the Tables, Sharing a Dream of Statehood

President Obama (R) and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (C) greet a young dancer following a performance at the Al-Bireh Youth Center in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 21, 2013. Obama expressed full backing for the establishment of a Palestinian state following talks in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

President of the United States in 2009. “We’ve spent more time together, working together, than I have with any leader. And this speaks to the closeness of our two nations, the interests and the values that we share, and the depth and breadth of the ties between our two peoples.” Obama stated repeatedly that, “America’s commitment to the security of the State of Israel is a solemn obligation, and the security of Israel is non-negotiable. America’s support for Israel’s security,” the President continued, “is unprecedented, and the alliance between our nations has never been stronger.” Netanyahu sought to lock down that commitment referring to an “existential threat to Israel” and reiterating that, “Israel can never cede the right to defend ourselves to others, even the greatest of our friends.” That right of self-defense, Netanyahu insisted “speak[s] to the great transformation that has occurred in the life of the Jewish people with the rebirth of the Jewish state. The Jewish people only two generations ago were once a powerless people, defenseless against those who sought our destruction. Today we have both the right and the capability to defend ourselves. The essence of the State of Israel, the essence of the rebirth of the Jewish state is that we’ve fulfilled the age-old dream of Jewish people to be the masters of our fate in our own state.”

President Obama used that very imagery as he spoke to Israeli young people and the Jewish nation as a whole in his address at the Jerusalem Convention Center on the second day of his trip. “Israel,” he told his audience, “is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea: the idea that a people deserve to be free in a land of their own. And, over the last 65 years, when Israel has been at its best, Israelis have demonstrated that responsibility does not end when you reach the promised land, it only begins.” After listing Israel’s security concerns and enumerating the many ways that the United States actively seeks to support Israel’s security — from the joint development of the “Iron Dome” missile defense system to denunciation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and from denouncing the possible use of chemical weapons by President Bashar al-Assad in Syria to opposing the development of nuclear weapons by Iran — Obama did an emotional turn to the concerns of the Palestinian people trying to breathe life into the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It was no accident that the Obama trip was scheduled for the days approaching the Jewish celebration of Passover, the holiday that retells the story of the Exodus, remembers the Holocaust and reiterates the aspirations of the people of Israel for peace and wholeness. The President used that imagery of struggle and identity to underscore his support for the state of Israel and to demonstrate his emotional connection to the Palestinian people. He called upon his Israeli audience to look at the world through Palestinian eyes. “It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movement of her parents every single day,” noted Obama as he sought to parallel the Israeli dream of statehood. “It is not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. It is not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; to restrict a student’s ability to move around the West Bank or to displace Palestinian families from their home. Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be free people in their own land.”

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Obama heard the Palestinian view for himself when he met with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. “Peace is possible,” Abbas told a joint press conference. “We believe,” he said, “that peacemaking, as much as it requires political courage, also requires an expression of good faith, a recognition of people’s rights, respect for the other, and dissemination of a culture of peace and a commitment to international legitimacy and its resolutions. Certainly peace shall not be made through violence, occupaPresident Barack Obama (L) visits the tion, walls, settlements, arrests, siege and Church of the Nativity with Palestinian denial of refugee rights.” President Mahmoud Abbas on March 22, 2013, in Bethlehem, West Bank. President Obama responded by praising President Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, “for the progress they’ve made in building the institutions of a Palestinian state. The United States,” Obama continued, “is proud Palestinian origin. Added to that have been almost 500,000 to be a partner in these efforts — as the largest single donor of Syrian refugees. assistance that improves the lives of Palestinians, both in the After reiterating his support for resuming PalestinianWest Bank and Gaza.” He pointed out that, “All of this stands Israeli negotiations based on the two-state solution, King in marked contrast to the misery and repression that so many Abdullah turned to what he called Jordan’s homegrown Palestinians continue to confront in Gaza — because Hamas reform model. “What we are seeing is the third way in the refuses to renounce violence; because Hamas cares more about Middle East,” said King Abdullah. “We are seeing that the enforcing its own rigid dogmas than allowing Palestinians to Arab Spring is behind us; we in Jordan are looking now at live freely and because, too often, it focuses on tearing down the Arab Summer for us all, which means that we all have to Israel rather than building Palestine up.” roll [up] our sleeves. It’s going to be a bumpy and difficult Obama was as unequivocal in his support for a Palestinroad, but I am very encouraged with the process and I am ian state as he was staunch in his support for Israel’s security very excited about the future.” The two leaders also consulted and right to exist. “We seek,” he stated, “an independent, a on the Syrian crisis reissuing a call for President Assad to step viable and contiguous Palestinian state as the homeland of down and agreeing to work together to strengthen a credible the Palestinian people, alongside the Jewish State of Israel Syrian opposition. — two nations enjoying self-determination, security and Obama described Jordan as an invaluable ally and a great peace. The only way to achieve that goal,” Obama insisted, “is friend of the United States. “Today,” the President noted, through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians “our partnership in development, education, health, science themselves. There is no shortcut to a sustainable solution.” and technology improves the lives of our peoples. Our close When President Obama visited with King Abdullah II security cooperation keeps your citizens and ours safe from of Jordan, much of the conversation focused on the chaotic, terrorism. Your military and police help train other security violent, fragmented situation in Syria and the overwhelming forces from the Palestinian Authority to Yemen.” Obama flow of refugees from that country into Jordan, itself a counreiterated the U.S. commitment to Jordan’s security, praised try already teeming with Palestinian refugees. Estimates are Jordan’s political reform efforts and announced plans for that more than one-third of Jordan’s six million people are of both loan guarantees and budget support to assist Jordan in 32

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Visits to the West Bank and Jordan


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dealing with the refugee issue. In response to a reporter’s question, the U.S. President also held out a vision of the region’s future that included Jordan’s political reform efforts. “One of the things we know is happening in this region,” said Obama, “is that if we fail to create a model in the Arab world in which people can live side-by-side — regardless of whether

they are Sunni or Shi’a or Alawaites or Druze — regardless of the manner in which they worship their God — if we don’t create that possibility, then these problems are going to occur again and again and again and again.”

Substance as Well as Ceremony

Presidential diplomatic forays are often criticized as long on ceremony and short on substance, and certainly expectations for “success” on this peacemaking trip were intentionally kept low. The trip did, however, result in a surprising number of solid deliverables. Perhaps the most surprising of these was a reconciliation that President Obama brokered between Israel and Turkey, i.e., between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Erdogan. That relationship was ruptured in 2010 when Israeli naval commandos forcibly boarded a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid in order to force them into an Israeli port for inspection. That raid resulted in the deaths of nine activists, including eight Turks and one American, as well as injuries to 10 Israeli commandos. Repairing the relationship was a crucial piece in President Obama’s efforts to strengthen regional resolve to meet the challenges of Syrian disintegration and Iranian nuclear proliferation. President Obama (C) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas tour the Church of the Nativity, built on the site where Beyond that small but important diplomatic tradition says Jesus was born, in the West Bank city of reconciliation, Israel has also announced that it will Bethlehem, on March 22, 2013, on the final day of Obama’s 3-day trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. resume the monthly transfer of taxes and customs duties collected by Israel in the name of the Palestinian Authority. The transfer of these revenues, suspended in November 2012 as a protest against the Palestinian Authority’s successful bid for nonmember observer status at the United Nations, provides critical resources for the struggling Palestinian Authority government on the West Bank. The resumption also represents a significant confidence-building measure on the path to restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. During his time in the region, President Obama was able to shore-up personal relationships at the beginning of his second term and announce continuing or expanded American support programs to Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. He was also able to announce the beginning of negotiations on a new 10year program of military cooperation and assistance to Israel. Most important, however, may be a less visible accomplishment — to strengthen a regional network of support to recognize and respond to the severe threats to regional security represented by a fractious, disinD I P L O M A T I C C O N N E C T I O N S B U S I N E S S edition | M a y - J une 2 0 1 3

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President Obama (C) poses with Palestinian kids during a visit to the Church of the Nativity with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) on March 22, 2013 in Bethlehem, West Bank.

tegrating Syria on the brink of a failed state scenario. These threats are exacerbated by the presence of chemical weapons and the insistent nuclear development program of Iran, aggravated by its meddling in the affairs of its neighbors and its potential to kick-start the spread of nuclear weapons in an already volatile region.

President Obama’s motorcade passes a donkey as he leaves the ancient city of Petra, in Jordan, on March 23, 2013.

The fundamental premise underlying President Obama’s trip to Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan was transparent in his speech to the young people of Israel and across the region. “Peace begins — not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people; not just in a carefully designed process, but in the daily connections that take place among those who live together in this land and in this sacred city of Jerusalem. Speaking as a politician, I can promise you this: political leaders will not take risks if the people do not demand that they do. You must create the change that you want to see.” Everywhere he went, President Obama not only emphasized the hard work, the security assurances, the risk taking and the confidence-building measures necessary to achieve peace, he also shifted the responsibility for finding a formula for peace and for making peace work to a new generation. “You live in a neighborhood,” he told young Israelis, “where 34

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Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The Softer Side of Security

many of your neighbors have rejected your right to exist. Your grandparents had to risk their lives and all they had to make a place for themselves in this world. Your parents lived through war after war to ensure the survival of the Jewish state. Your children grow up knowing that people they never met hate them because of who they are, in a region that is changing underneath their feet.” Israelis “have every right to be skeptical about whether peace can be achieved,” Obama acknowledged. “You can be the generation that permanently secures the Zionist dream, or you can face a growing challenge to its future. Today, as we face the twilight of Israel’s founding generation,” the


Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

A billboard on a main street by the Ankara municipality to thank Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reads: “ We are grateful to you ” in Ankara, on March 25, 2013, three days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkey over the death of nine Turkish citizens on board a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010.

