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VOLUME 24, NUMBER 4 International Affairs
World Neglects Crises in South Sudan, Yemen, Myanmar’s Rohingya With world headlines focused on North Korea’s nuclear tests, Russia’s ties to the Trump administration and landmark elections in France, it’s easy to forget about three ethnic conflicts that show no sign of abating in 2017. / PAGE 4
THE POPULIST MAELSTROM
doors In UnitedNNations Hotels Promote Rooftops,
Patios, Pools to Help Locals
Soak Up Spring
ow that spring is officially here — although you could argue that it came and went a few times between January and now — we’re ready to our cabin fever once cure and for all. t #:45&1)"/*&,"/
We’ve got plenty of remedies to choose from: a stroll through the National Mall, a lap around the Tidal Basin to take in the cherry blossoms (or at least what’s left of them) or a picnic at one of Washington’s many parks. Then there are the hotels. Think outside the walls, because they are. Taking advantage of premium real estate such as rooftops,
patios and pools, hotels are offering wellness classes, drink specials, theme parties and quiet spots in the sun. And of course there are the opportunities off-property, too. Here’s a look at the ways area hotels are helping us soak up spring.
Jordanian Diplomat Puts Human Rights First 4&&OUTDOORSt1"
Despite the apparent backseat that human rights have taken under the Trump administration’s PHOTO: UN / PIERRE ALBOUY “America first” agenda, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a veteran Jordanian diplomat who heads the U.N. Human Rights Council, remains undeterred in calling out human rights violators — and populists. / PAGE 8
PHOTO: © UNICEF / FUAD
White House at Odds With Defense Officials Over Top Threats Strains between President Trump and leading figures in the defense establishment and intelligence community have been laid bare in his first two months in office as the two sides hold sharply diverging views on what constitutes top threats to American safety. / PAGE 10
Kalorama: Home to D.C. VIPs
Infinity Mirror Rooms Prompt Self-Reflection Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms are shattering records at the Hirshhorn. / PAGE 32
Political volatility and paralysis are about as Italian as al dente pasta and a good glass of chianti. But like so many of its European counterparts, Italians are confronting a populist tsunami that has upended the conventional landscape. Even by Italian standards, transatlantic politics has become downright scary. Yet Armando Varricchio, Rome’s polished ambassador, says we have nothing to fear from democracy — or the populist tidal wave it may produce. / PAGE 13
The 28 embassies in D.C.’s well-heeled Kalorama neighborhood have some big-shot new neighbors, including President Trump’s daughter Ivanka and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. But the old administration isn’t too far away, with the Obamas setting up there too. / PAGE 27
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HOTELS & TRAVEL
Arena Stage’s take on the Plame affair hits close to home.
Plight of the Neglected The world turns a blind eye to Yemen’s civil war, Rohingya refugees and South Sudan’s famine.
8 Human Rights Under Fire Jordan’s veteran diplomat remains undeterred as human rights takes a backseat under Trump.
Bringing the Outdoors In
Hotels promote rooftops, patios and pools to help locals soak up spring.
Renowned American artist Jacob Lawrence captures Haiti’s revolutionary hero.
Whale of an Evolution Nantucket transforms from a hardscrabble outpost to a posh getaway.
Trump vs. the Pentagon Are the White House and defense and intelligence establishments at odds?
Sculptor Jami Porter Lara crosses porous borders on maps and in minds.
Cover Profile: Italy Italy tries to avoid being swept up in Europe’s populist tidal wave.
D.C.’s ‘It’ Neighborhood Kalorama draws the Obamas, Trumps, ambassadors and well-heeled Washingtonians.
16 Asia Pivot 2.0?
After Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, what’s next?
Two new hotel hotspots give standalone restaurants a run for their money.
Book Review Elaine Kamarck says presidents fail because they talk too much and do too little.
Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama prompts selfreflection while obliterating the self in her Infinity Mirror Rooms.
40 Events Listing
Medical Preventing heart disease is not just about avoiding bad foods, but eating the good ones.
When Russia Was in Vogue
“Friends and Fashion” chronicles what life was like for an American diplomat in 1820s Russia.
42 Diplomatic Spotlight 47 Real Estate Classifieds THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017 | 3
WD | International Affairs
Forgotten Conflicts World Turns Blind Eye to Yemen’s Civil War, Rohingya Refugees and South Sudan’s Famine by Larry Luxner Haitham Faisal, 18 months old, is treated for severe acute malnutrition in Yemen’s capital Sanaa in July 2015. Because of Yemen’s civil war, his mother says she could no longer afford enough food and decided to sell her only piece of land to provide for Faisal and his two other siblings. “I would sell everything I have to ensure my children’s well being. What really disturbs me is how difficult it has become to get proper medical treatment,” she says. “The war has made all things worse, everything got more expensive, nowhere is safe — even here at the hospital as it’s near a military base.”
ith world headlines focused on North Korea’s nuclear tests, Russia’s ties to the Trump administration and landmark elections in France, it’s easy to forget about three ethnic conflicts that show no sign of going away in 2017. The ongoing civil war in Yemen, the continuing massacre of Rohingya Muslim refugees in Myanmar and escalating bloodshed in South Sudan — the world’s newest country — add new dimensions of suffering to what the United Nations is already calling the worst humanitarian crisis it’s seen in decades.
YEMEN Long overshadowed by the fighting in Syria and Iraq, Yemen’s ongoing civil war has killed 10,000 people and wounded another 40,000 in the last two years, according to the United Nations, although the actual figure may be even higher. Yemen was already the poorest nation in the Arab world — even before March 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition launched airstrikes to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized government. That government, led by Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, came to power in 2012 under a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council after an Arab Spring uprising forced longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. But three years later, Hadi’s government was forced into exile by Houthi rebels, who have long chafed under Sunni majority rule. The military campaign has aligned the Saudis, other Sunni Gulf Arab countries and the United States against Houthi rebels backed by Shiite Iran and allied with Saleh’s ousted forces. Peace talks have gone nowhere and extremist groups such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State have moved in to take advantage of the vacuum. In January, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the U.N. special envoy for Yemen, met with Hadi and other top officials in Aden to address the dire humanitarian situation. “The current political stalemate is causing death and destruction every day,” the U.N. official said in a statement. “The only way to stop this is through the renewal of the Cessation of Hostilities followed by consultations to develop a comprehensive agreement. Yemen’s political elites have a responsibility to shield people from further harm, protect their country’s future and commit to a peaceful settlement.” Yet there’s no sign of any letup in the violence. In fact, the U.N. recently warned that 7 million Yemenis face the 4 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017
Photo: © UNICEF / UNI191723 / Yasin
The ongoing civil war in Yemen, the continuing massacre of Rohingya Muslim refugees in Myanmar and escalating bloodshed in South Sudan … add new dimensions of suffering to what the United Nations is already calling the worst humanitarian crisis it’s seen in decades.
threat of famine in what has become “one of the worst hunger crises in the world.” The world body has appealed for $ 2.1 billion in 2017 to reach 12 million people with life-saving assistance in Yemen. Only 6 percent of that funding has been received. So many people are dying that the Red Cross is now donating morgues to Yemeni hospitals that couldn’t cope with the influx of corpses. Hospitals themselves have come under increasing attack. After Saudi fighter jets bombed a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders, the NGO withdrew its staffers from six Yemeni hospitals; that attack prompted the State Department to condemn such bombings for the first time. While both sides have committed atrocities, Saudi Arabia in particular has been criticized by human rights groups, the U.N. and members of Congress for indiscriminately targeting civilians. Last October, following a Saudi airstrike that killed 140 people at a funeral in Sanaa, the Obama White House announced it would reconsider U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition. (In May, Obama quietly suspended the transfer of cluster
munitions to Riyadh after reports of civilian shelling.) Under President Donald Trump, however, the Pentagon will likely expand its cooperation with Saudi Arabia to fight the Houthis and, by extension, counter Iranian influence in the region. On Jan. 29, eight days after taking office, Trump authorized a raid on a Yemeni village that he later proclaimed was “highly successful.” But eyewitnesses say it killed over two dozen people — including a Navy SEAL as well as women and children — and that the mission was anything but successful. In fact, everything that could’ve gone wrong during the risky commando raid — which Trump reportedly approved over dinner — did. Locals were tipped off about the mission beforehand, a messy gunfight ensued and a $70 million Osprey aircraft had to be destroyed because of a crash landing. Officials told NBC News that the trove of data retrieved by the raid has yielded no significant intelligence so far. Meanwhile, Trump promptly blamed the botched raid on his generals and his predecessor.
The controversy hasn’t deterred Trump from pressing ahead with a more aggressive military posture in the region, in contrast to Obama’s more deliberative, judicious use of force. Some defense officials complained that Obama took too long to scrutinize operations, allowing plans to languish for weeks or months. Trump is reviewing ways to hand more authority over to the CIA and military brass to speed up the use of drone strikes and other targeted-killing ops around the world. Already in March, the U.S. unleashed a punishing aerial blitz against al-Qaeda targets in Yemen that eclipsed the annual bombing total during any year of Obama’s presidency. Trump has also suggested loosening restrictions on Saudi arms sales. Critics worry that Trump is rushing into a convoluted battlefield he doesn’t fully comprehend. On the one hand, Yemen has become a proxy war between Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia and its Shiite rival Iran. On the other hand, the conflict is fueled by a complex web of tribes, militia movements, secessionists and Islamists with shifting loyalties and a litany of local grievances. For instance, many experts say the Houthis, who follow the Zaydi branch of Shiite Islam, only take nominal direction from Iran and are driven more by their own personal agenda. The group hails from the impoverished north and has long complained of marginalization by Sunni leaders. Green-lighting stepped-up military action without a clear diplomatic stratSee c on flic t s • page 6
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Conflicts Continued • page 4
egy to address these underlying sectarian tensions could mire the U.S. in the sort of quagmire that the Saudis have found themselves in for the last two years. Despite the danger of mission creep and the occasional unintended attacks on hospitals, markets and funerals, Ariel Cohen, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and Global Energy Center, says Trump’s overall policy is to “limit, contain and eventually roll back the Iranian power projected throughout the Middle East” — from Yemen to Syria and from the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean, a span of more than 2,000 kilometers. “The Trump administration is, in my view, justified in improving the intelligence capability and war-fighting, counterinsurgency and counterterrorism skills of our Saudi allies,” said Cohen, who was formerly with the conservative Heritage Foundation. “This includes the provision of smart bombs and training for the Saudis so that they minimize the tragic loss of civilian life that was going on in Yemen for the last couple of years. “American policymakers, including our elected representatives in Congress, have to understand that what is at stake here is not just the engagement in Yemen, but also the important shipping lanes around the Yemeni coast, the Arabian Peninsula and the southern entrance to the Red Sea,” he added. Cohen noted the huge amount of oil and petrochemical traffic in the region, and the importance of the southern port of Aden in controlling the Bab al-Mandab, a narrow strait through which millions of barrels of oil transit weekly.
“The fact that the alleged Houthi rebels fired anti-ship missiles against maritime traffic suggests that the Iranians provided those missiles, and trained and equipped the rebels to disrupt seaboard trade. But possibly it was the Iranians themselves. Therefore, we need to take this very seriously.” Cohen added that this is not just about “supporting our Saudi allies” in their fight against Iranian proxies. “There’s a war in Yemen against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and we need to engage them with drone strikes and special forces,” he warned. “Al-Qaeda and ISIS [Islamic State] remain the principal radical Islamist enemies of the United States and the free world at large.” Yet Mareike Transfeld, writing for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says claims of Iran’s influence over the Houthis have been overblown. “Although Iran sees cooperation with nonstate actors as an integral part of its foreign policy to protect and expand its influence in the region, its support for the Houthis has been marginal,” she wrote. “The military support Iran has provided to the Houthis since at least 2011 has largely been limited to training and mostly channeled through Lebanese Hezbollah.” Another factor that helped the Houthis was the fact that Saleh, Yemen’s former president, indirectly supported the Houthi takeover of Sanaa by urging his loyalists within the military and tribes not to resist. “Although Saleh was pushed out of office … he used his influence to sabotage the political process to regain power,” Transfeld wrote. “This alliance has driven the Houthis’ expansion and attempts at governance to a much larger degree than Iran ever could.”
MYANMAR Tucked into a forgotten corner of South Asia,
the Rohingya Muslim minority of Myanmar (formerly Burma) face a large-scale military and police crackdown that has left hundreds dead and sent tens of thousands of desperate refugees fleeing across the border to Bangladesh. Another 120,000 languish in camps that resemble detention centers since a wave of inter-ethnic violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state drove them from their homes five years ago. About 1 million Rohingyas live in Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 54 million. Yet they’re officially stateless — and are not considered one of the 135 ethnic groups officially recognized by the government in Yangon (formerly Rangoon). In fact, the regime considers the Rohingyas undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh, and therefore ineligible for citizenship. (Bangladesh denies them citizenship as well.) “While a previous Myanmar government stripped the Rohingya of a path to full citizenship in 1982, in more recent years, the plight of the Rohingya has gone from bad to worse,” Debra Eisenman, executive director of the Asia Society Policy Institute and a leader in ASPI’s Myanmar Initiative, wrote in a Feb. 24 brief. In 2015, then-President Thein Sein effectively revoked the Rohingyas’ newly gained right to vote following pressure from Buddhist ultra-nationalists. And in Myanmar’s 2015 elections, not a single parliamentary candidate was of the Muslim faith. Following an armed attack against border guards last October in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, authorities raided Rohingya villages and sparked a mass exodus of Rohingya. ASPI estimates that 65,000 to 100,000 refugees have fled to the relative safety (but squalor) of Bangladesh since then; others have attempted to reach Malaysia, Thailand and even Indonesia, where they similarly face hostile conditions. In December, 11 Nobel Peace Prize winners and a dozen other prominent people — writing
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in an open letter — called the crackdown “ethnic cleansing,” while Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak went even farther, labeling it “genocide” and calling the current situation an “insult to Islam.” “I will not close my eyes and shut my mouth,” Razak declared at a protest rally in Kuala Lumpur. “We must defend [Rohingyas] not just because they are of the same faith, but because they are humans. Their lives have value.” One person who hasn’t said much at all on the plight of the Rohingya is Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader and its iconic former political prisoner. “In recent years, she’s been fairly quiet on the Rohingya, in a way that’s been surprising for a lot of people,” said ASPI’s Eisenman. “She’s also said at times that the international community has made too big of a deal out of the issue — creating problems at a level that didn’t exist. However, she established a commission last August, led by Kofi Annan, to review and create dialogue on solutions to ethnic conflict in Rakhine state. I think the U.N. report detailed something of a different magnitude, and she has vowed to investigate what is happening. But it remains to be seen who will investigate.” That U.N. report accused Myanmar army and police officers of committing mass killings, torture and gang rapes that could amount to crimes against humanity, but so far the international community has resisted calls for an independent investigation. Daniel Russel, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, warned recently that the escalation of violence could incite jihadist extremism in Myanmar. “If mishandled, Rakhine state could be infected and infested by jihadism, which already plagues neighboring Bangladesh and other countries,” Russel told VOA News. But Priscilla Clapp, who was U.S. chief of mission in Myanmar from 1999 to 2002 and is now a senior advisor at the U.S. Institute of
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Peace, said she objects to extreme words like genocide, holocaust, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, “because that is not what this is. This is not Yugoslavia.” Many groups on both sides of the conflict are working “very quietly” in Myanmar to resolve it, Clapp recently told a reporter for Claremont McKenna College’s website. “An international response that consists primarily of assigning blame for this humanitarian tragedy is no longer tenable,” she said, noting that the conflict has an extremely complicated and nuanced history. She added that while the sizable Rohingya diaspora has been very active in raising awareness of the problem, they don’t necessarily speak for the Rohingya actually living in Rakhine, “which makes it difficult to identify the starting point for solutions to this problem.” At the same time, however, journalists are banned from the area, so it’s nearly impossible to speak to Rohingya on the ground or verify reports of rapes and killings by Myanmar’s soldiers. “The best way to prove or disprove allegations of rights abuses is to allow independent media to probe the accusations,” said Shawn Crispin, senior Southeast Asia representative for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. “If the government truly has nothing to hide, then there is no need to restrict media access to the areas in question in northern Rakhine state.”
SOUTH SUDAN The Republic of South Sudan, which came into being July 9, 2011, amidst joyous celebrations in Juba, the capital, is today a war-ravaged, barely functioning state — and home to one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. Famine has been declared in South Sudan, most of whose 12 million people live in poverty. The U.N. World Food Program (WFP)
Photo: © UNICEF / UN055431 / Modola
Women carry sacks of aid food in South Sudan’s Leer county on Feb. 24, 2017. In areas affected by strife and cut off from humanitarian assistance, including Leer, Koch and Manyedit counties, UNICEF, in collaboration with the World Food Program and partners, are working to reach the most vulnerable children with acute malnutrition.
considers 4.9 million of them “severely foodinsecure.” Some 100,000 face immediate starvation, while another 1 million are on the brink of famine. “Famine has become a tragic reality in parts of South Sudan, and our worst fears have been realized,” Serge Tissot, local representative of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, said in a release. “Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive.” South Sudan is not the only nation confronting the specter of famine. Last month, the U.N. warned that more than 20 million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and northeastern Nigeria faced starvation and disease in what U.N. humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien called the “largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the U.N.” in 1945. Yet the pleas for help come just as the Trump administration wants to significantly pull back on foreign aid. The president’s proposed budget for fiscal 2018 would boost military spending
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at the expense of other agencies, including the State Department, which could see its budget slashed by nearly 30 percent. That would mean deep cuts in humanitarian and foreign assistance, as well as funding for U.N. programs. In 2016, the U.N. says the United States alone contributed about 28 percent of all foreign aid going to Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria and South Sudan. In fact, South Sudan attained its independence from the Muslim-majority nation of Sudan thanks in large part to a major diplomatic push by the United States, bolstered by a grassroots campaign led by Christian Evangelicals. Yet unlike the looming famine in Somalia, which has been ravaged by a severe drought exacerbated by an El Niño weather pattern, South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis is almost entirely man-made. That’s because President Salva Kiir (a Dinka, the largest tribe in the country) and forces loyal to his former vice president, Riek Machar (a Nuer, the second-largest tribe), can’t
stop killing each other. Three years of fighting between the two sides has displaced nearly 1.9 million in South Sudan itself, while another 1.5 million have fled to neighboring countries such as Uganda. The violence has prevented farmers from cultivating their crops while soaring inflation has caused the price of staple foods to skyrocket. Meanwhile, both government and rebel forces have blocked or stolen the delivery of food aid. That’s why J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, says he has little sympathy for the leadership in South Sudan, or Washington for that matter. In a lengthy interview with The Diplomat, Pham blames the country’s chaos on “an absolute failure of leadership in South Sudan” as well as a rush by the Obama White House to recognize the new country, which broke away from Sudan following a January 2011 referendum on independence approved by more than 98 percent of the population. Despite rampant poverty and under-development after decades of war, hopes were hopes for the new country. South Sudan is awash in oil and “came to independence with all the goodwill in the world,” said Pham, noting the presence of many heads of state — even Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir — at South Sudan’s independence ceremony in 2011. “This is a place with extraordinary potential. There’s no reason why there should be food insecurity. South Sudan has more uncultivated arable land as a percentage of its size than any place in Africa.” The current fighting is an outgrowth of what South Sudanese President Kiir claims was a Dec. 15, 2013, coup attempt by former Vice President Machar, his longtime rival. But an African Union investigation turned up no evidence of an attempted overthrow. It found, instead, that the dispute may have been trigSee c on flic t s • page 12
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WD | United Nations
Human Rights Under Attack Veteran U.N. Diplomat Undeterred as Human Rights Takes Backseat Under Trump by Karin Zeitvogel
emocracy and respect for human rights have long been central components of U.S. foreign policy.” So reads the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor’s webpage on the State Department’s site. Current circumstances and events under the Trump administration, however, convey an entirely different message. Human rights have long been sidelined in favor of geopolitical, economic and security interests. Even President Obama, who won international adulation for his soaring rhetoric about reaching out to adversaries and promoting peace, was criticized for ramping up drone strikes and failing to intervene in Syria’s bloody civil war. But under President Trump’s “America first” agenda, the promotion of human rights and democracy appears to be at the bottom of the totem pole. As a candidate, the billionaire mogul embraced the use of torture, suggested killing the families of terrorists and praised strongmen from Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. More recently, Trump’s first two months in office have been marred by controversial moves such as the travel ban on refugees from seven (now six) Muslim-majority nations — which had to be rewritten because it was struck down by the courts — dramatic round-ups and deportations of immigrants at home and incendiary proposals such as separating mothers who enter the country illegally from their children. Then there’s Russia, whose alleged tampering with the U.S. election is still being investigated and whose questionable contacts with the Trump administration cost National Security Advisor Michael Flynn his job and forced Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from Russia-related campaign probes. The firestorm reportedly infuriated Trump so much that he lobbed a series of inflammatory tweets accusing his predecessor of bugging his phones at Trump Tower — a baseless conspiracy theory from which even Republicans have distanced themselves. As for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s own checkered human rights record, Trump shrugged it off, reminding Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly that our country is not so “innocent” either. That rhetoric doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that Trump will
8 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017
Photo: UN / Jean-Marc Ferré
The U.N. Human Rights Council, seen here during its 23rd session in Geneva, has had a testy relationship with the U.S. since its formation in 2006.
Populists use half-truths and oversimplification — the two scalpels of the arch propagandist, and here the internet and social media are a perfect rail for them, reducing thought into the smallest packages: sound-bites, tweets. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein United Nations high commissioner for human rights
respect democracy and human rights — nor does his budget for the upcoming year, which would boost military spending by over $50 billion but slash the State Department’s budget by $10 billion, or nearly 30 percent. (For comparison’s sake, the combined State Department/USAID budget is roughly $50 billion, or 1 percent of all federal spending, while military spending in recent years has exceeded $600 billion annually.) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reportedly suggested spreading the pain out over three years, with an initial 20 percent cut in the upcoming budget year, according to the Associated Press. That could still potentially gut many foreign aid programs and result in large-scale staff reductions. Over 120 retired military leaders issued a letter opposing the cuts as
dangerous to American security, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called the plan “dead on arrival.” While the wrangling over the fiscal 2018 budget has only just begun, Trump’s blueprint demonstrates his lack of regard for America’s diplomatic corps and the potential impotence of Tillerson, who has been operating with a bare-bones leadership staff and maintained a low profile amid reports that he’s been sidelined in the White House in favor of influential figures such as Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. In fact, the release of the 2016 Human Rights Report itself was an unusually subdued event, with Tillerson declining to appear in public for the rollout, as past secretaries of state have done. Morale is apparently so low at Foggy Bottom that diplomats have been left twiddling their thumbs and
wondering about their job security. “With the State Department demonstratively shut out of meetings with foreign leaders, key State posts left unfilled, and the White House not soliciting many department staffers for their policy advice, there is little left to do,” Julia Ioffe wrote for the Atlantic on March 1. Interviews with a dozen State employees “painted a picture of a State Department adrift and listless,” according to Ioffe.
Cold Shoulder at Turtle Bay Over at Turtle Bay in New York, the mood is not much better. Republicans have long derided the United Nations as a toothless bureaucracy that drains American taxpayer money. Trump could finally make do on longstanding GOP threats to strip the world body of U.S. funds. Foreign Policy’s Colum Lynch reported that State Department staffers have been instructed to seek steep cuts in excess of 50 percent in U.S. funding for U.N. programs, “signaling an unprecedented retreat by President Donald Trump’s administration from international operations that keep the peace, provide vaccines for children, monitor rogue nuclear weapons programs, and promote peace talks from Syria to Yemen,” he wrote March 13.
Earlier, Lynch reported that Tillerson had rebuffed meetings with U.N. SecretaryGeneral António Guterres, an outspoken human rights advocate, which some viewed as a sign that the former ExxonMobil chief sees the world body as irrelevant. Trump’s own well-documented disdain for the U.N. and indifference toward human rights add up to a quandary for an organization that represents both: the United Nations Human Rights Council, the preeminent intergovernmental body responsible for human rights. Washington has had what can at best be described as “testy” relations with the council since it was formed in 2006, replacing the 60-year-old United Nations Commission on Human Rights. That entity had been ridiculed for allowing countries with poor rights records, such as Sudan and Zimbabwe, to join, putting them in a position to block criticism of the very sorts of abuses that the commission was supposed to be fighting. When the council replaced the commission, the administration of then-President George W. Bush refused to join, questioning whether the name change and a few extra mandates were merely cosmetic reforms. (Unlike the commission, the Human Rights Council makes recommendations to the U.N. General Assembly for developing international human rights law and periodically reviews whether member states are fulfilling their human rights obligations.) Republicans are not alone in doubting the effectiveness of the council, which has been criticized for harboring a bias toward Israel and including authoritarian regimes such as China and Saudi Arabia.
But eventually, in 2009, under President Barack Obama, the U.S. threw its hat into the ring for a seat on the 47-member council under the premise that change would be easier to implement from the inside. ThenSecretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement at the time that, “Human rights are an essential element of American global foreign policy. With others, we will engage in the work of improving the U.N. human rights system.” The U.S. was elected to the council that year and re-elected to a second three-year term in 2012, but because council rules bar a country from immediately standing for election after two consecutive terms, the United States sat out the 2015 vote. Its latest term began in 2016 and runs until 2019 — unless the Trump administration withdraws altogether. That is not completely off the table. According to a letter sent to a group of nonprofits and obtained by Foreign Policy’s Lynch and John Hudson, Tillerson threatened to withdraw from the council if it does not undertake “considerable reform,” saying that the U.S. was in the process of evaluating the council’s effectiveness. The secretary of state’s warning echoed a speech given at the start of the council’s annual session on March 1 by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erin Barclay, who condemned the U.N. body’s “obsession with Israel” and said the “unfair and unbalanced focus on Israel” threatened the council’s credibility. Human rights activist and scholar Anne Bayefsky wrote in the conservative National Review just days before Barclay’s speech that the “question hanging over the head of President Trump is whether his administration will take its place” on the coun-
cil “and legitimize the most anti-Israel, twisted bastion of moral relativism in the U.N. system.” She added that Obama had “deliberately designed a quicksand trap” by putting the U.S. forward for re-election to the council in October last year. “The only way out of the quagmire for the Trump administration is to resign.” An imminent withdrawal doesn’t appear likely, however. Barclay, for instance, closed her speech with the promise of cooperation: “Together, by turning our attention consistently to the most critical human rights situations, we can make progress and help this body fulfill its mandate to make the world a better, safer place.” Human rights groups say the best way for the U.S. to counter the council’s alleged Israel bias is to protect it from the inside, by serving as a member with a seat at the negotiating table. They say that since joining the council in 2009, U.S. participation has helped shift the focus away from Israel and toward offenders such as North Korea, Syria, the Islamic State and Boko Haram. But there are sources who say that quitting the council was not even America’s idea to begin with. Journalist Tamar Pileggi wrote in the Times of Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was taking credit for the threatened U.S. exit. In a recording leaked to Army Radio of a meeting with Israel’s conservative Likud Party, Netanyahu is heard saying that during his visit to Washington in February, “I raised the question whether the U.S. should remain in the Human Rights Council,” Pileggi wrote. When a member of the Knesset asked Netanyahu if it would be in Israel’s interest for the United States to leave the U.N. rights body — who would there be to vote
with Israel if there were no American delegation? — Netanyahu replied, according to Pileggi: “No. It’s better to leave. These types of organizations must be delegitimized.”