President insisted, ”you — the young people of Israel — must now claim the future. It falls to you to write the next chapter in the history of this great nation.” This Obama trip was, in a sense, part of a pair of bookends that began with his speech to Egyptian students in Cairo, Egypt, early, in his first term. Now, at the beginning of his second term, Obama spoke to students in Israel with a message intended to carry over to Palestinian and Jordanian students as well. After reaffirming in the strongest terms possible the commitment of the United States to Israel’s right to exist, Obama struck the most critical theme of the entire trip. He spoke the four words in Hebrew to an Israeli audience, but they were intended to be heard across the region: “So long as there is a United States of America, you are not alone.” n

Jordan’s King Abdullah II (back C-R) and President Obama (back C-L) listen to their national anthems during a welcoming ceremony at Al-Hummar Palace in Amman on March 22, 2013.

Mandel Ngan/AFP/GettyImages

President Obama and Jordan’s King Abdullah II (L) review the honor guard during a welcome ceremony at Al-Hummar Palace on March 22, 2013 in the Jordanian capital Amman. Obama arrived in Jordan to face scrutiny over his Syria strategy, on the last leg of a Middle East tour after challenging Israelis to embrace peace with Palestinians.

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By Monica Frim

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very year, on March 8, millions of people throughout the world unite in celebration of the achievements of women. In many Asian and African countries International Women’s Day is even an official holiday in which men honor the special women in their lives with flowers and gifts. Paradoxically, violence against women remains an ongoing concern among governments, NGOs, private citizens and representatives from thousands of private and public institutions. Under the official United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2013, “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women,” people the world over joined together to not only demand greater safety and security for women, but also to celebrate the achievements of women over the past 100 or so years — ever since that ground-breaking march down the streets of New York in 1908 by 15,000 women demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. Times have changed and so have the issues. For the most

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part, women in the developed world have achieved parity. But as Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations since 2007, said in his address on the theme of violence against women, “This year on International Women’s Day, we convert our outrage into action. We declare that we will prosecute crimes against women — and never allow women to be subjected to punishments for the abuses they have suffered. We renew our pledge to combat this global health menace wherever it may lurk — in homes and businesses, in war zones and placid countries, and in the minds of people who allow violence to continue.” The United Nations Foundation, in collaboration with the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, hosted a luncheon at The Mayflower Hotel, Washington, DC, on the eve of International Women’s Day. Coincidentally, it was also the very day that President Obama signed into law the expanded Violence Against Women Act first passed in 1994. The expanded act makes it easier to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence


United Nations Foundation

and provides funding for services such as battered women’s on society,” she said, then followed with a story of a microshelters and hotlines. It also provides extended coverage to finance loan to a woman in purdah. When Buvinic asked the immigrants, Native Americans and homosexuals, and supwoman what she had done with her loan, she replied she had ports the ending of child marriages. Obama’s proclamation made money in a handicraft business and had given some of that, “all women have the right to live free from fear” drives home the act’s global relevance. Propitiously, the luncheon discussion on “Women’s Economic Empowerment” was an upbeat event that focused on the importance of collaboration among the many global organizations that support women’s issues. The common thread was developing programs and opportunities to help women achieve their power and potential. Yes, the priority was ending sexual violence, but if any defining statement came out at the luncheon it was that sexual violence, economic empowerment and education are all connected. Solve one and Mayra Buvinic, Senior Fellow of the United Nations Foundation and Sarah Craven, you’re well on your way to solving Chief of the Washington Office, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) another. Kathy Calvin, President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Foundation, moderated a panel discussion among that money to her unemployed husband. He, in turn, bought three leaders on women’s issues: Anne Richard, Assistant a rickshaw and started a taxi business. But the biggest benefit Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration; was that once the husband was immersed in a business that Sarah Craven, Chief of the United Nation’s Population Fund’s gave him pride, he stopped beating his wife. It was one of Washington office; and Mayra Buvinic, Senior Fellow with several stories that correlated how the economic empowerthe United Nations Foundation and Vital Voices, an NGO ment of women works toward the betterment of families. that trains women leaders around the world. Part of that empowerment is also rooted in family plan Calvin expressly highlighted a positive focus. “Something ning and education so that girls are not forced into child marwe often forget to do is celebrate the progress of women,” riages and early pregnancies. According to Buvinic, a 19-year she said. Milestones give pride to past efforts and successes, study in Bangladesh proved that women who had access to and encourage future opportunities and programs. By way of reproductive information were able to increase their earnexample, she enumerated three important landmarks from ings by 40 percent. Craven explained some other benefits 2012: last October’s first-ever International Day of the Girl of controlling family size, especially in situations where the Child, which, in future, will be celebrated every year; the woman is the head of the household. “Families are vulnerable London Summit on Family Planning hosted jointly by the when a mother is not healthy or dies. Kids are left to fend for U.K. government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation themselves. Very young children have to go out and work to support women’s universal access to contraception and and take care of even younger children. It cripples the entire reproductive rights; and President Obama’s signing of the family. But when you have a really good health center… and Violence Against Women Act. when women can plan the size of their families ... and deliver Buvinic also illustrated stories of success. “Empowera baby safely, everything works much better.” ing women economically has huge developmental benefits According to Richard, the best way to empower women D I P L O M A T I C C O N N E C T I O N S B U S I N E S S edition | M a y - J une 2 0 1 3

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United Nations Foundation

Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation and Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, U.S. Department of State

is, “to make sure they are healthy … If they’re okay they can give care to their families … and they can start moving toward being leaders.” Buvinic cited numerous collaborative studies that are geared toward understanding what really works in empowering women in developing countries. “We have come a long way,” she said. “The progress that has been made is amazing and has been the work of all the women who fought very, very hard. But there is still a lot of work that has to be done … We are moving away from seeing women as vulnerable toward seeing them as powerful contributors to their society.” The ExxonMobil Foundation is one of many organizations that has partnered with the UN Foundation to work on strategies and research that will ensure empowerment to vulnerable women. Noa Gimelli, Director of the Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative of the ExxonMobil Foundation, 40

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succinctly summed up not only ExxonMobil’s views but also the ideals of the entire audience, which consisted of representatives from all sectors: nonprofit, government and private. According to Gimelli, “Creating an environment in which all women can reach their potential and thrive economically is one of the best ways to achieve prosperity because it creates success that extends beyond the individual, reaching a woman’s entire family, the community and the entire nation.” She urged all present to read ExxonMobil’s research report on advancing women’s economic empowerment due out in April 2013. Clearly, success lies in collaboration. And, according to Calvin, in the artful quip of the UN Foundation’s founder, media mogul Ted Turner:,“Stop doing the dumb things; start doing the smart things.” The women’s economic empowerment movement is right on course. n


Ambassador Jorge Hevia, Spainâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Permanent Observer to the Organization of American States (OAS)

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James A. Winship, Ph.D.

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mbassador Jorge Hevia, Spain’s Permanent Observer to the OAS International Organization, notes that his country has a “special commitment” to playing a continuing role in the political, economic, and cultural affairs of the Western Hemisphere. “In the second half of the 20th century,” Ambassador Hevia observed, as he presented his credentials to OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza in March 2012, that, “international organizations have played a key role in the transformation of the global political landscape.” Spain was the very first state outside the hemisphere to be accredited as a permanent observer at the Organization of

American States in 1972, and it has signified the importance it attaches to that status by establishing a Permanent Observer Mission to the Organization of American States in Washington, DC, entirely separate from its Embassy to the United States. Spain’s commitment was reinforced in 1998 by the signing of an agreement between the Spanish International Cooperation Agency and the OAS that resulted in the creation of a Spanish Fund intended to supplement the OAS’ operating budget and to support designated OAS programs. Being ambassador to an international organization in which your country is not even eligible for membership but to which your country attaches great importance is

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an unusual diplomatic assignment. Ambassador Hevia may be a career diplomat, but he is quick to say, “I have not had a traditional diplomatic career.” Trained as a lawyer at the Autonomous University of Madrid before entering the diplomatic corps, Ambassador Hevia’s assignments have not been limited to the foreign ministry and international outposts. His first posting was to the Spanish embassy to the Dominican Republic. While assigned to Spain’s embassy to the Holy See (the Vatican), he studied canon law and received a Doctor of Laws degree, which gave him a deep appreciation for the history of the church and the ways in which religious ethics and foreign policy implicate each other. Returning to Spain, Hevia was assigned to the Cortes 44

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Generales (the Spanish parliament) where he worked as Diplomatic Advisor to the Speaker of the House. “In the Foreign Ministry,” Hevia recalls, “there are many diplomats and you have to find your space. But, at the parliament, I was the only professional diplomat.” That meant Hevia was present whenever foreign dignitaries came to see the Speaker and that he was responsible for organizing the Speaker’s and members’ foreign travel. From the parliament, Hevia went to the Ministry of Defense where he worked on a variety of issues related to foreign affairs and national security. The Ministry of Defense also has responsibilities for preserving Spain’s cultural heritage and national identity. Hevia was, for a time, Director of


Special Meeting of the Permanent Council, March 13, 2013

Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS

in Washington, D.C.