ISRAELI oBJECTIoNS Indeed, Israel’s relations with the council have been testy, too, to put it mildly. For some Israelis and Israel advocates, things were made worse in 2014 when Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein became the first Arab and the first Muslim to head the human rights body. Opponents of Zeid noted comments he had made at the International Court of Justice in The Hague 10 years earlier, when the topic of discussion was the “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” Then Jordan’s ambassador to the U.N., Zeid denounced suicide bombings against Israeli civilians as “nothing less than horrific” but underscored that they “do not stand by themselves.” “Israel’s argument, centered as it is on the sporadic suicide bombings of the last three years in particular, must be weighed against almost four decades of Israel dominating and, by virtue of its occupation, degrading an entire civilian population,” he said. At a U.N. General Assembly meeting in 2006, Zeid said Israel’s construction of a wall in occupied Palestinian territory violated international law and was sweeping away the livelihoods of Palestinians, “as well as the future of a Palestinian state.” His detractors have focused on such statements to describe Zeid as hostile to Israel. SEE HU Man r iGHt s • PAgE 45
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Trump vs. the Pentagon Are the White House and Defense, Intelligence Establishments at Odds? by Ryan Migeed
trains between President Donald Trump and leading figures in the defense establishment, including the military and intelligence community, have been laid bare in his first two months in office. The rupture between Trump and the intelligence community, in particular, has been combative. Early in his campaign, Trump disparaged the country’s vast intelligence apparatus as incompetent, citing its claims of the existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Once elected, he stood in front of a memorial for slain CIA officers bragging about his election victory. Since the election, the relentless drip of leaks emanating from the White House has led Trump to claim there is a “deep state” of former Obama officials, disgruntled bureaucrats and hostile intel agents working to undermine his presidency. The first manifestation of that conspiracy theory occurred with the explosive bombshell that Russia had compiled scintillating, compromising information that could potentially be used to blackmail Trump — an unsubstantiated report whose veracity has been widely panned. Nevertheless, the leak left bad blood between the intelligence community and Trump, who on Twitter compared America’s spies to Nazis for leaking the “fake news.” But perhaps the most damning manifestation of the divide between Trump and the intelligence community involves the pervasive questions over Russia’s ties to the administration, questions that — despite Trump’s best efforts to change the subject — are unlikely to die down any time soon. Trump vehemently denied for weeks that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election by hacking the Democratic National Committee, despite the unanimous conclusion of 17 federal intelligence agencies in January that Russia was responsible for the hacks. On Feb. 13, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned amid revelations that he had spoken with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak weeks before Trump’s inauguration and lied about it to Vice President Mike Pence. More recently, evidence that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had also spoken with Kislyak last year forced him to recuse himself from any probes related to the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian officials. Trump had initially denied that members of his team had been in contact with Russian officials during the election, although the FBI is still investigating the matter. The revelations of Russian connections to the president’s top aides may be fueling a feud between Trump and the intelligence community. After Trump regularly skipped daily intelligence briefings and dismissed the value of the information, some in the intelligence community ap-
10 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017
Photo: By Kremlin.ru / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 4.0
Russian troops participate in a 2015 Victory Day parade in Moscow. President Trump’s desire to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin has become a major contention between the new administration and the Pentagon and intelligence community who distrust the Kremlin.
peared to retaliate. The Wall Street Journal, citing current and former officials, reported in February that intelligence officials were withholding some information from the president’s daily briefings. But Michael Shurkin, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation who previously worked in the intelligence community, says Americans should be skeptical of such reports. “Whether or not the intelligence community is withholding information is only known by very few people,” Shurkin told The Diplomat in a phone interview. Contrary to press reports, Shurkin would not go so far as to say there’s a “rift” between Trump and the intel community. But there is a “leeriness” of Trump’s “America-first attitude,” he said, because intelligence officials are conscious of the vital role that allies play in sharing information and assisting U.S. security operations. Antagonizing Mexico, for example, complicates joint border efforts against drug traffickers, illegal immigrants and even possible terrorists.
Defense Dissonance The “America-first” mindset is also at the heart of the Trump administration’s dramatic divergence from long-held views inside the Department of Defense about the kinds of threats the U.S. faces and how they should be met. On the one hand, Trump and the DoD are in agreement on some of those threats. They both view the Islamic State as a top
priority, along with China, North Korea and Iran. On the Islamic State, Trump has essentially continued Obama’s strategy of supporting Kurds, Iraqis and moderate Syrian rebels to drive the terrorist group out of its strongholds in Mosul and Raqqa — a military offensive that has yielded tangible gains. Trump ordered a Pentagon review of the campaign, which was delivered at the end of February, but he has yet to indicate how he would alter the current strategy. Meanwhile, Trump’s proposed budget to dramatically beef up military spending by over $50 billion is music to the Pentagon’s ears. But on Russia, the two sides diverge sharply. Despite the controversy over his administration’s alleged ties to the Kremlin, Trump has repeatedly stressed that he would enlist Russian President Vladimir Putin as an ally in the fight against the Islamic State, presaging a broader rapprochement between the two one-time Cold War adversaries. Leading Pentagon officials, however, view Russia as the nation’s most urgent threat, even calling it an “existential” threat because of its nuclear arsenal. “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia,” Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last year. “If you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming,” he added, referring to its military, cyber and nuclear capabilities, as well as its meddling in Ukraine, Syria
and elsewhere. A Dec. 20 article in Foreign Policy revealed a Pentagon memo listing the incoming Trump administration’s “defense priorities.” Among them were the Islamic State, eliminating defense budgetary caps, developing a comprehensive cyber strategy and improving efficiency. Russia was not mentioned. The omission was “both surprising and concerning … given what the Russians are doing against Ukraine, their military modernization effort, the bellicose tone we’ve heard from Moscow the past three years, and NATO’s effort to bolster conventional deterrence and defense capabilities in the Baltic region,” Brookings Institution scholar Steven Pifer told reporters Dan De Luce, John Hudson and Paul McLeary. With Trump casting Islamic radicalism as the country’s top threat and the Pentagon citing Russian authoritarianism, it is difficult to envision how the two sides can reconcile such diametrically opposed views. During his Senate confirmation hearing, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he has “very modest expectations about areas of cooperation with Mr. Putin.” Russia is a source of “real friction between the defense establishment and the administration,” Shurkin said. This is due, in part, to the legacy of the Cold War, according to Shurkin. Many commanders grew up during that period, giving them a “Cold War mindset” that is inherently suspicious of Russian motives, particularly under Putin, a former KGB officer and shrewd operator.
More recently, Moscow has been “pioneering all sorts of new warfare,” Shurkin added, from its invasion of Ukraine to its “surreptitious undermining of democracy,” like election-related hacks. It is possible Trump advisers simply disagree with U.S. military assessments. Many experts agree with Trump that there are areas where Russian and American interests overlap and cooperation is not only possible, but also might be beneficial. Yet it is also possible that Trump is miscalculating, Shurkin warned.
Singing Different Tune On issues old and new, Trump and defense experts seem to be singing from two different hymnals. On nuclear nonproliferation, Trump’s comments during the campaign and after — he suggested Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Japan should defend themselves with their own nuclear arsenals and in December appeared to welcome an arms race with Russia — contradict U.S. policy since virtually the dawn of the nuclear age. Every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower aimed to slow the spread of nuclear weapons and limit the number of nuclear states. Trump’s oft-repeated claim that NATO is “obsolete” similarly drew shock and condemnation from defense experts and elected officials of both parties, as well as NATO allies. “What we’ve seen is just ignorance,” said Robert A. Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who previously served as a senior strategist at the National Counterproliferation Center in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Defense Secretary Mattis and Vice President Pence have rushed to reassure NATO allies that the U.S. will adhere to its security commitments, while reminding them that they must contribute their fair share of the financial burden — as Trump and presidents before him
have stressed. Manning pointed out that top advisors, including Pence, have sought to temper some of Trump’s more inflammatory rhetoric — and even the president himself was forced to walk back his comments on the “one-China” policy. Under that decades-long policy, America acknowledges there is a single Chinese government in Beijing, ruling out independence for Taiwan, which China considers a breakaway province. Shortly after his election, Trump infuriated the Chinese by breaking diplomatic protocol to accept a call from the president of Taiwan and insinuating that the one-China policy could be used as leverage to extract trade and other concessions from Beijing. The response was swift: China told the U.S. in no uncertain terms that Taiwan was not up for discussion. Meanwhile, President Xi Jinping reportedly refused to speak to Trump until he honored that position, which he did during a February phone call. Trump is now scheduled to meet with Xi at his Mar-a-Lago estate early this month. “The trend line is toward more continuity,” Manning said. But there is still plenty of unpredictability. China is a prime example of Trump’s schizophrenic approach to foreign policy, as he veered from slamming Beijing on the campaign trail, accusing its leaders of cheating the international trading system, to backtracking on his Taiwan outreach, to threatening to confront China militarily if it doesn’t stop its expansionism in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. Trump has also surrounded himself with hardline China critics. Peter Navarro, director of Trump’s National Trade Council, has for years railed against the dangers of China in killing off American manufacturing jobs (even producing a splashy documentary titled “Death by China”). Less dramatically, Ashley J. Tellis, who is
rumored to be on Trump’s shortlist for ambassador to India, coauthored a Council on Foreign Relations report with Robert D. Blackwill that argues China is a rising rival that must be checked. The report urges the U.S. to implement more aggressive policies to rein in China’s economic influence and military capabilities. Perhaps the most incendiary figure, however, may be Steve Bannon, the former head of the far-right news website Breitbart who now sits on the National Security Council and has said that he believes the U.S. will go to war in the South China Sea within the next decade. Indeed, Trump’s election prompted the Chinese military to step up preparedness for the greater possibility of war with the U.S., according to a report in the South China Morning Post. But Michael Swaine, a Chinese security expert who was formerly at the RAND Corporation and is now a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, disagrees. His most recent book, “America’s Challenge: Engaging a Rising China in the Twenty-First Century,” argues that very few situations can lead to serious conflict between China and the United States. “I certainly don’t see war with China as inevitable,” Swaine told The Diplomat by phone. The U.S. needs to determine what the appropriate response to China’s rise should be, but it should not assume that China is an inevitable adversary, Swaine argued. Nevertheless, Swaine said the apparent policy disorder and intra-governmental fingerpointing has left international actors in the dark, unable to predict the words or actions of the U.S. commander in chief. “The Chinese look at this and see an administration that is in serious disarray,” Swaine said.
North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and the dangerous escalation of its missile program have been “all over the map,” Swaine said. North Korea has volleyed a series of missile tests in its pursuit of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could possibly carry a nuclear warhead to the continental U.S., a nightmare scenario for any American president. Trump has tweeted that, “It won’t happen” but otherwise has not formulated a concrete plan for dealing with the erratic regime. Just as his predecessors did, he is sure to soon discover that his policy options on North Korea are extremely limited. Trump has vowed to work with Japan and South Korea to counter the threat from Pyongyang, and the U.S. recently sped up deployment of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in South Korea to thwart a possible attack by the North. But the system has angered China, which says THAAD could be reconfigured to spy on Chinese military bases or shoot down its missiles, thus altering the balance of power in the region. Although it staunchly opposes THAAD, China, North Korea’s economic lifeline, has become increasingly fed up with Kim Jong-un’s behavior. (He’s suspected of assassinating his exiled half-brother at a Malaysian airport using a nerve agent in a James Bond-esque plot.) Beijing has steadily moved to enforce U.N. sanctions, most recently suspending all coal imports from Pyongyang. At the same time, China has little appetite to stir the pot and risk a regime change that would send millions of poor refugees across its borders and place a U.S. ally on its doorstep by uniting the two Koreas. That leaves Trump with a host of unpalatable options. He could slap tougher sanctions on North Korea, essentially echoing Obama’s approach, although repeated U.N. sanctions
The North Korea Threat In particular, Trump’s policy statements on
See Defen s e • page 12
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THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017 | 11
The guided-missile ment and the belated transformation of North submarine USS Ohio Korea.” arrives at Busan, He suggests the U.S. offer security guaranSouth Korea, for a tees and political incentives in exchange for a Continued • page 11 regular port visit nuclear freeze, including scaling back or susduring a routine pending military exercises and moving toward deployment to the Western Pacific on have had little effect on the hermit kingdom, normalized diplomatic relations. July 13, 2016. The China recently suggested the same thing, which has tested five nuclear weapons so far. U.S. recently sped He could order a military strike, but that’s con- proposing that American and South Korean up the deployment forces suspend joint military exercises in an efsidered a last resort because the North would of a controversial fort to defuse tensions. Both Washington and likely retaliate with a conventional artillery atmissile defense systack aimed at tens of millions of people in and Seoul immediately rejected the idea of canceltem in South Korea ing the longstanding exercises, which many see in response to around Seoul. Trump could continue to ratchet stepped-up missile up pressure and bolster defenses in the region, as especially important given Kim’s increasing belligerence. launches by North through THAAD or more covert measures Korea. “We have to see some sort of positive action (the New York Times reported that Obama by North Korea before we can take them seriPhoto: U.S. Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Wesley J. Breedlove ordered a secret cyber-war program to sabotage the North’s test launches). Or he could try ously,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Ha“One form of punishment that the intelli“I don’t know that there’s enough evidence to work with China and re-engage with North ley told reporters in March. Haley added that gence community can mete out will likely come [of a disconnect],” said Bonnie Glaser, a seall options are on the table to deal with Kim. Korea diplomatically. to gall Trump and his team most: passivity. nior adviser for Asia and director of the China During a mid-March swing through Asia, Complicating matters is South Korea’s politInevitably, there will be missions that Trump Power Project at the Center for Strategic and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ruled out the ical turmoil. Park Guen-hye, who was mired in wants carried out secretly and effectively, so he International Studies, a think tank in D.C. a corruption scandal that caused widespread possibility of talks, saying that 20 years of di- can avoid deploying the military and suffering In a phone interview with The Diplomat, public outrage, was removed as president by plomacy have failed. In response, Pyongyang public criticism,” Benjamin wrote for Politico she recommended caution before jumping to the Constitutional Court in March — a first in said U.S. military threats were bringing the re- Magazine on Jan. 11. “But it is an iron law of conclusions. gionyour to the of nuclear war.” in spelling and NOTE: everyPark effort is made to assure ad“brink is free of mistakes SouthAlthough Korea’s history. advocated a hardbureaucracy that no agency will knock itself Trump has only been in office for just over Chineseto Foreign Wang Yi warned line stancecontent toward North Korea, although it is ultimately up toher the customer makeMinister the final proof. out for a leader it deems capricious, especially a month, she pointed out at the time, and Pensuccessors may push for engagement to pre- that the alternative to engagement is confron- one who cannot be relied on to defend his own tagon appointments and defense policies are tation, likening the situation to a train wreck. if something goes wrong.” conflict breaking a more beginning to look “normal.” The vent first atwo faxedfrom changes willout be—made at no cost to the advertiser, subsequent changes conciliatory policy embraced by many South “Are both sides really prepared for a head-on If anything, normal is certainly a welcome will be billed at a rate of $75 per faxed alteration. Signed ads are considered approved. Despite fears of the real-world implications collision?” he asked. Koreans. of Trump’s frosty relationship with America’s change of pace from an administration that Trump may have little choice in the matter, security establishment, some argue that it is too Any diplomatic talks involving the U.S., has been anything but. WD Please checkinthis ad carefully. changes to to your expertsany predict Kim is likely rampad. up the early to claim there is a disconnect between the however, are unlikely the near-term given asMark the North’s barrage of missile tests — not to North’s missile and nuclear weapons program, Pentagon and intelligence community on one Ryan Migeed (@RyanMigeed) is a contributing possibly presenting president with the first hand and the administration on the other. mention the fact routinely If the ad is correct signthat andthe faxregime to: (301) 949-0065 needsthechanges writer for The Washington Diplomat. failed to honor its commitments under previ- crisis of his administration — and a crucial ous talks. Nevertheless, pro- test of how well he can work with the defense The Washington Diplomat Yonsei University (301) 933-3552 fessor John Delury, writing in the March/April and intelligence officials who will guide him issue of Foreign Affairs, says a “grand bargain” through the crisis. Approved __________________________________________________________ Daniel Benjamin, former counterterrorism is possible, especially under a dealmaker like chief at the State Department, warns that in Trump. Changes ___________________________________________________________ addition to the increased likelihood of whistleWashington, Delury argues, should “negoti___________________________________________________________________ Continued • page 7 ate a freeze of North Korea’s nuclear program blowers and leaks emerging from an alienated in return for a U.S. security guarantee, since intelligence community, intel officials may be that is the only measure that could enable Kim reluctant to stick their necks out for the presigered by a mutiny or disagreement among to start concentrating on economic develop- dent during a crisis. members of the presidential guard, and that “the ensuing violence spiraled out of control, spilling out into the general population.” The report also concludes that people Photo: U.S. State Department were targeted for their ethnicity when the Rohingya refugee women stand by their homes fighting erupted. in Cox’s Bazar District in Bangladesh in 2011. “There was no coup attempt. The fact In addition to high rates of malnutrition, is, Salva Kiir is criminally incompetent,” residents in this makeshift refugee camp Pham charged, claiming that in the midst deal with crowding and poor sanitation. of famine, the South Sudanese govern“In South Sudan today, war crimes pay,” ment has reportedly raised visa fees for they wrote. “There is no accountability for humanitarian workers to $10,000 each. the atrocities and looting of state resourc“There was a political dispute that began es, or for the famine that results. Billions in the summer of 2013, when Kiir fired in U.S. taxpayer dollars have supported his vice president. But Kiir wasn’t content peacekeeping forces and humanitarian with that. He tried to eliminate his oppo- assistance already, and one peace process nents by claiming they were staging a coup after another has tried to break the cycle of — for which there was no evidence — and violence. But nothing attempts to thwart then tried to kill them in December 2013. the driving force of the mayhem: the klepLEARN MORE But he couldn’t even do that competently. tocrats who have hijacked the government So the government then took its wrath out in Juba for their personal enrichment.” by slaughtering around 10,000 people near Yet Pham puts a lot of the blame on Juba and thus starting a civil war which is Washington itself and the “hysterical still going on, three years later.” advocacy groups” that supported South But as is the case with Myanmar’s per- Sudanese independence in the first place secution of Rohingya Muslims, journalists (that includes Clooney and Prendergast, find it impossible to cover the war because both of whom strongly advocated for inMIDDLE SCHOOL the Kiir government intimidates them. dependence). HIGH SCHOOL • COLLEGE “The U.S. has provided more than $2 “In many respects, under the Bush adbillion in humanitarian assistance, and yet ministration and certainly under Obama’s, they thumb their nose at us to the extent people were so personally invested in the that they even expelled an American jour- creation of South Sudan by dint of their nalist,” said Pham, referring to the De- long activism that they were complicit,” cember 2016 expulsion of Justin Lynch, a said Pham, who advocates “tough love” and freelancer for the Associated Press, for his an arms embargo against South Sudan, at critical coverage of the leadership in Juba. the very least. “These people were the ones George Clooney and John Prendergast, who railroaded us into the creation of this co-authors of a March 9 opinion piece in non-viable state. Some people are now callthe Washington Post, said the Kiir govern- ing for trusteeship, but the last thing Africa ment is “using the same destructive strate- needs is another failed state.” WD gies” that Sudan’s Bashir used against the rebellious South Sudanese for years before Larry Luxner is the Tel Aviv-based news it won independence. editor of The Washington Diplomat.
I N T E R NAT I O NA L LEADERSHIP
12 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017
Cover Profile | WD
Rough-and-Tumble Politics Italy Fears Becoming Latest Victim of Populist Uprising Sweeping Europe by Anna Gawel
olitical volatility and paralysis are about as Italian as al dente pasta and a good glass of chianti. Ever since Italy’s multi-party system was introduced in 1946, politics has been a rough-and-tumble, take-no-prisoners sport in the country that gave us gladiator fighting and the Roman Empire. But like so many of its European counterparts, Italians are confronting a populist tsunami that has upended the conventional landscape. The country of 60 million is also grappling with stubborn economic malaise that could tip the eurozone back into a financial meltdown, an unrelenting refugee crisis and the residual threat of Islamicinspired terrorism that has unnerved the entire continent. In addition, Italy must contend with a new American president who has openly dismissed the transatlantic alliance that has served as a bedrock of peace and prosperity since World War II. For Italians, political dysfunction is nothing new. But even by Italian standards, transatlantic politics has become downright scary. Yet Armando Varricchio, Rome’s polished ambassador to the U.S., says we have nothing to fear from democracy — or the populist tidal wave it may produce. “We should never fear elections,” he said, “because whenever people are active and want to be engaged and take responsibility by casting their vote, this is a positive sign that democracies work.” But what if the result is empowering parties with xenophobic, nationalist undertones that rail against globalization and want to destroy everything the establishment stands for? “The very term populism sounds weird to me,” the ambassador mused. “Because [democracy] is governed by the people for the people” — and populism literally means supporting ordinary people. Varricchio said that whenever people participate in the political debate, it is a healthy sign that democracy, however ugly, is functioning. At the same time, he admits that much of the current debate is being driven by fear — fear of inequality, immigration, elitism and rapid social change — whether those fears reside in Iowa or Italy. Italy’s embattled former prime minister, Matteo Renzi — himself a victim of the populist revolt sweeping the continent — called populism “the offspring of fear.” Varricchio was more circumspect. “I feel that fear can be expressed in many ways,” he told The Diplomat in a lengthy interview at his stately “Villa Firenze” residence. “[It] can be translated either in a more aggressive attitude — in the desire to protect your own world,
be it your community or your country, trying to turn your back on this global phenomenon of the free movement of ideas, of religions, of goods — or it can translate into a will not to participate, not to be engaged. I think that it is always important to be able to give voice to these fears and also turn them into a positive flow that could be channeled within the existing democratic path. I think that what is scaring me is that there are too many people in our societies that don’t want to take responsibility, don’t want to play the game. They simply give up. But whenever our citizens are ready and willing to participate and to transform their ideas, their fears, their desires, their dreams into a political platform, this is always good.”
Elections Threaten EU Europe’s citizens will get a chance to do just that, for better or worse, in a string of critical elections this year that could portend the future of the European Union itself. Last month, the Netherlands, usually a quiet bastion of progressive values, became a high-profile test case for the populist experiment. Center-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party fended off a challenge from far-right maverick Geert Wilders, who was Europe’s Donald Trump long before the billionaire mogul even entered U.S. politics. The win comes as a huge relief for Europe’s mainstream parties. Despite his second-place
Photo: Lawrence Ruggeri
We should never fear elections … because whenever people are active and want to be engaged and take responsibility by casting their vote, this is a positive sign that democracies work. Armando Varricchio ambassador of Italy to the United States
finish, Wilders vowed to play a key role in the new government’s formation, and his nationalistic fervor still resonates with a broad swath of the population. He’s called for the “de-Islamification” of the Netherlands by closing mosques, banning the Koran and shutting down the country’s borders to refocus the government’s energy on what he views as its neglected natives. Whether the Dutch vote serves as a bellwether for euroskeptic insurgencies elsewhere remains to be seen. Now the focus shifts to France’s highly anticipated elections, which take place in late April, with a second round in May. Like Trump, populist firebrand
Marine Le Pen has defied political convention and risen from the ashes by pushing a fiercely anti-immigrant, antiglobalization agenda. If France falls to Le Pen, who has advocated for a referendum to pull the country out of the EU, the repercussions could be disastrous for Brussels, which is still reeling from Britain’s surprise decision to ditch the 28-member bloc. Another wildcard is Italy, which may hold early elections this year, further jeopardizing European unity. And if the populist domino effect takes down stalwart Angela Merkel in Germany’s elections later this fall, it could spell the demise of the entire EU project, which
was spearheaded by Paris and Berlin and cemented in 1957 with, ironically, the Treaty of Rome. (The current political climate hasn’t stopped the Italian Embassy from celebrating the 60th anniversary of that treaty with a series of events this year.) In terms of GDP alone, the governments in play this year account for some 75 percent of the euro area. Even former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti says the EU is at risk of collapsing under the weight of widespread mistrust, as voters accuse the old guard of failing to deliver inclusive economic growth and protecting them against perceived threats such as radicalism and refugees. Varricchio — a seasoned diplomat who previously served as deputy secretary-general of Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs — carefully skirted around the question of whether the upcoming elections could imperil the EU’s survival, refusing to “prejudge their outcome.” But he is painfully aware of the tectonic shifts ahead — and the fact that Italy may be engulfed by them. “We are very much integrated, so See italy • page 14 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017 | 13
Italy Continued • page 13
whatever happens in a single member of the EU will produce effects on other countries,” he said. “So whatever happens in the Netherlands will produce effects in France, and then eventually in Germany in September, or in Italy in case there is a possibility of elections.”
Down but Not Out In Italy, there is always the possibility of elections. By some estimates, the country has cycled through roughly 63 governments in 70 years. Ironically, this latest bout of uncertainty was sparked by efforts to stabilize Italy’s fractured political system. Last year, then-Prime Minister Renzi introduced a series of constitutional changes intended to streamline the government. Under Italy’s two-chamber system, the ruling party needs a majority in both the Senate and lower house to pass legislation — a high bar in a parliament composed of “a patchwork of parties” that “juggle numerous particular interests in order to put together a large enough coalition to pass laws,” explained Johns Hopkins professor Erik Jones in an October 2016 piece for Foreign Affairs magazine. Renzi’s plan was based on two pillars. One was to reduce the powers of the Senate, the influential upper house, by turning it into an indirectly elected body of regional and municipal appointees. The other was to introduce a new electoral law for the lower house that would give the party that won over 40 percent of the vote a generous portion of extra seats to ensure it controlled a majority of parliament. If no party reached that threshold (a likely outcome in Italy’s fragmented system), a runoff ballot would award the bonus seats to the winner, again guaranteeing that one party held a solid majority. The goal was to reduce the need for unwieldy coalition governments, speed up the decision-making process and push through the structural reforms that Renzi argued were needed to jumpstart Italy’s stagnant economy. The “no camp” — led by the populist Five Star Movement and right-wing Northern League — argued that the changes would have concentrated too much power in the prime minister’s hands and removed too many checks and balances. Renzi put the first phase of his plan, the Senate overhaul, up for a referendum in
December. But by doing so, he turned a seemingly arcane reform into a plebiscite on his leadership — and a chance for Italians to lodge a protest vote against the establishment. They did just that, and Renzi lost the referendum — by a wide 20-point margin — forcing him to resign. Shortly afterward, a constitutional court struck down the second part of his plan to hold runoffs for the lower chamber. That means Italy now essentially reverts back to the status quo — “grand” coalition governments, which, as the ambassador pointed out, are the norm in many European countries, including Germany and Britain. Varricchio told us that any further talk of reforms has been shelved for now. But Renzi is not out of the picture. The young upstart former mayor of Florence — who rose to prominence as an anti-establishment outsider, only to come to represent the establishment — is busy engineering a comeback. He’s pressing President Sergio Mattarella to call early elections, which aren’t scheduled until 2018. Beppe Grillo, a standup comic-turned-cofounder of the Five-Star Movement, is also pushing for snap elections, hoping to capitalize on the party’s momentum. Meanwhile, the man who makes that call — President Mattarella — is eager to avoid any more chaos and has thus far resisted entreaties to hold elections this year. Renzi himself is mired in a leadership battle within his own Democratic Party, where “mass resignations by left-wing opponents now threaten his ambitions to reassert control over the party, win back disillusioned leftist voters and halt a surge in support for populists,” wrote Giada Zampano for Politico’s Europe edition on March 13. That leaves the Five Star Movement in a prime position to seize on voters’ frustration with the ruling elites who have failed to fix Italy’s chronically sluggish economy. A recent poll showed Five Star holding a strong edge over the disarrayed Democratic Party in a possible contest. Yet Varricchio points out that the Five Star Movement is different from other European populist parties in that it attracts a wide spectrum of disgruntled voters from both the left and right, robbing it of a coherent policy platform. Despite being widely seen as inexperienced and all over the map ideologically, experts warn that Five Star’s appeal — like that of other “fringe” movements that sprung up as vehicles for protest — should not be underestimated. As such, the defeat of Renzi’s reforms can be seen in a positive or negative light, depending on how you view the
14 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017
Photo: By Diliff - Own work / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.5
Above, the Colosseum in Rome, built around 70 AD, is considered one of the greatest works of architecture and engineering in ancient history and a symbol of the Roman Empire. At left, trade union protesters demonstrate near the Colosseum on Nov. 21, 2014, against then-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s labor market reforms.
Photo: By Simone Ramella - flickr.com / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo: By Governo Italiano (Note legali) - Prima pagina del portale www.governo.it / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0
Matteo Renzi, who resigned after his referendum on proposed constitutional changes failed, right, congratulates his ally, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, during Gentiloni’s swearing-in ceremony last December.
Photo: © European Union 2014 - European Parliament
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaks before the European Union Parliament on July 2, 2014, about the priorities of Italy’s EU presidency.
populist uprising. On the one hand, the constitutional changes would’ve strengthened the prime minister’s powers. That would’ve benefited Renzi — assuming he was the one in power. If, however, Five Star had won an upset victory (something Americans are very familiar with), populists would’ve taken charge. On the other hand, rejecting the changes will force Italy’s parties to cobble together broad-based coalition governments that, in theory, are better able to block insurgent movements like Five Star from amassing too much power, thereby thwarting radical change. On the flip side, sticking with the status quo entrenches Italy’s perennial gridlock.
That’s why Simon Nixon of the Wall Street Journal predicts that Italy will simply continue to muddle along. “The country’s primary challenge for 20 years, since it first locked itself into the discipline of eurozone membership, is that it has struggled to adapt to the challenges of operating in an open, global economy,” he wrote in a Jan. 29 article, citing factors such inflexible labor rules, pervasive corruption and inefficient rule of law. He warns that “without far-reaching reform, Italy will struggle to break out of its low-growth trap, raising the risk that popular frustration against the current establishment and mainstream parties will continue to build, culminating in a populist victory.
“If the price of keeping out the populists is a return to weak and unstable governments unable to deliver reforms, then the establishment’s victory may be pyrrhic,” he concluded. “Muddling though can be both a blessing and a curse.” The ambassador insists that the current government — made up of respected technocrats, including Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, a close Renzi ally — will do more than just muddle through. “This is not a caretaker government,” Varricchio told us. “When the president in parliament entrusted Mr. Gentiloni with the responsibility to form the government, he gave him wide authority to go ahead with [economic] reforms while at the same time managing the many challenges of our time because … we cannot simply transform the political arena into a sort of think tank discussing ideas. The government has to take responsibility and move forward with this ambitious program of reforms.” He added: “It is not a matter of mechanics, it’s not a matter of legal provisions, but of political will.”
Political Will and Prized Cheese Varricchio, a career diplomat who has advised Italy’s leaders since joining the Foreign Service in 1986, says the same philosophy applies to the EU: “Institutions are strong when there is a political will,” he said. “As long as national governments entrust European institutions with the authority to actually take decisions for a broader good [while] trying to find a compromise among … different countries, this is where Europe works. But as always in politics, as always in democracy, there is a need for reaching out and for finding a common ground.” But common ground and trust are in short supply when it comes to bureaucrats in Brussels — or Washington, D.C., for that matter. A litany of grievances has ignited a populist fever on both sides of the Atlantic. Just as many Americans worry about immigrants taking away jobs or bringing in crime, many Europeans fear the unprecedented influx
of refugees they’ve absorbed from war-torn, poverty-stricken nations such as Syria and Afghanistan is threatening their safety, social services and way of life. Whether it’s concerns over free trade, open borders or more liberal social mores, there seems to be a growing disconnect between alienated voters and the ruling elite they say ignores them. Varricchio said he understands the forces that propelled Donald Trump to the White House, because they mirror the discontent that has been simmering in Europe for years. “I’ve seen these voices loud and clear — people’s anger, people’s fear, people casting doubts — and I was not surprised at all because being a European, I’ve seen this coming,” he said. “Irrespective of the specific issue at stake, there is something that is going on related to a world where you have global connections, global trade. There is an issue of preserving identities — a national identity, cultural identity, religious identity, a cheese identity. You want to preserve your cheese!” he said with a wry smile. Cheese, in fact, is no laughing matter in Europe. Local farmers are fiercely protective of their feta, parmesan and other national cheeses — and wary of EU regulations and large corporations eating into their profits. Whether Denmark, Greece or France, “you have European countries particularly close to us where cheese is very serious,” Varricchio said. “So that’s why … it is important that both elected officials and those who represent institutions like myself listen and not be deaf to what is happening.” So how can EU institutions better listen to citizens who say the bloc is infringing on their sovereignty, and their cherished dairy products? Varricchio said the EU should embrace a concept pioneered by the Catholic Church known as “subsidiarity,” which “means taking at the higher level only those decisions that can’t be taken at the lower level.” In other words, “political decisions should be taken at the local level whenever possible, while … leaving to Brussels only the major regulatory norms, which is a dynamic not different from the one that you are having here,” the ambassador explained, noting that many Americans prefer that the federal government stay out of local affairs. “What is happening inside the Beltway is happening for us in Brussels. So if you are a citizen in Oklahoma or Arkansas or Oregon, you want to have decisions affecting your community taken at the lower level.” At the same time, he warned against politicians using Brussels as a convenient scapegoat “for whatever is not effective and whatever is politically sensitive or difficult.” But the ambassador suggested that the EU does deserve some blame for fanning the flames of populist resentment. In particular, by pushing austerity to respond to the 2008 recession instead of pro-growth policies, Varricchio said the EU aggravated a vicious cycle of higher taxes and painful spending cuts that stunted the recovery of indebted economies like Italy, Greece and Spain. “It is very, very telling the comparison between what happened here in this country after the Great Recession and what happened in Europe. The United States was able to grow at a much steadier and higher percentage than Europe, [which] was very much austerity-prone and cautious,” Varricchio said. “Now of course this is becoming politically crucial, so this is what our government is advocating: growth, growth, growth.” Asked if there’s been a shift toward more growth and less austerity in Brussels — and, by extension, Berlin — the ambassador offered another wry smile. “Let’s hope so.”
dANgERS BENEATh ThE SuRFACE While the eurozone crisis has faded from the headlines, many analysts fear that Italy,
migrants from embarking on the dangerous journey for two reasons: “first humanitarian, so you save their lives, because the number of drowned people is appalling … and also because if you stop them, you can avoid this arrival into Europe, which has become such a political nightmare.”
italy at a Glance National Day: June 2 (1946) Location Southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia
National flag of Italy
‘ALL IN ThIS TogEThER’
Capital Rome Population 62 million (July 2016 estimate) Religious groups Christian 80 percent (overwhelmingly Roman Catholic with very small groups of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Protestants), Muslim (about 800,000 to 1 million), atheist and agnostic 20 percent GDP (purchasing power parity) $2.2 trillion (2016 estimate)
GDP per-capita (PPP) $36,300 (2016 estimate)
GDP growth 0.8 percent (2016 estimate) Unemployment 11.4 percent (2016 estimate) Population below poverty line 29.9 percent (2012 estimate)
Industries Tourism, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, food processing, textiles, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear, ceramics SouRCE: CIA WoRLd FACTBooK
PhoTo: BY ALVESgASPAR - oWN WoRK / WIKIMEdIA CoMMoNS CC BY-SA 4.0
The Altare della Patria in Rome, home of Italy’s Tomb of the unknown Soldier, was built as a monument to King Vittorio Emanuele II to commemorate the unification of Italy.
Europe’s third-largest economy, is a ticking time bomb. The country’s debt stands at over 130 percent of GDP. Youth unemployment is a staggering 40 percent. Growth is essentially flat. And its banks are saddled with debt. To reassure jittery investors, the Italian government recently approved a €20 billion bailout of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank and a “national asset,” as the ambassador called it. Varricchio also cited the words of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi that the ECB is “ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro.” Varricchio concedes that Italy’s banks are burdened with bad loans that are a byproduct of the 2008 crisis. “But all in all, the Italian economic banking center is very, very, very solid. The more the economy starts growing steadily again, the easier it will be to solve the remaining problems.” And one of the most pressing problems is youth unemployment, which Varricchio said “is poisoning the very fabric of our society.” “We are able to cope with it because we are a very integrated society. We have families, so we have a natural safety net, but the country is suffering because of this.” At the same time, Varricchio points out that Italy is Europe’s second-largest manufacturer, with a thriving export sector underpinned by many small- and medium-size enterprises. “So we have this tremendous tradition and ingenuity of our entrepreneurs.” To foster this “dynamism,” he says Italy must cut red tape, increase investment in education and vocational training and keep markets open to allow unfettered trade. “We have to travel with lighter luggage in a way. We carry very, very heavy luggage,” he said. Italy’s finances have been strained by another heavy burden: tens of thousands of desperate refugees washing up on its shores. Like Greece, Italy has borne the brunt of Europe’s refugee crisis. “By the end of last year, we
received more than 180,000 people,” Varricchio said, noting that the Italian Coast Guard has rescued thousands from ramshackle boats that often capsize at sea. “But this is where the problem starts because we cannot go on accepting all these people without any eventual solution to the problem.” The ambassador said the solution is twofold: One, authorities must manage the immediate emergency at sea, where thousands have died; target the human traffickers who prey on refugees; process claims; and resettle legitimate asylum-seekers while sending back economic migrants. Second, they need to address the root causes that are sending people on the risky journey across the Mediterranean in the first place. That means tackling violence in nations like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, and poverty in African nations like Eritrea — “so this is a long-term process.” On both fronts, however, Varricchio said the EU has abandoned front-line countries like Italy and Greece. Asked if the bloc has delivered the assistance it’s promised, both to help Italy’s beleaguered Coast Guard and to resettle refugees among member states, the ambassador tersely replied: “No.” As for the EU pact with Turkey that significantly cut down on the number of refugees entering Greece, Varricchio said refugees simply switched from the Aegean route to the more perilous trek between Libya and Sicily to reach Europe. In response, Italy reached a deal last month to curb the flow of migrants from Libya, offering the war-torn nation cash, training and equipment to secure its vast desert border and catch smuggler boats in its waters. Human rights groups have criticized the pact for sending refugees back to lawless Libya, where they are often herded into detention camps rife with abuse. Varricchio said he understands these concerns but argues that Europe needs to prevent
The subject of refugees became a political nightmare for Donald Trump with the botched rollout of his travel ban, although the resilient president has since moved on to other controversies. Despite the backlash over Trump’s unorthodox style and divisive policies, America’s new president is very much at home with the populist earthquake that has rattled the EU. He’s casually shrugged off the value of the transatlantic alliance that has served as a pillar of global stability; praised Brexit and speculated that other EU member states would be better off leaving the bloc as well; cozied up to Russia despite its provocations in Ukraine and Eastern Europe; put a major transatlantic trade accord on ice; and repeatedly denigrated NATO as obsolete and its members as free-loaders. Europe’s only consolation may be that the U.S. president may be too busy picking fights with Mexico and China to notice the EU, even though the bloc of 500 million consumers is America’s largest trading partner. But those deeply embedded interests are exactly why Varricchio says he isn’t worried about Trump’s isolationist rhetoric. “For the last 60 years, the United States has always been the staunchest supporter of integration. I have no doubt that this is going to stay. It is in the interest of both Europe and America that the two sides of the Atlantic are strongly united,” he said. “The same goes for NATO. When [Trump] says that NATO is obsolete, this is a political expression,” the ambassador told us. “Obsolete means that we have to adjust, update, we have to have a new strategy — and this is exactly what we are trying to do, so I tend to consider this expression as a sort of wake-up call that we all have to answer.” Varricchio said Italy is doing just that, serving as a “strong player” in NATO’s collective security. “We have our military forces engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, in the Balkans, so we do our share.” As for Trump’s insistence that NATO members boost defense spending to 2 percent of GDP, Varricchio said the issue is complicated. While Italy’s defense spending comes to about 1.2 percent of its GDP, it subscribes to another important target: devoting 20 percent of its security expenditure to upgrading its defense industry and advanced systems. But here, the country runs into EU rules against exceeding certain budgetary limits to ensure fiscal discipline among member states. “And this drives us back to the issue of austerity. So we have to be able to persuade Brussels and [Berlin] that austerity is something that is not in our broader interest because the more we invest in our security, the more we are able to increase our ability to face our common challenges,” Varricchio said. “I’m confident that also because of these warnings coming from [the U.S.], this process will go forward.” Asked if he could convey one message to President Trump about Europe, the ambassador gave a Twitter-ready response: “We are all in this together.” WD Anna Gawel (@diplomatnews) is the managing editor of The Washington Diplomat.
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THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | APrIL 2017 | 15
WD | Asia
Asia Pivot 2.0? After U.S. Withdrawal from Trans-Pacific Partnership, Now What? by Ryan Migeed
A rice paddy is seen in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was expected to open up Japan’s jealously guarded agricultural sector to American exporters, but President Trump kept his campaign promise and dropped out of the trade accord in January.
n Jan. 24, President Donald Trump made good on a campaign promise to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by signing an executive action to end U.S. involvement in the trade deal. The sweeping accord included 12 Pacific-Rim nations, among them Canada, Mexico, Japan and Australia, that together represented around 40 percent of the global economy and a third of world trade. Where will TPP go without U.S. involvement? “Nowhere,” says Shihoko Goto, the senior Northeast Asia associate at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Asia Program. Although Japan has already ratified the agreement, the momentum for ratification by all parties is gone without the U.S. pushing for it, Goto told The Diplomat in a phone interview. Pieces of the deal may be salvaged, however. There are elements of TPP that would still be beneficial to the U.S. and the 11 countries involved in negotiations, such as provisions cutting red tape for cross-border trade, Goto said. In TPP’s wake, there is also increased focus on Trump’s avowed preference for bilateral trade deals over multinational pacts. One bilateral deal that is possible in the near future is a U.S.-Japan agreement. (Vietnam, too, is reportedly looking into a bilateral pact with the U.S. to replace TPP.) While the first meeting between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared to go well, “there hasn’t been any indication of a free trade agreement coming out of [the meeting],” said Goto. But Trump’s first formal meeting with Abe — which started at the White House and ended with a weekend at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. — did establish a good working relationship. “The relationship on a personal level seems to be off on a good footing,” Goto said. The negotiations with Japan over its inclusion into the TPP were some of the most arduous, given Japan’s notoriously high protectionist tariff barriers, particularly for its agriculture and automotive sectors. As such, U.S. and Japanese negotiators may already have the fundamentals in place to pursue a bilateral accord (the U.S. and Japan alone accounted for over 75 percent of the GDP of TPP member states). At the same time, Japan made concessions in TPP talks that it would never make in a bilateral deal, according to Robert A. Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who previously served on the U.S. secretary of state’s policy planning staff during the George W. Bush administration. Some have speculated that Japan might even pick up the TPP mantle, even though Abe called the pact “meaningless” without the U.S. on board. Nevertheless, the TPP could inject much-needed vitality into Japan’s stagnant economy while countering Chinese influence. “Most importantly, cutting through the myriad of red tape in agriculture and elsewhere is a critical part of the economic program he has proudly dubbed ‘Abenomics,’” wrote William Sposato on Jan. 6 in Foreign Policy. Despite some successes in boosting economic growth, “The program, built around easy money from the central bank, a heavy dollop of government spending, and attempts at structural reform, has been less successful than hoped,” Sposato wrote. “TPP gives the government the handy excuse it now needs to take unpopular reform measures meant to give a new push to the Abenomics program.”
16 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017
Photo: By BrianAdler - Own work / Public Domain
It’s impossible to underestimate the impact of the U.S. withdrawal from TPP on politics in Asia. Bonnie Glaser
director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
Other TPP nations such as Australia and Singapore haven’t completely given up on the hard-fought deal, which took over a decade to hammer out and would’ve struck down some 18,000 tariffs. There is hope that it can somehow be salvaged, with or without the United States. “Our preference was to have the U.S. involved in the TPP,” New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay told Bloomberg on Jan. 23. “However, the agreement still has value as an FTA with the other countries involved.” In fact, Chile convened a meeting of TPP trade ministers, along with China and South Korea, in mid-March to discuss prospects for moving forward. “They will discuss the possibility of concluding TPP among themselves and perhaps inviting others to join as well,” Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, wrote in an Asia Society brief ahead of the meeting. “It would be difficult, but it is worth consideration.” Cutler, a former negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, added that a TPP agreement is still relevant without the U.S. “You’d still have four of the world’s 20 largest economies — Japan, Canada, Australia and Mexico — alongside significant emerging economies, like Vietnam and Malaysia,” she wrote, noting that, “There’s room for Asian countries to unilaterally implement the economic reforms called for on TPP.” Some experts, rather optimistically, have even floated the possibility that Trump could resurrect the deal despite its toxicity among many American voters. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Trump came back to TPP after the 2018 elections,” Manning told The Diplomat.
Manning, along with Olin Wethington, co-wrote a June 2015 Atlantic Council report, “Shaping the AsiaPacific Future: Strengthening the Institutional Architecture for an Open, Rules-Based Economic Order,” that argued in favor of ratifying TPP in part to “integrate” China “into the existing order.” While China did not join TPP negotiations, the deal would have established regional norms that China would eventually have been expected to meet, Manning and Wethington argued. Indeed, TPP was more than a trade agreement. It was also a geopolitical tool that, in the words of Manning’s report, incentivized others in the region to “follow our rules,” such as protecting intellectual property rights and allowing the free movement of goods, capital and services. But the TPP notably did not include China, though the door was open for it to join in the future. In its absence, many U.S. policy experts viewed the trade deal as a way of counterbalancing China’s growing military and economic clout in the region — an implicit goal of President Obama’s Asia pivot to refocus American attention and resources away from trouble spots like the Middle East and toward Asia. The goal was to re-establish America as a Pacific power, although Beijing argued that the pivot was a thinly veiled attempt to contain its rise in the region. While Trump — and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton — pledged to scrap the trade deal, which was hugely unpopular with American blue-collar workers, experts say walking away from the trade pact has cost the U.S. critical leverage in the Asia-Pacific, one of the world’s fastest-growing markets that is home to 60 percent of the global economy. The decision to abandon the TPP allows China to cement its hegemony in the region and pursue its own competing trade pact, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which lacks the high labor, intellectual property and environmental protections enshrined in the TPP. While China could, in theory, enter into talks to join the TPP, it has little motivation to do so because RCEP requires far fewer sacrifices on its part. Because of this, U.S. withdrawal from TPP is “a stra-
tegic failure of U.S. policy in the region,” argues Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia and director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It’s impossible to underestimate the impact of the U.S. withdrawal from TPP on politics in Asia” or on U.S. credibility and staying power in the region, Glaser told The Diplomat. Moreover, the bilateral agreements Trump hopes to make will take far longer than he suggests, Glaser said. A recent report by the Asia Society Policy Institute echoed that sentiment, noting that regional agreements are far more effective than bilateral agreements in liberalizing trade, raising standards and promoting broad reforms. “Having the same standards and rules for all participating countries reduces confusion and encourages businesses, especially [small- and medium-size enterprises], to take advantage of the benefits of these agreements,” the report said. In the meantime, as Trump tries to start any bilateral talks, the U.S. may be marginalized by other agreements, such as the one China recently negotiated with Vietnam to manage their maritime territorial dispute — which may lead to further collaboration as Vietnam seeks foreign investment in infrastructure. Given its economic heft, smaller Asian nations such as Vietnam and Malaysia may have little choice but to follow China’s lead in America’s absence. China is also looking to replace the U.S. as the standard-bearer of free trade, with Chinese President Xi Jinping touting globalization’s benefits at the World Economic Forum earlier this year, and Beijing looking to boost trade with partners such as the European Union. The TPP was an obvious, and inextricable, centerpiece of Obama’s pivot, and it’s unclear what economic overtures, if any, Trump will make to the region. For now, however, a greater security concern
Photo: By Bigg(g)er - Own work / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0
A floating market is seen in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. Vietnam has reportedly expressed interest in a bilateral trade pact with the U.S. now that President Trump has backed out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Photo: By Adam Jones Adam63 - Own work / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0
is stealing the attention of officials in Washington, Tokyo, Beijing and elsewhere: North Korea’s increasingly realistic threat to develop a nuclear missile capable of hitting targets in the continental U.S. There is consensus among all the experts The Diplomat spoke with for this report that North Korea is the “most immediate threat” in the region (also see story on page 10). Manning suggested that North Korea, which he said views itself as a “nuclear state,” is four to
The Port of Shanghai’s deep-water harbor on Yangshan Island in China became the world’s busiest container port in 2010. Given its economic heft, smaller Asian nations such as Vietnam and Malaysia may have little choice but to follow China’s lead as it pushes its own regional trade pact as an alternative to the defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership.
five years away from developing an intercontinental ballistic missile of the sort once aimed at Florida during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The threat requires a policy review of what has been tried in the past, Manning and Glaser both agreed. It is worth exploring a cap and freeze on fissile production, Manning noted. He also pointed out that the U.S. has not yet imposed the kind of crippling sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table. “It’s not a question of whether we talk to them or not. It’s a question of what we talk to them about,” Manning said. In the meantime, he said the U.S. and allies such as South Korea must strengthen their missile defenses. Emphasizing alliances as the “smart thing to do,” Glaser concurred. And Trump has been doing just that with his public courting of Abe, the first world leader he met after the election, and the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in South Korea. Still, it is hard to imagine that the diplomacy Trump wants — in which China would accept more responsibility for restraining its client state — might be effective or even possible, Glaser said. The Obama administration was not as suc-
cessful as it wanted to be in shaping China’s “policy choices,” Glaser argued. “That strategy needs some improvement.” And yet, Trump could be the one to make Obama’s now-defunct Asia pivot a reality, Josh Rogin argued in a Washington Post column on Jan. 8. Despite the president’s isolationist rhetoric, his top officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, are said to be “keenly interested in Asia strategy” and enhancing America’s presence in the region, portending Trump’s own pivot. “Transition officials say the Trump administration will take a hawkish view of China, focus on bolstering regional alliances, have a renewed interest in Taiwan, be skeptical of engagement with North Korea and bolster the U.S. Navy’s fleet presence in the Pacific,” Rogin wrote. “The most urgent concern has to be North Korea. Everything else is a longer horizon threat,” said Glaser. North Korea is proving to be the kind of crisis the Asia pivot was designed to avoid. But managing the hermit kingdom will also serve as a test case for how the U.S. under Trump takes a larger role in the region by helping to resolve its conflicts. WD Ryan Migeed (@RyanMigeed) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.