Institutional Relations in charge of “heritage” — overseeing the operations of castles, museums, communications media and a broad range of cultural activities. After nine years of diverse assignments in Spain, Hevia was named as Ambassador to El Salvador (2004 –2008). From there he returned to Rome as a cultural attaché at the Spanish Embassy (2008 – 2011). The last step on Ambassador Hevia’s journey to Washington, DC, and the OAS, was assignment as Deputy Director General of MERCOSUR Countries in the General Direction for Latin America at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in Madrid. Few ambassadors come to their assignments with experience not only in the diplomatic corps but also in legislative

affairs, national security, administrative agencies and parallel training in both public law and church law. It is an unusual skill set and one well adapted for Ambassador Hevia’s current assignment at the Organization of American States. There, he must monitor the work of the Organization and its 34 member states plus represent Spain as first among equals before the more than 60 states and the European Union that have been accorded Permanent Observer status at the OAS. Ambassador Hevia was kind enough to sit down with Diplomatic Connections for a fascinating extended conversation that ranged across his career development; the interactions between law, politics and diplomacy; the work of multilateral diplomacy; Spain’s current economic situation and issues before the OAS. An edited version of that conversation is presented here. For the full interview, please visit our website at: www.diplomaticconnections.com Diplomatic Connections: Ambassador, thank you for this opportunity to join you in your office. Ambassador Hevia: Thank you. It is a pleasure to have you here.

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Diplomatic Connections: How did you decide to become a diplomat?

Ambassador Hevia: I really liked to travel when I was young. I remember I went twice to Ireland to study English during the summer. And then I came to the United States in 1976 to spend two months in Bethesda, not very far away from where I live now. Then I went to Italy. I was very interested in studying languages. I realized that it was wonderful to learn to speak a foreign language both to establish friendships and to gain real insights into cultures other than my own. That’s why, after studying law, I decided to join the diplomatic service. Diplomatic Connections: Your Doctor of Laws degree is from part of what is sometimes called the Pontifical Athenaeum, the collection of universities that are part of the Vatican. Why did you choose to study there? What is different about studying in that context? Ambassador Hevia: When I was sent to Rome to work with the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, I was offered the chance to attend lectures on canon law at St. Thomas Aquinas University, part of Angellicum University there. I actually attended the university at the same time that I was assigned to diplomatic duties at the Holy See. It was a wonderful opportunity to broaden my study of law with a parallel education in canon law. Diplomatic Connections: It is not always understood that the Vatican is a state in its own right and that the Vatican has diplomats around the world. What is it like being part of an embassy to the Holy See? Ambassador Hevia: When you work in the Embassy to the Holy See, you’re monitoring the actions and statements of the Pope and of the Roman Curia as they impact your own country and as they respond to unfolding global events. The church does play a political role in many issues, some of them local but many of them with far-reaching international implications. The church touches on everything from nuclear disarmament and the rules of war to poverty and international development. Diplomatic Connections: Obviously, you have a deep interest in religion, and you’ve served as a diplomat to the Holy See. How does that religious background influence your diplomatic life? Ambassador Hevia: My religious background influences all aspects of my life. I am a career diplomat and I try to be very, very professional. I keep my personal beliefs to myself. 48

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But, I am a religious person, and I try to offer God my dayto-day life and work. Beyond that, knowing the work of the church in the past and the presence of the church throughout the world, studying and understanding the point of view of Catholic diplomacy, and having strong ties to intelligent church officials from the Vatican have been very useful in my career.

Diplomatic Connections: How is it different working within the boundaries of a multilateral organization like the OAS as opposed to representing your country in bilateral relations? Ambassador Hevia: In a multilateral organization, you don’t have a country and a single government to work with. Your country is the organization and its secretariat. That’s why the Secretary-General is the functional equivalent of the president of my “state,” in this case the OAS. The high officials of the organization are the ones with whom you work every day. Those are your ministers. Your goal is to pay attention to all the meetings and working groups that go on. There are many nuances because very often it seems that nothing new is happening. You have to immerse yourself and your staff in the organization in order to see everything that is happening behind the scenes. Then, also, there are economic ties. We provide funding directly to the organization and to several of its related groups, and that creates a great deal of work as well. Diplomatic Connections: Why is Spain so deeply involved in the Organization of American States? What makes the OAS important enough to merit Spain’s continuous attention? Ambassador Hevia: We can talk about three pillars that make up the core of the OAS. There is the Latin American group, which is very important to us given our history in the region. That group is essential in our foreign policy. Then you have the Caribbean countries. We want to have stronger ties with them. Then you have the northern pillar with Canada and the United States. The OAS, with its strong tradition in Latin American affairs, is very important to us. It is clear that the agenda deals with many issues that are of deep and on-going concern to Spain. We have a commitment to build an Ibero-American community. We believe that we play a useful role, and it is very, very useful for us to be here. Diplomatic Connections: What does it mean to be a “permanent observer” at the Organization of American States? What role does Spain — which is the leading observer state in many ways — play in the diplomatic life and work of the OAS? Ambassador Hevia: In fact, there are 68 observer states


. . . many more than the number of member states. We are very happy with our status, but we’d like to improve it. We have talked very often about the possibility of creating a new category of “Associated State.” We feel we are in a very different position than many of the other observer states. We are part of a smaller group of states, along with France and Italy, that have shown a special commitment to the organization. Diplomatic Connections: Spain is, in fact, the largest outside donor to the OAS and the largest by a considerable margin. Your contributions are nearly twice those of the next largest observer country donor. What would a special “Associated State” status, if it were to be created, convey? Ambassador Hevia: “Associated States” would be granted a special status because they all think that the OAS plays a special role in the Western Hemisphere, and we want to see what’s going on here. We want to be useful in the development of the hemisphere. We want to offer our experience and, where possible, our resources to advance the work of the OAS and to maintain peace and prosperity in the hemisphere. We want to contribute to achieving the important goals of the organization. The fact of being here offers us privileged information because we are routinely here at OAS on a daily, an hourly basis watching situations unfold. Access means that we glean information that is very difficult to have if you are not right here where discussions and deliberations are taking place. It is important for us to be here because we have access to all those countries that are actively involved in the region, which is critical for our foreign policy. Diplomatic Connections: The Charter of the Organization of American States describes the organization as “promot[ing] and consolidat[ing] representative democracy with due respect for the principle of non-intervention.” How does the OAS work to achieve that goal of representative democracy? Ambassador Hevia: Often people see the Permanent Council meetings as the most important work of the organization. But, the OAS has many projects, many initiatives that are not seen. The different secretariats are all working and consolidating democracies, which is one of the main tasks of the organization. The work includes organizing general elections, protecting and expanding human rights, examining the political situations in various member countries, discussing the very meaning of democracy itself, and there is a continuing focus on human development as well as trade and economic issues. The strength and importance of the democracy focus led

to the adoption of the Inter-American Democratic Charter (2001), which details the commitment of the organization to democracy. With that Charter in place, the organization can actually step into a political crisis, at the request of a member state, to help find a solution and to help sustain democracy in that state.

Diplomatic Connections: If we look at the history of the OAS and go back to the predecessor organization, the Pan American Union, we are going back all the way to the end of the 19th century. The organization’s roots are quite old. How has the organization changed over time? How has the OAS evolved itself over the more than 50 years of its existence? Ambassador Hevia: The organization, which was the predecessor of the OAS, was the first regional organization in the world. That is an accomplishment that should be stressed. But, the Americas were different during the era of the Pan American Union. It was very much focused on trade issues and trying to sign commercial and trade agreements between the different countries of the region. It was an organization that was right for that moment. But the situation changed after World War II. That is why they decided to convene a meeting, to change the name and to write and sign a new Charter for the hemisphere — the Organization of American States at the end of the 1940s. The result is quite a different organization much more focused on democracy, on human rights, on economic development and on promoting security. Diplomatic Connections: UNASUR — the Union of South American Nations — is a relatively new presence on the stage dating back to 2008. How is UNASUR different from the OAS? Some critics have charged that it is a challenger to the role of the OAS. Others have said it is an extension of the work of the OAS in a smaller, more condensed group of states. Ambassador Hevia: The Secretary General of the OAS very often says just that. UNASUR is another regional organization. They are not against the OAS. There is no conflict between the OAS and UNASUR. There are many other regional agreements like MERCOSUR and the Andean Pact that coexist with and complement the work of the OAS. Then you have the Pacific Alliance (2012), which is a very new organization of Pacific coastal states in Latin America that are interested in promoting trade between themselves and Asia. All these organizations help to promote the interests of the region. There is no contradiction. Diplomatic Connections: At one point, in 1962, Cuba

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was more or less read out of the Organization of American States. Now, more than 50 years later, what is the status of Cuba with regard to the OAS? Ambassador Hevia: Cuba is currently suspended in the OAS. In 2009, the OAS began conversations about accepting Cuba back into the organization. Finally, the suspension was lifted and the members of the organization invited Cuba to consider rejoining. But, there is one very decisive thing that Cuba needs to do. It must accept the Inter-American Democratic Charter. We could say that the ball is in Cuba’s court. To date they have said that Cuba will not rejoin the organization. Diplomatic Connections: What do you think will be the legacy of Castroism in the hemisphere? Clearly, Fidel Castro is entering the last stages of his life. His brother Raul announced recently that the current five-year term as president will be his last. Ambassador Hevia: It must be admitted that there are many who respect Castro’s role in the so-called liberation of Cuba. There are also many who are highly critical of his authoritarian regime. But, at the same time, it is quite clear that the political situation is not the same as the other countries in the hemisphere. To a certain extent, Cuba today is an anomaly relative to the rest of the continent. I hope that we can help Cuba and the Cubans to go through this transitional moment. Things will change in the future because the present leadership will be leaving the scene in the coming years. We will try to be near Cuba to help the Cuban people through the transitions that are to come. Diplomatic Connections: How does the OAS deal with the tensions that exist between the commitment to democracy and arguments, for example in Venezuela and elsewhere in the hemisphere, that say the nature of true democracy must be reconsidered? These critical voices highlight what they see as the differences between political democracy and economic democracy. Ambassador Hevia: You have different members in the OAS, and they bring different perspectives. All the members share core values, as we said, but at times they do have different interpretations of some of the elements of democracy. Some of them stress the economic aspects of democracy and look closely at the distribution of wealth, while others stress the political, procedural elements of democracy. These differences challenge us to be constantly rethinking the fundamentals and the consequences of actions taken in the name of democracy. There are clearly differences between countries and leaders, but I think the dialogue is positive. 50

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Diplomatic Connections: Mr. Ambassador, you have gone deeply into the workings of the OAS. Is there a special role for Spain behind the scenes? Ambassador Hevia: We are not a member state, but we have a strong presence in the organization. The budget of the OAS is more or less $85 million. That is the ordinary budget. Then there is $70 – 75 million in voluntary program contributions, some from member states such as the United States and Canada and other countries. That does not make a huge budget for the OAS, if you compare it with other organizations. Since 2008, when we signed an agreement to create a Spanish fund to support the work of the OAS, we have given almost $53 million to the organization. That allows us to participate in the day-to-day work of the different secretariats. Whenever we can play a useful and discrete role in the work, we try to do so. Also, we have a variety of contacts throughout the organization. Spanish high officials frequently come here to Washington to talk with high officials of the OAS, and OAS officials frequently visit with their counterparts in Spain. Diplomatic Connections: Last year, Spain made a very large contribution to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which would be under the umbrella of the OAS but above and beyond what Spain’s formal contributions to the OAS itself would be. Why such a large investment in health? Ambassador Hevia: Health is a priority in the Americas and everywhere. If you want to be present in a country, if you want to show your commitment, you have to adopt a certain policy that is of central importance to that field. There is a tradition of being an active participant in the work of PAHO. Our contributions there have been even larger than our contributions to the OAS in the last few years. I remember that my first act when I arrived in Washington was signing an agreement with PAHO for $10.5 million. Now we are working with them, preparing to draft a new plan for the next two years. Diplomatic Connections: Spain has had its own economic difficulties in the midst of economic slowdown throughout the EU, and yet you continue to make large contributions to work in the Western Hemisphere. Could you tell us a bit about the relationship between Spain and Latin America in terms of trade and investment, even in these difficult economic times? Ambassador Hevia: In Latin America, we have kept more or less the same levels of involvement as in the past. We have reduced our cooperation in other regions, in Africa and


Asia, but not in Latin America because it is a priority for us. Spanish companies continue arriving and investing here. Our trade figures in the region are very positive. And, we attach great importance to the region because it is helping Spain to recover our traditional strength and to overcome the present economic difficulties. Diplomatic Connections: One of the most controversial aspects of the OAS, as we speak, is the Inter-American Human Rights System. Particularly states like Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador, are raising questions about the human rights system that has so carefully evolved in the Americas. These states are concerned that the system may be violating basic rights of state sovereignty. They question whether the system has gone from consulting on human rights concerns to meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign states. What do you think the future of this debate about the Inter-American Human Rights System will be? Ambassador Hevia: In many ways, this is the most important conversation that the OAS has at the present moment. That issue is quite important to me as a lawyer with deep concern for the protection of human rights. If you think about all of the situations in the hemisphere during the 1960s and 1970s many, many countries had policies that did not emphasize human rights. The work done by the Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Court represents an impressive achievement. Now, several countries want to discuss the operation of the human rights system. I believe that in the end, the result will be positive because it is quite clear that we cannot go backwards. The Commission and the Court are doing an excellent job. There may be some modifications in response to particular concerns, but, in the end, the most important theme is the work that the Inter-American Human Rights System has accomplished and that it continues to take on. Diplomatic Connections: Some commentators have described what is happening now as a threat to the human rights system. That is, as a threat to undermine its investigatory capabilities, to undermine its challenges to the actions of governments. Do you see it as a threat? Or, do you see it as a dialogue? Or, is it an opportunity for rethinking the whole basis of the system? Ambassador Hevia: We are having good debates. I am convinced that they are trying to strengthen the system and to modify some attitudes of the Commission in the past. The goal is to adopt constructive reforms. But, you do have to pay attention because there is the temptation in all

countries to avoid criticism. Nationalism is very, very strong. Some countries, many countries, don’t like to be criticized. We should change the vision of the system so that it is more widely accepted. It should be understood as a protection for the citizens of all the countries. The result of this debate has to be the strengthening of the system. It must never be the weakening of the human rights system.

Diplomatic Connections: May we wrap up the interview with a question that we try to ask of all the diplomats we interview. What are your deepest concerns for the future of the OAS and for Spain’s relationship with the OAS? And, what are your greatest hopes for that relationship? Ambassador Hevia: My greatest concern would be the weakening of the OAS. Perhaps some countries, some forces, are interested in weakening the organization. Very often you read articles by professors or specialists in international relations who discuss such concerns. They suggest that the OAS is weaker today than it was 20 – 30 years ago. There are difficulties with the OAS budget, and I am a little bit concerned about maintaining and expanding that budget. I’d like to see some countries increasing their contributions. The organization provides very good value for the national contributions that are made to sustain its operations. At the same time, my hope is to see a stronger OAS. I want to see an organization that continues to pursue its goals and expand its activities: consolidation of democracy because there is always room to increase efforts in that field, continued progress in economic development and especially human development, building a strengthened inter-American system of human rights and the adoption of measures that will heighten security in the region — especially the struggles against crime, against drugs and also against terrorist activities. Diplomatic Connections: Mr. Ambassador, thank you so much for being so generous with your time. Thank you as well for giving us an insight into a sector of the diplomatic community — the OAS and the role of observer states — that works very hard and effectively behind the scenes but is often overshadowed by the bilateral diplomacy and crisis responses that produce headlines. Thank you as well for reassuring us that even in times of economic austerity Spain is not pulling back from its international involvements. You remind us very effectively that the work of multilateral diplomacy here in the Western Hemisphere is critical to the goals of growth, of economic prosperity, and of peace. Thank you, Ambassador Hevia. n

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by Monica Frim

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ashington has an affinity with fine things French. The entire city is laid out in a French-inspired grid, courtesy of Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the France-born architect and civil engineer who envisioned a capital of wide avenues and public squares at intersections, much like those of Europe, with the grandest buildings placed in strategic locations. His metropolitan plan turned out to be the perfect backdrop for a city where multiculturalism and diplomacy go hand-in-hand and where there is a profusion of embassies representing French-speaking nations. So it comes as no surprise that the Alliance Française — the largest network promoting French language and culture in the world — has more than 3,000 members and students in its Washington chapter. This vibrant Francophile community has encouraged a passion for learning and cooperating among globally-minded members who understand the benefits of cross-cultural learning and international relations. Their enthusiasm shone at a reception jointly hosted at the Embassy of Canada recently by the Alliance Française and Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer. As a country where nearly one-third of its residents speak French, Canada has a historical commitment to furthering the French language and culture. Ambassador Doer noted that, “In Canada, the immersion enrolment has 10, 11, 12 percent increases every year, so there’s a strong commitment for the continued and enhanced enrolment of youth in schools to preserve and enhance the French culture, French history, and, of course, the French language.” In Washington, French plays a different role. Many

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people require French for furthering their business connections or simply as a personal choice for linking them with French-speaking people met while travelling abroad or in diplomatic circles. As one lady at the reception commented, “I decided to join the Alliance Française after I visited my daughter who was studying in Paris. She was living with a wonderful French family and I wanted to be able to speak to them, so I took up learning French in retirement.” The Alliance Française offers multitudinous programs dedicated to lifelong learning of the French language and culture with full immersion for adults and children as young as 24 months. Flexibility is paramount and participants are able to choose from a smorgasbord of subjects — from art, literature, grammar, conversational French, written French, history, traditions, gastronomy, even pop culture. The programs incorporate concerts, workshops, international penpals, summer camps, culinary treats and trips to galleries, museums and theaters. In fact, it’s hard to envision a French angle that the Alliance doesn’t have covered. Board President Andrew Colquitt explained, “It [the Alliance Française] has served as the main source in the DC metro area to form a bridge between those wishing to speak or improve their French and the tools and the resources needed to do so. Over the years, the Alliance has grown to include education outreach, a robust calendar of cultural events and a patron membership program, all of which are now critical elements in the Alliance’s mission in an increasingly international and interconnected world.” Naturally, the diplomatic community is part of that world.