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540-636-5484 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017 | 17
WD | Book Review
‘Why Presidents Fail’ It Comes Down to Too Much Talk and Too Little Action, According to Kamarck by John Shaw
here is now an all-purpose explanation that is often cited by journalists and political analysts when an American president falters: He has lost control over the “narrative” and is unable to communicate his “message.” Elaine C. Kamarck, author of “Why Presidents Fail And How They Can Succeed Again” takes a very different view. Presidents usually struggle, she argues, because they focus too much on the narrative and gloss over the governments they preside over, making serious mistakes or failing to deliver acceptable services. Too often, presidents are fixated on explaining policies and neglect the more prosaic chore of implementing these policies. Put bluntly, modern presidents talk and travel too much and spend too little time ensuring that government actually works. These failures hurt individual presidents and shatter confidence in the political system they lead. “Today we face a crisis of competence in the American presidency,” she writes. “Every time a president presides over an executive branch failure, it hurts not just his particular future aspirations and agendas but causes a loss of faith in the entire system.” Kamarck is a senior fellow in the Governance Studies program at the Brookings Institution and is also the director of the think tank’s Center for Effective Public Management. An expert on U.S. electoral politics and government reform, she has written books on presidential primaries and effective public policy. She is a former staffer at the Democratic National Committee and was an official in the Clinton administration, but in “Why Presidents Fail,” her criticisms are bipartisan, wide-ranging and searing. Kamarck observes that Americans haven’t always mistrusted their government. In fact, earlier generations of Americans believed the federal government was purposeful, responsive and competent. It was credited with helping end the Great Depression, winning World War II and putting a man on the moon. “Since then,” she writes,” Americans have experienced humiliation in Vietnam, setbacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, a disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina, a ruinous financial crisis and economic meltdown, the botched rollout of Obamacare, and continuing impotence against terrorism. Little wonder there is sentiment out there that the country is on an inevitable and precipitous downward slope that the government can’t do anything about.” Kamarck argues that presidents are expected to design, communicate and implement policy. In recent decades, however, presidents have become fixated on the communicate part. “The obsession with communication — presidential talking and messaging — is a dangerous mirage of the media age, a delusion that inevitably comes crashing down in the face of governmental failure,” she writes. “After all, management skills are distinct from rhetorical skills and much less interesting — until, that is, their absence
18 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017
Photo : Broo
Modern presidents may get elected because of their ability to inspire us and make us feel good. But they succeed, both in the short term and over the long term, by their actual ability to do good. Elaine C. Kamarck author of ‘Why Presidents Fail And How They Can Succeed Again’
causes the entire presidency to crash and burn.” The president presides over a vast and unwieldy federal government with 2.7 million civilian workers and 1.5 million military personnel. The federal workforce is as large as that of Walmart, McDonald’s, IBM, Kroger, Home Depot and Target combined. This huge workforce is divided between a relatively small number of political appointees who come and go and career employees who work for decades and calmly
observe the passing of presidential administrations. An increasing array of legal strictures and administrative rules severely limit the president’s flexibility to manage this workforce and shift funds without congressional approval. For its part, Congress serves as an intrusive, erratic and often cantankerous 535-person board of directors that oversees the federal government. The cumulative effect of these realities is profound and underappreciated. “The president is in charge of an entity over which he has fairly limited power,” she writes. Kamarck argues that many of our recent presidents have not had prior experience in the federal government and have not grasped its vagaries, rituals and idiosyncrasies. They have not understood how government operates, where the levers of power are, the importance of persuasion and the remarkable countervailing force of inertia. Kamarck says that while being a governmental innocent may be an asset on the campaign trail, it’s a huge liability once in office. “Modern presidents may get elected because of their ability to inspire us and make us feel good. But they succeed, both in the short term and over the long term, by their actual ability to do good.” The author does not lack for examples of presidential failures and Kamarck’s book chronicles debacles extending from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama. These failures tend to fall into one of two categories: presidents who are either inattentive to, or ignorant of, the workings of the federal government. The mission ordered by President Carter in the spring of 1980 to rescue American diplomatic hostages in Iran was inherently difficult. However, it was greatly complicated by several factors that Carter should have foreseen, according to Kamarck. There was tension between the branches of the military, limited U.S. special operations capacity and no full-scale practice sessions before launching the risky mission. The failure of this rescue attempt deepened the perception that Carter was in over his head. “No amount of ‘spin’ could reduce the magnitude of the failure,” she writes. “Jimmy Carter’s presidency was over.” George W. Bush’s presidency, Kamarck argues, experienced at least four devastating failures: the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Iraq War, the anemic response after Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 financial crisis. While the failure to avert 9/11 can arguably be shared with the Clinton administration, Bush received urgent warnings that terrorism was a growing threat and an attack on the U.S. homeland was likely. But he brushed aside these warnings and failed to confront the threats. “In the run-up to 9/11, we see a government that had the capacity to collect large amounts of intelligence data but was slow to adapt its operations to a post-Cold War world and lacked the capacity to make sense of the information it had,” Kamarck writes. See Book r eview • page 20
Medical | WD
Lethal Food Bad Diets Tied to 400,000 U.S. Deaths in 2015 by HealthDay News
Adding healthy foods such as nuts, seeds, vegetables, whole grains might help prevent premature demise, researchers suggest
nhealthy diets may have contributed to as many as 400,000 premature deaths from heart disease and strokes in 2015, a new study estimates. And it’s not just the things you should be avoiding — such as salt and trans fats — that are contributing to these deaths. The excess deaths may also be caused by what’s missing in your diet — namely, nuts and seeds, vegetables and whole grains, the researchers said. “Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, killing more people in 2015 than any other cause,” said lead researcher Dr. Ashkan Afshin of the University of Washington in Seattle. He’s an acting assistant professor of global health at the university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. “Poor diet is the top risk factor for cardiovascular disease death and, therefore, deserves attention from decision-makers in the U.S. when setting health agendas,” Afshin said. The study results suggest that nearly half of heart disease and stroke (cardiovascular disease) deaths in the United States might be prevented with improved diets, he explained. Debates on dietary policies in the United States tend to focus on cutting out unhealthy foods and nutrients, such as trans fats, salt and sugar-sweetened beverages. But this study shows that a large number of heart-related deaths may be due to a lack of healthy foods, Afshin reported. “This study highlights the urgent need for implementation of policies targeting these unhealthy food groups as well healthy foods, such as nuts, whole grains and vegetables,” he said. The study data came from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1990 to 2012. The researchers also used food availability data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and other sources. Looking at deaths in the United States from heart and blood vessel diseases for 2015, the investigators found unhealthy diet choices and lack of eating healthier foods played a role in the deaths of more than 222,000 men and over 193,000 women. The study could not, however, prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Low intake of nuts and seeds likely accounted for nearly 12 percent of deaths. Too few vegetables probably contributed to as many as 12 percent of the heart disease and stroke deaths. And, low intake of whole grains may have been
Photo: pexels / pixabay
Poor diet is the top risk factor for cardiovascular disease death and, therefore, deserves attention from decision-makers in the U.S. when setting health agendas. Dr. Ashkan Afshin
acting assistant professor of global health at the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
responsible for more than 10 percent of those deaths. Too much salt likely accounted for 9 percent of deaths, Afshin said. Samantha Heller, a registered dietitian, said, “If someone’s diet is low in nuts, seeds, fruit, fiber, whole grains and vegetables, then they are likely replacing those foods with less healthy options, such as deli meats, cheeseburgers, fried chicken, sodas, boxes of mac and cheese, sugarsweetened beverages and other highly processed, junk, fast and prepared foods.” Heller is a senior
clinical nutritionist at the New York University Langone Medical Center. “A crummy diet means the body has to work at Mach-10 to battle the onslaught of biochemical, physiological and inflammatory consequences. No wonder so many of us complain about being exhausted all the time and suffer from very serious and oftentimes preventable cardiovascular diseases,” she said. A more plant-based, whole-food approach to eating reduces internal inflammation, which in turn helps protect and heal “gunked up” arteries and an overworked heart. It also enhances the immune system, improves gastrointestinal and brain health, and boosts energy, Heller explained. Heller recommends simple swaps, such as: sliced avocado, tomato and hummus on whole grain bread instead of a ham and cheese sandwich; a veggie burger topped with salsa instead of a cheeseburger; brown rice, vegetable-edamame paella instead of mac and cheese; and a salad pizza instead of a pepperoni pizza. “The good news is it is never too late or too early to ditch unhealthy foods, dig into a plate of vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains, and watch how our bodies respond by getting healthier and happier,” Heller said. WD Copyright (c) 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved. THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017 | 19
Book Review Continued • page 18
Hurricane Katrina was a devastating natural disaster in which severe flooding caused breaches in 53 different levees in New Orleans, leaving 80 percent of the city underwater. The government’s response was tragically inept. “In the saga that followed, America looked like a third world country,” she writes, noting that a congressional investigation concluded that rescue efforts after Katrina were characterized by “confusion, delay, misdirection, inactivity, poor coordination, and lack of leadership at all levels of government.” She argues that the Bush administration was focused on terrorism-related disasters, but not on natural disasters. “Had New Orleans suffered an attack by a dirty bomb instead of a Category 5 hurricane, the Bush team would have reacted very differently,” she theorizes. Kamarck excoriates President Obama as a charismatic speaker who was an ineffective manager. She notes that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law on March 23, 2010, and the program’s signature website was supposed to be ready for business on Oct. 1, 2013. But it faltered badly and wasn’t up to speed until many weeks later, following a public uproar. She blames inadequate attention to management and implementation for the debacle. “In between the day the bill passed and the day the website went live, health care became a rhetorical obsession for the White House. It was the focus of hundreds of message events and countless meetings on what to say about it. But — and here’s the rub — it did not become a managerial or implementation obsession.”
She says the administration placed the key management responsibility for ACA with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency that was already struggling to do its other work. “In other words, the agency chosen to create the massive, high-tech website of the Obama health care plan was having trouble managing everything it had to do even before passage of the ACA.” This failure was an implementation fiasco. It was also a punishing political blow for Obama that weakened public support for him and contributed to Democratic losses in the 2014 congressional elections. Republicans retained control of the House and captured the Senate. This result effectively killed Obama’s agenda on a range of issues including gun control, climate change and job creation. Kamarck is persuasive about the obsession in Washington and in the White House with political messaging and how the focus on spin often detracts from the challenge of governing — a point amplified by Donald Trump’s Twitter-driven presidency. However, I wish she placed this messaging preoccupation in a more nuanced context. I believe its pervasiveness is closely related to the deepening political polarization in the United States. Obama, for example, did not spend several years traveling around the country holding events about Obamacare for enjoyment, but rather to shore up public support for a program that was under fierce Republican attack and was threatened by repeated GOP efforts to repeal it. Kamarck’s solutions to the problem of presidential failures are modest and not fully satisfying, especially in a social media-consumed world where the public expects instantaneous information. She calls for Cabinet secretaries to conduct program reviews every four years and also urges the White House to create an
STORY OF A PASTOR WITH A HEALTH CRISES AND NO MEDICAL INSURANCE
An active, outgoing, robust 55 year old pastor was suffering from a month of coughing and shortness of breath. His worried parishioners urged him to seek medical attention for what they thought was a walking pneumonia.
Elaine C. Kamarck Photo: Brookings Institution Press
early warning system to anticipate failures in government. She also outlines some reforms related to how the nation elects presidents that will almost certainly not occur any time soon. “Why Presidents Fail” would be stronger if Kamarck had outlined specific techniques on how a president can better manage the federal government and implement programs. Is a stronger White House staff needed? Would a more powerful chief of staff help? What about a “first secretary for government affairs?” Should the White House’s Office of Management and Budget be upgraded or refocused? Perhaps Kamarck’s next book will tackle these and other questions. Of course, it’s impossible to read this book
The lack of insurance led him to the ADAMS Compassionate Healthcare Network (ACHN) free clinic. One of our volunteer doctors after finding an abnormal EKG suspected heart disease and admitted him to the hospital. His blood sugar was 500 mg/dL, and cardiac damage with a heart functioning at one-third and severe four vessel blockage of his heart. He was headed
for bypass surgery, however, his condition stabilized and was subsequently discharged to have surgery on a later date. Without insurance, the free clinic took charge of the patient’s care and implemented an innovative preventative program to reverse heart disease. Within six weeks, his blood sugars went down to 124mg/Dl while only on a single prescription. His heart function improved
in 2017 and not wonder about the presidency of Donald Trump. “Why Presidents Fail” does not make one encouraged that the billionaire mogul, for whom messaging and image is everything, will be a successful manager. Trump never worked at any level of government before Jan. 20, 2017. While he was apparently successful in real estate and reality TV, it’s far from clear he has the skills to make the federal government work for him. Bombastic tweets aside, there is no evidence that he understands the nuances of political power or is even interested in government operations. The learning curve is likely to be steep and it’s unclear that he wants to learn very much. Additionally, Trump’s fixation on frequent and impulsive communications through Twitter is likely to become more of a hindrance than a help in running the government. While his blunt talk — geared toward shock over substance — propelled him to power and constantly keeps him in the headlines, it’s likely to grow stale and antagonize many, including the several million federal workers who will be needed to implement his policy objectives and manage the everyday business of government. He is already getting a taste of those frustrations with his own botched rollout of a refugee travel ban, the incessant swirl of questions over his administration’s ties to Russia and the gush of leaks pouring out of the White House. As Kamarck would agree, Trump will ultimately be judged in 2020 by the nation’s overall economic performance and by America’s standing in the world — by concrete accomplishments, not by attention-grabbing tweets. WD John Shaw is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.
to two-thirds normal. He no longer had shortness of breath nor coughing despite having a normal activity. This was all achieved through an integrative approach at the free clinic; a combination of education, exercise program and medical management, all by volunteers. Such innovation could alter the healthcare predicament.
The American Heart Association (AHA) report shows that heart disease could cost US $1 TRILLION per year by 2035 - The Washington Diplomat, March 1, 2017
The most affordable healthcare is…
Support Adams Compassionate Healthcare Network (ACHN) Please Join us for the Benefit Dinner to Support the Free Clinic Saturday, April 29, 2017, 7:00 pm Cherry Blossom Banquet Hall, 46110 Lake Center Plaza, Sterling, VA 20165
703.542.3366 firstname.lastname@example.org www.achnhealth.org Medical Volunteers Needed to Server Our Community Better
20 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017
Hotels & Travel A special section of the Washington diplomat
PHOTOS: KIMPTON HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS
DNV Rooftop at Kimptom’s Donovan Hotel, seen above and below at right, overlooks Thomas Circle.
Bringing Outdoors In Hotels Promote Rooftops, Patios, Pools to Help Locals Soak Up Spring
ow that spring is ofﬁcially here — although you could argue that it came and went a few times between January and now — we’re ready to cure our cabin fever once and for all. • BY STEPHANIE KANOWITZ
We’ve got plenty of remedies to choose from: a stroll through the National Mall, a lap around the Tidal Basin to take in the cherry blossoms (or at least what’s left of them) or a picnic at one of Washington’s many parks. Then there are the hotels. Think outside the walls, because they are. Taking advantage of premium real estate such as rooftops,
patios and pools, hotels are offering wellness classes, drink specials, theme parties and quiet spots in the sun. And of course there are the opportunities off-property, too. Here’s a look at the ways area hotels are helping us soak up spring. SEE OutdOOrs • PAgE 22
THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | APrIL 2017 | 21
Outdoors CONTINUED • PAgE 21
MGM National Harbor 101 MgM National Ave., Oxon Hill, Md. mgmnationalharbor.com
The big new kid on the block is making its presence known during D.C.’s biggest spring break celebration: the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs though April 16 (rain, snow or shine). The $1.4 billion, 23-acre casino destination boasts 3,300 slot machines and a variety of pricey gaming tables spread out over 125,000 square feet. Casinos are not exactly known for being sunny places (no windows or clocks lest gamblers realize what time it is), but MGM mirrors Las Vegas’s shift toward high-end, diverse entertainment offerings to attract a wider clientele. Hence restaurants by big names such as José Andrés and the Voltaggio brothers, along with a massive concert venue and striking floral displays.
COMFORT MEETS STYLE
The MgM National Harbor’s Blossom Cocktail Lounge is serving a special drink named after President Howard Taft’s wife, Nellie, who planted cherry blossom trees.
EMBASSY SUITES CHEVY CHASE PAVILLION The recently renovated contemporary, yet elegant, all two-room suite Hotel is consistently ranked among TripAdvisor’s top 10 Washington DC Hotels. Located in Chevy Chase/Friendship Heights, the heart of the city’s premier shopping district, with a variety of highly rated restaurants nearby and the red line metro stop located right inside the Pavilion. You can enjoy all the perks of the city and a few others: • Complimentary cooked to order breakfast buﬀet daily
• Willie’s Bar and Atrio Cafe
• Complimentary evening reception with drinks and light fare
• Groups and Meetings Welcomed
22 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | APrIL 2017
• Pavilion Health & Fitness
To that end, MGM is bringing the outdoors in with cherry blossom-like lighting fixtures and floral décor throughout the sleek, expansive property. Take a seat outside at Blossom Cocktail Lounge, which will serve special Nellie Blossom drinks named after President Howard Taft’s wife, Nellie, who planted cherry blossom trees. The cocktail is made with vodka, cherry blossom tea, pomegranate, lemon rose syrup and champagne.
Rosewood Washington, D.C. 1050 31st St., NW rosewoodhotels.com/en/washington-dc
This 49-room hotel along the C&O Canal in Georgetown is going all out for the tiny pink blooms. The Cherry Blossom Festival Package (starting at $675 per night for a two-night minimum stay through April 14) includes a Capital Segway tour for two through the petals and a kite to fly. The Rosewood also has a great rooftop space overlooking the Potomac River. There’s an indoor/outdoor infinity-style pool and a bar, as well as wellness programming such as Yoga on the Roof that is open to hotel guests and the public. “We’re excited to welcome guests and locals back to the rooftop bar and lounge this May,” said Pascal Forotti, the hotel’s managing director. “In addition to the refreshing cocktails and light bites we offered last year, we’ll be launching a new lunch service as well, so guests can enjoy the gorgeous setting and panoramic
The Willard’s Peacock Alley serves up a Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea through April 14.
views of Washington, D.C.’s skyline from day to night. Additionally, following the success of last year’s Yoga on the Roof events, we’ll be continuing our wellness programming with our neighborhood fitness partners.”
Willard InterContinental Washington, DC 1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW washington.intercontinental.com
One of Washington’s most historic hotels has partnered with Château d’Esclans, a winery in Provence, France, for the inaugural Rosé Romp ($99 per person) on April 1 from 1 to 5 p.m. An official event of the Cherry Blossom Festival, the romp will take place on the hotel’s outdoor terrace, which will be adorned with real cherry blossom trees and an “Art Walk” featuring blossom-inspired artwork and live music. Fun fact: The Willard hosted Japan’s first delegation to the United States in 1860. To commemorate that milestone, the hotel will again put trees on display in the lobby and Peacock Alley and offer the Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea ($52 per adult, $22 for children ages 5 to 12), through April 14. On the menu are teriyaki-cured salmon with cucumber on Japanese milk bread and matcha green tea and cherry vanilla scones.
Kimpton Hotels kimptonhotels.com
With 13 hotels in the Washington area, Kimpton’s boutique properties offer many chances to get outside from the comfort of a hotel. At the Hotel Monaco in Penn Quarter, Dirty Habit restaurant and bar will debut its new patio this spring. The expansive space offers couches, chairs, fire pits, oversize lamps and orb string lights for warm-weather fun. “The patio encompasses an entire city block and it faces into the courtyard [as opposed to the street], so it’s truly a private urban hideaway,” said William Smith, general manager of Dirty Habit. “Also new this year is our sound system. Don’t be surprised if we have some parties out there. Guests can stop by for drinks before — or after — their Verizon Center shows. We’re right across the street and we’re open late.” DNV Rooftop at Kimptom’s Donovan Hotel on 14th Street, NW, offers not only
PHOTO: KIMPTON HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS
Hotel Monaco’s Dirty Habit restaurant and bar will debut its new patio this spring.
views of Thomas Circle but boozy ice pops called Selfie Sticks and cocktails served in a whole coconut. Rooftop programming for the season includes Sunday Pool Parties and #TBT Music Nights featuring a vinyl DJ every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. The rooftop is also open for brunch, which has an Asian flair. For instance, Zentan executive chef Yo Matsuzaki dishes up shrimp and grits with crispy shiitake mushrooms and chicken and waffles with cashew butter. “One of the most popular activities in the nation’s capital is enjoying a good brunch. And if it can be outside, that’s even more of a win,” said Katie Miller, general manager of DNV Rooftop. “Starting this summer, we’ll be taking our weekend events to another level by hosting pool parties on Sundays [that are open to the public]. There will be a DJ mixing up popular tunes, and our lead bartender, Matt Allred, will be creating fun cocktails.” Know a gamer? Not the electronic kind, but the throwback kind. If Connect Four and Jenga are your thing, stop by Radiator adjacent to Kimpton’s latest swanky addition, Mason & Rook Hotel, to play life-size versions of these popular games. Additionally, the Radiator team is taking over the hotel’s rooftop bar, and starting this month, there will be a “Cocktail” popup daily at 4 p.m., based on the popular Tom Cruise bartender flick. “We’ll be dressed in characters from the movie and serving ’80s-inspired beverages and bites,” said Andrew Carlson, Radiator’s general manager. “On some of the days, we’ll have flair bartenders flipping bottles like Tom Cruise. Everyone is welcome — not just hotel guests.”
Photo: Greg Powers
The Embassy Row Hotel was named as having “one of the best rooftop pools in America” by USA Today.
The Embassy Row Hotel 2015 Massachusetts Ave., NW destinationhotels.com/embassy-row-hotel
Named “one of the best rooftop pools in America” by USA Today, the Embassy Row Hotel isn’t resting on its laurels. Now with three seasons under its belt, The Rooftop at this 231-room hotel is making some tweaks to better meet guests’ needs. For one, it’s adding more dining space under a canopy so rooftop-goers can eat lunch or dinner in the shade. The Dupont Deck, or lower deck, is also getting more furniture, and there will be more lounge chairs around the pool. But other aspects are staying the same. For instance, it will still offer Sunrise Epic Yoga on the rooftop at 8 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays with instructors from Epic Yoga, a local studio (free for hotel guests, open to the public for a fee), and Silent Disco will continue to take place Fridays at 7 p.m. The Rooftop can accommodate up to 250 people and will open early this season, on May 5, thanks to the unseasonably warm temperatures as of late. The only rooftop pool in Dupont Circle, The Rooftop space is a huge draw, said Sara Crisafulli, area director of marketing and communications at the hotel. “It’s certainly one of our best-selling features,” Crisafulli said. “It feels, when you’re
up there, that you are on vacation even if you live in the city.”
Capitol Skyline Hotel 10 I St., SW capitolskyline.com
Originally designed by Morris Lapidus, the architect of Miami Beach’s famous Fontainebleau hotel, this 203-room property recently underwent a complete renovation. But one of the hotel’s best-known features is its competition-size outdoor pool, open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Membership to the pool for the season is available to the public at $575 for five passes, $375 for two and $250 for one. Day passes cost $30.
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After a $27 million renovation, the Fairmont has a newly redesigned courtyard garden.
Fairmont Washington, D.C. 2401 M St., NW fairmont.com/washington
Fresh off a $27 million renovation, this 413-room luxury hotel has a newly redesigned courtyard garden that has been leveled to welcome large events. The lushly landscaped courtyard is now home to two new water features, and lounge-type furniture clustered around three different fire pits will ring the perimeter under a canopy of cherry blossom trees. The rest of the lobby also evokes an outdoor feel. Designed by Amanda Jackson of Dallas-based Forrest Perkins, she drew her inspiration for the revamped lobby from the geometry of an aerial view of the city of Washington. For instance, behind the front desk is a geometrically abstracted map of D.C. in warm gold tones. These geometric forms are carried into open shapes of mixed metals that are artistically hung from the ceiling and appear to float like stars randomly sprinkled throughout.
The Gaylord’s new $25 million ballroom features a 270-degree panorama of the Potomac River.
Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center 201 Waterfront St., Oxon Hill, Md. marriott.com/hotels/hotel-rooms/wasgngaylord-national-resort-and-convention-center
The $25 million ballroom expansion, set to open in May, at this Marriott-owned property aims to bring the outdoors in.
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See Outdoors • page 26 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017 | 23
WD | Hotels & Travel | Nantucket
PHOTO: HERO SHOTS
Nantucket’s harbor and distinct grey-shingle homes are seen from the vantage point of the White Elephant hotel.
Whale of a Transformation Nantucket Evolves from Hardscrabble Outpost to Posh Getaway •
BY ANNA gAWEL
n the 18th century, Nantucket’s wharves were bustling with harpoon-mounted ships and wind-swept sailors hauling in their precious cargo: sperm whales, whose oil was used in everything from lamps and soaps to pencils and perfume.
The waxy substance — harvested from the whale’s head or from boiled blubber — fueled an industry that made the tiny island off Massachusetts the whaling capital of the world for over a century. Horse-drawn carriages ferried oil casks and other goods into town, while the stench of chopped-up whale corpses permeated the air. The docks were lined with ramshackle fishing sheds and housed about 15 or so larger ships at any given time, along with a smattering of smaller boats. But out at sea, dozens of whaling ships scoured waters as far as the South Pacific and the Horn of Africa. A crew of 20 to 25 men, some as young as 14, would be away for two to even five years — as long as it took to fill their ships’ hulls — returning to their families for three to four months before venturing back out to sea. It was a brutal, bloody but lucrative business. It also began to decline when oil was discovered in the grounds of Pennsylvania in the mid-1800s. The American Civil War and a massive fire that engulfed the town in 1846 cemented the island’s demise. But Nantucket reinvented itself as a posh yet charming resort destination. Nowadays, on any 24 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | APrIL 2017
given summer day, those same wharves that were once filled with the smelly remnants of whale carcass are teeming with 50,000 or so visitors — all eager to explore the island’s quaint cobblestone streets, trendy boutiques and restaurants, sandy dune beaches and meticulously preserved history. The bulk of visitors comes from neighboring Boston and the East Coast, but they also hail from places as far away as Britain, Argentina, Japan and Canada. Last year, JetBlue added direct flights from D.C.’s Reagan National Airport to Nantucket, making the island a convenient getaway for Washingtonians. The high season comprises the summer months but tourists begin streaming in during April. In fact, spring and fall are ideal times for those who want to avoid the large crowds and high costs. While prices are somewhat lower in the spring, the island’s beauty doesn’t come cheap. (Nantucket, after all, has some of the highest home values in the U.S.) One popular lodging option is the White Elephant hotel, which overlooks the harbor and exudes refined luxury and relaxation (accommodations start at $225 a night in April). Nautical themes, including oil paintings of ships braving
rough seas, punctuate the 67 rooms, suites, garden cottages and intown lofts. The décor is light and airy, with white shutters and columns, a soothing mix of neutral tones and tastefully decorated accents that lend a casual sophistication to the space. The White Elephant is owned by Nantucket Island Resorts, which runs several other prominent properties on the island, including the award-winning Wauwinet and Jared Coffin House. The latter is a stately three-story brick mansion located steps from downtown that was built by Jared Coffin, a successful ship owner during Nantucket’s whaling heyday (the structure was one of the few to survive the great 1846 fire). In addition, Nantucket Island Resorts owns White Elephant Village, an enclave of 20 familyoriented residences with one, two or three bedrooms. At either White Elephant property, guests can lounge in the garden and soak up the scenery or borrow a bike and navigate the bumpy cobble-
While its fortunes dried up with the demise of whaling, Nantucket found newfound prosperity as a retreat for the rich and a haven of history.
stone streets that meander through town. There, they can explore high-end boutiques selling hand-woven baskets and other crafts or fishing shacks that have been transformed into swanky art galleries. Or they can dine at restaurants such as Proprietors Bar and Table, which highlights both local ingredients and international cuisine with dishes such as pork belly Kimchi pancakes and Spanish octopus in a chickpea stew â€” offering a level of dining (and price point) on par with top foodie destinations such as New York and L.A. But Nantucket is about as far away from L.A. or New York â€” both in distance and in character â€” as possible. Over half of the islandâ€™s land, in fact, is reserved for conservation. The result is an idyllic, largely untouched landscape of gently rolling hills, pine forests and grasslands dotted with the occasional home, windmill or church. The tranquility attracts not only urbanites looking for a quiet escape, but also celebrities and captains of industry, from Googleâ€™s Eric Schmidt to actress Reese Witherspoon to Patriots football coach Bill Belichick. Nantucket also capitalizes on its wealthy patronage when it does need to expand. A new hospital, for instance, estimated to cost $89 million, is funded not through taxes but entirely through private donations. Indeed, Nantucket is a dichotomy of upscale pedigree and hardscrabble roots. Nantucketers, a hardy lot that numbers around 10,000 permanent residents, are fiercely protective of their independence. They pride themselves on the islandâ€™s lack of development, unlike nearby Marthaâ€™s Vineyard, which they view as overly commercialized. They brag that no chains or big-box retailers operate on their island. The only one that does, a Polo Ralph Lauren store, caused such a ruckus when it opened over a decade ago that residents voted to ban all chains and large franchises from their downtown shops. Residents constructing or renovating homes must also adhere to the strict diktats of the Nantucket Historic District Commission, which seeks to keep the islandâ€™s architecture uniform. That means all buildings, with a few exceptions, fea-
ture the islandâ€™s quintessential grey shingles. In reality, the shingles arenâ€™t grey â€” they start off white. But in a few monthsâ€™ time, saltwater erosion and wind beat them into a light grey. Hundreds of years earlier, white cedar shingles were chosen as the primary building materials simply because they were cheap and withstood the elements. Today, theyâ€™ve come to symbolize the islandâ€™s distinct coastal look. Residents are also religious about preserving their storied past, much of which is on display at the expansive Whaling Museum, home to a 46-foot skeleton of a sperm whale. The famed 1820 sinking of the Nantucket ship Essex â€” which was rammed by a sperm whale, forcing the surviving crew to drift at sea for 95 days â€” served as the inspiration for the climatic battle scene in Herman Melvilleâ€™s novel â€œMoby-Dickâ€? and for Ron Howardâ€™s recent film â€œIn the Heart of the Sea.â€? But beyond the legend of the Essex lies an even more fascinating history. Because Nantucketâ€™s men were away for such long stretches of time, its women essentially ran the town â€” in an era when women were largely confined to the home. In fact, because the women managed the businesses along Main Street, it was nicknamed â€œPetticoat Row.â€? Mary Coffin Starbuck was instrumental in this evolution, introducing Quakerism to the island in the early 1700s, a religion that emphasizes gender equality and education. This progressive environment produced the first American â€” and first woman â€” to chart the course of an unknown comet, Maria Mitchell, who also became the first female astronomy professor in the U.S. It also produced a cosmopolitan trading hub that welcomed sailors from far-flung nations around the world.