Rene Redfield Shaw

Clockwise from upper left: Peter Freeman, Nina Pillsbury, Deanna Horton and Julie Payette; Andrew Colquitt, President of the Alliance Française, Marie Thérèse Royce and Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA39); The Embassy of Canada; Ambassador Gilles Noghès of the Embassy of the Principality of Monaco, Ellen Noghès, and Congressman Bill Huizenga (R-MI2); Bobby McElhinny and Susan Fridy, winners of Air Canada tickets; Evan Strianese (Diplomatic Connections) and Alexandra Vachon White (Embassy of Canada).

It always helps to have friends in high places. And the Canadian Embassy’s exclusive sixth floor functioned admirably as the venue for distinguished amis et associés to connect over canapés and French — no, this was the Canadian embassy after all — Canadian wines. As soft piano music emanated from the grand piano in the foyer, members of the Alliance Française had the opportunity to meet ambassadors from French-speaking countries, who are themselves honorary members of the Alliance’s Board of Directors, as well as members of Congress, senior diplomats and other notable guests. Julie Payette, a Canadian astronaut turned scientific delegate to the United States for Québec was much in demand in conversational groups. Other distinguished guests included: Congressman Ed Royce, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; his wife Marie-Thérèse Royce, organizer of the event and an officer of the Alliance Française; Congressman Bill Huizenga, Co-Chair of the Canada Caucus and the Canada-U.S. Inter-parliamentary

Group; Congressman Gary Peters; Jim Blanchard, Governor of Michigan; and David Rheault, Air Canada Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Air Canada was the official sponsor of the evening and capped off the reception with a raffle featuring two round-trip tickets to any destination in Canada and the United States. Ah yes, there can be serendipity in francophilia. It is said that language training opens many doors — not just those of airplanes and embassies. What is certain is that ever since its inception in 1949 as a non-profit cultural and educational association, the Washington branch of the Alliance Française has excelled in fostering dialogue between Francophones and Francophiles, not only with lessons and certifications, but also with its myriad social events and activities. In a city where French bistros and restaurants are found on nearly every major street, no one has to wander very far to find things French. The Alliance Française just enhances the prospects. Pierre Charles L’Enfant would be proud. n

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Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un

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Enter the Encounter With the Internet Accessibility By Oliver Dowell Lloyd and Basketball Madness

T

here is an Alice in Wonderland quality about the diplomatic confrontation going on between the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea and the rest of the world, particularly the United States and the United Nations Security Council. Lewis Carroll’s second Alice adventure, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found there describes an inverted world where everything is sensibly nonsensical, where events and actors are familiar types warped in surreal ways. Much the same might be said of diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula these days. The actions being carried out are diplomatically familiar, if fearfully threatening, but the sum of all the diplomatic moving parts seems ineffective, counterproductive and self-defeating . . . on all sides. The United Nations Security Council has imposed an increasingly severe sanctions regime designed to impede not only North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs but to cripple key elements of its economy. Bilateral denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea have intermittently held promise of restarting Six-Party — China, Russia, the United States, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), and Japan plus North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) — talks that have been stalled since 2008. There is more diplomatic static than real movement. To a degree this has always been true, but the succession of the new North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, grandson of Kim Il Sung, to the top position seems to have heightened the bellicose rhetoric— whether because of a need to prove his leadership abilities, because of power struggles within the North Korean elite, because of a need to justify huge expenditures on military development that saps the country’s limited economic strength or because of a need to reinvigorate popular support for the regime through a renewed sense of nationalism generated by impending threat. As North Korea continues to develop its nuclear program, carrying out its third and apparently most successful nuclear

test in February 2013, and to test longer range missiles capable of reaching many countries in Asia, the international community — speaking through the Security Council of the United Nations, has responded with what are designed to be increasingly stringent sanctions. As sanctions have been tightened, North Korea has responded defiantly and with increasingly belligerent rhetoric. The United States has countered with increasingly pointed warnings that it will not accept a nuclear North Korea and announced that it would redirect its missile defense program resources to increase the number of interceptor missiles based in Alaska and California. North Korea has renounced the armistice agreement that halted, but technically did not end, the Korean War 60 years ago, ostensibly in response to the “Key Resolve” military exercises carried out annually by the United States and South Korea. “The United States,” said the official North Korean statement, “has reduced the armistice agreement to a dead paper.” In the words of an official statement released by U.S. Forces Korea, “Key Resolve is an annual ROK-U.S. combined exercise that is not related to current events on the Korean Peninsula.” “These exercises,” the release continues, “highlight the longstanding partnership and enduring friendship between United Nations Command sending state nations, help ensure peace and security on the Peninsula, and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the region.” Even as the young North Korean leader seeks to establish his rule and gain a measure of control over the military leadership while assuring its support for his regime, South Korea has elected a new president and its first female president, Park Geun-hye. She is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, one of the founders of the Republic of Korea, who took power in a 1961 military coup and led a repressive regime for the next 18 years. In her inaugural address, Park declared that, “North Korea’s recent nuclear test is a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people, and there should be no mistake

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Social activist Rocky Twyman holds a sign calling for former basketball star Dennis Rodman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for working towards peace in North Korea in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. on March 11, 2013. A U.S. official rejected the joking suggestion that the flamboyant basketball star be made ambassador to North Korea, after his highly-watched trip to the isolated state. 60

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Steven A Henry/GettyImages

that the biggest victim will be none other than North Korea itself. I urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions without delay and embark on the path to peace and shared development.” Dubbing her policy “trustpolitik,” President Park has called for a combination of credible deterrence of North Korean military threats and openness to cautious approaches to the North. Her goal, she insisted, is to “lay the groundwork for an era of harmonious unification where all Koreans can lead more prosperous and freer lives and where their dreams can come true.” Presumably, however, that unification could only come at the expense of the military regime in the North. At the same time, the joint U.S.-South Korean military training operation “Key Resolve” has acknowledged that, “This year is particularly important, because it is the first time the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff have planned and executed this combined exercise. In doing so, they are taking great strides to assume wartime operational control of forces in Dec. 2015.” Add to this the fact that this year’s military exercises have included simulated B-52 bombing sorties emphasizing the strategic bomber’s wide range of capabilities, including nuclear weapons and cruise missiles, presumably as a none-too-subtle deterrent to North Korea’s nuclear threats. North Korea referred to these flights as an “unpardonable provocation.” “The U.S.,” said North Korea’s Supreme Military Command, “should not forget that the Anderson Air Force Base on Guam where B-52 bombers take off and

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Dennis Rodman


naval bases in Japan and Okinawa where nuclear-powered submarines are launched are within the striking range of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) precision strike means.” As this article is being written, the latest in escalating rhetoric and deterrence demonstrations involves a series of cyber-warfare attacks across the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas. North Korea accused South Korea and the United States of attacks on its computer systems. The official North Korean news agency released a statement saying that the DPRK “will never remain a passive onlooker to the enemy’s cyber-attacks that have reached a very grave place as part of their moves to stifle it.” In a matter of hours, this complaint was followed by a cyber-attack of unknown origins on South Korean banks and broadcasters. South Korea originally claimed that the attack was traced to a Chinese IP address, but then embarrassingly had to admit that the Chinese attribution was mistaken. This seemingly endless spiral of rhetorical tit-for-tat and escalating demonstrations of defensive resolve by all parties involved has heightened tensions and rendered all the diplomatic signaling as well as military saber-rattling virtually (cyber-pun fully intended) meaningless. Back to the title of this article, it is all reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s famous nonsense poem “Jabberwocky,” a verse discovered by Alice in Through the Looking Glass, which she successfully decodes as mirror writing. Holding a mirror up to the poem she can decipher the language but can make no sense of the seemingly familiar pattern. Once she reads the poem, Alice remains puzzled. “‘It seems very pretty,’ she declares, ‘but it’s rather hard to understand!’ (You see she didn’t like to confess, even to herself, that she couldn’t make it out at all.) ‘Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas — only I don’t exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that’s clear, at any rate.’” That seems a fair description of all the rhetorical charges, military signals and political posturing that characterizes the Korean diplomatic impasse. Into this diplomatic morass and sea of escalating rhetorical deterrence have stepped two groups of unofficial American visitors to North Korea. In January 2013, former UN Ambassador, Secretary of Energy and Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, accompanied by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, visited North Korea in what was a much criticized sortie into humanitarian diplomacy and information advocacy. Their visit was followed in February by an effort at sports outreach headlined by former Chicago