Photos: ACK Images
By the 18th century, the tiny island of Nantucket off Massachusetts was considered the whaling capital of the world. Today, itâ€™s a playground for the wealthy that has retained its quaint charm.
While its fortunes dried up with the demise of whaling, Nantucket found newfound prosperity as a retreat for the rich and a haven of history. Indulging in a fivestar meal or taking a leisurely bike ride along homes adorned with trellises of roses is a far cry from the punishing routine Nantucketâ€™s original inhabitants endured, when men traversed the high seas to spear whales into an exhausted, violent death, then dragged their corpses back on board to butcher and burn the remains.
The island has arguably changed for the better. Yet meandering through alleyways seemingly frozen in time or feeling the gust of winds whipping your face as you stand on the dramatic bluffs overlooking the Atlantic, visitors get a sense of the entrepreneurial spirit and perseverance that helped Nantucket not only survive through the years, but also thrive. WD Anna Gawel (@diplomatnews) is the managing editor of The Washington Diplomat.
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Nantucket Island Resorts runs several notable properties on the island, including the award-winning Wauwinet, Jared Coffin House and White Elephant, seen above.
2650 Virginia Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20037 www.thewatergatehotel.com
THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017 | 25
Please check this ad carefully. Mark any changes to your ad. If the ad is correct sign and fax to: (301) 949-0065
The Washington Diplomat (301) 933-3552 WD | Hotels & Travel | Hotels Guide Approved __________________________________________________________ Changes ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________
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301.933.3552 Outdoors Continued • page 23
The freestanding, waterfront RiverView Ballroom provides a 270-degree panorama vista of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Potomac River, Woodrow Wilson Bridge and Old Town Alexandria. It’s being “dubbed the Capital Region’s first infinity ballroom, with views that make it appear that the building is on top of the river,” according to a press release. The ballroom has 16,000 square feet of meeting space and 10,000 square feet of outdoor event space.
The Liaison Capitol Hill 415 New Jersey Ave., NW jdvhotels.com/hotels/washington-dc/ washington-dc-hotels/the-liaison-capitol-hill-dc/
Home to the only open-air rooftop bar on Capitol Hill, the Liaison’s recently redesigned poolside retreat opens to the public on Memorial Day, with a $35 day pass or a membership ($500 for two adults and one child; $250 per additional adult; $100 per additional child; and $250 per individual). Cabanas punctuate greenery and amenities include poolside yoga with Embrace Yoga at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday for $13. There’s also Support a Cause on Tuesdays at 5 p.m., when the hotel partners with nonprofits to raise money; DC Home Grown on Wednesdays, featuring local guest chefs and others; the SiP & DiP DC! pool party on Sundays from 1 to 7 p.m.; and Art Soiree’s Art Fusion on Saturdays, 7 p.m. to close, with live music performances, art installations and live painting. Art and Soul’s executive chef caters the menu at the poolside lounge and bar.
26 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017
Omni Shoreham Hotel 2500 Calvert St., NW omnihotels.com/hotels/washington-dc-shoreham
Front and center on the hotel’s website, the resort-style outdoor pool overlooks the Omni’s 11 acres of landscaping. It’s open April 12 to Oct. 31, and the Splash! pool bar serves drinks and light fare, such as salads, crab rolls, panini and Italian water ice.
W Washington D.C. 515 15th St., NW wwashingtondc.com
The POV Rooftop Terrace at the W Hotel is one of the best places to see the White House without the fence (and to be seen). Dress to impress at the trendy hotspot, which is open until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. At ground level, Pinea, which serves Italian-inspired dishes, will have themed events for Cinco de Mayo, a Kentucky Derby horse race watch party on May 6 and a Summer Solstice party on June 21, all featuring music, drinks and food on its patio.
The Watergate Hotel 2650 Virginia Ave., NW thewatergatehotel.com
This famous D.C. hotel opened its first rooftop lounge, Top of the Gate, last year, and offers 360-degree views of Washington icons such as the Kennedy Center, the Potomac River, the Key and Arlington bridges and the Washington Monument. Among the special cherry blossom-themed food and drink offerings are foie gras smoked in cherry blossom,
As part of its cherry blossom-themed offerings, the Watergate is cooking up foie gras smoked in cherry blossom, walnut, cherry and white asparagus.
walnut, cherry and white asparagus. The Watergate is also featuring blossom-inspired pampering at its Argentta Spa. Packages, including the Hydrating Cherry Blossom Body Ritual ($265 for 90 minutes), a vigorous exfoliation that incorporates warming gingergrass, bamboo, organic rice bran, yuzu mimosa sea algae and anti-oxidant-rich rose camellia mist. Afterward, the whole body is stretched and hydrated with a shiatsu-inspired massage and an application of plum blossom and silk cream. WD Stephanie Kanowitz is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.
Luxury Living A special section of the Washington diplomat
The Beaux-Arts-style condominium on Connecticut Avenue in Kalorama — built in 1915 and originally known as the Bates Warren Apartment House — has been home to notable residents such as President William Howard Taft, singer Lena Horne and Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.
PHOTO: AgNOSTICPREACHERSKID (AKP) / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS CC BY-SA 3.0
D.C.’s ‘It’ Neighborhood Kalorama Draws Obamas, Trumps, Ambassadors and Well-Heeled Washingtonians •
BY STEPHANIE KANOWITZ
he 28 embassies in Washington’s well-heeled Kalorama neighborhood have recently gotten some new headline-making neighbors, including the new secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.
Others include President Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, who were among the first new residents associated with the new administration. Of course, the old administration isn’t too far away. The Obama family also set up there while the younger of their two daughters finishes high school. And then there is billionaire entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and owner of the Washington Post, who calls the former Textile Museum home. He bought
the 27,000-square-foot property for $23 million (in cash) and is restoring it to private-home status, which would make it the city’s largest house. Other notable neighbors include Bloomberg Media Group CEO Justin Smith, Fox News host Chris Wallace and former World Bank President James Wolfensohn. SEE K A L O r A MA • PAgE 28
First daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner are renting a 7,000-square-foot home at 2449 Tracy Place, NW. THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | APrIL 2017 | 27
Kalorama Continued • page 27
Whether the new neighborhood residents will get together for what would likely be one heck of an exclusive block party remains to be seen, although it could come close at the Mitchell Park Annual Fun Day, to be held Oct. 29 this year, or the President Woodrow Wilson House Annual Garden Party in the spring, said Jim Bell, a Kalorama resident and executive vice president of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. “When you’re going down the sidewalks, you really don’t see a lot of activity,” said Bell, also known as the “king of Kalorama.” “The casual activity in these houses happens, quite frankly, in the back. If you’re going to a neighbor’s house, you’re more than likely going to go from the back of your house to the back of their house because that’s where the kitchens are.” We’re unlikely to hear about any soap operaworthy drama coming out of the neighborhood, Bell added. Partisanship is checked at the door. “They all get along together, and it’s always been that way,” he said. “They just do it very quietly and very privately. It’s one of the hallmarks of the neighborhood.”
Diplomatic Neighbors Maguy Maccario Doyle, Monaco’s ambassador to the U.S., has not run into her high-profile new neighbors yet, but “I’m thinking of inviting them all over for a glass or two of champagne,” she said. “Perhaps they will drop by to watch the Monaco Grand Prix with me in the springtime? I would love to host them. I’m sure we will discover we all have much more in common than just a zip code.”
28 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017
Photo: AgnosticPreachersKid (AKP) / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0
Kalorama is home to a mix of private residences and embassies, including the embassies of Georgia and Turkmenistan, seen above.
Monaco’s residence has been situated in a century-old Colonial-style mansion since 2006. The four-level, three-bedroom brick home was built by former U.S. President Warren G. Harding in 1916 when he was a Republican senator from Ohio. In recent weeks, Maccario said she has noticed more tourists in the neighborhood, but “if there is increased security, it is subtle and discreet,” she added. Mostly, it’s simply a friendly neighborhood, European Union Ambassador David O’Sullivan said. The European Union has had a residence in Kalorama since 1972, and he looks forward to social-
izing with the new residents. “I’ve met them through my work but not bumped into them in our neighborhood so far,” O’Sullivan said. “Someone did suggest I should get a dog to increase the chances of running into our new neighbors! At a few receptions we’ve hosted, I’ve appropriated the lyrics of [British band] Stealers Wheel and joked that the Kushners are to the left of me, Obamas to the right — and I’m stuck in the middle of the EU!” The EU’s salmon-colored residence is down Belmont Road from the Obamas, who are renting a nine-bedroom, 8.5-bathroom Tudor-style
home from Joe Lockhart, former press Kaloramaâ€™s appeal to the internasecretary to President Clinton. That tional community in particular is well road is now closed to through traffic, established. Embassy Row is part of Oâ€™Sullivan said, but â€œthe Secret Service the neighborhood, after all. Embassies does a great job to minimize any dis- there include Algeria, Belize, Estonia, ruptions from that.â€? Greece, Japan, Latvia, Slovenia, Turkey, Oâ€™Sullivan told us he understands Madagascar, Mali and Syria. A variety the allure of Kalorama. of ambassador residences also call the â€œOur residence is in a perfect location tony neighborhood home â€” among for us. It is close to the EU Delegation them Afghanistan, the Netherlands and many of the other embassies and and Portugal. residences,â€? he said. â€œIt is convenient to Want to get in on the action? The paDupont Circle and Adams Morgan, so latial French Residence, which sits on well-served with restaurants and shops. almost 2.5 acres of prime Kalorama real And being close to major roads like estate, is selling half an acre for $5.6 Massachusetts Avenue and Rock Creek million. â€œIt is possibly the first time in Parkway, it is quick and easy to go any- about 40 years that residentially-zoned where we need, including the Hill.â€? land has been offered for sale in the Maccario says it has â€œstar powerâ€? in neighborhood, according to a stateaddition to being pretty, peaceful and ment,â€? the Washington Business Joursteeped in history. â€œItâ€™s not surprising it nal reported on Feb. 15. is a sought-after district for successful Besides political heavy-hitters and people and theeffort international a third of Kaloramaâ€™s NOTE: Although every is made commuto assure diplomats, your ad is about free of mistakes in spelling and nity, â€? she said. has â€œold-world residents technology executives content it isItultimately up tocharmâ€? the customer toare make the final proof. and that sheevery says effort in some ways embodies hedge fund Bell in said. But noand NOTE: Although is made to assure your ad is freeworkers, of mistakes spelling thecontent feeling itofisa ultimately â€œcountry village. â€?the In adone is blinking an eye over the fame up to customer to make the final proof. The first two faxed changes will be made at no cost to the advertiser, subsequent ofchanges dition, â€œthe security is unbeatable, and the newest neighbors. will be billed at a rate of $75 per faxed alteration. Signed ads are considered approved. itâ€™s faxed reasonably close to be themade best amenie neighborhood is very used to The first two changes will at no cost toâ€œTh the advertiser, subsequent changes ties and businesses that D.C. has to ofabsorbing these types of people, â€? Bell will be billed at a rate of $75 per faxed alteration. Signed ads are considered approved. Please anyosechanges to your fer.â€? check this ad carefully. Mark said. â€œTh are the people that Iad. deal For Trump and Kushner, another with every day, and as Iâ€™ve said to somePlease check this ad carefully. Mark any changes to your ad. draw ofsign the $5.5 one recently, Iâ€™m in a lot of very imporIf the ad is correct andmillion, fax to: 7,000-square(301) 949-0065 needs changes foot home at 2449 Tracy Place, NW, tant peopleâ€™s bedrooms all the time, and If the ad is correct sign to: (301) where theyand livefax might have 949-0065 been its theyâ€™re needs just likechanges yours and mine.â€? The Washington Diplomat (301) 933-3552 proximity to TheShul of the Nationâ€™s Whatâ€™s more, he said, once the iniThe Washington Diplomat (301) 933-3552 Capital, a synagogue run by Chabad, an tial media craze dies down, no one will Approved __________________________________________________________ Orthodox Jewish organization, accord- talk much about where anyone lives. ing to the Washington Post. Observant He likened this current obsession to Changes Approved___________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ Jews who donâ€™t drive or use public when the Clintons bought a mansion Changes ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ transportation on Shabbat, the family ___________________________________________________________________ is within walking distance of TheShul. SEE K A L O r A MA â€˘ PAgE 30
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Kalorama CONTINUED • PAgE 29
in Whitehaven, a neighborhood near Kalorama. Their 5,500-square-foot brick colonial sits next door to the Polish Residence and across the street from the Danish Chancery. It’s also located up the road from the Italian Embassy and a stone’s throw from the vice president’s residence off Observatory Circle. “We don’t really talk about where they lived now,” Bell said.
PHOTO: EU DELEgATION TO THE U.S.
Among the ambassadorial residences in Kalorama are the European Union’s residence, close to the Obamas, above, and France’s palatial residence.
Kalorama is composed of two areas: Kalorama Triangle and SheridanKalorama, also known as Kalorama 9.6 percent while the number of homes Heights. The latter is where the heavy- for sale dropped by 12.1 percent in the hitters call home. A recent search on same timeframe. “Most people come to Kalorama the real estate website Redfin showed because the scale of houses archi16 homes foreffort sale ranging in price from your ad isoffree NOTE: Although every is made to assure of mistakes in spelling and tecturally, ” Bell said. “They’re large $725,000 million. up Thetoaverage content to it is$7.9 ultimately the customer to make the final proof. PHOTO: AgNOSTICPREACHERSKID (AKP) / price of a home in the neighborhood houses, but they’re primarily intended WIKIMEDIA COMMONS CC BY-SA 3.0 to entertain and people generally have is a little more than $3.5 million, and The first two faxed changes will be made at no cost to families the advertiser, subsequent changes large in these houses…. Th e homes spend an average of 101 days on will be billed at a rate of $75 per faxed alteration. Signed adshas aresome considered approved.After the Civil War, the area began to neighborhood of the largest the market, according to Redfin. grow and large mansions soon dotted houses in Washington. ” The asking price of homes for sale in the landscape. Besides being peppered Please has check this ad53.8 carefully. Kalorama increased percentMark any changes to your ad. with attractive old homes with massince January 2016, while the number KALORAMA’S sive square footage, Kaloroma, espeIf the ad is correct sign for andsale fax has to: (301) 949-0065 needs changes of homes increased 31.6 cially Kalorama Triangle, has a history percent, the website shows. For com- NOTABLE HISTORY of housing well-known residents. For parison, consider that (301) the asking price Kalorama got its start in the late example, five former U.S. presidents The Washington Diplomat 933-3552 of homes in Georgetown, swanky in 1700s with a single estate called Be- called Kalorama home before Obama its own right, has risen 27.4 percent lair, which was taken over in 1802 by followed suit. Here’s a look at who they Approved __________________________________________________________ since January 2016, and the number of diplomat Joel Barlow who renamed were and what they did while they Changes ___________________________________________________________ homes on the market increased by 42.9 it Kalorama, which is Greek for “fine lived there. percent. Across the Potomac River in view,” the D.C. Historic Preservation Like Obama, Woodrow Wilson, the ___________________________________________________________________ Alexandria, Va., the asking price rose Office states. 28th president, moved into a Kalorama
home when he left office in 1921. He died in his 28-room mansion at 2340 S St. NW, three years later. Today, the Woodrow Wilson House is a museum and National Trust Historic site. After William Howard Taft served from 1909 to 1913, he returned to Washington as chief justice of the Supreme Court and lived out his days in a mansion at 2215 Wyoming Ave., NW. Taft’s home later became the Syrian Embassy until the mission was suspended in 2014. Taft also has a nearby bridge on Connecticut Avenue overlooking Rock Creek Park named after him. Warren G. Harding lived in Kalorama at 2314 Wyoming Ave., NW, before he became president and while he was a senator representing Ohio (in the residence currently occupied by the ambassador of Monaco). Franklin D. Roosevelt rented a home on R Street while he served as assistant secretary of the Navy under Wilson. Juicy tidbits from The Washington Post: It was in this house that Roosevelt’s affair with his wife’s social secretary, Lucy Mercer, was discovered. Also, an anarchist bombed the house of the attorney general who lived across the street at the time. Herbert Hoover also lived in the neighborhood before moving into the White House. He first lived at 2300 S St., NW — now the Embassy of Myanmar — while he was Harding’s commerce secretary and returned in 1933 after losing the presidential race to FDR. WD Stephanie Kanowitz is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.
diplomatic publication for
The Washington Diplomat
30 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | APrIL 2017
Visit Jordan & The Holy Land Call us at: 011 962 6 566 8970 011 962 79 552 6206 Visit us at: www.azure-tours.com Email us at: email@example.com
Culture arts & entertainment art
The Washington Diplomat
April 2017 events
American Diplomat In 1920s Russia Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens shines a light on a very different time in U.S.-Russia relations with “Friends and Fashion,” which documents the experience of Henry Middleton and his family during their posting to St. Petersburg in the 1820s. / PAGE 33
INFINITE SELF-REFLECTION In her Infinity Mirror Rooms at the Hirshhorn Museum, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama immerses visitors in an endless universe of blinking lights and psychedelic fields of polka-dotted pumpkins, creating alternate worlds that must be experienced in the fleeting moment. / PAGE 32
Personal ‘Intelligence’ Arena Stage’s “Intelligence,” a political thriller of the Bush administration’s outing of a former covert CIA operative, rips the Band Aid off old wounds and pokes at new ones — leading us to marvel at the irony in the fact that where there is supposed to be intelligence, we often find quite the opposite. / PAGE 34
Malleable Borders Albuquerque artist Jami Porter Lara transforms discarded plastic water bottles into beautiful artifacts that ponder the malleability of borders — both political and geographical — in “Crossing Borders.” / PAGE 36
PHOTO: BY EIKOH HOSOE / COURTESY OTA FINE ARTS, TOKYO/SINGAPORE; VICTORIA MIRO, LONDON; DAVID ZWIRNER, NY / © YAYOI KUSAMA
Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field” is seen in “Floor Show” at New York’s Castellane Gallery in 1965.
Hotel restaurants are stepping up to claim their place in the fierce competition for D.C. diners. / PAGE 37
Art / Discussions Music / Theater / PAGE 40
India Hosts U.S. Governors / Kosovo AIS / PAGE 42 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | APRIL 2017 | 31
WD | Culture | Art
Room for Self-Reflection Obliterating the Self in the Infinity Mirrors of Yayoi Kusama •
BY BRENDAN L. SMITH
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors THROUGH MAY 14 HIRSHHORN MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN INDEPENDENCE AVENUE AND 7TH STREET, SW
(202) 633-1000 | WWW.HIRSHHORN.SI.EDU
n her Infinity Mirror Rooms, Yayoi Kusama immerses visitors in an endless universe of blinking lights or a psychedelic field of polka-dotted pumpkins, creating alternate worlds that must be experienced in the fleeting moment. The highly anticipated exhibition “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” at the Hirshhorn Museum offers six of the Japanese artist’s extremely popular mirrored rooms together for the first time, along with other sculptures, paintings and work on paper spanning her 65-year career. With its kaleidoscopic colors and mesmerizing patterns, the show has already broken records, attracting over 14,000 visitors during its first week alone. Known for polka dots and pumpkins, Kusama’s life has ping-ponged across continents and in and out of the public eye. Now 87 years old, she gained fame in influential New York art circles in the 1960s with art “happenings” and Vietnam War protests before slipping into obscurity after returning home to Japan in 1973. Suicidal thoughts and a mental breakdown led her to voluntarily live in a psychiatric hospital in Tokyo, where she still resides more than 40 years later, but her battle with mental illness is glossed over in the exhibition. Her career has surged back in recent years, and this exhibition is the first in the Hirshhorn’s history where free timed passes are being distributed, which crashed the museum’s website from the intense demand. Kusama has spoken of hallucinations and obsessions dating back to an unhappy childhood under the reign of a philandering father and unforgiving mother. Some of her early paintings featured repetitive strokes of paint that evolved into polka dots in an effort to quiet her mind and obliterate the self, a common theme in her work. Kusama has said polka dots are a symbol of peace and the infinite cosmos. The Infinity Mirror Rooms began in the 1960s when Kusama was struggling financially in New York while also exhibiting her work with Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and other pop art luminaries. She had an intense fear of sex from her strict upbringing that she rebelled against by staging “happenings” and nude body festivals at Washington Square Park, Wall Street and other locales that sometimes morphed into protests against the Vietnam War. In “Infinity Mirror Room-Phalli’s Field,” the first in the Hirshhorn exhibition, the floor is covered with hundreds of sewn and stuffed white phallus shapes adorned with red polka dots, rising in a field of protuberances that extend infinitely in every direction while the viewer towers above them in multiple reflections. The hallucinatory effect renders the stuffed phalluses small and humorous as they diminish into the imagined distance, where they lose their distinct form, merging together like a field of poppies. One of the most captivating rooms is “The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away,” which also is the darkest, as your own reflections fade into a vast expanse of hundreds of hanging LED lights that shift in time and rhythm, creating a vast universe. While it may sound disorienting, the experience instills a true sense of wonder. I felt immersed in that imaginary world and forgot for a moment that I was in an art museum until I heard a distracting knock on the door. Because of the anticipated crowds, visitors will only get 20 or 30 seconds in each room before they are ushered out. The immediate instinct for most people will be to scramble for their phones to fire off as many pictures as possible to post on Facebook or Instagram. But then the moment will be gone, vanished into the digital netherworld, so rest that itchy trigger finger for a few seconds and experience the present moment. In “Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity,” miniature flickering lights resembling golden lanterns fill the darkened expanse with their floating luminescent forms, creating a galaxy of stars reminiscent of toro nagashi, a Japanese tradition where candlelit paper lanterns float down a river in a sign of respect for ancestors and as a guide to bring them home. Other Mirror Rooms feature an endless field of lighted pumpkins, a flashing grid of LED lights or inflated pink polka-dotted balls that are fun but veer toward pure
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PHOTOS: BY CATHY CARVER / COURTESY OTA FINE ARTS, TOKYO/SINGAPORE; VICTORIA MIRO, LONDON; DAVID ZWIRNER, NY / © YAYOI KUSAMA
The Hirshhorn is hosting a survey of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s mesmerizing works, including “All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins,” above, and “Dots Obsession – Love Transformed Into Dots.”
whimsy without much substance. But what’s wrong with whimsy? In a frenetic world fueled by hate and anger, we need all the whimsy we can get. In the final “Obliteration Room,” visitors can stick colored dots all over a room representing the interior of a house with a piano, dining room table and bookshelves. There’s something both satisfying and transgressive about touching objects in an art museum and plastering stickers onto them, but the effect will be more interesting later in the exhibition’s run when the accumulation of dots truly overwhelms the pristine white backdrop in a dizzying array of color. While this is a feast for the senses, visitors won’t get a true sense of Kusama’s life because the exhibition largely ignores her battles with mental illness. The wall text fails to mention that she has lived in a psychiatric hospital for four decades. She wrote a poem about suicide and swallowing antidepressants, and much of her work has been a reaction or balm for her inner turmoil — an attempt to transcend the horrors of the present and step into the divine. The exhibition, organized by Hirshhorn associate curator Mika Yoshitake, ignores most of the professional and personal challenges that Kusama faced and presents a steady march of artwork through the decades that is divorced from personal history or context. Kusama’s identity as a human being gets lost behind the polka dots. There also is a danger in letting an artist’s life story subsume the art, but there’s a common misperception that mental illness somehow produces transcendent work from the ether, as if the artist’s skill and dedication had nothing to do with it. Mental illness may inform the work but it doesn’t define it, although ignoring its effects and its relationship to Kusama’s artwork keeps mental illness locked in the shadows, where shame and suffering fight for control. Kusama doesn’t travel any more for health reasons so she won’t see her own traveling exhibition at the Hirshhorn or the five remaining stops at museums in Seattle, Los Angeles, Toronto, Cleveland and Atlanta. Wearing her trademark bright-red wig and a polka-dotted dress, Kusama welcomes visitors to the exhibition in a video where she speaks about her work and her hopes for us all. “This effect of continual repetition calls out to the human senses, and in return, deep inside of our hearts, we yearn for true amazement,” she said. “Far beyond the reaches of the universe, infinity is trying to communicate with us.” WD Brendan L. Smith (www.brendanlsmith.com) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat and mixed-media artist (www.dcmixedmedia.com) in Washington, D.C.
History | Culture | WD
Portrait of Diplomacy Hillwood Chronicles Life of an American Diplomat in 1820s Russia •
Friends and Fashion: An American Diplomat in 1820s Russia THROUGH JUNE 11 HILLWOOD ESTATE, MUSEUM & GARDENS 4155 LINNEAN AVE., NW
(202) 686-5807 | WWW.HILLWOODMUSEUM.ORG
BY MACKENZIE WEINGER
“Friends and Family” features watercolors and heirlooms from the family collection of Henry Middleton, who was posted to Russia as U.S. minister in the 1820s, including portraits of La Baronne de Meyendorf, left, and Comtesse Sophie Laval, as well as a plate featuring the fountain at Peterhof Imperial Porcelain Factory in St. Petersburg.
n 1820, Henry Middleton traveled from South Carolina to St. Petersburg to take up his new post as minister to Russia. He and his family would stay in the city for a decade as they navigated the social and political intrigues of diplomatic life, all while documenting it through their family album filled with exquisitely detailed watercolor portraits. A new show at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens shines a light on this exciting time in U.S. foreign relations history through the Middleton family’s collection of 45 watercolor and gouache portraits of those they met during their time abroad. This marks the first time the album has been publicly presented in its entirety, and the exhibition showcases the delicate portraits alongside various souvenirs and fashion items from the period. “Friends and Fashion: An American Diplomat in 1820s Russia” is perfectly situated on the Hillwood grounds in the Dacha, an authentic Russian country house built in 1969 by socialite, cereal heiress and Russian art collector Marjorie Merriweather Post. The small but compelling exhibition inside offers a window into one family’s foray into 19th-century diplomatic life while also laying out the larger historical context in which they operated — a time that notably featured the death and funeral of Emperor Alexander I, the Decembrist revolt and the coronation of Emperor Nicholas I. The exhibit also focuses on the social aspects of diplomacy. The people the Middleton family encountered during their St. Petersburg years are rendered in meticulous watercolor portraits, with great concern given to depicting the individuality of the subject in their expression and attire. These portraits capture the fashions and trends of the day, with many of the women wearing dramatic, puffed skirts and sleeves, corseted waists, elaborate hairstyles and hourglass silhouettes that reflect the emerging romantic era. Daughter Eleanor’s social diary also paints a detailed picture of the family’s life in St. Petersburg, along with letters that Henry’s wife Mary Helen wrote to her younger children left in the care of family in England. The writings include meticulous descriptions of the array of sumptuous balls, banquets, receptions and parades that the family attended, as well as their visits to St. Petersburg’s gardens, palaces and parks. The response of the D.C. diplomatic community to the exhibition has shown that in many ways, the profession has changed little since the years documented in “Friends and Fashion,” curator Angie Dodson told The Washington Diplomat. “Their message to me about their takeaway from the exhibition has been that the more things change, the more they stay the same,” she said, noting that it has been interesting “for them to look at what diplomacy looked like in the 1820s in Russia and see their own experience in that.” One aspect that has sparked questions from visitors connected with the diplomatic world is why Henry Middleton was a minister and not an ambassador to Russia. Dodson explained that Middleton held the lower-level post because the United States was still a very young nation at the time and did not “have that kind of standing on the international scene just yet.” She added: “The leader of the free world having to remember our humble roots before we attained the position of power that we have today — that’s been a subject of fascination for our retired diplomats and the active diplomats who are posted here now who have visited.”
The portraits on display are strikingly intimate and personal, PHOTOS: HILLWOOD ESTATE, and the exhibition proMUSEUM & GARDENS vides historical context to build out the very vivid world in which the sitters lived. Two of the portraits from the family album are by painter Pyotr Sokolov, while the artists of the remaining 43 paintings are unknown. According to the Middleton family, it has long been thought that the oldest daughter, Maria Henrietta, painted many of the portraits and research conducted for the exhibition suggests this is a reasonable assumption. The first section of the show is largely concerned with setting the diplomatic scene in St. Petersburg and the broader landscape that foreign policy professionals were experiencing in 19th-century Europe and Russia, while the second half turns its attention to the fashion and hairstyles of the day, with accessories and examples of men’s and women’s attire on display. A tour of “Friends and Fashion” is not complete without also popping into the larger museum at Hillwood, home to Post’s impressive collection of Russian art. As Dodson said, the Middleton album allows visitors to “relish the real strengths of our collection.” There are a number of connections from the album’s pages and the art in the mansion, such as objects from the defeat of Napoleon or items related to the tsars who were in power while the Middletons lived in St. Petersburg. This exhibition gives a glimpse into the vibrant world of 19th-century diplomatic St. Petersburg, allowing museumgoers the chance to come face to face with some of the people at the heart of early U.S. foreign relations. Coming at a moment when relations between Russia and the U.S. are especially fraught, the exhibit offers a fascinating glimpse into a very different era of diplomacy. “I love the way that the portraits shine,” Dodson said. “When you’re dealing with really intimate material, you always worry if it’s going to hold its place in the gallery or if it’s going to be somehow dwarfed. And I think these 45 portraits, each in and of itself, is a very powerful work of art. I think they do hold their real estate on the wall.” WD Mackenzie Weinger (@mweinger) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat. THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | APRIL 2017 | 33
WD | Culture | Theater
Timely ‘Intelligence’ Arena’s Take on Plame Affair and Political Retribution Hits Close to Home •
BY LISA TROSHINSKY
Intelligence THROUGH APRIL 9 ARENA STAGE 1101 6TH ST., SW TICKETS ARE $40 TO $90.
(202) 554-9066 | WWW.ARENASTAGE.ORG
ntelligence,” a political thriller at Arena Stage based on true-life events, is bittersweet. It’s encouraging that playwright Jacqueline E. Lawton courageously exposes an embarrassingly painful part of U.S. history. Yet it makes one wonder: Why does it take years for Americans to realize costly mistakes made by our leaders, and why haven’t we learned from those mistakes? In what feels like an agonizing omen of the current administration’s suspected cover-ups, Lawton gives us the behindthe-scenes drama of George W. Bush administration’s outing of former covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, who happened to be married to a key critic of the Iraq War. “Intelligence,” directed by Daniella Topol, is the third in Arena’s Power Plays, an initiative to commission 25 new plays or musicals from 25 writers over the next 10 years. The massive undertaking features one story per decade from 1776 to the present that explores politics and power in America. Arena audiences have already experienced Lawrence Wright’s “Camp David,” about the 1978 Mideast peace accords between Egypt and Israel, and John Strand’s “The Originalist,” about a conservative Supreme Court justice and his liberal law clerk. Set in the theater’s intimate Kogod Cradle, “Intelligence” takes place from January to August 2003 and chronicles the fall of the World Trade Center during 9/11, the Bush White House’s fixation with Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, the start of the Iraqi War and eventually the inevitable demise of Plame’s career. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage revealed Plame’s identity to the press after her husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, wrote a New York Times op-ed refuting Bush’s claims that Hussein purchased nuclear weapons-grade uranium in Niger. The article contested the government’s rationale for the 2003 Iraqi invasion and Plame’s exposure was seen as an attempt by the administration to silence a detractor. Wait, that rings a bell. “Fake news” anyone? At a time when many U.S. citizens are questioning President Trump’s intentions and loyalties, “Intelligence” serves as a stark reminder of the current chaotic political maelstrom. “It is a critical time to consider the motives of those who hold political power, and what an individual can do — or is forced to do — to fight for justice,” wrote Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. The 90-minute script, with no intermission, flies by as Plame struggles to follow CIA orders and wrestles with her conscience. The play’s staccato style and chaotic use of lighting and sound add to its drama and suspense, even if one already knows the outcome. A series of short, decidedly charged vignettes march the plot forward as we witness Plame, portrayed adeptly by Hannah Yelland, maneuver between taking CIA orders, arguing with her husband over his conflicts of interest with her job, traveling overseas to ensure Iraq doesn’t acquire nuclear weap-
34 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | APRIL 2017
PHOTOS: C. STANLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
At left, Hannah Yelland stars as CIA operative Valerie Plame and Lawrence Redmond as her husband Joseph Wilson in “Intelligence.” Below, Yelland is seen with her assets, played by Ethan Hova and Nora Achrati.
ons and dealing with the untimely end of her high-powered career. Misha Kachman’s set is eerily stark, with foreboding lighting and shadows by lighting designer Kathy Perkins. Three mammoth, concrete pillars serve as visual and emotional symbols of the divisiveness of the play’s events, as mini scenes unfold between them. Larger-than-life television images — frenzied, loud and terrifying — of the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings, Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address and the war in Iraq are projected on the giant slabs, as the Wilsons and the audience look on in horror. Although the script feels a bit clipped at times due to the rapid-fire scene changes and course of events, the actors deliver their lines with enough pathos to bring us back to the charged emotions of that period in America’s history. Lawrence Redmond, as a selfrighteous and misunderstand Joseph Wilson, understandably yearns for time with his overwrought wife who works — from his perspective — for an immoral force. Ethan Hova, as Dr. Malik Nazari, and Nora Achrati, as his niece Leyla, skillfully portray Plame’s “assets,” Jordanians targeted by the CIA as vehicles of information about Hussein. These two also give us a chilling look at what it was like to be the “other” in post-9/11 America. The audience feels as helpless as the characters are on stage, as the destruction of their lives and Iraq unfold. Plame repeatedly asserts that the “war is inevitable,” even as she admits to the administration’s lies. The tension is palpable in this pseudo thriller-drama. “Intelligence” rips the Band Aid off old wounds and pokes at new ones. As current news mirrors the past, we cannot help but find irony in the fact that where there is supposed to be intelligence, we often find quite the opposite. WD Lisa Troshinsky is the theater reviewer for The Washington Diplomat.
Art | Culture | WD
Freedom Fighters Renowned African American Artist Captures Haiti’s Revolutionary Hero •
BY JOSEPH HAMMOND
Jacob Lawrence: The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture APRIL 30 PHILLIPS COLLECTION 1600 21ST ST., NW
(202) 387-2151 | WWW.PHILLIPSCOLLECTION.ORG
aiti’s battle for independence from French colonial rule is seen through the eyes of one of America’s most renowned African American artists in 15 rarely displayed silkscreen prints at the Phillips Collection. During his lifetime, Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) became one of the nation’s most important African American painters. His vivid, cubist-inspired works focused on historical themes, including his famed “Migration Series” that chronicled the movement of millions of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North beginning in World War I. This series of silkscreens made between 1986 and 1997 mirrors Lawrence’s fascination with the quest for freedom and social justice by focusing on Haitian revolutionary leader Toussaint L’Ouverture (1743-1803). Lawrence’s first major exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1939 featured 41 tempera paintings that depicted the life of L’Ouverture. The series brought the then-largely unknown Lawrence to national prominence. He later distilled the story in the original 41 paintings to 15 works that were expanded in scale. Important figures in African American history who played a key role in the abolitionist cause were a common subject of Lawrence’s work. His paintings portrayed abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and John Brown. In fact, Brown’s own aborted 1859 slave uprising came after careful study of L’Ouverture and the Haitian Revolution. Born a slave, L’Ouverture played a critical role in the 1791 armed struggle that led to Haiti becoming the second independent country in the Western Hemisphere and the first to ban African slavery in modern history. Yet L’Ouverture would not live to see it. After being captured by French forces, he died in a French prison cell in 1803, shortly before the most violent stage of the conflict and just months before Haiti would declare independence in 1804. As a slave, L’Ouverture was a skilled horseman and coachman. This biographical detail might’ve played a crucial role in his future life as a leader of the slave rebellion in the colony of Saint-Domingue by allowing him to travel widely and plant the seeds of revolution. As a result, several of Lawrence’s paintings feature equestrian scenes, including one that shows L’Ouverture driving a carriage. One of the best on display is “Toussaint at Ennery,” which looks more like a horserace than a cavalry charge. While the scene is dominated by the vibrant use of blue, L’Ouverture is depicted on a white horse charging in neat order amongst his troops. L’Ouverture was referred to by many of his contemporaries as a “Napoleon Noir.” Perhaps Lawrence’s depiction of L’Ouverture on a white horse among his men is meant to contrast with Jacques-Louis David’s 1801 “Napoleon Crossing the Alps,” a painting that famously captures Napoleon on a rearing white horse in full military glory. Another nickname L’Ouverture earned was “Black Spartacus,” a reference to the ancient gladiator who led a slave revolt against the Roman Empire. After teaching himself to read French and some Latin, L’Ouverture studied ancient history and tried to learn from the battles of Julius Caesar in commanding his
PHOTOS: WORKSHOP, INC., WASHINGTON, DC / COLLECTION OF DI AND LOU STOVALL
The Phillips Collection presents rarely seen silkscreen prints by Jacob Lawrence depicting Haitian revolutionary hero Toussaint L’Ouverture, including, from top, “Toussaint at Ennery,”“Contemplation” and “Capture.”
own forces. At its height, his army of 50,000 was larger than any such army commanded by U.S. President George Washington. Many of the paintings focus on the martial aspects of L’Ouverture’s rebellion. His political acumen often matched his military prowess, as L’Ouverture skillfully fought at various times for the French, British, Spanish and for the cause of Haiti itself. The United States and Britain, both concerned that the Haitian Revolution could become a hemisphere-wide anti-slavery revolt, signed diplomatic agreements with L’Ouverture. Lawrence, who was born in 1917 in New Jersey, had his own experience with war and military service. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Coast Guard aboard a vessel that became the first racially integrated warship in U.S. service since the Civil War. As a crewman, Lawrence saw Italy, Britain, Egypt and India, along with some of the horrors of war. In 1946, Lawrence received a Guggenheim Fellowship to paint his famous “War Series,” which illustrates many of the stylistic features for which he is known. These flourishes include prominent eyes, bright colors and silhouetted figures whose profiles often overlap. Lawrence’s distinct style evokes ancient Egyptian wall paintings but his bold colors and geometric shapes reference cubism. These compelling visual narratives of history and the human condition are made all the more powerful by the simplicity of Lawrence’s abstract creations. When Lawrence painted his original L’Ouverture series in the 1930s, it was in the context of a wider rediscovery and appreciation of the slave leader’s accomplishments. A similar revival is taking place today, with recent treatments in film and television, along with last year’s publication of “Toussaint Louverture: A Revolutionary Life,” the first English-language biography of him in 80 years. Lawrence is also enjoying a revival of sorts a century after his birth. Since acquiring 30 panels of Lawrence’s epic “Migration Series” in 1942, the Phillips has been dedicated to celebrating the life and legacy of the artist. This current exhibition is on display while “The Migration Series” travels to the Seattle Art Museum for a reunion celebrating the 100th anniversary of Lawrence’s birth. WD Joseph Hammond is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C. THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | APRIL 2017 | 35
WD | Culture | Sculpture
Shifting Southwest Jami Porter Lara Crosses Porous Borders on Maps and in Minds •
Border Crossing: Jami Porter Lara and New Ground: The Southwest of Maria Martinez and Laura Gilpin THROUGH MAY 14 NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WOMEN IN THE ARTS 1250 NEW YORK AVE., NW
(202) 783-5000 | WWW.NMWA.ORG
n a trip to a scorched stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border in southern Arizona, Albuquerque artist Jami Porter Lara found ancient shards of pottery in the dusty earth along with a trail of empty plastic water bottles discarded by immigrants during their furtive treks into America, seeking the elusive promise of work or refuge from strife in their homelands. Porter Lara didn’t see just trash that has clogged our landfills and oceans and even infiltrated our bodies. She saw a modern archaeological record of future artifacts and a certain beauty in linking plastic bottles with more fragile clay vessels that carried life-sustaining water centuries before white conquerors drew arbitrary lines on maps that divided people and cultures. Twenty-five of her strangely beautiful blackware pottery sculptures inspired by plastic bottles are on display in “Border Crossing” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA). “I hope we’ll see this profane item of garbage in a different light and see those who carry them in a different light,” she said at a press preview for the exhibition. Many of the sculptures resemble plastic bottles only in the loosest sense. The bulbous forms with their dark, luminous sheen twist in undulating forms like some lost altar piece from a forgotten religion or an alien vessel whose purpose is unknown. Some resemble elegant vases with threaded openings like the mouth of a plastic bottle. The exhibition’s title references the crossing of borders both political and geographical, from the ancient to the ephemeral. “I want to expose the porous nature of ‘borders’ as well as the ‘nature’ of art and garbage, and to record my interest in the permeability of all things human, natural and technological,” Porter Lara says. Her work has become timelier with the specter of President Donald Trump’s xenophobic plans to build a border wall and his delusional claims that Mexico will pay for it. “It is an absurd proposition. This is not an issue of national security. It’s about the defense of whiteness,” Porter Lara said. “The border is this relatively recent fiction. Despite all efforts to defend it, it’s permeable.” The exhibition is paired with “New Ground,” an exhibition of pottery by famed New Mexico potter Maria Martinez and Laura Gilpin’s platinum-and-silver gelatin prints from the 1930s to 1960s of Navajo and Pueblo people, along with vast Southwestern landscapes she shot from a small plane buzzing dangerously close to the ground. Porter Lara is a former software engineer who attended art school in Albuquerque when she was 40 years old with students half her age.
36 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | APRIL 2017
BY BRENDAN L. SMITH
Albuquerque artist Jami Porter Lara creates blackware pottery sculptures inspired by discarded plastic bottles, using the same traditional techniques as New Mexico potter Maria Martinez, whose blackware pottery is seen at the bottom. AT LEFT: PHOTO: BY GEISTLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY / LOAN FROM EMILIE PORTER-RAND AND MARC BAILIERE MIDDLE: PHOTO: BY ADDISON DOTY / COURTESY CENTRAL FEATURES CONTEMPORARY ART BOTTOM: PHOTO: EUGENE B. ADKINS COLLECTION AT PHILBROOK MUSEUM OF ART, TULSA, AND FRED JONES JR. MUSEUM OF ART, UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA
Now seven years later, she has a solo exhibition in a national art museum, which is a testament to the strength of her work and her dedication to reinvent herself. The only real misstep in the exhibition are Porter Lara’s titles for her work. She created her own faux archaeological classification system for each piece based on when, where and how it was made. But it’s just a confusing distraction to call an elegant sculpture “LDS-MHB-3SBR-0916CE-01” or “LDS-MHB-2LBR-0515CE-05.” Porter Lara uses the same traditional pottery techniques as Martinez, who pinched and smoothed coils of clay before firing them. Martinez covered her fire with cow manure to create blackware pottery starved of oxygen while Porter Lara uses a galvanized tub in a charred pit in her front yard. Martinez departed from her Pueblo tradition of redware pottery to create innovative blackware pottery that she started to sign as she attracted the attention of art collectors. Many of her beautiful pots and plates, some decorated with images of feathers or the Avanyu horned serpent known as a water guardian, were specifically made for the art market. Martinez was a longtime friend of Gilpin, and her photos in the exhibition include Martinez making pottery or baking bread in an adobe horno oven and her smiling young grandson dressed in leather leggings preparing for his first ceremonial dance. Gilpin spent decades photographing Pueblo and Navajo people, lugging a large-format camera into remote locales at a time when few white or female photographers were working in the Southwest. Her intimate images don’t feel stiff or scripted like some staged anthropological record. She also documented other artisans, including silversmiths and weavers, who were continuing an unbroken tradition in a world that was rapidly fraying around them. Her photos of twisting rivers and rocky canyons portray the epic expanse of the Southwest, or at least the small window into that world that can be contained in a photograph. For seven years before moving to Washington, D.C., I lived in Santa Fe and then in a small village tucked in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Behind the ranch-style house where I lived in Rio en Medio, melting snow traveled down an acequia irrigation ditch into the rows of a garden of corn and radishes planted by Tino Trujillo, my landlord and a silversmith who crafted wonders from hammered silver and aqua turquoise. New Mexico is the only place I have lived where I felt a physical and even spiritual connection to the land beneath me and the truly endless sweep of a vast horizon. My view is usually limited now to the next street corner, and the earth, that elemental source of food and life, is paved over with asphalt. WD Brendan L. Smith (www.brendanlsmith.com) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat and mixed-media artist (www.dcmixedmedia.com) in Washington, D.C.
Dining | Culture | WD
Hotel Hotspots St. Gregory, Ritz-Carlton Additions Mirror Pulsating D.C. Dining Scene •
BY MICHAEL COLEMAN
plashy new standalone restaurants are generating most of the dining buzz in Washington as the city and surrounding region come into full bloom as a truly outstanding national food destination. But in a transient power capital like D.C. where well-heeled diners constantly come and go, hotel restaurants are also stepping up to claim their place in the fierce competition for customers, even among locals. The Diplomat has dined at lots of Washington area hotels over the years. Most recently, we’ve announced our admiration for the Park Hyatt’s Blue Duck Tavern in the West End and Dirty Habit at Hotel Monaco in Penn Quarter. Meanwhile, one newcomer in particular — Tredici Enoteca at the St. Gregory Hotel near Dupont Circle — has us looking forward to a return visit, while Entyse Bistro and Wine Bar at the gorgeously renovated Ritz-Carlton provides a great reason to visit Tysons Corner in Virginia these days.
TREDICI ENOTECA Nestled on the ground level of the boutique St. Gregory Hotel, Tredici Enoteca — a wine and raw bar that serves excellent Mediterranean cuisine — manages the aesthetics of its inviting bar and restaurant exceedingly well. The hotel, which was purchased by Hersha Hospitality Trust in 2015, recently underwent a major renovation that included the new 4,500-square-foot, 90-seat restaurant concept. The Tuscan-themed eatery is spacious without being cavernous, while the separate 30-seat bar is cozy without feeling claustrophobic, thanks in part to floor-to-ceiling windows and well-placed skylights. While the overall look is warm and appealing, the menu is definitely the main attraction. Tredici has an array of options for vegetarians, an enticing selection of fish and seafood dishes, as well as pasta and grilled meats, including something called “lollipop lamb chops” with mint aioli that remained on our minds for weeks after our visit. We started with the Mediterranean Board, and if you like staples of the cuisine such as hummus, falafel and tzatziki, we suggest you start with it, too. The hummus was cool, rich and creamy with just a hint of lemon zest, and the tzatziki, with its mild TREDICI ENOTECA yogurt and cucumber flavors, was just about perfect. But 2033 M ST., NW the showstopper here was the falafel. Unlike many Greek (202) 888-2899 or Mediterranean versions of the dish that tend to be WWW.TREDICIDC.COM over-fried and over-spiced, Tredici’s rendition was lightly dipped in hot grease and simply appointed with dried chickpea and a delicious salsa verde dipping sauce. The Mediterranean Board is a great place to start at Tredici. We also tried the raw bar sampler featuring three each of shrimp cocktail, crab claw and oysters from the Madhouse purveyor on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. No regrets there, either. Each of the offerings were plump, fresh and delicious on the palate. Another menu standout was the Caesar salad, innovatively prepared with kale and romaine lettuce, as well as sundried tomato, pine nut, crouton and pesto Caesar dressing. The pesto, while subdued, made for an intriguing variation on a classic flavor. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t encourage indulgence in the bacon-wrapped dates. Warm, sweet and filled with a delectable combination of manchego and blue cheese, we had to restrain ourselves from a second order. In addition to the lamb chops, the squid ink tonarelli pasta with cockles, shishito peppers and white wine garlic cream sauce lent the entire dinner a sophisticated elegance.
Above, the Mediterranean Board is a must-have at Tredici Enoteca in the St. Gregory Hotel. At left, the recently unveiled Entyse Bistro at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner features dishes such as vegetarian faro hash.
One other interesting element of the Tredici dining (or drinking, if that’s your focus) experience is the option of less expensive half glasses of wine, which allow you to pair different selections with the menu options without breaking the bank. We can’t recommend this Dupont Circlearea newcomer highly enough, either for an intimate date, a business dinner or celebration with a group of friends. This Philadelphia-based restaurant is a very welcome addition to D.C.’s ever-improving dining scene.
1700 TYSONS BLVD., MCLEAN, VA. While D.C.’s hotels are elevating their culinary game to match the (703) 506-4300 ramped-up energy pulsing through WWW.RITZCARLTON.COM/EN/HOTELS/WASHINGTONthe city’s dining scene, some hotels DC/TYSONS-CORNER/DINING/ENTYSE in surrounding suburban areas are keeping pace, as well. As part of a recent multimilliondollar renovation celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner recently unveiled Entyse Bistro, serving breakfast and lunch, along with Entyse Wine Bar and Lounge, offering a full array of dinner options. On a recent visit for happy hour, the bar was crackling with energy, with an intriguing mix of out-of-town guests and locals relaxing after a hard day’s work. The space is cozy and sophisticated, with golds and magentas anchoring the rich color scheme. Some nights the room pulses with a live jazz combo. For those just looking for an early or late evening nosh, Entyse Wine Bar offers delicious charcuterie trays featuring meat selections from the farms of Virginia butchers. Those looking for something more substantive might opt for the chicken lasagna with ricotta, garlic and a basil parmesan broth or perhaps the more classic surf and turf. Entyse Bistro, adjacent to the wine bar, is a good bet for a more casual lunch. SEE DINING • PAGE 39 THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | APRIL 2017 | 37
WD | Culture | Film
THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017
*Unless specific times are listed, please check the theater for times. Theater locations are subject to change.
sions the book James Baldwin never finished. Landmark’s E Street Cinema
I Called Him Morgan
The Devil’s Mistress (Lída Baarová)
Directed by Kasper Collin (Sweden/U.S., 2017, 92 min.) On a snowy night in February 1972, legendary jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan was shot dead by his common-law wife, Helen, during a gig at a club in New York City. The murder sent shockwaves through the jazz community, and the memory of the event still haunts the people who knew the Morgans. Part true-crime tale, part love story, and an all-out musical treat, I Called Him Morgan is a chronicle of the dramatic destinies of two unique personalities and the music that brought them together. West End Cinema
Directed by Filip Renč (Czech Republic/Slovakia, 2016, 106 min.) Beautiful Czech actress Lída Baarová takes Germany’s silver screen by storm and in the process steals the heart of one of the Third Reich’s most powerful men — Joseph Goebbels, the minister of propaganda. Baarová rejects offers from Hollywood to enter into a passionate affair with one of Hitler’s closest followers, but at what price? (Czech and German). The Avalon Theatre Thu., April 13, 8 p.m.
Tiger Theory (Teorie tygra) Directed by Radek Bajgar (Czech Republic, 2016, 101 min.) Veterinarian Jan feels he’s losing his grip on life, which is controlled by his wife Olga, and yearns for the call of the wild. An unconventional patient gives him an idea, setting him on a journey of self-discovery that just might change his life for the better, even though it might lead him to the nuthouse along the way (Q&A with director in attendance). The Avalon Theatre Wed., April 12, 8 p.m.
English Alive and Kicking Directed by Susan Glatzer (Sweden/U.S., 2017, 88 min.) Alive and Kicking gives the audience an intimate, insider’s view into the culture of the current swing dance world while shedding light on issues facing modern society. Landmark’s Theatres Opens Fri., April 7
Beauty and the Beast Directed by Bill Condon (U.S., 2017, 129 min.) Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a live-action re-telling of the studio’s 1991 animated classic, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs. Angelika Mosaic Atlantic Plumbing Cinema Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema
The Blackcoat’s Daughter Directed by Oz Perkins (U.S./Canada, 2017, 93 min.) Two girls must battle a mysterious
Photo: Courtesy Oscar Ramírez and FilmRise
Oscar Ramírez, a young boy lost during Guatemala’s decades-long civil war, is the subject of the documentary “Finding Oscar.”
evil force when they get left behind at their boarding school over winter break. Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market
Colossal Directed by Nacho Vigalondo (Canada/Spain, 2017, 110 min.) A woman discovers that severe catastrophic events are somehow connected to the mental breakdown from which she’s suffering. Angelika Mosaic Opens Fri., April 14
Enter the Dragon Directed by Robert Clouse (Hong Kong/U.S., 1973, 103 min.) The last movie Bruce Lee made before his untimely death is one of the most popular kung fu films of all time. Lee plays a martial arts expert who infiltrates a competition on a wealthy drug dealer’s private island in order to avenge his sister’s death. National Museum of African American History and Culture
Finding Oscar Directed by Ryan Suffern (U.S./Canada/Guatemala, 2017, 100 min.) In a forgotten massacre during Guatemala’s decades-long civil war, a young boy was spared, only to be raised by one of the very soldiers who killed his family. Nearly 30 years after the tragedy, it will take a dedicated team—from a forensic scientist to a young Guatemalan
38 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017
prosecutor—to uncover the truth and bring justice to those responsible — by finding the missing boy named Oscar (English and Spanish). Landmark’s Theatres Opens Fri., April 28
Ghost in the Shell Directed by Rupert Sanders (U.S., 2017, 120 min.) Directed by Rupert Sanders In the near future, Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. As she prepares to face a new enemy, however, Major discovers that she has been lied to: her life was not saved, it was stolen. Angelika Mosaic Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market Atlantic Plumbing Cinema Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema
I Am Not Your Negro Directed by Raoul Peck (France/U.S., 2017, 95 min.) In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, which was to be a revolutionary, personal account of three assassinated leaders who were also his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of his manuscript. Now, in his incendiary new documentary, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envi-
Three years later, when the politician becomes an influential world leader, Norman’s life dramatically changes for better and worse (English and Hebrew). Angelika Mosaic Opens Fri., April 21
Personal Shopper Directed by Olivier Assayas (France/Germany, 2017, 105 min.) Olivier Assayas returns with this ethereal and mysterious ghost story starring Kristen Stewart as a high-fashion personal shopper to the stars who is also a spiritual medium. Grieving the recent death of her twin brother, she haunts his Paris home, determined to make contact with him. Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema Landmark’s E Street Cinema
In Search of Israeli Food
The Sense of an Ending
Directed by Roger Sherman (U.S., 2016, 120 min.) A portrait of the Israeli people told through food, “In Search of Israeli Cuisine” profiles chefs, home cooks, vintners and cheese-makers drawn from the more than 100 cultures — Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian, Druze — found in a nation only the size of New Jersey. Landmark’s Theatres Opens Fri., April 21
Directed by Ritesh Batra (U.K., 2017, 108 min.) Jim Broadbent shines as fusty curmudgeon, exploring the longing and mystery, curiosity and regret of his past, when he is bequeathed a letter that stirs up old memories. It refers to a diary that might explain what really happened years ago between his first girlfriend Veronica and his best friend Adrian, but Veronica has intercepted the diary and refuses to give it up. Angelika Mosaic Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema West End Cinema
Life Directed by Daniel Espinosa (U.S., 2017, 103 min.) This sci-fi thriller tells the story of the six-member crew of the International Space Station that is on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars (English, Japanese and Chinese). Atlantic Plumbing Cinema
Lion Directed by Garth Davis (Australia, 2016, 120 min.) A 5-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of miles from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia. Not wanting to hurt his adoptive parents’ feelings, he suppresses his past, his emotional need for reunification and his hope of ever finding his lost mother and brother for 25 years. But a chance meeting with some fellow Indians reawakens his buried yearning (English, Bengali and Hindi). Landmark’s E Street Cinema
T2 Trainspotting Directed by Danny Boyle (U.K., 2017, 117 min.) First there was an opportunity — then there was a betrayal. Twenty years have gone by since the events of “Trainspotting.” Much has changed but just as much remains the same as Mark (Ewan McGregor) returns to the only place he can ever call home, where his friends and a litany of emotions are waiting for him (English and Bulgarian). Angelika Mosaic Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema Landmark’s E Street Cinema
drawn to aid a young boy who has fallen silent since the sudden passing of his mother. Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market Opens Fri., April 28
We Are Jews from Breslau Directed by Karin Kaper and Dirk Szuszies (Germany, 2016, 108 min.) They were young, looking forward to the future with great expectations; they felt at home in Breslau, the city with the third biggest Jewish community in Germany at that time. Then, Hitler came to power. From this time forward, these young people were connected by the common fate of being persecuted as Jews — 14 of whom are the protagonists of this documentary. Edlavitch DCJCC Mon., April 24, 7 p.m.