Bull Dennis Rodman, often derided for his seemingly clownish behavior off the court, accompanied by a small group of Harlem Globetrotters who conducted a series of basketball clinics for North Korean players. That visit was orchestrated by VICE, an alternative media outlet, that sent a video crew along to produce a documentary on North Korea to be shown in the United States. Both of these visits generated official disavowals from the American government and widespread denunciations from members of Congress as well as a plethora of think tank Korea “experts” who feared that the visits would serve only to legitimize the repressive North Korean regime. The State Department declared the timing of the Richardson/ Schmidt trip “ill-advised.” Typical of the semi-official criticisms of the trip were comments offered to USA Today by Evans Revere, deputy chief negotiator with North Korea in the Clinton administration. The visit, he offered, would be used by the North Koreans to “convey a sense of legitimacy, international recognition, and acceptance by its own people [and] is smartly used by the North Koreans to communicate an atmosphere of openness and willingness to re-engage with the United States and others.” Dennis Rodman’s visit to North Korea was even more summarily dismissed by the State Department. Acting Deputy Press Spokesman Patrick Ventrell responded to questions about Rodman’s trip by insisting that, “Dennis Rodman has never been a player in our diplomacy, he does not represent the views of the United States, he is a private American.” Almost totally lost in the uproar about Rodman’s antics was the fact that three Harlem Globetrotters — Bull Bullard, Buckets Blakes and Moose Weeks — were included in the trip. A Globetrotters press release notes that the team is “known worldwide as ‘Ambassadors of Goodwill’” an expression that the team has actually trademarked. “We are proud to continue our storied heritage of entertaining families and breaking down barriers worldwide,” the release concludes. Bill Richardson, who has made eight trips to North Korea over the last 15 years, defended his decision to visit that country on Soledad O’Brien’s “Starting Point.” He acknowledged that relations with North Korea are not good. “They are hostile. They are unpredictable,” he agreed. But, he continued, “I think it’s important that we not isolate the North Koreans. I think it’s important that we engage them, and I’m worried that we’re heading toward a confrontation there. We need diplomacy. We need dialog. We need a new policy.” “We went,” he explained, “as a private, humanitarian trip for three reasons: one, to urge the North Koreans to have a

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A display screen (top C) shows South Korean President Park Geun-Hye speaking during the joint commission ceremony of 5,780 new officers of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines at the Gyeryong military headquarters in Gyeryong on March 8, 2013, south of Seoul. An enraged North Korea responded to new UN sanctions with fresh threats of nuclear war on March 8, vowing to scrap peace pacts with South Korea as it upped the ante yet again after its recent atomic test.

moratorium on missile activity, no nuclear tests. Secondly, to find out about the American detained there, Kenneth Bae, that he be properly treated; and, then, thirdly, to spread the message about an open society, the Internet, cell phones.” Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who accompanied Richardson, was more guarded in his comments outlining the limited nature of the technology the group was shown in North Korea. He was quite clear in stating his motives in making the trip. “As the world becomes increasingly interconnected,” he observed, “the North Korean decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world and their economic growth. It will make it harder for them to catch up economically. We made that alternative very, very clear. Once the Internet starts in any country, citizens in that country can certainly build on top of it, but the government has to do one thing: open up the Internet first. They have to make it possible for people to use the Internet, which the government of North Korea has not yet done.” 62

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Kim Jae-Hwan/AFP/Getty Images

It was Schmidt’s daughter, Sophie, who accompanied her father on the trip, who offered the most candid personal observations in an on-line blog. Acknowledging that, “I am a North Korean amateur and can only share what it’s like to be part of an NK-bound delegation,” she notes that the “trip was a mixture of highly staged encounters, tightly-orchestrated viewings and what seemed like genuine human moments. We had zero interactions with non-state approved North Koreans and were never far from our two minders (2, so one can mind the other).” “Ours was the first American delegation in over a year, and the North Koreans we met were unfailingly polite and engaging, even excited to meet with us. How that squares with official NK agitprop that Americans are super-evil imperialist bastards is beyond me.” No one, it seems, was pulling the wool over Sophie’s eyes. If the Richardson trip admittedly had substance to it, Dennis Rodman’s appearance, complete with multiple piercings, in North Korea was roundly denounced as a childish adventure by a former Chicago Bull whose defensive and rebounding skills, while admirable on the basketball court, were far exceeded by his off-court antics and his political naiveté. Still, the motives behind VICE television’s patronage of the trip by Rodman and the Globetrotters were promoted with a serious goal of engagement and discovery. Shane Smith, VICE founder, explained that, “At a time when tensions between the two countries are running high, it’s important to keep lines of cultural communication open, no matter how non-traditional those channels may be. It’s important to show the North Koreans that America is not their enemy, and playing a game we both love is a step in the right direction.” Basketball as a tool of diplomacy between the United States and North Korea is hardly a new undertaking. The North Korean ruling family has long been known to harbor an avid interest in NBA basketball, particularly the Chicago Bulls at their dominant best. Rodman’s championship teammate, Michael Jordan, is greatly revered in North Korea, so much so that when Secretary of State Madeline Albright made a historic visit to that country in 2000, she arranged to present Kim Jong Il with a basketball signed by Jordan. That gift is still proudly displayed among gifts presented to the North Korean leaders. During his visit, Rodman sat side-by-side with Kim Jong watching the Globetrotter players join North Korean players for a scrimmage that judiciously ended in a tie. He was generously entertained by the young leader and derided for coming away from that experience calling Kim Jong Un his friend. “He’s a good guy to me,” Rodman told George


Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Stephanopoulos on This Week, ABC’s Sunday . . . even when it comes in the form of private contacts, Intermorning talk show. “He’s my friend. I don’t net communications, a basketball court and a knavish former condone what he does, but as a person to perNBA star. son, he’s my friend.” When sanity doesn’t prevail, and can even lead to insane If that wasn’t enough to make Rodman the object of conclusions like nuclear proliferation and armed conflict ridicule in some circles, then his next statement attributed on the Korean Peninsula, then perhaps it’s time for some to Kim Jong Un, added fuel to the fire. “He wants Obama to outside-the-box efforts aided by a little “foolish” diplomacy do one thing. Call him.” Rodman went on to say, “He loves that catalyzes new creativity. Alice in Wonderland’s insidebasketball. Obama loves basketball. Let’s start there. He don’t out world, humorous though it was, nevertheless offered real want war. He loves power. He loves control. He’s a great guy.” social critique and insight. Revolutions have been made of The logic of Rodman’s political analysis may be found wantstranger stuff than this. n ing, but there is apparently a real message from Kim Jong Un there despite the contradiction offered by so many of North Korea’s actions. And the political analysis might not be quite so naïve as it seems at first blush. It is a slam-dunk in American politics to demonize Kim Jong Un and the family business in North Korea, but sometimes spectacular attempts at a slam-dunk end in embarrassing misfires . . . just watch any game during the NCAA’s March Madness basketball extravaganza. In the midst of all the diplomatic theater and back-and-forth messaging that characterize relations between the United States and North Korea, especially over the denucleSouth Korean President Park Geun-Hye arrives during a dinner after inauguration ceremony at presidential house arization of the Korean Peninsula, there is on February 25, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea. Park is sworn in as the first female president of South Korea. a point to be made. Traditional diplomacy alone has not worked. Something has to break into the nonsensical Jabberwocky-like chain of communications that results in reciprocal one-upmanship that spirals first into ever-more violent metaphors and sign acts . . . and eventually, perhaps, results in actual violence and retaliation. It’s an old question in international relations theory: How do you stop an escalation ladder that seems to move inexorably toward violence? The question is real, not rhetorical, and it has no straightforward answer. But one response that has sometimes worked is to break out of the constraints of traditional diplomacy and professional national security expertise. Non-traditional diplomacy that Former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson (2nd R) and Google chairman Eric Schmidt (C) arrive at Beijing breaks the mold sometimes has its place. The airport from North Korea on January 10, 2013. Richardson and Schmidt met with reporters following their visit opportunities it presents should not be ignored to secretive North Korea calling for greater Internet freedom for the welfare of its people. D I P L O M A T I C C O N N E C T I O N S B U S I N E S S edition | M a y - J une 2 0 1 3

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Visit DiplomaticConnections.com for photos and videos of cultural and diplomatic events, interviews with ambassadors and business leaders, business directories for major cities as well as digital editions of all of our past issues.

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(L-R) Dennis Rodman seen here with Trace Adkins, Stephen Baldwin, Brande Roderick, Lil Jon, Dee Snider, Lisa Rinna, Donald Trump, Gary Busey, Marilu Henner, Penn Jillette, Claudia Jordan, and Brett Michaels while attending the ‘Celebrity Apprentice All Stars’ Season 13 Bus Tour at on October 12, 2012 in New York City. Rodman is famous for basketball not politics and he is most well-known currently for his participation in the hugely popular show, ‘Celebrity Apprentice All Stars.’


Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Former NBA player Dennis Rodman with two other members of the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Celebrity Apprentice All Starsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Season 13 model Brande Roderick and TV/radio personality Claudia Jordan on March 15, 2013, in New York City. D I P L O M A T I C C O N N E C T I O N S B U S I N E S S edition | M a y - J une 2 0 1 3

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I N T E R N AT I O N A L

Diplomat Appreciation Reception

at the Hay-Adams Washington, D.C. A Dazzling Event for Royalty, Diplomats, International Organizations, U.S. Department of State, Pentagon and Capitol Hill by Monica Frim

Mr. Hans Bruland, Vice President and General Manager of the Hay-Adams speaking at the Diplomatic Connections’ International Diplomat Appreciation Reception™ on March 12, 2013. 66

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Hay-Adams and , Jr. Mr. Hans Bruland, the ppines Jose L. Cuisia illi Ph the of or sad Ambas

It is the perfect place for diplomats to gather! Diplomatic Connections kicked off its 2013 series

Mr. Lawrence Dunham and Amy Nyhuis of Diplomatic Connections

of International Diplomat Appreciation Receptions™ at one of Washington’s most prestigious hotels for dignitaries — the Hay-Adams. Its roof-top reception room, known as The Top of the Hay, is also the hotel’s most exclusive venue, generally available only to guests attending specific events on the ninth floor. In a city of superlatives, the Top of the Hay boasts one of the most coveted locations for political and social functions. It is the perfect place for diplomats to gather. For what can surpass a bird’s eye view of the president’s environs with the White House, Lafayette Park and the presidential church of St. John all visible

Mr. Hans Bruland, the Hay-Adams and Ambassador of Italy Claudio Bisogniero D I P L O M A T I C C O N N E C T I O N S B U S I N E S S edition | M a y - J une 2 0 1 3

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International Diplomat Appreciation Reception™ center stage from a rooftop standpoint? Step out onto the wrap-around terrace and you get an even better view of Washington’s dramatic props and landmarks. Behind the needle-nosed Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial and Reagan National Airport, respectively, dominate the Tidal Pool and the Potomac. In the east, the spire of the Old Post Office towers among the surrounding buildings of state and commerce. When the Hay-Adams replaced the adjoining 19th century homes of John Hay (President Lincoln’s personal secretary and later a Secretary of State) and Henry Adams (author and descendant of presidents) in 1928, it continued in its predecessors’ tradition as the center of political, artistic, business and social gatherings. The world’s most powerful people have slept here, including President Obama before he moved into his current residence across the street. For the March 12 event, the Top of the Hay, with its dramatic complement of expansive windows and skylights, exuded a rooftop garden effect. Tulips in various shades of reds and pinks adorned the side tables of businesses and services that catered to the diplomatic community. For devotees of fashion, The Fur Salon of Saks Fifth Avenue proved a popular stopping point with its rack of luxurious jackets and capes; ladies could primp and pose in them of various cuts and colors, perchance to dream, perchance to purchase. Some attendees were lucky winners of prizes that included accommodation packages, dinners, phone cards, liquor, expensive scarfs and jewelry cases. Some generous prize donors included the Hay-Adams, Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel, Dittmar Company, AKA, Trump International Hotel and Tower Central Park New York, CORT Furniture and INTouch Wireless Communications. Four different food stations indulged the diverse tastes of diplomats representing a variety of embassies. Guests could start at one end of the room with melt-in-your-mouth roast beef then meander to a 68

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International Diplomat Appreciation Reception™ table with Mediterranean fare that included chicken kofta and grilled lamb served with a cumin-yogurt sauce, tabbouleh and numerous savory salads and vegetables. Farther down, an American Market table boasted assorted cured and smoked meats, artisanal cheeses and an array of marinated vegetables and olives. A sweets station capped off the international smorgasbord with myriad tartlets, delicate pastries, creams and fruit-topped morsels. The culinary creations of Chef Peter Schaffrath and his team were as pleasing to the eye as to the palate. As the evening progressed, the sun’s fading glow lingered over the White House, the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial. Across the Potomac, the trailing rays melted like a lozenge into a pink Virginian sky. High above the city, the Top of the Hay glowed warm and faintly purple, with interior mood lights casting a nebulous sunset glow under the vaulted skylights now blackening with the approach of night. Out on the terrace, the night broke crisply, a bit too cool for coatless forays, but venial to guests posing briefly, and appreciatively, above the twinkling lights of lampposts and neighboring windows. The White House blazed like a polished jewel over their shoulders. It was a snapshot moment that memorably endorsed the Hay-Adams’ slogan: “Where nothing is overlooked but the White House.”

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Vocalist Peng Liyuan, wife of Xi Jinping of the Central Secretariat of the Communist Party of China, sings army’s song during the ‘Red Army Flag’ theatrical evening at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. The evening celebrated the 80th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army. About 1,500 PLA soldiers participated in the performance.


by F. Lewis Bristol Chinaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new leader, Xi Jinping, who holds the titles of President of the Peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Republic of China, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and Chairman of the General Military Commission of the Communist Party of China, recently made his debut on the stage of international summit diplomacy by making a dramatic break with Chinese political tradition. As he traveled, first to Russia and then to the African continent for visits in Tanzania, South Africa (for the BRICs summit) and the Republic of the Congo, his wife, Peng Liyuan, was at his side. Her presence created a sensation in the Chinese press and drew widespread attention from the international press. D I P L O M A T I C C O N N E C T I O N S B U S I N E S S edition | M a y - J une 2 0 1 3

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ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

Peng Liyuan was a star of the Chinese musical stage long before her husband emerged among the top political leaders of China. Though Xi Jinping is often described as a “princeling” of the Communist Party of China because he is the son of one of the first generation of Chinese Communist leaders, he did not emerge among the top party leaders until 2007. That year, he was named Communist Party chief in Shanghai and subsequently named to the Politburo, the standing committee that shapes the policy of the Communist Party and of the country. By that time, Peng Liyuan had achieved true stardom as one of China’s leading sopranos, preserving the folk traditions of Chinese music while at the same time advancing the goals of the Communist Party by joining its propaganda work to familiar musical forms. According to her semi-official biography, Peng’s father was a school master from Shandong Province who was put in charge of his county’s culture bureau. Her mother was a member of a local touring opera company. Her father’s deputy at the culture bureau recalls that the young girl “spent most of her childhood on the ox cart of the county’s playhouse.” Her biography claims that she could sing a complete folk song by the age of five. Though her parents were denounced during China’s Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), Peng learned to sing the patriotic songs of the time and at 14 won a place in the highly competitive provincial arts academy. Four years later, she was selected to join an elite performance troupe of the local People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Based on her outstanding performance with the Army troupe, Peng Liyuan was selected to train at the elite Conservatory of Music in Beijing. There, she was, according to Chinese state media sources, a “three points and one line” model student, meaning that she stuck to a straight development path that included only the music rooms (for rehearsal), the canteen (for nourishment) and the dorm (for sleep). After receiving a master’s degree in


Peng Liyuan performs during a gala to celebrate Chinaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 60th Anniversary in Beijing, China.

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Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Moscowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Grand Kremlin Palace on March 22, 2013, in Moscow, Russia. President Xi Jinpingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s visit to Russia was his first overseas trip as president.


Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images

traditional ethnic music, Peng was recruited into the General world’s largest producer and consumer of cigarettes. In 2011, Political Department of the PLA where her soprano voice the World Health Organization (WHO) appointed her as a and Chinese opera style were applied to entertaining and Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. propagandizing the troops as well as the nation. She rose to At the time of Peng’s appointment, WHO Directorthe rank of major general in the PLA and serves as dean of General Dr. Margaret Chan enthused, “Ms. Peng has captured the organization’s Arts the attention of milAcademy. lions of fans through Peng Liyuan her compelling perforemerged as a star and mances. We admire the a national treasure in dedication you have 1983, when she was so convincingly shown 21 and selected to in helping children, sing in China Central orphans, women and Television’s (CCTV’s) men in China who are first Lunar New Year struggling to survive and extravaganza broadovercome the devascast nationwide. tating effects of these This program has diseases. We see you become the most as a critical bridge that widely watched and brings policy-makers lucratively sponsored together with affected television program people, who are often in China, roughly poor and have little akin to a Superbowl political voice.” half-time performance All of these in the United States. accomplishments — a Peng was its recurring “correct” political history star from 1983 and that resulted in a career famed for her public framed by the PLA, a appearances in stunwell-received public perning multi-colored sona shaped as service ball gowns or stylized to the state that came as military uniforms. close to national starThen, in 2007, her dom as any performer performances stopped could, and a national because of her husand international presband’s rise to Commuence as a spokesperson nist Party prominence for critical health issues Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan wave as they get off the plane at Vnukovo airport outside Moscow on March 22, 2013. Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow on his first foreign trip, to cement and his emergence as — combined to make ties between the two countries by inking a raft of energy and investment accords. likely heir to the top Peng Liyuan an ideal leadership position in China. candidate for China’s modern first lady and a fitting accom Peng Liyuan has long displayed a commitment to public paniment for her husband’s emergence on the world stage as service. In 2006, she was appointed by the Ministry of Health the face of Chinese diplomacy. in China as Ambassador for HIV/AIDS Prevention and a As President Xi landed in Russia, the press’ attention year later became National Ambassador for TB Control and was riveted on he and his wife emerging from the plane as a Prevention. In these roles, she also became the spokespercouple. Ms. Peng’s arrival outfit — a fitted, military-style douson for a nationwide anti-smoking campaign in China, the ble-breasted navy blue coat accessorized with a stylish black D I P L O M A T I C C O N N E C T I O N S B U S I N E S S edition | M a y - J une 2 0 1 3