The Zookeeper’s Wife Directed by Niki Caro (U.S., 2017, 124 min.) The keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, help save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion of World War II. Angelika Mosaic Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema Landmark’s E Street Cinema
Farsi The Salesman (Forushande) Directed by Asghar Farhadi (Iran/France, 2017, 125 min.) A young couple living in Tehran act together in an amateur production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” When their flat becomes damaged, they are forced to move into a new apartment, where an intruder attacks the wife, prompting her husband to become an amateur detective in an attempt to find the assailant and soothe his wife’s addled nerves. Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema
Directed by Lone Scherfig (U.K., 2017, 117 min.) A British film crew attempts to boost morale during World War II by making a propaganda film after the Blitzkrieg. Angelika Mosaic Opens Fri., April 14
Voice from the Stone
Directed by Joseph Cedar (Israel/U.S., 2017, 117 min.) Norman Oppenheimer is a small time operator who befriends a young politician at a low point in his life.
Directed by Eric D. Howell (U.S./Italy, 2017, 94 min.) Set in 1950s Tuscany, “Voice from the Stone” is the haunting and suspenseful story of Verena, a solemn nurse
Directed by François Ozon (France/Germany, 2017, 113 min.) In this intense romantic drama set in the aftermath of World War I, a young German who grieves the death of her fiancé in France meets a mysterious Frenchman who visits the fiancé’s grave to lay flowers. While other townsfolk revile him as a murderer of Germans, the dead soldier’s parents, at first suspicious, welcome him into their home and treasure his stories about their son. But there are hidden secrets that
eventually surface as the relationship deepens. Landmark’s Theatres Opens Fri., April 7
Raw (Grave) Directed by Julia Ducournau (France/Belgium, 2017, 99 min.) At 16, Justine is a brilliant student starting out at veterinary school, where she encounters a decadent, merciless and dangerously seductive world. Desperate to fit in, she participates in a hazing ritual where she is forced to eat raw meat for the first time. Once tasted, Justine’s appetite for meat grows, and as her true self begins to emerge, she must face the terrible and unexpected consequences of her newfound passion. Landmark’s E Street Cinema
gerMan I Was Nineteen (Ich war neunzehn) Directed by Konrad Wolf (Germany, 1967, 119 min.) More than 10 years have passed since protagonist Gregor Hecker and his family fled from Germany to Moscow. In April 1945, at the age of 19, Gregor returns to Germany as a lieutenant in the Red Army. He feels like a stranger on German soil, and just like his Russian comrades, he is ashamed of the German people. Nevertheless, he realizes that he is different from his comrades in arms, for this defeated land is his home. Goethe-Institut Tue., April 11, 6:30 p.m.
Westwind Directed by Robert Thalheim (Germany, 2011, 90 min.) Summer 1988: As promising young athletes in the GDR, the twins Isa and Doreen are allowed to attend a training camp at Lake Balaton in Hungary. There, they meet Arne and Nico from Hamburg. What begins as a holiday romance develops for Doreen and Arne into a serious love affair, for which the girl from the Saxon province is willing to risk
everything. Goethe-Institut Fri., April 28, 6:30 p.m.
AFI Silver Theatre Sun., April 16, 5:20 p.m., Tue., April 18, 7:15 p.m.
I’m So Excited (Los amantes pasajeros)
After the Storm
Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain, 2013, 90 min.) Something has gone wrong with the landing gear of a plane en route from Madrid to Mexico City. Is drugging the passengers and entertaining them with music and dance the best way to maintain calm? AFI Silver Theatre Sun., April 23, 8:45 p.m.
(Umi yori mo mada fukaku) Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda (Japan, 2017, 117 min.) Dwelling on his past glory as a prize-winning author, Ryota wastes the money he makes as a private detective on gambling and can barely pay his child support. After the death of his father, his aging mother and beautiful ex-wife seem to be moving on with their lives. Renewing contact with his initially distrusting family, Ryota struggles to take back control of his existence. Landmark’s E Street Cinema
Your Name (Kimi no na wa) Directed by Makoto Shinkai (Japan, 2017, 106 min.) Mitsuha is the daughter of the mayor of a small mountain town. She’s a straightforward high school girl who has no qualms about letting it be known that she’s uninterested in Shinto rituals or helping her father’s electoral campaign. Instead she dreams of leaving the boring town and trying her luck in Tokyo. Taki is a high school boy in Tokyo who works part-time in an Italian restaurant and every night has a strange dream where he becomes … a high school girl in a small mountain town (Japanese and Mandarin). Angelika Mosaic Opens Fri., April 7
Photo: Courtesy Filmrise
Ricardo Darin, Dolores Fonzi and Javier Cámara star in “Truman.”
for a better life into his teenage daughter, Eliza, who’s just one exam away from securing a scholarship to a prestigious British university. But when Eliza is attacked on the eve of her test, endangering her ability to pass, Romeo takes matters into his own hands to ensure her success. Landmark’s Theatres Opens Fri., April 14
slOVaK The Teacher (Ucitelka) Directed by Jan Hrebejk (Slovak Republic, 2016, 102 min.) Set in the early 1980s in Czechoslovakia, an elementary school principal calls an urgent meeting for parents. There are allegations that a seemingly kind teacher is using her students to manipulate their parents into providing a host of perks. Will the teacher’s cozy connections with the Communist Party keep the parents silent or will they stand up against the corruption? The Avalon Theatre Thu., April 13, 5:15 p.m.
Graduation (Bacalaureat) Directed by Cristian Mungiu (Romania/France/Belgium, 2016, 128 min.) Romeo is a seemingly honest doctor who regrets having settled in his native Romania, a country still teeming with corruption and back dealings. He channels his ambitions
All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre) Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain, 1999, 101 min.) In Pedro Almodóvar’s Oscar-winning homage to women — and all men who want to become women — single mother Manuela watches her
only son die on his 17th birthday while running to get a stage actress’s autograph. As the heartbroken mother embarks on her quest to find the boy’s transsexual father, she befriends a richly diverse assortment of women, including the actress her son died pursuing (Spanish and Catalan). AFI Silver Theatre Sun., April 9, 7 p.m., Tue., April 11, 7:15 p.m.
Bad Education (La mala educación) Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain, 2004, 106 min.) Enrique is a young film director. Actor Ignacio turns up looking for work and identifies himself as a childhood friend. Enrique doesn’t recognize the man, but his reaction to the name Ignacio signals a deeply intertwined past and unexpected twists. AFI Silver Theatre Fri., April 14, 7:30 p.m., Sat., April 15, 7:45 p.m., Sun., April 16, 7:45 p.m.
Broken Embraces (Los abrazos rotos) Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain, 2009, 127 min.) News of the death of a powerful Madrilenian businessman forces Harry, a blind man who was once a filmmaker, to confront his tragic past in this film-within-a-film, which brings together love, obsession, voyeurism and melancholy in a moving meditation on filmmaking and cinema.
Julieta Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain, 2016, 99 min.) Pedro Almodóvar’s 20th feature film weaves three Alice Munro short stories into a Hitchcockian melodrama about mothers and daughters, passion and grief and the hard changes one undergoes in a lifetime. AFI Silver Theatre Tue., April 25, 7 p.m., Thu., April 27, 7 p.m.
The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito) Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain, 2011, 120 min.) Plastic surgeon Robert (Antonio Banderas) turns his mansion into an underground operating room where he unscrupulously seeks to create a synthetic skin that could have saved his deceased wife, who was badly burned in an accident. AFI Silver Theatre Sat., April 22, 10 p.m., Tue., April 25, 9:05 p.m.
Talk to Her (Hable con ella) Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain, 2002, 112 min.) Two men forge a relationship as they use the intricacies of the spoken word — however improbably — to communicate with the comatose women they love. AFI Silver Theatre Fri., April 7, 7 p.m., Mon., April 10, 7:15 p.m.
Directed by Cesc Gay (Spain/Argentina, 2015, 108 min.) Diagnosed with terminal cancer, Julián has decided to forgo treatment, and spend his final days tying up loose ends. When childhood friend Tomás pays his ailing friend an unexpected visit, the two friends set out to finalize Julián’s funeral arrangements, settle his accounts and, most importantly, find a home for his beloved dog, Truman, in this heartfelt and surprisingly humorous film (Spanish and English). Landmark’s Theatres Opens Fri., April 14
Volver Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain, 2006, 121 min.) Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) and Sole (Lola Dueñas) are sisters in a working-class neighborhood south of Madrid, whose parents died a few years prior in a tragic fire. One day, their dead mother returns as a ghost to resolve issues with Raimunda, who is busy dealing with her husband’s death and calming her daughter. AFI Silver Theatre Sat., April 15, 5:15 p.m., Sun., April 16, 8 p.m.
TUrKish Kedi Directed by Ceyda Torun (Turkey/U.S., 2017, 79 min.)
Hundreds of thousands of Turkish cats roam the metropolis of Istanbul freely. For thousands of years they’ve wandered in and out of people’s lives, becoming an essential part of the communities that make the city so rich. Claiming no owners, the cats of Istanbul live between two worlds, neither wild nor tame — and they bring joy and purpose to those people they choose to adopt. Landmark’s E Street Cinema
As part of a recent multimillion-dollar renovation celebrating its 25th anniversary, the ritz-Carlton in tysons Corner recently unveiled entyse Bistro, along with entyse Wine Bar and lounge.
long way and Entyse’s version gets bonus points for keeping the texture of the fries a little bit crunchy. The glamorous hotel also offers one of the most enticing Sunday brunches in the region. Among the more intriguing menu options are a PB&J banana brulee, a waﬄe with buttermilk battered chicken and short rib corned beef hash made with caramelized onions and jalapeno peppers. Sprawling Tysons Corner can sometimes be overwhelming — or underwhelming, depending on your perspective — but even those who aren’t staying at the Ritz-Carlton in the area should consider either Entyse Wine Bar or Bistro as a solid bet for a satisfying meal no matter the time of day. WD
parmesan fries. Truﬄe fries are on the verge of becoming ubiquitous, and thus, unremarkable, but Entyse retains the de-
Michael Coleman (@michaelcoleman) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.
Dining CONTINUED • PAGe 37
While the wine bar employs soft light and sensuous colors to attain a chic vibe, the patriotic-themed bistro is brighter with light wood floors, white furniture and a sort of rustic-chic ambience highlighted by the presence of an open kitchen. We had the San Marzano tomato soup with brioche croutons for a starter and the slightly smoky and tangy broth proved a delicious and savory way to warm up on a frigid day. The Ahi tuna Niçoise salad was another solid choice, with a generous portion of sliced tuna steak and crispy, fresh greens. Those looking for just a little something extra to nibble on would be wellserved by ordering the black truﬄe
Photo: ritz-CArlton, tysons Corner
lectable novelty of the side dish by refusing to allow the truﬄe to overwhelm the flavor profile. A little bit of truﬄe goes a
THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | APrIL 2017 | 39
WD | Culture | Events
Events Listings *Unless specific times are listed, please check the venue for times. Venue locations are subject to change.
ART April 1 to 30
Kung Fu Wildstyle To celebrate the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Sackler presents a month-long exhibition and program series highlighting connections between African American and East Asian art, music and film. The exhibition, “Kung Fu Wildstyle,” explores pop culture through contemporary street art, featuring works by legendary street artist and hip-hop impresario Fab 5 Freddy and Hong Kong graffiti and hip-hop pioneer MC Yan. They examine how Bruce Lee and kung fu affected New York City’s street culture and emerging hip-hop scene in the 1970s. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery April 1 to May 28
Green Machine: The Art of Carlos Luna Cuban artist Carlos Luna’s exhibit features more than 65 works, with some created in new media the artist has been experimenting with during the past four years, including Jacquard tapestries, works on metal sheets with patina and aluminum leaf, and layers of natural materials rubbed into strong, thick, dense, smooth and un-sized French paper. American University Museum
April 6 to June 4
Alternativas/Alternatives: The Thirteenth Spanish Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism (XIII Beau) “Alternativas/Alternatives” features 22 jury-selected projects completed between Jan. 1, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2015 by contemporary Spanish architects. The installation, which also includes an additional 20 shortlisted works, presents large-scale image displays and audiovisual commentary about the winning projects, as well as drawing reproductions and architectural models. Former Residence of the Spanish Ambassador April 6 to June 4
Export: Spanish Architecture Abroad “Export” covers Spanish architecture abroad from an open perspective that takes into account practices organized by profiles (Insiders, Young Achievers, Producers, Scholars, Healers and Outsiders), as well as the role of other agents (Soft Power, Giants of Construction, Publishing and Retail Empire), which help us gain a richer and more plural vision of the sector and serve as the structure for the exhibition discourse. Former Residence of the Spanish Ambassador April 7 to 28
“Escape” showcases Foon Sham’s mastery of wood sculpture. To be within one of his vessel sculptures is to experience the palpable space of a woodland creature’s habitat, or the place of concealment. At the American University Museum, Sham has built one horizontal tunnel measuring 62 feet long and one vertical tunnel towering 36 feet high. “Escape” is one of a series of participatory sculptures, begun in the 1990s, meant to be experienced with all the body’s senses and to resonate socially. American University Museum
A new exhibition of photography and installation works by four contemporary Korean artists embraces the real, virtual, and imagined spaces crowding our lives in a modern, technology-infused society. From the ubiquitous computer screen bursting with overlapping windows and tabs, to image-editing software and augmented reality games, many of the spaces we inhabit in our daily lives are a blend of real, virtual and imagined. Each artist featured in “Space” experiments with these layers of reality, incorporating photography and painting, mixed media installation, transparent overlays, casting and ultraviolet filters to express their own unique perspective on the co-existence of past and present, real and imaginary. Korean Cultural Center
April 4 to May 5
April 8 to July 9
April 1 to Aug. 13
Escape: Foon Sham
Forgotten Corners with Artist Iurro “Forgotten Corners” is about the places that we pass every day, but rarely stop and take time to look at them. These can be, for example, alleys in downtown D.C. and New York City or small villages we pass through to larger towns and cities in the Czech Republic. Often, these places are not even interesting during the day. However, at night, they become romantic, even mysterious. Embassy of the Czech Republic
Inventing Utamaro: A Japanese Masterpiece Rediscovered In 2014, the Okada Museum of Art in Hakone, Japan, made an announcement that startled the art world. The new arts center revealed it had discovered a long-lost painting by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), a legendary but mysterious Japanese artist. Titled “Snow at Fukagawa,” the immense work is one of three paintings by Utamaro that idealize famous pleasure districts in Edo (now Tokyo).
40 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017
For the first time in nearly 140 years, these paintings reunite in Inventing Utamaro at the Freer|Sackler, the only location to show all three original pieces. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery April 9 to July 9
Frédéric Bazille and the Birth of Impressionism Frédéric Bazille (1841-70) created paintings inspired by contemporary life that challenged the aesthetic conventions of his day and helped to lay the groundwork of impressionism. In celebration of the 175th anniversary of the artist’s birth, this exhibit brings together some 75 paintings that examine Bazille as a central figure of impressionism. National Gallery of Art Through April 23
Jacob Lawrence: The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture Featuring a series of 15 rarely seen silkscreen prints created by American artist Jacob Lawrence between 1986 and 1997, this exhibition portrays the life of Toussaint L’Ouverture (17421803), the former slave turned leader of Haiti’s independence movement. The Phillips Collection Through April 30
500 Years of Treasures from Oxford Founded 500 years ago in 1517, the library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, is a repository of extraordinary treasures, few of which have ever been seen by the public. To mark the 500th anniversary, a selection of 50 manuscripts and early printed books, ranging in date from the 10th to the 17th centuries, is being brought to America for the first time. Folger Shakespeare Library Through April 30
THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017 nine short films with borders as their main concept. The works were among a number of films submitted by international artists to the Bienal de las Fronteras, an artistic initiative that offers a platform to emerging artists of diverse backgrounds. This selection questions the boundaries of the biennial itself, including participating artists that establish an alternative view of the border, this time “from the inside out.” Mexican Cultural Institute Through May 14
ahead, it is moving away from an agricultural and industrial economy toward a more competitive global, knowledge-based economy. One such area of growth is the cultural and creative industries, which drive innovation and contribute to economic diversification. This exhibit showcases Paraguayan innovation across a variety of disciplines, which represent a shift away from traditional craft, but also a recognition of the importance of local knowledge and culture. Inter-American Development Bank Cultural Center
Border Crossing: Jami Porter Lara
Through May 31
While visiting a remote area along the U.S.–Mexico border, Albuquerque-based artist Jami Porter Lara found the remains of ancient pottery as well as plastic bottles discarded by migrants moving through the region. Intrigued by this juxtaposition, she began to reconceptualize the plastic bottle. National Museum of Women in the Arts Through May 14
New Ground: The Southwest of Maria Martinez and Laura Gilpin Contemporaries and friends, potter Maria Martinez (ca. 1887–1980) and photographer Laura Gilpin (1891–1979) brought the American Southwest into focus as a culturally rich region that fostered artistic expression. Martinez’s bold adaptation of an ancient black-on-black pottery design technique reflected Pueblo artistic traditions and also appealed to the modernist sensibility. Gilpin was one of the first women to capture the landscape and peoples of the American West on film. National Museum of Women in the Arts
Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque
Through May 14
Through his lithographs and posters, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec captured the heart of Parisian nightlife in dynamic cabaret and café-concert scenes inspired by the city’s burgeoning entertainment district. This special exhibition presents, for the first time in the United States, one of the foremost collections of the artist’s prints and posters. Nearly 100 examples of incomparable quality and color celebrate daily life and the premier performers of the belle époque — Aristide Bruant, Marcelle Lender, Cha-U-Kao and others — cleverly caricatured through Toulouse-Lautrec’s perceptive skills of observation and transformation. The Phillips Collection
“Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” is a celebration of the legendary Japanese artist’s 65-year career and promises to be one of 2017’s essential art experiences. Visitors will have the unprecedented opportunity to discover six of Kusama’s captivating Infinity Mirror Rooms alongside a selection of her other key works, including a number of paintings from her most recent series “My Eternal Soul” that have never been shown in the U.S. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Through May 13
Bordes/Borders This contemporary video exhibit curated by Othón Castañeda features
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors
Through May 26
El Vuelo y su Semilla This exhibition of works by renowned Mexican artist Bestabeé Romero (Mexico City, 1963) is comprised of installation pieces and reflects on the identity and culture that Mexican immigrants carry with them. Romero’s works explore these phenomena through symbolic objects, such as papel picado and tires, and culinary components, like bread and corn, underscoring the role that eating and cooking play in the formation and transformation of Mexican identity. The result is a body of work that places Mexican culture as a fundamental part of the migrant journey from Mexico to the U.S. Mexican Cultural Institute Through June 2
From the Desk of Simone de Beauvoir Consider the influence and intellect of feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir in an interpretation of her Paris studio alcove. This installation invites visitors to reflect on Beauvoir’s impact, not only in her time and not only as a feminist, but in our own time and in the areas of literature, philosophy and popular culture. National Museum of Women in the Arts Through June 4
Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence Luca della Robbia, a master sculptor in marble and bronze, invented a glazing technique for terracotta sculpture that positioned him as one of the most innovative artists of the 15th century. Today, the sculptures created by Luca and his family workshop retain their brilliant opaque whites, deep cerulean blues, and botanical greens, purples and yellows over modeling that makes them powerful and engaging examples of Italian Renaissance art. National Gallery of Art
Designing Paraguay: Emerging Artists from the Heart of South America
Through June 4
“Designing Paraguay” highlights emerging talent that is lighting the way for future innovations in the creative industries. As Paraguay looks
More than 2 million children have been forced from their homes by the war in Syria. Refugee children in neighboring countries or making
Where the Children Sleep
journeys through Europe await an uncertain future. A few offered to show where they sleep now, when everything that once was, no longer exists, in this internationally acclaimed exhibition that features a moving series of photographs by award-winning Swedish photojournalist Magnus Wennman. House of Sweden Through June 11
Friends and Fashion: An American Diplomat in 1820s Russia Focusing on 45 portraits from an album assembled by the family of politician and statesman Henry Middleton, this exhibition paints a captivating picture of diplomatic life in early 19th-century St. Petersburg. The intimate portraits, along with selected objects, images and publications, offer an exploration into a number of themes, including Middleton’s posting in St. Petersburg and the historical events surrounding his time there, the family’s social life in Russia, the artistic traditions of the period, and the elaborate fashions and hairstyles of the day. Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens Through July 24
Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Flair For 50 years, the Ebony Fashion Fair shaped a new vision of black America through contemporary fashion. Founded by Eunice Walker Johnson in 1958, the traveling fashion show broke the color barrier to bring the pinnacle of global fashion to communities that were eager to celebrate black accomplishment, aspiration and success. The George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum present the story of the Ebony Fashion Fair and its cultural impact with 40 garments, including stunning gowns, feathered coats and statement designs by Christian Dior, Vivienne Westwood and burgeoning designer Naeem Khan, who would go on to dress first lady Michelle Obama. The George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum Through Aug. 6
The Urban Scene: 1920-1950 American artists of the early 20th century sought to interpret the beauty, power, and anxiety of the modern age in diverse ways. Through depictions of bustling city crowds and breathtaking metropolitan vistas, 25 black-and-white prints in this exhibition explore the spectacle of urban modernity. National Gallery of Art Through Aug. 6
José Gómez-Sicre’s Eye A half-century ago, Cuban-born curator José Gómez-Sicre took the reins
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of the OAS’s art program, thrusting himself into the rapidly expanding Latin American art world and bringing young, emerging talent to the OAS’s budding exhibition space. Impassioned by the arts, Gómez-Sicre planted the seeds of what is today considered among world’s finest collections of modern and contemporary Latin American and Caribbean art. The OAS will be celebrating the centennial of Gómez-Sicre’s birth throughout 2016, honoring his contribution to the legacy of the hemisphere’s art. OAS Art Museum of the Americas Through Dec. 10
Stories of Migration – Sweden Beyond the Headlines Migration is old news. It has helped shape countries and the world. But the current situation is unprecedented: More than 65 million people around the world have been forced to leave their homes. Migration is also an integral part of the history of Sweden; in today’s population, one in six was born in another country. Since the 1930s Sweden has been characterized by more immigration than emigration, including offering refuge to people fleeing war and political unrest. This exhibition aims to add new perspectives to the story of Sweden and migration and give insights into the current situation in the country. Beyond headlines of chaos and collapse, beyond politics and public authorities, there are people who try to build a life in a new country. House of Sweden Through Jan. 15, 2018
Architecture of an Asylum: St. Elizabeths 1852-2017 Established by Congress in 1855 as the Government Hospital for the Insane, St. Elizabeths is widely considered a pioneering psychiatric facility. The hospital is a prime example of the “Kirkbride Plan” for mental health hospitals, which promised to help patients with a specialized architecture and landscape. This exhibition traces St. Elizabeths’ evolution over time, reflecting shifting theories about how to care for the mentally ill, as well as the later reconfiguration of the campus as a federal workplace and a mixed-use urban development. National Building Museum
DANCE Through April 2
Hamburg Ballet: John Neumeier’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ Returning for the first time in 13 years, the company performs the D.C. premiere of John Neumeier’s adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fable. This stunning production is a darker meditation on love, loss and alienation. Tickets are $29 to $125. Kennedy Center Opera House Sat., April 8, 7 p.m.
Bhangra Blowout 24 Bhangra Blowout is a national intercollegiate dance competition that showcases traditional bhangra
dance originating in Punjab. Bhangra Blowout is in its 24th year and features eight teams competing to be the collegiate champions. GW Lisner Auditorium April 17 to 23
Ballet Across America – Curated by Misty Copeland and Justin Peck The Kennedy Center’s celebration of innovation and diversity in American ballet returns, with this season curated by stars Justin Peck and Misty Copeland, who will explore ideas central to the John F. Kennedy centennial with several companies across multiple programs. The week begins with a spectacular opening night celebration spotlighting two world premiere commissions among the performances along with several special guests. Tickets are $29 to $119. Kennedy Center Opera House
DISCUSSIONS Through April 17
The Brazil Initiative at GWU Growing numbers of policymakers and scholars now appreciate the global importance of Brazil, but few understand vibrant, democratic nation-state’s mix of old world alongside the post-modern, its exceptional and comparable dimensions, and its national drive toward a modern economy that is both sustainable and socially inclusive. The Brazil Initiative of the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs was established in 2013 to promote the study of Brazil and deepen an understanding of its development and role in the world today. Upcoming events include: “The Odebrecht Effect” with Monica Arruda and Bruce Zagaris (March 30 at 12 p.m.); “Driving Sustainable Growth: A Seminar on Capital Market Development in Brazil” (April 5 at 2 p.m.); and “Saving Multilateralism: A Seminar on the Future of Brazilian Foreign Policy in the Age of Trump” (April 17 at 2 p.m.). For information, visit https://brazil.elliott.gwu.edu. The George Washington University
Sophie Mutter returns to the Concert Hall, in recital with her longtime duet partner, National Symphony Orchestra keyboardist Lambert Orkis. Tickets are $30 to $95. Kennedy Center Concert Hall Sun., April 9, 4 p.m.