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handbag, made to order by a firm in Chengdu and a “pop” of An editorial in the Beijing Morning Post listed three reacolor at the neck with an azure-blue scarf — became the fosons why Peng Liyuan’s wardrobe received so much attention: cus of press coverage. Copies of the coat quickly appeared for (1) all of her clothes represented made-in-China brands; (2) sale on Taobao, a Chinese online shopping site, for 499 yuan the items were not from luxury brands and (3) her poise in ($80.50). The Chinese Internet site Weibao was filled with leading by example. “Nowadays,” the editorial sniffed, “luxury questions about her shoes and handbag. The deputy editor of consumption has become a way to show-off one’s wealth.” Hong Kong’s Commercial Daily gushed that, “Now is the end Noting that the recent National Party Congress (November of our quest for a graceful first lady.” 2012) had outlined guidelines for improving its working style, Suddenly the the editorial concluded “Liyuan-style” was by praising the fact born, fueled by the that, “Peng showed an recognition that Peng important detail, which Liyuan’s quietly elegant was advocating austerity clothes were not from and a frugal lifestyle.” foreign designers Women are rare but from a Chinese in the top Chinese leadbrand, Exception de ership, and the wives Mixmind. The label of China’s top leaders was established in the have only occasionsouthern commercial ally accompanied their city of Guangzhou in husbands on state visits, 1996 and now has generally choosing to retail outlets in several maintain a very low major Chinese cities. profile. The historical Secretary-General of precedents of women in the Qingdao (a city in leadership roles or sharnortheastern China) ing in the ruler’s power Municipal and Textile are not good ones. Mao Association Zheng Zedong’s wife, Jiang Mingmei observed, Qing, with her “Gang of “What the first lady Four,” attempted to take did by wearing a local control of the Combrand has no doubt inmunist Party leadercreased the reputation ship and of the country of China-made brands following his death internationally.” in 1976. When that Several Western effort failed, she was press outlets described brought to trial by the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s wife Peng Liyuan (R) and Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto’s wife Jenni all of this as a “Kate new Chinese leadership Haukio (L) watch as their husbands (not pictured) review an honor guard during a welcoming cerMiddleton effect” or under Hua Guofeng, emony in Sanya on the southern Chinese resort island of Hainan on April 6, 2013. State and government leaders from Asia and other regions were invited to attend three-days of economic meetings for a “Michelle Obama held largely responsible the annual Boao Forum for Asia, which was in Boao, a coastal town in south China’s Hainan Province. effect,” with the first for the excesses of the lady’s choice of clothes spurring sales of chosen brand names Cultural Revolution decade and sentenced to death. That senand inspiring the sale of knock-off imitations. The Chinese tence was commuted to life in prison. She committed suicide press, however, was quick to try to downplay the surge of in 1991. fashion interest and to fit the whole phenomenon into a more The Empress Dowager Cixi, who ruled China from 1861 politically correct and ideologically acceptable framework. – 1908 when the Qing dynasty came to an end, was seen as


Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Peng Liyuan, the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping (C), is welcomed by officials upon arrival in Pretoria for a state visit on March 26, 2013. Chinese President Xi Jinping met his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma in a state visit ahead of a BRICS summit of emerging powers. Xi and his wife received a 21-gun salute at the seat of government in Pretoria as he arrived for the meeting.

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effectively controlling power but ruling over a government slow to change and rapidly disintegrating from within. The wife of Chiang Kai-shek (Song Meiling) was seen as a vehement opponent of Mao Zedong’s proclamation of the People’s Republic of China. She became an outspoken advocate for the cause of the Republic of China on Taiwan in the West until her death in 2003. In an interview with the English-language Global Times, published in China, Shin Yinhong, Director of the Center on American Studies at Renmin (People’s) University in Beijing, observed that, “world leaders accompanied by their wives on diplomatic trips is an international routine. China has a good chance to make a favorable impression through Peng’s charisma if the trip goes successfully.” Feng Shaolei, Dean of the Advanced School of International and Regional Studies at East China Normal University (Shanghai), added that Peng Liyuan “is experienced in management and international exchanges. China has adopted this advanced idea of public diplomacy, and Peng’s experience can help her shine on the international stage.” 84

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Summing up the style accomplishments of this recent trip, the editor of China’s Vogue magazine noted that, “It’s the first time that China’s first lady appears like a modern woman, I think she dressed very well, with taste and confidence. After so many years,” he continued, “we finally have a first lady who can represent us appropriately. I think it’s a landmark event.” Though Peng Liyuan did not give any official speech during this recent trip, she did accompany her husband to all of his official appearances. At times, she appeared to have an itinerary of her own, such as when visiting an arts school in Moscow and meeting with women’s groups in Africa. Though still feeling out the public role of a first lady, the Chinese leadership does seem committed to the experiment. The new China on the world stage is concerned about its soft power image and recently established a Public Diplomacy Association made up of former ambassadors and leading public figures. As Chinese investment and presence spreads in Africa, Asia and Latin America, there is a recognition that Chinese companies need to be more sensitive to local needs and the

Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images

People visit an Exception fashion store in Beijing on March 27, 2013, after the brand shot to prominence when their clothing was worn by China’s new First lady Peng Liyuan during her first trip overseas. The Chinese fashion brand that designed bags and clothes for the country’s new first lady has turned down the chance to make a fortune from her endorsement, saying on March 27 no similar items will be on offer.


image of their country they project. Yang Jiechi, China’s Foreign Minister from 2007 – 2013 and recently named State Councilor in Charge of Foreign Affairs, noted that the Association’s task is to make the “voice of China and the story of China more engaging and more convincing.” Peng Liyuan’s public role alongside her husband on this first official presidential trip seems a step in that direction. Chinese presidents serve no more than two five-year terms, and we are at the beginning of Xi Jinping’s term of office. This first foray into international diplomacy by the husband-wife team of Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan was largely theatrical, providing a new optic, literally a new vision of what Chinese soft diplomacy might look like in the future. The role of China’s first lady in domestic affairs and in international relations will evolve as this couple and the Communist Party leadership explore and redefine the boundaries of the acceptable and the potential public role of a Chinese first lady.

For the moment, these events are remarkable for the fact that they happened at all. Peng Liyuan’s personal accomplishments, her poised modern Chinese style, her experience in public service, and her widespread fame in China have opened the door for pushing the envelope of what it is possible and productive for a Chinese leader’s wife to undertake. We are still a long way, however, from a time where Xi Jinping might rephrase the words of John F. Kennedy who introduced himself to a French audience by observing, “I am the man who accompanied Jackie Kennedy to Paris.” Chinese sources have worried aloud that Xi Jinping might be outshone by Peng Liyuan’s radiant personality and sheer star power. It seems unlikely that he will ever become the man accompanying Peng Liyuan on diplomatic travels around the world. But, it is certainly true that we are approaching a time where the short-hand term FLOTUS, referring to the “First Lady of the United States,” might be paralleled by the term FLOC, “First Lady of China.” n

Laudes Martial Mbon/AFP/Getty Images

China’s new President Xi Jinping (2L), his wife Peng Liyuan (L) and Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso President and his wife Antoinette (R) attend a ceremony in Brazzaville on March 30, 2013. China’s new President Xi Jinping wrapped up his first foreign trip which has seen him sign energy deals with Russia and scores of accords with countries in resource-rich Africa.

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I N T E R N AT I O N A L

Diplomat Appreciation Reception

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at the Madison Washington, D.C. A Dazzling Event for Royalty, Diplomats, International Organizations, U.S. Department of State, Pentagon and Capitol Hill by Monica Frim

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“Nothing says success like success!” The above comment came from an attendee at the Diplomat Appreciation Reception™ hosted by Diplomatic Connections in the newly renovated Dolly Madison Ballroom of Washington’s Loews Madison Hotel on April 11, 2013. Diplomatic Connections is known for bringing together members of the business and diplomatic communities at lavish receptions held at various hotels throughout the year. In terms of numbers, April’s reception was a resounding success as about 400 guests noshed and mingled, elbow-to-elbow, on both levels of the ballroom. While diplomats were the predominant guests, there were also many representatives from organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Organization of American States (OAS), the World Health Organization (WHO)/Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Capitol Hill and the Pentagon. Continued next page D I P L O M A T I C C O N N E C T I O N S B U S I N E S S edition | M a y - J une 2 0 1 3

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International Diplomat Appreciation Receptionâ&#x201E;˘

A highlight of the evening was the raffle for various prizes donated by businesses that cater to the diplomatic community. Dr. Phyllis Kaplan, President of THIS for Diplomats, drew the first prize, a SIM card worth $150, donated by INTouch Wireless Communications. Other prizes included a fur hat and handbag from Maximilian at Bloomingdaleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, a weekend stay for two at the Fairmont in Georgetown, two nights in a penthouse suite at Dittmar, beauty products and services from Elizabeth Arden and Red Door Spa, wine donated by the U.S. Immigrations Investment Center (USIIC), a stay at the Concordia, a Kindle courtesy of the InterAmerican Investment Corporation, an iPad pen from the Ritz-Carlton Cleveland and two nights including buffet breakfasts worth $1,100 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Continued next page

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International Diplomat Appreciation Receptionâ&#x201E;˘

With six receptions taking place at various hotels in Washington, New York and Beverly Hills, California, throughout the year, Diplomatic Connections is providing business representatives with opportunities to introduce their products and services to the diplomatic and international communities across the United States. Each event offers its own special touch but shares a common goal: to provide an elegant and friendly atmosphere for international dignitaries to share ideas and experiences about living in the United States, and to give business representatives networking and relationship-building opportunities face-to-face with those most likely to benefit from their operations. At the Loews Madison, as at all receptions where Diplomatic Connections unites business and diplomacy, the emphasis is on forging connections through conversation, the hotelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s signature cuisine, and side tables filled with useful information and products. For businesses, the event is a smart marketing tool. For diplomats, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just smart.

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Diplomatic Connections May-June 2013  

Diplomatic Connections May-June 2013

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