Víkingur Ólafsson, Piano “Iceland’s rising star of a pianist” (Sunday Times), Víkingur Ólafsson has been described as “born to play piano” (New York Sun) and praised for his “perfect continuity of thought” (Giornale della musica). Tickets are $110, including wine and reception; for information, visit www.embassyseries.org. Icelandic Ambassador’s Residence Wed., April 19, 8 p.m.
Tinariwen The winner of the Grammy Award for Best World Music Album, Tinariwen is “a brilliant live band who have deservedly built up an international following for their infectious, pounding fusion of desert blues and the styles of the nomadic Tuareg people of the Sahara” (The Guardian). Tickets are $38. Wolf Trap Fri., April 21, 7:30 p.m.
Daniel Lebhardt, Piano Hungarian pianist Daniel Lebhardt, 23, has impressed audiences and critics alike with his thoughtful interpretations and outstanding virtuosity. Tickets are $100, including buffet reception and drinks; for information, visit www.embassyseries.org. Embassy of Hungary Mon., April 24, 7:30 p.m.
Songs Commemorating the Holocaust
Baritone Jerome Barry and Lithuanian pianist Edvinas Minkstimas replicate one of the most interesting and meaningful song recitals, highlighting Jewish music from Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Hungary and many others in commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day. Tickets are $90, including buffet reception and drinks; for information, visit www. embassyseries.org. Embassy of Lithuania
Fri., April 7, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., April 26, 8 p.m.
Concert: Dorothy Khadem-Missagh Austrian pianist Dorothy KhademMissagh has embarked on a promising musical career, performing on international stages and renowned festivals such as the “Wiener Konzerthaus” the “Styriarte Graz” the Norwegian Youth Chamber Music Festival and the Kyoto International Festival. Admission is free; to register, visit acfdc.org. Embassy of Austria Sat., April 8, 3 p.m.
Washington Performing Arts Presents Anne-Sopie Mutter, Violin, and Lambert Orkis, Piano World-acclaimed violinist Anne-
Idan Raichel Performing mainly in a fusion of Hebrew, Arabic and Ethiopian dialects, Idan Raichel acts as a musical ambassador representing a hopeful world in which artistic collaboration breaks down barriers between people of different backgrounds and beliefs. Tickets are $45 to $55. Wolf Trap Thu., April 27, 7 p.m.
Zofo Duet Since joining forces as a professional duo in 2009, internationally acclaimed solo pianists Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi-Zofo have electrified audiences from Carnegie Hall to Tokyo Japan
with their dazzling artistry and outside-the-box thematic programming for piano-four-hands. Tickets are $110, including reception and wine; for information, visit www.embassyseries.org. Residence of the Swiss Ambassador Fri., April 28, 7 p.m.
Karim Nagi – Egyptian Multi-Instrumentalist and Friends Karim Nagi has been an active performer of Arab music and dance in the United States for the past two decades. He has represented Egypt at regional Arab festivals in Michigan, Milwaukee, Virginia, Massachusetts and California, and has also performed at over 400 public school assemblies since 2001, introducing young audiences to Arab cultural arts in a campaign against stereotyping and racism. Tickets are $30, including reception; for information, visit www.embassyseries.org. International Student House
THEATER Sun., April 2, 7 p.m.
The Accidental Hero Written and performed by Patrick Dewane, “The Accidental Hero” tells the true story of Dewane’s grandfather, a World War II officer who liberated his own grandparents’ native villages in Czechoslovakia. Dewane brings archival material found in his grandfather’s basement to glowing life as an enthralling, humorous and heartwarming tale of astonishing coincidences and escapes. Admission is free but tickets are required and can be ordered at www.fords.org/ calendar/accidental-hero/. Ford’s Theatre Through April 2
Peter Brook’s ‘Battlefield’ Legendary British director Peter Brook’s colossal 1985 production of “The Mahabharata” is hailed as one of the greatest and most memorable theatrical productions of all time. Brook takes subject matter from his landmark production to stage this new play, in which a family is torn apart by war and trying to make sense of the horrors they’ve experienced — and perpetrated. Tickets are $35. Kennedy Center Family Theater Through April 2
The Select (The Sun Also Rises) A stage littered with liquor bottles and café chairs seamlessly transforms itself from the bistros of Paris to the banks of the Irati River. As the story winds its way through France and Spain and lands in Pamplona where bullfighting and the fiesta rage in the streets, Ernest Hemingway’s narrator carries the heavy burdens of a war injury and his inability to have the woman he loves. Please call for ticket information. Shakespeare Lansburgh Theatre
Fri., April 7, 7:30 p.m.
The Displaced Four Moroccans cross the Strait of Gibraltar in an inflatable boat bound for Spain. A Mexican village is left empty of men who have fled to the United States in search of economic opportunity. A new mother is trapped on the wrong side of the IndiaPakistan border. Authors Laila Lalami, Luis Urrea and Shobha Rao speak to lives that are never stationary and to communities that have been uprooted. They’ll come together on-stage to read from their work, and discuss what it means to be a citizen in our volatile world. Tickets are $15 Folger Shakespeare Library Through April 9
Intelligence Jacqueline E. Lawton’s new political thriller explores the cost of deception and the consequences of speaking truth to power. “Intelligence” is a fictionalized account inspired by true events of a covert operative who, tasked with protecting the national security of the United States post-9/11, is racing to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. With her country at war, her cover is blown and the lives of her assets are put in jeopardy. Tickets are $40 to $90. Arena Stage Through April 9
The Night Alive Playwright Conor McPherson’s touching drama explores lost souls and the hope of redemption, with an ample dose of Irish wit. Tommy is a disheartened schemer, estranged from his family. One night, he saves a young prostitute, Aimee, and begins to feel that his life may indeed have a purpose. Yet, all of that may end, as an ominous and unwelcome man from her past appears. Tickets are $35 to $40. Atlas Performing Arts Center April 14 to May 21
Smart People Four intellectuals — a doctor, an actress, a psychologist and a neurobiologist studying the human brain’s response to race — search for love, acceptance and identity set against the backdrop of Barack Obama’s 2008 election. Tickets are $40 to $90. Arena Stage Through April 23
Pike St. On the Lower East Side, a mother works hard to keep the electricity flowing for her daughter’s respirator while a hurricane looms nearby. As she prepares for disaster, a vibrant host of characters — a decorated war veteran, her ne’er-do-well father and her octogenarian downstairs neighbor — bring new meaning to the phrase “it takes a village” in this rich slice of Puerto Rican immigrant life by playwright Nilaja Sun. Tickets start at $20. Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company April 25 to May 28
Macbeth At a time when equivocation and the
perils of power dominate the news and divide the nation, Liesl Tommy’s up-to-the-minute production will explore political themes that reverberate here in America and around the world. Though not always thought of as a political play, Shakespeare’s study of power and its abuses and insecurities is as relevant today as when it was written in response to the Gunpowder Plot in 1606. Please call for ticket information. Shakespeare Theatre Company Wed., April 26, 6:30 p.m., Thu., April 27, 6:30 p.m.
The Stand In (Záskok) This brilliant comedy, set in 1910, tells the story of a small Czech theater company that, having lost some company members, recruits the renowned Czech actor Karel Infeld Prácheňský as “the stand-in” for the premiere of the new play “Vlasta” by Jára Cimrman. As Karel is unable to remember his lines, or the names of the other characters and even the play in which he is performing, chaos inevitably ensues. The play is an authentic, hilarious translation of a Czech comedy classic. Admission is free but tickets are required and can be ordered at www.nyu.edu/ washington-dc/nyu-washington-dc-events/the-stand-in.html. NYU Washington, DC April 26 to 30
Maly Drama Theatre: Three Sisters Lev Dodin, regarded as one of the world’s finest directors, and Maly Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg, one of Russia’s premier theater companies, present this luminous and emotionally raw retelling of Chekhov’s masterpiece about three sisters who are forced to leave Moscow for life in a provincial town. Tickets are $19 to $49. Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater Through May 7
A Raisin in the Sun Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” follows the Younger family yearning for a better life far from the cramped confines of their Chicago tenement. Hope arrives in the form of an unexpected financial windfall, but when they realize they have differing definitions of the American dream, which dreams get realized and which deferred? Tickets are $40 to $90. Arena Stage Through May 20
Ragtime Based on E.L. Doctorow’s celebrated 1975 novel, the Tony Award-winning musical “Ragtime” confronts both the unbridled optimism and the stark reality of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When the lives of a wealthy white family, a daring Harlem musician and a determined Jewish immigrant intersect, their fates are inextricably bound and profoundly changed. Tickets are $20 to $73. Ford’s Theatre
THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017 | 41
WD | Culture | Spotlight
Kosovo Ambassador Headlines AIS at Spy Museum Kosovo’s dynamic young envoy to the U.S., Vlora Çitaku, talked about her young nation’s evolution since the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and its declaration of independence in 2008; its “complicated” relations with the U.S., Europe, Serbia and Russia; as well as her personal history growing up as a refugee of war in a wide-ranging discussion at the International Spy Museum hosted by The Washington Diplomat on Feb. 21. Over 100 people attended the sixth Ambassador Insider Series (AIS), an exclusive program that allows Washingtonians to network with diplomats in an intimate setting. One of the city’s most unique venues, the Spy Museum is the only public museum in the U.S. dedicated solely to the tradecraft, history and contemporary role of espionage. One-third the size of Maryland with a population of 1.8 million, Kosovo was once an autonomous province of Serbia until the 1998-99 war, which ended when NATO The Washington Diplomat publisher Victor Shiblie and managing editor intervened and drove Serb forces out. Today, Anna Gawel, Ambassador of Montenegro Nebojša Kaluđerović, Ambas113 countries have full diplomatic relations sador of Monaco Maguy Maccario Doyle, Ambassador of Kosovo Vlora with Kosovo, though Serbia, its ally Russia and Çitaku, Ambassador of Albania Floreta Faber, Ambassador of Iceland Geir countries fearful of restive movements within Haarde and Ambassador of Croatia Joško Paro. their own borders continue to oppose recogniWe know very well what it means when extremes become tion of the fledgling republic, 90 percent of mainstream.” whose citizens are Albanian-speaking Muslims On that note, when asked about Kosovo’s relation(also see “Kosovo’s Journey” cover profile in the ship with its rival Serbia, Çitaku likened it to the popular February 2017 issue of The Diplomat). Facebook status update: “It’s complicated.” “Kosovo is the youngest democracy in “The biggest challenge Serbia has is not its relationship Europe — with the youngest demography,” Ambassador of Kosovo Vlora Çitaku and The Washington with Kosovo but its relationship with the truth and its own Çitaku told Anna Gawel, managing editor of Diplomat managing editor Anna Gawel. history,” she argued, referring to Serb President Slobodan The Diplomat. “We are two years younger Milošević’s campaign of ethnic cleansing during the Balkan wars. than Twitter,” noted the ambassador, who herself has nearly 70,000 Twitter It is a history with which Çitaku is painfully familiar. Describing the issue followers. of refugees as one that is “closest to her heart,” the ambassador said that “We have been blessed historically to have bipartisan support. We were “just 18 years ago, I was a refugee.” liberated during the Clinton administration and we got our independence “I will never forget the day when Serbian police forces came to deport us under the Bush administration,” she said of U.S. relations. “We are by far the as part of their ethnic cleansing campaign,” she recalled. “Me and my sisters most pro-American nation on the face of the Earth. We have a Bill Clinton were separated from our parents, and I remember carrying my little sister statue and a George W. Bush boulevard.” in my arms, walking empty-handed, separated from everything I knew and And Çitaku expects this pro-American sentiment to continue despite loved, not knowing where I was going.” President Trump’s isolationist “America first” rhetoric that has put the transatYet she counts herself as one of the “fortunate” ones, as opposed to the lantic alliance on the backburner. thousands who died, went missing or were raped during the conflict. “We have absolutely no reason to believe this will change — quite the “Atrocities of this magnitude expose not only the worst, they also display opposite,” she declared. “Our initial contacts with the Trump administration the very best humanity has to offer,” she said, citing the compassion offered … demonstrate that this commitment and this very special bond between by Albanians from Macedonia, where she settled and eventually reunited the U.S. and Kosovo will continue.” with her parents. And despite the populist tide that has inundated both sides of the At“History cannot be changed, it cannot be rewritten,” she said. “Geography lantic, Çitaku expressed confidence that Europeans will ultimately resist the cannot be changed. We will be living next to [Serbia] for the rest of history, xenophobic, nationalistic fears driving some of these movements, noting so the sooner we find a common ground, the better it will be.” that “there is no alternative” to the European Union. “We are a generation of people who have seen war, who have lived war. — Anna Gawel
Ambassador of Montenegro Nebojša Kaluđerović, managing editor Anna Gawel, Ambassador of Albania Floreta Faber, Ambassador of Croatia Joško Paro, Helen Salazar of the George Washington University Hospital International Patient Program and Ambassador of Slovenia Božo Cerar.
Jasmine Wyatt of the office of Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Daniela Leibovici of the office of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Scott Harris of the office of Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)
Ambassador of Kosovo Vlora Çitaku and The Washington Diplomat managing editor Anna Gawel.
Sami Kastrati, deputy chief of mission of the Embassy of Kosovo, Elez Biberaj, director of the Voice of America’s Eurasia Division, and Arben Xhixho of Voice of America.
42 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017
Eric Shimp of Alston & Bird LLP and Ambassador of St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. Thelma Phillip-Browne.
Col. Ilir Qeriqi, defense attaché of the Embassy of Kosovo, and Kenneth Arnold of T. Dean Reed Co.
Dr. Vince Houghton, historian and curator at the International Spy Museum, welcomes guests.
Ambassador of Slovenia Božo Cerar, Ambassador of Monaco Maguy Maccario Doyle, Ambassador of Montenegro Nebojša Kaluđerović and Ambassador of Iceland Geir Haarde.
Lendita Haxhitasim of the Embassy of Kosovo, Ambassador of Kosovo Vlora Çitaku, Frymezim Isufaj of the Embassy of Kosovo and Edita Buçinca of Cardno Emerging Markets.
International Spy Museum staff included Director of Operations Michael Kruelle, Erin Harroun and Chief Operating Officer Tamara Christian.
Craig Cobine and Tim Cox of Cultural Tourism DC.
Spotlight | Culture | WD
Mamica Toska of the Embassy of Albania and Ian Campbell of the State Department.
Alban Pruthi of the World Bank’s International Finance Corp., Besa Rizvanolli of the World Bank, Edita Buçinca of Cardno Emerging Markets and Rilind Latifi of the Mintz Group.
Lendita Haxhitasim of the Embassy of Kosovo and Paul Pfeuffer of the State Department.
Queen Momo Brown of Breakthru Beverage D.C., Jeannette Momo and Roger Brown. Frymezim Isufaj of the Embassy of Kosovo and Sarah Olmstead of the Millennium Challenge Corp.
Tim Myers and Jennifer Clarke, both of the British International School of Washington.
Ambassador of Albania Floreta Faber asks a question.
Leila Beale of Hollywood Real Estate and The Washington Diplomat publisher Victor Shiblie. Xiomara Vargas of the State Department and Roseann Pinkney.
Ambassador of Kosovo Vlora Çitaku and The Washington Diplomat managing editor Anna Gawel.
A guest asks a question.
Press counselor at the Finnish Embassy Sanna.Kangasharju and her husband David Van Ongevalle.
Embassy of Kosovo Deputy Chief of Mission Sami Kastrati, Ambassador of Slovenia Božo Cerar, Ambassador of Iceland Geir Haarde and James Dean of the Heritage Foundation.
Edita Buçinca of Cardno Emerging Markets and Doruntine Rexhepi.
The Washington Diplomat publisher Victor Shiblie.
Ambassador of Kosovo Vlora Çitaku and Ambassador of Monaco Maguy Maccario Doyle.
Allison B. Alder looks over Kosovo investment and tourism brochures.
Overall view of the event THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017 | 43
WD | Culture | Spotlight
Diplomatic spotlight Heart’s Delight Chairman’s Reception
India Celebrates U.S. Governors
heart’s delight held its annual Chairman’s reception at the top of the hay-Adams to toast its 2017 chairman, Brian Kearney of Kearney & Co. with the wines of Castello Banfi. the popular annual wine showcase, now in its 18th year, has raised over $15 million for the American heart Association to fight heart disease and stroke. this year’s event will be held may 10 to 13 and includes a congressional reception, embassy dinner series, gala and Bordeaux master classes. Photos: ChArlie Windsor
Heart’s Delight 2017 Chairman Brian Kearney of Kearney & Co.
Ambassador of india navtej sarna and his wife Avina sarna welcomed over 25 u.s. governors to their residence Feb. 24 to celebrate the national Governors Association’s (nGA) 2017 winter meeting. sarna noted that the reception reflected the solid bipartisan political and popular support on which the india-u.s. strategic partnership is based. the ambassador added that indian companies operate in most u.s. states and are present in diverse sectors like it and telecommunications, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, education, financial service and manufacturing. he noted that from 2011 to 2015, studies showed that more than 400,000 jobs have been directly and indirectly supported by indian tech companies, recording a growth of 10 percent annually. Photos: Courtesy oF the emBAssy oF indiA
Mimi Wilson of MW Design Group and Susan Go of Oracle.
Gov. of Virginia and NGA Chair Terry McAuliffe and Gov. of Nevada Brian Sandoval present Ambassador of India Navtej Sarna with a memento. Dave Armstrong of Monument Wealth Management, Brian Kearney of Kearney & Co., Dean Catino of Monument Wealth Management and Tim Weber of Kearney & Co.
Cardiologist Dr. Todd Villines, a Heart’s Delight supporter.
Washington Performing Arts President and CEO Jenny Bilfield, Board President Reginald Van Lee and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
WPA Honors Denyce Graves Washington Performing Arts (WPA) honored mezzo-soprano and native Washingtonian denyce Graves with its Ambassador of the Arts Award at a reception held at the top of the hay-Adams hotel. the award recognizes extraordinary achievement, service and advocacy in the performing arts. Past recipients include supreme Court Justice ruth Bader Ginsburg (2015) and arts philanthropist Jacqueline Badger mars (2016). Photos: dAVid ClAyPool / KAlorAmA PhotoGrAPhy
Gov. of Iowa Terry Branstad, who’s been nominated to serve as U.S. ambassador to China, greets Ambassador of India Navtej Sarna.
Gov. of Alaska Bill Walker and his wife Donna Walker join Ambassador of India Navtej Sarna and his wife Avina Sarna.
Nobuko Sasae, Ambassador of Japan Kenichiro Sasae, Ambassador of the European Union David O’Sullivan, his wife Agnes O’Hare and Ambassador of Sweden Björn Lyrvall. Event co-chairs Jake Jones of Daimler and David Marventano of Fluor join honoree Denyce Graves.
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Sheila Riordan of the Canada government, Ambassador of Hungary Réka Szemerkényi and Ambassador of Sweden Björn Lyrvall. Catherine Wheeler, Secretary of the District of Columbia Lauren Vaughan and Hay-Adams General Manager and Vice President Hans Bruland.
President of Save the Children Action Network Mark Shriver, actress Jennifer Garner (who was in town to advocate for early childhood education) and Ambassador of India Navtej Sarna.
Gov. of Massachusetts Charlie Baker and his wife Lauren Baker join Ambassador of India Navtej Sarna and his wife Avina Sarna.
Gov. of Wisconsin Scott Walker and his wife Tonette Walker join Ambassador of India Navtej Sarna and his wife Avina Sarna.
Spotlight | Culture | WD
‘Safe and Sound’ in Sweden
Swedish Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality Åsa Regnér and Ambassador of Sweden Björn Lyrvall welcome guests.
The Embassy of Sweden launched its 2017 Public Diplomacy Program on March 15 at the House of Sweden celebrating this year’s theme “Safe and Sound.” “Exhibitions, concerts, seminars, conferences and social events will highlight core values which serve as a foundation for our relations with the United States,” said Swedish Ambassador Björn Lyrvall. Two new exhibitions were launched: “Stories of Migration - Sweden beyond the Headlines” and “Where the Children Sleep,” a photo series on refugee children in Europe and the Middle East by Magnus Wennman. Swedish Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality Åsa Regnér spoke about the importance of openness and equality, saying, “I was very moved by the new exhibition about migration at the Embassy of Sweden.”
Guests view the exhibits “Stories of Migration Sweden beyond the Headlines” and “Where the Children Sleep.”
Photos: Embassy of Sweden / Grant Ellis
LTC Language Solutions
Slovenian Cultural Day As part of Slovenian Cultural Day, Ambassador of Slovenia Božo Cerar welcomed guests to his country’s contemporary embassy in Kalorama on Feb. 7. The event featured the exhibit “Echoes of Idealism” by artist Eva Petrič, daughter of Ernest Petrič, Slovenia’s first ambassador to Washington following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. The event also celebrated the 25th anniversary of Slovenia’s international recognition with a presentation of the book “Slovenija in Pika” chronicling the country’s independence journey.
Human Rights Continued • page 9
“So how likely is it that a high commissioner for human rights who comes from a country that is a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — which has hijacked the U.N. Human Rights Council to serve as its personal Israel-bashing tool — will confront his nation’s allies and refuse to become part of the problem?” Bayefsky said in an interview with the conservative Washington Free Beacon newspaper. “The answer is, as the British would say, not bloody likely,” Bayefsky concluded. But Bayefsky overlooks the rest of what Zeid told the U.N. At the end of his speech, he made a plea for peace in the Middle East and called on member states to look critically at the wrongs done to both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He also condemned those in the Arab world who deny the Holocaust, which he called an event of immense pain. Zeid warned that if both sides stubbornly refuse to budge from their positions, their intransigence could cause all the crises in the Middle East “and just beyond” to “fold into one another, creating the greatest political emergency of our time or pitching our region on a cusp of a war unlike any we have witnessed since 1945.” Today, his words sound sadly prophetic. Zeid’s warning won praise from Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. at the time, Dan Gillerman, who called Zeid a voice of reason and “a ray of light on matters in the region, one that hopefully would shine more frequently in the future.”
Photos: Gail Scott
Ambassador of Slovenia Božo Cerar.
Slovenian artist Eva Petrič, left, shows Ambassador of Malta Pierre Clive Agius and guests her work.
Vocal Human Rights Chief Zeid, who served as Jordan’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2007 to 2010, has won widespread praise for a long career promoting human rights. The veteran diplomat has worked extensively in the areas of international criminal justice, U.N. peacekeeping, post-conflict peace-building, international development and counter-nuclear terrorism. He played a central role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court, and as advisor to the U.N. secretary-general, he developed a comprehensive strategy for the elimination of sexual exploitation and abuse in U.N. peacekeeping operations. Today, Zeid is still the high commissioner for human rights and has continued to speak out forcefully against human rights violations. In particular, he hasn’t minced words when it comes to populism and “demagogues” on both sides of the Atlantic. In September last year, he condemned the rising tide of populism and its accompanying xenophobic undertones. “I am a Muslim, who is, confusingly to racists, also white-skinned; whose mother is European and father, Arab. And I am angry, too,” he said in a speech that garnered headlines. “You see, 20 years ago, I served in the U.N. peacekeeping force during the Balkan wars — wars so cruel, so devastating, which flowed from this same factory of deceit, bigotry and ethnic nationalism.” Zeid likened the tactics of several Western populists — including Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, France’s Marine Le Pen, pro-Brexiter Nigel Farage and thencandidate Donald Trump — to those of Islamic State terrorists. Both groups want to restore a halcyon time when “sunlit fields
are settled by peoples united by ethnicity or religion,” Zeid said. Not only is the idea of that perfect past pure fiction, but those who cling to it are frauds, he argued. “Populists use half-truths and oversimplification — the two scalpels of the arch propagandist, and here the internet and social media are a perfect rail for them, reducing thought into the smallest packages: sound-bites, tweets,” said Zeid. In October — a month before the U.S. election — Zeid said Trump would be a “dangerous” president based on “what he has said already.” In 2017, with the new administration in place, Zeid has not toned down his verbal volleys. He decried Trump’s refugee travel ban as mean-spirited; a waste of resources that could be put to “proper counter-terrorism” use; and a breach of human rights law, which, Zeid noted, forbids discrimination based on nationality alone. At the opening session of the Human Rights Council in February, Zeid likened human rights to breathing: Neither is something most people consciously think about until they are deprived of them. And when he received the 2017 Raymond “Jit” Trainor Award in February, conferred by Georgetown University to recognize excellence in diplomacy, he warned that the “pathogen of divisive populism” was threatening to dangerously destabilize the global system that, flawed as it may be, has for 70 years “had the undeniable advantage of staving off the prospect of World War III.” He again lambasted populist leaders around the world whom he accused of scapegoating entire communities and using the vilified group as license “to do whatever is necessary, lawfully or otherwise,” to fix the problems allegedly created by the
LTC Language Solutions Martin George, left, and D.C. Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Membership and Business Development Janelle Morris, right, join LTC staff to cut the ribbon on the group’s grand opening in D.C. LTC Language Solutions has been providing premier language services to a diverse range of clients since 1993.
group. Zeid warned that the world has been down this road before, losing “its bearings on the back of half-truths and lies, and the results have been disastrous.” He also praised the millions of women and men who turned out at marches around the world the day after Trump’s inauguration to call for the rights of all to be respected. In his speech at the latest session of the Human Rights Council, Zeid said he was proud that members of his own staff had taken part in the protests. Fox News called the high commissioner’s recent comments a “veiled swipe” at Trump, noting that they were made amid talk of the U.S. pulling out of the U.N. body that Zeid heads. But walking away from the Human Rights Council isn’t that easy: Countries wishing to rescind membership have to go through the U.N. General Assembly, council spokesman Rolando Gómez told reporters. He added that the U.S. has been “a very active and constructive partner in the council for many years, spearheading a number of important initiatives,” including on North Korea, Iran, Syria and LGBT rights. In a question-and-answer session at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where Zeid was given the Trainor Award, the veteran diplomat said that the hypothetical U.S. withdrawal from the Human Rights Council would leave “a gaping hole” in global efforts to uphold and restore human rights. He expressed hope that the United States “will take a careful look at this and realize that human rights are not just garnish on the plate,” but an essential ingredient in maintaining peace and security. WD Karin Zeitvogel (@Zeitvogel) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat. THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017 | 45
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Results - Beyond Barriers â€“ Beyond Expectations THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | APrIL 2017 | 47
Long & Foster | Christie’s Leads in the Capital Region #1 IN TRANSACTIONS 19,329 #1 IN SALES VOLUME $10.4 Billion And . . . Long & Foster | Christie’s Top 200 Agents Outsell the #2 and #3 Brokers
TOP 200 LONG & FOSTER CAPITAL AREA AGENTS
ALL TTR 336 AGENTS
ALL WFP 186 AGENTS
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* Source: Information is based on data supplied MRIS and its member Association(s) of REALTORS, who are not responsible for its accuracy, as compiled by Terradatum. Does not reflect all activity in the marketplace. Comparison based on sales period January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016, as of January 13, 2017. Agent count for TTR and WFP based on count of MRIS IDs as compiled by Terradatum, as of January 13, 2017, and the count and names of their affiliated agents may have changed during the year. Information contained in this report is deemed reliable but not guaranteed, and should be independently verified. Production of Long & Foster Top 200 Agents is based on internal company records. ** TTR and WFP are #2 and #3 brokers in Capital Region in sales volume, and #7 and #14 in number of units sold in 2016.
48 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | April 2017